Search

Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

Tag

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day

I am not American, but I understand Thanksgiving Day is huge to their sense of nationhood and identity. It’s also big in the way it brings everyone back to the coop, kinda like Chinese New Year but with turkey and more gratitude.

The church I worship with regularly in spirit and in person have, in more recent years, held a Thanksgiving get-together to roughly coincide with Thanksgiving Day in the States. It’s a lovely opportunity to get together, break bread, and collectively remember just how insanely rich we are in Christ. I missed this year’s – which was held this evening at the building we meet at regularly. Even then, I had a lovely friend pop by with a baby bouncer, bassinet linen, more boy clothes and a play mat. Yet another person to be thankful for.

I came across this quote on Facebook today:

Let us be grateful for people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

It would be difficult to name all the people in my life who make me happy – directly or indirectly – but I thought I’d at least name some of them in this post, seeing how it’s Thanksgiving and all.

In no particular order:

The Husband

Who, after almost ten years of wedded bliss, still comes home and wants to hear about my day first before he tells me about his. Who still makes me laugh, who opens my eyes to the world around me, who is the fount of knowledge on current affairs, history, and F1 trivia. Who obliterates his competition some nights on BF4, but wouldn’t hurt a fly in real life unless it really bothered me. Whose logical head cools my own and teaches me temperance and fairness.

The Girl

Who showered me with more kisses this month than the rest of her life added together, thus far. Who kisses her baby brother goodnight, and lately thinks stickers on her face are a great way to lighten the mood around our house. Who is turning out to be gentle and kind, and unaffected by the compliments grown-ups continually pay her. Who tucks me into bed when I sorely need a nap.

The Mother-in-Law

Who has cooked all of this week, helped with the groceries, washed up, and generally taken over Thinking duties so I can waddle around the house in a semi-comatose state and then take long siestas in the afternoons. Who came with an arsenal of craft activities and stickers for the granddaughter, who absolutely adores craft activities and stickers. Who does all this, even though there is a good chance she’s going to miss out on Boy Blob’s Birth because that boy sure is taking his sweet time.

The Father-in-Law

Who came, saw our dead hedges (front and back), and proceeded to tidy up. Tony and I have little skill and zero interest in gardening. Seriously, if we could get away with tastefully astro-turfing our front and back yard in the new place, I think we just might. It’s wonderful to be related to a retired horticulturalist whose passions coincided with his education and lifelong career. And who still had enough energy left over to meet and greet Every Single Toy his excited granddaughter thought to trot out.

The Mother’s Group

Still messaging and emailing and finding out how we’re doing, still interested and excited for us all. I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to all your emails and texts, but I’m so appreciative of your concern and willingness to help with the odd hand-me-downs and last-minute babysitting.

The Church in Canberra

My blood family, if you count how we are all washed in Christ. Especially the Kirkies, who love us all and are practical about it. I know if this bubba decides to enter the world in the 5.5 hours between my MIL’s departure and my Singapore family’s arrival, that you will have all bases covered. Also, you read and like my blog posts. Extra brownie points for you. xx

The Church in Singapore

Who still love me, even though I am grown and far away and don’t come back very often. You lurk on Facebook, and then completely surprise me with how much you’ve kept abreast with our family shenanigans whenever we visit. I love that you are strong and hardworking for Christ, and I am so proud of you all always. I lurk on Facebook too, and I love watching your families grow even as it saddens me that we cannot spend our everydays together.

The Lee Family and partners

Most of whom are coming to Canberra this weekend! Very, very excited and slightly frustrated that I do not have more energy. Please remember that I only have one refrigerator, and that it’s a baby-sized one compared to yours. So don’t buy up the supermarket, m’kay? Also, my pantry is already busting at the seams because I am still Singaporean and am incapable of keeping a minimalist kitchen inventory. Love you all very much, and Can Not Wait.

