A Taste of Hong Kong At Sheng Kee


SK 1UThere’s something about a bowl of oriental dessert that is comforting to the core of our Chinese stomachs. Perhaps it’s about growing up as a Malaysian Chinese that just links all of our childhood memories to the warm bowl of sweet red bean dessert (ang dow zhui) served in the old soup bowl that mom cooked for us after dinner which spoke of her devotion and doting love for us. Perhaps it’s all in the magic of having something to enjoy which brings back the memories of different places we travelled to, their sights and sound, and certainly the distinctive flavours they are known for.

What they serve at Sheng Kee, in a gist.

What they serve at Sheng Kee, in a gist.

Because one of our relatives has moved to Hong Kong, the little pearl of the orient is by now a regular travel destination for the happiest little family. We must have been travelling there once every one to two years since 2009 when I first visited HK for work purpose and subsequently brought the kids along to enjoy its cool weather from October to December. Naturally, anyone who has been to Hong Kong has had a dim sum or Cantonese-styled noodles. And anyone who has a sweet tooth has had at least a bowl of Hong Kong styled mango desserts at some point to beat the sweltering heat of its summer months.

The reason we have not gone broke from all the air fares is because of this simple philosophy that “desperate food craving time call for desperate but cheap measures”. This translates to getting our fix locally. Yes honey, you really don’t have to fly all the way to HK just to get a taste of its authentic flavours. The answer lies in Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert @ One Utama (drumrolls, please, I feel super-smart already).

Sheng Kee Braised Pork Rice served with Mui Choy is a filling, hearty dish prepared using the freshest ingredients and slowly cooked to perfection to seal in the flavour.

Sheng Kee Braised Pork Rice served with Mui Choy is a filling, hearty dish prepared using the freshest ingredients and slowly cooked to perfection to seal in the flavour.

Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert, which has 18 successful outlets in Singapore, has opened their first outlet right here at One Utama Shopping Centre last year to introduce and create the same buzz surrounding Hong Kong snacks and desserts at its outlet located at LG Floor Oval (New Wing) here.

With more than 60 tempting items on the menu, there are plenty of choices for foodies hunting down Hong Kong style desserts, snacks as well as authentic Cantonese noodles and rice dishes prepared with quality ingredients by an authentic Cantonese chef and his dedicated local kitchen team.

Sweetened by Phillipines Mango and the tangy crunch of juicy Pomelo, this SK Mango Pomelo Sago is a summer delight.

Sweetened by Phillipines Mango and the tangy crunch of juicy Pomelo, this SK Mango Pomelo Sago is a summer delight.

Last week, this happiest little family decided to give some of the popular dishes featured at the outlet a try, because we will not be planning for a trip to HK anytime soon and the 25% Cantonese gene in me which is inherited from my maternal grandma was craving for a mango dessert somehow (blame it on the work stress but someone wise did say that desserts is stressed spelled backwards, and I was ready to prove him right).

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Pumpkin Mei-Mei loves her dessert!

Unlike most food outlets on the streets of Hong Kong which are quite cramped and hushed due to the way Hongkies have made space efficiency and productivity a business priority, Sheng Kee outlet at One Utama is comfortably bright and spacious, with much room for sharing of food among family and friends, and the waiting service was satisfactory. We even find the lady supervisor who tended to us that night extremely friendly and would even explain how most of the dishes were prepared to us patiently.

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SK Double combination noodle features Cha Siew amd fresh prawn dumplings that is a favourite classic at Sheng Kee.

With her recommendations, we ordered a good range of savoury and desserts for our dinner and ended the night on a pleasant note. Our favourites include the Crispy Salmon Skin With Meat Floss for starter, SK Signature Combination Noodle (a must-try if you are one who loves chasiew and dumplings served with fresh crisp egg noodles), the fluffy and delicately yummy snowy-bun

Sheng Kee's Snowy Cha Siew Bun is baked in a fluffy bun crust that is unlike any buns I have ever tasted.

Sheng Kee’s Snowy Cha Siew Bun is baked in a fluffy bun crust that is unlike any buns I have ever tasted.

and its yuan-yang paste which is a clever mix of sesame paste served in intricate balance with sweet almond paste, both known for longevity and beauty in Chinese ancient belief.

Yuan Yang Paste

Yuan Yang Paste

With all the stresses busted, we proved that HK desserts did do a good job in comforting the core of our Chinese stomachs. I know, because the SK Pomelo Mango Sago desserts that were ordered by me were finished by the 3 happiest little people in less than the time for me to say “enjoy it, kids”. I should have known. But oh well, that’s what a mother need to sacrifice for, all in the name of love.

 

SWEET TREATS ARE FOR SHARING! Sheng Kee is having a special promotion now just for you. Take this simple steps:

1) Like the Sheng Kee Facebook  at 

https://www.facebook.com/hongkongshengkeedessertMY

2) VISIT Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert @ One Utama and ORDER their favourite mains (try the signatures or anything else!) 

3) Get 1 FREE SK Mango Pomelo Sago with each main course ordered – tell the wait staff “Sweet treats with Sheng Kee” upon settling the bill to claim this. 

Baby B digged right into the SK Mango Pomelo Sago dessert that was supposed to be mine. :)

Baby B digged right into the SK Mango Pomelo Sago dessert that was supposed to be mine. 🙂

*This is an exclusive sweet treat just for your friends and followers! Offer expires 31 May 2015.

*To keep to the authentic Hong Kong flavour, the casual dining restaurant is presently not halal.

Notes From An Interviewer


His face got so tensed that I could tell that he was trying to fight his teeth from coming out to bite my head off my neck. “Third girl in the last 2 weeks! What can I say of you? Third girl resigned from your team in a matter of 2 weeks!” Gosh. I hate it when my boss repeat something twice in a sentence. It sounds super awful.

“That I am an inspiring leader?” I tried to lighten up the atmosphere in the boss’ room. He didn’t seem convinced. “And how is that so? Let me get this straight. One left because she found her aspiration to start writing a book after her travel to Tibet, and the second?” he asked.

“Oh she uhm… found the inspiration to start her own business after a trip to Melbourne.” I shook my head. “And the third lady?” He pressed on.

“That doesn’t even count. She is my staff but to be fair, she is from the client’s side, so technically under my team with our company… I mean your company, Sir, let’s just say that I have helped two persons discovered their passions for making a living elsewhere,” I defended. “Really, I do not think I am a horrible boss. There’s movie for it starring Jennifer Anniston but no, it’s certainly not inspired by me.”

