Thursday, December 18, 2014

Another Milestone

We head to the Mid-West this weekend to attend Z's graduation from college.  He will officially be an engineer and was fortunate enough to get a full-time job starting January.

This marks the "end" of our responsibility.  No more tuition bills to pay (for Z), no more pocket money.  He will truly have left the nest.

Although for me, as a mother, my babies will never truly leave.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Role Reversal

I tell W that I may go back to clinical work part-time when we move to Singapore next year.

He says "why?" alarmedly.

I say "well, if the pay is good, it's one way of making some pocket money".

He says "but why do it if it's only going to make you miserable?"

I say "it's just a thought right now.  what I may do instead is to give quilting classes."

He says "yes!  that way, you would actually enjoy doing it."

Wise words from my young 'un.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Where is Home

Z graduates this December.  He needs to submit information for his commencement ceremony including "Hometown".  W asked us the same question too, a couple of months ago, as he may be on track to graduate a year earlier than expected.

"What should I say for Hometown?" they ask.

I say, "I don't know".

"Planet Earth would be good," Z replies.

Indeed, it would.

I ask myself this question too, sometimes.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Traveled Out

I am tired of flying.  I hate flying in the first place, and it doesn't help flying coach either.  I think that's the worst part of being an international family....all that flying around just to get to where your loved ones are.

Sometimes, I wish everyone was in the same country town and just a short car ride away.

More flying to come before the years is over.....don't get me wrong, I love the destination, just not the (plane) journey.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Post Holiday Blues

We are a bunch of ladies coming from varied and diverse backgrounds.  We met in Beijing, trailing spouses who volunteered with the parent organization at our children's school.  Through the common experience of being a stranger in a strange land, our friendship was forged in the latter half of our lives.  It doesn't matter that we've known each other only a handful of years.  It was enough to form life-long relationships.

They say true friends pick up where they left off no matter how long apart they've stayed.  How true, how true!  We spent a few days in the bucolic paradise of Bali....eating, shopping, talking, laughing, playing, drinking.

And all too soon, we have to separate again to our respective countries.  But plans of our next trip have started to germinate already.....and I look forward to that, wherever/whenever it may be!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


People in Hong Kong have taken to the streets over the last few days in a peaceful demonstration for democracy.   Tear gas has been used by the police in an attempt to dissipate the crowds; this has backfired, with many criticizing this action as being overexcessive.  Many of the protesters are college students; even high schoolers have joined in.

I am impressed by the civility of these protesters who have taken to cleaning up after themselves, picking up trash and leaving the streets as clean as possible.  Some have indicated that it's because they love Hong Kong.

I'm glad for the lack of guns in this country.  I can't imagine how much more violent this could be if people were armed with lethal weapons.

I am pessimistic about whether this demonstration will actually make Beijing change their policy regarding free elections.  The Chinese have historically shown themselves to be particularly high handed especially when it comes to politics.  I don't think this will be any different...but I would love to be proven wrong.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Full Circle (sort of)


The Fates have decided that we move to Singapore in the coming year.  

I can't say that I am unhappy about it.  I will be close to my parents and at their age, it is great that I will be able to spend more time with them.

I will be able to reconnect with friends, both long-time and recent.  Many good friends from Beijing have relocated to Singapore over the last few years.  Reconnecting with old friends will be quite different though.  I find my views & attitudes about social mores, parenting, education, well, heck, life in general, have changed over the years that I have lived away from there.  I am not sure how well received those views will be by some of them.  I'll just have to wait and see.

However, moving there will mean that Z. will not be able to visit, for reasons which for now, best remain un-revealed on the world wide web.  Both boys would prefer that we remain in Hong Kong or move back to the US of A.  But A. has to move where his job brings us; after all, there are still college tuition fees to be paid (less one after this semester, yay!).

So for now, Singapore it is, for better or for worse.

As for Hong Kong, well.....I never was in love with this city.  But for what it's worth, it's been a good respite from living in China, and the dim sum has been delicious.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

A Wedding and A Funeral

This has been a summer of joy & sorrow.

In the heat of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, I saw my sister's daughter marry the love of her life in an idyllic lakeside setting.  My boys and my sister's children spent a precious two days together; the cousins had not been together in the same place at the same time for six years.

Yesterday, a beloved favorite uncle passed away after a long and valiant battle against chronic myelocytic leukemia.  He was a radiologist by training, a highly intelligent and musically gifted man.  His quick pun-ny wit and sense of humor meant that much of the time spent with him was filled with side-splitting laughter and tears spilling over from mirth.

This week, I will head into the winter weather of the Southern Hemisphere to say a final goodbye to him.  I will reunite with cousins of my own whom I haven't seen in years.

Rest in peace, dear TKF....

Afterglow - Helen Lowrie Marshall

I'd like the memory of me
To be a happy one.
I'd like to leave an afterglow
Of smiles when day is done.
I'd like to leave an echo
Whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times
And bright and sunny days.
I'd like the tears of those who grieve,
To dry before the sun
Of happy memories I leave
Behind - when day is done.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I miss

I miss the wide open spaces.

