Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places


October 2013

Banks and Beautiful Kitchens

Yesterday turned out to be super productive for me in the long-run, which meant a lot of sitting on my bum to do paperwork, and then standing in long queues at banks, and then hogging a teller for about an hour each time. And poor Liz, sitting/standing/walking around, waiting for me.

So yes – nothing very much to report on the sightseeing front. But I did get to introduce Liz to roasted chicken rice, which she loved. And char siew rice, which she also loved. And Arddun’s typical breakfast in Singapore, which was the breakfast set at the hawker centre downstairs — 2 pieces of kaya-and-buttered toast, 2 eggs (runny, but made to toughen up for Liz), and hot tea… all for a grand total of SG$2.

The overhead lamp in my mother’s room had died overnight, which meant an unfruitful hunt for a circular fluorescent bulb in the daytime. Do you know how hard it is to find one of these babies in our modern day? I forgot how charmingly old-school my mother’s lamps are, but there you go.

Circular fluorescent bulb sitting on my mother's washing machine
The bulb that died: not the easiest to replace. But quite retro. And so is the checked washing machine cover underneath it! :)

Had a wander through IKEA after dinner, partly for the bulb, but mostly just to (re)introduce Liz to my favourite furniture shop…

Disco balls in girl's bedroom
Groovy lights and disco balls in girl’s bedroom. I’d like to do this for Arddun one day, although I suspect it’d really be for myself.

Liz had a hankering for chocolate at the day’s end, after all the yummy savoury food. So I happily complied with desserts at TCC. Kinda balked at posting photos of our food like Japanese tourists, so I’ll just say that her eyes rolled to the back of her head when she dipped into her chocolate lava cake.

In lieu of food photo, I’ll leave you with this Random.

Rose-covered bike
This is a kiddie-ride machine of a police bike that I spotted next to the escalators at Anchorpoint. Words fail me at this point.

A picture and a thousand words (thereabout)

I’m missing Arddun a lot this evening, and so I thought I’d watch this video for the umpteenth time.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes through a toddler’s head sometimes, then here’s a sample. This is Arddun and her Stream of Consciousness.

Turn up your speakers.

Fresh eyes

Liz and I touched down in Changi Airport at 7:20pm local time (10:20pm OZ) last night and have spent 28 hours in the country eating and sleeping, mainly.

So far, Liz has been introduced to chee cheong fan, cha siew bao, sashimi and unagi, and usual dinner fare one finds at catered events (some sort of fried noodles, some sort of fried rice, some kind of fish and soy sauce, some kind of prawn…)

The timing of our arrival coincided with the church’s annual Missions drive, and a very special evening event where we officially recognised and appointed/reinstated 4 deacons. And then celebrated by eating more food. And then went out after that and had coffee.

New deacons getting their feet washed
Because nothing says “Welcome to Servant Leadership” like a good foot-scrub.
Rosie, Morene and Peter dressed in purple
Matchy-matchy! From left: A. Rosie, A. Morene and U. Chew (now a deacon! w00t!)
Liz and giant hot chocolate
Liz, holding up my Uncle Edward’s idea of a “small cup of hot chocolate”.

I’m gonna try and be a good girl and document this trip for a variety of reasons, the chief of which is how this feels a lot like the ending of my girlhood. But the very close second reason is how this is Liz’s First Trip Overseas (not including NZ and Tasmania), and her First Time in Asia, and her First Time in the Northern Hemisphere. And it’ll be a trip of a lot of her Firsts – which is such a weird and wonderful way for me to pay homage to my heritage as I play tour guide. I feel like I’ve been given a small chance to immortalise my memories, because now someone else from my present and future world knows, understands and cares about who I am and where I came from. And I’m so thankful to Liz and her generous family for giving me the opportunity to draw this beloved picture of my Country of Origin on such a fresh canvas.

Conversations with Daddoh

Now that we’re starting to have whole conversations with Arddun, Tony has taken to messing with Arddun’s head by deliberately calling a spade anything but, and seeing how she copes with dissonance.

Like this, for instance.

Arddun: “What’s your name?”

Tony: “My name is… Bill.”

Arddun: “Noo… it’s not Bill. It’s Daddy.”

Tony: “What’s YOUR name?”

Arddun: “My name is Arddun.”

Tony: “Noo… your name is Jemima.”

Arddun: “Noooo…” replies the sage child, “that’s Play School.”

Ardunnese explained

Arddun’s language skills have picked up in the last while, and her words – and meaning – are clearer than ever. Nevertheless, unless you live with her, she can still come up with some words and statements that may give you pause. So here’s a few definitions, just so we’re all on the same page. Okay? OKAY.

Bye, Lunch! See you late!

Translation: Farewell, restaurant or other eating establishment. I so enjoyed the lunch you prepared. See you next time!

“See you late!” has so permeated our family vocab, that morning farewells from Daddy sound weird without them. Bye Arddun, Daddy’s going to work now. See you late!

Catty Pah-Low

Caterpillar. As in, Eric Carle’s A Very Hungry Caterpillar. She knows that story by heart, and will insist on reading it at least once a day. And then watching the DVD of someone else reading it.

