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.

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! 🙂

9 months new!

Please take note, I am starting this at 8.00am on Monday morning. I must admit that I have been posting less of late, and there is a reason for this. Since Jacob’s been more mobile, he has been a bit more of a menace and has been taking up a bit more of my attention.

Some of the reasons why it takes me longer to write blog posts:
1. Jacob LOVES the computer. Every time I use it, he wants to use it. Even if I try to avoid him or distract him, he’ll be back and will bang on my keyboard. Quite often I just give in and put it away. So I usually only blog when he’s sleeping (or if he’s heavily distracted).
2. Jacob doesn’t sleep much in the day anymore. Our usual routine is 45 mins in the morning and 45 minutes in the afternoon (though it has been fluctuating lately due to his teething). The rest of the time is usually spent entertaining him.
3. Because he doesn’t sleep much, housework piles up so I use his sleeping time to do housework.

I think it’s just a vicious cycle, but I can’t complain because I do love spending time with him. Sometimes I give him a bit of TV time (like now) for a bit of a break for myself. I’ve borrowed some German kids DVDs from the library and I believe both of us are learning here!

Anyway, it’s 2 days early but I thought I’d better write this before I lose track of time. In 2 days time, Jacob will be 9 months old!! I’ve said this so many times, but I’m still shocked at how time has flown by and how much he has grown and developed. We are beginning to see more and more of his personality, and it’s really exciting.

Height: Haven’t checked lately but I know he’s grown as he’s outgrown some outfits. He’s somewhere between a size 0 and size 1.

Weight: Based on my digital scale, 8.6kg. He used to be 75th percentile but now his weight is around the 25th percentile. Average weight for his age is supposed to be 8.9kg. It’s probably due to the fact that he’s not just mobile, he’s a crazy crawler and climber. He burns off a lot of calories! But as long as he’s healthy, I’m happy.

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Milestones: Not walking yet (thank goodness!) but he’s close. He crawls relatively quickly (almost as fast as I walk) so it’s no use now when I put him down somewhere and run to do something else, because he just follows me. He loves opening and closing drawers, pulling himself up onto things (to potentially climb) and playing the piano (He can reach the keys if he tippy-toes).

Sleep: Still not sleeping through – I fear for my sanity at times. It’s only particularly bad if he sleeps too late (hence is overtired) and when he’s teething. His top teeth have descended and slightly cut through but there’s still some growing to do, I reckon.

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Favourite foods: Yoghurt (with ANYTHING in it – he once put his omelette in it and ate it.), Weetbix and fruit for breakfast, eggs, carrot sticks (or anything in the form of a stick really), pumpkin, bananas, teething rusks. He’s quite a good eater now though he is still fiercely independent at times.

Favourite books: The Bad-Tempered Ladybird (I borrowed it from the library – Jacob laughs every time I say “Hey you, want to fight?”), All Monkeys Love Bananas (especially the part where they go “Bleh! Yuck!!”), Any book mum is reading (because he’ll want to bite it).

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Favourite songs: Ohhhhh…. the grand old duke of york (he loves the up and down motions), 5 little ducks (though I usually start with 3 because I can’t be bothered going on and on about those ducks).

Favourite toys: Remotes (he has his own remote but he just assumes ANY remote is his. TV, aircon, etc.), the play table (thanks Priscilla!), stacker cups in the bath (he just pours water out of the bath), any musical toys that make music, my laptop and phone.

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Funny/cute things he has done (and sometimes still does):

– He likes to explore in the oddest of places. One day he went into our bedroom and disappeared – and then I found him under the bed! Other places he has decided to play in include inside a glass display case and on top of a box of oranges (like literally lying on the oranges). 

– He always makes me feel bad for using the computer because he comes up behind the computer and peekaboo’s me from the side and front of the computer. So I just put it away and play with him. Sneaky!

– He knows how to run – in the air! When we lift him up and he’s excited, he’ll run in the air (while flailing his arms and squawking). 

– He makes the funniest sounds ever. Yes, the normal bababa and gagaga but he also hisses at us sometimes, or makes rasping sounds. He blows raspberries, snorts, grunts, squawks, screeches and simply guffaws with laughter at the randomest things.

– In general, he’s just really random. He just comes up to me and suddenly slaps me on the face. He can be eating a piece of banana and then suddenly he’ll make some really quick hand movements to squish the banana and it flies everywhere. He’s happy, then upset, then curious, then loving. So random, but I love him all the time.

