Monday, 30 June 2008

Still running

In case you're wondering... I'm still running. I try to run after work everyday for at least 30 minutes. I have rest days too. While I normally run on the treadmill, I decided to run at a nearby park yesterday and what a change that was!

Instead of the cool air-conditioning, I could feel the wind in my face and hear the sound of pounding feet from fellow joggers around me. At one stage, I was running under the MRT track, in sync with the speeding train, only for that few seconds of course. I'm no Wonder Woman you know.

I started sweating profusely very quickly in the humidity but the changing scenery and new route made the workout quite fun and tolerable. I was soaked by the time I covered 4km and decided to head home for dinner.

Maybe it's the heat and sweat, for some reason, I feel that running outdoors provides a better workout (read as: burn more calories) than in the gym. I'm going to do this again. Pity I'll have less time for running because YK will finish school late starting from today.

Pretty cute

Like all little girls, my niece Ting wants to be pretty. My kids tease her, "You're cute", and she retorts instantly "No, I'm pretty. Mei Mei's cute!"

She doesn't want to be pretty and cute either. "I'm only preeeety!" she insists.

Well, okay...

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Monday morning

It's 9.15am on a Monday morning and I'm back at home because of my forgetful son (again). YK forgot to bring the charity tickets to school and was sent home to get it. Not only him but half the boys in school were sent home! The principal was mightily pissed.

YK wanted to go home on his own but given the distance, it would probably take him more than 2 hours to get there and back. He would have to take a bus to the train station, then take a train followed by a taxi ride home. By the time he gets back, school would almost be over. So, as usual, it's mom to the rescue.

It's a good thing Mondays are not really busy days for me. This morning, I'll be getting the keys to my new office. Though we wouldn't be moving there until the 14th July, it's nice to have access to the place so that we can do some wiring and cleaning prior to moving in.

Well, it's time to go. Hope you're not having the Monday blues.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Sungei Road Flea Market

We went to the Sungei Road Flea Market on this blazing hot Saturday. See what I bought?
Flea market finds - A pretty Vodka bottle and a pair of straw sandals CH bought for me.

I bought this beautiful Vodka bottle for $4! Maybe I'll make it into a lamp base or a vase.

Then we went to Arab Street nearby. We wandered around the alleys that were filled with wonderful little shops.

Pillar art

Friday, 27 June 2008

Friday at Mad!

As you all know by now, Friday is my night out with CH. Dinner last night was at Mad! Pizza, a little place along Balestier Road that we had driven past many times before. We decided, or rather I decided that we shouldn't be spending so lavishly, so we opted for something simple like vegetarian pasta for our main meal. We had the salt and pepper calamari too.

The vegetarian pasta is not too bad except that the spaghetti is cut into short strands like it's for a kid's meal. I'm not sure what seasoning is used exactly but I tasted oyster sauce. Cooked with black olives and lots of sweet onion, the dish tastes more oriental than Italian.

CH helped me get some shots too.

It has become our habit to shoot before we eat.

The calamari is nice. The little glass bowl contains belachan, a fiery chilli mixture that went so well with the battered pieces. It gives an extra kick to this dish. They forgot to bring the potato wedges that came with this meal. Good thing CH asked. The wedges arrived later, piping hot!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Growing up

While driving in through the school gate today, I pointed out to a tall, strapping young man walking ahead. "Is he your classmate?", I asked YK.

"He's Sean, the one I bit when we were in primary school, remember?" YK replied.

Oh, I remember now. Sean's father called me up one day many years ago, complaining that YK had bit his son during a scuffle in class. They were just little kids then. Sean is now a brawny young man who towers over me.

Then there's YK's best friend years ago, Darrell, who used to spend many hours at our farm during the school holidays. Five years ago, I brought them to the pet shop to look at puppies and we came home with baby Rusty! Eventually Darrell adopted a dog and named him Rusty too. They're no longer in the same class but I still bump into him in school. Darrell has shot up so much now, he's easily one of the tallest boys in school. Now he feels a little shy and awkward when he sees me.

It's amazing how quickly kids grow. When friends see my sons, they never fail to exclaim, "Wah, they're so BIG now!" I know they can't help it because I am guilty of doing the same thing too. Being teenagers, the kids feel embarrassed and sometimes wonder what the fuss is about. "Are they saying we're fat?" they ask sometimes.

It's simply because we're witnessing so much changes in them during their growing up years unlike us adults who can only get older and fatter. Not that the teenagers care anyway.

When I was growing up, I didn't pay any special attention to other people's parents. All the mothers in our neighbourhood were simply lumped under one classification known as 'mothers'.

