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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

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celebrations

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Singapore!

I had Singapore’s National Day on my mind yesterday, truly I did. I missed watching the parade on TV with family, missed the family steamboat dinner, missed the celebration of a crazy-tiny nation that went from Third World to First World in less than a quarter century. We are an efficient and determined lot.

So today, I’m making Bak Kut Teh and took a swag of photos of Arddun in Singapore garb. And also, I’m wearing red and white. Not that you can tell.

Arddun-standing
Still a Singapore Girl
Buns
A bun in the hand, a bun in her hair
Eating-bread
Goofy for bread
Arddun-and-Eli-classroom-1
Goofing around with my friend, Eli!
Arddun-and-Eli-in-classroom
You’re funny.
Arddun-solo-on-carpet
Meditative pose
Arddun-with-Tony-on-carpet
Rolling on the carpet with Daddy, and messing up her hairdo
Daddy-and-Arddun-standing
Modelling the sarong kebaya next to Daddy
Walking-back-with-the-mail
Getting the church mail with Daddy
Tony-and-Arddun-profile
Daddy Daughter
Family-portrait
A rare and treasured family portrait
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About the blob

There are 11 of us in my mother’s group, and I’m number 10 of 11 to be pregnant with #2. (#11 is preggers too.) The first time ’round, we all had a pretty even split of boys and girls – 6 and 5 respectively.

But the second time ’round, everyone started getting boys. And the more boys we got as our Number Twos, the more we marvelled over the math. Because that’s like flipping a coin n number of times, and getting Heads n times in a row. That’s pretty spesh.

Which is why I think I’ve been suspecting that New Blob (for want of a better name) is going to be a Girl Blob. Law of averages and all that. Because what is the likelihood that there would be 10 little boys in a row, right?

Turns out, the probability is 0.0009765625.

Yes, we are proud and shiny to announce that New Blob is a Boy Blob! Which means we now have what Australians charmingly refer to as a Pigeon Pair – one of each. I should have known better than to trust my gut on this one, because the last time I hazarded a guess for Arddun, I was wrong too.

Our ultrasound technician this time has over 30 years’ experience, and was adamant about his sex. (“Definitely a boy. Loooots of photos of his penis.”) Except of course, all we saw were shadows amidst constantly moving legs, and had to take her word for it. I found myself laughing. At the math. At the fact that I know so very little about little boys. At the realisation that Arddun is going to be a big sister to a little brother. At the sheer and utter joy of knowing I am going to have a son. I have a son.

That was almost 2 weeks ago. A few things since then…

  • At my MIL’s clever suggestion, we have been gently reminding Arddun that the baby is her little brother. And that she is like Peppa Pig, about to have a little baby brother, George. Except that his name won’t be George, any more than her name is Peppa. It gets confusing for 3-year-olds.
  • Arddun still seems more thrilled about cats and dogs.
  • Because we are packing to move eventually – and to de-clutter the house so we can give the illusion of living splendidly organised lives during any open houses we might be giving in the near future – we have been sorting through Arddun’s baby clothes. Omigoodness, so gobsmackingly cute and tiny they are! And there are so many pieces I can never throw away because they were all from my mother. The trouble is… even though we had assiduously stayed away from Too Much Pinky Pink Pink clothes… Arddun’s clothes are still decidedly girly. We salvaged quite a few tights and socks and some tops, but the rest are going to good homes one day. IF I ever get my butt in gear to sell them at a Baby & Kids’ market.
  • We found a name for Boy Blob! Which just means we might change our minds a few times more before we actually meet Boy Blob. Which is why we aren’t telling anyone his name yet.
  • I bought my first piece of baby boy clothing… which turned out to be this cream onesie with a faux cotton Mandarin-collar shirt over the top. For $6! How not to buy???

Birthday cake for everyone!

Every year, our mother’s group makes a point to celebrate all of our firstborn’s birthdays in one biggish bash. This year’s was a little later than usual, but no less fun. Just two hours of 3yo heaven – flavoured milkshakes, party games, face-painting, rainbow birthday cake, presents… and of course, ice cream on a winter’s day.

