It’s an Aluminium Anniversary

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. Yep, the big 10 … ok, in the larger scheme of things 10 isn’t much, particularly compared to my parents’ 43 and they haven’t killed each other yet :p It’s true! Marriage is tough. My husband really doesn’t like it when I say that because it makes it sound like our marriage is especially difficult. Let me be honest here, I don’t think we’re special and our marriage isn’t especially difficult, just like my parents’ isn’t either. I think it’s a same everywhere – making a marriage work takes a lot of effort. It isn’t easy and very rarely it is.

It can be for some people and when they are, I do want to pick their brains and hearts and find out how they do it. For the rest of us mere mortals, it does take work but doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Not at all, in fact, IMHO, it’s a positive thing that I’m working at it at least it shows I’m still interested, engaged and committed. My husband should really worry when I want to stop working at it 😉

That said, marriage like any relationship, even the seemingly simple ones take some level of effort. It should too because when it’s worth it, you want to work at it. Just don’t lose yourself. that’s the part that gets the best and the worst of us. On the flip side, don’t take the other half of the relationship for granted. Again it’s happened to all of us. So that’s me in the last 10 years of my marriage, sliding from one end of the spectrum to the other while trying to keep balance. It makes it worth while (even though some times it doesn’t feel like it particularly when my hormones go on a rampage) because my husband is riding the spectrum too! That’s my marriage in a nutshell, two individuals trying to keep a teeter-totter (that’s Canadian for a see saw) in balance 🙂

Version 2

P/S: That pretty much sums up all the dances that I do with my Mummy, Daddy, baby sister, sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, cousins, aunts, uncles, best-est of friends … yah, every relationship in my life. Except maybe God who I know definitely takes the brunt of the weight!

The Art of Being an Adult Child

This weekly post is a day late because I’m sitting in the Bali airport waiting for my flight to go back home to Singapore. It was the first solo weekend getaway with my Mum, it was also her first time to Bali. And it was a success, imho 🙂

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I’ve managed to make my Mum fall in love with Bali as much as I do. Honestly, before I wasn’t sure because there’s certain things my Mum doesn’t like … messy developing states and humid weather, just to name a couple but she does LIKE Bali, its massages and chilling by the villa!! That’s what I like being an adult child, being the one who opens our parents mind to something different, something new, something they would never do on their own. They did it for us while we were growing up and now as they are learning to get use to the next phase of their life -their silver years. They have to get use to us, the adult child being the ones who do the parenting.

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It’s so easy to see the stuff our parents do that drive us crazy, you know the stuff we complain about and eventually become 😉 Yah, those parts. For better or worse, I’m grateful I like my parents and if I’m eventually going to be like them, it isn’t going to be that bad. For me at least, not sure about my husband 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t perfect … far from it but they’ve who I got and they made me. You’ve heard the saying, ” Karma’s a bitch.” I’m my parents karma despite their pretty easy going ways raising me, I’m not an easy going adult child. I’m not quite sure why, I’m just not. I yell, I’m bossy and I’m controlling as hell but I’m learning trying to figure out life, being an adult, being me and when it comes to my parents, being an adult child.

I read a good advice somewhere once about how to be a good parent. It was simple. Just show up, be present and be there. It’s true, it really is quite that simple. You can’t always be there, can’t always be present and other times you simply can’t show up. Things happen, they do but you try your darn-est. Kids will get it. Me and my sister do.

So that’s what I’m learning about being an adult child, just try my best to show up, be present and be there. Next, to show up and be present while trying to open my parents’ mind to Google Drive and Dropbox 🙂

2014

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 🙂

Mr and Mrs Woon

6 months ago, a little kitten was led out of the wedding bag.  This was the day we were preparing for.  It went by quick like with all happy occasions and here’s my recap of the day.  It started early for the most of the wedding party, getting into peak hour traffic to get to church on time.  I’m happy to report no one hit any major snags and we were there all ready to get the day going.  The groomsmen had the ever gorgeous bridesmaid, Nis looking over them and were all working hard when I got there 2 minutes after 9.  We settled in and of course, I started taking pictures.

