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. 

CNY again

Chinese New Year decor at a mall in PJ.
So we’re midway through Chinese New Year (CNY) already. Or for the picky ones, Lunar New Year. 

To be honest, I find that the older I get, the more I find that I don’t feel much of anything for this entire festive season at all. 

Well, for starters, since our family are Christians, we don’t observe much of the rituals surrounding CNY. We just celebrate it for the fact that it’s part of our cultural background. So a lot of hustle and bustle is already cut out of the equation. 

Then, there’s the current situation with my extended family where no one really gets together for Chinese New Year anymore, with the exception of the few that we usually reach out to and make an effort to meet. There’s no massive family gathering like there used to be in years past. It’s a bit sad, really, but that’s how things have been ever since the passing of my last surviving grandparent (on my Mum’s side of the family).  

Even amongst my cousins, the closeness really isn’t there. Well, truth be told, even if we did meet up over the CNY period, it would feel somewhat pointless since we don’t connect at all during other times. Like it would be just something we do for the sake of keeping up appearances. Or something along those lines. 

That’s for my own family. With Deric’s family, it’s even worse because we only meet his cousins. His father has passed on, and his mother isn’t even in the country. 

So there is no balik kampung for us. There isn’t anything to look forward to during CNY for us actually. 

It’s just that now that we’ve got Jamie around, there’s angpaus to be collected whenever we meet friends and family. But that’s about all there is to it. 

Oh, and of course, we have to prepare our own set of angpaus to hand out to other children too. And to have gift packs ready to cart along for visits to homes. 

Last but not least, there’s that stash of Mandarin oranges we habitually will buy and consume over the CNY season. 

But that’s that. That’s our CNY. 

I guess you could say it doesn’t necessarily mean if we had big family gatherings and lots of family activities over the CNY that things would be any cheerier. I do know of some people who dread meeting their relatives as they aren’t really the sort of people that they’d like to hang around with in the first place. And whenever there’s older folks around, there’s bound to be lots of unsolicited advice and nagging and awkward situations. 

Oh well. We Chinese ARE a complicated bunch of folks after all.  I bet every Chinese family has their own brand of domestic drama to contend with. 

I’m generalising, definitely, but it’s mostly true though: We’re loud, money minded, food centric and steeped in loads of tradition. 

Speaking of tradition, I’d really like to build our own set of CNY traditions to observe with our little immediate family, but I haven’t really got round to thinking what that should look and feel like. It doesn’t help that my husband isn’t the kind to get into the spirit of things during any festive season (even Christmas, I might add). 

But it’d be nice to, someday, see the kids excited to usher in CNY and bustling about the home making cookies, decorating the hall, etc. 

Kids, I say. We only have one son at the moment. I dream plenty. I wonder whether we’ll ever get there. 

Since we’re on the topic of CNY, I might as well address my sentiments about being Chinese. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about my racial heritage (the other bit about being Malaysian is another story altogether, which probably will warrant a separate post of its own). 

I like that as a Chinese, the general perception people will have of you is that you are hardworking. Also, the fact that the Chinese have a long history of success to their name and are regarded as being very resilient, able to survive and thrive anywhere that they are found all across the globe. 

But that’s probably as far as my Chinese pride goes. 

I’m not so happy to acknowledge that being Chinese means also being associated with being frugal , conniving and selfish. Being perceived as having an attitude of looking down on others that are of a lower socioeconomic standing than you are. Being loud and brash, inconsiderate towards the needs of other races in the community. 

I guess the only saving grace I have going for me is that I am not from China (or not anymore, anyway, since my ancestors had migrated years ago) and was born and raised a Malaysian. 

What does it mean that I am a Malaysian though? That’s something worth pondering. I will need to think more about this and come back at a later date to write a decent discussion about this. 

Does the world think anything good of Malaysians anyway? Do they remember anything about us and our nation other than the curious incidences of disappearing planes and the fascinating array of food we have to offer our guests? 

Oh, this post is such a disjointed collage of my thoughts. I should take my leave now. 

Fishy business 

Fishball noodle soup with our homemade fishballs whee 🙂
I’m up early to finish some dastardly work, but before I get to it… Just have to share with you about our lovely fishball noodle soup last night. 🙂 

Jamie seems to love noodles so we thought we’d give it a try so he could eat the same dinner that we were having. 

This was also our first time trying our hands at making our own fishballs. I figured it’d be healthier for everyone (Jamie included), plus we could have the peace of mind knowing what was in it. 

Only bummer was me being paranoid and deciding to Google about mackerel and mercury content during dinner time and then finding out that it DOES have a rather high reading 😦 What a mood spoiler. But well, I guess since we don’t always eat fish, hopefully it’s still okay for Jamie since it’s just once in awhile… 

Deric did all the cooking this time because I’m still running a marathon to finish my work. But it really looked simple enough, the steps and all, so hopefully the next round, I’ll get to be involved in the cooking too. 

