Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bookish


My bookshelf decor has always been a little boring. Just endless rows of books according to height and authors. I googled some images and decide to jazz it up a bit. I used the same techniques for most shelves and it instantly looked a whole lot better. In fact, I thought it looked so good, I decided it could go in the living room, instead of in our (very) narrow hallway.

In my perfect world, I would have a study with a very high ceiling filled with shelves upon shelves of books from top to bottom. One can dream.

I have a few quirks when I buy books - I don't buy bestsellers just because everyone else is reading them. I won't buy a book with an Oprah sticker on it or a book with the movie adaptation poster. I know it all sounds a little snobbish but I just can't help it! I'm actually a bit cross with myself that I'm this way since I don't like it when music snobs give me the look like, "You listen to that?"

Usually I get references of a line from a book from another book. Which will lead me to my next book and so on. Sometimes I'll read interviews from my favourite authors and they'll recommend something. I found Paul Auster through his wife's, Siri Hustvedt's bestseller, What I Loved. His name was in her introduction and I checked him out.

I've been buying my own books since I was 19. Some have gone missing over the years and one of my favourite series of books by Janet Evanovich are with the lucky Cassandra Fenella. None of them will go missing any more, though. I have downloaded an app called Home Library, which allows you to scan the barcode at the back of the book to keep track of the books that you have. It also prices the estimated value of the book. This way, when someone borrows your book, you will have a record (unless your phone goes missing, of course).

I don't have as many books as a lot of other people I know but I'm so proud of this little collection. Growing up, my parents never encouraged reading so I went all "rebellious" on them as soon as I could afford to.

In our home though, we always put books ahead of toys and TV. Miranda's attention span is increasing and you can tell that she really enjoys our reading to her. Hopefully it stays this way so I can give her my collection.

Hopefully she'll want it!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teddy Bears' Picnic

Last Sunday, The Family headed to Rippon Lea Estate for the Teddy Bears Picnic. The organisers were out to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of teddy bears at a picnic. We brought two but I completely forgot to take pictures of any teddies! Totally concentrated on one thing and one thing only. Peppa Pig was making an appearance!

Miranda adores Peppa Pig. She can watch four of those 5-min cartoons at a go if you let her. (Which I do sometimes, when I need to get something done in the kitchen pronto!)

So the whole morning, I kept prepping her to expect Peppa at the picnic (now say that fast!).

Peppa was first in the line-up and was already on stage when we arrived.

We were right at the back but that didn't stop Miranda's attention from being glued to the stage the whole time. She even recognised the song when Peppa came on stage again later in the day. She got up from the picnic blanket and kept pointing to the stage saying 'Papa'. Haha. And cos she was waiting for me to put on my sandals, she had one leg towards the direction of the stage, sort of like in a "get set go" position.


In her birthday dress. I still love this dress on her. It's one of the few that's been out to play more than once. And she totally loved this drink her Godma got her.


Then I changed her into a singlet and shorts cos' it was so damn hot. And I tied a ponytail. I could not believe how she looked so much like a big girl!



 Talia and Miranda in the jumping castle. Talia tried to help Miranda up to jump.


Going on a ride on one of the many Shetland ponies that were there that day. :)


It was a short ride around the back but it was fun watching her trying to figure out whether it was a toy? Haha.

And lastly! A video of her dancing in the centre of all the "cheerleaders"!



It's so funny how she's trying to position herself to jump but can't. And also, how she must always have her sippy cup everywhere she goes! It's time to get her one of those with a string attached, methinks!

Landscaping

Dwayne and I are amateurs at all things gardening so when we realised we had to do our own landscaping (or pay thousands for a landscaper) we decided we wanted to do something fuss-free and low-maintenance. I have since warmed up to the idea of having a little veggie patch and herb garden with a few hanging baskets of flowers in the backyard and al fresco but we're going to do all that later down the track.

The most pressing issue has to be the driveway right now. It's the first thing that greets us and it is definitely an eyesore.


We were really productive last Saturday. After marketing - I will have to blog about the new market soon - we went to a gardening shop and Bunnings to get all the materials - planks, pins, mulch. We were getting acquainted with all sorts of terms!


Everything laid out and we ready to roll!


At first, this girl was being really good. She had her tea set in the hallway and was going about her own little business.

But she became really curious as to what was going on outside after awhile. 
 
