LIVE . LOVE . HURT . HOPE

Breezing through life and loving every moment…

Our New Home

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Our first home as a couple, and thereafter a family of three, was a spacious double storey brick house with a nice green garden by the side. It was snuggled in a quiet cul-de-sac, the silence broken only by crazy yapping neighbourhood dogs and the chirping of birds at dawn.

Hence it was a tiring and stressful few weeks of packing and throwing/giving away things that we no longer needed before moving over to our apartment here in Chengdu. We decided on a serviced residence at the edge of the city, close by to the expat community, for the convenience of having a concierge to help us with anything and everything. Our less than perfect Mandarin contributed a lot to the decision of our housing-everything single frikkin sign and label is in Chinese characters here, and having the staff at reception to help is a big plus. Of course, being in a serviced residence means we do not have a private yard and the busy street is just right out the main entrance, but on the plus side the residence is located nearby rows and rows of shops of any kind, a market, a mall within walking distance, Madelyn’s kindergarden (across the street) and the street in front is not that busy (there were other serviced residences we looked at but those were located smack in front of a crazy 6-lane main road). The one big plus of living here is the large community of Malaysian families – all 9 of them to be exact – and in a foreign country with a culture still quite unlike what we have been used to, a community is much well appreciated.

Our apartment unit has 3 bedrooms with 3 baths, one of which I have converted into a some sort of a laundry area. We do have a dryer (which I am loving to bits!!! How did I ever live without one!!!) but I am now becoming more selective of what I throw into the dryer. Madelyn’s clothes, mostly, I hang up to air dry after the wash, not wanting the heat to damage the prints and elastic bands. Hence we put up a clothes hanger in one of the bathrooms (which is strangely very spacious-big enough as a small room actually), moved the ironing board in and do all the hand-washing in there too.

The living and dining area is one big connected space, typical of most apartment layouts, with space enough to fit our bookshelf, dining table and sofa from Miri (we moved some of the furniture provided out). Madelyn has more than enough floor space to play around with, we know so by how she is happily scooting around on her scooter. Image

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More than enough space for her to mess it up with her toys, as you can see!

We are on a high floor, overlooking the expensive villas of the neighbourhood and an unobstructed view towards the West. Lucky us there are no other higher buildings adjacent to ours so we do not have to look into someone else’s living/bath/bed room. 😛 Which means we get a lot of sunlight (when there is sun, it is almost always overcast here). The only downside living in this serviced residence is the lack of natural ventilation. For safety purposes, there are no open windows here….only glass panels. So we cannot actually open windows to let in fresh air – think HOTEL style. I did not quite like that idea initially hence I pushed the hubby to consider alternate accommodation (normal condos with a nice large balcony, maybe?) but after putting together the pros and cons of each, we still came back to this serviced residence. With its lack of open windows and natural ventilation, the apartment is surprisingly not ‘stuffy’. We have the option of letting in outside air via the ventilation ducts, if we choose to. And cooking with the hob on has been no problem at all with cooking smells lingering. I have barbequed chicken, fried fish, cooked curry and even grilled satay on my grill pan and still no lingering smell. Great system, no?

By the way, did I mention that I LOVVVEEEEEEEE my our new kitchen??? More working countertop space than I had before in our house! A large built in oven and super induction cooker stove!! So easy peasy to cook with those! I am gonna get me one of those when we go back!!

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One thing I miss most after selling off our place in Miri, is my garden…having a porch to sit on to enjoy the breeze or just having plants rustling in the background. Well, none of that here, thanks to living in our fishbowl. But with adequate space along our large windows, I managed to visit the Flower Market here and got myself some pretty potted plants. In this cool temperate climate, some flowers flourish here unlike back in hot humid Malaysia. Our windowsill is now decorated in a bright splash of colors from Anthuriums, Gerbera Daisies and my favourite of them all – purple Calla Lilies! In addition to providing us with some much needed fresh oxygen, they are also good for purifying the air and add a homely touch to our little space.

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There’s Madelyn posing so very happily next to her Gerbera Daisies. She had the most exciting time initially pouring water into the pots. She watered the plants every day initially for two weeks, and then when I went back to the Flower Market to get something, the seller told me to just leave the plants alone and only water them sparingly once every fortnight or so. Ooooppppsssss! Apparently, in this weather they don’t require much water and too much moisture will actually kill the poor little things! So her daily watering ritual had to stop, but I still let her do it whenever I see that the plants need watering.

