Rachael Turns 5

5 years ago today, after work I rushed to Gleneagles Hospital to meet my first little Goddaughter except she was in NICU and had to be there for about 48hours.  It was a little worrying at first but now that’s all in the past and she turns 5 this year.

Time seems to be flying us by and to be perfectly honest I’m not quite prepared for her turn 5.  Here’s how much I’m not.  When I was wrapping her present and her sister’s belated one, I wrote the right age for her sister, 8 and I know jolly well she’s only 3 years younger than her sister which makes her 5 but I wrote “Happy 4th Birthday”. When I collected her cake, I told the bakery I only needed 4 candles.  During the party and the girls were opening their presents I realised the mistake I did.  Yet when we were putting her candles on, I was going to put only 4 again till her 8 year old sister asked if I was alright and gave me a quizzical look like I’m losing my mind.

Yes, my baby Rachael, I’m not quite ready for you to grow up but grow up you so shall be doing.  One day, you’ll be 12, then 18, 21 and heaven forbid 30 and I’ll still treat you like my little one 🙂  Meanwhile, I’m enjoying 5 year old you.  You have this sense of humour that is pretty much like your Godpa.  You’re still super shy outside the house with strangers but a bundle of laughs when you’re all comfortable.  With your little Godsister, Caitlin, you’re the wonderful Cheachea (big sister).  I’m loving the connection we have and want to stretch your creative capabilities.  Thank you for always sharing how you see the world with me.  I live for your hugs and laughter that seem to make the world’s problems disappear.  Love you SO MUCH!!

My Niece Turns 8

Today my first niece in my life turns 8 years old.  While I’m in Vancouver and she’s in Singapore but I’ll never let her forget how important she is in my life.  In her I see bits of her Mum, her Godma, her aunts and definitely bits of me.  I’m always so grateful for her life and how she lets me into it.  So this year on her 8th birthday, here’s my wish for her.

Dearest Mabel,

I say this every year, I can’t quite believe you’re 8 already.  You were just about 20months old at my wedding.  You’re such a tween already and in your ways I remember the growing pains of getting comfortable in your own skin.  Something I only learnt when I was in my 30s.  I’m hoping that lesson doesn’t elude you quite as long.  In the meantime, here’s Meryl Streep’s take on beauty:-

He would never imagine a blonde person could speak Italian – Meryl Streep

It’s always nice and a lot of fun to look pretty and yes, the world will always judge you by how you look.  Just remember though, it isn’t what the world thinks of you that is important.  It’s what you think of yourself and who you want to become.  Always stay true to the very best version of you.  It may take you a while to figure out who that is and when it gets tough, just remember you will figure it out one day.  Meanwhile, enjoy the ride and know we love you HEAPS!!!


Coco Carlene


My Swiss Goddaughter

5 is a sweet number and if I started earlier, I would love to have had 5 children so as of today, it’s official, I’ve got 5 godkids 🙂  God works in mysterious ways and even though it’s not how you exactly pictured it, He’ll give you what you wish for.

That’s me and Caitlin as she officially becomes Catholic.  With Pope Francis and this nun:-

I couldn’t think of a better time to be part of the Catholic family. Especially since I’m no longer a Godma virgin, I actually have a better idea of what Godparenting entails now.

So to my dearest Caitlin,

You’re in much better hands than your Godcheachea who was my very first Goddaughter.  I’ve learnt a lot through her and so will you.

I love watching how she fusses over you, can’t wait for you guys to grow up together and have as much fun as we did growing up.  Meanwhile, little one, I couldn’t be more proud to be your Godma.  The world will get a little crazy and sometimes it seems hard to understand why God lets things happen the way they do but I’ll let you in on what I found out. His will is the best for us.  It may not always feel like it and that’s where we’ll learn what faith means.  I have a hunch you’ll get there a lot sooner than I will.  Yes, like your Godsiblings, I’m pretty sure you’ll be teaching me more than I will you.

I love you to bits and though a continent and then some keeps us physically apart most of the time, you’re always in my prayers and thought.

With lots of love, hugs and kisses,


P/S: With a 4 year old, 1 year old and a 1 month old, I say this is a pretty good picture 🙂

50 Years From Today

I think it’s somewhat kismet that one year shy of turning 50, Singapore is going through her next milestone as an independent nation.  50 years ago, some considered her a backwater place with no hope.  Yet in 1965 against all hope, she was force to be independent and thrived into the 21st century.

With everything that has happened in the last month, it looks like the Singapore is going to turn 50 with yet another milestone under her belt – an unprecedented political awakening.  What am I talking about?  How Roy Ngerng managed to crowdraise the funds he needed for being sued by Singapore’s Prime Minister.  Some of my friends reckon he’s stupid and haven’t got an idea what he is up against, other friends think he is entitled to his opinion and is putting up a good fight.  Whatever your opinion is, it is raising a political awareness that is unseen in my lifetime.  For that I do appreciate what is happening.

