This is our favourite spot in the house because so many good times have been shared with family and friends over the dining table. Truth be told, I used to bemoan about how we don’t have a separate dining and living area. Yet, almost every first-time visitor to our house often exclaimed how it exudes a ‘cosy and intimate’ feel. And I’ve learned in the grander scheme of things, contentment, is indeed, a great gain.
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.”
It has been 10 days since my last blog post so here are 10 random updates:
- We had shepherd pie which I made for dinner last night. It was delicious although CS preferred the usual mashed potato topping instead of the sweet potato version.
- We caught up with friends over coffee yesterday afternoon. One of them had started seeing someone recently and now wondered if the affection was mutual. It was hilarious to hear all the different interpretations that came through because of our diverse cultural background – French, Italian-Bosnian, European, American and Singaporean. Yet it was also interesting to see how dating norms and relationship rules differs.
- I am still baking – my latest creation was a a mango pineapple and coconut cake which I baked last Saturday.
- We had a great time of drinks with the neighbours last Friday. We met in honor of jR the neighbour’s cat who had to be put down last Wednesday because of leukemia. To a large extent, jR was the one who brought all of us closer together when he started hanging out at our house. We were happy to have him over and the neighbours were happy that jR found a second home especially since they had 2 dogs, 3 puppies and 2 amazing fish tanks to take care of as well…
- I started a weekly aqua-aerobics class with a girlfriend 3 weeks ago and has been enjoying it. (Despite a Swedish co-worker’s initial comment: oh aqua-aerobics; that’s what the old ladies do for exercise back home… And that made me realize that was also true in my class too. But who cares as long as I get my hour of workout that doesn’t leave me feeling all sore and achy afterward!)
- For the last 2 Sundays, we have been attending a Chinese service in a different church that we are hoping mum-in-law would settle down in. Thankfully, the initial signs are promising.
- What I am reading currently: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert and September Songs by Maggie Scarf. Interestingly, both books were about marriage especially in its later years. I guess it’s because we’ve entered ten years of marriage and I don’t want to take things for granted.
- I am starting to like my new car that CS bought me at an auction. Compared to my last car, this is like a luxury to me. Curious? Will post a picture here soon, I promise.
- My herb garden is flourishing so we have been eating home-grown parsley and coriander. I bought rosemary at the farmer’s market yesterday and hope it will grow as well too. I also bought mum-in-law some strawberry seedlings because this is the season to grow them, so hopefully that turns out well too.
- I am learning to trust God to work in His time, not mine. When nothing seems to be happening, it doesn’t mean nothing is moving. Makes sense? I guess this is when faith is called into action. Hebrews 11: 1: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (New Living Translation)
After much planning, we are finally having CS’ mum come live with us in what we hope will be a permanent arrangement. With his sister and family’s migrating to Canada, it is inevitable that this will happen.
When I looked back to our courtship day where I actually declared to CS that I would ‘never’ live with my in-laws, I now realized how foolish those words were. Thank God he never dumped me over that because his mother has always been really important to him. Perhaps he knew it was only a matter of time that I will come to love his mum the way he did. And I did.
Over time, I got to know my mother-in-law. She is one of the few women I considered godly. Her faithfulness and prayerful-ness were 2 qualities that really stood out for me. She hasn’t always had an easy life yet she is always generous towards people around her. And she would often praise me in front of her friends.
It’s funny how the more you love someone, that love then gradually grows to include others that are important to that someone as well.
So, there will be adjustments as we learn to live together now. There will be times of frustrations, I am sure. Yet, I am quietly confident that love does conquer all.
- 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)
Last weekend was our second ‘tour of duty’ with the Chew family in town for a visit before they drove down south for their family roadtrip.
At the Mundaring Weir
Posing with a WWI canon in the historical town of Guildford
Guildford Post Office
Panoramic city view from Kings Park
Church on Sunday
And with a two year old boy, there’s of course lots of goofing around like…
enjoying the Sunday afternoon at Kings Park…
chasing the ducklings…
taking lots of pictures…
exploring every bit of Guildford park…
having a “sliding” time in the playground…
going gaga over a giant poodle…
having a go at ringing the church bells
enjoying Coke for the very first time
and this expression probably sums it all up – WOAH!