“I am not saying that you are a horrible boss but with half of your team gone in a span of few weeks, I think that’s why you are stressed out and running thin. I don’t know how you are going to do it but my dear, you have about half a dozen projects to deliver in the next few months that I expect you get it delivered beyond my expectation. Get it? 6 projects until August. (See? He repeats serious stuff like twice, all the time!) I suggest you ask Jeannie to put up some recruitment ads to get a manager and a senior executive to assist you. Ok?” “Noted, boss.” I looked straight into his eyes and was grateful that help was on the way, at least with The Boss’s immediate instruction to the HR to get me some good staff.   960589386_09bbf2e6d8 And so I found myself sitting across the board room table from some interviewees in the last one month as I got in on the whole act of recruitment like a ball of energy mass to find my replacement team members. That was the exciting part and my story would have ended lovely here had I been more in touch with the mannerism and aspirations of some of these young job seekers. Obviously I am so out of touch that there are top six types of interviewees that absolutely drive me up the wall!

  • The Blurry

I had to run to another project site at 4.15pm. I stared at the office clock and nervously saw that it was already 3.15pm. “Jeannie, that Alice girl for the 3pm interview, is she coming or not?” I asked my colleague Jeannie, the HR Manager.

“Hmmm… Let me give her a call now and get back to you shortly.”

Five minutes later, Jeannie buzzed me from the intercom and said, “Guess what? Alice said she was so busy with her work that she had completely forgotten about the interview! She was asking if she could come see you this Saturday instead?”

I thought for a while and told Jeannie, “No, tell her that I may forget about her before the end of today!” 9227922133_c862915d95

  • The ME, ME & I King

He rattled off his success like stories from the Almanac of Successful People. “I accomplished this this and that too. It was all about me, myself and I. I led my team and achieved RM1 million in that SUPER successful case. I am so good and I am even better than the next 10 candidates you are interviewing for the rest of this week.”

Once he paused from his extremely illustrious stories, I asked him, “So is there anything else you would like to add on about your successes?”

“Yes, I am the best. The greatest. Period”. I thought to myself, Wow. And I never wanted to see him again. Period. 13771862765_03a8158ece

  • The Newbie Interviewee

What drives you?” I asked.

“I want to drive a BMW.” He replied without a slight hesitation.

Holding back my crazy laughter, I clarified politely, “I mean, what are the things that motivate you in life.”

“Oh, sorry I thought you asked me what car I wanted to drive.” 4709580506_cc6f3e0762

  • The Ambitious Sweet Young Thing

“Your goal in the next year?” I looked up to meet the eyes of the sweet young thing.

“I don’t know, may be… to be somebody in the company… like achieving the position of a director of the division by the time I am 25 years old and leading my own team of staff”

“But you have just graduated and you are only 23 years old, not trying to undermine your determination but what are the steps you will be taking to reach that goal within the next 1.5 years?”

“I don’t know but I am a quick learner. It’s like a very simple school project. I will get there irregardless.” 5228373874_056282e649

  • The Floater

“Is there any particular reasons you have jumped through 4 companies in the last 1.5 years?” I asked casually.

“Oh the first company gave me such low salary, so I left it and got 150% increment in the second job. But after 3 months I was angry that the new company gave me so much more work than the first one that I moved on to the third company. This time I thought I was lucky because work load was reduced but I got a bit bored and jumped ship again to my present company.”

“And the reason for moving on now?” I was clearly amused.

“Oh, just that I am not happy. My happiness is of utmost importance. I am looking forward to joining your company to find that happiness and fulfillment that were missing from all the bad companies that I have worked for.”

“I don’t think I can give you that. Job satisfaction comes from within yourself and if you have not been able to find that from your previous and present jobs, chances are we don’t store it in here too. Thanks for your time anyway. All the best to you as you find the ultimate happiness in your next job. Send my regards to it.” 117635854_385449ffa6

  • The Economist

“ What’s your present salary?” I glanced through his CV.

“RM4000 for basic and I have another RM500 for transportation allowance.” He replied politely.

“You are asking for RM7000 now. May I know the reason for asking such a big jump in your demand for the basic salary?”

“Oh I am planning to marry my girlfriend end of this year so my father in law asked me if I could afford to take care of his precious daughter. I told him I would find a new job that can pay for both of us so that my girlfriend could just stay home and take care of the 5 kids we plan to have.”

“Wow, that’s a very big increment in your salary and a great big plan there. Is this figure negotiable?”

“I am sorry, Miss, but I need this amount to marry my dream girl,” came the incredible reply from him.

“I am sorry, but then, this is not going to be the place to get your dream pay.” I stood up to bid my farewell to him.11901612346_36ca812923 …………………………………….

Believe it or not but I did eventually find 2 replacement out of the three vacancies that I need to fill. I tell myself that good staff are hard to come by but they are made harder when all we meet are rather strange, twilight-zone, young interviewees who make me feel like I have invaded a different planet altogether. As I continue to search for my third candidate, I keep myself sane with this mantra that…

ALL THESE SHALL PASS TOO.

PHOTO CREDIT

    Photo Credit photo credit: N00/960589386″>てんつくマンとの対談 via photopin (license) photo credit: N06/9227922133″>177 // 365 – Splitting Headache // Rasender Kopfschmerz via photopin (license) photo credit: N00/5228373874″>OMG! via photopin (license) photo credit: N08/13771862765″>IMG_5217 via photopin (license) photo credit: N00/4709580506″>We had a fun day via photopin (license) photo credit: N05/11901612346″>CYMERA_20140110_114505 via photopin (license) photo credit: N00/228551283″>liwanag sa dilim via photopin (license)  

The Cheerleader Mom


One of my blog followers who is also a friend asked me out of the blue, why I haven’t been blogging for almost 2 months. I looked at her and said, “I have been crazy busy, babe!”

“Oh like you haven’t been!” she teased.

“No, serious, I am standing right smack in the middle of the circle of life…”

“Like Elton John’s song huh?”

“Yes, like I am in a jungle. I have a busy job, a high-schooler, a primary kid and a pre-schooler. Imagine the number of school activities, homework coaching, ferrying to-and-from and parent-teacher interactions that I am trying to juggle now together with Daddy Joe. May be Sir Elton John was dedicating this song to ME.”