I definitely don’t think he is stupid and am in many ways grateful that he cares enough about a policy to put his head on the line.  How many of us are willing to do that?  I guess that’s where some of my friends reckon stupid best describes – making unnecessary sacrifices for something you believe in.  Here’s where I love differing opinions and why it’s so very important for these discussions to be had for the continued growth of our very young nation.  I don’t agree with my friends that think he is being stupid.  I do think he is being brave to stand up for answers he believes Singaporeans have a right to ask for.  I’ve read his blogs and I don’t think there is anything wrong with what he is asking for.  No one seemed to be attempting to even address his questions when he was politely asking so I can see why he decided to push the button a little more.

Here’s my humble opinion, I’ve worked in the government, they do get some things wrong and they do get a whole lot of other things right too.  No organisation is perfect and that goes the same with the Singapore government.  One of the problems our government has is the lack of effective communications and officers riddled with fear of Singaporeans complaining.  In my experience, most officers do just enough so no one complains.  Nothing really wrong with that but when you’re a growing nation with intense competition to survive, just enough almost always doesn’t quite cut it.  That’s my issue with the civil service and my beef with Singaporeans is that we can really complain in the most nonconstructive nature.   Again in my experience, some of the complains that came through made me suspect that there are some Singaporeans with a tad too much time on their hands.

In the past, just enough was enough and that’s not to say some of us aren’t grateful for having homes, enough to eat, being able to walk safely at 3am.  In fact, we are grateful for all the good we have and also know we can’t stop there.  For all practical purposes, Singapore is as good as it gets but you know what, we can keep dreaming big.  So back to my point of political awakening and creating an environment for constructive discussions so that we keep growing and getting better.  Thank you Roy for pushing the envelop, that’s how as a society we will learn, both the government and the people.  It’ll be 2015 next year and I have a good hunch against all hope, we will be forced to evolve, build a democracy true to the heart of Singaporeans where people can offer constructive criticism and continue to thrive into the next century.

39 and One Quarter Years Old

25% of my 39th year is over and if I had to take stock, the last quarter has been quite revealing about how I’m still very much a work-in-progress.  There’s a clear picture in my head of the  84 year-old lady I hope to become and at close to 40, I don’t know if I’m halfway there but hey, we just keep trying 🙂

While I keep trying, here’s the two monkeys that make my ride so much more fun.  My little sister and my crazy cousin who is more a brother.  Growing up, these two have driven me crazy but at the same time, I know they always have my back like I do them.  Both of them have showed me unwavering support and when I make a mistake, they will be there to pick me up without asking questions.

As I get older, I’ve learnt to be grateful and in my last year of my 30s, I’m so thankful for the childhood memories these two monkeys gave me and I can’t wait to make more so that when we’re all silver and wrinkled we can look back at our mid life with the same fondness.

Bullying Never Ends

I was a pretty lucky kid in school.  By all standards, I was normal and didn’t stand out, both is a good or bad way.  In fact, there may have been a time or two that people may have started bullying me i.e. making fun of me and one of my quirks but I have a pretty thick hide … a huge ego usually helps with that :p  It may have taken me time but I learnt what Wil Weaton said to this little girl at comic con is so true.

The strongest memory of bullying from my childhood was when my friends turn all mean girls on another girl in school one day.  I went home thinking all night.  Yes, I didn’t partake in the teasing but I just stood there.  While I didn’t add to the fire, I sure as hell wasn’t trying to put it out.  I struggled a fair bit that night and knew I was as wrong as my friends.  It said more about my friends and me that we thought it was fun to pick on someone different from us, than it did about her.  So when my nephew started school and had experienced bullying himself, it brought back clear memories of navigating the social politics of school.

I wish I can say I haven’t had to struggle with it as much in my adulthood but we all grow at different stages.  This much is clear, bullying, intended or otherwise very often says more about the aggressor than the aggress-ee.  Pride, arrogance and safety in numbers dulls a lot of us into an unconsciousness that happens way into adulthood too.  So how can we expect our children to be any better?  We can’t.  We can only expect more from ourselves, I guess.  That’s the hard bit – expecting more from myself.

The 30s has been a roller coaster ride of learning about who I am.  I suspect the 40s is going to be about who I can become.

The Complete Story

Unless something happens directly to me, I hardly ever get the complete story of anything that happens to anyone else. In fact, everything that happens to me is only from my perspective and again, it isn’t quite the complete story.  Even in my memory, there’s always bits and pieces that go missing or get embellished, much less when you’re try to get the whole picture of a situation that happened to someone else.

I’m talking about the hullabaloo surrounding Woody Allen and the lifetime achievement award that he received earlier this year.  It’s just another reminder not to make quick judgements, especially with people I don’t know jack about.

If you are friends of his ex-wife and daughter, you’d believe he’s the monster from their side of the story.

If you’re his friends and family, you’ll believe this side and know he’s been severely misunderstood.

Which brings me to the point of my post.  I actually thought that by the time I’m a year shy of turning 40, I’d have figured it all out.  I actually thought I did until a recent exchange between friends that made me realise you never know who is telling you the truth and what is the truth anyway.  Made me dig deep and question my own bullshit barometer on myself.  I can’t tell if other people are telling the truth but I sure as hell can learn to be honest with myself.  Till this day, the hardest thing I’ve had to learn and am still learning to do.