From the top left hand corner, that’s Michelle and Nis getting the front table ready.  Then me and Bernie taking a pause for a picture.  Next up, Michelle and Nis when I said, “Look here girls!!”  At the bottom left, that’s Perry in between Nis and me.  I’d say, he’s in awe of how beautiful Nis looks but that’s just me 🙂  Then it’s me and Cheryl, director extraordinaire.  One of my favourite part of weddings is watching the nervous groom before the bride arrives.  Mat was playing the part well 🙂  He was well supported by his boys but the nervous buzz coupled with unbridled happiness was clear on his face that morning.

You can tell from the picture I made him take with me.  He must have been thinking,”Crazy bridesmaid Carlene, I have better things to do than take a picture with you.” but yesiree, I document almost everything.  So there’s me with the happy groom and if you didn’t think he could be happier, he did get very much more happy when his bride arrived.  I wish I had a camera while I was walking down the aisle but I didn’t and remembered looking at Mat, the smile he had when Gen walked in with her Dad.  He even teared up a little and melted my heart.

The wedding mass went smoothly and beautifully without a hitch and as simple as that Gen and Mat became Mr and Mrs Woon.  Up next was the party bit and once the photo taking in church was done, it was wrapping up and moving to our next location, Food for Thought at the Botanic Gardens.

When we got there the wedding decorators were already going to town with the place.  We helped out and arranged the other odds and ends with about 45minutes to spare.  The guests started arriving and we pinged the newly weds that the anticipation for their arrival was steadily growing.

I managed to catch a shot with the bride just before her walk in and the party started.  With loving speeches, dancing, cheers, laughter and lots of chattering, it was a room full of love and warm wishes for the newly minted Mr and Mrs Woon.  I couldn’t be happier for my dear friend, Gen.  Mat is a sweet sweet guy and perfect for her.  For Mat, Gen’s big heart is all he is going to need for the rest of his life.  I can’t wait for their little ones who I know will have all they need in their parents to face this crazy world we live in 🙂

Haze-a-pore

I know I’ve been blessed all my life and in case I forget, God reminded me again by letting the haze envelop Singapore just as I got on a plane to head to Perth.  Ok ok ok, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love my sister who’s had to battle the crazy haze with the rest of Singapore.  I know I just got lucky this time around.  Very lucky as I read and kept in touch with daily PSI readings till it went into the hazardous stages.

Here’s a picture my friend sent me where the Singapore Flyer is completely shrouded by the haze earlier today.  I truly don’t know what can be done because I don’t know enough about what’s happening in Indonesia to have a seriously considered comment about how they do things.  I have been busy in Perth :p  However, I bet I have a teenage neighbour who smokes from his bedroom window because it faces mine so occasionally I smell cigarette smoke in my room.  I may not have satellite images revealing the fire and the smoke from his bedroom and even if I did, I do understand the need for a diplomacy dance.  We live side by side and everyday we’re going to have to share other common areas and air being one of them.  Fortunately there are things I can do, close the window, switch on the fan and blow it in his direction, politely let them know and hope they react positively.

The haze, on the other hand, isn’t quite within Singapore’s control but each and every one of us can also do our level best.  Close the windows, share what we can afford to those who cannot and be part of the solution rather than be part of the problem.  Easy for me to say, I’m not home.  I’d like to think I could be that way if I was home too and not hoard masks, blame everyone else and use the haze as an excuse to laze.  I’m sure I’ll be put to the test when I’m back home … according to everything I’ve read, it’s likely to stay for a couple of months.

I’m not the only lucky one though.  I think for the first time ever, my friends, Cherry, Gerie, Claire, Lynn and I are not in Singapore at the EXACT same time.  Over this crazy haze weekend, we were in different parts of the world.