You can check out the recipe at Rasa Malaysia. It only gives instructions for how to make the soup and fishballs, but you can always chuck in any favourite noodles and miscellaneous ingredients and convert it into fishball noodle soup 🙂 

For our rendition of this dish, we added Chinese cabbage, oyster mushrooms, and chicken breasts (cut into small chunks). And for the noodles part, we did a mix of meehoon (rice vermicelli) and spinach mee (which is cool because it adds a greenish accent to the dish and more healthy too, at the same time). 

We skipped the garlic oil and seaweed this time round, but I would love to have it thrown in next time too, me thinks. 

Oh and we made the fish paste using our food processor rather than through chopping it with a knife.

Meanwhile, for the soup, we made it extra delicious by first creating a homemade fish stock as the base. We added other fish bones that we had left over from another meal, and followed the steps from a soup cookbook that I have. (It basically contained onions, celery, a bay leaf, and a few other simple condiments.)

We let our fish stock cook in the slow cooker all day. First, on High till the liquid was boiling, then Low for the rest of the afternoon till it was needed for cooking in the evening. 

It sure beats any commercial stock out there. And it made the soup extra yummy 😀 

Feel kind of psyched to attempt beef balls next, either for a noodle soup thing OR to go with pasta/spaghetti. Hehe. 

Perhaps by some time in the future, we’ll no longer buy these dishes from outside restaurants and coffee shops no longer and save ourselves more money. (It’s an ambitious thought, but hey, maybe it’s possible someday ya?) 

Friday, finally

Me at the start of this week. With makeup on. A rarity.
It’s raining! How lovely. I cannot say enough times just how much I love rain. I’ve probably already mentioned this countless times in other posts, but I can never emphasise it enough.

What is it about the rain that I love so much? The sound of water. Pitter patter raindrops on the window. How the atmosphere becomes cooler. How everything turns indoors and inward: More reflective thoughts, less going out, more lounging about with loved ones. That sort of thing.

The other thing that I’m really happy about is that the week is coming to an end. I also really love weekends. That’s because it’s the time when our entire family is together 24/7.

Not that our family is very big (it’s just the three of us) nor are we living apart or anything like that, but things are always better when Deric is around too. I don’t have to feel so alone managing our son, and everything just seems happier and more fun in general (because Deric is the chirpy one in the family).

These few weeks have been especially tiring. I know I must be saying that a lot, but it is all the more so lately.

The outstanding work tasks that I have on my hands has been getting a bit overwhelming. I have been falling sick at least once a week. Jamie has been having an on-off fever thing which we find perplexing.

I am still struggling to keep this bullet journalling thing going, but the habit isn’t really sticking. Plus it feels so self defeating to make lists, especially for the To-Dos, and to only have very few items actually ever crossed off at the end of each day. But at least I am noting down the small events that take place every day. Perhaps that will be good for recall at later times when I can no longer remember what most of 2017 was all about.

Significant things that happened this week:

(Clockwise from top) Outings with Jamie, an old t-shirt to boost my confidence and a temporary solution for itchy little hands.
  1. I wore makeup to church and a meaningful t-shirt to cheer myself up and remind myself that I once was a fascinating individual. The t-shirt being the AJ Hackett bungy jumping one that Deric and I bought when we were at Kawarau river in New Zealand on our month long backpacking trip back in 2010. YES. So long ago!
  2. Jamie and I had two mini mid-week outings in the daytime. Certainly made me feel better. He seemed happy as well. And he settled much more easily into his evening nap.
  3. Discovered we had bought celery of bad quality from Village Grocer and that it was from CHINA. Bah. I may be (Malaysian) Chinese, but I don’t support products from China. Wonder if it is really celery. Anyway, our version came with a free gift: A live spider. Yikes! Still cooked it and both Jamie and myself had some. But never again. Not this brand.
  4. Experienced 2 mysteries in the kitchen and laundry area of the home: A missing fork (Jamie’s) and a missing pair of dirty pants. Found both yesterday, but not without having to hunt for a bit.
  5. Found Jamie’s beloved Duckie sitting atop his toy wash basin. Erm? Jamie’s version of putting Duckie on the potty maybe? Whatever it was, it was funny.
  6. Devised a temporary measure to keep Jamie’s hands out of the open waste bins that we use around the home by placing a disposable shower cap around the mouth of all those bins. Just making my life more difficult, isn’t it?
  7. We also installed a child safety lock on our huge kitchen garbage bin and on the refrigerator doors. I broke the one on the fridge door.
  8. Oh, and I peeled prawns. Last Sunday evening. And I was smarter this time. No deceased prawn exacted its revenge on me. (Tip: Avoid handling the head with your fingers and you can avoid getting pricked).

(Clockwise from top) Missing pants, a missing fork and yucky celery.
And with that, folks, another week is drawing to a close.

(We’re having fishball noodle soup tonight. With homemade fishballs. And since it’s raining and cold, I think it’s a splendid way to meet the weekend.)

Cheerio, till next I post.

Duckie on a toy wash basin. Hehe.