Weed mat laid out and Dwayne was fixing on the planks.

Miranda had brought out her little cup, a spoon and some toys to go and play in the mud. Yes. 

And every time we tell her not to, she covered her face with her hands. Her hands, which were already covered in sand and dust. This covering of face with hands thing is really adorable and I always laugh while D struggles to keep a stern face. 

#epicfailasadisciplinarianlah

I should have taken a picture at the end of it all. She was filthy! 


 Pouring out the mulch. We bought 6 bags and it was still not enough!


My hero, who did nearly all of it on its own. 

It doesn't look like anything at the moment but hopefully, it will start to take shape soon!


And oh, off she went into the bath after that!

The Big Move

Moving is difficult.

You can pack things but you can't pack people so thank God for memories that you can always carry with you.

As a child, I never thought I'd move to a foreign country to live for good. I loved my Singapore. Everything was convenient and I never had a problem with the weather. Good friends, good food, my entire family.

I never had dreams of owning a big house. A 5-room flat would have sufficed, somewhere in the heart of the lion city. I was always hoping for Queenstown! But I also wondered how to leave Yishun behind.

But instead I left the whole country behind to be with my whole world.

We found a place to rent and make ours for the next four years. By a stroke of sheer luck, Dwayne's dad's cousin's son (confusing enough for you?) had a place near the city and his tenants were moving out in a month. And Pat, Dwayne's dad's cousin, lived two houses down from us. Which meant, we had some sort of family always close by. I really loved that. Having come from a full house of 5 family members to whiling my days away alone when D was at work during the first six months of my new life in Melbourne, it was so appreciated.

And over the course of the time we spent there, we learned a lot as a couple. We hosted tonnes of dinner parties, themed parties, all sorts of parties! We hosted uncountable guests. Some for days, some for weeks. It was our first home as newlyweds and the home we brought our firstborn to. Miranda learnt to crawl and then, walk in that house. Outside of the house, it was a 15-min drive to the city, there were gorgeous lakes not far from us. The church we went to was of the same name as the church we got married in in Singapore. The priests are amazing people. We knew all the sellers at the market we went to. One of the fishmongers knew I was expecting even before D told him so. I never stepped in the wet market the whole time I was pregnant and they always asked after me.

So it was with a heavy heart that I left No. 20 for No. 30.

We have been at our new place for two weeks already.

The move itself was hellish. We started on a Thursday at 6am and finished at 4.30am. But we didn't stop to sleep until 10.30pm on Friday. Madness. Good thing we pretty much unpacked everything by Sunday morning. Hosted D's family on Sunday afternoon and things were back to normal by Monday.

There's so much to be done still. The curtains have not arrived so our windows are still covered in cardboard or old linen sheets. Our driveway is in dire need of some landscaping. Dwayne has started work on it but it was so tiring to do a small lot, I reckon it will take us a few weeks. Then there's the al fresco, which needs some decking. And the backyard, which needs some planting.

But everyday I wake up and I thank God that we have our own little home.



 My husband's idea of labeling.


Miranda comfortable in her new room on Moving Day. We moved most of her stuff first so she could occupy herself in the usual way.


Miranda's height marked.


The first meal I cooked. We were so sick of having Maccas for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Thursday. Dwayne said this was exactly what he wanted when he set down to eat. 

Steamed egg, sweet and sour prawns and Chinese broccoli.


We put up a letter box! 

Amazing the things you always take for granted as always already being there.



The day D and I went back to clean the old place. 

Took 6 hours and I nearly scrubbed my fingers off.


View of the sunset from our place. There are horses on that field too. Yea, we are kinda nearly in the "country" haha. I shall take pictures of the horses one day!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Death

It's the worst thing ever when bad news hits so close to home.

D called me on Friday afternoon while I was in the nursery with Miranda. She had been entertaining me with her dress-up costumes. I was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down my face. I kept having to use my T-shirt to dab them away.

So when I got the call from D, I was talking very loudly and excitedly, trying to tell him all about it. In fact, just as the phone rang, I remember snickering to myself as I prepared to send the photos on Whatsapp cos I felt so sure he'd crack up at work.

But he hushed me up quickly and asked me to listen.

V's husband had died.

What? How?

An accident.

V's got two little girls, aged 7 and 2 and they were closer to their Daddy.

