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. 

Camp Nanowrimo 

Find out more here
Okay, so I decided on a whim to do this. Yes, this bum of a writer will finally take on a creative mini project. 

Great news is that you can set your own goals for Camp Nanowrimo, rather than the daunting word count require of the usual Nanowrimo held every November (which I had always failed to achieve on all the years I joined bleh). 

This time, I’m keeping it short and simple. So hopefully I’ll make it this time. 

My project has been christened as Imperfect: A creative project. I’ll share more when July arrives. Meanwhile, I’ll need to put some thought into planning this first. Stay tuned! 

Awkward alien

Image source: Flexo

Becoming a Work At Home Mum (WAHM) is a double whammy. Not only are both those roles tough to navigate, there is this additional problem of becoming an awkward alien. 

What do I mean by that? 

Well, basically everyone else in your life who isn’t a mother and/or isn’t living a homebound lifestyle (which is probably like 90% of your social circle, if you’re in your 30’s like me) will be unable to understand you and the things you go through on a daily basis. This transforms you, essentially into an alien. And this then leads to some pretty awkward situations and conversations. 

To give you an example, here are some questions and/or comments I had to field lately: 

“So you guys don’t eat out much anymore nowadays, right?” 

– Hmm, while that is the truth, what this question reeks off is the underlying assumption that because I am now at home, therefore I must be cooking all the time. And also, since we have less household income, that we would probably want to be frugal and eat in seclusion, thus morphing into kataks di bawah tempurung.

“So when are you going to go back to work?”

– Thing is, I am working. Just not in a way that most people would comprehend since I don’t have fixed hours or fixed clients (except for one that I have been doing work for since last year). Read: I freelance. It’s not much compared to what I used to do in my old full time position, but I like to keep my career alive and options open. AND I’d like the freedom to be around to raise my son rather than let someone else do it for me. 

“Ah, so it helps you keep your mind active lah, gives you something to do.” (In response to finding out that I am taking on freelance work wherever I can.)

– I guess you can’t blame a person who hasn’t really spent day after day at home at all hours, because they would not have realised just how much there is to do at home. Even if I don’t come up with a list of things to do, or my son doesn’t throw a tantrum or mess up something and give me things to clean up after, there will ALWAYS be things to do at home. My home is my office, and whenever you are in the office, your working mode will be on. Which pretty much means I am almost always working on something and the chores never end. This isn’t even taking into consideration my actual freelance work. And, the fact is that just managing the household requires plenty of brainwork, because instead of doing it mindlessly, if you are a mature, educated adult, you will always want to find ways to improve things at home, be it the efficiency and speed of accomplishing chores, the organisation of furniture, storage solutions or other things. 

There was also this incident where I was having a conversation with two other ladies around my age. The two of them were going on and on about how kids are like this or that, citing examples of nieces and nephews and children of other friends. Perhaps it was them trying too hard to identify with me, the only one in the conversation who was a mother. Mmm. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about young children since I have one myself, but there is an invisible boundary somewhere, which once crossed, makes it uncomfortable and unnatural to carry on discussing this topic. It is especially so when the people keeping the topic going are those who don’t have kids in the first place. 

Just to clarify, being a WAHM doesn’t make me hate all these other more normal and sane people in my life (yes, I’m probably getting more and more queer with each passing day, if I have not yet morphed into an oddball) . But it does make it feel like a large chasm just opened up between us. And that makes it a bit harder, though not impossible, to connect. 

Well, I guess I should apply the same rules of conversation as a WAHM that I had used in the past: Always seek to understand more than to be understood; to ask about the other person and to care for them, rather than to expect them to be concerned for you. 

And then, all will be fine, and no one will suspect what an awkward alien I really am. 

It’s just that… it would be nice if everyone in general understood the WAHM situation better so less misunderstandings and explanations would need to be provided. 

A trip on the craft side 

It’s late (again) and I shall need to scoot real soon to catch some much needed snooze. But I thought I’d just drop by to share this fantastic Pinterest song parody that I pretty much identify with because I have always been a crafter at heart. 

I think I haven’t said it enough on this blog actually, but these things have their roots all the way back to my childhood. I remember crocheting and knitting in primary school while sitting it out during P.E. period (hehe a long story as to why, and which I shall address in a separate post). 

I still think of DIY and craft projects as a brilliant way to unwind and to serve as my creativity outlet. I may not be that capable in the things I produce, but somehow just working on something is hugely satisfying for me. I shall attempt to blog more about this undying passion of mine (which seems to be surviving even better than my love for writing, ironically). 

Okay, gotta dash. See ya! Meanwhile, enjoy the video! 

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.