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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Travel bug…

I’ve been busy with my parents, who have just left Adelaide for home sweet home.

ImageIt was wonderful for them to be here to share in Jacob’s upbringing. They watched him go from rocking back and forth to crawling and climbing up onto things. They watched him eating lots on good days and throwing food on the floor on not so good days. They witnessed him go from super friendly baby to slightly wary baby, as he just developed his stranger anxiety. But most of all, they just got to build a bond with him and I’m sure he’ll love to see them again when we head to Malaysia later in the year.

I’ve had the travel bug lately and have been dying to seek out another destination to travel to. I have actually been to quite a few places, but perhaps the more I travel, the more I feel like travelling! Anyway, here are 5 awesome places I’ve been to in the last few years (and would LOVE to go back to).

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Auckland, NZ (and surrounds- Rotorua, etc)
I admit Auckland isn’t the most interesting place, but I definitely want to go back to New Zealand to explore the great outdoors.

ImageJakarta, Indonesia
My dad used to work here so we used to visit him here.

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The Gold Coast, Australia
I loved the theme parks in Gold Coast, but will only go back when Jacob is old enough to enjoy them.

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Cairns, Australia
(and surrounds – Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation, Chillagoe, Innisfail, Great Barrier Reef, etc.)
I worked here and also went on some awesome road trips. Love this region!

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Phuket, Thailand
We went there for our honeymoon and it was awesome. Enough said!

Which of the following places do you like the best?

And finally, I won something – or really, Jacob won something. Remember the competition I posted about last week?

ImageYippie, we got a runner up prize! I’ll find out exactly what I win on Tuesday. Thanks again to Avalon City Imaging Photography!

Jacob’s Dedication Day!

I don’t know how many times I’ve said that I’m busy, but I really am!! Been sleeping late, waking up early and still doing several wake-ups each night so it is a wee bit tiring. We’ve just had so much on – a funeral and meeting with my mum’s friends, and a lot of cooking to do – but it’s all been worth it.

Before I get into it, I’ve added something to my living room – can you spot it here? I said it was a gift to Jacob but really, I think I might enjoy it more than him. 🙂

ImageAnyway, while there was a lot going on in the week, it was really just the lead up to Jacob’s Dedication which happened at church today. It was so lovely to have our friends and relatives gathered for this event.

Just to clarify, for those who do not know the term well, this is different to christening and baptism. Being in the Seventh Day Adventist church, baby dedication is a practice of praying for the child and the parents that the child will be brought up in a godly manner. This is reinforced by a prayer of support from the church and others present who pledge to be a part of the child’s upbringing. After all, it does say that it takes a village to raise a child.

ImageI was slightly worried because the service was cutting into Jacob’s nap time. Even though he had a sleep in, I knew he would be a bit cranky. He was really quite squirmy when we were up the front, though he was still relatively alert and smiley. We said a prayer for him and Jacob was silent the whole time, just gazing at the pastor as he spoke. What an angel he was!

I’d like to thank everyone who came to his dedication – we really loved having you there to support us and share in our joy. And also thank you for all the gifts we received! We are just so blessed!

prayI look forward to seeing Jacob grow up with some firm beliefs behind him. While the direction in his life is his choice, I really hope that Dan and I can give him a good Christian upbringing and a childhood to look back on with joy. Today we had many children in the church, and it just made me think of how Jacob will have so many friends in the church, and a whole heap of fun. 🙂

I sang a special item for the dedication today:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q03zbRst1K4

I just fell in love with the lyrics – here’s the first bit:

When the sun starts to rise
And I open my eyes 
You are good, so good
In the heat of the day
With each stone that I lay
You are good, so good

With ever breath I take in
I’ll tell you I’m grateful again
When the moon climbs high
Before each kiss goodnight
You are good

So how can I thank You
What can I bring
What can these poor hands 
Lay at the feet of a King
I’ll sing You a love song
It’s all that I have
To tell You I’m grateful 
For holding my life in Your Hands

I hope I did the song justice! I made a silly mistake and put the microphone stand too near me, to a point that I couldn’t reach some of the lowest notes of the song – I dodged the stand once in a while but then just decided to knock it each time and hope it didn’t fall over.

Anyway, to the cooking!! My mum made some lovely melt-in-your-mouth bites called Momos, and I made cupcakes (though I have to admit I cheated and used packet mix!).

20140308_140848_AndroidAlso, family events are the perfect time to get group shots. The older two cousins were running around outside, but we got a picture of Jacob and his cousin Malachi. It was so cute to see them interacting, but Jacob can be a bit pushy.

