Nuffnang

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Perth2017









Back in March 2017 we went to Perth for 7 days and 6 nights. I was about five months pregnant then but I was determined to travel as much as I could before I popped and travel I did! I can't remember much of the places we visited in Perth but I do remember having a lovely time.








Being back in Australia brought back many fond memories of my Australian life as a student. Things like the really amazing fresh produce which then translates to delicious dishes that can only be found in Australia, Coles and Woolworths where I spent a lot of time at during my student years, the distinctive smell of summer, lemon lime bitters which is my favourite Aussie drink, Woolworths AUD10 roast chicken, Hoggies (Hog's Breath) steak and of course backyard barbies (barbecues). Of course being back in Australia meant that I had to have Hubbycat barbecue lamb and grill garlic prawns just for old time sake. Still as yummy as I remember it to be. 












It has been many years since my last visit to Perth that so much has changed when we were there. We found it to be a very family friendly place with plenty to do especially with kids. Perth being 5 hours away from KL without any time differences makes it an ideal place to travel to with kids! I'm so glad I got to share this trip with LittleLim and now that she's 2 years old she understands and absorbs things so much more. Observing her grow and develop from the exposure of this trip was so worth it. One of the highlights of this trip was taking the drive out to Swan Valley where we got to enjoy what Australia is famous for - wines (although I have to say Adelaide still has the best wines for me) and fresh produce such as honey, nuts and chocolate. The unplanned visit to Mandoon Estate where we had lunch and were blown away by the food was the cherry on top of an already glorious cake.








While most of the food we had in Perth was yums, another one the more memorable places for me was Bread in Common. I loved the menu which beautifully reflected the greatness of Australian produce without all the fancy frills. I also loved the ambiance of the place which well represented the Australian cafe culture. 














One of my many favourite moments was when we followed a family friend to Wannanup where LittleLim had a lovely time running up and down the jetty, playing among boats and waving to dogs. I had a wonderful time following her with my camera just taking photos of her having fun. We also had fun exploring the city at night on our last day. We enjoyed the cool summer breeze and the sights while having our burger dinner on a park bench. So simple but so memorable. 


Writing this post has awakened my memories. I am so glad we made this trip as it was our last  international holiday as a family of three. 

I've listed some of my favourite places and activities that I think you should do if you ever happen to be in Perth.

1. Shopping : Watertown Outlet Shopping for the best bargains
2. Eat & Visit : Swan Valley - Mandoon Estate, Morrish Nuts, Swan Valley Honey & The Cheese Barrel
3. Visit : Caversham Wildlife Park & Whitman Park (Free water playground)
4. Visit : Freemantle Markets 
5. Eat : Mandoon Estate 
6. Eat : Bread In Common 
7. Play : King's Park

-Ally

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Oh I Love Your Silly

Silliness runs in this family. There's no shame here.

My favorite moments are when these bursts of silly comes up at the randomest moments.

Like when Hubbycat bursts into the room singing that Octonauts song "Creature Report! Creature Report!" because it has been stuck in his head the whole day.

Like when LittleLim comes up and holds a toy fridge claiming she's a Police Officer and proceeds to scream "E-gency! E-gency!" into it.

Like when Montycat thinks he's a supercar on steroids and zooms all over the house only to skid mid-drift and crash into a wall. *Blows paws, nothing to see here I meant to do that please*

Like when BabyJ starts rattling in baby babble at the wrong time like when we're talking about Poo. He wants to have his say too being a poo expert and all *rolls eyes*

Like when Hubbycat and I suddenly remember a funny scene / line / moment from Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Fluffy or Kevin Hart and reenact the scene.

Like when LittleLim and I burst into dance right smack in the middle of our living room and how all our twirling leaves us lying on the floor laughing.

Like when LittleLim sang "ALL TOWN!" when she really wanted to say "All through the town" but can't remember so many words to "The Wheels On The Bus".

Like when I started laughing hilariously for no reason other than being too tired and irrational and then spreading said laughter to everyone in the family.

Like when Hubbycat goes all out on the puns and lame jokes that you don't know whether to laugh or cry so you end up doing both... or the "pancake face" (-___________-)

So many. Too many. But all so precious.

I can't live a day where there is no silly. It makes me sane, it makes me laugh, it makes me love but most of all it reminds me that we are family. Family comfortable enough to let our guard down and be ourselves - the crazy silly self.

I love our silly. In our world, we do silly. We encourage silly.

-Ally

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Spaceship!

Recently we've been noticing a change in the way LittleLim plays. It's more sophisticated, creative and imaginative. The other day Hubbycat was telling me how watching LittleLim play reminded him of how carefree and limitless play is. How there are no barriers other than how far their minds can go, how there are no rules, no limitations and no need for fancy schmancy toys. I nodded in agreement. 