Message from Jacob: 6+60.31020gg+00hbgv1f2f0 020.0zu-h”**-+

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This is a record – posting this on the same day that I started writing! It’s about 9.00pm here now, and it’s also Game of Thrones time. I love Mondays! ❤

What a world we live in…

I’ve been dwelling on things that have been happening in the world and sometimes it just feels like this world is so sad.

I’m sure most of you have heard about the MH370 incident and, like me, are flabbergasted. I don’t know why it troubles me so much – perhaps because most of my Facebook friends are Malaysian and I get updates non-stop on my Facebook feed. I have friends who are pilots, who are quite vocal about the topic, and I also have friends inviting me to Candlelight Vigils in observance of this tragedy.

Perhaps because it is my home country’s national carrier, which I’ve used year after year without a moment’s hesitance. Perhaps it’s because I started to read about the profiles of the people on board – the pilots, the crew, the passengers… And then you don’t think of them as just part of a piece of news, but you see them for their roles – as a parent, as a child, as a colleague and as a friend…

It doesn’t help with all the speculation around the incident. I’ve read a number of theories that are really interesting but unfortunately don’t answer the question. It doesn’t help that one party says this and another party says another, and subsequently they retract their statements. Whether it’s poor leadership or irresponsible reporting, it does not provide closure for all the families waiting for news. 

I pray that answers will be revealed and that hearts will be comforted at this time.

Here is one of the ‘live update’ links, which I will be tuning into:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/mh370-live-deliberate-action-taken-3242322

This morning, we also heard more sad news that is closer to home. A family that we know was involved in a terrible accident that left a 14-year-old and a 4-year-old dead, and most of the family in hospital in critical condition. Dan actually taught the 14-year-old at school – he says she had a wonderful, bubbly personality and will really be missed. 

I went to a funeral last week of a wonderful woman who lived well into her years and left behind a beautiful family. I’ve been to a few funerals of older people, but never for one for a child. It just doesn’t seem right for a parent to bury their child. As a mother, I can think that it would be the hardest thing one could ever do. 

This is the news report about the crash:
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/boy-and-girl-die-after-horror-crash-at-port-wakefield-rd-lower-light-while-cyclist-critically-injured-at-west-lakes/story-fni6uo1m-1226855444297

It just makes me remember how precious life is, and how blessed we are to be safely in our warm beds with a roof over our heads. I love to watch Jacob sleep because he makes me feel safe and at peace (yes, he actually has two arms but only one wriggled out of the swaddle):

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The world is indeed a fallen place; full of tragedy and sadness. But it is also a place where love and beauty can blossom. Today I also met my friend’s beautiful baby girl Ruby for the first time – I didn’t hold her because I have the tail end of a cold, but she is a gorgeous little girl.

When I think of babies, I think of the hymn “Because He Lives” written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. For those of you who haven’t heard of them (don’t worry, I didn’t know who they were til a few years ago), they are country gospel singers and songwriters who wrote many beautiful Christian songs. 

The story goes that Bill and Gloria were going through tough times and they were expecting a baby as well. It was the time of the hippie movement as well, where there was an increase of sexual infidelity and drug use that made them think about what a sad world it would be to raise a child in.

It inspired one of the most famous hymns of all time, and the lyrics of the second verse particularly touch my heart:

How sweet to hold a newborn baby, 
And feel the pride and joy he gives 
But greater still the calm assurance 
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow 
Because He lives, all fear is gone. 
Because I know, I know, He holds the future 
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

I know not all my readers are Christians – but for myself, this song really grounds my faith and gives me hope. It reminds me that Jacob indeed has a life worth living and that I can show him that the world, amidst the sadness, is a world full of beauty and joy. 

And right now, he is my beauty and joy:

ImageHave a lovely weekend everyone!

 

A whole 6 months!

I must apologise for the big break but I lost the momentum for a bit. Firstly, I must say a big congratulations to my friends Darren and Leah on the birth of their baby Lucas! What a gorgeous bub – can’t wait to see him again. I’ve also just been busy with a birthday party, meeting friends and relatives as well as just getting my house in order! So much to do!!!

Jacob actually turned 6 months old on Friday, and I thought rather than sit and blog about it, I’d just spend some time with him instead. But now he’s tucked into bed, here is Jacob’s 6 month update:

Height: Not sure but he’s wearing size 0

Weight: Roughly 8.1 kg

Head: Big 🙂

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Milestones: He can sit up unassisted (though he sometimes falls over and has a big cry, only to see something interesting and forget why he was crying). He’s got himself into a crawling position but hasn’t started crawling yet (which I’m quite relieved about, to be honest).