The Friends I’m growing old with

Who blog and message and email and chat in bits and bobs, in spates and seasons. Who remain friends, whose hearts remain open and willing to share and partake. Friends where geography is no measure of distance, really. Just this last week, I’ve so enjoyed connecting with you, Gail, Sarah, and Kenneth. And in the last year, I’ve been so delighted to reconnect with others like Evonne and Pei Ching.

 

And so many, many, many more. I know that as we get older, our circles are supposed to shrink and there are some days, when I feel lonely (for No Good Reason, really), that I feel I am not immune. But no, I am richly blessed and surrounded by kind, decent, intelligent, whimsical, funny folk.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours. xx

Finding the Happy

Tony and I both had a tough day today. Actually, it’s been a stressful week which seems to have culminated this afternoon. His is mostly work-related, with borrowed stress from what I’m dealing with. And I guess you can say vice versa for me.

Apart from the obvious impending birth of Boy Blob, I’ve lately had to deal with yet another tendril of my mum’s passing. My aunt – after The Cuz’s death four years ago – had warned me about Estate stuff. These things can take months, sometimes even years to work through. Even if there aren’t any assets to speak of, it can take upward of six months.

It gets compounded when your past and future are spread across two continents.

I was intending to blog tonight about other things I have been thankful for, but I’m only just calming down after an afternoon of frustration that had ended with a depressing answer that will cost us money, time, and further complication. And tomorrow, I’ll have to start the fishing expedition for new answers. More visits to banks. More calls, potentially, to lawyers. More waiting, more explaining. More patience needed as I wait for the other party to grapple with the extent of my ask, and then flounder around for answers.

And then sitting down and trying to work out the wisest path forward. Except now, the optimism has well and truly waned and I will no longer trust the first answer I get. Because part of my learning curve has included doubting the accuracy of the first assertion, and then nudging and nudging and nudging until someone higher up the food chain gives the answer I was asking for, but was desperately hoping against.

Rinse and repeat.

Still, they say that gratitude helps us deal with adversity and lowers blood pressure — two things I could do with right now. And so at the risk of sounding rather rama ding dong about this current trial, here’s me, trying to be gracious about Today.

I’m thankful, first of all, for VoIP. 
Because without VoIP, international calls would be hugely expensive. I spent two solid hours on the phone to various parties in Singapore this afternoon and it had cost me less than $5. I cannot imagine doing what I’ve been trying to do in the limited time I have left (remember: IMPENDING BIRTH!) back in the dim, dark days before VoIP or worse, when you could only write letters and wait for a ship. Eeeuch.

I’m thankful for DVD players.
Judge me if you must, but I had to plonk Arddun in front of the TV this afternoon and make her promise only to call on me when absolutely necessary. I made the mistake of putting on The Incredibles, which has rather exciting action sequences at times, so she took the opportunity to burst into my room and yell, “I THINK I’M A BIT SCARED, MUMMY!” (She wasn’t. She loves it, and usually runs around the kitchen island pretending to be Dash and Violet getting chased.) And then there was that fifteen minutes, when she stood outside my door asking politely if she could sit on my lap so we could watch together… which then slowly snowballed into a whinge when the polite route didn’t work… until I had to interrupt the bank lady on the phone, get off my seat, throw open the door and wrestle with my stress and frustration as I told her to go back to the couch and watch without me. I don’t think I did a great job with the wrestling because her eyes grew wide and hurt, and then she didn’t bug me again. Did I have heaps of Mummy guilt after? Oh you betcha. But I’m thankful that my girl doesn’t hold a grudge either. Whether I’ve scarred her for life remains to be seen.

I’m thankful for the three-hour time difference
Because then, I could call heaps more people. Banks, as you know, close early – so being able to time my calls across two time zones worked in my favour. It also gave the parties in Singapore enough time to consult their colleagues and then call me back, so I didn’t have to wait 12 hours for the business day to begin again. Or for them to forget me.