At the end of the day, that’s all that matters, right?  Not what other people think of you, just what you know of yourself. I wonder if Woody Allen has a hard time walking down the street because people he doesn’t know and some so called friends judge him for a monster. I sure it smarts that people think less of you but if you are honest and know who you are, the sting doesn’t last very long.

That’s what I’m learning anyway.  Maybe this time next year, I’d think differently 🙂 Who knows? For now, I’m grateful for all growing older brings.

Surprises and Mondays

I do like surprises, good unexpected things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  I chanced upon this video recently that did exactly that.

It isn’t always that you get a fairly young seemingly doofus type Hollywood character dishing out sound advice.  I now know Chris Ashton Kutcher’s parents did well by him and why despite what looks like a crazy life in Hollywood, he seems to be doing alright.  Maybe not having an entitled childhood help, no matter, it isn’t easy keeping it real in the real world much less in Hollywood so kudos to him for trying his darn-est to be better.

While he was directing his advice to teens, it’s a good reminder for the rest of us, the real old folks.  As we get older, we forget that opportunity truly comes disguised as work usually very hard work.  The being sexy part is so true and does become clearer when you get older, you realise how some people draw you to them by the sheer fact that they have big hearts and minds and not a six pack or a plunging neck line.  Lastly, yes yes yes, we fill our lives with so many moments that distract us and merely live that we’ve forgotten that we can build the lives we want.  It isn’t easy but like he said opportunity is hard work and that’s what I have this Monday morning, yet another opportunity to build the life I want 🙂  Now where’s that construction helmet of mine? *humming Bob The Builder theme song in my head*

Being a 30 Something

I said it before, I love getting older and the 30s with all it’s ups and downs (some pretty heavy downs too) I love love love it.  It’s about becoming more aware, growing a soul and generally hopefully becoming a better version of my crazy and spontaneous 20something self.  So when I read what Anton Casey, all of 39 years old, did online, I’m like WTF!!  Seriously, dude, you deserve everything you’re getting because at 39 years old, you have no excuses.  None at all.  What in the world were you thinking when you posted this on social media?

Sure, I can see how someone can quietly crack a joke like that in the privacy of their own bedrooms on their 2500 thread count Egyptian cotton bedsheets and think it’s remotely funny but on Social Media?!?!  And ok, I can also see this being done by a reckless teenager who grew up never having spent time with their parents, not ever lifting a finger and having other people pick up their crap.  But a 39 year old father?

Like my Dad always says, “In time, the laws of the universe teaches us all what we need to learn.”  It’s a pretty painful lesson to learn at 39 years old but oh so, necessary if his thoughtless post is any representation of who he really is.  In my household, it’s called growing pains and better to learn at 39 than not at all, I say 🙂

Another reminder to me that anyone can read this blog and while it exists mostly for me to remember who I was and how I think at a point of time, I’m hoping it also helps create a habit to be responsible about how I think and what I say or write.  It is about a journey of growing up.  My journey of wearing out my skin, getting it to a point where it’s so comfortable, my ego doesn’t exist and when the time comes for it to give way, I’m happy with how I lived but this is a public platform and so I shouldn’t write every thoughtless thing that comes into my head because yes, every once in a while my mind shocks me too with some of the poppycock that pops up.  That’s why being in your 30s is cooler than being in your 20s.  You can call out your own BS, you know better and that some jokes shouldn’t even be whispered out loud.

Wonder what turning 39 this year will reveal and maybe the 40s could be a decade even better than my 30s?  One can hope 🙂

In the meantime, happy last weekend of the Snake year!!


I can’t believe my last post was 2 months ago and from LAST YEAR!!  The end of year came and took me by surprise … well, actually not that big of a surprise, I did expect its coming but the speed of which it came and went … that surprised me.  I’m still a little shell shocked that I finished Christmas shopping, put together a last minute proposal for a client, celebrated family birthdays, solved a missing payment at work, enjoyed the season celebrations, made a bid for a new client, learned how to cook popiah, worked some more and ushered the New Year zombie style with my family quicker than you can say Happy New Year.  A whole bunch of milestones all rolled into 2 happy busy months.

Now it’s 2014 and *drumroll* on to real milestones.

My 4 year old Goddaughter got her ears pierced!!  She didn’t cry and only said that it was “a little bit pain”.  Needless to say I’m very proud of her.  I was a wee lass of 3 years old when my own ears got pierced and the very clear memory of burning pain pulsating through my ears still sends shivers down my spine.  So when little girls want and eventually get their ears pierced, I have nothing but respect for them.

My little Rachie is growing up quick.  It’s 2014 and she wants earrings … I have a feeling come 2024, it’ll be tattoos.  Part of me is missing the baby she no longer is but I’m looking forward to the new shared experience of getting older that I already share with her brother and sister.  I love how they develop their own opinions.  How very similar or very different they can view the world from me.  How from them, I relearn and am inspired to try harder and be better.  I think that’s why God puts kids in our lives 🙂

Here’s to a 2014 filled with reasons to try harder and be better 🙂