“Really? Cheeky Koko is in high school now and Baby B… already in a kindergarten?”

“Yes I know, right? Time flies in supersonic speed! I don’t know what I fed my kids but somehow they have started growing up! Cheeky Koko is now 13, have a wee bit of facial hair and much as I am quite tall, he is growing as tall as me NOW and it’s suddenly about me scolding him looking upward which is just AWKWARD!”

Uh-huh. Sounds like you are not ready to deal with parenting a teenager.”

“Absolutely NOT. He was just a baby yesterday! Oh and few months back when I heard the first crack in his voice out of a sudden, and I mean, like overnight… I thought alien invaded my house!”

As my friend laughed at my dramatic but completely honest sharing, my mind travelled to the tensed moments I felt just over a few months ago when Cheeky Koko was preparing for his UPSR exam, which is the compulsory Standard Six exam all 12 years olds in Malaysian government / public schools must sit for that will determine the kind of high school they get to go to for the following year.medium_2974216341

Despite having told myself countless times that my decision to send him to a Chinese primary school was purely to instil the good old moral and piety-driven family value in him and not at all about the stringent learning process and the pursuit of excellent academic performance that which underlie our education system, I turned into a tensed mom doing just what I didn’t want to do in the few months leading to the exam.

That tension of realising he would not be able to do as well as I thought as I observed that more and more, he was not slogging at his study desk as I have expected him to was met with angry words from me, and his streak of rebellion of turning to tablet games whenever he was stressed with his studies created a red sea that divided my boy and me.

In fact, I lost count on the number of nights on ends when silent frustrations made both of us walked back into our own bedrooms without the usual mommy-son embrace and goodnight exchanges. If I did press for it, I would get a cold goodnight, ma in a Zombie dead tone from my first child who is usually the funny bones in the house.

I don’t think I ever grew up and grow old wanting to be competitive in my spirit. I always feel that every child has his or her own potential and gifting that would one day be a calling for greater things in his chosen path but somehow in those moments I lost sight over how small this exam was as compared to the many tests we will eventually face in life.

It was more like I was frustrated with my own inability to instil in him to be an independent learner. I was frustrated that he wasn’t studying the whole day when he was facing such a major exam. I lost sight over the simplicity of what it means to be a child, that being carefree was his God-given entitlement.

It didn’t take long for his day care teacher, an elderly lady in her 60s, to notice that Cheeky Koko was losing his smile and confidence over his studies and advised me to find a way to walk to him, fast. Finding the right words to mend our relationship was tough when I couldn’t even think straight how I should encourage him when I could not find the peace within myself to be the encouraging mom he needed the most at that time. I sat down that night and wrote him a 5-page letter that reaffirmed my love and confidence over him and explained to him that I wasn’t seeking straight As from him. I was merely trying to find my way back to being the best cheerleader mom who wanted him to believe that he could reach the sky if he gave his best in everything he does in his life.

A month later, my Cheeky Koko sat for his UPSR with a lot of cheers from us, his papa and mama. And the week that he sat for his exam? We ate pizza and cycled together because we knew he has put in his best in that one month. He scored quite a number of As in the end and some Bs. Not that it mattered anyway, because it mattered that much more that he regained his sunshine smile and joy as he now ventures into teenage-hood and settling down in his high school life.

Mothering is tough work. Don’t be surprised that I am soaking up books on parenting a teenager. After all, I am standing right smack in the circle of life where every day does feel like a jungle of crazy joy, except that I now learn to cherish and embrace it that much more.

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Photo Credit:

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/awyatt/2974216341/”>awyatt</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Our Best Days… Ever!


Last month my domestic helper who is from Indonesia went back to her hometown to celebrate Eid with her family for 30 days.

When this happens, a stay home mom would just go on life managing the family routine, kids and her home with much grace, flair and poise that make her home completely functional as it has always been.

Forget about grace and flair with her counterpart who happens to be a working mama! The operative word was PANIC at this Seven2SevenMom planet! Short of clinging on to my helper’s leg even before she stepped off my front door, I was lost. I was petrified. I thought I’d crumble. First, I thought of my work – how do I cope with washing all the 3 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms in our apartment AND iron all the kids’ school uniforms after working 10 hours at the office? Then I thought of the crazy-beyond-description school routines of my kids and their mountain-high homework piles, which meant I would be coaching homework with my kids sitting on the kitchen floor while I (try to) wash all of the pots and pans and numerous little plastic cups and utensils after dinner. Multitasking will surely take on a whole new meaning in my life!

Maid-less day: The home was in a crazy mess but baby B found room for simple joy and laughter.

Maid-less day: The home was in a crazy mess but baby B found room for simple joy and laughter.

But when I thought of how my family-work balance will be temporarily thrown off its balance and yet I could have a chance of living my childhood dream of being an all-present, all-loving stay-home mom… I was elated!
After I succeeded at applying for a one-month special work arrangement with my extremely understanding bosses to work only half day at the office and the other half day to take care of what mattered most to me – my kids, I pictured myself launching into a supermom mode for the next 30 days doing the following loving things for the family:

1) Laundry at 5am – Oh ya. I will rise early and sort out my laundry into different colours and making sure that the stubborn sweat stains of Daddy Joe and Cheeky Koko’s shirts are rid of like they are new shirts. I even bought stubborn stain removal to get this job done that I thought was super-easy! (What really happened was: Laundry at 2pm because I only got to go to bed at 1.30am the night before after I finish ironing the gazillion of school uniforms and toddler clothings! In fact I closed one eye to the stubborn sweat stains after a capful of bleach was poured over the laundry load over a few days and it just didn’t work! Curse I had over the bleach solutions because they don’t get the job done!)

All rules broke loose! Pumpkin Mei-Mei was happy to have traditional chinese delicacy tang yuen in weird colours combo as supper!

All rules broke loose! Pumpkin Mei-Mei was happy to have traditional chinese delicacy tang yuen in weird colours combo as supper!

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Bake-happy days: One of my whimsical favourite comfort food: Ji Dan Gao (Chinese Steamed Cake). I was really one fearless chef who would just bake and cook to my heart’s content.