When mum and I we were reminiscing about our younger days and old neighbours, she said Aunty Kim is 20 years older than Aunty Leng.

"Oh really? They all looked the same to me!" I could never tell, or perhaps I simply didn't care at that time. In fact, in my memory bank, my grandma always looked the same to me whether she was 50 or 80 years old.

I wonder if our kids feel the same way about us too.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Good job

When I drop the kids off at school everyday, I see teachers arriving, looking fresh and energetic. At the end of each school day, I see their tired faces. I think being a teacher in a secondary school is one of the toughest jobs in the world.

From the stories I have heard from the kids, new teachers get bullied, nice teachers get walked all over on and bad teachers get resented by the students. It's a pretty thankless job I must say.

I think being a physical education teacher can be pretty cool. You get to show up at work wearing sports attire. You get paid to yell at kids and make them run and jump while keeping yourself fit all year round. Nice job indeed.

I can't think of a nicer job....except for my friend Jen who works as a doctor in one of the best airlines in the world. She reports to work at 9am in a posh in-house clinic at the airport, sees patients (mostly airline crew) with small ailments and knocks off on-the-dot, leaving all the worries behind as she steps out of the clinic at 5pm. She's well paid, well-traveled and has plenty of time for aikido and yoga.

Jen's one of the lucky few. I don't envy my other friends like EE and WK or even my brother who work for large MNCs. Thanks to technology, they're always on conference calls with colleagues spanning the globe, which means they practically work from 7am to 11.30pm. As if not enough, they spend more time sleeping in hotels than in their own bed. The lifestyle's too hectic, just thinking about it makes me tired.

Some jobs may sound really glamorous than it really is. Being a model or celebrity requires you to be well groomed and svelte all the time. The loss of privacy is also not enviable. Recently I bumped into an ex-actress whom I had worked with a long time ago when I was in the design business. We engaged her to endorse a client's product because of her wholesome looks and radiance. She had that sparkling quality and was in great demand in her youth.

When I saw her that day at a florist, I couldn't help but notice that she looked so sallow. Now in her early 40s, she's still raking in lots of money as a part-time model endorsing ads for a leading slimming company. While she has aged gracefully, she had lost that radiance and sparkle. I feel a little sad that her once curvy body is now replaced by skin and bones. She looks good in the printed advertisements though. I figured she has to stay this way because of her job. At this age, she must be battling hard to keep her body slim.

Perhaps, being the boss would seem like the perfect job. There are many advantages but like all things, there are downsides too. As a business owner, we're constantly worried about cash flow and survival. Then, there's risk. If you ask me, a boss never really stops working.

So, what's the best job? Having enough money and investments (and residual income) to support your desired lifestyle without having to work. Yah, that'll be nice.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

A mom's life

YK forgot he has phototaking session in formal attire today. So while he was smart enough to put his long sleeve shirt in his bag, he forgot his black shoes. Not long after I dropped him off at school this morning, I received a texted message. "Can you bring my black shoes to school at 1.30pm today?"

What can I say? I rolled my eyes and let out a big sigh before replying "Wah lau!! Ok..." I also secretly congratulated myself that in a month's time, the 30km journey (make it 60km both ways) will be replaced by a 3km one. What a difference that would make to my time and wallet! Not forgetting, my sanity.

Over the years, I had gone home to fetch their homework and forgotten items. When SK was much younger, we drove to school early one Saturday morning to discover that there was no CCA that day. We could have slept in at home instead!

Of course I'm not the only insane parent. My friend who sent her son to a school far away was grumbling about the same thing. "What to do? He'll get punished for not bringing his homework you know!", she emphasised.

I totally understand. Take yesterday's lunch with Evelyn for example. We had a quick bite because she had to rush back to work after taking the morning off to bring her daughter to the dentist. We met for sushi at East Coast, chatted for a while and were soon on our way. She went to work while I rushed off to pick SK up from school.

Looks like I have to take time off later today to pick up YK's shoes. When I bought my car, I told myself that with a bigger boot space, I can put all their school books behind so that I never had to drive home to fetch stuff again.

I should have put those darn shoes in the boot too!


YK drew this picture for a competition. I secretly uploaded this. Shhhh

Monday, 23 June 2008

Today's Tuesday

Early this morning, the entire road near SK's school was closed off to traffic because of an accident. Flashing lights from police cars, a fallen motorbike, a white helmet and belongings scattered across 4 lanes bore testimony to another fatal road accident. The sight of a black police tent covering the deceased sent shivers down my spine. It was a grim sight to witness at the break of dawn.

There are far too many motorbike accidents on our roads. If you ride a bike, please, please be very careful.