Here’s some Arddun-centric highlights.

Smartie cake with birthday candle 3
Guess who are turning three…
Arddun getting face painted
No sudden moves…
Arddun with face painted with flower on cheek
Finished product: a simple purple flower.
Solving puzzles with Ivy
Puzzling it out with friend Ivy
Arddun eating a biscuit at the table
Plenty of food to go ’round
Blowing out the candle
Birthday song and blowing out the lone candle among 10 kiddies
Arddun contemplating the cake
Eyeing the smarties
Cross section of rainbow cake
That is one impressive rainbow cake. Truly blessed by multi-talented mommies who labour with love.
Tony scrubbing Arddun's face
Removing evidence of cake inhalation…
Arddun opening her present
A birthday’s not a birthday without presents
Family portrait
One of many attempts at a family portrait.
Arddun giggling while lying on the floor
Goodness! That was a lot of fun!

To everything – turn turn turn – There is a season

Since I last wrote 147 days ago, our family has gone through stuff – some big, some small, but all significant in their own way. I realise that the longer I put off writing it all down, the further away the reality of catching up will seem, and then Arddun will grow up one day, learn about this blog, and wonder why I stopped bothering to chronicle our lives when we all know how shocking my memory has become.

So in no particular order, here are the salient points.

My mother’s first death anniversary

I think the anticipation of it being a big hairy emotional day became bigger than the actual event. Our family here in Australia took it real slow. I had Arddun for the day, and we did things together – went to an indoor playground, pottered around the neighbourhood, did some grocery shopping.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the everyday things I remember doing with my mum when I was a kid – the travelling to and from her students’ homes, wheeling the TV into my parents’ room to watch Cinderalla and half of Snow White while she was teaching at home, a LOT of window shopping, that time in the elevator when my mother unconsciously put on an Italian accent to explain directions to a couple of tourists…

Part of me still wonders if I should have made more of an effort memorialising the first anniversary, except I still haven’t shaken off the feeling that we are parted only for a little while and that she is just a Skype call away. That is, until I actually log on to Skype and realise that she’s not there.

As long as she is in my everyday, she stays immortal. Beloved.

Got Tupperwared out

Bizarrely, February and March became really successful Tupperware months for me – to the extent that I got second-level Star Demonstrator for both months. (Which just means I got a shiny gold two-star pin, because I sold a crazy lot of quality plastic.) Could have gotten Star demonstrator in April too, except I had an equally bizarre spate of party cancellations in the last week, which stuffed up my targets and rewards. But that is how the cookie crumbles.

Went to a Tupperware conference at the Four Seasons in Sydney, got to cross stage to receive lots of goodies for hitting targets, and ended up forgetting one of my reward bags when I returned to Canberra so I’m rather miffed with myself for that. The conference itself felt like a rock concert that went on for 7 hours. Lots of pom-poms, lots of piccies, lost my voice.

More than anything, it was just lovely to dine out with a gaggle of women sans child, and to dust off my high-heels again.

Got surprise part-time contract

Not much would get me out of the bliss of mothering full-time during the day, so when a particular job with an international Christian NPO floated into view, I sent in my résumé  thinking nothing of it but half hoping, and got tickled pink when the national director called to have a chat.

Long story short, I’m now doing a web project until August, and work twice a week with a couple of hours snatched in between my full work days. And even though I had been doing some freelance editing work since Arddun was a year old, this part-time job has really awoken me to the fact that women who work part-time are insanely organised. Or schizophrenic. Probably both.

Before Child (BC), I worked full-time – and I worked long hours. I’m not averse to hard work. But until I started doing, effectively, THREE jobs (all-day mother and housewife 5 days a week, part-time web project manager, Tupperware evenings and weekends), I hadn’t realised how much discipline I had lacked as a full-time worker.

