Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places



Point and Click

But before I begin, let’s start with this pretty picture:

No television on entertainment unit
“Where’s our TV, Mummy?”

And yes. As much as we started out as parents who wanted to keep our child away from the “evils” of television, we ended up losing our way. Repeatedly, and without regret. I don’t know who I was trying to kid – I love film and television. I think I watched, on average, a movie a week when I was Single in Singapore. And I grew up with the original Disney heroines, long before they thought to package them as Princesses. Watching Arddun’s eyes widen and sparkle as she is introduced to my animated companions of old is always a very special treat we both share.

But our 7-year-old Samsung seems to be of that special factory breed which has a glitchy capacitor, so it’s been taking longer and longer to wake up when we point and click. In one of the rarest times an extended warranty actually worked in our favour, the tech people came today to take our TV away and fix it for free. And so we find ourselves without the gogglebox for a whole week.

Thank goodness S5 GoT just finished.

Naturally, this called for an arsenal of other distractions. I had recently recharged our old point-and-shoot Olympus (8 megapixels, 10x optical zoom), only to find the lens or digital monitor damaged. So today, I splashed out a little on a cheapie – just to see how well Arddun takes to photography.

It’s only a 2mp with a very slow reaction time, so most shots end up blurred after pressing the button. But Arddun was pretty thrilled with it. “I take pictures like you!” she beamed at me, which more than made up for the $25 price tag!

And off she went, working out how to place her fingers so they didn’t block the lens and how to use the digital monitor to frame her shot. The first few times she took a picture of me only to find my head chopped off, she accused me of “not standing right”. So yes, practice needed on how to frame a shot, methinks.

Photo of me without head
“You’re not standing in the right spot, Mummy!”
Velle and Atticus on left of shot
“That’s better!”
Photo of drawers
“I take your drawers.”
Photo of ceiling
“Look, Mummy! The ceiling!”
Photo of toys
The Princess and the Hammock
Photo of Velle holding Atticus
I think I’ve had more photos taken of me in this half an hour than I’ve had in a looooong time.
Photo of Tony without his head
Daddy’s home.
Blurred photo of Arddun's dinner
“My dinner!”

Every time she managed to take a picture without her fingers in the shot, she just beamed. After just 20 photos, you could see a marked improvement. Can’t wait to see if this becomes a passion of sorts!

TTT – Stay-at-home pleasures

1. Steam mop

Oh you crazy household device – where have you been all my life?! Singapore’s not big on steam moppery, and we had been persuaded – early in our marraige – by a chatty man in Godfreys Belconnen to sink Too Much Money into a heavy hoover wet vacuum. But then I read a post on Facebook about someone else’s steam mop purchase. And so I marched into Harvey Norman and got one. And it takes a fraction of the time to mop my floor, and even less water, and… and… I sound like a Stay At Home Mum. Which makes the next item even more of a nail in that coffin.

2. Grey’s Anatomy

I have NEVER watched Grey’s Anatomy, but I thought I’d try and lo, I am hooked and watching it after dinner and wanting to rent all 8 seasons AT ONCE. Because nothing salves migraine, strep throat and the sniffles like a medical soap opera.

3. Fellow SAHM

I’m actually nervous about my maternity leave extension, as much as I’m thankful for it. A large part of me wonders if it’ll hold the same level of joy once everyone goes back to work like responsible corporate mothers, and my handout from the government ala paid parental leave dries up for good. Which is why it’s heartening to know that other friends are planning to do the same, because at least I don’t feel so oddly decadent and like I’m shirking my social responsibility and wasting my corporate juices. Or whatever.

So glad to have Sarah, Bailey and Charlotte for company, going forward. Here’s a photo from our visit today. Looks like there’ll be many more to come.

Arddun and Charlotte
Arddun (on right), checking out Charlotte’s very cool 1980s leg warmers.

The electronic babysitter

Baby watching TV

Okay, I’m going to have to admit it. Sometimes, when I’m quite desperate, I’ll flick the telly on in the vain hope that Arddun will

  1. stop crying
  2. stop chasing me around the house
  3. stop climbing my leg as soon as I stand still for 2.4 seconds
  4.  all of the above.

