Thinking out loud

March 5, 2020

Last night I was made to recall the casual cruelty of children. I felt sad seeing E bang on the door, watch it open and shut twice in his face. I brought him down, but later he went back up and eventually I heard him calling me; the door still closed with sounds of children playing inside. I said it was okay that sometimes people aren’t ready to play with us, that he would always have mommy and daddy; but remembering the event this morning to myself, I’m less brave, my words more searching, pessimistic.

Hopefully last night will be an isolated incident, and he will be included going forth, but I’d still like to reflect on what I can do as his parent

1. Repeat and affirm that he will always be welcomed by his family. Prove that with time and attention.

2. Model authentic conversations/ answers to “how was your day mommy?” – feelings of sadness, fear, confusion, loss.

3. Even if the rejection continues, I don’t think I will stop going for the dinners, tempted as I may be. It would be the easier option and immediately absolves my guilt and hurt seeing my little boy finding out that he’s not good enough for some, but in another way this is probably as gentle as it gets for such a harsh lesson, him at an age where he still derives comfort from us, and a setting in which I am present.

4. There’s very little anyone can do about the grief of exclusion, particularly once children are older and acutely sensitive to it. From what I recall, there’s mourning to be done, and the painful hope that one carries for awhile; probably quite a long while. Seems to me that the only helpful thing I can offer is to teach my child to look out for the lonely ones, and spend some of his time with them.

5. Be my son’s friend. He still thinks we’re important, still actively wants us. Reframe how I see the dinners- no longer ‘my’ space to relax and let down mothering duties, but to step up and keep a watchful eye, prioritising my son when calls for me, rather than suggesting he find the other kids.

6. Promote the brotherly bond between the two; “we are brothers, we are friends.”

7. Work in regular positive experiences, playground visits, waterplay, book reading- back to point 1, that talk is cheap and words are easy to come by, so action is how he will know.

New oils to try

1. Ginger, scallion, and soy sauce: julienne the first two, simmer one after the other in oil, quick frying soy sauce last.

1.2 Ginger, garlic, scallion, soy sauce,  and shaoxing wine: as above, with extra ingredients, but minced. Chilli optional.

Ginger Scallion Oil with Chilies Recipe

2. Garlic confit: heads of garlic, skin on (small hole pierced), brought to boil, then simmered for 20-30 minutes


3. No step sauce


4. 要煮辣椒蒜头酱吗?

Making La Jiao Jiang (Hot Chili Sauce)

4.1 actl this 辣椒蒜头酱 looks even better

How to Make Homemade Chiu Chow Chili Sauce

5. The King of Sauces


How to Make XO Sauce – A Hong Kong Favorite

6. Sambal belacan


A lonely stove

February 20, 2020

Little baby has tossed and turned himself to sleep, pacifier in mouth. Older baby is in morning playschool, where he runs around with his friends and trucks, disobeys and charms his teachers all at once. This morning he put his milk bottle on the sink after he was done. I told him I was impressed; he looked at me and said, “I’m impressed too.”

I wonder about having a third child, coping, and body weight. I still have pregnancy fat hanging on me. I’m not a great mom, but maybe the children can find in each other what I lack.

I have bottles to wash, the book of Job to read. The record of a man’s grief and his friends’ responses. In half an hour I will wake the baby for a feed, and brace myself that he won’t go back to sleep after. And be overtired when it’s time to get E back from school.

I haven’t cooked in too long, relying on my freezer stash. That runs out within the month and it’s back to the stove for me. It might be easier to plan if I weren’t so addled. It ought to be easier to fall asleep when tired, but it always takes an hour or two before I drift off, somehow. I use up six bags of tea daily.

Twenty minutes. I’ll use that time for Job and bottles.

It’s the afternoon now. Little baby performed mostly to expectation; didn’t fall back asleep after his feed, had a catnap in the tula while I was preparing the dinner meal, wailed while I washed the dishes and repackaged everything back into the fridge, because a dinner invite that come via text and I decided not to pass it up. Fell asleep in the cot while I was cleaning his older brother’s poopy bum; after I was done, I discovered the source of his crying was a fat thigh and chubby arm sticking out of cot, stuck. Also that he had a second poop of the day. Poop got onto the changing mat. Big E was going to need his milk soon. Fatty E was also due for a feed. The plan was for him to fall asleep while being fed. But after he got it, he felt wide awake. So I’ve been patting a fluffy bum for half an hour now while reading Sichuan recipes. I miss being able to cook unhurriedly very much. I haven’t finished my chilli oil, nor kolo mee 油, thrice cooked in shallots, lard, and scallion. Part of me can’t bear to.

Is it a lowly thing to enjoy making food I like? I want to try a garlic confit I read on another mom’s website; make more 红油; replenish the kolo mee oil. Devour receipe articles I have good feelings about. Dream of having the time and freedom necessary. Cook and invite friends over for dinner. Four ingredient cabbage. Some slow cooked no step sauce. Order North Indian in like we used to when entertaining friends. Savour baingan. Find a space in my heart to miss sambal kangkong.


For now, though, life is four adventurous dimpled fingers peeking out of freshly installed cot bumpers, refusing to be safe, breaking out of their new prison. I hope that when little dimples have grown into slimmer and older hands that have less need of me, we would still be good friends.

And suddenly, the stove can wait a little longer, stay lonely for awhile more. But just a little. I still care.

Birthday weekend

February 4, 2020

J took leave so that we would have a long weekend together, bought me a cactus dress, brought me to the mall. Somehow we made it through with both boys, although by the end of the day I was so fatigued I had a meltdown and beat myself up for losing my phone.

J consoled me, prayed that the phone would appear the next morning, went online and paid for a Samsung Galaxy something. The next morning, taking E2’s carseat out, the phone emerged, lodged at a side crevice.

Sunday evening, hearing laughter from j and the boys, sounds of play, something like delight formed within.

I think I’m beginning to see the joy of family. That would be happy birthday indeed.



January 1, 2020



Also, Father, help us to see Your beauty every day in the coming year.

Protected: 2019

December 31, 2019

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