I’m thankful for options.
Which is an ironic thing to say, because one of the last phone calls I received this evening told me the opposite – that I had only one option, and it was going to be expensive and difficult to execute with a new baby latched to me. And yet, at least we have the means to exercise that option. Yes, we lose money in the process and a bit of sanity, but at least the answer wasn’t No… just Yes, Using The Most Inconvenient Means Possible Because We Only SAY We Think Global, But We Really Only Act Local.

I’m thankful I’m not working.
Not in the sense of sitting at the office, beholden to a paymaster. I’m home, I can make these calls, I can sit and plan. And even though I’m toddler wrangling at the same time (and feeling like I’m doing a real half-baked job of it at present), it would have been nigh impossible — or hugely unfair to my employer — if I had to do all this while earning a wage.

I’m thankful for Ken Lee.

 

 

 

 

TTT — Parking, Piccies, Pregnancy

Great parking when I needed it

This piece of gratitude actually came about the week Andrea and Ben were here. I hadn’t included it in last week’s list because going all swoony over parking is, frankly, a little embarrassing. But I think all drivers can relate to that punch-in-the-air feeling when you score the perfect parking space. As it turned out for my cousin’s visit, I scored a parking space riiiight in front of Jollimont Centre (the coach station here in Canberra) the day of their arrival… and then I scored a parking space at the side of Jollimont Centre on the day of their return.

Noice.

Parking around Jollimont Centre
So nerdy, but HAD to take a photo

I was especially thankful to get the second parking space, as that allowed me a good half hour coffee with Andrea and Ben before they boarded the bus. Precious times.

Selfies with Arddun

Arddun is beginning to get curious about photography — probably because I keep taking pictures of her on all mobile devices and now, an actual camera. She hasn’t quite understood the concept of looking through the viewfinder of a camera to take a shot, but I think she’ll get there soon. She is now fascinated with selfies, though. (I’m not altogether sure how to feel about that one.) We had a mini indulgence one recent lazy morning during breakfast, and for some reason I wasn’t quite prepared for how she snuggled up against me to take a bunch of selfies. Heart melted, blub blub…

Selfies with Arddun

Cruisey pregnancy thus far

I’ve heard that second pregnancies are harder on our bodies, and I’ve personally found that to be true. Muscles are looser, which means things get sore quicker; the pelvic pains I got on the last week of pregnancy that made walking difficult is something I’ve now been struggling with since the start. My nausea had hit harder, I feel more tired, I lose energy quicker. I’m sure part of it has to be with age and the fact that I’m running after a dancing toddler, too.

But I am so thankful that my pregnancy is boring. “Boring,” my midwife and obstetrician sagely reinforced, “is a great thing when you’re pregnant. No events. That’s what we want to know.”

There are other pregnant women who really struggle with the big stuff, even the possibility of severe complications leading to death. And I know none of us is immune. I try to remember this whenever I wake up in the middle of the night with blindingly painful leg cramps, the kind that contort your face into The Scream, or when Boy Blob decides to break out dance moves violent enough to cause me to jump. Because all this is temporary, and I know I actually have it real good.

TTT – Good masters, good memory, good weather

It’s been such a long time since I’ve done a Thursday’s Three Thank-you, I know. And it’s not like I haven’t felt thankful since The Big C hit our shores. I think I’ve mentioned the scores of silver linings our recent trip illuminated, even while Tony and I struggled with roller coaster emotions, and a teething, jetlagged baby.

But I’ll admit, I’ve struggled to care enough to write about the blessings. Some days, my prayers feel like, “Oh my Holy God, why crazy cancer?! But thank you that my strep throat’s a lot better, and that you took care of last week’s baby-sniffles too. Amen.”

Gratitude, when up against intense angst and supplication, can feel a lot like emptying a leaky boat with a tablespoon.

Still – it’s good to give breath and words to grateful shivers. And I know that I’m being quite facetious – there really is a lot to my life for the heart to smile about. And so I bring you this week’s list.

