Giving away your best friend…

It’s been just over a month since we gave away our best friend.

I’ve been trying to write this for ages and somehow I never seemed to be able to find the right words. I might write a poem about her sometime, somewhere, but for now, please forgive my rambling.

We’d been having issues with Skittles escaping for years now. It probably started in her first year of life and we never succeeded at stopping her. She’d always find some new thing to climb or just chew up the barriers we put in place. She got herself into all sorts of trouble – got picked up by the council and even killed chickens in a neighbour’s garden.

We put her on a chain. It would be a temporary measure, we said, because we couldn’t let her keep getting out and being a public nuisance (aside from endangering herself too). The fence was raised. We even tried an electric shock collar barrier. Nothing worked. She stayed on the chain.

Something happened a couple of months ago which escalated things. Our neighbour next door got some rabbits, and naturally, our dog wanted them. We couldn’t even let her off the chain for a supervised play – it was straight over the gap in the fence and over to the hutch.

You know, I’ve cried a lot over this dog. I cried when we first got her and then we had to go to work full time and she was alone and sad all day – so we found her a puppy daycare place, which kinda solved that. I cried when she got out – I was so scared that she could have gotten herself dog-napped or run over. I cried when she killed those chooks because I knew that it was our fault – we hadn’t been taking the escaping issue seriously enough.

I cried the day she jumped the fence and nearly got those rabbits – she had done it before but this particular time, I cried because I had made up my mind about something I’d been thinking about for a very long time – that we probably should rehome her.

I advertised her, met with a few people, but then we met with this family who were looking for a companion dog for their own dog who used to escape and whined all day when they were at work. Their dog seemed like a perfect match for her, so we decided to have a trial period.

In the days to come, I think my mind went on overdrive and I gave it my all. I took her for longer walks than ever before with the boys in tow. I let her come in more often, cooked her fancy meals and gave her lots of treats. I tried harder than I had ever done before, and I was exhausted by the end of it.

Guilt really set in – I’m sure it had been there before but it completely consumed me. I was sorry I didn’t spend enough time with her, that I didn’t walk her enough or spend enough time training her back in the day. I was sorry we didn’t have another dog for her to play with, as she’s such a loving and sociable dog. And I was also sorry about the repercussions on our family – sorry that Jacob and Jared wouldn’t grow up with a dog. Jacob still asks about her and asks when she will come home – it still silently breaks my heart.

The day we gave her away, we skipped church and took her for a walk in the reserve. It wasn’t a long walk as it was drizzling, but it was just memorable all the same. We dropped her off and I reckon she didn’t know any better, like she thought I might have been dropping her off on a playdate or to have someone petsit while we go away.

And then I cried, because I knew I had done the hard thing but the right thing for her. So many times in the days to come did I want to march over there and get her back, but from what they were saying and the photos, they seemed to be having an amazing time. Two dogs joyful in the company of each other, a happy family with a new loving dog. It was only us who would have to bear the sadness.

It’s been just over a month since we gave away our best friend.

Many tears spilled, many moments reminisced, but I need to let her go. I decided to make a video about her, as lame as that sounds, but it has helped me heal. I’ve looked at these pictures so many times, listened to the song (which is Avril Lavigne’s “Hush Hush”) again and again but it still brings twinges of sadness. I hope that it will change one day soon.

But for now, here is my mediocre piece of work (sorry I’m no videographer, I did this in MovieMaker!) but this means the world to me.

Here’s to the good times, Skittles. You will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Breaking point.

I wouldn’t call myself the expressive type – it probably will be my downfall one day. I’m just the type of person who just functions until I can function no more. Sometimes it’s worth it, just to get by, and other times I reckon it is just detrimental to my health.