Ah got to love these 6 kids 🙂  Aren’t they adorable?  If there was a good time for being in different parts of the world at the same time, this would have been it.

See everyone back in Singapore in July!!

in·er·tia

noun

inertness, especially with regard to effort, motion, action, and the like; inactivity; sluggishness.

Sometimes I feel, despite the progress we’ve made on so many things, we’re still stuck on just as many other things.  What am I talking about?

This post is exactly 2 weeks old today.  Simply because I had a lot of thoughts when I first read it and like my previous post on Equality, I gave myself some time to ponder and reflect.

In the new year of the Snake, we can agree to disagree and keep this old law in our current legal system but here’s my proposal, let’s bring back an even older law that both the straight and gay communities would have no problems to – outlaw adultery.  It’s been a really long long time since it was a criminal offence.  At some point, even the most conservative thought it was ok that it no longer be considered a crime or that they were so small a voice, the rest of society thought it was ridiculous to criminalise it.  If our conservative roots reckon that being gay breaks down the family unit, yadda yadda yadda, they have to agree with me that adultery has a more extensive impact on society.  Case in point, Singapore’s sex scandals in the year of the Dragon, it affected not only families but also whole constituencies.  Make adultery a crime and maybe the breaking down of family units that we are so worried about will come to a grinding halt.

Sounds ridiculous?

So does saying that keeping 377A will uphold values that is important to the Singaporean core, even if it is only the conservative core.  Ok, I’m exaggerating and that’s not exactly what the government or PM is saying but keeping this old law in our current legal system is like saying yes, it’s ok to treat people who are different from us as criminals.  That is no hyperbole.  This is what keeping 377A means.

Being gay is no different from being a single parent, from being a adopted, from being schizophrenic, from being a woman, from being Chinese.  People don’t choose to be these ways and when there is a perception of choice involved, it really isn’t a choice.  To make that a crime goes against the grain of everything I hope for Singapore – a considerate and empathetic society that can overcome any storm, in spite of our differences.

Conservative or otherwise, I don’t think anyone will disagree with me that treating someone as a criminal for just being different is a very heavy thing to do.  If I haven’t been clear, I am not really suggesting we make it illegal to cheat though I don’t think I’ll  have any problems garnering support for that.  My point is this, society, especially the conservative roots does a good enough job on shaking their heads to adultery and it isn’t something any of us, progressive,conservative, straight or gay, want to happen to our families.  Sure, mistakes happen but it isn’t a crime. So why should 377A still exist? Even with criminal mistake, we all understand and forgive.

To be very clear, this is what I’m trying to say, being gay is not a mistake.  It is being different and it isn’t about forgiveness, it’s about acceptance and exactly why 377A has no place in our home today.

Convent Girls

I think girls who go to convent schools all over the world have a certain kind of reputation.  Some good.  Some bad.  Some totally ridiculous and some are just all perceptions.  I went to a convent school and loved loved loved it.  Made some really good friends.  I remember making a few enemies as well.  It is after all an ALL girls school 🙂  All in all, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything else.

However, I always thought if I ever had my own daughter, she’d never go to a convent school.  Why?

Well, because I didn’t realise how small our convent girl world was till I left the schools.  My friends in school were similar to the Catholic family friends I grew up with, which was pretty similar to the family I was brought up in.  Nothing bad about that … except it was a little Stepford Wife-ish for me.  Although, most convent girls are anything but Stepford wives :p

As a Mum I reckon, that my job will be to afford opportunities and experiences to my children where I didn’t have.  Most of my dearest and nearest, even those I didn’t meet in convent school and made later in life, are of the convent school mould.  In that case my children, if I ever have any, would already have exposure to that lifestyle, their values and perspectives.  All pretty similar to mine.  My argument then is that the school they go to should expose them to other equally positive lifestyles, value systems and perspectives.  Hence, the no convent school route for my daughter.