What we lack of a private courtyard and compound, the residence made it up with an indoor playroom (super convenient when Madelyn needs a change of scenery from being cooped up at home on cold rainy days), a rooftop yard with a kids’ playground, a pool, gym and restaurant. We have weekly aerobics and soon-to-start pilates classes too! And long term guests (staying more than a month) get extra perks such as weekly shuttle rides to the bigger hypermarkets for grocery shopping, monthly day trips to nearby places of interests and occasional get-togethers during festivals. Quite a nice package, I must say.

It has been more than three months now since we arrived, and I am loving our new cozy apartment more and more each day. Sometimes it made me think, why did we ever needed a house in the first place?

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Peace

Why do I seem to be raising my voice at Maddy so often? Because she decides to throw her toys all over the place and refuse to pick them up? Because she spits out her food for fun? Because she knows she isn’t supposed to play with my phone and yet she does it just to tick me off? Because she does not want to drink her milk? Because she refuses to wear what I picked out for her in the mornings? Because it makes her happy to jump on the sofa when it is supposed to be time for her nap? Or because she just wants to be held and refuses to be put down?

All those look kind of trivial now that I have them listed down, eh? She is, after all, just a toddler. Not even three years old. And yet I yell at her and sometimes the irrational parent in me makes me raise my palm to her. And make her cry. And in between sobs later, she asks to be held by me again, despite it being me who made her cry.

Today I promise myself and her, that I will not yell but only explain. I will not walk off in anger, but I will listen. I will not spank but I will hold her close. Today, and hopefully for many more days to come, we will try to have some peace at home. 

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Ni Hao! from Chengdu!

There should’ve been dozens of frantic posts before this one of the dilemma of moving, of deciding on a location, the initial shock of knowing we were going to China (more on that later…), the mad rush of packing, selling the house, finding a good home for the furry four-leggeds, and finally the emotional week of saying farewell. But there were so many things happening at one go that I barely had time for leisure, let alone sit down and write.

Anyway, we are here now…in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China. It has been nearly three months now since we landed here in the People’s Republic of China, starting with a three-week (bored-out-of-my-brains) stay in a tiny hotel in Beijing for visa processing and thereafter hopping over to Chengdu. The city is an eclectic mix of old and new – with brilliant new skyscrapers flanked by tiny teahouses that look as if they were a blast from the past. It is worlds away from our little cozy town of Miri, yet being in Asia, there is that comfort of knowing we are not yet totally ‘out of place’. China was never in the plans…for all the horror stories we read and hear of food scandals, exploding watermelons and fake eggs and less than appealing social etiquette…but in the end we didn’t really have much of a choice. So we packed up our lives in Miri, hop onto the flight and hoped for the best.

Life in this forever foggy city is turning out better than expected. Probably because we expected the worst, things are not looking as bad. For starters, we are nestled on a lush fertile plain surrounded by mountains – so weather is almost always pleasantly cool, although can be a little foggy (which I don’t mind at all after years of living under the scorching tropical heat). There are flowers everywhere! In neat wooden planters alongside buildings, on flower beds by the road, hanging off lamp posts – so it is actually quite pretty. People are generally alright…although there is a need to avoid spit projectiles from the locals with the annoying habit of spitting EVERYWHERE! The better ones might do it into the bushes or bins. It was deeply disturbing initially but well, we are foreigners in someone else’s country. So, gotta respect or live with the culture, however irritating it may be. 

Food – now the interesting part – there is no end to the variety of different types of cuisine here. Sichuan food is hot and fiery, dripping with red chilli oil and can most likely give you a heart attack. But they can be quite tasty as well (perhaps generously seasoned with msg :P), although we had merely tried some typical stir fries and steered clear of the oily fiesta. And if Sichuan food is not your thing, there is no shortage of food from all over the world as well, from halal Middle Eastern cuisine to Thai, Japanese, Korean, American grill, Singaporean and word around town is there is even a Nyonya restaurant tucked somewhere in a corner of town. And if we crave for some Chinese food closer to home, there is no shortage of Cantonese style restaurants.