I miss the clear blue skies and fresh air.

I miss cheap fresh produce from the local farms & supermarkets.

I miss planting flowers in the yard.

I miss, I miss, I miss.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Missing Us

I've said many times & to many people that being an empty nester has been very liberating.  However, that doesn't take away from the fact that I am missing Us, the Family Unit.  Whether it is sitting at the dinner table, talking about stuff or watching a movie together then dissecting the storyline after, or just being in the same room while surfing the Internet, I do miss Us.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I don't consider myself religious.  Spiritual, perhaps, but not religious.  I used to think I was Christian back in my teenage years, but I blame that on youthful susceptibility to peer pressure (my close friends went to church, and so I did too).  As I got older and was exposed to more & varied types of people, I became jaded by those who called themselves Christian but were not good in how they behaved towards others (ethically), and their attitude towards those who did not believe.  Their evangelicalistic zeal (aka "Believe that Jesus is your Saviour or you will go to hell!!!" diatribes) turned me off from the religion.

But don't get me wrong, I still prayed to God although that has lapsed in the recent years.  I guess my perception of religion & a superior being has evolved over the years.  Whether that Being is called God, or Allah, or Buddha, or Yahweh, to me it doesn't matter.   What matters to me is for people to NOT be hypocritical.  Don't kill or behave badly or show disrespect or abuse others in the name of your religion & your God.  The God that I believe in is not a cruel one who would ask us to kill or rape or maim or curse in His name.

I seldom talk about religion with my friends.  I have friends who are Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, atheists, agnostics.  My true friends don't preach to me about their beliefs and I, in return, don't preach to them.  I generally stay away from those who are overzealous in their religious fervor.  I do not want to be told that I will go to hell if I don't believe.  You see, I don't believe that I will go to hell.  I am not even sure if I believe that there IS one.  Perhaps our consciousness will pass on to another existential plane.  I just don't know.  For me, I just want to live this physical life the best I can.  Be good (as good can be).  Be kind (as much as possible).  Do no harm.

The reason why I am writing this is because I prayed two days ago, after a lapse of God-only-knows how many years.  I haven't prayed in a long time.  I used to pray about exams, and about my personal life.  But honestly, life has been good to me, so that is probably the reason why I haven't done so in so long.  But I prayed two days ago, because a close relative of mine, who has been living with chronic myelogenous leukemia for several years, just took a turn for the worse.  His blood work showed that it was turning into the blast phase with accompanying deterioration of his physical condition.  

So I prayed.

Today I found out that his latest blood test shows that the blast count has dropped, his white count & platelets have also come up.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I wonder what the response will be from the Ministry of Health to this mother's letter in the Straits Times....

Polyclinic doctors don't have it easy

I AM the mother of a polyclinic doctor and would like to give a different perspective to Ms Evelyn Ong Foo Chou's letter ("So hard to consult a polyclinic doc"; Tuesday).
After waiting for hours, some patients are likely to be frustrated and angry when they enter the doctor's consultation room. They want to get a consultation worth their wait.
But how do you expect the doctor to give them more "eye-contact time" when he has to document the patient's medical history, conduct the medical examination, reach a diagnosis and write the prescription - all within a matter of minutes - given that he has to fulfil a minimum quota of 60 patients a day?
Some patients express their frustration through anti-social behaviour, such as stealing the doctor's mobile phone, using abusive language when they do not get the prescription or medical certificate they want, or crushing the queue slip and throwing it at the doctor.
Many polyclinic doctors do not even have time for a proper lunch and often eat junk food from the vending machine.
Which doctor would want to work in a polyclinic when locum jobs in the private sector pay three times more, with one-third the patient load?
If there were no bond in place for Singapore's medical graduates, more than half of them would have already left the service.
Chew Ghim Lian (Ms)

Saturday, April 05, 2014


It's almost the end of my trip to Singapore.  It's been a special trip filled with birthday celebrations & reunions, both family & friends.

Carpe Diem is my motto for my next century of life.  I plan to hold my loved ones close, and appreciate them more as I realize that life is not that long, and especially when one lives far from one's family & friends, every moment spent together are treasured pearls.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Birthday Reflection

I turn 50 this weekend – another milestone in this journey called life.  And what an adventure this life has been!  As I reflect upon half a century of life on this Earth, I am thankful for all that I have: a family I adore, a life so full of experiences that most people only read about, and friends…dear friends.

We are made up of bits and pieces - the family we grew up in, the friends we have had relationships with, the experiences we’ve had.  I don’t say it enough, but I love my family: my parents, obviously, for bringing me into this world, bringing me up, for the sacrifices they’ve made to make sure that we were all provided for.  It sounds clich├ęd but being a parent has made me realize how tough & never-ending this “job” is - sleepless nights, tough decisions made, sacrifice, anxiety, elation, mistakes and love, so much love.  

