Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places


December 2012

Merry Christmas, everybody!

I had a good Christmas this year.

A few things made it stand out a little different from previous years.

Having another family to spend Christmas Alone with

Unless we’re in Brisbane or my mum’s in town, Christmas in years past have been the stuff of crickets chirping in the background. We had the occasional lunch with friends during a couple of Christmases before, which has been lovely.

But there’s something about hosting your own Big Christmas Family lunch; doing the shopping, getting prepared, feeding people, opening presents.

Enter New Friends from the States who live 2 minutes from our home, and suddenly there we were – two houses, far away from family, yet close enough to join forces and make pigging out on a whole turkey totally worthwhile.

Shannon and I now have shared bragging rights on cooking our first turkey. The fact that we got the butcher to debone the entire turkey and stuff it with apricots, mango and hazelnuts so that effectively we had a turkey roll that could actually fit in the oven made it all the better. I don’t think that’s cheating. It’s still a whole turkey. It’s still getting roasted. It still tastes the same. Stroke. Of. Genius. For the rest of you who had to saw your turkey in half or stress over drying out your turkey.. well, now you know. Thank you, Lilydale Butchery.

Having a toddler who understands

It’s Arddun’s second Christmas – third, if you count womb time – and I’m starting to understand what the fuss is all about. Now that she’s actually engaging with her toys – instead of ditching the toy to play with the wrapper, ala Christmas 2011 – this Christmas rocks on the present-opening front. I had gifted Arddun with a toy petrol station because she has always made a beeline for the toy cars and ramps in the church building every Sunday. But Daddoh topped it by getting a tea set to go with her new table and chairs (thank you Famiza for the furniture, BTW! It’s a darling set!)

And that’s how Kitty got to have her first taste of plastic tea.

Oooh yes… Brisbane Nanna had also made gorgeous Christmas outfits!

Back view of Christmas dress
Back view
Front view of Christmas Dress
Front view

Arddun is also besotted with her new Little Tikes Trike, which, despite major steering issues, doesn’t dampen her spirits one bit. And as for the petrol station set I got her, it turned out to be rather poorly made so I’m returning the lot and looking for a better one. (There’s a reason sometimes to go for brands you’ve actually heard of.) Still, this little girl was heard making car noises all around the house, only pausing for a quick sip of tea with kitty, before heading off on her new driving adventures with her little black merc.

Which is an encouraging sign for the next bit.

Having a family trip to look forward to

I get massive cabin fever during holidays. I know that a real holiday, by definition, includes getting rested – which is why taking a trip somewhere often defeats this very purpose. But there’s something about staying at home “doing nothing” that drives me absolutely batty when my family has a longish week off together. The mundane can be a terribly wasteful time filler, and a surefire way to get me itchy and grumpy.

So this year, we’re driving to Melbourne to visit long-time friends. The last two days have been a slow build up to a flurry of excitement for the trip ahead. We set off tomorrow. Our very first car trip together!

Speaking of which, I’m gonna call it a night. Plenty of driving to do tomorrow (4 hours each driver!) and we’re aiming to be out of the house by 9am. Optimistic, I know.

But before I go,

Merry Christmas, dearest family and friends – and people who actually read my blog. This has been a tumultous year, but in many ways also, a very rewarding one. I am so glad you are all a part of my life because I have been made richer for it. May the rest of your 2012 be safe and happy and if we don’t get to talk soon, have a great New Year!

XOXO Velle

Super Sweet Blog Award

Just for a little bit of fun…

aworkingmum was kind enough to nominate me for a Super Sweet Blog Award.


I’m rather gratified and a little shamefaced, because many of my posts really don’t qualify as Super Sweet. Perhaps an award for the Clueless Parent blog or A Tad Panicky post might be more apt. But hey, I am not complaining. I’ll take what I can get! :)

So this is me, passing on the love…


The rules for the award

  • Thank the blogger(s) who gave you the award and link back to their blog.
  • Nominate other blogs for this award and let them know.
  • Post the award on your blog.
  • Answer 5 questions:
  1. Cookies or Cake?
    Cookies. I am rather partial to giant chewy choc-chip ones.
  2. Chocolate or Vanilla?
    CHOCOLATE. Vanilla is acceptable, if only for the enhancement of the chocolate.
  3. Favourite sweet treat?
    Hands down, the Cafe Grande Connoisseur Ice Cream. Here’s why: chocolate covered almonds. Hamana hamana hamana…
  4. When do you crave sweet things the most?
    When I’m settling down with a nice pot of hot, black tea.
  5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?
    For this, I had to ask the husband.
    : “If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?”
    Tony: “If I had a sweet nickname?”
    Me: No, the question is for me. If I had to be given a nickname pertaining to a sweet, what would it be? You know… sugar plum, gumdrop, honeybun…
    Tony: What about “sweet cheeks”?
    Me: Erm… I think that could be construed as something to do with my butt, and this is going to go on my blog, so…

Conclusion: we don’t know. My nicknames have never had anything to do with me being sweet.

