We used to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the wife and I, but eventually it got too expensive, so we stuck to our wedding anniversary instead, which is not very far away, in March.
Anyway, when you have three kids, ages 10, 12 and 14, you don't really have time for the trappings of commercialized romance.
Our Valentine’s Day consisted of me taking Joy to church while the wife took Faith and Isaac to see the doctor on a Sunday morning.
The flu bug is not fun at all, especially if it hits two kids at once, and especially if your firstborn daughter has autism and can’t tell you where her discomfort is.
Then the afternoon was a blur. I vaguely remember driving one kid to maths tuition, fixing a broken wardrobe door, and buying a rose at the wet market for the wife, with Faith in tow.
Oh, wait. I managed to catch a power nap too. That was pretty awesome.
Faith had a small meltdown at the mall after dinner because she wanted to go home already and insisted on going down an escalator that was going up. It took both Isaac and me to pull her back and guide the very cranky and strong 14-year-old girl out of the mall and to the car.
At home, I played with my new camera and took selfies with Faith. "Smile at the camera, Faithie!"
Faith didn't smile for the camera but she did give me a surprise kiss. And because of muscle memory, I pressed the shutter button.
Now that is a Valentine's Day moment to remember.
I'm not sure if Faith will ever find her Valentine, her condition being so severe. But she will always have us, her family, to love and cherish her for as long as we live.
I love seafaring stories and The Finest Hours, based on a true story of a daring rescue by the US Coast Guard in 1952, did it for me.
Four men went out in a little boat to rescue the oil tanker SS Pendleton that broke into two off Cape Cod, and the leader of the group, Bernie Webber, is played with much restraint by Chris "Captain Kirk" Pine.
I actually like this less cocky Chris Pine better.
The love story bit is a bit hokey but the drama at sea more than made up for it.
I watched this in 3D and boy, do you feel the waves crashing down on you.
Casey Affleck also put up a fine performance as the strong and silent Ray Sybert, who became the de facto leader of the men on board the still floating rear half of the stricken SS Pendleton.
I should visit Cape Cod and see the beautiful coast there one day.
On the second day of Chinese New Year, when most eateries were closed, I was queuing at the crowded McD's with the son and whispering under my breath, "Please, may the person in front not be ordering 10 Big Breakfasts. Please, may the person in front not be ordering 10 Big Breakfasts. Please, may the person in front not be ordering 10 Big Breakfasts."
She ordered 10 Big Breakfasts.
Then the next fella ordered two Happy Meals to dine in. And six meals to go. Wah lau eh.
Good thing I had that lovely satay waiting for me at my 大姨's place.
Speaking of eating too much during CNY, my friend Jeff sent me this:
To all feasting this CNY, there will be lots of eating and drinking. A friend introduced me a type of weight loss plaster. Just need to paste it. Very effective. The whole treatment is 7 days. Can lose up to 10kg weight!!! And it is not expensive.
So I asked him, "Where should I paste the plaster?"
He probably didn't understand why I suddenly sent him that message in the midst of his school hours, but it's ok.
I made a mental note to remind my kids that no matter what trouble they find themselves in in future, they must always feel comfortable telling us, their parents.
Much later, he replied, "Don't forget to fill up the money box. I checked the box already."
And minutes later, "Hello?"
I replied, "Ok."
May the biggest problems we ever have to talk about, be mundane things like the family petty cash box running out of money. Or sticking to the 30-minute limit of computer time. Or clearing his Legos after playing with them.
You would think that having owned a wireless SONOS sound system in the house for a few years, I would be jaded. But when TC Acoustic, distributor for SONOS, sent me a Playbar, Sub and two of the new Play:5's to play with, it was like having a second honeymoon with a system I thought I already knew.
I set up the Playbar and Sub in my master bedroom, and used my two existing Play:1's to be the rear speakers. Now my bedroom became a home theatre. I used to watch my movies in the living room, where my home theatre is set up. But with the SONOS setup in my bedroom, the wife and I were now watching our Netflix and Apple TV movies in air-conditioned comfort.
The Playbar, Sub and Play:1s were compact and unobtrusive enough to reside in my bedroom, while giving me 5:1 surround sound. Most of our viewing happened on Netflix anyway, which meant tv shows and movies streamed from our TV were in surround. And because the system is wireless, using the SONOS wifi system, I didn't need to run unsightly wires in the bedroom to enjoy surround. I just needed to find power sockets to power the speakers.
With a complete SONOS system in the bedroom, streaming music from our Spotify account or from the music library on my home network drive was even more enjoyable. Playbar + Sub + Play:1s gives me great sound in the bedroom. Bass is solid, the highs and mids clear.
The first thing I do every morning now is turn on the room-filling music. Then when I am done dressing in the bedroom, and I move into the living room to read the papers, I use the SONOS app to shift the music to the SONOS system in the living room, where I set up the new Play:5's.
Ahhhh, the new Play:5. What a huge improvement from the older model! The new Play:5 really surprised me.
Two of these Play:5's set up as a stereo pair are enough to cover my living room with music. You can lie the Play:5 on its longer side for a wider sound stage or stand it vertically for more focused sound.
The older Play:5 had five speakers: two tweeters, two mids and one woofer. In the new Play:5, there are SIX drivers inside the box: three tweeters (one central, two side-firing) and three mid-woofers, each with their own dedicated amplifiers, which explains the clear and vibrant sound.
When you change the orientation of the Play:5, it knows if it is horizontal or vertical and adjusts itself accordingly.
Using new Trueplay feature in the SONOS app, I could tune the speakers to give me equal sound throughout the room or tell the SONOS speakers to focus on my sofa area, where I listen to music most. You use it by turning on Trueplay on your phone, then you turn it upside down so the mic is facing out, and then you walk around your room waving your phone up and down while Trueplay plays a test tone. You will look silly doing this, but the result is impressive, giving you better tuned sound for your room.
My pair of new Play:5's are so good, I don't even need to use the SONOS Sub for added bass (though if you wanted to, it would definitely sound better). I have my Sub with the home theatre setup in the bedroom, and just use the two SONOS Play:5s in the living room. The speakers, including the Sub, are wireless and easy to set up anyway, so I can always move the Sub to the living room to join the Play:5's anytime I want to.
The SONOS app is as usual, a treat to use. All my music services work with it, like Spotify and Apple Music. I would still love to be able to use my Spotify app directly, but the SONOS app is very usable, plus it knows to search for music on both my home music library and Spotify.
Now I am tempted to try adding more speakers into my study room, which currently has a lonely Play:1 in there. It's an audio addiction, I tell you. A SONOS one.