Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places



When Audrey and Deb came to stay

We did a quick count last night and realised that since we moved into our new home on 25 November, we have had five groups of interstate and overseas visitors stay with us. That’s about one a month. It’s a nice average.

[I’ve been vaguely aware of the fact that I’ve grown out of the habit of taking photos. Part of the reason is my phone camera; I don’t enjoy using either of the geriatric cameras on my Sony Xperia or my iPad, and carrying Old Chunky everywhere isn’t practical. I’ve also grown out of the habit of blogging as a result. Uploading a bunch of happy shots used to be a quick and easy way of saying hello here while not having to squeeze out too much brain juice. But with even that option taken away, and now, a slew of favourite TV series now ending (Downton Abbey, The Good Wife…) and the aforementioned guests, I find myself estranged from my blog. But I miss writing to all of you.]

Not to pick a favourite among our visitors – every guest brought fun and busyness to our household – (but) we really enjoyed having Audrey and Deborah stay with us for ten days late last month. We didn’t do anything special, really. I think that was what made it so magic. Because for just those ten days, we could suspend reality for a little while and pretend we lived together for keeps. We were family again, and it was a sheer luxury keeping our children alive together (i.e. feeding them), going about our usual routine, and then talking the nights away when the children went to bed.

Continue reading “When Audrey and Deb came to stay”

TTT – The kindness of strangers and friends

Today was a good day.

Which is a happy coincidence, because Thursdays are also when I blog about what I’m thankful for. And while I usually try to keep it to three main things, I haven’t been able to stop at that magical number lately.

Here’s why.

I’m thankful for a beautiful girl with a beautiful temperament

Arddun walked a lot today. She spent pretty much the whole afternoon in a mall, shadowing her Nanna and I as we went about trying to get last-minute supplies. Presentable Pajamas for my hospital stay, for instance. A swimming top so if I were to end up in a bath tub during labour with the shower head beating warm water down my sore back, I have swimmers that finally fit me in my beached-whale state. I went to the post office. We went to Babies R Us. And everything took four times the length of the time it usually takes, because I’m getting slower and slower…

It’s boring stuff for 3-year-old girls. And she didn’t complain, not once in that mall. She did ask very politely whether she could go to the little indoor playground a couple of times, and then waited very patiently when we explained the sequence of events that were to unfold. (Lunch, shopping at Target, then playground.)

I jumped onto Facebook this afternoon, and someone had posted this challenge:

For 24 hours without complaining

And you know what? This little girl, from the second hour since her day began, didn’t complain a single time. I was so proud of her.

These kind of days happen more often than I give her credit for, but perhaps I sat up and noticed this time because we had her Nanna’s company. And as much as I know that part of it is Arddun’s natural temperament and part of it is consistent messaging from Tony and I… I’m just so thankful she has a teachable heart.


I’m thankful for hand-me-downs

I have received so many boy clothes that Boy Blob’s entire wardrobe is settled for 2015. This, of course, has not stopped me buying the occasional to-die-for outfit for my little man – but the fact remains that the entire half of Tony’s tallboy reserved for Boy Blob’s things is now almost full.

Sarah V came by tonight to hand-deliver my Norwex things… and she has been carting around boxes of boy clothes from size 000 for a while, so when I get the space and chance to go through them, I can. And now she’s offered to wash them for me. Seriously!


And it’s not just clothes. If I were to just whimper in passing about perhaps needing something, someone invariably rushes back with an answer. It’s probably why I’ve been less organised with baby prep this time around. Help seems available every which way I turn. I’m so thankful for this community.


I’m thankful for caring strangers

Have I ever mentioned how Canberra, for the most part, loves young families? Until I started carting Arddun around when she was a baby, I never got so much as a cursory glance. No one would ever think to strike up a conversation with me randomly. Once I started carrying a baby that was obviously mine? BAM – passing smiles, offers to grab things from shelves, people unpacking my shopping trolley at the conveyor belt while I’m queueing, passing me compliments and encouragement, the works. I was no longer invisible. I now had status – I am a Mother.

Last Friday was freakishly hot for Spring – a scorching, dusty and windy 35°C, real skin-cancer inducing weather. And while waddling around Garema place and Canberra Centre, I had total strangers coming up to me and asking if I was alright, and if I was keeping myself hydrated. I mean, it’s no secret that pregnant women have an inbuilt radiator behind their belly buttons, but that level of sympathy or empathy blew me away, frankly.


I’m thankful for professionals who truly try to help

Last week, I alluded to the frustration that we had been facing for the better part of our month. Emotional and financial interests spread across two continents can be hard, hard work. Throw in the complications of a home build and a newborn Coming Soon to a Bassinet Beside our Bed, and it’s enough to get a little angsty about life — a reaction we were working hard to avoid because we are grateful overall… but it made us feel anxious now and then.

For a good chunk of time, it looked like our options were getting narrower and more awkward. It seemed like the only road ahead was for me to travel back to Singapore very soon. Try figuring that in your schedule when you have a brand new baby to look forward to. When Arddun was born, she had arsenic hour from 4pm to 1am for upward of EIGHT. WEEKS. And then there were vaccinations and Boy Blob’s immunity to consider, the need to establish my milk supply, passports…

The alternative was for me to travel alone. And that was an even more difficult option for me to swallow.

Meanwhile, two professionals on two different continents were beavering away in the background to find a solution that other institutions weren’t interested or able to pursue. And this evening, I was finally given the word that I would NOT have to make this crazy dash, perhaps with newborn in tow. And that, my friends, is something that we are very thankful for.

