Archives for category: Imperfect Housewife

No, not Santa, sorry. Even better:

Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Fields Forever

The best part about living in the country – especially where we are – is that you never need to drive too far for berry-pickin’ in the summer.

We made sure not to be too greedy this season. Last summer we ended up with two full gallon bags that I froze for no apparent reason than to toss away in the winter. I’m not exactly the jam-making type.

Good grief. Can you imagine me?

Crisp red-and-white checkered apron, stirring strawberries stewing in a pot, lipsyncing to the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever“, sunlight streaming through the window pane and smells of scones baking in the oven wafting through the house, rosy-cheeked children playing quietly under the dinner table, waiting patiently for their treats?

Don’t know which part is more improbable – me wearing an apron or the children playing quietly.

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There’s GOT to be an award out there somewhere for parents who have to clean vomit and shit off carseats, carpet, bedsheets and cushions two days straight.

Lokes and I used up a whole bottle of Oxy Clean and Febreeze (Extra Strong) each, just cleaning up after our three-year old, who’s managed to contract a cough, a cold, some sort of flu and now finally a stomach bug in all of three weeks. To think she used to be the strong one, the one who never got sick when everyone else did. Now Raeven has emerged victorious, remaining stoically unscathed as the rest of us hacked, sneezed, groaned and moaned through the last three weeks.

Nothing like kindergarten to toughen that immune system right up.

Remember how I used to get carried away with the toilet cleaning? Well, while I was busy scrubbing a trail of soiled carpet yesterday morning, I decided, what the heck, to spring clean the girls’ entire play room.

Here’s the before:


And the after:


In the words of my wise friend Mathilda, here’s what we’ve been reduced to doing: Taking before and after shots of housework so we can blog about it.

Are you beaming with pride, mom?

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...with furry undersides

Was messing around with the sewing machine, creating sleeves for our new notebooks when I got it in my head to use the leftover fabric to create cushion covers.

Don’t you just love the batik print?

Gosh, I’m such a 50s housewife…

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For those of you who troll Facebook or Twitter, you may have glimpsed that a certain Malaysian mother living in a certain small town in Washington has been trying her hand at making kaya, Malay for coconut egg jam. This Malaysian delicacy has in recent weeks plagued my every waking moment, even as I sneezed and coughed my way through the last week or so, pink-eyed, diseased children in tow. All I could think about was green, sweet, sticky nyonya kaya slathered generously on a slice of crispy warm Texas toast (American-speak for kopi tiam equivalent thick-sliced bread).

So motivated was I that I actually went out and assembled the ingredients required to make some (no small feat since it is my daily endeavour not to stray into the kitchen).

The first time was a disaster. I’d used a “speedy kaya” recipe from some idiot who managed to convince a desperately homesick (and lazy) woman that a microwave and 30 mins was all it took. I’d also used powdered santan (coconut milk) – not good.

Today, I bought some frozen Masagana coconut milk (not the grated version) from Ranch 99


and my wonderful, handsome, extremely sexy husband managed to find me some essence of pandan in lieu of the real thing (such a turn on).


I followed the portioning of this recipe, but the method didn’t make much sense, so I pretty much felt through the whole cooking part of it myself, heating the sugar and the coconut milk until it thickened and then streaming the beaten egg in slowly, slow-cooking the mixture to perfection around 30 mins later over a 2-4 heat until it bubbled and thickened more to a paste. You add in the pandan essence about 10 mins after the egg.

And there it is!


Lokes taste-tested it and remarked, “Mmm! Can sell!”. That’s the Tan family equivalent of “this kicks ass!”.

So excited to “intro” kaya to the girls for breakfast tomorrow!

One of my biggest Mommy challenges is keeping my temper in check.

My friends may be shocked by this since I’ve always been pegged as ‘easy-going’ or ‘cincai’, in Malay-Chinese speak. The truth is, I get pissed off just like everyone else. Perhaps even more frequently so since I’ve become a parent.

Perhaps the biggest pet peeve I have about being at home with the kiddos is cleaning. I hate to clean and any situation that results in me having to clean upsets me tremendously (and we all know how that is never an issue with having children). Although in recent times I’ve learnt to appreciate, even more, an impeccable house, I deplore no less the space and time between 1. a dirty house and 2. a clean house. In short, I hate having to get on my hands and knees to scrub tile or tub or toilet bowl, pry crumbs off the carpet, vacuum or scrape nasty caked stuff off the stove top.