Until now.

Next year when my niece starts primary 1, she’ll be going to a convent school just like her aunts 🙂  There’s something to be had about tradition and seeing her in the same uniform I once don, my heart melted and knew that she’d fit right in, have a whale of a time and be a better woman for it 🙂

So I’m not so sure anymore that I won’t send my daughter to a convent school.  Right now though, I’m just grateful that I don’t need to deal with the dilemma of picking a school for my yet-to-exist daughter.  When I do, I’ll reread this post and like every other conundrum  in life, pray for guidance 😉

Initiated Into Auntie-dom

A month ago today, one of my dear friends made a trip back to Singapore, she hasn’t been back in 7 years!!  That’s like a whole lifetime … literally for my niece :p  Anyway, besides eating her fill of local delights, she wanted to play MAHJONG!!

I am friends with some of the best mahjong players around and my own aunts are very well acquainted with the tiles but I have actually never played the game.  Not until a couple of weeks ago, that is 🙂

We all trooped to All Hail Mahjong Queen Cherry’s place and I was taught to identify tiles, what ‘pong’ meant and no, it has nothing to do with smells, how to game and I even won money 🙂   I have to say, it is an interesting game and I can understand why older people all over the world play it.  I suspect if Cherry lived closer, I’d be playing more often 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ll look forward to our next game, which is probably when Mia comes back … in another 7 years.  Don’t wait too long for your next visit!!!  For now, all I can say is thank goodness for whatsapp, skype and email.

TGIF!!

Accountability

If you’re living in Singapore, you know that 2012 is going to be a year for accountability.  At least that’s what the signs point to for me.  I’m talking about the ministerial pay.  Everyone has an opinion about it and at first I thought there’s enough opinions out there already and mine wasn’t any more different.  Then I read this in Today today so this post like most of my others, is to remind me when I forget.  Today it is why I take the democratic voting process so seriously.

I’m sure this article is meant as a balance but seriously, I don’t think any sane and logical person thinks politics is charity work.  Maybe some people do and it’s good to have an article about it … timing though … reading this article made me thing Mr Cheng is a little brown noser who had plans on being a minister but is rethinking his options.  I’m definitely not saying he is one.  It’s just an impression from one article. If I ever got the chance to know him, I’m pretty sure he’s a nice guy who cares both for his family and the country but it’s quotes like “To expect someone to sell his primary residence to enter or stay in politics is an idealism detached from reality”  that simply adds to my initial impression.  No, Mr Cheng, I don’t expect anything out of ordinary of them.  I expect the government be like everyone else sell their primary residence when they have failed to do what I have entrusted them to do on my behalf.  Many Singaporeans every day have to do what they have to, even sell their ONLY homes (mind you, not just primary residence) because they didn’t make the cut at work.

That is exactly why I appreciate PM, the clean wage approach and here’s my personal take on the pay cuts – accountability.  If you work in a big organisation, you have that annual review where your bosses and sometimes your peers give their 2 cents about you.  Your promotion, salary increment, bonuses all hinge on it.  Sometimes it’s fair, sometime it isn’t, sometimes you get lucky and other times you don’t.  The election was just that – the government’s review and by most standards, PM took the results to heart and is moving in the right direction for me.

On being the highest paid government in the world, here’s my bit to my fellow Singaporeans.  The clean wage approach is truly beneficial to the common man.  We don’t have to look at other governments.  Just look at MNCs that pay people well and have all kinds of benefits.  I’ve seen it first hand myself how unnecessary trips are made to chalk up points that the executive uses for personal purposes, entertainment expenses that simply pays for friends and family to enjoy, official car to pick up the family.  In the private sector it’s somewhat accepted but in the public sector, where practical any opportunity for abuse should not exist.  That is why I think Singapore has succeeded, the clean wage approach works with no extra fat that can be abused.