Firsts: He got his first two teeth a week or so before he turned 6 months old. And I guess he’s tried quite a few new foods, including my strange combination of potato, parsnip and purple carrot mash.

mush

Sleep: He’s still not sleeping very well, though we sometimes get a good 5 hour stretch (which I can’t complain about, after his hourly wakings). Just a combination of a wonder week, growth spurt and teething one after the other.

Best Moments: When he smiles and laughs. Random things amuse him, like blowing on his face or playing peek-a-boo. My friend lent me her play table and Jacob was intrigued. Spent ages pressing the buttons and listening to the music play, almost like he was at a Roulette table.

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Worst Moment: Perhaps I don’t dwell on worst moments. I suppose when he’s grumpy and tired and crying his eyes out at like 4 o’clock in the morning. Or when I finally get him to sleep after an hour, and the dog suddenly finds something to bark at and wakes him up. But Jacob still likes Skittles anyway!

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Health: I am so blessed to have a happy and healthy baby! That being said, we do have immunisations on Thursday so fingers crossed that he doesn’t get a fever again. But even if he does, baby Panadol seemed to keep it at bay so let’s just hope it all passes!

Eating: He likes his food but he could be eating more – he just gets distracted way too easily! I am struggling to give him water though, because he refuses to drink it – regardless of whether it’s from the bottle, sippy cup, normal cup, etc. Strangely, he tries to drink bathwater when he’s in the bath…

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Likes: Bath time (especially biting the rubber ducky), Drinking mummy’s milk, TV (which is hardly ever on), Meeting people, Cuddles, Having his photos taken, Being outdoors

Dislikes: Drinking water, Being left alone for more than 5 minutes, Cloth nappies, Staying at home all day, Going to bed at night

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Funny things to note:
– In the bath, he almost always leans forward (probably to reach the taps, or to look for the rubber ducky) and gets a beard of bubbles.

– We have an Elmo ‘Wiggling friend’ rattle which we hang in the car for Jacob to play with. For a while, he was terrified of it when it did the vibrating ‘wiggling’ and would scream his head off! But he’s faced his fear and is no longer afraid of it anymore.

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– He LOVES techie things like his dad. Sometimes he puts his hand into my handbag and steals my phone to play with. The cheek! He has taken selfies on the camera before. And whenever I’m typing, he needs to be typing too (on my keyboard). I think I’m going to make him a fake cardboard computer to play with.

– This is actually a funny one about my niece Esther – she told my mum in law the other day that there was a picture of Jacob on the fridge. They investigated the matter and realised that it was a picture of this Asian baby on the ABA magnet.

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I must admit it does look a bit like Jacob! So funny (and adorable). I think Esther and Jacob will be good friends.

cousinsJacob, thank you for lighting up my life. I have never loved like this before – you just want to make me drop all my agendas and just celebrate the moment with you. Forgive me if I ever don’t give you enough time, because that is something that can’t be taken back. Forgive me if I do not choose happiness in every moment with you – I am only human, but then again, so are you.

I look forward to many more days, months, years… moments to share with you. Part of me wishes that you wouldn’t grow up, because I want to have my cuddly baby forever and ever! But I look forward to seeing you achieve milestone after milestone, and grow up into a handsome young man who I will be proud of.

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A recollection of my wedding vows!

I watched a video today of a bride singing to her husband at her wedding and thought – so did I! I have a guitar version of it uploaded on Youtube, but not the original… So for this Valentine’s day, it goes public!

I sang my wedding vows and I have to say it was the most nerve-wracking experience ever, because not only did I have to worry about stumbling on my words, but I was worried to death that I’d go out of tune. I reckon it worked out alright though! 🙂

And Dan, thanks for being the most awesome husband (and dad) ever! 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

A girl who travels?

Yesterday, a blog post was going around entitled “Don’t date a girl who travels”. I was in bed, ready to sleep, and saw it on my Facebook feed so I read it aloud to Daniel. And I realised more and more that that girl was me, or was it only a figment of my imagination?

Before reading on, check out that blog post here: https://medium.com/better-humans/802c49b9141c

As I sit here listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s Divenire album (which I consider the album that dreams are made of), I’m overcome with a sense of reality – have I in fact turned out the way I wanted to turn out, or ended up doing the things I wanted to do?

I look at my skin and see the scars (and tattoo) that have their own tales to tell. I look in my head and see a wealth of knowledge and experience that sometimes makes me wonder whether I’m 24 or 42. I look in my heart and feel that burning desire to venture further and experience more. Not so much to escape, but to take what I have with me to new levels. I admit – I am hard to please, though I’ve realised that I am responsible for my own happiness.