Lately, I reached one of those breaking points- the trigger probably was the whole giving away the dog thing, but really there is so much more going on the background. It’s no mean feat taking care of an almost 3 year old and a 3 month old as well – I’m not going to lie, there are days that I have depended on the TV to gain us all some sanity, and there are nights that I don’t know if I want to go to sleep for the fear that I will see every hour of the night before the morning…

Not to mention my meagre attempt at keeping the house clean (and being thwarted by the toddler every time) as well as external commitments to things like church, work, etc. which I think are good for me, but are also just another thing to add into the plethora of things already going on in my head.

And then there’s the guilt – the guilt of not doing enough for my dog. The guilt of not doing enough for my husband and my children. The guilt of calling myself a Christian but not devoting enough time to building my relationship with God. The guilt of not having a stable career to give my husband an opportunity to be a full-time dad. The guilt of the uncertain future, daunting as much as it is promising. The guilt of not having the courage to do certain things or the wisdom to let go of other things.

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But anyway, that point – it broke last weekend. And thank goodness I had the long weekend to recover, because I think it helped me become functional again. Also, thank goodness for the sunshine, because everything feels better in the sunlight. And I can’t admit I have everything worked out, but I feel that perhaps I am taking small steps in the right direction again.

I suppose I’m trying to give a bit of advice here, though I never listen to my own advice, do I? Don’t let things reach a breaking point. If something is bugging you, don’t just sweep it under the doormat. Talk about it, write about it, sing about it even. Let it come out into the open so that it doesn’t poison your mind and your heart. And then let it go – let it float away, until you feel as light as a feather and can face the next thing life is going to throw at you. And then be at peace, with your decisions and with yourself.

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Anyway, I’m going to pull out this gem from my youth. I used to write songs since a child but perhaps the “darker” songs emerged from as early as 12 years old. I think I was about 14 when I wrote this – I only vaguely remember the melody, but I remember why I wrote it:

look again, am I the one that you know?
look inside, cos I’m the one you don’t understand
look around, it is falling in place
look at me, I am frozen in time

cos it’s hard to breathe
and inside my eyes it’s zero degrees
and I’m looking for the fire, the flame
but it’s gone, blown out, just like you…

and I was afraid this would happen
and I am afraid I can’t control myself
so I didn’t know that it was the breaking point
now my blood is cold and I can’t go on…

now I find, that it isn’t that simple
now I see, what the meaning of sacrifice is
now I know, how unities divide
and now I feel I can no longer survive

cos it’s hard to get by
and in my eyes
I’m frozen in a lie
and I’m looking for the fire, the flame
but it’s gone, blown out, just like you…
but it’s gone, put out, just like you…

and I was afraid this would happen
and I am afraid I cant control myself
so I didn’t know that it was the breaking point
now my blood is cold and I can’t go on…

how long is eternity
can it return my destiny
how long is life going on, going on, going on…

look again, am I the one that you know?
look inside, cos I’m the one you don’t understand
look around, it is falling in place
look at me, I am… going on, going on…

and I was afraid this would happen
and I am afraid I can’t control myself
so I didn’t know that it was the breaking point
now my blood is cold and I cant go on…

and I was afraid this would happen
and I am afraid I can’t control myself
so I didn’t know that it was the breaking point
now my blood is cold and I cant go on…

Here’s to the 14-year-old wisdom of my youth, something I need to call upon time and time again. 🙂 Have a great week!

Of distance and time.

For time is the longest distance between two places.
– Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

I am sitting in the lounge room with my toddler and we are munching on some sort of crispy Asian snack that we really shouldn’t be eating at this time of day, but that’s okay. There are crumbs on the sofa, a washing load going on in the background and a silence in this house that hasn’t been there for many weeks.

After about 6 weeks of camping out in my house, my parents and grandma finally left this morning. My grandma was only here for some of the time, which meant that she and mum were in the spare room and my dad slept in the lounge room. It was a busy household, with Jared rousing in the night and Jacob running around from the wee hours of the morning. Then there was dad doing his yoga and responding to work emails, mum cooking and cleaning to keep my household up to scratch and grandma helping out here and there, particularly with holding the baby.

