Monday, December 29, 2014

A season of blessings

Did you have a good Christmas? We did!

The run-up to Christmas was a hectic one, especially for Lesley-Anne. However, in the spirit of Christmas, I've decided to focus my last post of 2014 on the many blessings God has showered us with.

1. A Time to Dance and a Time to Rest

Lesley-Anne embarked on a one-week trip to Taiwan with her dance CCA mates. It was a great experience as she attended loads of dance masterclasses conducted at professional studios. Ballet, jazz, hip hop, street, etc. However, it was also an exhausting trip. Apart from dancing all day, the kids had to walk as far as 1km to get to the dance studios and went out to street markets in the evenings. The fatigue plus the cold and wintery wind caused Lesley-Anne to return home with a fever and sore throat, and she wasn't the only one.

Nevertheless, it was an invaluable learning experience and I thought Lesley-Anne falling sick was actually a blessing in disguise as she was forced to rest at home for a whole week - something she badly needed to do before the craziness of the New Year begins all over again.

2. A Time to Create

We did the final edits for Danger Dan #5 just before Christmas. The schedule was so tight that I didn't have any time to feel nostalgic about editing the last book of the series. Actually, there will be another Danger Dan book but it won't be part of the storyline... hmm...that sounds complicated. Never mind, I'll explain another time!

Anyway, Danger Dan Creates the Ultimate Utama Uproar is both Lesley-Anne and my favourite book in the series, and we hope our readers will love it too! It's scheduled to be out on 16 January 2015. Will post updates.

What a juicy orange cover!

Incidentally, a wonderful reader sent me this photo of her niece who's a huge fan of Danger Dan. She visited the Epigram Books pop-up sale to get her copy of Danger Dan #4. How sweet is that?

3. A Time to Eat and be Merry

We're very fortunate that my mil, despite her years, is still in good health and spirits, and always makes an effort to observe traditions, such as making tang yuan for the Winter Solstice Festival.

And then, there's the annual Christmas eve party with the extended family - an event we all look forward to (admittedly, a large part because of the food. Such gluttons we are!) We're also incredibly fortunate to have a gem of a helper who is so dedicated and familiar with our ways that she's now able to prepare Christmas dinner almost single-handedly.

 Here's the matriarch with her grand-kids and great grand-kids.

4. A Time to Laugh and a Time to Love

I believe in laughter and humour. In our household, there's a lot of good-natured joshing which I feel goes a long way towards relieving the stresses of everyday life. Can't always be taking ourselves too seriously. Whenever one of us does or says something silly (which is frequent), my response is: "Wow, your brilliance astounds me." Or Lesley-Anne would say, "Come, let me slow-clap for you." All in good fun.

For Christmas, I don't know where she found the time but Lesley-Anne made us cushions as gifts. Creative and personalised - how not to smile at this?

Can you tell Andre loves his cushion?

As my kids grew into teenage-dom, one thing I'm always thankful for is how easily I can still talk to them. Having experienced Lesley-Anne's angsty years, I was bracing myself for Andre to turn into the Incredible Sulk but that never happened. He's still happy-go lucky, and generous with hugs and kisses (not in public, though!) I asked him: "How come you're never moody? Are you always going to be sweet like this or are the moods yet to happen?"

His reply: "Aiyah, won't lah. I'm always happy. Just enjoy life as it comes."

I'm also grateful for how Lesley-Anne and Andre have grown very close. When I tell people that the two of them get along really well despite their vast differences in personality, I suspect people either think I'm lying or that I'm the luckiest mum in the world.

And with that, 2014 comes to a close. Where did the time go? As we usher in 2015, I'm not going to  make New Year's resolutions to be better, faster, more patient, more diligent, yada yada, because I know the intent is always stronger than the resolve. Instead, I offer a different approach and leave you with this New Year quote by Neil Gaiman, one of Lesley-Anne's favourite authors:
"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something." - Neil Gaiman
May you embrace the many mistakes that you are about to make in 2015, and the wondrous discoveries and opportunities thereafter. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2014

NTUC Back to School Fair

Last Saturday marked the last talk of the year for Lesley-Anne at the NTUC Back to School Fair.

NTUC had invited her to speak at the Fair which was held at the National Library at Victoria Street. It's quite a big event with activities held over the entirely weekend and a massive book fair at the atrium by Closetful of Books.

It was a very wet Saturday but looking at the crowd, spirits were far from dampened. It was quite an honour for Lesley-Anne and I thought she did great. (Don't think it's mother's bias cos other people came up to me and told me the same thing, haha!) With each talk, she is growing more comfortable with public speaking and if there were any nerves, it didn't show at all. She engaged the crowd well which comprised both kids and parents.

After the half-hour talk was a meet-and-greet session where we signed Danger Dan books and met young (and young at heart) readers.

There are times when I wonder who is actually reading our books, since we don't do a lot of publicity and school talks, compared to some other local writers. Lesley-Anne is a lot more steady in this respect - these things don't bother her. During these moments of self-doubt, I notice that God often sends people my way to boost my confidence (how much assurance does this person need, He must think!) Yesterday, a sweet little girl came by with all four copies of Danger Dan to be signed and her mother told me she loves the books. Her favourite is Danger Dan #2.

Another mum once told me her sons love Danger Dan and Percy Jackson, and recently, Danger Dan seems to have taken the no. 1 spot. Wah! Such stories do encourage me so.

NTUC also arranged for us to be interviewed on camera. A teeny celebrity moment, heh.

No rest for the weary. Lesley-Anne will be off on her overseas school trip but for me, I'll be chilling the rest of the year. Have to get the mind zen before 2015 starts in earnest!

I'll be giving this blog a rest till after Christmas so to all my fantastic readers - have a very blessed yuletide with your loved ones and may the Christmas star shine brightly for you this season!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The French connection

Ho ho ho, the Christmas tree is up!

But even before the lights started twinkling, we'd already begun our year-end feasting. Be gone, thy dastardly diet!

It started with a delectable French dinner at our good friends, Isabelle and Joon's place. Isabelle's mum was in town and she'd whipped up some duck confit and gratin. As if that's not decadent enough, she'd also brought foie gras from Paris! Drool...

Our stomachs are indeed fortunate to be beneficiaries of such culinary goodness. When I was looking through my photos, I realised that they were all on the food. No photos of people!

Afternote: Kenneth did have a photo of the food AND the company! Adding it here:

We wanted to return the hospitality so we invited Isabelle and her family over for a popiah party. It was the first time they'd had home-made popiah (for Isabelle's mum, first time any sort of popiah.)

Photos of people at last! Not entirely a glutton at heart...

Passing the wrapping test...

...before showing the hubby how it's done.

Isabelle and I go back more than 10 years. We first met when we were working at SMU, before Andre was born. She's now the owner of the very successful Stand Up Paddling School Singapore which has been making waves (see what I did there?) in the local sports scene. It has been featured extensively in the media. Professional and totally focused on safety - that's what stands her school apart from the rest.

If you've never tried stand up paddling, you've got to! We can't go as often as we'd like to but when my kids love it whenever they get the chance. Paddling at the idyllic Tanjong Beach at Sentosa is a bonus - calm waters and a view to boot. When Lesley-Anne and I were away in Hong Kong in March this year, Andre had a treat of his own.

SUP School even has its own merchandise now. Striking a pose in the cool blue shirts!

I'm so very proud of ma très chère amie. (Not sure if that's the right expression but the sentiment is there ♥)

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