On the bright side

So much stuff to do around here. Ought to get round to it… 

Squirrel!*

Hehe. Well, jokes aside, it’s been a pretty decent month, this October. And best part is, it isn’t even over yet! 

If you know me in person, you’d surely be aware that I’m not typically a very optimistic or chirpy individual, but I’m trying to stay on the bright side of life. I think I’m realising that I need to at least try to be so as I continue to journey on in my life. A survival tactic. 

Honestly, it’s kind of hard to be content when everyday I’m mostly stuck doing mundane things like house chores, meal prep and meeting work deadlines (which I really shouldn’t complain about given my measly freelance portfolio at the moment). Not to mention too the inability to indulge in much of anything recreational in nature. 

But as you probably read in my previous post, I’m trying to do what I can to savour the good, learn from the bad and keep my spirits up. 

In fact, I’d dare say I have accomplished a fair bit of stuff lately. Let’s list them out, shall we? 

  1. I baked 2 rounds of celebratory dessert fare in conjunction with my husband’s birthday (read: made peanut butter cupcakes AND a caramel cheesecake). All by myself. Almost. Well… Deric and Jamie did help a little for the cheesecake decor part because I was running out of time though. Teehee. 
  2. I have commenced repair work of Jamie’s jacket zipper. Finally! I have put this off for really long because of an irrational fear of not knowing how to sew zippers nor use a zipper foot on the sewing machine. 
  3. I restarted a new batch of compost tea to benefit my future plants (read: they keep dying aargh).
  4. Completed reading an entire novel over a mere few days. Dean Koontz, no less. (And yes, parenting makes you rejoice over seemingly simple things because they have now become almost virtually impossible). 

Okay, well, that isn’t a very long list. Maybe there’s more but brain cannot conjure them from my memory for now.  

But I’m generally in a place of contentment. For now. I hope it sticks. 

Been contemplating how to revive my journalling habits (which I’ve failed to do countless times) and I think I might try focussing on writing down these tiny things I accomplish daily in an attempt to motivate myself and feel better about everything. And maybe along the way I’ll throw in some stuff about Jamie and what I observe about his developments and my feelings about him growing up too. 

Anyway, gotta go snooze a bit more while I can now. Morning breaks. I was coining copy earlier for a client. Zzz. Bye. 

*In case you didn’t get that reference I made up there, it’s from that glorious movie, Up. Relevant GIF excerpt shown below. Hehe.

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Weekender

The weekend! That wonderful breather from the weekly grind.

It’s the weekend! 

Over here, I love the weekends because that’s when Deric will be around all day and we get to do stuff as a family which we can’t do at other times. 

Jamie is also generally happier when everybody is together, just as I am too. 

This weekend, we haven’t done anything too fancy so far, but a lot of what we did was influenced by a desire to create fun and happy experiences for Jamie. 

Actually, that basically sums up a lot of our motivation whenever we find ourselves with a considerably sized block of free time. 

This time around, it was about taking him on a train ride via the LRT line that runs near our place as well as letting him linger at the car workshop while we sent one of our cars for a routine service. 

Along the way, he had other delightful wishes fulfilled too, like yet another ice cream and a chance to use his new kid sized umbrella. 

It’s interesting to note how our focus changes when we’re a family now. 

Back when Deric and I were just dating, weekends were wide open for whatever we fancied doing. We would often go for dates that lasted all day (and night too, sometimes). Eat lots of nice food. Hang out with friends. Practically anything. 

But now, we need to break our weekend activities into segments to make sure we don’t get our chirpy toddler into a nasty grumpy spell. 

And then there’s the consideration of how crowded a place might be and how unsuitable that might be for him. And limiting dining options to venues where there’s something decent on the menu for a young tummy to ingest. 

These and more. 

But the part that makes our hearts sing the most is when his face lights up while experiencing something that we had planned for him. 

There’s hardly ever enough time on the weekends, and usually not much from my To Do list gets done, but these tiny moments we have, these joy inducing ones, they make it all seem worthwhile somehow. 

Making memories with our son is the little bit of magic that we have been afforded and for which we are grateful.

Son

Never knew having a son could be as heartwarming as it is.

“I want to comb hair for Mummy.”

“I want to hug Mummy. Make Mummy happy.”

“Mummy, have a bite.”

“Mummy also come along.”

Never knew a son could be so endearing. Prior to having one of my own, I thought only daughters would think such sweet thoughts. Guess I’ve still a lot to learn.

Midway point

Midday breather.

This is us at 1.40pm in the afternoon. He has just fallen asleep. 

What happened prior to this was a pretty much non-stop blur of activities. Right from the time he opened his eyes and woke up as I carried him into our apartment, having just returned from dropping my husband off at the LRT station, where he would catch a train to work. 

I have not yet had my lunch. He hasn’t either. But he had a pretty sizeable breakfast, involving 2x as much bananas as I expected him to consume. 

He also wanted to do art activities with BOTH markers AND paint right after breakfast, much to my dismay. 

But overall, there’s still plenty of daylight hours left to salvage so off I go. 