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If you must know, my parents and I have an interesting relationship, particularly my mum and I. Our parenting styles are a discussion for another day, but we’ve always had that sort of relationship where we’re seething at each other one minute, and the other we’re having teh tarik at a mamak stall together talking about a random article we saw on Facebook.

In truth, we had every right to be mad at each other. I was an absolute hoon as a teenager, breaking out from my typical Asian upbringing and wanting to be some crazy chick with green hair playing bass in a rock band. And I wouldn’t say mum expected perfection, but she set the bar pretty high.

We are very different people – for example, mum always wanted to have a baby girl and I always wanted to have a boy. We both got what we wanted, fortunately. Mum is good at things like organising (households, suitcases, time) while I am better at going with the flow and making things happen at last minute. Mum tenses up under pressure, while pressure is my element.

But as I’ve been growing older, I’ve been finding more and more ways that we are alike. We are both strong and outspoken about certain things; we are set in our ways about some things but luckily are able to compromise about some to the point of minimising conflict. We both like small country towns, good bargains and Irish/German music. Also, we both operate on coffee and can survive with little sleep (though when we crash, we crash and burn).

I think that every time we meet, we come to a better understanding. I appreciate that you now view me as an adult (and as a relatively competent one at that) and that we value respect over our own views and love over the decisions we make. And I do miss you, more than you know, when you’re so far away.

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Due to the number of car seats in the back and the fact that our car is too narrow for someone to sit between them, we didn’t get to do too many things here.

Mum, I would have loved to take you to more op shops and maybe even garage sales, not so much to spend money but more so for the joy of the browse. I would have loved to take you to the markets more and cooked more food together, rather than trying and being shooed away because I’m not meant to carry the baby in the kitchen. I wish that you’d been able to relax more on your trip here, but I also appreciate all the work that you did here. I can’t say I’ll be able to keep it up, just as in some ways I can never walk in your footsteps, but I will do the best I can in my own way.

Dad, I would have loved to take you to more pubs and wineries just to have a taste. Thank you for coming to Jacob’s swimming lessons with us and for chasing Jacob and carrying him when he wouldn’t come when called. I promise to keep your vegetable patch alive for as long as possible.

Grandma, if only I’d had more time with you here – I’d have taken you to see the roses at the Veale Gardens and the lavender gardens in Lyndoch. We would have had tea and scones more, and sat in picturesque places just talking about anything. I know you couldn’t get your fill of Jared cuddles, but I do promise that you will see him again. 

And if there’s anything more difficult than sending cherished relatives to the airport, it’s explaining to your toddler where they’ve gone and how he won’t see them for a while.

And with Jacob, at 2 and a half, I don’t expect him to understand the concept of time and distance. He doesn’t yet know that he may not see his grandparents and great grandmother for another year or so. This is a conversation we had today (though with some interruptions due to his preoccupation with Lego House building)

Me: Where’s grandmama and grandpa George and great grandma?
Jacob: I don’t know?
Me: Where do you think they went?
Jacob: Grandpa George gone to work…
Me: What about grandmama and great grandma?
Jacob: Maybe outside?
Me: Yes sometimes they’re in the garden. But not today. Today they went in an aeroplane.
Jacob: No.
Me: Yes, they did.
Jacob: Not on an aeroplane.
Me: They did.
Jacob: They going home?
Me: Yes they went home.
Jacob: Where’s their house?
Me: It’s far away.
Jacob: Far like nanny and grandpa’s house? (which is my in-law’s place in the hills, about 40 minutes away)
Me: Yes, a bit further. Just a bit further.

But the sweet thing is that he does remember them. This year, we bought this particular calendar as we though it was funny – a satirical look at parenting. On the day we put it up, Jacob looked at January’s picture (left) and said “That’s Grandpa George!” (Grandpa George on the right as a comparison). He was pretty close I reckon!

