A pinch of green

There’s something strangely therapeutic about gardening. Even if I am only scooping tiny bits of soil with a Chinese spoon into small makeshift pots that are just upcycled hair mask jars and IKEA food containers.

I think it’s something about that stark contrast between the green shades of the plants and the dark tones of the soil in which they are rooted into. Also it’s rather calming arranging them neatly in containers and moistening the soil. And that bit of hope that comes with nurturing life and hoping it will grow.

I recently thought I should try rebuilding a balcony garden again (not that we ever had much of one, but there used to be at least 2-3 plants that would survive out there before Jamie came along). So my current strategy is to salvage as many kitchen scraps as possible which can be regrown into vegetable or herb plants.

So far, I’ve tried with lettuce, spring onions and shallots. Only the last two have shown positive signs of growth, which led to me actually potting them last week. The lettuce, sad to say, did not go much farther than sprouting a tiny shoot (the first time) and having its roots turn black (the second attempt).

This small spot of gardening came at a time where I did need some form of comfort. Having recently had a rather nasty family argument where it was me against another three folk, it was nice to have an activity that offered a dose of peace, even if it was just a tiny serving.

I opted to start fresh with just plain old black soil: Some time not too long ago, Deric and I bought a bag of it while it was on offer at Tesco. It has been sitting in the study for what feels like ages now, so it’s great to finally break open the bag and use its contents.

Jamie is more than eager to help, wanting to assist in scooping the soil and patting it in place with a fork (which is just the right size to rake and arrange the soil for these small plants). He also is forever interested in watering the plants. This is potentially a great learning avenue for him. And it’s a healthy thing too, because it will help develop in him a love for nature.

But… I feel rather anxious each time I do let him help (times when I absolutely loathe these perfectionistic tendencies of mine) and keep trying to intervene and prevent disasters. Sigh. Oh why can’t I just let him do as he likes and ignore notice the mess and clean up afterwards?

Anyway, I’m really NOT good at all with all these nurturing of green living things. So let’s see how long these things survive. Hopefully long enough so we can at least have one round of harvesting.

Turntable 

I think the way expectations are set up for apologies makes it way too easy for “I’m sorry” to be said and for grievances to be brushed off. 

That since it’s expected of gracious human beings to forgive, it is entirely possible to do whatever you like and then come apologising for it later on. 

Because if the other person doesn’t forgive you, then it’s all on them. 

You’re not perfect, are you? So you should forgive. It’s an expected response. 

Never mind that you don’t like the options left to you because of someone else’s mistakes. You were given options… so can you afford to be ungrateful? 

Suddenly, even though you’re not the one who made a slip-up, you can quickly turn into the one to blame. And it’s something that can even be taken offence of. 

Such a sad state of affairs. Sometimes I wish being kind wasn’t my life goal. Then I can be ruthless and rude and not care about consequences. 

Booked

BookXcess store at The Starling, Damansara Uptown

It’s been a pretty chillout time over here for our family, since we’ve got a four day weekend to enjoy right now, thanks to Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays. Instead of cramming activities together and rushing about with almost zero downtime (as would happen for us on a typical weekend), it’s nice to have the opportunity to take a more leisurely approach for a change. 

One of the things we’ve done so far was to visit the relatively new BookXcess store at The Starling, thanks to the hype created by this particular says.com post. (If you aren’t familiar with the name, these BookXcess guys are the ones behind those epic Big Bad Wolf sales that we often enjoy over here). 

Our main aim was to hunt down more Thomas & Friends books to add to Jamie’s collection. And I am happy to report we did achieve that goal…

 

Thomas & Friends books for our little boy ­čÖé

Books, particularly those from overseas, are an expensive commodity here in Malaysia. Not sure about how it is where you’re from, but here, paperback novels cost anywhere between RM20 – RM40 (and in some cases, perhaps even more than that). So budget-wise, it’s rather costly to frequently purchase new books. 

But thanks to people like BookXcess, we are able to obtain books that are brand new but yet at a much cheaper price than their original retail value. Apparently the books are sourced from places where there has been excess stock that was difficult to clear or something like that, hence the ability to offer it at a discounted rate to hungry readers out there like us. 

Look at that price slash. It makes such a huge difference to parents like us.

For parents looking to continuously expand the bookshelves of their young children, this is an infinitely good thing. Just you look at that difference in the price tag. Mind you, these are not even hard cover books. So a normal price of RM32 for a short, thin children’s book like that is just absurd. At RM7.90 or RM9.90 though, it all seems like a more reasonable amount to impose on our wallets. 