2) Making home cooked breakfast for the family by 6am which included preparing cute bento lunch sets for the three happiest little people — oh I would prep those rice meals into cute bear shapes, served with motivational love notes to spark up their days. (What really happened was: Kids made their own cereals and milks at 6am and bought food from the school canteen instead because mama was so exhausted from housework the night before she was still snoring away at 6am! I even rationalised to myself that my kids needed calcium to grow strong bones. So, have your milk today? )
3) Make up and change into my working attires by 7am (What really happened was: It took place at 8am. Blame those mountain-high pile of laundry!)
4) Send Baby B to nursery at 8am – and I won’t even forget about packing along Baby B’s favourite snacks and child vitamin into his lunch bag that our helper often overlooked. (What really happened was: Checked. Everything was lovingly done the way I would have it done!)
5) Reach office at 9am and conduct efficient meeting with staff because work load is still the same, half day or not, I just have to continue to optimise my productivity in half the amount of time. (What really happened was: The staff queued up to update and seek opinions over everything because I only had few hours for them everyday. On the hindsight, I was happy that I was deeply missed by them. Hehe…)
6) Get off work by 1pm, drive to pick up baby B from his day care at 1.30pm. (What really happened was: There was always pesty, long-winded meetings and discussions with staff for urgent matters that spanned a little longer than expected and I got fine just about everyday for five to ten Ringgit because I was so ridiculously busy!)
7) Get Baby B to nap at 3pm so that I can free myself for the next 2 hours to prepare and cook dinner as well as get some house chores done. (What really happened was: In between singing the Barney’s I love you song to get Baby B to nap, often we cuddled up and slept together!)
8) 5pm is my allocated one-hour clean up time when I would set a small amount of time, like 15 mins each room to clean up the apartment, room by room. (What really happened was: I was chopping the veg, some poultry meat and soup ingredients away like a mad woman because the older kids were coming home in an hour and I had not even washed the anchovies and potatoes yet!)

The kids were on dysfunctional mode. Hey mom, someone is using those tang yuen's flour mixture to press into his toy car! OMG.... Whatever!

The kids were on dysfunctional mode on some days. Like here, someone was using those tang yuen’s flour mixture to press into his toy car! OMG…. Whatever!

9) Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei Mei, my two older little people would come home from tuition day care at 6pm into the warm embrace of their mama and the entire apartment would smell like a rockin’ celebrity chef has just made the best gourmet meals cooked with the freshest ingredients in the whole world. (What really happened was: The kids came home hungry, waited for another hour before mom is finally ready and before that, they still had to help to clear the dining table from the mess they left over from their school projects last night!)
10) 8pm is homework time – normally this is the hour when everyone would either complete their homework or have some quiet reading time. (What really happened was: Older kids helped clean up the house, and mom is still cleaning up the kitchen and everyone get a little dizzy over the mom barking restrictions about the number of clothing one wears in a day (just so that she would not have to wash two loads of laundry per day). Her idea is the kids should just wear the school uniforms as home lounge wear and pyjamas, one set per day, that’s ALL!)

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Clean, cook, vacuum and laundry were synonymous with my existence.

Time flies and our helper finally flew back into our home which survived a super busy working mom commando in chief’s lacklustre management for 30 days. Did any good come out of it? Yes, plenty.

In that one month we have had many good times just enjoying each other’s presence as a functional family, albeit a home that always had unfinished chores and a mom who always seemed to be slaving away at the laundry and at the kitchen. It was great to see that for once, I was licensed and given the blessing to prioritise my children and my family, instead of work.

Yes I was stressed still juggling half-day work at the office and nothing went according to The Mom’s plan. But I love every moment of it and I mourned for the loss of this precious time when it finally ended. In that one month, I have also cooked and baked like there was no tomorrow – it was how I envision a family should smell like. I could spend an hour watching Barney sing and dance with Baby B and yet not feel hurried to rush because I have to go for a business conference. I was not pursuing anything related to career. I was simply a mom spending time with my kids and doing the whole Barney dance with them and loving it every moment even if I had danced it the fifth time that afternoon.

I am back to work now but in my heart, there’s always the tender spot that cherishes those Barney days that I simply would not trade with anything else.

Mother’s Day Reflection


While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. ~ Angela Schwindt (Chicken Soup for the Soul – From Lemons to Lemonade)

Happy Mother's Day! <3

Happy Mother’s Day! ❤

It was a perfect wedding with the sunset in Bali casting a romantic palette of radiant gold and violet blue over the spectacular resort we were at as we witnessed a girlfriend’s happy union with the love of her life.

As requested by the host to keep the wedding small and intimate, my friend Jay and I left our kids and hubs in Singapore and KL respectively for 3 days to attend this wedding at Bali. It turned out to be a really rare, superfun me-time to indulge in a good spa, sip a few glasses of champagne, wine and Mojito and together with the other three girlfriends, share some bikini-dipping in our private villas at night as we tried to count the stars and recalled some girly jokes about the time when we all worked in the same fashions company some years ago.

As the gorgeous Balinese singer and her guitarist serenade us with jazzy love songs, Jay who has recently moved the family to Singapore due to her husband’s job posting and I took the time to catch up with each other on our motherhood tale. It’s a mother’s thing, every conversation we have naturally leads to our children – we never seem to get tired talking anything and everything about our pride and joy.

Because I have always fancied being a stay-at-home mom if we had the means one day, I asked Jay if she had missed anything in the last 3 years of walking out from work to wok, to become a stay-at-home mom. Jay pondered seriously and told me that there were three things she missed most. The first was being able to get dressed with a purpose every morning, secondly, the financial freedom of indulging in and buying things that you fancy with your own money (much as her loving husband provides her a comfortable life and shopping allowance) and most importantly, a sense of self-importance.

When I asked her to explain the self-importance part, Jay said softly that recently her husband was invited to speak in their Church as a guest to encourage youths. As he went up on stage and started sharing about his career, her oldest boy John who is almost-five, just watched his dad in complete adoration, and gushed the whole time that dad was so cool and so awesome to be giving a speech in front of such a big audience. As she sat there next to John and taking care of her second son, George who was 16 months old, she couldn’t help but felt her tears welled up as she realised that her two young boys have not seen her daily attentive care and love for them as anything as worthy as what their dad did.

“In a way, I am just a milk-maker for them,” she said with a sense of loss. “Day in, day out, I am just the “Mom, I need my milk bottle” mom, all I am to them is just the person who cooks, make their milk for them, give them their showers and worst, a house cleaner! They didn’t think I was as awesome as their dad,” she said.