It’s funny – earlier yesterday, even before I read that article, I asked Dan why he didn’t have more relatives getting married interstate so we could have an ‘excuse’ to travel interstate. He then reminded me that he did have a cousin who got married in NSW, but I was away in Auckland getting my visa done. I then proceeded to count the remainder of his unmarried cousins…

As I read on in the article, I found so many more things resonating true in my life. Can’t hold a steady job (though theoretically, if I hadn’t had Jacob, I would have stayed on at my previous job). Freelancer – yes, I am to an extent and intend to be at some point anyway. Wasted her college degree and switched careers – perhaps, though I think that all study gives you options. One day when I own my cafe and/or B&B, I will write to Le Cordon Bleu to thank them for the knowledge they imparted to me.

But as I read on, I realised that there were some things that did set me apart from this persona. I initially wanted to choose a life of uncertainty. If I hadn’t met Daniel, I reckon I would have shipped myself off to some remote location in Australia (maybe Broome or Ayers Rock) to work, get sponsored, get my Australian PR and then take off to Europe. I’ve had almost 10 different addresses since 2009, and I wasn’t going to stop at nothing.

Until I found something worth stopping for.

I found a wonderful man with whom I built a beautiful home. And now I have a child who depends on me for everything, and I don’t mind at all. Independence as an adult is relative. In concept, I could easily survive alone. But physically, spiritually and emotionally, I need Daniel. And now, more than ever, because I want Jacob to have the best father in the world.

I look back and think about how I’ve changed since I met Daniel. Before, not only were my movements erratic but also my emotions. I would be warm, then cold, then glowering hot. I’d spend too much time mulling over the past and dreaming of the future. But being with him reminded me that living in the present is too often overlooked.

Not many of you know this, but I actually had an eating disorder before I met Daniel, and it was eating away at me. I probably had depression growing up as well, though a lot of it was really self-inflicted. I think a lot of it was because I was striving for something more all the time, to a point that I forgot to appreciate what I had and who I was. I was so busy being independent that I forgot that I tended to destroy myself when I was alone.

When Dan and I had been dating for a few months, I had to determine where to go for my work placement (i.e. training in a hotel somewhere interstate or overseas). The previous year I’d been to Port Douglas, so I was thinking of a big city as my next destination. Jumeirah Group came to do a presentation at the Uni, and I applied just for the heck of it and went for the interview.

I got offered a position to go to work in Dubai at one of their luxurious properties. This is Jumeirah, the group behind the Burj Al Arab. What an opportunity! I brought the information home with me to give it some serious thought. It would have been an amazing career move and would take me to someplace exotic and new.

I turned it down, and found a job in Melbourne instead.

No, I did not change my mind because of Daniel. He had no part in convincing me where to go and what to do with my life. But I realised that while some people held career or travel as an integral part of their lives, they didn’t mean anything to me if I had to lose what I had with him. I don’t believe that people only have one soulmate, but I knew that he was meant for me.

A few months down the track, after a few trips to and fro between Adelaide and Melbourne, he proposed. And I was not just saying yes to a man, but also to a way of life and to an uncertain future in its own way.

It’s not that we don’t have adventures. Last night, we went out to watch the stars while eating macarons. We play board games on rainy days (or super hot days, like the next few days) and watch the sunset as we walk the dog around our hilly suburb. In a few months’ time, we may go camping with Jacob or perhaps have another interstate trip, and I do plan to see more of Malaysia this year too. 

And Jacob is my adventure too. I find so much joy in little things, like seeing him eat a steamed carrot for the first time (though I don’t think any of it went down his throat – just all over the floor) or just waking up to a smiling face (and a tremendously loud baby fart). I can’t wait til he crawls, then walks, then talks, then who knows? Every day is different but change is inevitable.

The final sentence in the blogpost is this:
So never date a girl who travels unless you can keep up with her. And if you unintentionally fall in love with one, don’t you dare keep her. Let her go.

It reminds me of this quote I heard long ago:
If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.

I have been let go time and time again, but I realise that it’s my turn to let go. It’s my turn to let go of a life that I never had, for an alternative that I find much more rewarding. Because I realised that many a time, travel gave me an emotional high but there was always an emotional low to follow. There was happiness but not ultimate joy. There was exhilaration, but no permanence.

So, for all you “girls who travel” out there – if that is your calling, so be it and I do hope you find the joy you seek. But I have found joy in the little ‘country’ town of Adelaide with my humble house, ditzy dog, hilarious husband and bouncing baby boy.