It’s one thing to be completely immersed in the one job and do plenty of overtime. It’s quite another to not have that luxury of one job leaking into all other areas of your life.

Because every time I’m at any particular task, I now have to be completely present – heart, body, mind. Because that’s all the time I am allowed to dedicate to that task. Miss that window, and I have no pockets of time left to make up for it because another job is owed my time. I speak for myself, of course, but my work ethic BC involved sacrificing my personal time (and sometimes, time with the husband) to finish work in the office. I can – and will – no longer do that.

Do you know how blinking hard it is to switch from one completely different job to another? That is probably the most exhausting part of my current work-life balance, but I’m also loving it. I have three completely different jobs that require very different soft and hard skills from me, and I’m loving the challenge. I also like to think I’m growing from it.

Got job change

Tony also had a job change a couple months ago – a real God’s timing moment, because things are very tight in the public service. For a little while there, it meant that on my work days, Arddun, Tony and I would be in different suburbs but in another great chess move, Tony got additional duties which meant he could be back in the same business park as Arddun’s childcare, on the days he needs to do the school drop off.

Got visitors

Tony’s mum came down for a visit, and got to spend some quality time with all of us – especially Arddun. Always a blessing to have her around; it just brings such a deep-sigh-aaaahhhh comfort to be with family, where it’s all about the companionship and the catching up, and you can lean on one another.

Adrian, Audrey and Sophie just came and left too… my family in spirit, if not in blood. Again, just deeply satisfying to be with them. The joy and glee of being in the same continent again – and this time in my home – was already something I had been looking forward to for months.

So… when are the rest of you coming over to my turf, hmm?

Got knocked up

A hundred and sixty-three of you stopped by one of my Facebook posts to scream about the fact that I’m now with child again. Second Bub is 17 weeks old today, and this pregnancy has sailed by. I forget a lot of the time that I’m pregnant – until I have to find something big and warm enough to wear.

All that they say about second pregnancies are true. My body had inflated in 2.5 seconds flat, like a pop-up tent. The baby, my phone app tells me, is now the size of a turnip but I look like I swallowed a rock melon whole. This baby is also a savoury baby – Tom Yum Soup is probably the one thing that strikes all the happy notes because it’s sweet, sour, salty, hot. So unlike Arddun, who made me down tubs of mango yoghurt and who now eats cheddar cheese in 1cm-thick slabs just like her father.

We’re happy that our family is expanding along with my waistline, but the timing is rather tricky because

We’re building a house

Or rather, we’ve been planning to since September last year and we’ve only managed to sign everything that actually says we are this week.

So think about it: we have to de-clutter the current house we’re living in to prepare it for sale (hah!), possibly pack and move to another place before our new house is finished (hah hah!), and then move into the new house after Second Bub greets the world (sob.)

Yes, there is a lot to do. But after the logistics of 2013, I’m all “Bring It On!” Might just be the second trimester talking. I suspect I’ll be less enamoured by it all come September, when I approach Waddle Station and have to face the prospect of packing or unpacking boxes.

Arddun turned three

On the 15th, we celebrated Arddun’s third birthday with a low-key backyard BBQ and a Peppa Pig cake. And then we celebrated some more by spending the actual day bouncing around at Flip Out with her friends, and having the yummiest ham and brioche toastie in homemade bread at Dream Cuisine with her BFF Leila.

Pictures to come. Have not synced technology appendages to the Mothership in a while.

Our little girl can now officially play with toys that have small pieces. Actually, our little girl can already do that – and so much more. I want to dedicate a completely separate post to the individual she has become, so I’ll leave you with some photos that befits the title of this post. Being all poetic and all.

Arddun making autumn leaf pile

Arddun about to toss autumn leaf pile

Arddun tosses leaf pile

Arddun twirling in falling autumn leaves
To everything, there is a season. And I loved spending the season with you. xx

Little bouncers at the Christmas party

Just got back from our mother’s group Christmas party – our third together! Birthdays and Christmases are our two major annual events, and we try to make each one a little special. The fabulous thing about having 9 to 11 families celebrate together each time, is that we get to split the bill 9 to 11 different ways. Which means we can splash out on stuff like this:

Jumping castle rocket thing
Jumping castle rocket thing. More impressive in real life. (Stolen from Jo’s Facebook page.)
6 toddlers in Jumping castle
Seven little toddlers, seven times the fun!

