day 721 | January 31, 2015 | Litmus Test

Get unstuck, Ask the right questions. 
Break down intimidating problems into bite-sized puzzles.
One thing at a time.
Learning as play. 
Encourage her to drive herself.

This happened quite a while back -- and I continue to struggle with keeping to the spirit of my parenting aspirations. Every time I struggle with patience and empathy, I think back to this, and feel the anger sucked away. Hope this helps other parents who have made the commitment not to yell at and hit their children as well...

day 720 | December 15, 2014 | Bangkok Bliss

Mostly Iphone snaps from quick escapes to Bangkok. Some work, some play, always fun. I've been to Bangkok so many times that the usual tourist sites don't appeal much. This year, I feel blessed to have been able to visit twice, and at junctures when I didn't even know I needed it. It's all about good company and old friends, feel-good catch-ups, stuffed silly with good food (Nahm, Baan Khanitha), and soaking up orgasmic zen under the skilled hands of Oasis Spa's masterful masseuses. Still enthralled by Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). Floating around the Chao Phraya to find hole-in-the-wall riverside cafes is a form of therapy.

One day, maybe after tons of beer, I may think about going back to Muay Thai class.

Happy snaps!
Art everywhere, Four Seasons Hotel

day 718 | December 28, 2014 | Penang Roadtrip

The great thing about having a long-time group of amazing friends you and your kids click with, is that even the craziest ideas can easily morph into bizarre reality. I've driven from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur before -- and taken a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. But never did I imagine that we would do the whole stretch in one go.

6-7 hours, the boys said. They were driving, so figured, they would know what they're talking about. Each way ended up being 12-13 hours. Thankfully, the little ones were some of the easiest kids to travel with. Non-stop rain on the day we arrived, but blessed with a couple of days of lovely sunshine. 5 giddily happy kids, who sang an endless stream of Taylor Swift. Yummy sinful food galore. Uncountable calories which translated to at least 2 kgs of weight gain. (Spot the belly!) Any regrets? None at all. Okay, maybe that I should have gobbled more! Oh, and next time, we're gonna fly!

What the little ones enjoyed:
Pillow fight in the hotel room
G Hotel swimming pool
Bouncing on top of beds and couches
Adventure Zone Indoor Playground (Escape Eco-Adventure Park, if it wasn't raining)
Sing-alongs to Taylor Swift's top hits! Here's a cover/mash-up I actually don't mind.

For the grown-ups:
Gurney Drive Hawker Food (better as take-away and dine picnic-style in room)
Hunting down good food
Penang Heritage Trail
Cheong Fatt Sze (Blue Mansion) Guided Tour
Beach massage

What we're going back for:
Malihom Retreat
Durian Season at a Durian farm!

Driving through clouds...
Ipoh stop-over

day 715 | november 21, 2014 | Sumilon Island, Philippines

Closest airport to Sumilon Island is Mactan-Cebu (est 3-4 hours)
A quick recharge trip with the girls in an idyllic island paradise. Managed to check off a few things in the bucket list too -- sleep by the beach underneath uncountable stars, and swim with the whale sharks. Let the images tell the story...
Tucked in for the long ride
Mainland jetty

day 719 | November 18, 2014 | Cagayan de Oro and Marawi

A simple life that follows the consistent rhythm of the call to prayer, sustained by fruit trees, roots and vegetables in the backyard. River, mountains, rice fields, 30 minutes away from Marawi city, it feels like we've stepped 30 years back in time. These are the stuff of my dreams, pleasant and otherwise. A backdrop to running, tripping, and falling headlong into the unknown, to sinking immobility, and flights of fancy. More flowing words, and more images. So much beauty -- from a far-away, little-known place, even less understood.

Our dreams disturb us 
because they refuse to pander 
to our fondest notions of ourselves.  
The closer one looks, 
the more they seem to 
insist upon a challenging proposition: 
You must live truthfully.  
Right now.  
And always.  
Few forces in life present, 
with an equal sense of inevitability, 
the bare-knuckle facts of who we are, 
and the demands of what we might become.  
~Marc Ian Barasch

Lake Lanao

day 716 | november 16, 2014 | Zamboanga Hermosa

I had butterflies flying to Zamboanga. It shouldn’t be so strange to be meeting your father-side family, but it held a 26-year old strangeness to me. This was a deeply personal trip. Stories upon stories of so many years ago, shaping the lens with which I perceive my history. The intent was to layer real memories and grown-up impressions on top of childhood fiction, and to bridge the past to the present. I worried about being disappointed, too afraid to expect anything.

It started with a phone call. I called Mamang a few days before my flight. She would be excited to see me, they said, but I heavily discounted it. Maybe they were just being nice, easing my worries with kind words. But upon hearing her voice on the phone, I knew the sentiment to be genuine, and fought back tears with a steady tone and paced breaths. I haven’t gone for the trip yet, and I was already on an emotional roller-coaster. Whatever history there was, we acknowledge and make the active decision to move forward. And then, it was there again -- That feather-light feeling of everything falling into place – I was where I needed to be.  Doing what I needed to do. Writing chapters of my story that needed to be written.

Snapshots that barely scratch the surface… but hopefully shares some of the beauty I found there. 

day 712 | september 20, 2014 | OOOM Pop-Up

My beautiful date!
Roo and I were supposed to catch her first concert -- except the show was cancelled. Still riding the high of Laylapalooza, I was looking for an opportunity to bring Roo to a live performance. When we found out the next OOOM session fit right into our packed calendar, we went straight for it. As we were walking to the National Design Center, Roo was internalizing how she felt when she had to perform for the very first time. "I just pretend it's just you and me, mommy." Honored to be in her mind's safety circle. 

The rooftop was packed with talent. From first time performers to more seasoned OOOMers. Love love love. Roo and I are both inspired by the courage to perform, the intricate guitar play, beautiful voices, and words from songwriter originals. Sharing some of our favorites here (scroll through the images, and click through the links)...

Plenty of ear-candy, and perhaps with a little more exposure, Roo will take the chance to walk up behind that microphone...
Sunset in Antarctica  |  Find them in FB  | Love their haunting  Cover of Kodaline's "All I Want"

day 711 | september 6, 2014 | ROO-saurus and RED-ranodon Party

They wanted Dinosaurs -- and as long as it wasn't princesses, or 'Frozen,' or 'My Little Pony,' I was more than happy to go with their party theme choice.

Red's specific request was to BE a dinosaur in her party. Whether that involved a melt-underneath-thick-Barney-costume, or full-on body painting, she didn't care. As long as she was a dinosaur. I was being merciful when we settled on face-painting and a dino-head. She really gets into character as an awesome miniature!

Roo, on the other hand, was feeling VERY social. When I had asked her to list out people she wanted to invite to the party (I advised 8-10), she gave me a 30+ kids strong list. Two parents each, sometimes a sibling or two, her guest list started to feel like a wedding banquet! Had to sit down with her to get to a fairly decent number she can be happy with. We still ended up with 18-ish kids.

I got fixated on sand. Just had to have it, and was tickled by the idea of having our own sandpit. With H's help, it got done -- and with minimal criminal activity involved. I still wonder though, if I'd been caught taking a bagful of sand from East Coast on my birthday, would I have been arrested? 

Delegated more this year, and simply helped the kids execute some ideas that tickled. Images from the party and preps. Will let the images tell the story! :)
Birthday girls!
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