At 29 years old, I'm both proud and ashamed to admit that I love play. Hubbycat calls me a child in an adult body. I too love playing dress up and make believe. I have always loved it as a child stealing my mom's heels and scarves to make my own clothes to today stealing LittleLim's toys to go on "adventures". It was also how Stickgirl came into existence and how she was my friend for all these adventures I conjured up in my head.

I'm noticing LittleLim taking on this love of mine and I have never felt happier because I get to relive my childhood and show her what the power of imagination can create. Also, I won't get weird looks when I tell people I love playtime now.... right? The other day I brought out my Lego Friends set and LittleLim peered over my shoulder curiously. She picked up a minifig and started "shopping". Excitedly, I too joined in with another minifig and for 15 minutes we were role playing. I had so much fun and I'm sure LittleLim did as well. Her ability to role play and imagine impressed me! No longer did she see her toys as one dimensional. 

More impressive is when she combines both imagination and creativity in her play. I leave LittleLim's toys and art materials in the living room where she can have easy access to. We encourage her to play with her toys and draw whenever she wants because Hubbycat and I believe in independent play. While I love to play with her, sometimes I don't have the luxury to. Also, I find that she has more ownership over her toys and herself when she gets to decide when and how to play. On top of that, she gets to mix and play with the materials and toys creating new toys for herself. 

Crayons can become roads and buildings, blocks can become cakes and ice cubes for coffee, Lego can be made into farm yards, transportation and so on. The other day LittleLim proudly came up to me and shouted "Spaceship!" I looked at her spaceship because Hubbycat and I had not bought LittleLim any spaceships. What I saw amazed me because for a 27 month old to come up with a spaceship combining materials was just wow. At 27 months I didn't even know what spaceships were let alone create one. LittleLim did and had taken one of her toy cars, opened the doors and took two crayons, put one in each door to make wings! I would have never thought of it that way but she did!

video




Since then we encourage her to tinkle and play with different materials. We even give her "trash" just to see her create something magical. We hand her used boxes, empty sweet containers, toilet paper rolls, newspapers, empty water bottles to get her to use her creativity. She loves it and so do I! Watching her use that muscle most of us has forgotten about. I love this stage, it reminds me that a child really sees the world so differently. So unbarred and free. I never want her to lose that part of her just as I try to hold on to mine, I want her to hold on to hers. 

-Ally

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Why Mommy?


I write. I write a lot. As I write this, there are three notebooks beside me. One is work related. One for everyday happening, reminders, lists etc. The last one, the most precious, is my phone. But it's not just a phone filled with social media apps, no, my phone is also my journal. While I love the physical act of writing (and I love my handwriting!), the sound of pen on paper and the physicalness of paper - my phone is where I journal. Why? Because it's fast, I have photos which I can include right away and my phone is ALWAYS with me. I just write the happenings as it comes throughout the day and at the end of the day, I'll reflect and see if there are any moments that I want to share on my blog, Instagram, Facebook etc. 

It's a habit I have kept for a long time now. The other day as I was just sitting on the couch with my legs up, when LittleLim saw me "journalling" and climbed on me. She pulled my phone down to get my attention and with her limited vocabulary she asks me "Why, Mommy?"

I told her everything I just said above and then I looked at her and told her, I write because I always want to remember you and your little brother. When you're older I want to remember your childhood, what you did at 1 day old, 1 year old, 10 years old and up until the day I'm gone. I want to remember the cute little things you do, I want to remember your hugs and kisses, the songs you sing, your favourite food, your first experiences, the big and small milestones - I want to remember you growing up. I want to look back and see these pictures, these stories and relive these moments. 

"Oh okay." "Why mommy?" 

I looked at her confused. Wasn't that a very long answer? What else is there to know? She looked a little bit more perplexed and asked again louder as if I didn't hear her the first time, "Why mommy?" 

"Why what darling?" I asked her back. I see the cogs in her brain turning, trying to find the words to string together, to explain herself. Giving up she points "Why mommy?" I look at her direction. Lo and behold, BabyJ has regurgitated his milk and was just cluelessly (and happily) kicking and punching away. 

I realised she wasn't asking me "Why mommy?" She was telling me "Vomit" "Vomit" I burst out laughing. "Why mommy" "Why mommy" "Didi Why Mommy" (Translation: Vomit, Vomit, Didi Vomit). She clearly did not appreciate my laughing, she grabbed my hand and led me to the wipes and pointed at didi. 

Still laughing I said "Okay baby, let's clean up!"

