Daddee Yah!

A working Daddee learning to cope in a big big world

It was a successful affair! We had achieved the desired outcome!

My parents had invited close relatives and friends, and had wanted to keep the affair not-to-big. So naturally the guest list was crafted by them. Seatings were also generally determined by them, as sometimes one has to try and please as many as possible and diplomatically seat various folks together or apart. :)

So anyway, whatever brought about the inspiration, my niece took it upon herself to add more activities and significance to the event- she had wanted to give her grandparents a surprise gift. She thought to create a photo album, chronicling from the days my parents dated, to their wedding, to when the kids (us) were born, and to when their generation was born. So there were lots of baby photos that still bring laughters today! She then got everyone of us to write a greeting / message of whatever we wanted to say to my parents.

Me and my siblings usually communicate via emails; like a mailing list, when we have something to collectively discuss. Here was no different, only that the nieces and nephews were also roped in; in discussing this, the program for the evening, and also all the planning leading up to it.

This latter phase largely revolved around what to get as doorgift for the guests. The criteria was that it had to be something that the guests won’t be throwing away very easily, not something that is left at the bottom of the drawer, something that can serve as a reminder of the event later on, and of course meaningful. So, that ruled out chocolates of even the best quality; cakes, for the same reason; Chinese tea; photoframes, cos, well it just didn’t jive well with anyone.

What we eventually settled was a pair of chopsticks, and Chinese teacup set.


In this pic, the gift looked like it does above with the chopsticks tied to the box, which contains the teacup.

After the party / the next morning, while recapping all the fun that was had by all, mum was looking at this doorgift. No, she / they didn’t know anything about this surprise either!

She shared a useful comment for the ethnic Chinese among us.

It would have been more meaningful if it were a rice bowl, instead of the cup, because a chopsticks+rice bowl combo is a more complete symbol for such an occasion. Since the occasion was to celebrate their 50th anniversary, as well as an early 70th birthday for my mum (it’s actually in the middle of the year), the combo would be symbolic of the hosts also wishing that their guests would also eat-well into their later age.

While mum’s birthday is later in the year, their anniversary apparently is spot on the date! It was also good that we did it early ‘cos some of these nieces and nephews have to leave for / go back to uni pretty soon.

The dinner party program also included a surprise slideshow presentation. In preparing for the photo album, my brother made copies (more like photographed the photos) of the nostalgic moments in their lives, and put together a slideshow with a similar chronicle theme to the album, but for all the guests to see.

That was a big feature of the evening, everyone’s eyes were glued to the screens! Friends who knew my parents even more than a decade ago were keenly watching the slideshow of my parents in their early 20’s and 30’s. Relatives relived the old days, my nieces and nephews laughing their heads off at kid photos of their parents.

But most importantly, my parents too were saying “Hey, that was when… ” and “Oh dear! Where did you get that from!?” They had a good time watching the whole 35min slideshow.

The nieces and nephews too had a series of speeches all planned out. In all, all of the grandkids present did something. Well wishes, toasts, and a presentation of 2 calligraphy scrolls handwritten by this organiser-niece, no less. The last of the grandkids’ surprise was this photo album mentioned earlier; a few of them slaved over it about 2 weeks before the event.


All the grandkids had a great time, too. All helped out in one way or another; even Caitlin accompanied me on stage when the hosts’ sons were up there welcoming the guests and other speaking ocassions.

Dr Pixie, being the oldest and de facto leader of my generation, summed it up nicely in her email today:

On a final note – the parents are very very very happy with the effort put into the Feb 14th dinner. Thats what parents live for – the time and effort by their children & grandchildren. The evidently wonderful camaderie enjoyed by the grandkids captured so well in the photos is so heart-warming; they have never ever quarrelled, with love and humility all round ; there isnt the slightest feeling of envy, jealousy, anger nor one-upmanship amongst this lot – this can teach us adults so many lessons.

Kudos, guys, for a job well done! All except Caleb, who was gladly snoozing through the whole event. He had to be taken out of his stroller / woken for these family shots, which while he thought it was very rude of the adults to disturb his sleep, we couldnt’ help but laugh at him though, trying to either stay awake or stay asleep, and stay balanced!

