This month we celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary and also CS’ birthday. I love it that we are still having as much fun as we are as a married couple than we were as a dating couple. In fact, we probably enjoy each other’s company now more than ever! [Photo taken outside our house on the driveway.]
April has been a whirlwind of a month. Is it because I’d turned thirty-six that I am feeling the urgency of time all the more? And there were many reflective moments.
We were back in Singapore for our annual visit. Not surprisingly, it was never long enough. ‘What, you are only here for 10 days?’ was the common refrain we received from family and friends when we met.It was, however, the best ‘homecoming trip’ we have had in all our previous visits. This time round, we deliberately scaled down our to-do list. Our last appointment of the day would be dinnertime so if it went longer than that, there wasn’t any stress about us being late for our next appointment.
We even managed to squeeze in time to do some touristy thing like visit Marina Bay Sands and Universal Studios. And I am happy to say that we were eating local food all the time. Almost. Because I still didn’t get to eat my bbq stingray and oyster omelette.
But the best part of our Singapore trip is always about people. Countless sharing was done over meals and drinks. And I am often comforted by the fact that distance hasn’t pulled us apart from the many relationships we have left behind. Thank you, dear ones, for your love and friendship. We are blessed indeed.
Interlude – Kuala Lumpur trip
Before coming to Singapore, we had actually spent the weekend in Kuala Lumpur so I could visit my best friend since secondary school days, SF. It was a good trip because I’d also invited my best friend since university days Liz to come along. So the trip had allowed me to spend quality time with 2 of these girlfriends who played an important role in my growing up years.
SF and Liz – I love you girls to bits. Thank you for loving and accepting me, just as I am.
Quality time with special couple – Joey & Huiyi
They are the third couple we have hosted and the couple we have the most intense quality time with. Perhaps because Joey and I have similar personalities, and we both could only do small talk for so looong; it wasn’t surprising that quality conversations were happening all the time. CS and I felt privileged to have had shared moments with this couple as they embarked on a new chapter in their couplehood journey.
However, what stood out most for me was talking to Huiyi over breakfast at Moore’s. It was a deliberate decision to ask Huiyi out. I’d wanted to know her better and hear what’s on her heart and vice versa. And what a beautiful morning that turned out to be. We shared openly as only sister to sister could.
Interlude – Rachael’s text
Thank you, dear, for the unexpected text message on Tuesday. It brought smiles and most of all, warmth to my heart. I am still bummed that we didn’t get to meet up when we were in Singapore. Next year, I promise. We would have long chats over drinks at Starbucks.
Singapore election fever
Even though we have been away for four years now, I still follow Singapore news to keep myself abreast of what’s happening. And with all the postings on Facebook about election news, it is hard not getting caught up in the electoral fever. So I find myself trawling through videos, blogs, political commentaries on the internet. For the first time, many people are sharing their political opinions openly. Who says Singaporeans are politically apathetic?
I think the proliferation of social media since the last election has played a big part in this. Previously, any political coverage was disseminated by state-controlled mass media like the television and the newspapers so any alternate voices are often drowned out or obliterated altogether. Now, everyone can make themselves heard through self-posted videos or public domains like Facebook and Twitter. And what a plethora of voices are we hearing so far! If anything, I think it augers well for the future of Singapore. So I am quietly optimistic about this election and will be following the live coverage come next Saturday.
Aging – can water be my answer?
Two days ago, I had a sudden panic attack – I am getting old! And then I started having mental pictures of
my face losing elasticity, due to loss of collagen.
For the first time in my life, I felt fearful of aging. So I turned to what any 21st century person would turn to for help – internet. I googled about what to do about sagging face and its prevention. And the best advice I got out of? Drink lots of water because it keeps your skin hydrated and thus, prevents loss of collagen. I am sticking to this advice since it is cheap and do-able. However, I also do not want to be someone who is obsessed about what is inevitable. Life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest; sagging face or not.
I turned thirty-six today. But hey, who’s counting really? I liked what a young adult posted on FB when it was her birthday recently and she declared this birthday is not about her; rather it is about her mum who endured through labor pains to bring her up to who she is today. And so I thought of my mum who has always been the strong silent type yet so full of tenderness for her children.
Besides the birthday greetings from family and friends, I am also blessed by some people who went out of their way to make today a special one for me:
- Flowers from CS never fail to make me smile. And he ‘surprised’ me with a remote control timer release for my DSLR because I saw a church mate using it and exclaimed that I wanted one myself. It was a ‘surprise’ cos I found out what the gift was when I overheard a phone conversation between CS and the said-church mate where CS was asking him to get one for me on E-bay!