Last night, I received a texted message from a friend I haven't seen in 2 years. She said, "I met ET at a function and he said you've remarried. Congrats!"

I sat up in my chair and replied immediately, "I'm dating but not married", wondering how this story ever got spun on the grapevine.

Thinking back, I must have said that to someone a few years ago to fend off unwanted attention. Well, the good news is, I'm meeting my friend for lunch today. Not ET, but Evelyn. Our lunch date is way overdue. We had been planning to meet since two birthdays ago.

You see, Evelyn's birthday falls on the day before mine. Imagine many many years ago, we could be lying in the same ward as squealing newborns. We may be born hours apart but we can't be more different.

For a start, I tower over her petite frame. She's a high flier in the finance industry with a string of degree and MBA behind her. I'm from the school of hard knocks. She's happily married with two beautiful daughters while I have two sons. Always beautiful and impeccably groomed, she's an epitome of chic while I'm more of the boho-chick. She shuns the sun while I embrace the outdoors. She drives a Beemer, I own a jeep.

One thing for sure, we're both highly excitable. We'll squeal with delight when we meet. Then we'll laugh and yak non-stop just like old friends. I'm really looking forward to meeting her again.
Let's hope the restaurant will seat us in a corner far away from the crowd.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

It's over

How quickly time flies. The one-month school break is over. The boys are back in school today. It's back to the old routine. Alarm clock goes off at 5.15am. Arrive in school by 7am and then I'm off to work. Life is back to normal now.

Now that school has started, all the on-line gaming will have to stop. YK's school has lined up an intensive after-school study programme to prepare them for the O Levels exams in October. SK's math tuition starts today. Yah, life is hard for our teenagers.

Parents here fork out money willingly to tutors to coach their kids. So pervasive is the practice that Singapore is infamously known as the "tuition nation". It's a booming industry here.

Even parents of kindergarten and nursery-level children have ask for tutors to teach their kids how to read properly, to help them build a strong foundation.

You may think it is crazy but they don't think so. Anything they can do to give their child a headstart, they will pay.

Unfortunately, in our schools, a child's performance is mainly measured by the test results. A vicious cycle that will never end. Even we are caught in it. Sad, but life goes on.

Fat Pig

I woke up to a heavy thunderstorm this Sunday morning, so the natural thing to do was to loll in bed like a sow until it was time to fix breakfast and send SK for tuition. Even Rusty was sleeping like a little piggy until 9am!

Talking about pigs, my niece Qi created a poem during dinner yesterday. She did an illustration too.

Fat pig, oh fat pig,
your tendons are so soft,
unlike others when I eat them,
I will cough.

Fat pig, oh fat pig,
your knuckles are turning white,
your nose is creasing up,
like a big mosquito bite.

Fat pig, oh fat pig,
why are you called that?
Cos' your name, Faith Choo,
sounds like two Chinese words,
Fei 肥 zhu 猪,
which means Fat Pig!

Thanks to the rain, I felt so sluggish that I didn't go running today. I went browsing at Ikea instead. On my way home, I stopped by the pharmacy and got a pack of hair dye. I wanted to try a new colour and geez, it looks so bad now, I think I'm going to die!

Friday, 20 June 2008

Pasta Vongole

Last night, CH and I had dinner at Al Forno at East Coast Road. We ordered pasta vongole and a pizza. The pasta was cooked to perfection but at $22 a plate, it had better be done right!

I decided to recreate the dish at home for brunch, so I went to the market and bought 1kg of clams for $6 after my morning run.

I soak the clams in salt water to remove the grit lodged inside.

I chop up some garlic and chilli, sautee them in olive oil until fragrant. Then I add in the clams and cook until the shells open up.

I put some pasta, olive oil and salt in the pot of water to boil. I like using spaghetti from Marks & Spencer because it will turn out al dente like the ones served in the restaurants.

When the shells are almost done, I toss in the cooked pasta and give it a good stir. You can add a a splash of white wine if you like. The sauce produced from the clam is good enough on its own actually.

Voila, pasta vongole is ready! The boys loved it. The entire pot of pasta enough to feed a family cost me less than $10!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Lucky girl

I stopped by my friend's place to see my god-daughter yesterday. She'll be starting playschool in July. She's chatty and sociable, I'm sure she'll enjoy going to school.

How quickly she has grown! I must admit that I don't see her very often, yet she gets along so well with me that she wanted to follow me home. This little baby has traveled to many places with her mommy, she's going to Shanghai this Saturday on Business Class. She's a lucky gal indeed!

Best pals.

My friend likes to keep her hair short. I would like her to have longer hair so that I can doll her up.
While they're leaving for Shanghai, Schee will be going to the boarding house today. Poor Schee!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

It's fruiting season

Remember my big dragon fruit flowers? They've turned into fruits. I haven't eaten any of our own fruits yet but I heard they're sweet and juicy.