“Oh no, dearie, don’t you ever think like that, Jay, gosh, you are the most amazing mom I have ever known!” I reached out to Jay’s hand with mine with a gentle, encouraging squeeze. “They are still young, that’s all. And come on, back then you were a Marketing Manager for a big international brand and you did so well! We really have done some kick-ass fashion shows and campaigns back then, don’t you forget that” I said.

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“And God places us just right where He needs us to build a strong generation of God-loving people who are faithfully grounded on His rock, so to be able to partake in that is AWESOME! This is AWESOME!” I said.

“Thanks dear, I know, I know, I mean, I love them to bits but if only I could preserve that self-importance I once held when I had a job!” Jay said longingly. “What about you, thought you wanted to take the same path?” she asked.

“I do, in fact the dream never died, much as I have said this repeatedly in the last 10 years!!” I said with a chuckle. “I love to just give them the hugs as they come home from school and cook dinner together as a family and I would probably just feel really happy to even have the time to stitch the lose buttons on their school uniforms. But God hasn’t placed that path in front of me right now. Hubby’s business is going through some tough time now and I am just grateful that I still have a job to share the financial burden. Anyway, I am making myself a little more useful since I can’t iron as fast as you do, dearie,” I said with a smile.

“I think you are a wonderful mom and wife, you always have this positive attitude for life and you show great love and support you have for Daddy Joe and the kids,” Jay gave me a warm hug as we both accepted that life as we know it, just don’t pan out the way we want sometimes. We always think that the other side is just better, greener, more fulfilling and even happier.

But I know that a mother’s love endures through, whether work or stay home. We gain strength as mothers as we tend to our garden with our seed of love and watch our young plants grow into the strong, beautiful trees that they will be one day. So be encouraged, fellow mommies, for your love and care for the family do make you the most awesome being in the whole world.

Happy Mother’s Day – wishing you a lifetime of being happily surrounded by the love of your life! And to my own mom, who is the rock of my life, I love you, mama, 母亲节快乐!

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(Carnation)photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mbgrigby/3558580487/”>mbgrigby</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

(Mom & Child) photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesgoodmanphotography/7428401714/”>jamesgoodmanphotography</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses

 

 

Behind Every Working Mom Is A Dyson Vacuum


I am trying to remember the days before my kids came along.

My wardrobe was a lovely display of feminine frocks for the weekends and sassy corporate dresses and suits for work. I had long, straight, naturally dark brown hair which I’d sometimes style into a high ponytail dressed up in a chic hair accessory. I carried a small handbag with my purse, mobile phone, a pack of tissue paper and car keys in it. My car was spotlessly clean with music CDs and some high heels kept in the car boot for those occasional corporate or social events in town.

The operative word then was Clean with a capital C. Then the bundle of joy came along. Three times it took place, if you care to ask, and my world was suddenly associated with unplanned madness. First, the word stylish eludes my wardrobe and then the hair decide to go in every imaginable directions except being in one place and finally, it’s about surprises everywhere.

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Look at the crumbs from the curry puff! I fainted twice seeing it!

They range from discovering a McDonald’s happy meal plastic toy (Yes!) inside my pumps (after finding a used dirty baby hankie in the laptop bag earlier) to staring into the rear-view mirror in HORROR as your toddler reaches for the bag of food (such as curry puff) dangling in front of him and decides to toss, poke, eat and make a massive (shocking) mess of crumbs and dirt all over the car.

So yes, I am a working mom with a day job in the marketing field but keeping dirt and mess at bay can sometimes look like it’s my main occupation.

Fortunately, half a lifetime of working has well-prepared me to deal with a dirty crisis such as this, kinda like a Mom Terminator. Now if this was left to the man of the house and the toddler alone, he would NOT have made it back in one piece without first going over-the-top swearing and cursing at the crumbs as if they had a life and then lecturing the 2 years old who’d probably just imitate him back by babbling at the crumbs, before both dad and son came home exhausted because they had just lectured the poor crumbs for 30 minutes flat.

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Dyson Digital Slim DC62: Sucks up as much dust as even a corded vacuum!

On the other hand, picture me cool-ly carrying the toddler upon reaching home on one arm and reach out for my Dyson Digital Slim™ DC62 Vacuum effortlessly on the other, get back into the car, suck up and say goodbye to our dirty little friends in less than a minute, all the while smiling, because victory is mine to savour with my DC62! Yes, they say, mom is the world but you know behind every mom is powerful, nifty home appliance that makes life sweet as a Lenka’s song!

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Be gone, dust, mess and all!

As with other Dyson products that are engineered for optimum safety and usability, Dyson DC62 Vacuum is packed with features that are lady-friendly. You know, because I don’t lift weight and stuff, I don’t even have lady muscles to carry anything too heavy. This baby is lightweight and cordless all at once so you literally don’t have to break a sweat while doing your motherly chore. There is also no cords behind so that means no cumbersome wires behind the machine that can get entangled into corners or furniture legs, and plus, I also get to skip the step of having to press the retractable cord button to coil back the long cords.

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See how the Dyson Digital Slim is totally cordless? It’s what I call beauty with power!

In order to get it to work, I would charge the battery of Dyson DC62 fully because with each charge, the vacuum provides 20 minutes of powerful, high suction power to help clean hard-to-reach places. In this particular curry puff crisis over the weekend, I am happy to report that despite settling into the tiny, minute holes inside the car seat fabrics, the crumbs vanished in two minutes!

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Goodbye, dust and crumbs. You don’t stand a chance to live on my car seat or home with my Dyson cordless vaccum!

This vacuum is made with a 350W digital motor that is already on its 6th generation (V6), a 2-Tier Radial™ cyclones and a re-engineered nickel manganese cobalt battery. Put all these together and you get a mean, terminator-grade vacuum machine that even the kids will call it cool. The kids are happy to help with vacuuming task these days because it is light and easy to carry for them (of course, they also use it to role-play as imaginary Terminator game!).

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Yes they help with house chores, but kids being kids, the vacuum turns into a Terminator gun sometimes too. 🙂

Dyson DC62 also comes with a 8-minute Boost Mode for more difficult tasks. Thank God I have not encountered any mess so great that I need to use that. But even on its normal suction mode, from the moment you start cleaning until the moment you finish, I love that the DC62 maintains powerful and is extremely easy to use to clean up everything and anything everywhere – up top, down below and in-between.
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I also find the hygienic bin emptying feature a plus point because the dust particles literally gets dumped neatly into my trash bin from the back without spreading all over the floor like some vacuum models do. Once I am done with it, I can store it back into its docking station that we have installed neatly on one corner of our laundry room, instead of taking up shelve storage space.  The docking station is like a mothership, it stores and charges the machine, and holds additional attachments and accessories.