So for those of you who have been praying… thank you.

TTT – A week of visiting

1. Movie Morning

Isn’t it always the case in Canberra that one gets along swimmingly with a new friend before A Big Change comes along and it all goes poof? Canberra, I find, has quite the transient crowd and as it is, I’ve had many up and move interstate just when things were getting comfy.

Which is why I’m hugely happy and a little sad that Arddun and I are starting to form really lovely friendships in my mother’s group, only to remember that absolutely everyone else’s maternity leave is about to dry up by August. But count my blessings, I will. Because they’re not moving out of town, at least. And I finally have friends within walking distance of my home.

This Monday past, 3 of us got together at my  humble home with our 3 bubs and actually accomplished what we had set out to do. Namely,

  1. Actually produce and consume a quality cheese-toasties lunch
  2. Actually make some popcorn
  3. Actually sit down and finish a movie!
Three babies at movie afternoon
From left: Arddun (“Mommy… What’s a chicky?”), Ryan (“Check out ma chickies…”), and Charlotte (“Oh for the last time… I AM NOT YOUR CHICKY!”)
An orange bowl of burnt popcorn
Yeah… the first bowl didn’t go so well.

2. Abi road

Claire and Abi are in town this week, and graced us with their delightful company yesterday afternoon. Yet another cheese toasty adventure (nothing better on a chilly Autumn afternoon!), followed by a leisurely walk to the local mall and coffee at the usual haunt. At least Abi got to visit the home that her mum and dad house-sat (?) after their wedding, and Arddun got to hang out with her Little Friend with the Stunning Eyes.

Arddun, Claire and Abi

3. Triple Fun

At last we got to see the triplets! Or “Chee-pets”, as Lily called them for ages. And I really, really wished I thought to whip out my camera in the midst of wallowing in their cuteness and amazingness and OmiwordI’mholdingaCheepet!-ness. And I stand amazed that three little fellas could have come out of this amazing little lady. And I stand even more amazed that she does what I’ve been doing with Arddun – except to the power of 3. And I’m super impressed that all 3 went down for their naps without even so much as a whimper when my own wiry daughter managed only 25 + 20 minutes THE WHOLE DAY. And I’m inspired, and think, “Wow. Maybe we should aim to have 2 under 2 after all!”

Except I really think I love shopping and coffees in the mall too much.

Bless this little family, their growing tummies, and their happy smiles.



TTT – It’s a deliciously mad, mad, mad world

The tardiness can be explained – we’ve been modemless, and even though I could still get to the interwebs through my iPhone, I really don’t enjoy blogging through a handheld device. So here’s my Thursday’s Three Thank-yous, a day late but better that than never, etc etc.

1. Mad Aunt Maree

I love friendships so lasting and genuine that you can pick up from where you left off, despite weeks and months of not talking or seeing each other. I have friendships that stand this test across years and oceans, but today I’d like to focus on Arddun’s Mad Aunt Maree.

Mad Aunt Maree is not actually a blood relation, nor is she actually mental or angry. But she loves me and my child dearly, and we happily return this affection. I haven’t seen Maree in a yonk, so it was lovely to catch up on ANZAC day over a cuppa. Nothing tremendous – we just mooched around the Canberra Centre and looked at pretty things. But I came away feeling refreshed, refilled, and actually heard.

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” — Karl Menninger, American psychiatrist

2. Mad Modem

So on Wednesday night, our wireless ADSL2+ modem-router went kaputz. Quite a bummer really, since the NBN is going to roll out to our suburb soonish (I’ll believe it when I see it), and we’ll need a different kind of modem then. And I don’t know about you, but the internet has become one of our home essentials. There’s water. There’s electricity. There’s natural gas. And there’s the internet.

So on Thursday late afternoon, Tony went and bought a crazy modem that does everything – ADSL2+, VoIP calls, NBN thingies… It even works as an answering machine, where messages get emailed to us so we get to listen remotely. And instead of arriving on Monday like they told us, the courier came bounding up our front steps early this morning and bashed on our screen door like a man possessed, till I answered it with hair disheveled, baby freaked out and crying on my hip, and a half-snarl etched on my face.

Note to self: thank God for overnight courier services, and for the money to buy crazy modems quickly and easily.

Other note to self: get doorbell.

Edit 28 April, 9:55am: Since playing with the modem, Tony’s discovered that the Crazy Modem (yes, capitalised now) also has an alarm, is able to divert calls between certain hours to voicemail, and has an iPhone app where we can apparently turn our mobile phones into landline handsets. Or something. We haven’t figured out the last bit because the instructions are in German. But whoa mama! Things have changed since the last time we looked at modems, eh?

3. More mommy madness

After much soul-searching, I’ve decided to extend my maternity leave for another twelve months. Nothing’s official, but there’s been a conversation with Big Fat Organisation, and I’m doing the paperwork now. And I know how blessed I am to be able to do this. To even have the option. I’m surprisingly nervous, partly because I feel guilty about not going back to earn money, partly because I have crazy imaginings of my corporate muscle atrophying… but mostly because I feel guilty about not feeling guilty enough.

Because this feels deliciously right, staying home with our child to play mommy. This feels like I get to have my cake AND eat it. Isn’t it bizarre? That in our day and age, the option to stay home and take care of house and home should feel like a privilege? I am turning into a 1950s housewife and all the feminists are probably stoning me remotely for reversing decades of bra-burning progress, but I am happier than I’ve ever been in a long time, and it’s scaring me.

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, and maybe it will eventually. But for now, I’m so thankful, I could kiss the sky.

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