Oh yeah, much later that night, I thought I was the last to go to bed (we crashed at my parent’s place) I caught my father enjoying the photo album, in his fave seat, slowly flipping the pages and reading every single word…. :) Hear that, Mdm Organiser?

Caitlin will be turning 4 this week.

From experience of Caitlin’s 3rd birthday party, it was quite a task trying to organise a toddler’s party. We had some “trouble” thinking of who to invite: Caitlin hadn’t started school yet, her nearest cousins are at least 10 years older than her, she only has ONE toddler friend. Then there was the venue; we booked the multi-purpose hall at our condo, but it was hot as hell. And the food; both grandma’s were quite frantic in organising and cooking the food- a lot of which were left over. And then the cleaning up.

This year though, was actually just a little easier- she has been attending school this year and have some same-sized acquaintance.

So this year, I for one took the easy way out- I didn’t bother with streamers, balloons, party packs.

I outsourced it.

Since her birthday is going to be on a weekday (as I write this), we thought it’d be better to organise the party on the weekend, and going be the (local?) tradition, we planned it on the Sunday before the actual birthday (yesterday).

Kids her age absolutely love the kids’ gyms and playgrounds. During my last visits, I had noticed that they organise birthday parties for kids.

That’s how it clicked.

I consulted Caitlin, saying that Daddee and Mummee would like to organise a birthday party for her, and asked who she’d like from school to come to her party. Index finger to her chin, she ran through the list of names in her head, with Daddee tailing her with a pen and a pad.

Speaking to her class teacher I managed to get the contact details of the parents. Due to some administrative error, I had a red face experience when I contacted one of the mothers with a wrong child name. Honestly! It wasn’t my fault!

Again from experience / witness, a gym like this would be better suited for kids who are already able to run. I have seen tinier people being knocked over by toddlers and bigger kids. If you recall your physics lessons on conservation of momentum, at head on collision the body with the lower mass bounces off the one with the higher mass. Quite a hazard really for the little people… (Sorry Ann, that’s why I left Christopher out!)

Naturally I also had to ensure that I get the venue secured too. It was quite a tricky situation balancing fulfilling the package of set headcounts against those who would be coming (ie keeping to their word). Experience from organising events at work recently has proven boss’ theory of expecting a 30% drop out come time of the actual event.

The theory proved correct.

I did try to make some last minutes fillers; called up a colleague with a 2 year old boy, but he too fell into that same statistics category- his boy came down with a fever. He did warn me about this a few days before though that his boy was starting to exhbit some symptoms, so it wasn’t as bad as one of Caitlin’s classmates who RSVPed (this colleague has already passed me Caitlin’s present today at work), but when I called all the parents again the day before for confirmation that “Oh, we are actually going to be traveling North..” Yeah thanks for not bothering to tell me; what if I didnt’ call? Another one also didn’t inform me; when we were already 30min into the party I called only to find that the boy was at the Dr’s, also down with something.

Lesson here for organising any-age events:

  • Expect 30% to decline invitation, so invite 130%!
  • Expect some to RSVP but not bother to advise on their change of plans;
  • Call at least a day before again to remind them of the event.


We were very appreciative of the parents who did come on time, and even more appreciative of the presents for Caitlin. I was glad that some of the parents already knew each other; it made playing host a little easier. There were one or two who didn’t know anyone; a pregnant mother sat there the whole 2+ hours, while a dad went window shopping. Glad I decided on this venue- the gym is actually in a shopping center.

All in all, I think everyone had fun. Honestly I was a little skeptical on how well this would go; a feeling I suddenly had halfway through the 2 hour party slot. After the simple meal and games that the staff conducted, the kids were let loose again in the gym, playing and complaining about who wasn’t playing with who, who wasn’t sharing, who was rough on the slide, where are the lollies the staff gave out, and the parents chasing after them with bottled water.

She is four years old already…..

When Caitlin had her 4th birthday party, I had invited these particular two friends of hers.