Now if I were ‘easy-going’ about cleanliness, in that I just ignore the mess, it would obviously not be something I’d be so moved to write an entire blog post about. Or if I liked a clean house so much more than cleaning like my friend Sara does, that I look beyond the labour. As it turns out, I’m one who NEEDs things to be clean but do not want to do the work, and is too cheap to pay someone else to do it.

So yes, I am officially now a moron.

Really, how healthy is it for one to keep completely calm (“remember, gentle but firm”)when one’s three-year-old spills milk or yogurt onto the carpet? Or decides to empty every single box of toys just to look for her favourite Polly Pocket outfit? Or decides to water the one plant in our house with a full bucket of water? How is one to sit back and bask in the happy fulfillment that is parenthood when one is awaken at two in the morning to change out a mattress soaked with pee?

I am in perpetual cognitive dissonance over this, having to reconcile daily the natural (and therefore chaotic) development of young children and my need for tidiness and order. I was, after all, brought up to believe that no bad deed should ever go unpunished. We all live in this world together, and it would be unfair if some people got put away for, say, peeing in bed and some didn’t.

And yet, children rarely want to spill milk. Or pee in bed. Or stick marbles up their nostrils just to smell them a little better. Or roll play-do on the carpet because it’s more fun. Or get pregnant at 15.

Children rarely do these things JUST to piss us off. How self-absorbed are we to even think that? Do they have accidents, make mistakes to see if mommy will REALLY go off the edge and smoke that very last secret cigarette? Deep, deep, deep down, in that small little box called their subconscious, do they draw on walls with permanent marker just to fuck with us?

Of course not.

And yet, we wish it were so. When our kids misbehave, we wished the reasons were more sinister, so that we can feel better when we, say, bitch on our blogs about yet another day spent in pig sty hell.

Phew, that felt good.

Back to making sure all the markers are capped and every car is in the bin and every teeny tiny little Polly Pocket and their teeny tiny shoes are accounted for.

Don’t even get me started on those things.

You know you’ve become an aunty when you’re actually starting to enjoy housework.

Remember when? Never thought I’d see the day. What the hell is happening to me? I spent all day yesterday washing the bathrooms, vacuuming the carpets, changing bedsheets, rearranging drawers and when it was all done, I retired to my couch with a hot cup of tea, swathed in a warm feeling of satisfaction that the world was all right again.

It’s *ill I tell ya, ill!

The more I read, the more I’m convinced. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech killer, might’ve suffered from a very severe, untreated, never-diagnosed case of Selective Mutism?

What would happen if enough of the troops in Iraq refuse to fight in the war? Lokes and I discussed this on the drive home yesterday. This morning, we heard this on NPR. Coincidence?

Breastfeeding doesn’t halt obesity. Damn.

We have not watched a single episode of American Idol this season. I wonder why.

Life of Pi is a surprisingly interesting read. I’d thought it would be dry (as all Man Booker Prize winners go, *snort*) but I am enthralled.

My scabbed knee still hurts like a bitch but I am still up for more netball this Saturday (the Seattle women’s netball team is competing in LA this weekend – wish them luck!).

I found a library book I thought I’d lost. Woohoo!

Raeven has two boys ‘fighting’ over her in school. They’d literally pushed each other today over who got to stand next to her. Mortified as I am, am also a little amused.

Skyler will NOT sleep in her own bed and has been coming over every night. It’s exhausting.

I bought some beef for stewing. Any suggestions?

Feeling a little out of sorts these last few days.

Sleep was, is fitful, as though I have unfinished business. Which is, of course, true. Laundry to iron/fold. Books to finish. Half-assed stories to correct.

Raeven spent the better part of yesterday throwing up. She’s fine now, just a stomach bug that made her tummy allergic to food. Poor thing had to starve all day following instructions from our company nurse (isn’t that cool? We have a company nurse!). And she was supposed to go for her first soccer lesson yesterday. Sigh.

Plus it has not stopped snowing the last three hours. And here we were thinking the weather was warming up. Skyler has her first playgroup tomorrow.


I need a break.