I thought I’d be one of those disciplined mothers I keep hearing about, the ones that refuse to turn the telly into their child’s electronic nanny. The ones that have the creativity, patience, willpower, and time to keep their child suitably occupied with age-appropriate, brain-growing, eye-hand coordination-enhancing crafts and toys. Handmade, of course. Out of recycled materials. With a carbon footprint any card-carrying hippie would be proud of. With some extras for the babies at mother’s group.

Sadly, that is not to be in the house of Tony & Velle.

Now that Arddun is crawling and climbing everywhere and everything – a happy coincidence with the fresh round of teething – I’m finding it even tougher to get things done. Today, it took me two hours to get breakfast down my throat. And another 45 minutes to try and wash the dishes. Every time I look at the clock, I am stupefied by how quick time has flown and how very little I’ve actually achieved.

It’s like one of those nightmare days at work where you’ve half-answered 20 emails, opened about 28 tabs on your browser, run off to 7 impromptu meetings… and achieved nothing on your list.

Except lately, it feels like this every day.

I’m wondering if I’m just trying to pack too much in, you know? I keep looking back on my day and thinking, “Surely it’s not that complicated. Surely, after multitasking a stupid number of projects in my corporate life, I’d be able to handle One (active, crawling, shouting, laughing, curious, demanding, affectionate, attention-seeking) Baby. I mean, isn’t she essentially One Project?”

Yes, technically. Except this stakeholder likes to climb swivel chairs and chew on cables. This stakeholder has the crazy ability to find paper and mistake it for Weetbix. (Don’t blame her. Weetbix looks and tastes like cardboard anyway. Same difference.)

Also, this stakeholder follows me to the loo, and weeps piteously while pressing her face through the bars of her playpen like a midget convict when I step out the room. Corporate stakeholders also do not, for instance, crawl after you to climb up your PJ pants and then attempt to swing from them like some character from The Jungle Book. At least I hope not, for everyone’s sake.

She didn’t used to be like that, but I think we’ve entered the Sticky Stage. Where Mommy is her favourite person in the whole wide world, and can we please be surgically fixed at the hips, pretty-please? *blink* *blink*

So sometimes – and especially when we have an appointment in the morning and I cannot afford to take 2 hours to do One Thing – I put Arddun in the playpen and turn ABC Kids on.

After all, the ABC is pretty kid-safe, right? RIGHT?

Last week, I happened to catch snippets of some pre-adolescent daytime comedy, with child actors and slapstick humour and parents who speak in complete sentences and say “cool” a lot. And basically, the protagonist had committed a huge prank at school, and his parents had to break the news that he’d been given a month’s detention.

Except his dad barely hid his pride that his son had set “some kind of record” for the longest detention ever dished out in the school. And then the prankster’s friends went on to tell him that by the time his grounding finishes, it’ll be three months and he might as well give away his Wii, because everyone else will be on the next new thing. Har Har Har.

And I’m thinking, hang on. This is the KID’S channel. And thank goodness Arddun can’t understand any of it, because WHAT ON EARTH KINDA VALUES DID THEY JUST TRY TO TEACH MY KID!

She’s not going to understand irony – not for a long time yet. And true, she’s only little right now – I have enough trouble getting her to respond to her name and the word “no”. But the time slot of that show was just weird – too early in the day for school children, which leaves the home schooled crowd (who probably don’t watch daytime telly anyway), and real youngies who aren’t in full-time school yet. Children old enough to understand what’s going on, but too young to understand ironic humour.

So as much as it’s tempting and convenient to let Arddun watch a little TV while I run out and hang the clothes, I don’t think it’s going to be the long-term solution. I anticipate having to sit and watch with her, which will be great mommy-daughter time but which defeats the original purpose of keeping her occupied while I get something else done.

Although I could just be getting into a flap about nothing. She gives a passing glance to the Wiggles, but what she REALLY gets hooked on is Letters and Numbers at 6pm. Which is a game show for adult nerds.

Oh yes. And washing machines. Who needs a telly, when you’ve got dirty laundry.

Arddun watching the washing
The clothes in the wash go round and round

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