 

My life would never get back to where it was back then before the kids. Thankfully while kids and mess will always come together as one package, I’d say the joy of having those butterfly kisses at the end of a tiring work day just supersedes it all, spillage, dirt, mess and all. ❤

 

The Working Mama Learns To Bake


Hens for Life

Hens for Life

In the Seven2SevenMom’s world, leisure doesn’t seem to exist when there are endless line-up of compulsory activities that fly by our household, from Saturday school classes for my UPSR-sitting Cheeky KoKo, his Boys Brigade weekly activities and extra-curriculum at school to Pumpkin Mei-Mei’s girls scout activities, compulsory extra school classes and play dates.

I learned to bake these!

I learned to bake these!

On top of that, we fit in our already-packed schedule with a weekly 40-minute drive up to a different town to visit the grandparents as well as a sacred weekly grocery trip (usually upon a shocking discovery that all snacks from milk to cookies literally vanished from our kitchen because the mom, guilty as charged, has neglected her kids’ snacking needs because of work.

So whenever someone who is still single asks me what I do during the weekend, I’d just take in a deep breather and not say anything at all. Seriously, where do I begin to describe what I actually do on my rest days, right?

Yes, I enrolled myself into a baking class finally!

Yes, I enrolled myself into a baking class finally!

Without the luxury of some me-time, the boundless energy that resides in this mama does run dry especially during work-intensive phase, such as this few weeks when all I am made to process, think, breathe and live in are all the tiny grains of the project details and task lists I am handling at work. It’s only when we go for a bicycle ride or swim and splash as a family that I can get my mind off my work and that’s about as good a chill-out option a mama can indulge in.

So when a group of ex-colleagues-turned-buddies suggested to throw a hen’s party in the form of a baking class for one of the girls, I stepped right in with both my hands waived high like a mad woman. I guess part of me wanted to feel young again with all the girly goss and silly laughter that have long eloped me ever since I left youth for motherhood (lol) and the other part was because I was so dying to learn to whip up some really delicious tea treats for my little ones. At least the minis won’t starved anymore, I assured myself.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Wrapped in Sour Cream Loaf

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Wrapped in Sour Cream Loaf

After a nice brunch, we found ourselves creating quite a noisy scene as we arrived at The Cooking School in Sri Hartamas. Because my girlfriends and I went into the class as a group of giggly hens who chatted and laughed non-stop I am quite sure the school and other students have blacklisted us for the sheer noise that was bursting through the roof. And we weren’t even drunk! Imagine a random group of young managers and executives who became good friends working together and over the years went on separate corporate ways and now walk into a cooking class together as fellow hens! Who would have thought that we would one day measure and sift some flour, knead the dough and bake together, all in the name of hens fellowship!

As my soul heals the shame, I will grow through this pain,  Lord I'm doin' all I can  To be a better chef!

As my soul heals the shame, I will grow through this pain,
Lord I’m doin’ all I can
To be a better chef!

While I can’t blow my own trumpet that my culinary skills has since been improved from no-where near passable standard to Master Chef status, the easy-to-follow recipes that our instructor Pei Ling shared and taught us has made even a cooking-challenged working mom now make her kids come back for more of her home baked goodies.

We learned to make Strawberry Frangipane Tart, Cranbery, Yoghurt and Apple Tea Cake, Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Wrapped in Sour Cream Loaf and Buttermilk Scones all within four hours. There was hands-on group baking session for the Tea Cake and Scones whereas the Tart and Loaf were demonstrated to us with detailed explanation over every tips and steps.

And the cost for this self-improvement? A mere RM150 per person which also includes free afternoon tea or coffee as we enjoyed the delectable spread of our very own home-made desserts and savoury yummies..ingredient

Apart from the step-by-step demonstration of each recipe from mixing to baking, we were also given handy tips on the optimum ways to use each ingredient and baking tool. For example, when making butter crumbs, the butter is not supposed to have been thawed to room temperature, which my girlfriends from the other group did. Instead one should take it from the fridge to the mixing bowl to be mixed with the flour straight away to make sure that the baked crumbs come out just crunchy with a nice camel colourWe were also shown which baking tools were essential to have around the kitchen, something that might have come all common sense to an experienced chef or mom chef, but certainly an eye opener for an untalented mom such as yours truly.tart

At the end of the session, we even made some coffee and teas and enjoyed our own baked cakes and scones on the spot, mixed with lots of girly chatters and photo sessions with the glowing bride to be.

To think that I did not fail the baking class and now know how to put my oven and cake mixer to more productive use was totally a sweet spot!

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Baby B Self-Weaned (Yes, just like that!)


My breastfeeding-addict boy, Baby B, just weaned himself from nursing just few days short of turning 27 months old about 15 days ago!

Sigh. I wish he could breastfeed longer as much and as long as he wants to, and I wish the event leading to his self-weaning was more heart-warming and tender but somehow he just stopped breastfeeding completely overnight without any warning nor reason and I am left standing cold turkey, drenched in guilt of a busy working mama.

The whole event started around two Saturdays ago when I woke up very early in the morning trying to tiptoe to the bathroom to get ready to work. I wanted to hurry to the office to complete a humongous project at work and knew I was going to clock in at least a half-day work because the deadline for the project was looming close.

We have always been co-sleeping because he is the type of wakeful nursing baby who wakes up every 2 to 3 hours to nurse for comfort. Co-sIeeping made it easy for me to just wake up lightly enough to hold him up on the crook of my arms for those endless breastfeeding sessions through the night without ever leaving my bed. And if I nursed him lying down sometimes, we’d both fall deep into the sweet slumber land shared blissfully between a nursing mom and her baby.

That Saturday, as I turned on the bathroom light, Baby B found me standing in front of my bathroom staring back at him. He sat up on the bed gently rubbing his eyes and called me back saying, “Mommy, baby wants Nan-Nan” (his baby lingo for breastfeeding). Ridden with guilt that I was going to work on a weekend off day, I quickly climbed back into my bed and happily obliged by giving him a quick nursing session while my mind went through a quick breakdown of all the details of the project like a super computer processing all the tasks that I was going to do that Saturday.