I have no issues for paying people very well in a transparent manner and if they keep delivering, keep increasing the pay and reward them equally.  For me, the private and public sector should be the same in this regard.

My constituency is Bishan-Toa Payoh.  I voted the opposition not because the ministers are paid too well but because I needed the government to understand that anyone that is paid very well has to be equally accountable for mistakes.

I voted for the opposition simply because our highly paid government were not delivering on things that were important to me .  Sure, no where is perfect but I would like to try to make Singapore as perfect as it gets.  Most Singaporeans own homes, have enough to eat, access to education, what else should we complain about?  If this was the 1950s, nothing very much.  A lot has changed and besides the basics, I want to live in a home where people are safe with fair opportunities.  Beyond that I hope that we become a nation where we are compassionate, competition is heathy and empathy is a rule not an exception.  Idealistic?  For sure, but without ideals we, as a society will never progress and be no better than some other democracies that we make light off.  Which brings me to the point of the article about not overplaying the ethos of public sector …  I did say empathy is important to me and should be apparent both in public and even in the private sector … this actually requires a whole other post so I’ll leave it at this.  I am idealistic and want a balanced level headed leadership who dares to make tough decisions with empathy for the every people they are serving.  In my humble opinion, we are not there yet but my vote made its tiny say and we’re on our way 🙂

Post 2011 GE, PM has shown me that his heart is in the right place, moved very specific people, as the leader be willing to take a pay cut and be accountable.  The buck stops has to stop somewhere and it is quite clear that the PM is taking his vocation seriously.  Nothing is perfect, you can’t please everyone and there will always be someone complaining but to me, he has taken the steps in the right direction.

To simple ‘ole me, Singapore is a true democracy at work, that’s why your vote is important and every Singaporean does make a difference.  Whatever your opinion, vote that way.  Don’t just complain and expect someone else to be accountable for your excuses.  Just like the government has to be, so must each citizen.  Talk is cheap, whether in parliament or in your everyday life.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep plodding along, doing my part as we keep evolving as a nation and one day, I hope my home gets as close to my ideal one as humanly possible 🙂

p/s: on a separate note, I actually do know of Singaporeans who cannot afford housing … or like me, can’t find it in myself to pay over a quarter of a million dollars for a resale 3 room HDB flat … that begs the question, if I can’t buy, how can lower income household do it?  So I just wake up every day and keep moving in the right direction.  That’s the best we can do and all I can ask of our leaders, incumbent or otherwise.

Rock Climbing

I have a grand plan.  The next time I’m back in Vancouver, I’m going to take my brother-in-law up on his offer to take to me mountaineering 🙂  He had plans the last time I was back.  Considering I had never done it before I thought it best to reschedule for my next visit.

Meanwhile, I reckon I should start training.  I mean it’s like a marathon, right?  You want to respect the mountain you wanna conquer.  So I thought I should, at the very least, be trying to climb a man made wall first … and last Saturday, I finally made it out to Singapore’s tallest indoor wall.

I have to admit, when I got there and stood at the foot of the wall, I started to get nervous :p  Nope, I’m not usually one to be afraid of heights but I think everyone isn’t too thrilled about falling from a height they can’t technically jump from.  So when I got to the top, I was actually surprise at how high up it was and how comfortable I felt peering down.

But alas … I only managed that one time.  That first climb, like most other virgin experiences, took much out of me.  My arms, my back and my fingers tried another couple of time but never made it past the half way mark.

Here’s the thing I realise about rock climbing.  It’s all mind over matter for me.  The first time, I didn’t think, I just went with my instinct and did it.  After that, I was thinking what was a better place to put my hand, where to place my feet, keep my body close to the wall.  It was a lot harder than I gave it credit.  That said, I’m ready to give it another go.  My back hasn’t felt like it has been worked out till now 🙂

Wish me luck and I’ll keep everyone updated with my progress!!