Here’a video of the little tykes in action:

This year, I volunteered to bring mango tea, an Asian salad (a yummy dish I learnt from my MIL), and a fruit salad.

Regarding the fruit salad: after I went a-hunting through Pinterest, I ended up making this:

Fruit salad Christmas tree
30 seconds to take photo of magnum opus before running out the door.

which went down well with the crowd at the Christmas party – both big and little peeps. If you’re wondering how to do this, I bought a 25cm-tall styofoam cone from an art shop, pinned lettuce leaves to it using toothpicks, used star-shaped cookie cutters for the rock melon, and then pinned down red and green grapes, blueberries, cranberries, kiwi slices, strawberries and blackberries using a gazillion toothpicks. Took me an hour. I’m no maestro on food decorating, so if I can accomplish this, it means it’s Beginner-level easy – just time-consuming. And stressful, when you’re trying to do this juuuust before the 3pm party, and it’s 2pm.

Managed to dress the little people up in cute Christmas clothes. Had less success keeping them on the couch at the same time for a photo:

Christmas costumes take 1
Take 1
Christmas outfits on sofa, take 1
Take 3
Christmas costumes take 3
Take 47
Christmas costumes, waiting patiently
Bored

Gave up and took a video instead:

But what we should have done was put Peppa Pig on telly, because that TV show has proven hypnotic powers:

Watching Peppa Pig
Peppa Pig = Toddler Crack

Other attempts at memory-capturing:

Eating together at small table
Sharing a meal together
Leila and Arddun squeeze into little red car
Two friends share a ride in the Little Red Car

And then there was a whole heap of rather incriminating photos that might get us all in trouble with Jumping J-Jays. But we had heaps of fun. xx

Our baby girl is 2!

It’s quite mind-boggling to us, her parents, that on this date 2 years ago, we welcomed our munchkin and she looked like this:

Arddun just born
Bright light! Bright light!

And her first mutual scrutiny of family ties with Tony looked like this:

Brand new Arddun with daddy
“I am your father” moment

And then last year, on her first birthday, she looked like this:

Arddun with the chickens
Duck and chickens

And then – whooshka! She turned 2, weighs a hefty 14.6kg, and stands about 90cm++. And she is more entertaining than ever.

Arddun and mummy with cheese
Taking the whole “say Cheese to the camera” thing a little too literally
Arddun and Tony ring a ringa rosies
What started out as a prayer for lunch soon turned in Ring-a-ring-a-roses.
Arddun in purple coat holding banana
Purple fashionista
Arddun at Big Kids table
Guest of Honour at the Big Kids table this evening
Waiting to blow out candles
Suddenly Shy during Happy Birthday song, after rehearsing about eleventeen times on the way over… (Also, sorry I chopped off her friends’ heads.) 
Arddun's second birthday cake
Happy Birthday, Irresistible You

Daddy-Daughter Birthday Bash

Because Arddun’s birthday falls on the 18th of June and Tony’s birthday weekend also happened to be 18th May, we decided to put together a combined birthday celebration.

4-picture montage of Arddun at second birthday party
Birthday girl
Tony and Velle at 2nd birthday party
Birthday Boy and me
Tony and Arddun's birthday party guests montage 7 pictures
Some of our birthday guests
Cupcake-making station photo montage
Cupcake-decorating station
Party games photo montage
Games for one and all
Birthday cake photo montage
Labour of love by the talented and generous Audrey
Tony and Arddun's combined birthday door gifts in flower pots
Door gifts
Opening presents photo montage
Party loot (and I’m wondering how to ship it all back!)
Arddun fake sleeping
All tired out after a fabulous party!

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