His body felt a little warm that morning so I checked his temperature with our digital scan but he was actually not having any fever. Still, I covered him with his soft baby blanket and informed Daddy Joe to make sure to check on his temperature again when he woke up later. I then sped off to work and soon got so caught up with all the work that by the time I reached home, it was already 8pm.

As I put down my non-woven bag filled with all the heavy working files, our family helper informed me that Baby B cried in pain when he was having his food and water throughout the day and that she suspected that Baby B could either be having some teething pain or mouth ulcer.

When Baby B saw me, he walked up to me happily stretching out his arms and asked me to carry him for a “Nan-Nan”. I sat on our nursing sofa in the living room and held him up as usual but just as I pulled up my t-shirt to breastfeed him, he quickly turned his head away and gently pushed me away saying, “Baby pain pain…” Baffled, I asked him if he was having any pain inside his mouth to which he nodded and repeated “pain… pain.”

I checked his mouth and saw a little ulcer on his right cheek but it was nothing major. We checked his temperature again and noticed that he was having a mild fever. After being fed a low dosage of fever medicine, he cuddled next to me and instead of asking for “Nan-Nan,” he asked me to give him a baby massage on his back. I felt that he really wanted to breastfeed but somehow the discomfort of the ulcer prevented his usual appetite for his favourite drink – his “Nan-Nan”. “Baby don’t want Nan-Nan”, he said repeatedly. And he has repeated that the next day too and thereafter. Just like that, my baby has self-weaned himself completely and started sleeping through the night!

I don’t really know what caused him to wean himself off completely and I guess I would never know. I feel a little sad because deep down I wonder if he had stopped breastfeeding that day because when he was feeling the discomfort from the pain and the mild fever during the day time, I just wasn’t there for him. In fact I was buried deep beneath my working files and a heavy work load.

All I know is that had I known that that very morning was going to be our last nursing moment surely I would not have rushed it through but instead made sure it was the sweetest memory we both could cherish.

To all the breastfeeding moms out there who wonder if all those sleepless nights and constant waking up for night feeding would ever end, well I just want to encourage you to hang in there and cherish it as it lasts because one day your baby will grow into a mini person ready to take on the world as it comes and the one who is not ready is often us, the cow mama.

On the other hand, thanks Baby B, for weaning yourself at 26 months old, which makes your sis, Pumpkin Mei-Mei the longest nursling champion in the family as she clocked in 27.5 months of breastfeeding and the shortest being your eldest brother, Cheeky Koko who clocked in 22 months of breastfeeding. You are not too bad, anyway, having at it for at least 4 months longer than your Koko. That’s equivalent to the time it takes spring to turn into summer and about half of the time it takes for you to stay inside mama’s womb as God slowly moulds you into the little darling that you are to our family.

Mama’s not ready as you are, Baby B, but I will try to get used to the idea that anyway one day you will grow out of it and it seems that you have fast forwarded your own weaning and made it so smooth and easy for yourself and for all of us.

On the plus side, now I do sleep through the night and finally I can wear nice dresses to shopping mall and dinners with you little fellas without having to worry about you pulling up my dress in the middle of the concourse in front of twenty random strangers staring at my old, awful panty while you make a demanding call for ‘Nan-Nan’.

Yah, not a bad idea, really. 🙂

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Our Today Moments


“So… if one unleashed the power of Zeus, he would hurl thunderbolts and bring about killing rain that could then kill even Poseidon ‘cuz he is the aerial god. But Poseidon can counter this power with his own powerful weapon, which is a trident, and it can cause something like an earthquake that can kill the other fellas. Did you know that he is second to Zeus in power amongst the gods? So he is really cool too… I like him because he can control the sea. Imagine the power to call forth Tsunami-grade wave…”

“Hmmm…” I nodded at the split-second pause I had to insert my comment. I must be the only mom in this land who finds her preteen talks without any punctuations and pauses in his sentences.

“Mama, you don’t understand what I am talking about, right?” (Yes I really had NO clue and finaaaally, he got it!)

“Sweetie, I was listening, of course…” came my half-distracted tone when I finally found the crumpled box of raisins from my weathered handbag and quickly tossed it to the passenger seat towards Baby B to buy some peace.  I could not believe that we have only made it to the junction outside our home when it felt like I had driven for hours with a babbling toddler who was trying to escape from his car seat strapped next to his preteen sister who had the perpetual need to interfere my conversation with her brother who was literally speaking Greek to me since the morning!

“Well then, who’s your favourite Greek God, Mama?”

“Urm… the only one I remembered from my school days was Apollo – He is the god of sun, right? I remember reading about him riding on a chariot with four horses to chase the Sun across the sky.”

“Yah, ditto! Apollo is the son of Zeus too— He is the god of music. His weapon is an archer with a silver bow. He has cool healing power that people were crazy about. Did you know he is also the god of truth, so the funny thing is this guy can’t tell lies because he has an honest soul – Maybe that’s why you like him, Mama, ‘cuz you always say lying is the worst thing a kid does, right?”

“Hmmm…I guess so…” I tried to focus hard on the traffic ahead driving the three happiest little people to a neighbourhood mall to get some back-to-school stuff but the truth was I was losing my attention span thinking about my work, their school transportation arrangement, the stationery and grocery on my shopping list, their tuition fees and buying some night diapers for Baby B.

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Yes I often feel like I am a Super Mom – except that in this planet I haven’t mastered the whole juggling act perfectly and don’t think I’d ever get there either!

“Mama, I don’t think you were listening to what I said, that or you are completely unaware of all the powerful weapons these characters have in the cartoon I just said” Cheeky Koko made a passing comment that brought me back from my daydreaming.

It reminded me of a car bumper sticker I got as a Christmas present from Pumpkin Mei-Mei weeks ago. It showed a frazzled mom driving in the car with three kids making lots of noises and it says “Driving Under The Influence of Children!” that had me chuckled upon seeing how well it described my multitasking-life as a mother.

But now it wasn’t funny! I realise that as a working mother, this sort of occasional chronic inattentiveness is becoming debilitating. I am always with the kids whenever I am not working and much as I try my best, I can be half-present sometimes in that my mind does wander off to all the other things such as work tasks that are waiting for me to complete at the back of my mind.

I would lurve to be a stay-home mother (which by the way, was secretly my ambition if money, diapers, grocery, loan payback and all of life’s necessities can just rain into our lawn from the sky!) but it’s just not an option for us, for now.image

I don’t think I am alone in this struggle either. Most other working moms I have come to know struggle with juggling acts of their own as they try to ace in both of their callings in Family and Work.