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He was initially confused between grandmama and great grandma (they sound quite alike!) but has worked it out since. He occasionally mentions them in his made up stories where they go to the zoo or eat pancakes together.

I don’t know when we’ll all be in the same country again. I checked ticket prices and our next trip to Malaysia may cost us about $3500, argh! But I’m confident that we will go there once again, somewhere in the future and I hope that we can make up for lost time.

Thanks for the memories, mum, dad and grandma! We hope to see you again soon!

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Family Photos!

I’d been hoping to update a bit more frequently, but we have been immensely busy with relatives visiting from interstate. It’s a good sort of busy though!

One thing I might mention is that you might notice that a whole lot of posts have suddenly popped up in the archives – I’ve imported these over from my previous blog! Feel free to have a snoop in the archives to see some of Jacob’s milestones!

This is one of my posts from 2 years ago – how small and chubby was Jacob then?

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My Malaysian relatives are still here with me and this week, relatives have come over from Melbourne, Canberra and Cairns to visit. I don’t think we’ve all caught up like this for a long time so we’re really enjoying making the most of our time together.

Seeing that we’re not even sure when we’ll all be in the same country at once, we decided we’d do a family photoshoot. In my workplace, I’ve worked with a couple of photographers before and had a good idea of what I wanted, but a really important element to me was how well the photographer interacts with children, particularly with young and active kids.

Then we found Roxy. I had a stalk of her portfolio and I just loved the way she captured the expressions and emotions of children. Anyway, we went ahead and had some pictures taken at the place our relatives are staying at in the Adelaide Hills.

Roxy was amazing with the kids – she had a little oinking toy that made the kids crack up. And she had a little Pez dispenser mounted onto her camera and kids would get a little candy if they posed well. Overall it was a great vibe and we were really happy with the experience – we got a couple of sneak peek shots which we really love!

We’re really looking forward to getting the rest of the photos!

Over and out as we have another gathering tonight and more outings this week – maybe the beach and the zoo? 🙂

10 random things I’ve said to my toddler this week

People wonder why I’m so busy. Yes, I do have quite a few commitments including volunteer work and actual paid work. But I think the thing (or the person) who keeps me the most busy is my wonderful 17 month old now Jacob.

17 whole months! Can you believe it?

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Anyway, here are 10 things I didn’t think I’d ever have to say but have said in the past week.

1. Don’t put the empty toilet rolls in the toilet bowl. Okay, yes it was my fault for not closing the bathroom door properly. You know how the door seems closed but it hasn’t clicked in properly? That’s one of the things that results in chaos in our house… which brings me to my next point.

2. Don’t let the dog in the house! I swear those two are partners in crime. So, I left the outside door open a crack while putting laundry on the line, and he lets the dog in and she runs amok (and puts mud on our bed, sofa, etc.) And while we’re on the subject of the dog.

20150106_165138Doing arts and craft while Skittles looks on

3. Stop giving your hat to Skittles. Jacob hates wearing hats. Skittles loves chewing hats. Not a great combination.

4. Stop putting your hands/feet/body in Skittles’ water dish. Never mind that he has a sandpit or a water table to play with, and bikes to ride on outside. The best toy is Skittles’ water dish, especially when it has mud and mildew in it. His second favourite thing to do outside is sit in a bucket:

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5. Stop tearing the flaps off your lift-the-flap books! He is overly excited about what to find under the flap. Sometimes he guesses what’s under there (and it’s absolutely adorable). But he does rip it sometimes (what’s the point of having to open a flap when you can just have no flap there, right?).

6. No, thank you – I don’t need anymore shoes. Jacob has a shoe fetish! He thinks it’s his ultimate job to bring shoes to Daniel and I. Hence resulting in this:

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7. Stop putting (item) in (location). Examples:
– Stop putting your blocks in the washing machine. (Yes, he knows how to open the door)
– Stop putting your books in the bath tub.
– Stop putting bottles (i.e. baby bath, powder, nappy cream) into the clothing hamper.
– Stop putting stuff in the BIN!!!