-Ally

Monday, 4 September 2017

Let Me!

So this happened about two weeks ago. 

It was a long day. I've been up since 8.30am doing mommy driver duties, a parent involvement meeting at Kindie, taking care of BabyJ- being a cow, comforter and all, work related errands, clean house, cook and by 7PM I just wanted to feed LittleLim her dinner, eat mine and call it a night. Prepared the table and sat LittleLim at her usual spot on the table. Served her dinner and proceeded to send the spoon filled with yummy (if I do say so myself :D I've improved in the cooking department!) food into her mouth.... before I even got close, her tiny hand grabbed mine. She looked me in the eye, hand moving down towards the spoon and with a very strong confident voice (that very much resembles mine) "Let Me." Oh the debate that went on in my head. 

I was so proud. Proud that she feels ready to try self-feeding, proud that she wants to take the initiative, proud that she's growing up. On the other hand, it was 7pm, I was tired and the last thing I wanted to do was spend another 20 minutes on my hands and knees cleaning up. Seriously, I hate mess. The very reason I did not go down the baby led weaning road was because of the mess. And right now, I was not in the mood to deal with the mess. 

I looked her in the eye and tried to excitedly tell her we'll try tomorrow only to be greeted with another firm "Let ME!". No matter how hard I tried to reason with her, no matter how much excuses and rewards I dangled in front of her, I always got a strong "Let Me!" (damn you stubborn genes!). Reluctantly and I mean really reluctantly, I heaved a heavy sigh to emphasise how reluctant I really was, I handed her the spoon. Bracing myself for the mess that would follow. Waiting. 

She dunked the spoon into her rice as if digging a grave - which might as well be mine considering how much I hate mess and die at the sight of it, picked up some rice, meat and veggie (I swear at that time it really looked like Mount Everest was on a spoon) and brought the spoon to her mouth. I winced. What felt like the longest 3 seconds of my life, the spoon entered her mouth. And came out clean. No spills. No mess. No drips. Everything, the whole mountain that entered her mouth and was devoured. First time lucky I thought. And then it happened again and again. And then some more until her bowl was clean.

It wasn't until her 6th "all food in her mouth, yes i can feed myself mommy" time it registered. My firstborn was finally feeding herself. Effortlessly. Perfectly. I didn't know what to do next. What do I do now? Do I eat my own meal now? Do I dare turn around and leave her alone? Of course I do. For the first time in a very long time, I ate my dinner hot. I ate my dinner without distractions. I ATE MY DINNER. 

I was amazed at how LittleLim knew she was ready. I was amazed that she didn't back down but firmly and confidently stood her ground and believed in herself when I doubted her. I was amazed that to prove her point, she kept insisting that I let her do it her way. 

The thing is, so many times I'm the hovercraft, eagle mom who thinks her kid can't do it yet. Sometimes the thought of cleaning up messes and fixing things put me on the edge and I don't want to let her try. Sometimes it's just because I think I know better (most times I do know better!). But I gotta just let go and remind myself that messes can be cleaned up but my child's confidence can't be fixed so easily.

I learnt three things that day: 
1. Have more confidence in my daughter's ability.
2. Arguing with LittleLim is like arguing with myself.
3. Hot food tastes damn yummy! Oh how I've missed it. 

Such a pro at self feeding now!


-Ally 

Monday, 28 August 2017

My Story Isn't Finished


I turned 29. Twenty-Nine. Still wrapping my head around the fact that this will be the last year while my age still begins with the number 2. Not going to lie, some days I feel like that seventeen year old girl just after SPM trying to figure out what to do with her life. Bah, who am I kidding! At seventeen I was confident I had my life figured out. Go to college, enter law, head to university, graduate, be some badass criminal lawyer, earn big money and reputation, get married at 27, have one kid at 30 and call it a day. Of course, it's obvious my life today looks nothing like what seventeen year old me had planned it to be. 

My twenties has given me a lot of wake up calls and lessons. One of it is to always keep moving forward, be teachable, forgive yourself and be better. My life today is a result of many setbacks, failures and change. People who know my story knows that it hasn't always been this rosy or this easy. Right from the age of twenty-one and being pushed out into the harsh world, I faced my biggest demons and fought my toughest, metaphorically speaking, dragons. At these moments, I thank God for making me a fighter, a survivor. 

There were too many times in my desperation and despair,  I thought that my dead ends and failures were the end of my story. Too many times in my darkest moments I wondered if this is all I would amount to, if I've lost my one opportunity to be great, if I've lost my chance to start again, if there was even a "start again", if I've said goodbye to the wrong people, if this was the end of the road? Too many times I wondered if my story was even worth telling or was I just a waste of oxygen? My greatest fear was wasting away my twenties and having nothing to show for it. And whenever something in my plan goes wrong, whenever something fails - I wonder is this the end?