Emily Davies

For a while there, Arddun would take Tony and I by the hand and go, “Come here, Emily Davies! Come here!” It took us a few weeks to figure out that Emily Davies is probably her best friend at Play School. And that after spending a whole day with Emily Davies, Arddun would come home and make either Tony or I pretend to be Emily Davies. A role which consists mainly of holding Arddun’s hand and playing with whatever she wants to play with that moment.


A sigh of disapproval and waiting. Usually breathed with much gusto and to much effect while waiting for the swings to free up at the playground. Always accompanied by arms crossed around chest. Not a habit we want developed, but so hard not to grin when it happens.


Computer. As in, “I want to type on the ‘puter like you, Mummy/Daddy.” As in, “Daddy is on the ‘puter. Let me help by MOVING THE MOUSE VIGOROUSLY while you’re in the middle of Battlefield 3. Because that always helps your KD ratio.”

That’s not funny

Could mean any of the following:

  • Stop laughing at me, because I’m not having a good time, even if you are.
  • That’s not fair.
  • That’s funny.
  • I have nothing else better to say, so That’s Not Funny seems as good an interjection as any.

Tiny Apples



Kitty. Specifically, Small Kitty. Because Small Kitty is her bestest non-living friend in the whole wide world now, next to Milk and Chocolate Cupcake? (The latter is always mentioned with a pound of hope.) Small Kitty is a small, bright pink, corduroy stuffed toy cat. And in case you’re concerned about the gender bias with colour (bright pink… girl… kitty cat… saccharin sweet…), I want to clarify that Small Kitty is also a Boy Kitty.

When out in public, the occasional “Where’s TITTY?!” might be mistaken for a request for breastmilk. But Titty is Kitty. And as for the other… she just calls them Boobs like everyone else. I don’t know where she learnt that one.


In truth, she is actually very clear most of the time. I can’t think of too many words she’s mangled, or turns of phrases she’s coined. I’ll leave you this evening with some counting lessons Arddun decided to give Tony this afternoon.



This morning, I got reminded that in 2½ weeks, I’ll be back in Singapore.

It was a good kick up the backside (although that was hardly what the reminder was about!) because it helped me distill exactly what my priorities need to be. I need to prepare the house for my in-laws’ arrival, which includes updating my Arddun childcare notes. I need to get a bunch of appointments and decisions made. I need to put my freelance work on hold. I need to stop trying to achieve every single Tupperware sales target put in front of me.

Did I tell you? I’m a Tupperware Demonstrator now. It’s turning out to be quite a bit of fun, and I’m liking how I get to swan off to party and mingle with grown women. It is also a time suck, at least at this beginning stage. I’m learning all the time and while selling Tupperware isn’t rocket science, it’s been over a decade since I last had a sales job. The temptation is to throw myself entirely into this new business but again, I have to remind myself constantly what my priorities are. All this, while half day-dreaming about what it would be like to be a Tupperware manager just so I can name my own team. (Shortlist so far: Silicon Velle.)

There’s a more sobering side to my return, of course. I’ve had a few cloud-like thoughts wafting through the brain cavity all morning, so I’ll try and pin them down here.

I’ve been thinking about what it’s like to never forget someone. And I’ve been thinking about what it’s like to remember them. Until my cousin’s sudden death a few years ago, and then my mother’s death this year, I never knew there was a difference. But the truth is, while I will never forget my mother; while the stark fact of her death has been branded into my soul and the burnt bit is still healing, it takes a huge amount of effort for me to remember her.

And that’s because remembering takes courage. It takes time. It takes up oodles of emotional memory, and you’re left panting after. I have a photo of her sitting on the buffet in the middle of the house, and you cannot miss it. And I can have whole conversations with her while Arddun is asleep and I’m doing the housework. But once I find my mind flashing back to the past and remembering what once was… I find myself pulling the plug. Making the images vanish. Because it is just so easy to sit there and feel paralysed with sorrow. And I don’t want to be paralysed, because I need to move.

“Give me unction in my gumption, let me function function function…”

In 2½ weeks, I’ll be back in Singapore. I’ll be sleeping in my mother’s bed. I’ll be bidding the rooms good-bye. Because this time will really be the last time. I love my husband truly, madly, deeply… but my mother and this house had always been my unconscious safety net. “What if Tony got hit by a bus… what if he goes all Rod Stewart on me one day and leaves me for a 20yo twinkie…”

My love for my husband is a choice. Every day, I wake up and choose to be with him. They say you don’t get to choose your relatives – NOT TRUE. Because out of all the men in the world, I chose Tony to be my family. I chose him to be my closest peer and kin. I continue to choose him daily.

My love for my mother is biological. It isn’t a choice – it is in my veins and permeates my soul, because I am of her. I think that with all mothers and daughters, the depth of love is variable – you get out as much as what each of you put in. But the starting point of that love and bond is biological.

Severing my ties with my family home is going to be one of the hardest things I’ll have to do this second half of the year. (The first, of course, was saying goodbye to my mother.) Going back to Singapore means having to Remember. God give me strength, because I’m sorta quaking at the prospect already.


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