The first is a friend over a year older than her. Their Mummees have known each other before they knew their respective husbands, and naturally when both had daughters, they play when the adults get together. The second is a classmate she gets along well- she talks about her all the time after school; at parent teacher meetings the teachers have even complained that these two chatterboxes had to be separated!

If I can categorise these 2 friends- one is while in school-mode, the other is outside of school-mode; if you know what I mean. It’s not that Caitlin is or acts differently in and out of school, but she only sees these friends in respective surroundings and circumstances.

So this party was held in an indoor kids’ gym, you know- steps and rubber balls and slides. And these two friends were present.

Being host we arrived early. Caitlin was off to the gym. Her friends started arriving, and quickly joined in the fun. This was also the first time I watched Caitlin playing host, unprompted. Let me rephrase that: This was the first time I had to prompt her to be a host. But it was all good; after all, in a place like that, one (kid) would not really need much urging to join in!

Soon, both of these friends were present. And since both didn’t know each other, they were demanding the attention of Caitlin.

While Caitlin was quite happy following either one of them, the other was starting to feel neglected in that Caitlin either didn’t heed her plea to “come over here..” or didn’t hear her at all. When she played with school friend, the other was feeling left out and cried. So when we asked Caitlin to also include the other, somehow the first one then became somewhat left out too. Caitlin, in all this time, was busy accommodating one or the other!

So the tears were flowing, complaints being raised with the mummies, and Caitlin seemingly needed coaching.

But even I was at a loss somewhat. Naturally I was thinking in adult-mode: Can’t we all just join in and (learn to) get along? Hot Mummee and I were saying things to all 3 girls to try and pacify and solve the “issue”. “Why don’t you include the other…”, “Why don’t all 3 of you play together…”, “.. they don’t know each other, so you (Caitlin) have to try and get them to play together….”

While it is somewhat amusing to see this little dilemma, how would you have settled this triangle?? :)

As you know Caitlin enjoys being picked up from school by her favourite human on Earth (ahem).

So since I had the day off work (actually I had taken the whole week off since I have a load of annual leave left), and also that our department had organised a lunch party, I thought to pick Caitlin up from school and head on over to the office party with her in tow, to show her the place where I work.

The party was a combined Raya celebrations as well as farewell for a staff. But little did I know that there was also gonna be performances by my peers. Some singing, some dancing, some fashion show parade.

We arrived about 50 minutes after the party started- Caitlin’s school day only ended 30min after the scheduled start of the party. By then there were thank-you speeches already by my unit head, and soon followed by performances.

The ladies in the unit danced, sang self-written rhymes to tease the farewell staff. Staff were also requested to come “dressed up”, so there were also fashion / catwalk parades. In good sportsmanship, when my peers saw me walking in with Caitlin, I was also requested to parade under the “Daddy with daughter” category. Caitlin wasn’t too appreciative of that, but she obliged since I was holding her hand. We did a walk, I wanted to twirl her but she wasn’t really in the mood, and we walked back to where we were hiding.

Soon after, lunch was served. It was only then that she started coming out of her shell, starting to respond and then started talking to the adults in my office. It was afterwards that I found out that she even volunteered info- that she spoke first instead of just responding, about her day in school, with one of the ladies here…

Hmm I wonder if it was ‘cos food was being served that she opened up….

So now she has seen “Daddee’s office”. Complete with dancing ladies, singing ladies, ladies winning (small) awards for being best-dressed, a big table full of food with tomato rice, not-spicy curry dishes, cakes, “crackers” (she didn’t know they were called papadums), and Playhouse Disney (website) on Daddee’s work laptop.

Talk about misconceptions about the adult working life from an early age!

Despite not having enough kids to invite & Daddee’s fumbling in organising it, Caitlin’s birthday party didn’t turn out too bad after all…

Admittedly Mummee, Daddee & Caitlin were out during the most of the day, only coming back to start the preparations a tad too late!