You never expect accidents. That's why, to me, it would be the worst way to go. If you had a lover's spat that morning, you'd never get to mend it. If you'd argued with your parents that day, there would be no chance to seek forgiveness. Those two kids probably thought they'd see Daddy when he got home in the evening. V probably thought nothing at all. Being a mother to two young kids, one school-going, one toddler in constant need of attention, just how often would you think of your husband?

It's been a few days now and we are still not entirely sure of the details of this "accident". V replied to D's message only yesterday to tell him she was angry and she wants to grieve privately. The whole death is still somewhat shrouded in mystery. D and I have not been able to stop talking about it. We keep taking turns in bringing it up.

Hugs have been tighter, kisses always lingering.

I can't even imagine how I'd feel. I always tell D to drive safely. I hate cold shoulders and I hate not making up before bedtime.

Just because I know I'll never know.

It wasn't just as a wife that I felt the effects of the death. It was also as a daughter. Being so close to my own father, I couldn't imagine it. When my uncle passed away, I couldn't bear it and even now, I can't bear it. As much as I'm a wife now, I was a daughter first. To lose my father... would be akin to losing a limb.

And then, I felt it in my most recent role as a mum. How'd I cope? How would I love enough for two of us?

Even though I never knew V's husband, I pray he rests in peace. I pray V bounces back. And most importantly, I hope her children always, always has love in their home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lent, Religion, Good vs Bad (& Ugly)

When I was younger, I always thought we should give up something we really liked during Lent. That's what my mother believed and what her mother believed so naturally, I followed suit. As I got older though, I stopped doing that. I have also not practised abstaining from meat on Fridays for many years now. Of course, I don't do it consciously but remind me later that I had a steak and chances are I won't even bat an eye.

My take on religion has changed a lot over the past ten years (as of course it would have). My faith has not waned but of course, my views on the modern church have altered drastically.

I believe in God and I don't believe he's a punishing God. I believe He is a God who weighs everything out before Judgment. I believe He is a loving God.

I believe that not going to church on Sundays is not a mortal sin. As I don't believe me missing mass is as bad an action as taking a life.

For what are the ten commandments?

  1. You shall have no other Gods but me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself any idol, nor bow down to it or worship it.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Respect your father and mother.
  6. You must not kill.
  7. You must not commit adultery.
  8. You must not steal.
  9. You must not give false evidence against your neighbour.
  10. You must not be envious of your neighbour's goods. You shall not be envious of his house nor his wife, nor anything that belongs to your neighbour.
Obviously there are things like rape that are not mentioned here but one applies common sense where applicable.

Then there are the more controversial things like gay marriages. Do I believe that God intended for men and women to be together only? Yes.

But is God all-knowing? I believe so too.

And yet I struggle with allegiance to my God and His alleged beliefs that homosexuality is a sin (we can't prove it right?) because in my opinion, everyone should have a right to love who they want. I'll have you know that as a cradle Catholic, it is one of the things that took me a while to understand.

If homosexuality is indeed a sin, then I don't think it any less or more a sin than lying, cheating, stealing, respecting your father/ mother or even then,...divorce?

And while we're toeing on this topic, let's talk about Pope Benedict, of the straight and narrow. I just wish people would leave him alone. So what if He isn't following through with Lent and celebrating his last Easter mass? Really, so what? Of course there are many speculations around his resignation and talk about protection of  corrupt priests and whatnot. But why do we have to compare him to our previous Pope say things like, "well they are different kind of men, aren't they? Pope John Paul II had severe Parkinson's and he didn't resign..". Entirely unwarranted.

Whatever his motivation was for resigning, I'm pretty sure it can't be because he truly wanted to. I doubt he'd have wanted to be the first Pope in 600 years to make that sort of history.

He's 85. His time is coming. Judgment upon him too. Let it go.

So getting back to Lent. As my ex parish priest Fr Burt would say, "don't give something up because you were taught to. Do something good because you want to". And as another parish priest Fr Thien said, "love, love, love". (I love these guys.)

Be a good person. Do the right things. Live as honestly as you can.  Try your darndest not to judge.

Because that in itself is already so, soooo difficult.

Way harder than giving up chocolate. But that's just me.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gong Xi Gong Xi, Gong Xi Ni!