- Having had 2 birthday cakes baked by my boss. ‘All from scratch, Erv; not from those pre-mixed boxes!’ he proudly declared. And his lovely wife chipped in with her contribution of walnut and date slice cake.
- Receiving a phone call from the big boss after work apologizing that she couldn’t make it down to office to wish me happy birthday personally today.
- A text message from a friend who had moved back to Melbourne. Thanks for remembering, Rob!
- Mish who dropped by the office to wish me happy birthday and reminded me that we should catch up soon. Yes, we should, babe.
- The neighbour who brought over a cupcake in the evening and had intended to sing me a ‘happy birthday’ song with it; alas I was in the shower. And so CS had to sing it on his behalf instead when I came out of the bathroom!
- Two girlfriends who popped by the office today separately with their presents.
when someone else is doing the cooking for you…(Lovely neighbour Travis was the appointed bbq chef for the party so that the birthday boy can enjoy himself.)
when the place is decked out in party mood…(A constant refrain from CS: keep it low-key please…and remember I’m not turning 16! Thus, the under-stated party decoration…if I had my way, the whole place would be filled with balloons!)
when you get to share it with loved ones…(One thing we were glad to see: people we invited interacting freely with each other even though they were from different groups: family, church, neighbours, couple-friends. In fact, some came up to us separately and remarked: you got nice friends. It’s great when your friends can get along.)
when there are presents involved…(Although CS won’t admit it cos he’s too nice a guy, I knew this was his favourite present – a car care kit from Travis!)
when there are tangible reminders of the good times you’ve had…(nothing beats a handwritten card, anytime!)
And so the 40th birthday party was a great success. I read this quote somewhere and felt it really gives a good perspective about birthdays when one’s older:
“Do not regret growing older.
It is a privilege denied to many.”
Today I took the day off to spend time with the hunk because this is, after all, his last day in his thirties. We went shopping for his present but ended up not finding anything suitable. We then headed to V Burger Bar for an early dinner and it was probably the best burger we have ever had! And the chips were so crispy and stayed so even after awhile! We concluded this is a place we would return again.
At the cafe, I couldn’t wait but decided to give CS a little gift I’d made – a handwritten birthday booklet.
Inside the booklet:
8. funny (haha!)
20 Nov 2010
Stay tuned for the birthday party tomorrow!
The last two weekends had been unforgettable for many reasons. And each reason can be a story in itself; here are some in a nutshell:
There is the story of us spending a Saturday evening with a couple from church. Not only was the great company accompanied with great food, what made it unforgettable was the fact that the couple who invited us weren’t exactly on familial terms with us except for the fact that their daughter was one of our young adults. To be extended hospitality when you least expect it is refreshing.
There is the story of how God broke through a young adult we had been praying for – seeing him sobbing his heart before God in church was awesome.
There is the story of how we caught up with Rachael and her sister over a home-cooked meal at our place when they were visiting from Singapore. In between washing dishes and eating dessert, we had a good chat about looking for love, romance and life partners. I love sharing our stories because it often evokes such sweet memories and makes me realize after all these year, I am more in love than ever.
There is the story of CS telling me how he felt that weekend was ‘the best ever’ – this from a man who isn’t prone to using superlatives speaks volume.
There is the story of how we spent an hour talking in bed one early morning and I finally persuaded CS to let me throw him a party for his coming 40th birthday. And he’s promised not to do a disappearing act on that day.
There is the story of God speaking to me during a ladies’ event last Saturday – living life at my natural pitch. Cast the restraint you put on yourself, E. Time to step out of the boat.
There is the story of me speaking to a young adult during the break at the ladies’ event to be more involved in the young adult ministry and God confirmed it when she was singled out by the invited speaker and have prophetic words spoken over her confirming our earlier conversation. Both of us were left in awe of God’s timing.
There is the story of how the two of us managed to have some time with each other before church last Sunday. At the farmer’s market, we wandered around with a hot chocolate in hand and bought some veggies and flowers – mundane tasks can be such joy when you share it with a loved one.
There is the story of me decorating my first kid’s birthday cake for the coolest two-year old. In CS’ words, Kezia is ‘cool and I like him’. I read him a storybook he got as a gift at the birthday party. But when it was time to go, and with many other kids in the house by then, we were actually glad to leave.