PushThese two are only 3 months apart and I’m sure they’ll be very good friends when they’re older.

MalachiAnyway, on a final note, I’m sure a lot of you have heard about the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 that went missing (and has reportedly crashed in the ocean off the coast of Vietnam). Such news saddens me and while things sound grim, I will direct my prayers to them and to the families who are agonizingly waiting for news of their loved ones.

Have a great weekend otherwise, everyone!

Jacob with grandma(ma) and grandpa..

My parents live overseas but they’ve come to visit! 🙂 The last time they were here was when Jacob was born – look how tiny he was! They left when he was about 6 weeks old – he still cried a lot (as obviously that’s the only way he interacted with people) and wasn’t very strong yet.

ImageNow, they’re back while he’s 6 months old! How he’s changed! And he LOVES banging on the piano…

ImageAs with most families, we have our ups and downs and sometimes we get along, sometimes we don’t. Even being miles and miles apart, we do find things to argue about but also things to be glad about. I’m honestly happy that they can be here to see how Jacob progresses. We have a few things planned in the next few weeks so stay tuned!

Another thing I’m planning is my trip back to Malaysia. The last time I was back was for my wedding, which was held in Kuching on a Sarawak River Cruise Boat. This wedding reception was actually organised by my parents – it was a unique experience for us and our guests (I don’t think many people have had weddings on river cruiseboats).

ImageWe had a little tea ceremony as well, which is a Chinese tradition where we present tea to our elders (parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc.) and they give us a little gift (usually a red packet).

ImageThat was 2011 – I can’t believe I haven’t been back to visit for sooooo long! Honestly, part of it was preventing myself from re-opening cans of worms – every time I go back, there are so many things I want to do and people I want to see that I disappoint myself by not doing it all. And also, I was trying to maximise my time working before I had Jacob (so I didn’t take much annual leave).

Yes, I am excited to take this trip, particularly to introduce Jacob to relatives and friends. And also do a bit of holidaying and touristy stuff as well. 🙂 And fooooood!

Over and out. Will end with a pic of Jacob eating a strawberry in one of those little net bag things. He lovesss strawberries. 🙂

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A beginner’s guide to caring for a baby when your partner’s away…

So, Dan has been away the last few days for school camp and is FINALLY HOME (thank goodness!). Call me a clingy wife, but I really do like to have him around. I was curious to see how I would go handling Jacob on my own for a few days, and I’m still here blogging, so that’s a good sign (never mind that I haven’t mopped the floor since before he left, and I’ve been trying to post this since Wednesday).

Honestly, it’s been a challenge, and from my (limited) experience, here are some Do’s and Don’ts that I would definitely suggest…

Do sleep in. I don’t know about your baby, but my baby doesn’t sleep very well anymore. *sob* He used to sleep through, but now has fluctuating sleep patterns from 2 wake-ups a night (tolerable) to waking up every hour (somebody kill me). It’s either a growth spurt, a wonder week, teething or all three combined! I used to feel lazy for sleeping in til 9 am, but guess what – your body needs it from all the interrupted sleep. Otherwise, take some naps in the day – I can’t nap though, have tried but can’t wind down, hence why sleeping in works.

Babies are cutest when they sleep, don’t you think so:

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Do make allowances for yourself and for your baby. Yes, there are supermums out there, but half the time, things are not going to go according to plan (and you have no backup too). Missed that appointment or perhaps baby’s mealtime? Don’t sweat it and as long as you and bub are (relatively) healthy and happy, you have succeeded.

Do have some people over (or go out to see people) to keep yourself sane. Jacob likes going so I usually make sure we had an outing each day, even if it was a short one to the car repair place. I also prefer to go out because my house wasn’t always very presentable, which brings us to the next point…

Don’t expect to get any housework done. Yes, if you can do the laundry, that’s fine. If the baby sleeps a good long nap, surely you can attempt at vacuuming and mopping the floor. But if you are debating between having lunch and housework, have lunch. Make sure you’re properly functional and who knows, if bub goes to sleep at a decent hour, you can bring out the inner clean-freak side. Oh wait, you don’t have one? 😛

Don’t overload your schedule. You want to get a lot of things done for hubby before he gets home? Great idea, but it might also get you utterly exhausted. I, for some random reason, decided to take Jacob to the beach after meeting a friend at lunch. It was lovely but I was so so SO tired that night. I did get some cute photos though (sneak preview):

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Don’t try to cook a gourmet meal every night. I learned that cooking and carrying a baby do not go together. Had the baby been sleeping while I was making dinner (fat chance!), I might have tried to do more. The last few days, I survived on breakfast cereals, leftovers, microwave meals and chocolate. Do not underestimate the power of chocolate. 😉

Don’t lock yourself out of the house. Alright, this is a no-brainer but frankly, it could have been so much worse. The evening before Daniel came home, I thought I’d take Jacob and Skittles out for a walk. I had Skittles on the lead and ready to go, the garage door open and I was just taking Jacob out to put him in the pram – and I heard the door slam shut. It was a windy day and yes, the door was locked. Argh!!

