Thursday, 31 January 2013

Thursday Trivia - Taxes!

Last year, 2012, was the 10 year anniversary of the year that I graduated from university. Wow. That would mean that this year marks the 15 years of friendship for friends that I met in my first year in university. Cool! :) In case you're interested, I'm from the School of Real Estate from the National University of Singapore. 

So, there was this one time, during our Valuation lecture, when our Valuation Lecturer Dr Cheng Fook Jam, sprung a, whachamacallit - a quiz? Not really. Just a question. He said:"I've always wondered why it's the Stamp Duties Act, with a plural "duties" but the Estate Duty Act with a singular "Duty". The person who can give me a good reason to this, I will buy him or her lunch."

And so, me and my wise cracks, right? I piped up:"That's coz you can buy properties many times and pay the Stamp Duty many times. But you only die once - so you pay Estate Duty only one time." 

I got me a free lunch :) 

Oh and in case you were wondering, Dr Cheng asked another lecturer along, and we had lunch at Ikea's cafe ;p

Tan Family Chronicles

Monday, 28 January 2013

Come, lie on me

You know, I've always joked, that at any one time, I can only have twins, but not triplets (or more!) because I only have two arms (to carry each child with), two shoulders (for each child to sleep on), two legs (for which child to lie on) and two breasts - to breastfeed both kids at the same time.

Even though the twins are already 3 years old, they still like to lie down on my thighs to drink their milk. Especially Asher. Sometimes, when I am doing something and it's time for them to take their milk, Shawna would be okay with just lying down on the bed/sofa to drink her milk, if I tell her to. But Asher, no, he would rather wait for me to finish whatever it is I am doing, just so that he can lie on my lap to drink his milk.

So, just this morning, I just got out of the bath and was changing when my helper knocked on the door and passed me Asher's milk. Shawna woke earlier and already had her milk. I passed the milk to Asher who was still lounging on the bed, and went back to the toilet, drying myself and changing.

As I was doing so, I heard snippets of a conversation between Asher and Shawna, and realised what was happening...

Shawna:"Mummy is in the toilet, she is changing."
Asher:" ..." (can't hear him)
Shawna:"But she is changing. Come, lie on me. I love you"

I popped my head in to take a peep. Shawna was sitting on the bed, beckoning to Asher to go to her. Asher, was standing beside the bed, holding his milk bottle, still full of milk. I giggled to myself and quickly withdrew my head, lest Asher spots me.

Shawna:"Come, come lie on me. I love you."

I quickly took my phone, popped my head in, and took this shot:

Sigh, my sweet Shawna. She may a bit rough and brash at times, but she is a very caring girl who takes good care of her brothers, despite being the youngest in the family. Just last week, Asher & Shawna's class teacher: Teacher Gillian, was just telling us how, when she told the kids to place their school bags (which were trolley bags) into their respective cubby hole, Asher had replied:"I can't. It is too heavy. I have no strength." Teacher Gillian and Shawna both tried to encourage Asher by telling him:"You can do it. Try!" But still Asher insisted:"I can't. I have no strength." Shawna just shook her head, stepped forward, and heaved the bag into Asher's cubby hole.

Shawna is also the one who would fetch Asher's water bottle for him when it is time to drink some water. And she would fasten the buttons on Asher's uniform. If you have something (a sticker, a piece of chocolate etc) for Shawna, she will naturally ask "One for Asher also?"

At one time, in school, during lunch, Shawna would feed Asher his lunch once she is done with her own lunch, because Asher can be quite slow when it comes to feeding himself. However, lately, we hear that the teachers have taken to placing Asher and Shawna at different tables during lunch time because Shawna has taken to lecturing Asher during meal times. "Lecturing?" we asked the teachers. "Yes," they replied "Shawna will scold him for eating too slowly, or being picky with food, or for anything and everything. Asher will get upset and complain that Shawna is scolding him. So we decided to give Asher a break and place him at a different table." Geeeez... funny how we never witnessed that at home though.

I was searching through my photos, looking for the first picture in this post... and look what I found: a picture we took in October 2012, when we were holidaying in Perth, Australia.