8. Where did you get that ….? Examples:
– Where did you get that metal rod? From the window sill
– Where did you get that (name of random piece of food)? Either from off the floor in an area mum forgot to sweep, or from the pantry, or from somebody like grandpa or nanny…
– Where did you get that toy that I hid from you? You can’t hide anything from me, mum. Nothing is sacred.
– Where did you get that body lotion (that you smeared all over the carpet)? Snuck into the bathroom and grabbed it from the countertop, which he can reach now
– Where did you get my wallet? I climbed the table and got it out of your handbag, of course!

tableHere he is on our messy table pinching chocolate biscuits.

9. Get off the table. If I take the chairs away, he pushes them back to the table, climbs onto them and onto the table. It’s his favourite place ever. And he especially loves to throw things off the table.

10. Go to sleeeeeep! I won’t make it a secret – we are still a bit patchy with sleep because some nights he just won’t wind down. Hard to be angry with him as he just runs out of the room laughing.

All said and done, it can be hard dealing with Jacob but I wouldn’t ask for any other child. Underneath his boisterous nature is a gentle and loving soul, one who loves giving (let’s see how long that’ll last) and loves smiling and laughing.

flowerHe loves flowers and sharing them around for everyone to smell.

It’s a wonderful thing to watch him learn, grow and conquer new skills each day. Jacob, mum and dad love you so much – don’t forget that! 🙂

Looking back on tomboyish days…

Honey, I’m home! (Once again, sorry for the break)

We’ve had such a busy weekend but I’m counting down the days because it’ll be the school holidays soon and we may have a little excursion scheduled… more details later on! 😉

But anyway, this weekend was the first time I played paintball! Some people were quite surprised at this – perhaps because I seemed to know what it was about, or at least pretended to know? I’ve always wanted to play it but wasn’t allowed because it was too dangerous, and never really had an occasion to do so until this weekend.

So, we got all suited up – it was a press stud suit and reminded me of putting a jumpsuit on Jacob (who was being babysat). I smuggled my phone in and took a couple of photos: Image

I had an awesome first round as I got up to a good spot and managed to shoot a lot of people (won some extra points, whoopee!). I think I have it quite easy because I’m a difficult target to hit – I was easily one of the smallest and shortest in my group. The second and third round weren’t as great for me because I kept getting headshots so I couldn’t see. One of them went straight through my vents and gave me a mouthful of paint! I ended up looking like this:

ImageAnyway, it was good fun but I must admit that it is one expensive game! It was like $20 for 100 paintballs – it got cheaper if you bought them in bulk, but you get the gist. As a result, we had to be quite sparing with our shots (which can be hard when you’re being shot at right left and centre). I probably couldn’t afford to play this game too often, but I had an awesome time (despite the scratches and bruises)! A nice hot shower was in order, especially since we were rained on once or twice in the course of the day.

Playing paintball got me thinking about some of the things I used to do that I don’t anymore. I was never the sporty type (more because I didn’t really stick at a sport long enough to be good at it) but I was, at some point of my life, quite fit. I was probably in the prime of my life at National Service – I was toughened by circumstance, strengthened by faith and agile as anything. My team won quite a few things and I kinda looked a bit tomboyish, to a point that I had a girl hit on me!.

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I don’t think I was ever good at riding a bike, but here I am in a helmet anyway. I had very short hair for the first few years of my life and my mum said I was often mistaken for a boy (much to her annoyance).

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And here’s Mowgli. Oh wait, no, that’s me. Sorry it’s blurry as it was me taking a photo of an old photo. I love swimming (though I’m a bit lazy of late) and used to go fishing with my dad; not rod fishing, but fishing with a jala (net). The net itself was pretty heavy and a lot of the time, we got fish by knocking them out with the weights rather than getting them caught in the net.