We were going to host the party at the common hall / “clubhouse” at our condo on Saturday. About a week prior, I had purchased some party balloons, a pump, enough simple party packs of annoying horns, masks, hats, & 2 simple Pooh Bear & Disney birthday garlands. But only on Friday did I start to wonder (or mildly panic) that the venue may be looking a bit too bare…..


Although not as creative nor crafty as Forty-Two Roads’ handy crafts, I did try to spruce up the event somewhat!

I had known for a while that Pocoyo’s site has some templates for printing for crayon-colouring, DIY pop-out cards, & coloured graphics for placemats & garlands. So, on Friday afternoon, the eve of the party, I decided to print some out, thinking perhaps spending Friday night after everyone has gone to sleep that I would put these together.

And wouldn’t you know it, the office colour printer decided not to work.

Maybe someone’s programmed into the printer not to print bright colourful graphics of cartoon characters. Maybe someone knew I was planning a party & that I may up to no good with office equipment. Maybe someone’s just simply out to get me. If you know your printers, photos & graphics are a combination of CMYK- cyan, magenta, yellow, black. It is the combination of these that make up a colour printout, photo or graphic. My printouts were all too red- like there was double the red being printed, even on where it was supposed to be white. I kept trying the settings, printing out (effectively wasting the toner) more of the annoyingly same output. And I was fast running out of time.

On the way to pick up Caitlin, I called Mummee (who usually works late) if she has a colour printer in her office, & whether I could print them there. Yes & yes.

So after a quick call to mother in law to say I will be late for Caitlin, I headed over to Mummee’s office. Loaded the pdf files on her machine & alas, they printed out perfect. Looking at the product, Mummee says “Hey these Thank-you cards do look nice; why don’t we paste them onto proper cardboard to make it hardier?”

Not one to have done craft-stuff since primary school, I agreed & proceeded to paste them to sandwich a cardboard. In short, I ruined 4. Either the front & inside pages didn’t align, or that I forgot that once the card folded that the inner pages would crease at the fold.

Again, time was running out.

I won’t bore you with the other mini-disasters of essentially poor estimations of effort & time required to put these things together, suffice to say that we saw Saturday’s sunrise while STILL working on these things. Credit to Mummee who is heavily pregnant to still entertain this Daddee’s late decision on party deco.


In the end we did get the following done:

  • Thank you cards, enough for the kids present
  • Flip out cheap-animation, enough for the kids present
  • Placemats of the characters, laminated and all
  • “Happy birthday” garland (pictured)

After only about 3 hours sleep & being out almost the whole of Saturday due to commitments & appointments, we rushed home only around 5pm when the party was supposed to start at 7pm!

This was the first time I used the balloon pump thing. I gotta say it’s a pretty interesting contraption that my older brother & I were wondering during the party how it works- in both direction of the pumping-action there was still air being blown out…

Anyway. My school friend & his family were the first to arrive. Embarrassingly I had to ask him to help continue with the balloons while I went to get the furniture arranged, & putting up the garlands & get the home-made crafts.

Mother in law was the only one who knows how nuts we were staying up so late! But then again she home-cooked a total of seven dishes in all, when we had only asked her to cook three! My own mum brought over some food too, & Sam & Mircle provided a very pretty birthday cake.


I am going to break my own privacy principle just this one time & share a photo of my lovely Caitlin for you guys to see how happy she is!

That’s heavily-pregnant Mummee in the background, cheering at the unveiling of the birthday cake (from its upturned transport box)

The cake is made of jelly. I gotta find out the shop from which Sam got it. We had asked her to get this one because for her own hubby’s birthday she got a similar one (adult version of course) full of fresh-ish fruits inside. We thought it’d be easier to take this given it was a warm few weeks.

Throughout the night, the kids, including Caitlin’s older cousins, were generally having fun. Among Caitlin’s presents was a new bicycle, so she was quite happily trying her luck cycling around the mingling adults not bumping into people. From the start, I am sure our 2 blocks of resident-neighbours were already suffering from the party-pack-horns that Caitlin & her similar-human-sized friends blaring away.

But overall, I think everyone had fun.

Now Daddee is still lacking sleep!


Happy Birthday my sweet Caitlin!