I shall attempt to tell you more true to life tales of my everyday adventures soon. 

Just so you know though, this is what life at home feels like. Not as leisurely as you’d imagine. Pretty packed with chores and mundane things. But with some occasional magic to spare.

Hidden treasure

The days slip by quickly, and each time something shifts in leaps and bounds.

Dear Globetrotting Friend,

As wonderful as it is to see these picturesque views you encounter at each magical destination you arrive at, I often wish you would not post them on social media. It’s not that I would want to deny you the right to revel in the beauty around you, but sometimes your endless stream of picture perfect images makes me feel a little out of place.

I spend most of my hours behind the same four walls, living a quiet, unnoticed routine. Views like the one you see above are what my eyes feast on every day. It is nothing extraordinary, but it was important enough to me that I decided to be bound by them. To be this hidden person, seen only by a tiny pair of eyes to whom I am the world.

I wish I had inspiring images to show others just as you do, but the ones I take are instead mostly commonplace. They do little to hide the mess behind them. The haphazard tumbling through hours. Days slipping by quickly, one after another; each time something shifting within them, an unnamed thing, growing in leaps and bounds.

My husband is often discouraged with this dull, mundane world we live in, enamoured instead by the adventures you tease us with from your Instagram feed. He always had this bit of wanderlust gripping him, and at times, I feel sorry as if I am the one holding him back.

But this is the life we are building now. And it is called Family.

Beneath the mountains of laundry, behind the unkempt array of toys strewn all across our living room, there is this little boy coming into his own. His is a slow and steady journey, years stretching ahead of him, yet uncounted, unwritten. Mine is the heavy burden to shape this life, to offer it meaning and hope in a universe that often cares little for the crumbs that fall from the tabletop or the stories that need to be read… aloud…. and right now. Or else.

I don’t envy you, my dear Privileged Traveller friend. I just wish I didn’t often find myself making comparisons between us , thinking how vastly different our paths are now, and how we were walking the same trail once upon a time, long ago, when we were but youth.

Because it seems like I have lost myself, and that my days will be endlessly meaningless as they feel. And that I am not living life to the fullest and condemning myself to a predictable outcome.

Perhaps someday I will find greater confidence in the choices I have made.

It’s just that right now those photos of yours don’t seem to be helping.

Tales from home

It's a rare moment. I am able to sit here with the leftovers of my latte and cake (from my Mum's birthday celebration earlier today) and write. This is too good to be true. I expect to be interrupted anytime. Perhaps soon.

So… while I can, I'm checking in here for a bit.

Here's a brief snapshot of what things looked like for me this past week:

Prolonged mealtimes at the dining table with Jamie. Overwhelming restlessness and boredom felt. Lots of "I don't want" which strangely morphs into "I want" the very next second. Plenty of crying. Some shouting (from me). The usual helpings of guilt afterwards. Just so you know, he's two years old.

Most of it was down to an ear ache. Which turned out to be an infection, as confirmed by the paediatrician. It was yet another visit to the clinic on a Wednesday night. The night we are supposed to attend cell group. Which we have not been attending for months. Probably since Jamie was born, actually.

So we're on a course of antibiotics now. Jamie is, I mean. But it might as well be said as "we" since all of us were up at 4am when Jamie awoke and decided he was energetic enough to stay up from then till 6+am. We cooked in between. Again. YES. If you pass our apartment door at silly hours in the middle of the night, you will most likely smell nice things coming from our kitchen. And yes, we are sort of insane.

Books about cars. Jamie's got new ones, quite a few. It's his latest thing. And trucks. Still some interest in trains. But CARS! Lightning McQueen. Ka-chow!

Plants flourishing on the balcony. Testing out my own concoction of compost tea on them. Nearly dying from the stench (smells like vomit). For the first time ever, I have plants doing well on my watch. I still remember the ones that inevitably died when Jamie's delivery day rolled around. We were all so busy we forgot about the plants and a pandan plant died. Those are supposed to be really resilient.

The house is a mess. And laundry started piling up again. Often times, I don't know where to begin dealing with this chaos. We've begun plotting a solution to the problem of clutter and lack of space in the kitchen. Bought some stuff from Ikea to improve the storage part of the equation. But we have yet to fix a time for the handyman to help us assemble the racks. So the problems remain for the time being. Sigh. It's to the point that I have to waste time clearing or moving things around daily just so I can cook or reheat food. We really need to reclaim our kitchen counter space.

Thankfully, there is a lull in work at the moment. I am waiting for further instructions from my client before I proceed to complete my part of the bargain. So technically, I have time to spare for Jamie. Other than dealing with chores, that is. But ironically, I don't feel like spending time with him when I have the opportunity to do so. It's an odd feeling. I feel bad for even feeling this way. But I do. What do I do? I hope this changes soon.

I keep a lot of things in hopes of recycling/upcycling them. So this contributes to more mess at home. I need to get round to certain craft projects or home improvement projects.

Okay, Jamie is up from his nap and crying. Gotta run now.

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.