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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Nursing: Nine Months & Counting

Omigosh!! I have breastfed Maddy for 9 whole months!! When we first started, I wasn’t sure if I would make it to 3 months, then 6 months seemed so far away. But now it has been 9 months and 1 week!

Will we be able to make it to 1 year? Absolutely yes! And beyond, perhaps?

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Madelyn: Spotted!

Madelyn turned 7 months and got chicken pox!

Although spotted all over her body, she was still as happy and squealy and giggly as usual. Ah… my strong little girl hardly ever fussed throughout the 3 days that the pox was at its worst. I suppose now we do not have to worry about her getting it when she is older and she does not need the vaccination too!

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Feeding Madelyn

Just an update on how we are getting along with the breastfeeding… At five weeks I think my milk supply has more or less been established (for Madelyn to latch directly anyway) and Maddy is feeding well. Based on how many wet and soiled diapers she is churning out I am pretty sure she is well-fed. Once she latches on and starts sucking, I have to remember not to unlatch her too soon as my milk sprays out – I have on more than a few occasions sprayed her face with milk :/

So we have gotten feeding under control. I have gotten lazy to pump but at the rate that she drinks I don’t think I need to worry about supply.

Which brings us to my next issue… Maddy now seems to crave for my boob and she cries a lot when being held by someone else. Sometimes she will stop after a lot of rocking and soothing but most of the time I have to take her, hold her and suckle her before she will quieten down. This happens almost everytime she cries. Hmmm .. I am in trouble, aren’t I?

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Waiting…

Tra la la la….la la la…..

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Home Sweet Home #1: The Garden – Before

Our home is a semi-detatched with some land by the side, front and mostly at the back. I decided to separate part of the back lawn so the dogs can run free. At the same time, we can come and go through the front gate without having to worry about the furries rushing out onto the streets.

This was what the garden looked like  – perhaps about 18 months ago when I started working on it.

Front yard outside main door

Front yard outside main door

Side yard. Wooden fence separates the dogs at the back :)

Side yard. Wooden fence separates the dogs at the back 🙂

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Trying to be Normal

Hubby left for offshore again. I am sad, but I suppose I have to be strong and move on. This is just so much harder when I have to deal with it alone. Sigh…

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Moving On

Hubby has to go back offshore tomorrow, after which I will be home alone again. Of course I am wishing he doesn’t have to but that is his job and I cannot change the fact that he has to go out anyway. If not tomorrow, it will be a week from now or two weeks.
The thought of being alone with my thoughts again doesn’t exactly appeal to me, specially when it will be a long weekend this coming Friday. I have three days off work again, at home. Myself. But I’ll have to move on with my life somehow. Even though the only thing I would like to do now is nothing. I do not have the drive to do anything at all lately. I do not even bother with the dogs, just the bare minimum of feeding and making sure they’re alright. It is THAT bad.

Doc said we can only start trying after 3 months, to let my uterus lining build up again, and give a chance for my menstrual cycle to stabilize itself. That is fine by me. At this moment, trying and sex are the last things on my mind. I am not even sure how I’ll get all those old feelings back. I hope this will go away soon. I need to move on. I really do.

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