So thank God for stores like these. It gives Deric and I a chance to rejoice, because finally we have new material to read to Jamie every day, instead of those same few tales that we have already been reading to him ten thousand times. 

Anyway, since we are on the topic, let’s talk a bit about my own love affair with books. 

I guess you could say my passion for writing stems from my interest in books because if there was no desire in me to read books, I think it’s highly unlikely that I’d want to endeavour to write them. (I have yet to successfully write a book though, but that is another long story for another post/day). 

It is because of my parents that I developed a love for books, and for that I am grateful. It was to the point that I would literally pick up anything and read it. The only limitation to that being more of whether it’s something that I deliberately wanted to read about or otherwise. 

What I do regret though is not having read enough books by this age. I should have been more well read by now, and it would have done wonders for the way I write. But unfortunately, I didn’t do more back in the days when I had more time on my hands. Right now, I have more books on our shelf at home than I can cope with, and that’s kind of sad. I want to be able to buy new books, but I feel it’s not justified because there are so many in my possession that I haven’t even read yet. 

Guess I should make it a priority to devour all the unread books I have as soon as possible. Perhaps nursing time is a good opportunity (while that routine still lasts for Jamie and I). 

Anyway, I’m proud to say that Deric and I seem to have passed on a love for reading to Jamie and it seems to be a habit he loves, at least for now. Let’s hope it sticks in the long term. Fingers crossed. 

Response ability 

Should we merely to point out to our loved ones their weaknesses or actually help them change and improve on it? 

And if it is the latter that we are to do, is it considered meddling too much into their personal life/development? Or is it part and parcel of our duty to them, because no one else would take the trouble? 

Well, if they do want the help, then that’s all really great, but what if they don’t? Do we insist on working to change them because we know it will benefit them in the long run? 

Or… Do we just tolerate their behaviour while only gently prodding them to make the change on their own time and based on their own readiness? Because if they don’t see the need for improvement, why should we force it out of them? 

After all, if we do actively try too hard to change them, then we are not loving them just the way they are. 

Then again, is love meant to be just that? Accepting of a person in their entirety, but with no effort to help them shape the best version of themselves? With that thought, the question also arises: “Best version” on whose terms, anyway? 

What a neverending line of thought. Perhaps it’s enough just to work on my own weaknesses. 

Prep

How do you prepare yourself for parenthood? 

The answer is, in many ways, you don’t. 

You tell yourself this is a good thing, something you want to do. To leave a legacy. Then you just brace yourself and roll with it. 
With the bad moments come many great memories too. Just like everything else in life. 

And if your heart is steadfastly fixated on the right things, it will be a wonderful journey. 

Mother nature


‘Twas Mother’s Day yesterday. And we made that up there (not the grapes, silly, the two coloured kuih thing). It’s called Ban Tng (at least it is in our family hehe) and it was a recipe that Mama (our grandmother) used to cook. She’s long gone now, but since my sis and I wanted to spend time with our Mum yesterday in conjunction with Mother’s Day, that’s what we decided to do. Cook together using a family tradition kind of recipe. 

Except that since it’s common for the older generation to use approximate measurements and cooking methods, my Mum decided to Google for a recipe that’s available online to refer to that as a guide. Hmm. So not quite the tradtional family recipe I was hoping to learn of. 

Nevertheless, it was a similar recipe and actually fairly easy to do. So, if you’d like to try what Ban Tng is (I realise this is not sold commercially anywhere in the Klang Valley, at least), you can visit this link for the instructions. Apparently the author of the post  has translated it as Three Layer Egg Custard Cake, so there you go… that’s essentially what it is). 

Well, it turned out more or less like what we expected. Except I remember Mama’s one being a bit tougher skinned. But that isn’t really an issue for me. I’d reduce the sugar ratio further though, as I felt it was still a tad too sweet. And the next time I try this out at home, I’m gonna weigh my ingredients so I can use a standardised measurement for it instead of this agak-agak philosophy. 

Anyway, since we’re on the topic of Mohter’s Day, I might as well share a bit about how I feel about motherhood at this juncture. It’s only my second Mother’s Day celebration though so perhaps my views may still be pretty naive. Hehe. Well, at least this year’s celebration was better than the last one (which I spent in the hospital with Jamie – you can read about that here). And I digress. 

So… 

I have always thought I would end up a mother. Never really expected that I would ever feel otherwise (though I actually did for a season, which was right after I got married, up till the time we actually conceived Jamie). I guess a huge part of me believes that as a woman, this is a quintessential experience that I must have before my life’s end. 