ImageBack in the day, when I used to do martial arts, I used to think I was pretty tough. I used to enjoy hanging out with the boys, but come to think of it now, any girl could have done what I did. I used to think that I stood out because I was the girl, and perhaps that was the case to an extent, but I think what’s most important is that it was me being me. I really enjoyed getting roughed up and rolling in the mud, as opposed to getting dolled up with makeup and dresses.

I admit that I’ve toned down of late, perhaps because I’m considered more a ‘woman’ than a ‘girl’ now, and because I play roles like ‘wife’ and ‘mum’ where tomboy doesn’t always fit in the picture. Or does it? I know that the main reason I’ve stopped martial arts is because I need that time for my family – time to prepare and eat a family meal and to get the little one bathed and tucked into bed. I don’t indulge in adventure so much anymore because I’m saving money for family outings and little occasional trips. But I think, deep down, I’m still a tomboy at heart.

I am excited at the prospect of bringing up a little boy – it’s almost like a second childhood for myself. I look forward to learning to play a sport with him, taking him camping, teaching him martial arts moves, riding a bike with him (pedal-type and motorized maybe?), letting him get dirty and not complaining (there’s always Vanish to get rid of mud stains), etc. And one day, he’ll grow up into a man but I hope he’ll still see me as a fun mum who shared similar interests with him.

But I’ve thought to myself before – what if I had a girl first? Would I have bought all things pink and completely changed the decor in my nursery? Would I be playing with dolls instead of cars? I don’t know. Maybe, if I have another child and it happens to be a girl, I will find out. But for now, I’m perfectly happy indulging in boys toys.

Speaking of boys, here are some shots from this week! Here he is with his cousin playing the piano – what musical geniuses they are!

ImageHere he is helping daddy with Maths.

ImageHere he is watching the footy. Adelaide Crows had a great win so I let Jacob wear his Crows scarf around.

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And lucky last one – anyone want to suggest a caption? 😛

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Hope everyone has an awesome week!

Scumbag Baby

I apologise for taking so long to write another post – maybe I’ll just have to take a step back and do only 2 posts a week (which seems to be the case anyway). I’ve been doing a bit of driving later and am going to put up a couple of posts about the gorgeous little towns tucked away in the Adelaide Hills.

But anyway, on to this post. Have you seen Memes about scumbag babies? I always thought they were relatively funny (until I actually realised that babies actually do those things).

Here are some examples (and disclaimer – these are not my images so if you click on them, they go to the original websites where I got them):

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Here are a few scumbag things Jacob has done in the last few months (or as far as I remember anyway):

– He refuses to eat his food and throws it on the floor. But then he’ll try to eat food on the floor, and cry when I try to take it away from him.

– So, he’s playing in his playpen with plastic balls and throws a ball out, then cries and wants to get it (despite there being like a hundred other balls in the playpen?)

– He has a hundred toys to play with but insists on playing/biting my shoes. It doesn’t matter if he’s in a different room – he will go searching for my shoes to bite them.

– When I try to take a video of him laughing, he stops laughing the moment I start recording.

– When we watch movies at night after we put him to bed, he’ll wake up and cry right at the climatic parts of the show. And refuse to go back to sleep.

In all truth, he’s a good baby and is tolerant of my agenda. I do quite a few things and drag him along on my excursions, but he’s fairly patient and I think it’s all a give and take thing (and timing is so important). For example, with our road trip today, I timed it with his naps so for most of the car trip, he was asleep. He got to meet Nanny and cousin Esther at lunch (and I got this gorgeous shot with both of them smiling):

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And because he was a bit squirmy, I stopped at a playground and let him play on the swing. I know it’s a blurry picture, but it’s a happy one.

ImageAnd for the grand finale(s), I’d just like to redirect you to a site about “Reasons why my toddler is crying” – there’s a full website where people upload them by the day, but here are some of my favourites.

Have a great week, folks!