My nominees

  • Drawings For Jade – a real charming blog and such a lovely idea capturing their life together through drawings
  • Mum Turned Mom – new blog on the block, but already one I’m looking forward to reading more, because I completely identify with moving country.
  • Lethargic Smiles – until I read her blog, I had no idea what POTS was or thought very hard about what it must be like to be young and living with chronic illness. This blogger has such a terrific outlook on life, though. No self-pity, and a real trooper about things.
  • Twinzees – my figurative hat’s off to mothers of multiples! Also, this mama takes excellent photos, and manages to capture the moment both in word and image so well.
  • Living, Loving, Laughing – a shout-out to now three-times mummy (well, the third one is very much on the way!) who has chronicled the life and times of her household almost every day this year in the 366 project! Such an achievement, especially when you realise that she suffers from acute morning sickness (yes, same as Princess Kate), and has two littlies whom Arddun adores.

And finally, a thank you again to aworkingmum, aka Shaiana (what a gorgeous name!) who is a cheerful single mother of two, and who still manages to kick massive monkey butt in Uni while looking rather awesome.

I love the blogosphere.

24 hours left for prayer requests

So a few days ago, I talked about starting up a prayer thingy on Mondays, except I also wanted to open it up to everyone else to jump in with their concerns or bits of thank-yous. That offer still stands. I am poised and ready to pray big, people. Tomorrow evening, 9:00pm AEST.

Just as a taster, here are some that have already made it on my list:

  • Victims and helpers of the shooting at Newtoun
  • A personal celebration! (Except I’m waiting for the parents to officially say something first before I jump up and down with excitement publicly.)
  • Families travelling interstate and overseas during this time of reunion and/or church camps.
  • Families not killing each other after spending a week in each other’s company at said reunion.
  • Families separated by distance, by anger, by pride, by misunderstandings, by old family feuds, by unforgiveness, by cowardice… or any other barrier you know or can think of.

Got any other suggestions? Hit me.

Christmas is coming; the gheezers are getting fat

Dinner menu in the House of H, running up to Christmas:

  • Tonight: Homemade Hokkien Prawn Noodles
  • Christmas eve: Slow-cooked lamb shanks and homemade gravy with roasted veggies
  • Christmas night: Cheese toasties. (Because we’re planning a HUGE brunch with friends! Did I mention Roast Turkey Roll stuffed with apricot, mango and hazelnuts? Ooh baby…)

What are you planning for dinner this week?

‘Tis the season

I’ve been trying to make the most of these holidays by diving into my fiction writing again, except everything that flies out from my fingers sounds false and corny. My theory is that I am a little too relaxed. I find I do my best writing when I’m under the pump and there are a heap of Better Things I Should Be Doing out there. Like actual work that pays money. Or my PSLEs.

Most nights when I’ve hit a rut, I write absolute gibberish until the magic starts working and the honest stuff pours onto the page hot and quick like runny lava.

Tonight, however, I drifted over to my cousin’s blog because I’d been looking for a specific turn of phrase she had used. She was the best writer I knew in real life, a record she still holds today. And I read her old posts and I can’t stop smiling because I can hear her voice and it’s like we’re on the phone for hours again all those years ago, and she’s making me laugh until I cry. And I miss her so much.

Death is very inconvenient.

I’m blaming Christmas. It brings out the weepies.

Water, water everywhere

Until we became parents, I don’t think we realised how well set up Canberra is for young families. But now that Arddun is starting to interact with others and her environment, the challenge is on to find new places of toddler interest. And the discoveries just keep getting better.

One of the things I’ve discovered this week is the Dickson Aquatic Centre. I had heard wonderful things about it before, but as I had visited the outdoor pool at Philip in my Uni days and found it to be, well, awful, I wasn’t holding my breath for the one at Dickson. After all, Singapore’s public pools with its cheap-as-chips entry fees, its theme-parkesque water slides, and wave pools replete with those huge doughnut floats had pretty much spoiled me for life.

But lo! We went to the Dickson pool on Wednesday past. And it has been renovated. And it is good. So good, that we had to come back two days later to show Tony.

Water spray area from a distance
Lots of different pools for different swimming needs, but there’s also this lovely water spray area that the tiny tots absolutely adore. Great introduction to big-time water fun for Arddun. She spent half of our morning there.
Close up of Arddun with the spray gun
She can barely reach it, but Arddun loves playing with the spray guns.
Arddun with Tony at the spray guns
Arddun with Tony at the spray guns.
Arddun waiting at fountain sprouts
Waiting patiently for this fountain to start. Whoosh-ka!
Grassy area between pools
I love how they have these tall, old trees that reach out to the sky and touch fingers, forming this natural canopy over soft grass. Just perfect for picnics, as you can tell by our set-up in the middle here. There’s even barbecue pits and picnic tables for bigger parties!
Canopy of trees
The view when lying down on my picnic mat to have a quick snooze.
Horsing around with Daddy's hat after our picnic lunch
Horsing around with Daddy’s cap after our picnic lunch
Arddun with Tony at Dickson Aquatic Centre
What a lovely day well spent with my Daddy!

Better late than never, they say

We’ve FINALLY put up our Christmas tree. It’s 6 days before Christmas. I think we’re doing pretty well. :D

Arddun opens the Christmas Tree box
“What is this box of furry green stuff?”

Arddun surveys the finished Christmas tree Arddun standing in front of Christmas tree

Arddun walks off with empty Christmas tree box
“Okay, tree’s up. Decorations on. My work here is done.”


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