There is the story of us being prayed for by the invited speaker in church and prophetic words were spoken over us. Those words will be cherished and kept close to our hearts. Thank you God for knowing our needs even before we utter them.
- driving up the hills to have a leisurely breakfast and browse at the local market – the poached eggs were cooked perfectly!
- spending time with family and friends – and what better way to do that than celebrating birthdays together. Happy Birthday, Kenny, Portia & Frank!
- trying out new recipes – I think this is the first time I’ve been so ‘creative and productive’ in the kitchen over a weekend: lemon coconut cake; creamed corn, cheese and bacon muffins; roasted fennel, leek and potato soup; plums and cinnamon crumble with vanilla ice cream
- catching up on housework and staying home after a hectic weekend of socialising (hand-carved pebbles of L.O.V.E bought from the said market above)
- Catching Masterchef on TV whenever we can. It is our favourite reality TV show here. We love watching what each contestant can whip up and salivating over the completed dish. And the judges’ over-the-top comments always have us in stitches: ‘that’s a really sexy-looking?! piece of fondant chocolate!’ Or ‘I love the presentation of this dish because it just brings you back to those childhood memories when you’re running through the park and seeing all these amazing colours all around you’?!
- Since then, I have been inspired on the cooking front. One of the things I started doing was making my own mayonnaise ‘cos rule 101 of a good chef (according to the show): you HAVE TO make your own mayonnaise. I must say it is not difficult at all – eggs, vinegar or lemon juice, oil. If you, like me, have always eaten store-bought mayo, you may have thought that was how mayo was supposed to taste and smell like. But once I tasted my own homemade version, I realized that was all artificial flavouring and seasoning. Yucks!
- I’ve also started experimenting with dessert recipes. Yesterday, this was what I made which was a hit when I brought them to office – chocolate pot de creme; served with whipped cream and raspberries.
- I have been washing my hair with this shampoo bar (that’s right, solid shampoo bar instead of liquid shampoo). After going shampoo-less for the last 6 months as an effort to ‘wean’ my hair from chemicals, I wanted to use a shampoo that only has natural ingredients. The result is amazing, you got to use it to believe it. My hair felt so soft immediately after the first wash. You can get it here if you want.
- We finally have our driveway extended so we can park more cars and have lesser grass to mow!
- Last weekend, our church had a series of evangelistic services and we were in charge of the altar-call team. It was tiring cos we were involved in 5 services in 3 days, plus helping out in a carnival as part of the pre-service activity. But it was all worth it, seeing many people responded to the altar call. Out of the 77 decisions received, 20 were first time decisions for God!
- Our neighbour’s cat J.R started ‘adopting’ us. He would appear at our doorstep whenever we are back, then hang around the house, cuddle next to us on the sofa and fall asleep. And every night, we have to ‘chase’ him out when it’s bedtime and he would then grudgingly head out the door. I am negotiating with CS to start letting J.R stay over occasionally…
- I am still receiving presents even though it’s been more than a month since my birthday. Thanks Liz, for the awesome book on crafts. And thanks aunt, for this cute pair of boots with huge buttons!
- The weather lately has been dreary with gutsy winds and rain. The bed is icy cold when we hopped on it; it’s crazy. It’s made us appreciate the sun whenever it does show up. We would stand under the sun if we are waiting in line for something, sit under the sun if we are eating out, put our face out and close our eyes and bask in the sunlight. Still, we’d rather have this than the heat and humidity in Singapore!
- Really loving how this photo looked in this old rusty frame I picked up from the opshop!
- How about YOU and what have you been busy with? Drop us an email and tell us how you are doing. Better yet, send us a card; a real one with handwriting.
This weekend, we are back to our usual routines with our visitors gone. It was good just to chill out at home and spend time with each other. Some random shots around the house:
What’s on our bedroom wall now. I am in the process of collecting old, vintage alphabets so I can put them up on one of the walls in the foyer. In the meantime, I thought this word was pretty relevant for the bedroom! Do you know why?
What CS picked up from the Berry Farm during our Margaret River roadtrip. I can’t wait for the cold winter nights where this would be so welcoming! I am also thinking of trying a new dessert recipe with it.
The mug was a birthday gift from Mish. Last week was a pretty rough week for me at work. So last Friday after dinner, I made myself a cup of tea in the mug and finally I felt a sense of peace came over me…