I tried my luck with the bathroom window – climbed onto a bin and managed to squeeze the top half of me into the crack (into a space of something like 20cm!) but could not get my childbearing hips through. At long last, I called my in-laws for the keys. Thank you – you’re lifesavers! Meanwhile, I just walked the dog and Jacob anyway, and thanked God that at least Jacob wasn’t inside when I was outside or something terrible like that.

Don’t do it alone. I always make this mistake, because I am a fiercely independent person (though I do like my husband home, haha!). I know many times I was thinking “Oh no, what should I do?” and my instinct was to look things up on the internet and see how I can fix the problem. But there are so many other resources out there – people to talk to on 24 hour hotlines, and of course, there are relatives and friends as well. It takes a community to raise a baby, so you can always consult your community! 🙂

As a final piece of advice – if you don’t feel the pinch when hubby’s away, he’s probably not doing enough when he’s around! Make sure that he pulls his weight because caring for a baby is a joint responsibility (and trust me, he doesn’t want to miss out spending time with his little one!). But if he is, reward him when he’s back – I made him oat chocolate pancakes for breakfast the next day:
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I just wanted to add a touch of my admiration for single parents who manage to do this on a continuous basis. I think I would have cracked at a week! I know some single mums and I think they are the strongest people I’ve ever known. To all you mums out there (especially my own, as I know she’s always one of the first people to read my blog) – thank you for your love, your strength and your sacrifices. 🙂

On an ending note, I entered Jacob into the Bonds baby competition. After a lot of debating over which photo to choose, I ended up choosing this photo. For some reason, I just love the twinkle in his eye! 🙂 I’ll provide more details when the voting starts!

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The rise of the Asian mum…

It’s coming to the end of a good week and I just thought I’d take some time to celebrate my Asian-ness. I have a love-hate relationship with being Asian, but it’s something that I have to live with so I might as well embrace it.

A few years ago, I came across the ‘High Expectations Asian Father’ meme, which pointed out some great Asian truths.

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Asians have a strange way with gifts, especially between parents and children. I’ve offered to buy many things for my parents, only to be told “Don’t want! Waste money!”. Rather than give gifts, sometimes Asians will do a ‘contra’ and just not give each other gifts. Back when I was little, I remember that my mum used to recycle present wrappers (“Don’t tear the paper!”). And money is always a good gift to receive. *hint hint*

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Asians LOVE buffets. What could be better than no limit on food for a flat rate? I believe it’s because of Asians that some buffets now have time limits. Also, watch out because Asians will sneak away a roll or two (and maybe a lobster) in their bags. And of course, we need to prepare room in our stomachs for it – so, no breakfast or lunch because you want to maximise the dinner! I think I remember throwing up after a few of these buffets, because I just ate too much.

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Asians know everything about frugality. Even on a really hot day in Malaysia, we wouldn’t turn on the air conditioning because “waste money”! I’m not so bad with electricity now because we have solar panels in, but I can get like that with shopping – i.e. no need to cut hair or do manicure, waste money!

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This is another qualm I have about having a daughter – paranoia. Fair enough – I grew up in Malaysia where mugging and rape is rampant, but all parents worry a LOT about their daughters. I remember once I went for martial arts training in Petaling Street, which is considered a “red light district” – and I was not answering my phone because the class went overtime. I think I had about 50 missed calls…

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Ah, so much for positive reinforcement – DOES NOT WORK, according to Asian parents. I remember coming home with exam scores over 90%, only to hear my parents say “What? How could you get that wrong? So easyyyyyyy….” We Asians have a perfectionist culture, and your best can always be bettered.

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And this is my favourite one (because I apparently shamed our dynasty, haha!). Asian parents either love or hate having Caucasian in-laws (mine the former, of course). But for those who fall in the latter, be warned! You are in for an exciting ride of your parents trying to Asian-ize your partners (or them just never speaking to you again).

Sometime last year, I found this video which has practically immortalised Asian mums at their best. Check it out here, and tell me what you think, especially you Asian kids out there!:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HP2escR3qQ

Finally, my cute Asian-Western Jacob says “Hey!” and “Have a great weekend!”

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