I am thankful for friends who have remained steadfast through the years no matter how long or far apart we have stayed, they are the ones with whom I can pick up where we left off as if I was never gone.  I am thankful for the new friends I’ve made in our semi-nomadic life, living in four different countries in the last few decades.  I have learnt that a) you’re never too old to make good friends, b) friends come in many shapes, sizes, colors & backgrounds, and c) no matter who or where we are & where we come from, fundamentally, deep down inside, we all want the same things in life:  love, & good health for our families & ourselves.

I am even thankful for those used-to-be good friends who have since drifted away; whether due to family or work commitments or just the fact that priorities change as life situations change, I want to say thank you for your friendship in the past.

Many people ask if I have any regrets in taking the path I have taken.  I can’t say that I have.  If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have chosen a different field of study, or made different decisions or taken different actions.  But as they say, hindsight is always 20-20, and I DIDN’T know then what I know now.  So whatever paths taken & forks in the path chosen were done so for the right reasons at the time.  So, no… no regrets. 

Because my family & friends are scattered throughout the globe, I have decided to celebrate not my 50th birthday, but my 50th year -  a series of celebrations with loved ones whenever the opportunity arises in whichever country I happen to be in.  50.1 & 50.2 have already taken place in the USA.  I look forward to the rest! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I have been watching this program on TV, which makes me wonder how different (and more fulfilling, perhaps?) my professional life would have been if I had had the opportunity to follow my passion?

(Not a regret, but one cannot help but wonder).

Thursday, February 06, 2014


I wonder why movie theaters crank up the volume so high?

A & I watched "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" on Lunar New Year's Day (oh so festive of us) and during the scenes with car chases/bombs exploding/guns shooting, the decibel levels were high enough to hurt my ear drums.

I resorted to putting in ear plugs which I always carry in my purse (a habit I developed thanks to the various very loud rock gigs I attended when my boys were performing in high school).  Even with ear plugs on, the volume was high enough that I could still hear the dialog being spoken in the movie.


Friday, January 24, 2014


So in the last few days, this guy has been in the news in Singapore for making disparaging remarks about Singapore/Singaporeans on the social media.  He has received death threats & Singaporeans have been up in arms & demanding for his deportation.

I am not defending this fellow.  He sounds like an obnoxious pr*** with a holier-than-thou attitude towards the country that is his cash cow.  I feel sorry for his wife & son.  They did not deserve receiving threats due to his stupidity.    I am pretty sure that many foreigners working in Singapore are there basically, just to make a living.  They may not like the behavior or attitudes of the local folks, or may not like the public transport; comparisons with their home countries are inevitable, and they may even share the same sentiments as Mr Casey.  As someone who has lived overseas, I can certainly understand & empathize (although I don't agree with the mean-ness of his remarks).

But has he broken any laws?  The way I see it, what he is guilty of is sheer stupidity.  Why put these insults on the Internet for all to see?  He obviously did not see how this would affect not just himself, possibly his career, but also his family.  Even high school kids are warned about putting dubious comments & diatribes on the social media, as these sorts of things can be seen by potential colleges & future employers.

I ask this of people who are demanding deportation: reflect on your own attitudes & even comments made in the past.  Have you ever made a remark about a particular group of people or a particular country which may be insulting to them?  Really.   Think hard.  I know I have, & I'm not proud of it.  It may not have been as blatantly obnoxious as what Mr Casey has said, but still, not pleasant, and usually said in the height of annoyance.

Does he deserve deportation?  No.  I don't think such a drastic measure is needed.  He may face punitive actions from his employer, and possibly even be fired.   He should be made to do some kind of community service to learn what it is like to be "poor" in Singapore.  Perhaps then, he will learn his lesson, and hopefully impart some good values to his son.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Call me a Scrooge or just plain lazy but our home was devoid of Christmas decorations this year.  A big reason why is because 99% of our Christmas decorations are in storage.  And who has room for a tree anyway?

I saw the malls & shops all decked out in Christmas decorations but somehow did not feel the Christmas spirit; it just felt so commercial.  Hong Kong &, I think, Singapore as well, "celebrate" American holidays like Easter (chocolate bunnies & Easter egg hunts, which, the way I see it, has nothing to do with the resurrection of Christ), and Halloween (this was something I only read about or watched on TV when I was growing up).  Retailers do a whopping business marketing Christmas presents, & Easter/Halloween candies, and fancy dress costumes for trick-or-treating (or in the case of adults, partying).

Now, Chinese New Year is coming and the decorations started going up as soon as Christmas was over.  It will be another quiet one for us this year, just A & I.  I asked him: "I'm trying to decide whether to put up CNY decorations or not.  Should I?"
His answer: "Why?  We would just need to take them down again."

I guess I'm not the only Scrooge in the family.

Happy Year of the Horse everyone.