The kids were watching tv while hubbs and I were cooking breakfast :) Yes, Isaac is a good kor kor too! :)

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Thursday Trivia - Radio dreams

Time for some Thursday Trivia!

Recently, some talk on our private Singapore Mom Bloggers facebook group (the public page is here!) reminded me of the following...

I once went for an interview to be a radio deejay!!! Yes, me! hehehe... well, it's always been a dream of mine to be a deejay. I thought it was cool to have a job as a radio deejay, no? You get to choose the kind of music you want played (I assumed), and you get to be on air, I thought it sounded pretty fun.

I think it was in 2003 - wow, that's like 10 years ago. At that time, I was with hubbs, as his girlfriend, not married yet. In my first job, and already getting bored, I think. So when I saw that there was an opening at News 93.8 FM - I just thought, what the heck, let's go try! It didn't matter to me that it was predominantly a news channel and not perceived to be as cool as 98.7FM or Class 95 - radio is radio you know!

So I went. All we had to do was to read off a fake script. I tried my best.  But nope, I didn't even get shortlisted to get into the second round of interviews. Sob sob... must be coz I had blocked nose that day, too nasal... hahaha in anycase, it was a no go. Oh and did I mention that hubbs' cousin was one of the interviewers? Hmmm, maybe she didn't like me... hahhahaa... kidding, she's cool, and really objective (as you can see). :p

But there! At least I tried, right? :) Would you tune in to my show, if I was a deejay on air? :p

Tan Family Chronicles

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Home-made DIY Beyblade Stadium

The Beyblade Saga Part 2: Home-made DIY Beyblade Stadium

Even before I bought Isaac his first stadium, I have been itching to make a stadium myself. Just look at the picture on the right - this looks exactly like the stadium we lost. The other stadiums sold in the shops looked just like these, and/or with some variations like in colour, or slightly different shape. Essentially, they are some plastic dish with a rounded bottom - so that the tops will gravitae towards each other and "fight". They charge $30 to $90 for some of these?! Daylight robbery! In fact, over Christmas I was on the look out for those huge sushi platters - I thought either the top cover or the bottom piece of the huge round sushi platters would make a fine stadium indeed.  I also felt that I could make a stadium out of cardboard. But I was very busy before Christmas, and never got round to making the stadium. Besides, we had already caved and bought Isaac his stadium weeks before - waiting for him to unwrap it on Christmas day.

But now that we lost our stadium, it had given me a strong urge to make a stadium again. We could always have gone to the shops and bought a replacement outright. But I felt that that would send Isaac the wrong message. Like, it's no big deal to lose something, Mummy & Papa can just buy a new one. No no, that's not good. We want him to learn the value of money. And we also want him to feel the pinch, so that he is mindful of his own belongings and careful with them. For even though, yes, this time, it wasn't his fault that the stuff was lost, but this is still an important lesson to learn.

And being the crafty me (as in art & craft and not "sly", silly!!! ;p), I would like him to get creative and think of how we can use the stuff around us to make what we want, instead of thinking of buying and spending money all the time. Besides, it's fun and satisfying.

So I started formulating the blueprint of the stadium in my head. Of how I can use cardboard to make it. It was a stroke of luck that I came across a good sized box that my mother-in-law was throwing out, that would be a good fit for the stadium I was planning to construct. But I imagine any box of approximate that size would be good as well. 

This is our DIY Beyblade Stadium Mark I.

The box is approximately 40cm by 30cm - a square would be better actually - but this worked fine enough. I didn't document with pictures as I was making this stadium coz I was too eager to do it and try it to see if it would work. It worked pretty well, but the weight of the Beyblades started to weigh down the pieces of cardboard such that the gaps were getting bigger. So I taped them down with coloured red and blue tape. (After thought: dang! Think washi tape would be great here!!!) Manage to capture the video below of the Mark I stadium in action.

