day 699 | january 1, 2014 | Naughty Mommy, Awesome Kids

2013 has been an amazing year of growing up with my little ones. It's a year we fell in love with Science, and hosted a simple joint birthday party where the kids did an equal share of the work. Roo's experienced ups and downs in her first year of primary school. Our efforts to toilet train Red have been in vain, and she's not showing any signs of readiness on that front. The rest of her is growing though, including her vocabulary. She can argue with her big sister expertly; and they can politely negotiate sharing arrangements. That said, screamfests still do happen. Both Roo and Red perform the most dramatic sing-alongs to most tunes in played in the radio; and dance merengue like nobody's business. They have also both started regularly correcting my grammar, word usage, and Singlish.
Roo and Red reviewing project financials for me in the office. :)
Yet again, 2013 was another year I overcommitted myself, and tried to juggle too many things at the same time. In my juggling, often times, I have pushed and stretched my kids to grow up a little faster. But they're still alive and bullying their daddy, so this naughty mommy hasn't completely failed.

 This first post for the year is a recollection of some of the amazing Roo and Red moments that are now part of my memory box of wonderful things. Their strength shine in my weakness, the cracks in my parenting when there's just too much for me to manage. And I love that they are capable, confident, and caring. 

With work on weekdays and photography work on weekends, Sundays have become especially challenging, with our helper away on her day off. So on most Super Sundays, the kids sort out their own breakfast.  

...and Roo helps me take care of Red. I still can't get her to wash Red's bum though. :)
Among my favorite images for the year! Just LOVE.
After a few weeks of handholding, I've let go of Roo to handle her own schoolwork. She does her Math and English review by herself. All I do is respond to questions when I get back home, to post-its on my desk, or to calls on my handphone whenever she has a question. She isn't perfect, and she scored ZERO on a couple of quizzes. But she's learned very well from those. Her failures are entirely her own, but so are her successes
Stuff I come home to. Earnest Roo 'tryed' her best. :) And that's all I really ask for.
I flew off for my usual 2-3 day photo trips, and then for a long trip away in the Arctic Circle for my Northern Lights adventure. It was a BIG thing in my bucket list, and I felt selfish pursuing it while leaving my little ones behind for more than 2 weeks. They both seemed really excited to follow my itinerary through our globe at home; and I loved answering all the questions they had about the Arctic cold, and the dancing lights of Aurora. 
I wasn't sure what to expect when I got home. They were happy to see me again, and didn't seem to hate me for pursuing my own thing, which was a huge relief to my guilty conscience. "How was the trip, mommy? Did you get to see the lights dancing in the sky? That's so amazing! When I'm bigger, I'm going to go too." Red insists that she's ready to travel by herself. My own adventures seemed to have inspired my kids to take on their own. While watching 'Frozen,' they both casually pointed out the Northern Lights as if they've seen it with me.

On days that I have photoshoots, I've left my kids in spaces like the National Library, Bishan Park, or Sentosa Beach to play for more than an hour all by themselves, as I completed a shoot somewhere nearby. The amazing thing is that they have never complained; and that they follow to my instructions to the letter. 
Bishan Park: Monkey spotted!
The sweet icing on 2013 was the opportunity to travel together with both Roo and Red. I've done a leisurely trip with Red, but didn't quite get the chance to get travel time with Roo because of her school schedule. It was such a treasure to be simply, exclusively their mommy, without worrying about anything else, and to do it in a beautiful island like Boracay. The trip also made it all too real for me how much they've grown up!
They took care of their own bags, and were both pretty zen in the plane, in the looooooong bus ride to Caticlan, the boat ride to Boracay island, and the jeepney ride to get to the resort. Both Roo and Red agreed to get into the water when we were snorkelling, though Red didn't linger very long. There were times when they were clearly scared, but they allowed their sense of adventure win out. They explored, but they also looked out for each other.
There was one day when I fell ill with diarrhea and vomitting. After island hopping, snorkelling, banana boating (which I skipped out on), and puking my guts out into the nearest toilet bowl, I simply crashed in bed after dinner.

"Mommy, you forgot to make my milk," Red reminded as she tried to shake me awake. I was completely shut-down, and prepared to simply tell her to "Make it yourself!"

But before I could respond, I felt Roo pull herself upright. I knew she was exhausted too, but she volunteered to help.

"Mommy's tired, Red. Come, let's make your milk," she said as they shuffled together to the bags and figured out what went where. When they finally (and jointly) managed to mix powder and water in the right bottle, they both lied down beside me.

Red couldn't resist playing, splashing bits of milk at the edge of the bed and giggling. I felt Roo sit up again. "Red, please don't do that!" she scolded. Not screaming, but with just enough force behind her words.

Red was surprised at the gravity in her sister's tone. "What's wrong, ate?"

"Don't waste your milk, Red. Don't you know that there are kids out there who don't have milk?" Roo inquired gently.

"They don't have anything," she emphasized, "So they have to drink other things, like.....MUD! because they don't have enough money to buy milk. So go and drink it."

The littlest one immediately stopped playing, and drank her milk to sleep. I'd like to think she understood.

My eyes may have been closed, and I may have been sickly exhausted, but I had the biggest smile that night. And if my heart could burst inside my chest, I think it just did.
Among my favorite images for the year. The kids were on a mission to donate their toys, inspired by their daddy. 

My resolution for next year is as simple as the year before: To choose to be where I am, to be 100% where I am, because the ones I'm with are growing up way too fast! The only time we really have is now. Here's to a bubbly start to 2014! 


Sleepless In KL said...

My heart was bursting with love and happiness reading this post. I can only assume you were feeling the same way :) Happy New Year!

Madeline Heng said...

So sweet not grown up of Roo to be taking care of her sister! She's amazing :)

libpuritan said...

Happy New Year, Mimi! :) This Momma's bursting with the good stuff. :)

Thanks Madeline. :) I hope this is not just a phase. So far, she continues to amaze me every year.

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