1. Job masters that care.

It’s only natural for children who live interstate or overseas from family that they feel intense guilt, no matter which side of the equator their hearts or feet lie. And I spent quite a pretty sum of time in Singapore wondering if I had inadvertently made things Very Complicated by choosing a new life in Australia. It’s self-pity, I know. And completely counter-productive. Speculating over coulda/shoulda/woulda manages to achieve very little AND throw sand in God’s face. But I wonder all the same if I’d sold out on my mother, by casting my future with The Good Man from Australia.

And yet, it’s precisely because we live and work in Canberra that we were able to drop everything and run back to Singapore at a moment’s notice. Such a perfect blend of timing and situation meant that I could be with family during my extended maternity leave, and that Tony was able to take a month’s leave with little warning or certainty. I’m so, so glad we both have compassionate employers who are serious about work-life balance… and who are enlightened enough to understand which is the greater of the two.

2. Creating memories

One thing I found sorely lacking in recent moments of bewilderment and fear was the effortless recollection of scripture. It’s been ages since I’ve committed the odd verse or two to memory, let alone whole chapters. I can paraphrase many concepts and roughly tell you who I thought said what, where… but when the heart wilts, it needs to call on reserves. Doubly hard to do when the smartphone is dead or has no 3G reception.

So since last Sunday, I’ve started memorising scripture verses. My aim is to memorise a verse or two a week. I figure I need a whole week for the verses to worm their way into my intermediate and long-term memory, so it becomes so reflexive that I don’t need to focus on the individual word order anymore, but dwell on its meaning and comfort instead. I’ve also deliberately chosen translations that are more contemporary, to keep the cobwebs away. Some scripture verses have been quoted so often in KJV, ASV or even NIV, that I’ve lost sight of their beauty through rote and overfamiliarity.

I’m grateful for the wake up call, and the boot up the bottom. Long overdue.

3. Staying alive

Arddun and I were driving home this afternoon from the mall, when the heavens opened and we got caught in the hugest deluge of water I’d ever experienced.

Ever.

Do you know what driving on an expressway is like when you cannot see? Petrifying. And it wasn’t like the rain had built up over time so I saw it coming. Oh no. It was sudden, it was vicious, and when it hit our little car, it scared the living crap out of me.

This is why I need to memorise more scripture texts, because the only thing I was able to recite over and over in my head was the 23rd Psalm. Which is a great piece of scripture. If I were herding sheep. Or being accosted on all sides by nefarious men wearing dark cloaks and twirling thin mustaches.

So here I was, crawling across the expressway half blindly, trying to make out where I could stop safely on the side in peak hour traffic, while muttering to myself

The Lord is my Shepherd… I shall not want… He makes me lie down in green pastures – THAT I CANNOT SEE, LORD! He leads me beside quiet waters – QUIET WATERS, LORD! – He restores my soul. He guides me through paths of righteousness… or roads… if you could mark my lane a little clearer for me, thanks… for His name’s sake… and even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death… or Gungahlin Drive Extension… I will fear no evil… ; Nope, nothing relevant. Okay… let’s start over.

The Lord is my Shepherd… I shall not want… The Lord is my Shepherd.

He leadeth me. Or rather, we drove through the craziness and into Gungahlin proper, where there were patches of blue sky to behold and the mighty rain dried to a drizzle. And Arddun didn’t seem to notice the difference either way, because she had been chatting to herself and her toes. And my heartbeat finally slowed. And I was SO thankful. I am so thankful.

TTT- Cheer, Choice, Chocolate

1. Girly nights

Rosine hosting Hepburn quiz
Rosine hosting a Hepburn quiz. I knew none of the answers. Zip.