Last Saturday was “socially fruitful” because we were able to catch up with different people over meals.
For breakfast, we met up with the couple from our former church whom we had been mentoring since June’ 08. The cafe had an industrial chic look and even though it was tiny, I must say the food and drinks were pretty impressive.
I ordered an eggs florentine – poached eggs served with hollandaise sauce and smoked salmon, baby spinach with toasted turkish bread. And you know you are in a good place when the tea you ordered is organic and served with pure honey. Yummy-licious!
On our way for our lunch appointment, we saw a church garage sale and pulled over for a quick look. I was happy to snap up a handmade fabric Christmas wreath at an unbelievable price of $1! Can’t wait to decorate our home for Christmas now…
For lunch, we went to a new noodle place with aunt and uncle. It’s always good to catch up with them whenever time permits us to. We talked about doing go-karting or paintball one of these days…that’s how cool they are!
In late afternoon, we went over to Nico and Zoe’s for some home-baked goodness – blueberry and chocolate-macademia muffins. Gotta love a man who cooks and Nico apparently is quite the kitchen Nazi at home being French himself!
Another reason why we were at Nico and Zoe’s was because I wanted to see Zoe’s latest toy – a sewing machine. We’ve talked about learning sewing together and she had now beat me to it by having her own machine. She let me have a go at her ‘baby’ and I tried sewing a pair of pants for Lukah…Not too bad for a first attempt huh? I promised the kiddo that it would be in time for Christmas!
We stayed on for dinner and decided to do Chinese takeaway which we introduced the couple to weeks ago and they had been hooked ever since. We had fried rice, salt and pepper spare ribs, vegetables and tofu stir fry and roast duck (the best in Perth in our opinion!).
Last Saturday, we squeezed in a trip to IKEA to have breakfast and buy stuff. Our haul for the day: candles, napkins, floor lamp, picture ledges, 3 coffee tables (which CS is going to modify it into a shoe rack for the hallway).
Then in the afternoon we went to Serpentine Falls National Park to see the water falls and the wild kangaroos. It’s been a long time since we got up close and personal with the kangaroos, so it was fun to re-acquaint ourselves with these furry things again. I must admit they frighten me a little initially when I saw them approaching but they turned out harmless. It was also fun mucking around with Terry in the great outdoors!
On Sunday, we went whale-watching. I think the whole experience was a lesson in patience because most of the time was spent waiting for the whales to surface; and the law actually prohibits us from coming within 100 metres of them. But our patience was rewarded when we caught glimpses of the magnificent mammal bobbing in and out of water every now and then.
In the night, we had an Australian/Kiwi couple from church over for drinks. This was the first time we’d invited people from this church we started attending since June. And it was an intentional effort because we finally felt this was where we could settle down in; thus we started looking out for people we could possibly connect with.
Jay and Aida was one of those. We had a meaningful night getting to know each other and our respective life stories. It’s always good when you are able to know someone beneath their usual Sunday appearance, probe a little deeper and suddenly that person is not just a face but a unique individual with his own story to tell…The drinks went on for 3 hours but it didn’t feel that long. CS and I went to bed exhausted but satisfied that we finally took the first step in building relationships with people from church…
On Monday, we went to Ivan/Bel’s for brunch. As usual, the good food was always accompanied by an even better company. It was a lazy day spent indoor watching movies which was the perfect winding down to the long weekend…
All thanks to the Queen of England, we will be having a long weekend. And this is what it looks like:
- It’s a toss-up between going IKEA to check out their 2010 collection (mental note to self: get candles and napkins) or this: Driving to here for some nature time. According to my colleague, kangaroos are aplenty after 5pm!
- Or maybe we should do both?? Either way, it’s going to be spent with my favourite 16/17 (?) year old cousin Terry. I love this young man and look forward to spending some quality time with him. The best part? He doesn’t mind hanging out with ‘old foggies’ like us!
- Night: ??
- Morning: Attend church.
- Afternoon: Go on 2-hour boat cruise to do whale-watching with Terry (his belated birthday present). Hope we can see them in action!
- Night: Have couple-friend over for drinks.
- Late morning: Brunch with friends.
- Afternoon: tentative – zoo outing with Mish and a Swiss girl she’s met on the bus…
- Evening: Babysitting for another couple-friend who are celebrating their anniversary.