I was quite proud of this stadium. Coz it worked!!! (Of course it did - I made it!!! :p) But as I had made it in a rush, I felt it was not precise enough, and was itching to make another one. And so I did. Here comes the Home-Made DIY Beyblade Stadium tutorial.
Make your very own Beyblade Stadium in just 7 simple steps! Try it at home today! Adult supervision is advised!
Look at The Tan Family Home-Made DIY Beyblade Stadium Mark II. Looks nice and spiffy if I must say so myself :) It's a little too steep in my own (nit-pick) opinion. But it works pretty well. If you must know... Isaac's favourite colour is red, Shawna likes yellow, and Asher likes green. I didn't have the cloth tape (whadya call it? the tape with the cloth fibre in it) in green, so I just let him beautify the middle with the green sticky tape. As an after-thought, I decided to add the white circumference tape as I felt that that would neaten the edges.

Now, let's see the Mark II stadium in action! There are three short videos played in succession. Be sure to watch all three!

So! Not too shabby, eh?! I'm quite pleased with it, on the whole. Though, Isaac brought my big head down to earth with his proclaimation:"I still like the real stadium." *dursh* I just nodded, and kept silent. Natalie, my 5 year old niece, who was playing Beyblades with Isaac on the Mark II stadium when he made that remark, quickly said:"Don't be rude to your Mummy, Isaac. She made the stadium for you!" I burst out laughing coz she is quite the precocious one, Natalie is. "Yeah, Isaac, just treat this as a different sort of stadium to challenge your Beyblades in!" I said. 

I must admit that I feel like making more stadiums. It's fun and challenging. Will blog about them if I do! :) Make one yourself and send me a picture! I'd put it on the Tan Family Chronicles Facebook Page! (Have you LIKE-ed us already?! :p)

Next up! The Beyblade Saga Part 3: How I bought our replacement Beyblades & stadium!

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Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Beyblade Saga

January's almost over and I am still recuperating from the Christmas rush and festivities. It didn't really help that the beginning of the year did not start on a very good note. This is now known (to me at least) as The Beyblade Saga. Come, settle down, and let Auntie Pam here begin her yarn...

More than a year ago, Isaac had seen some boys in our neighbourhood playing with Beyblades, and it really interested in. For the uninitiated, Beyblades are a kind of fancy Japanese spinning top toy which is probably really cheap to produce, but they made it so fancy and cool looking that it has an entire range of similarly dismilar looking tops and it's own cartoon series to boot. Hubbs bought him one to play with but with only one top, there was no fight, no challenger to defeat, and so didn't hold his attention for long.

However, Isaac's friends in school have been talking about Beyblade and it has been intriguing him no end. Then some weeks before Christmas last year, we visited my cousin's home in faraway Punggol, for dinner and to catch up. My nephew had a fairly big collection of Beyblades, and a Beyblade stadium to boot. Soon, the kids were on the floor surrounding the stadium, having a fun time battling the Beyblade tops against each other.

After that, Isaac begged us to get him a Beyblade stadium for his Christmas present. We did the usual "Well, we'd see whether you're a good boy." all the way to Christmas. Whenever he threw and tantrum or whined or misbehaved in any way, I'd say "You're not being a good boy ah..." He'd be properly chastised and calm down quickly. There was once, out of the blue (and not during one of his tantrums), he asked me: "Mummy, do you think I can be a good boy?" A bit stunned by the out-of-the-blue-ness, I said:"Yes, of course. I know you can be a very good boy." He looked so relieved at my answer, grabbed me in a tight hug and said "Thank you, Mummy." It took me awhile to realise that he took that to mean that he would most likely get the Beyblade stadium that he so desires. I quickly replied with some damage control:"In fact most of the time you are a very good boy, just that some times, you forget, and then you don't behave like a good boy. Please try to remember to be a good boy at all times, okay?" "Yes, Mummy, I will!!!" 

So came Christmas and yes, we bought him his Beyblade stadium. He was ecstatic. He had one Beyblade to begin with - the Aries. The stadium came with Galaxy Pegasus. And through some machinations by yours truly, he got Meteo L-Drago from one of our Xmas gift exchange exercise with my close group of girlfriends. Yes, these are all names of the Beyblade tops. I got my three nieces Beyblades as well, and they all had a smashing time pitting the tops against each other all through Christmas and the following weekend cum New Year's Eve and New Year's Day itself. 