Had an Audrey Hepburn do last Friday evening that involved dressing up. Which, in Mother of Baby land, meant throwing on anything black I could find and still wear in my pre-baby wardrobe, and then silently thanking Big Fat for hosting a major dress-up dinner 3 years ago that involved long silk gloves and fake cigarette holders. I was trying to channel Breakfast at Tiffany’s… but only succeeded in looking like a Funny Face.

Still! Good fun to be had, and a loooot of food. I do not have any incriminating photos of myself, but there were some taken. Promise.

2.    Choices
Choices are tough sometimes. But I’ve been in situations where I’ve had too much choice, and then I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to love it or lump it. Both require lots of wisdom and courage. Tonight, our family’s received some news that requires lots of thinking and planning. We’ve got lots of tough choices to make, but I’m trying to be thankful that I have choices to begin with. Because it means we’re blessed and able.

3. Chocolate

chocolate
Dark and brooding, like my mood

I’m having a pret-ty heavy night tonight. Lots of brain-hurting thoughts, hopes and prayers starting from last night, and that’s when I broke out the chocolate. I’ve been eating it since. I think it shows amazing self-control that I’ve managed to hold off the second half till tonight. But since tonight’s a heavy night, I’m polishing the rest of this bad boy off. So there.

Lindt’s Passion Fruit Intense? Dark chocolate with hints of tangy passion fruit and tiny crunchy bits of almonds. Hamana hamana hamana . It’s okay. I’m seeing the dentist on Monday.

TTT – Like a prayer, like a pampering, like a pair of pants

1. People who pray with technology
This week, I got two text messages filled with love and practicality. It said I was prayed for, it told me what the prayer was about, and it had a pretty handy piece of scripture attached to it. Short, to the point, powerful. You know how you read a chunk of scripture over and over, and nothing quite sinks in? Not deep-and-meaningful like? And then you get sent one verse at just the right time in your life and – ka blam! Impact.

This was the verse:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Somewhere in my spiritual life, it got trendy to ONLY ask for strength to handle the come-what-may. Somehow, somewhere, it became the done thing to NOT plead with God. To not beg Him for a specific outcome. Not ask that it be A, and not B. Pretty please. Somehow, somewhere, the idea that we submit to God’s will mutually excluded the bit where I run to Him like a child and pester Him. To take what’s nearest and dearest to my heart and go… “Dad, this is my heart’s desire. Could I please have it?” Rinse, repeat.

I don’t know where I learnt not to ask for healing, but only for endurance. Not to ask for the removal of the impediment, but only to beg for fortitude.

So thanks for the reminder. And for finding the words, when my own brain lies still and rather useless at the mo.

2. Pretty vouchers
Arddun’s Christmas present to me: a very generous get-pretty voucher at a spa in the city. This, on top of another pedicure and facial voucher. Which is on top of my hair appointment this Saturday.

Well!

After feeling all mumsy and like a dag for months on end, it’s lovely to finally book in these pretty-me-up dates. The impetus is a wedding in late March and my trips to Brisbane and Singapore. Oh who am I kidding. I don’t really need a reason to book in afternoons of massages and pampering!

3. Hand-me-down Happies
Now that my weight and body shape have stabilised, I’ve had to take a deep breath and start throwing out things I can’t wear anymore. Which is about half my wardrobe, easily. And while I’ve been putting off the putting-aside because of laziness, the bigger reason has been my reluctance to pass on my clothes to complete strangers.

I donate regularly to Salvos and Vinnies… but these clothes spell history for me. And because most of these pieces have been with me since I was a teen, it’s been even harder to give away remnants of my past life in Singapore. These clothes aren’t just clothes – they’re memories of dates and break-ups and Sunday services and tertiary life and first jobs… They are one of the very few things in my house that came with me from Singapore. That were part of what I brought to our marriage home.

But then the Kirky girls have suddenly all grown up – and so I’ve found new clothes horses! It’s been happiness on both sides, because they get a new wardrobe while I see my clothes get a new lease of life every Sunday morning. Now complemented with gorgeous chestnut brown and strawberry blonde hair.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