Our Madelyn is now 28 months old and attending a Chinese kindy after two months of ‘holiday’ at home with mommy. Initially I was a little apprehensive about putting her in a school in a ‘foreign’ country, but it turned out to be great. She is picking up Mandarin, learning new things everyday and feeling less homesick missing her old friends at her nursery in Miri (occasionally she still wakes up asking to see her friends and teachers in Miri). The best part is, the kindy is just right across the street from our apartment so I can walk her to and back from school everyday. 

Hubby is fully immersed into work here, while I am still basking in the life of a stay-at-home mother for another three months. It was the best decision I ever made to take this time off work to focus on the family and in addition to that, have some time off to myself. I love being able to ponder over what meals to prepare for the day, read a book by the window with a hot cup of tea, checking out the local area, meet friends for a chat or simply take a nap. I love being able to write again.

So this is the beginning to our new adventures in a new country. Signing off, for today….

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14.3.2012

I am slowly counting down the days till hubby returns from his business trip. Here I am again sitting in the dark typing and hoping that the little one will be okay throughout the night.
She woke up slightly warm again and a little cranky, whining as she followed me around the house while I frantically got things ready for work and filled her daycare bag with the usual daily essentials. By the time I managed to pick her up, she was obviously upset and not the happy smiley little girl she usually is in the mornings. She almost wailed all the way to daycare except halfway through she just stared blankly out of the window quietly. The poor girl must be miserable to the max.

Thankfully no calls from daycare throughout the day, which meant that she was almost her usual self with no obvious illness, except that she was just a little warmer than usual. The teachers said that she ate well and drank plenty of water, which was a good thing. She is not drinking her milk as much there, but I suppose I can accept that as long as she eats her other meals well.

Back home, was when the craziness started. Maddy refused to be left alone even for a few minutes and I nursed her for a while right after I dump my bags onto the floor. She fell asleep and I let her take a shuteye for perhaps half an hour before I had to gently wake her up to prepare her dinner. Needless to say, she started whining again and I had to carry her around the house. The slight fever was making her cranky, but at the same time being the only adult at home, there were things that I just HAD to do. So, with one arm cradling Maddy, I prepared her dinner and other stuff around the kitchen. By the end of it all, my arm was killing me. I managed to distract her a little by letting her ‘help’ me with the laundry, after which she demanded to be carried again.

Dinner was less of a fight compared to yesterday, but only slightly. I managed to coax her into finishing some porridge with pumpkin and fish, halfway through which she demanded to be held and I fed her while sitting on my lap. Oh well….whatever works…..I was exhausted by then. She had to eat something. I had cereal for dinner. Whatever works….

Dishes are still in the sink, she would not let me turn my back on her…I tried putting her in the baby chair next to the sink, but within minutes she started wailing. I did not want to aggravate her further considering she was still slightly feverish…so the dishes would have to wait till tomorrow as usual, I will be back over lunch to clean up.

Maddy is also having a slight diaper rash, which is now an additional item on my list of concerns. She never had it as an infant, so why now? Nothing is helping. Oh gosh…

Such is the life of a ‘single’ parent for the week. Please come home soon, daddy of my child.

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Today

Today started out pretty well and almost ended okay too, until halfway through dinner Maddy got fussy and refused to eat much more than a few spoonfuls again. I put on a stern face and did not want to give in, which of course resulted in her crying and not finishing her dinner anyway. I painstakingly prepared grilled fish served with a side of mashed potatoes, still she barely touched the fish and took only a few spoonfuls of the mash. I was undoubtedly disappointed and frustrated. I gave her a small portion of yogurt which thankfully she finished without much fuss and plenty of water as I thought her head felt a little warmer than usual – not fever hot but just warm.

After her evening bath, I managed to coax her into taking her usual bottle of milk and then right after lights out and barely a minute of nursing, she was out. I put my palm on her forehead and she felt rather warm again, took her temperature and oh goodness me it was 38.6 degrees C! She was having a slight fever. I woke her up, which of course made her a little cranky, fed her her meds and she is now asleep again. Now that I think about it, perhaps she is teething and hence the reduced appetite and fever? I am feeling like a horrible mom now to have been so nasty to her earlier.

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Oh What A Day!

Finally, I can put my feet up tonight and rest against a soft pillow in almost total silence, except for the faint but calming humming of the air conditioner. Madelyn’s rythmic breathing accompanying my tap tapping on the keyboard. It has been a long and tiring day today and I just need to rant for a little bit.