Come Christmastime, I can get especially homesick. All the things I found annoying, I suddenly wish I could have a chance in doing again. Going out shopping with each family member one by one to find their Christmas outfit, having to be the only one who bothered to buy new things and spruce up our place, themed parties, games etc. Obviously the control freak in me was born at home. The role was just tailor made for me, I tell you. And yet, I find myself missing everything about those times. It's sometimes nice to know that things function like a well-oiled machine when you are around.

But all the other cultural public holidays...man, those were the times we could just kick back and relax! We'd get invited to friends' houses and indulge in all the goodies. Curries on Deepavali and the paru, rendang and lontong on EID.

But I never really celebrated Chinese New Year the way I did the other two. Most years, I went to my BFF Jesse's house for her dad's awesome food.

Needless to say, during the other holidays, I miss my friends a whole tonne!

In my earlier working years, I had lots of Chinese colleagues who insisted we go out to lo hei, some brought in extra bak kwa just for me, let me try nian gao and gave me generously-filled ang paos. But when I joined my last job, with nary a Chinese colleague, what I remember most is having to scour the neighbourhood for a shop that dared to be open for business. It's sorta pantang (bad luck) if you do so. But we always got by somehow with the lone roti prata shop or fast food chains.

Since we got married and especially since the first grandchild came along, my mother-in-law has made it a point to celebrate this in a small way at least. Most years, we have had a few Chinese dishes or a steamboat dinner but this year, I was asked to make the yu sheng too.

It was the first time I had been tasked to take on something like that. I mean, it's a Chinese tradition that my friends hold dear. I had certainly had yu sheng before but never made it!

So I went on trusty old Google and checked up on the ingredients and the significance. I even watched a video starring the "founding fathers". Although I understood the whole concept better (I never questioned why I was eating it), I also felt like I was intruding, treading on unfamiliar ground.

Made a simple one with green papayas (no pomelos could be found), carrots,white radish, shredded crab meat, japanese seaweed and added crushed peanuts, sesame oil, truffle oil, deep fried wanton skins and salmon sashimi.

It was really yummy!

Few pics from our celebration that day, taken with my iPhone:


Everything laid out nicely, save for the sashimi.


Everyone taking a turn to add something and say something good.
 

Lo Hei-ing!


My little china doll!


Love my baby

Few pics taken by my SIL, K, with a DSLR.


All the cutie patootie pies together.


I think she looks like me here.


Talia and Eliana, both looking like their dads!

Happy New Year of the Snake you guys! :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Grammy Fashion!

I haven't caught the Grammys yet but of course, I have already checked out the fashion.

As usual, the music people were a lot more adventurous and despite the dress code, there was still a whole lotta skin. God only knows what they would have worn otherwise!

It only managed to garner a few gasps from yours truly though. Most not of the good kind too.

Only three outfits I loved, two left me drop-jawed and one, completely floooooored.

Top 3:

  
 Ms Taylor Swift.

Although I prefer this one to be in minis (she's got the legs!), she seems to favor the long gown-y types. This dress is much better than the one she wore to the Golden Globes though. Cut in the right places and chic hairdo.


Kelly Rowland.

Speaking of cut in all the right places! Hot body. Don't know how she managed to sit down though.

(Also worth mentioning that she totally upstaged her Destiny's Child sista, Beyonce!)



Rihanna.

My favourite! Even though it was sheer, this dress is so damn beautiful on her. A little bit of lining/ padding wouldn't hurt this Alaïa but Rihanna pulled it off so well.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mirandantics

I have to blog this before I forget it one day. And I never want to forget these two moments because they made me laugh like a maniac.

*

When we got home from work yesterday, Dwayne was playing with Miranda in her room. He suddenly came out to the living room. Miranda was walking behind him.

She had on her little headband that she must have asked Dwayne to put on for her. Her sunglasses dangled from her left hand and her little basket was in the crook of her right arm. She was looking up as she was walking and she was such a sight! I totally burst out laughing. Such a little girl!

And just when I thought I could not laugh any harder, she gets on her little car and was trying to wave "bye" to us with all her barang-barang.

*

This morning, I was drying my hair and she tried to plop herself onto my lap as usual to ask me to read a book. She realised it was too noisy so she went out for a while. She came back and headed for the big books. She propped the big book up, started to lift the flaps and then she turned the page very deliberately. She stuck out her hand, reached for her teacup, took a sip of her imaginary drink and put back the teacup - never taking her eyes off the book!

She was obviously mimicking me and I never noticed that she was watching me like that.