And you know what? Barely a week after Christmas, we lost them all. The three Beyblades, plus the stadium, all gone.

It was the first day of school, 3rd January 2013. I was to send the kids to the childcare centre. The helper came down with us, as usual, to help with the bags, and settling the kids into the car. The helper took out a huge photoframe from the car boot, and placed it next to the pillar next to the car - I saw her do that and told her:"Oh yes, please bring that upstairs." Then I saw the Beyblade Stadium box and the box where we kept the Beyblades and its tools in, and also told my helper "Bring these up too." and I placed them next to the photoframe. 

Sorry, no prizes for guessing the correct answer, coz, yes, you guessed it, she claims that she didn't hear me, and hence, didn't bring either of the items up at all. When hubbs parked the car that same night and saw the cardboard box packaging of the Stadium strewn all over the carpark - he knew it was a goner. It was the nonchalent attitude the helper exhibited when we asked her about it, that really irked me. If she'd just said "Sorry" apologetically, I would have felt better. But no, she actually just looked kinda stunned, spaced-out, nonchalent, and mumbled a "I didn't hear you." (in that order!) after I dismissed her with "Nevermind nevermind." - I didn't even scold her! Scolding her won't bring back the stuff, right? Also, I was feeling guilty coz I thought I should have reminded her to bring up the stuff before I drove off etc... Sigh, suffice to say I was very disturbed that night. It's not so much the monetary value of the items lost... It was just very... heart pain and a bit angry - at the helper, at myself, at the fella who took our stuff!

Isaac sensed something was wrong when we were questioning the helper. Not difficult to pick up when the question was "Where is Isaac's Beyblade Stadium and Beyblades?" So he turned to us and said:"Where is my stadium?" and all I could say was:"I'm so sorry, Isaac! Someone took our things." He cried for a little while, but thankfully was very mature about it and didn't fuss about it. I told him:"Let's write some signs and put them up! Maybe they will return them to us!"

And so we did. I wrote some signs, and inspired by my signs, so did Isaac. We placed one at the multi-story carpark (MSCP)'s lift lobby, one inside the lift itself, another one at the 5th floor of the MSCP lift lobby, and another at the very pillar where we left the stuff. All five of us trooped down to the carpark at like 11pm that night, to put up the signs.

I told my colleague about this and she commented:"Ah! You give Isaac false hope!" "No," I replied, "It's not false hope. There is still a slim chance, a small hope, that it might be returned to us. But there is still hope." I then proceeded to tell her The Story of the Camera: More than 5 years ago, we also left behind a camera in this same carpark, but it was returned to us. So, miracles do happen. It is not impossible. Also, it gives us a course of action. Like, we are at least doing something to mitigate the circumstances.

But it was not to be, in this case. The very next morning, someone had already torn off the notice that was at the ground floor lift lobby of the multi-story carpark. They had torn it off harriedly without bothering to get all the bits of paper off. Isaac saw it and exclaimed:"Oh no! Someone tore off our notice already!" He thought for awhile and continued:"Maybe it is the person who toook my Beyblades! He doesn't like the notice to remind me that he's not honest!" Frankly, I think he is right. 

Shawna asked:"Mummy, why did someone take kor kor's Beyblades?" 
Me: "I don't know, darling. They are not being honest. That's not nice, right?"
Shawna:"Yah! Not nice! They can buy their own Beyblades, right? Don't take ours!"
I had to laugh coz she was very astute. "Exactly! You're right, Shawna!"

In the days that followed, I still hoped you know. I hoped that the person would just bring the stuff and leave them at our front door anonymously. Or perhaps maybe some parent might sms me to say that they saw our notices and that their child is willing to give us one of their spare Beyblades to make Isaac feel better. But nope, zilch. Well, I really just hope that the people who found the Beyblades are some super low income family kinda folks and that the toys made some kid/s very very happy...

So that was how the year started on a sour note for us - when we lost our Beyblades. But this is just the start of The Beyblade Saga series of posts! Stay tuned!

Coming up! The Beyblade Saga Part 2: Home-Made DIY Beyblade Stadium! :)'s Talkative Thursdays


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