To begin with, I had a busy day at work, running all over for meetings and discussions, and frantically trying to find time to squeeze in two sessions of pumping at the mother’s room. Oh, and did I mention that I woke up with a cracked nipple out of no where this morning so I had to hand expressed one side in an attempt not to aggravate it more so that it will heal fast enough for Maddy to nurse tonight? And in between work over lunchtime, I rushed back home to sort out last night’s dishes (because with hubby being away, I try not to spend too much in the evenings fiddling around the kitchen – I would just do the bare minimum of cooking and cleaning up and leave the sorting out for the next day lunchtime when I am alone without Maddy so that I can spend more time
managing her in the evenings), then prepare Maddy’s dinner for tonight and gobbled up my lunch. Oh and did I forget to meantion now that we do not have our weekly cleaner, I come home over lunch to vacuum/mop/tidy the house?

The hubby is away for the whole week in another continent so I am on duty to drop and pick up Maddy from daycare/playschool (yes, she has been there since the nanny was unable to work due to a health problem). Maddy decided to sob all the way home from daycare because she wanted to jump on the slides or something like that, but I would not let her because we had to leave before traffic got bad during after office rush hour. Then when we got home, she was o-kay for a few minutes then started to be cranky again and stuck to me like velcro, making it rather difficult to dish out her dinner or clean up whatever it was that I had to clean up.

So after having to spend my lunchtime cooking her dinner, she refused to eat it tonight. Being considerate and remembering some wise parenting article which said I should not force her and respect her ‘No’s, her dinner finally went to two happy dogs instead. I gave her some fruits, which she actually ate an almost full portion of it so that was fine. After which, she started to cry out of no where and I had to drop everything and hold her. I managed to give her a bath, which she rather enjoyed then while her mood was still okay, I cleaned up and had cereal and milk, some two-day old potato and egg salad and cut papayas for dinner. I found those in the fridge and reckoned all together they made up most of the recommended dietary requirements for my day.

It was almost 8.30pm by then which was almost bedtime (yippeeeeee!!!) when little miss I-am-not-done-making-your-day-miserable decided to throw up part of her dinner all over her face and hair while I was changing her diaper lying down. Soooooo….alright……off we went again into the cleaning routine except this time there a soiled towel to wash. I should look at the bright side that it actually happened on the changing table so the impact was localized. Sighhhhh….

After all thaaaaaaaattttt………she finally calmed down, nursed and fell asleep almost immediately. Cracked nipple felt o-kay (please let it heal overnight!) and Maddy is asleep now….perhaps she was not hungry or having slight tummy upset or I don’t know. It is always a challenge to try to figure out the things that actually bother her for she is still unable to tell me every single thing she feels/needs. For that, I try not to judge her or get too upset. I am sure sometimes the whines or sobs or tantrums mean something.

But at the same time….I am oh so glad the day is finally over! Good night !

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Checking In

I should write more, but alas the demands of work and motherhood leave me with very little time to actually sit down and be given some quiet time to do so. I am either usually welded to the sink washing up, washing Maddy or picking up toys. Actually, since I taught Maddy how to pick up her toys and keep them into their boxes each night, things have gotten a little better. But still, there will always be a ball I have to look for from underneath the couch or that one elusive part of a puzzle toy that goes missing (it still is, actually).

Madelyn is now fast approaching her second birthday…two months short. An almost-young lady but not quite. She speaks so much more now and role plays with her toys…pretty soon she will be asking questions and telling us stories of imaginary friends. She has her little meltdowns but thankfully nothing unmanageable. It would be a little shriek here and there but always at home. Never in public, yet! But she is still generally well-behaved, lovable and cute as a button! She seems to have a soft spot for animals….she learns the names of any animal almost immediately and shows interest in pictures of animals more so compared to other things. Our future vet or zoologist perhaps? Hmmm…

Changes are coming soon….we will probably be moving out of our current location in a couple of months’ time. But nothing firm yet. I am looking forward to it, as when the change happens, my new career takes flight – to be a fulltime mommy!

Stay tuned!

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I Am Sorry, Mommy

Tonight, Madelyn was playing around with my bottle of hand lotion when she playfully threw it onto her daddy’s head and struck him on the side of his face. He was lying down on the floor.