The reason for that? Well, on a biological-psychological level, I guess it’s to satifsy my maternal instincts. Which from a very young age was already present (I remember carting stuffed toys around and pretending to feed and care for them as though they were in fact alive). Also, I believed having children would bring a different level of meaning and purpose to my life. This was how I felt prior to having a child. 

Do I feel any different about parenthood now that I’m in it? No, actually. It is pretty much what I imagined it would be, but perhaps it is more too. 

More demanding – I am often placed into situations where I have to consciously decide whether to put my needs or the needs of my child first. 

More tiring – all those countless nights of falling asleep while Jamie nurses (indicative of how exhausted I am in reality. 

Yet, it is also more fulfilling than I could have ever envisioned beforehand. There are so many special moments that I am glad to have shared with Jamie. And I hope for many, many more as the years roll by.

Another thing that happened last weekend was that I had to give up a tooth due to a terribly severe cavity that had taken place inside of it. 

I was really sad to have it extracted, but it was the best option, at least according to the dentist that I consulted. The reason it bothers me so much is because so much of dental work has been done on my teeth over the years, and it feels like an awful waste that the tooth should still end up being unable to be saved. 

But that’s that, I guess. Had to be done. Was the cheaper option too (thank God), and hopefully it will prevent me from having anymore significant aches on the right side of my mouth which I used to have really often. 

I guess inevitably my body is ageing and succunbing to wear and tear in its own ways. I am not really that old yet, but I already see so many signs that I am not as young as I used to be. It’s a little unsettling, but there’s no stopping time. Probably my life has already had half or two thirds of its entire lifespan carried out already. It’s a scary thought. 

I guess the most I can hope for is for God to be gracious enough to grant me enough years so I can see Jamie (and any other future children of mine) grow up into adulthood and help them to safely transition into a life of independence and confidence. 

I am a fairly simple person. I do not have such lofty expectations of the outcome of my life. If I can just be around to ensure the wellbeing of my family to the point in time where they can function well even in my absence, I think I will be content enough. 

Jamie is asleep on my lap as I type this. I usually take such oppotunities to smell and kiss him to my heart’s content. It’s an everyday privilege of mine, but one that will vanish someday. What will I be like when my motherly duties taper down to a bare minimum in the future? The thought somewhat terrifies me. I worry I will go crazy because I would have become so accustomed to it by then. 

But I suppose if God has meant for me to be a mother, and if He is indeed the source of the strength that has sustained me all this while, He will preserve my sanity when my motherly tendencies are not so much required anymore. 

The only conclusion I can make for now is this: If being a mother is the only significant thing I accomplish in this life, I think I will still be pretty much content. 

Hope you had a great Mother’s Day if the mummy title applies to you too. Now, back to (house)work.

Whoosh. Whirr. Zip. 

Summary of the last 2 weeks: Busy. Tired. But mostly happy.
It’s been a little quiet over here on the blog front lately. 

Well, that’s because we’ve had our hands full with a non-stop list of activities. Deric was on a 2 week break as he was between jobs, so we were trying our best to get as much as we could done while the entire family was together in the daytime. 

What didn’t help at all was that Jamie had to fall sick amidst all that, making it even harder to seize the moment to do the things we had in mind as we had to divert part of our energy and time to getting him well again. Both of us also ended up sick too at the end of it all (albeit in a much milder fashion compared to Jamie, but nonetheless not at our best).

But well, that’s family life, I guess. A neverending stream of activities, needs, etc. Chaos, in some ways. Makes for good memories though. 

Deric’s into his new job now and so Jamie and I are left to our own devices again in the daytime. The break in routine was refreshing, but now begins the task of finding a new one to match the changes in Deric’s work schedule and commute. 

One significant change is the fact that he is trying out public transport to get to work. This is because his office is much further now and in the middle of the city. We are trying to avoid both the horrendous road traffic congestion as well as the petrol costs associated with driving. But this means that Jamie and I have to be up early enough to drop him off at the nearest LRT station. 

I love having more hours to do stuff (since we are up earlier) but it feels tiring. And while Deric has moved on to return to the corporate life, here I am left with all the remaining mess and unfinished projects at home to work on. The only advantage that I have at the moment is I’ve caught up with work and so am free from the burden of my freelance work for now. But a new month comes soon, and then the mayhem will begin again. 

I’ve noticed far too many draft posts sitting in my blog so I figured I should at least pen something to keep this thing alive. I guess the hopes of writing brilliant posts will go mostly unmet, but perhaps something hashed out is better than none. I’ll try to have more intriguing stories for you the next round.