A friend gave me this longan fruit tree years ago. Though I fertilise it regularly, it remained stunted for the longest time. I often wonder if it is still alive. It began flowering recently and I saw bees buzzing around the blooms. Now there are 5 little longan fruits! Can you see them? Longan is one of my favourite fruits. I can't wait!

Our 'mulberry' tree has lots of little berries too. I don't know for sure if this is a real mulberry bush but I have seen people eating the ripened berries straight off our tree.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Gimme Five

I've been tagged by Flying Pink Elephants to do this. It is all associated with the number five.

What were you doing five years ago?

It was the most trying period of my life. I was starting out as a single mother and entrepreneur. I knew nothing about the business and had to learn everything from scratch. This picture was taken 5 years ago during Christmas. My kids were away with their father and I spent mine with my brothers.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?
1. Bring mom to the hospital for her MRI scan results (already done this morning. The good news is the tumour has not grown any bigger.)
2. Buy 6 Chinese coins and a small vase for my office, as advised by my Fengshui master.
3. Book a massage session for mum.
4. Order TV console for the living room.
5. Go running.

What five snacks do you enjoy?
I don't snack alot but I do enjoy these...
1. Ice cream
2. Cakes
3. Chocolate
4. Nuts - any kind
5. Cookies
What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. Buy a nice house surrounded by lush greenery.
2. Invest in properties outside of Singapore.
3. Share my wealth with family members.
4. Help the underprivileged (animals and people).
5. Travel the world and learn new crafts.
What are five of your bad habits?
1. I'm very impatient and expect to get things done quickly.
2. Though I appear pretty cool, I can get anxious fairly easily.
3. I'm highly critical, not so much of others but of myself.
4. I'm beginning to realise that I often let my pride get in the way.
5. I'm too sensitive and emotional.
What are five places you have lived?
1. For the first 2 decades of my life, I lived in a modest house in Lim Chu Kang. Our house was situated on a small hill facing a tributary that led to the reservoir. The area is now taken over by the military for training purposes.

2. We moved to a bigger house in a secluded location within an agrotech park. It's sited on a large piece of farmland where my mom cultivates orchids. Unfortunately it's only accessible by car.

3. When I got married, I lived in a bright airy apartment in the East. The living room, balcony and bedrooms were large. They don't build apartments like this anymore.

4. The apartment was later sold en-bloc and we moved to a maisonette nearby. Though it was beautifully renovated with timber floor and glass walls, I moved out soon after when the marriage broke down. I don't have good memories of the place. Though I was awarded the house by the court, I didn't move in. Last year, I sold it at a loss.

5. Next month, the kids and I will be moving in to our little apartment with a patio. I'm sure it is a good move.
What are five jobs you've had?
1. While waiting for my 'A' level results, I did a couple of temp jobs. I was a promoter of Vidal Sassoon haircare products at C.K.Tangs. I was too shy to speak to people, my sales were terrible. I did better as a relief teacher in a primary school after that.
2. My first real job was an editorial assistant in a publishing house. I did alot of proofreading. That was when I started wearing glasses. Later, I was promoted to a writer. I interviewed architects and attended many trade events related to the building industry.

3. My second job was an editor for an interior decor magazine. I visited alot of beautiful homes and interviewed home owners for stories. It was where I met my ex-husband who was an art director.

4. We started a design company together. It was a really interesting business but sadly, when we parted, we wound down the company.

5. I am currently a trader of shipping containers. Here is a small feature in our local newspapers.

Like always, I am not tagging anybody. But if you have nothing inspiring to blog about today, like me, then you may just want to Gimme Five!

Kampong Glam

I have been wanting to visit Kampong Glam for the longest time and an opportunity presented itself after a meeting in town today. Traditionally a Malay residential area with ethnic-based activities, it is today a very touristy area. Thank goodness I blended in quite well in my casual attire and digital camera. Several shopkeepers even asked me where I came from. One asked "You're from L.A?" I simply smiled. Anyway, enjoy the tour with me...

The beautiful Sultan Mosque.

Arab Street.

Another view of the mosque.

It is today a neat little shopping enclave for textiles and regional handicrafts.

Trishaw rider and BMW plying the narrow street.

Rattan goods for sale.

A quaint looking little kiosk. I wish it were for sale.

Colourful conserved shophouses.

Lots of carpet stores.

This gentleman asked me where I was from and tried to sell me the little carpet stool. Today only, special offer $90!

There are lots of eclectic shops and interesting nooks.

Nice graffiti on the pillar too!