The both of us then told her in a firm and stern voice, that she was not to throw things onto other people and that she should apologize to her daddy. She kneeled next to him and looked down, her expression very solemn indeed. She did not say a single word but her expression said it all – full of regret and guilt. We continued to look at her, waiting for her apology when suddenly I realized her eyes were a little watery. She had tears in her eyes but trying not to cry! And she didn’t utter a sound.

I felt so sorry for her that I pulled her into my arms and told her softly that it was okay but she is not to throw things at people in the future.

It struck me that my little girl, at 20 months old, is now able to control her emotions. She was feeling sad being reprimanded but trying not to cry. Oh when did my baby suddenly grow up overnight?

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I Want To Remember This…

I may not be able to find time enough to write much lately, but I reckon I should write these memories down so that I will never forget them….

My sweet heart Madelyn is now 18 months old and if it is ever possible, becoming more lovely each day. This afternoon, while I was about to fall asleep next to her (we have been taking naps together on weekends), she rolled over to my side, smiled so sweetly and put her hand on my cheek. I closed my eyes to encourage her to fall asleep and suddenly I felt her cool lips on my cheek and then seconds later she planted another affectionate kiss on my lips. My heart just exploded into a thousand pieces with all the sudden surge of motherly love. I cannot begin to describe just how warm and fuzzy it made me feel inside.

Later in the evening, we took a stroll along the beach and stood in the water with the waves rolling in about our ankles. She was so excited! “Here it comes!!” I said, as the waves rolled in and splashed about our ankles. She squealed and giggled and held on to my hand. Her little pudgy hand in mine…holding tight as if afraid the waves might wash her away. Her expression, so full of joy…made my heart swell again. “Here it comes!” And she laughed out loud again and again.

As we began to walk back to the car, she looked up and grinned and rattled on in baby chatter. Hand in hand, we walked with our backs against the setting sun…Madelyn’s round little bum swish-swishing against the orange light. It was a good evening indeed.

And now as she huddled close to me fast asleep, oblivious to the thunderstorm outside, I cannot help but feel the strongest need to protect my little girl. Sleep tight my love, mummy’s here to keep you warm. Mummy’s here to love you till the end of everything.

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Restore ME! Weekend

I think it is time that I start thinking about myself. Or to be more precise, to start to do the things that I used to do before Maddy arrived. Having to raise Maddy almost single-handedly most of time has left me very little time to squeeze in any self-indulgences at all. But things are getting better now that Maddy is a little older and more independent. The fact that she is now walking on her own means that I have my two hands free to do things that I need to do, and things that I WANT to do! Yay!

So this weekend, I booked myself a session at the hairdresser’s to give my hair the trim that I had so needed (like 3 months ago) while the grandparents watch the little squiggly one (parents are visiting). After the trim, I came home to shower and feed Maddy and while she played by herself in her cot (isn’t she wonderful?), I washed my hair, and home-spa-ed it with my mommy’s home-made coconut oil (I want the shine back on my hair). While waiting for the hair to be done, I did more mommy things like fed Maddy her yogurt, read some books with her and chased her around the house. After which, Maddy went back into her cot for some more individual playtime while I washed the oil out of my hair. Felt lovely to have that moisture soaking into my not-so-long locks…my poor hair had not come even close to any treatment since Maddy came along…I think it is now time to be back to my weekly coconut oil session. Yes, I want to be the mom with great hair!

And that was not all I did. I have to reluctantly accept that I am moving closer and closer to the age group that starts with the number ‘4’ (oh my frikkin gawwwwdddddd!!!) and this is when the words ‘skincare’ and ‘anti-aging’ can be found on the same bottles of stuff in my basket of potions. Although yours truly is slightly more (just slightly…..) than half a decade away, but I am already in the same decade! I am thankful for all these magic nursing and post natal hormones that had been coursing through me to help keep my skin looking decent but little vain me is missing the glow!

Hence armed with a new set of potions, I managed to spend the early evening pampering myself (after feeding, cleaning and putting Maddy into her PJs, of course) and went to bed feeling goooooodddd about everything that I had achieved. I aim to do this every weekend, and find more time for those little things to boost those happy hormones!

Being a mom, I suppose sometimes we lose ourselves in trying to do the best that we can, and to be the best that we can. Time is definitely something elusive those first few months, but we eventually find it again…Well, I did, after almost a year. And it is definitely worth the wait.

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