In the recent Friso Mum Survey in which I was invited to take part in, I realise that I am part of the phenomenal statistic of the Working Mom’s Syndromes, which include but not limited to:

1)      Spending about 2.5 hours lesser than a non-working mum or housewife with her children, and she considers only half her time with her children as “quality time”.

2)      Constantly feeling the tension to balance between work and family which results in:

A. Don’t have enough time in her daily life/routine (Totally true, just look at how I am deprived of a quality bath time here!)

  1. Struggle to juggle between work, housework and the family (Another truth, because I can so ruin our holiday!)
  2. Feeling guilty for not spending enough time with their children and try to fulfil their children’s needs by giving them what they want. (Gulp, my father’s wisdom prevails here!)

While the journey of motherhood brings incredible experiences and immeasurable joys to a mom, the reality of having to juggle between work and family do create a lot of emotional tensions for working moms.

The insensitive commentators say we should just suck it all up and march it on with glitz and glitter since we choose to work, but the sad reality is mostly, we Don’t have a choice in having to work and we have tonnes on our plates — From work, sending and picking up the kids, cooking, bathing feeding them, plus household chores, that we are often left feeling out of time, exhausted, guilty and helpless.

In doing that, I echo Friso Gold’s sentiment for wanting to call on mothers to get in on the acts of “Our Today Moments” in creating lasting moments and spending more quality time with their kids. It’s about the quality time we craft out with our kids that focuses on being in that moment and being in “Today”.  In another words, it’s about us making the effort to make every moment count with our kids –  “Our Today Moments”!

As I pulled into the parking lot of the mall, I apologised to Cheeky Koko that I wasn’t really paying much attention into what he was saying because I had just have a very rough week at work.

“Really? You could have shared your burden with me, Mama. And it’s ok, Mama, I know you work hard for us, so that we can have a good future and I just wanted to share with you what I am into these days, because you said that as I slowly turn into a teenager in the next few years, I may just shut myself out from you and may even be a pain like choosing my friends over you. So guess what? I am making sure that I won’t be a bad teen by sharing my stuff with you including the cartoon I am watching these days… because I love you, Mama”

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In my mind, I did a little chicken dance as the happy, smashing hen so so so… loved by her chicks dearly.

It is said that motherhood chooses us while we can choose to beat the odds in being the best that we can. I was committed to being a better mom there and then and being in the PRESENT whenever my child speaks the next time. My kids just needed me to be with them in the moment, in “Our Today’s Moment” — A sweet lesson I simply have to learn from a 12 years old.

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Photo Credit:

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/countrykitty/5146326185/”>countrykitty</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/bies/127619542/”>bies</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

A Smokey, Dusty Christmas Tale


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It was not perfect but the kids saw Magic in our worn-out white Christmas tree!

I heard from the two older happiest little people that Vietnam experienced snowing a few weeks ago. “Mama, the earth is sick already, how can this part of our world experiences snowfall, what’s more in a tropical climate like ours where the sun is BIG and HOT?” The ever-perceptive Pumpkin Mei-Mei asked.

I put down the book I was reading about how to shine in one’s work place and stared out of the window thinking to myself that not just the weather of Vietnam but this Christmas is not quite right in this household too.

I was breathing dust like a vacuum cleaner the whole of last week working at a construction site from dawn to dusk, preparing the site to look reasonably good and acceptable for an event. And in the midst of buying the toilet rolls, fresheners, a water pail, sticking parking direction and signage and setting up all of the sound and light systems and acted as the emcee for the event, I had no time left to buy Christmas gifts or plan for Baby B’s 2nd birthday celebration and my anniversary with Daddy Joe.

Over the weekend, I took out my favourite baking recipe book that my sister got me for last year’s Christmas and thought I would bake some nice Christmas cakes and cookies for the little ones but oh, what a bummer! I forgot that my oven wasn’t working because just over a month ago, Pumpkin Mei-Mei had accidentally burned down my poor old oven! Our little drama started as she was pre-heating the oven when a small spark started tracing up a dangling rubber piece inside the oven which triggered a small fire that quite literally burned down the oven and shattered its tempered glasses all at once. It was absolute pandemonium for the next few minutes! After some panicky screams and dousing off the flames with water, the kids sat down laughing cleaning up the messed up kitchen which also left the entire apartment smelling of smoke as if a Thanksgiving dinner had gone overtly wrong.

We were supposed to fix the oven before Christmas but was told by the manufacturer that our unit was out of its warranty period, plus they no longer produced this model nor kept any of its parts anymore that they would gladly offer a trade-in for a new model at an additional RM1300, which Daddy Joe being the economist of the family was not willing to part with after he worked out the frequency math that his wifeythe working mom” had not touched the oven more than she had typed on the keyboard in a year which meant we would be stuck with a non-functioning oven for a while until Daddy Joe receives his great enlightening.

We wanted to get a real Christmas tree from Ikea just to deliver a magical Christmas atmosphere for the happiest little people but ended up recycling our white fake tree with really old ornaments because the working mama has barely survived a torturous working month that seemed no end to piling work and endless deadlines. Heck, I didn’t even have the time to take the small set to the mall to choose their own ornaments — a family tradition that we have observed since six, seven years ago!

So quite frankly, this is by far the lousiest Christmas I have ever had in the last 15 years of working or so. Even so, even so, I thank God for such things as a loving family that has supported me all the way through, although I have put in more efforts in decorating the work place than my own home or have had to answer to work-related phone calls more than calling home to chat with the kiddos this holiday season.

There is certainly no roasted turkey for entrée this year, no hot butter cookies in sight and the Christmas tree did not come bedecked in the most spectacular ornaments in our family room, but despite a less-than-perfect Christmas backdrop, our home is aglow with the love, joy and peace of the season. I may not be the most organised mommy out there but surely making them tree-shaped pancakes for the morning, followed by worshipping in the house of the Lord and playing Santa on Christmas Eve to make sure that each kid wakes up to his own special gift under the tree will more than make up for the other holiday traditions that are missing this Christmas.

If you are one of the guilty parents like yours truly, well fret not, you are right home with me! Cheer up, here’s a toast to all the little imperfections that make us PARENTS. 😀

Merry Christmas to you all! May the love and peace of our good Lord bring you and your loved ones everlasting joy!