Too cute! Ahh!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Weekend - the lowdown

Miranda has been a little under the weather since last Wednesday. I came home to a bright smile and a drippy nose. Before I could say anything, she ran away quickly knowing I would try to wipe the snot off. It really gets to me, that runny nose. I feel so sorry for her that she doesn't know how to blow her nose yet. Sometimes she sneezes and the bubble is so big. She doesn't know what else to do but poke it, like she does at bath times.

Yes, she's teething. She's been fingering the insides of her mouth so diligently, one would think there was treasure in there. I really hope they all appear at once. People have been telling me that since forever and it has never been true for Miranda. Poor thing has truly had them one at a time. With only four teeth now, she pretty much has had an average of one new tooth a month since her birthday in September.

The good thing is, this is only the second time she's ever had a fever in the three times she's fallen ill. All came with the runny nose. Her slight fever tends to subside in the day so she remains cheerful and active throughout. Only Thursday night was bad for us because she just kept crying out in her sleep. That was heartbreaking.

On Friday I was home with her and she was miraculously a lot better. The MIL came to stay for the weekend and that must have cheered Miranda up too.

Early Saturday morning, we brought her to one of the shopping centres where her favourite Jimmy Giggle was hosting Bananas in Pyjamas and Postman Pat. She got really excited when she saw Jimmy Giggle on stage and the on the big screen beside it too. She kept pointing to both and saying "Hey!" Must have been a little confusing for her. Halfway through Bananas in Pyjamas, our friend told us that Jimmy Giggle was signing autographs and also taking photos with the kids. There was no actual line. He was just going back and forth from one end to another so we chose a spot and waited 45 minutes for him to come over to our side. She was so unbelievably patient and amused herself with different things (and lotsa snacks!). We were right in front, thankfully, so when he came to us and was taking a picture with another kid, she tapped his shoulder. As soon as he turned around, she sought refuge in her father's arms.

He also autographed his buddy, Miranda's owl soft toy, Hoot, who is actually a puppet on the show but wasn't around that day. I don't think she realises the significance or anything but she has been carrying Hoot around more than usual, like it's her most prized possession. It's quite cute.

Well, fast forward a few years, it might be some band she's following instead. Ugh, let's not even go there!

We got home by 1pm and the MIL had already cooked fish curry, dry potato curry, oxtail stew and made bubur cha cha and agar-agar.

Along the way, D & I had stopped to buy rice and I grabbed a pack of ready-made prata. It's not the same quality of course but we enjoyed our meal of fish curry and prata. I kept imagining eating from a packet of prata soaked in fish curry, as I normally order it. Ah, mouth-watering goodness.

Miranda actually loved it too! D tore a piece of prata and dunked in fish curry to feed her. She kept opening her mouth for more!

She usually has her dinner around 5pm but that day, I fed her at 5.30pm. By 7pm, she kept pointing to the unholy trinity of our snack bar, stove and fridge. This girl seriously has an insatiable appetite! So I took her to the stove, where the four pots of food were. She wanted me to take the lid off the dry potato curry so I did. I fed her one, she immediately wanted another. Not surprised so I scooped up some more, which was probably equivalent to one medium-sized potato.

We went to the couch where my MIL was sitting and she eagerly ate one diced potato after another.  All along, my MIL was looking on and could not believe her eyes! She swore she made it especially spicy for my FIL. When we were down to the last potato, I told her, "Ok Miranda, this is the last one, alright?" Immediately, she pointed to the pot and said, "There!" We all started laughing when she suddenly said, "Go!"

O.M.G.

So now I know she loves Indian food as well. Might spur me on to try and tackle it again.

The Husband and I found ourselves getting ready to go watch a movie later on. Django Unchained! A must watch, if you haven't seen it. While gory, as Tarantino movies usually are, the sharp, witty dialogue and brilliant acting by Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio made the 3-hour long movie pass so quickly. Jamie Foxx in the title role, was a riot too! There were a few parts in the movie that had Dwayne and I in stitches and we could not stop quoting the lines after.

On Sunday, we went to The Rocks at Mornington to celebrate Nat's birthday and took a stroll at the jetty. Miranda absolutely loved it. Wish we could have spent some more time there but we had to go to Kelly's for the cake-cutting.

Another time, soon, Dwayne and I have promised to take Miranda to the beach. She has never played with sand. Say what?! Haha. This summer!