But whenever I feel at the verge of surrendering to my failures and giving up, something inside me comes alive. I call it my little fighter - the survivor in me. It tells me to keep moving forward. That everything has a story, a reason, a lesson. Figure it out. Get up. Breathe. Forgive yourself. Move on. Try again. In these moments I've learnt that sometimes you can't fix the problems of the past but you can always do better in the future. I've learnt to let go- let go of the mistakes, the people, the failure, the shortcomings and then try harder tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be better, tomorrow I won't make the same mistakes again. 

I push myself to move forward even when sometimes it feels like I'm walking blind or when it feels like I'm taking two steps forward three steps back. There are days when I want to give up, to sleep my sorrows away, to isolate myself, to wallow in self-pity and I do. I let myself feel. I let it out. And then I tell myself it's time to get up. I remind myself one day something will open, someone will enter, something will come up and when it does, I want to be ready. It will come. One door closes another opens. Someone walks out another will walk in. 

I learnt that it's never the end. Not until you say it is. Not until you refuse to open the door. Not until you isolate yourself and refuse to go out. I learnt that there is always something , you just have to prepare yourself to receive it. 

I didn't end up single, I got married at 22. I didn't end up migrating overseas, I came home to tanah airku. I didn't end up in law, I ended up in Economics. I didn't end up an Economist, I became an illustrator. I didn't end up being an illustrator, I became a mother. I didn't end up with only one kid, I have two beautiful children. I thought that was the end of my story but another door opened. I never would have imagined my story to pan out this way, I couldn't because I'm doing things I said I would never do. But here I am doing the things I thought impossible. 

Today I'm twenty-nine and I feel so thankful, happy and blessed. Blessed beyond words because of everything I've been given. Blessed because when I thought my life was meaningless, it became meaningful. I'm blessed because every dead end led me to where I am today, a life so full. I'm so thankful for the doors that opened, the people who saw something in me and took the chance, the people who stood by me when I had literally nothing, borrowing money from friends to make ends meet and hoping something good to materialise, thank you for staying by my side, thankful for the family who keeps forgiving me and giving me second chances and thankful for the people who let me tell my story. But more than that, I'm thankful that God isn't finished with me yet. That my story isn't finished yet. 

-Ally

Saturday, 19 August 2017

This Is For Every Mistake I've Made

We all make mistakes. I make mistakes. I make A LOT of mistakes. Just 5 minutes ago I made a mistake. Some mistakes I make are small and negligible while some are huge and unforgettable. Nonetheless, a mistake is a mistake regardless of it's size. 

In a few days time (fine, a day okay, A DAY) I turn 29. That's 29 years of living. 29 years of making mistakes. That's a lot of mistakes. For the longest time, I thought making mistakes meant that I was weak. I wasn't good enough. I was flawed, tainted. I used to be very scared of mistakes because I felt very judged for them. Whether or not people were actually judging me was not the case because I always judge myself. I'm my biggest and worst critic.

I would always feel so anxious and scared in doing things, making decisions and even just living because I was so scared of the mistakes I would make. I was so afraid and ashamed of imperfection. Everytime a mistake was made I'd beat myself over it, I'd find ways to "punish" myself in hopes to find atonement, I'd remind myself of the mistake over and over again. I'd let the mistake take over me, my thoughts and my actions. The mistake would haunt me and cripple me to the point where I just could not try again. Insecurity and anxiety ate at me but the hardest part was pretending I had confidence in myself and the decisions I made. Hiding the mistakes and imperfections that has "tainted" me. That was me. The old me. The me before I found me.

It has been a journey. A journey of coming to terms that I am not perfect and will never be able to attain perfection. A journey of learning how to accept the mistakes I've made and dissecting each mistake. A journey of self discovery and taking full responsibility of the mistakes I've made. A journey of forgiving myself for my setbacks, flaws, incompetence, arrogance that caused me to make the mistake. A journey of releasing myself from the hold that these mistakes have over my life.

The mistakes I've made in the past no longer hold me back. They no longer are "black marks" on my life and no longer make me feel ashamed of myself. Instead of seeing them as "failures", I choose to see them as events that steered me to where I am today. These mistakes in one way or another prepared me to be who I am now. These mistakes make up my stories. We always talk about our successes so why shouldn't our mistakes be talked about as well. Especially if they've taught you lessons that led you on the path to greater things. Maybe these stories of failures will help someone else along their own path and prevent them from making the same mistakes.

Mistakes don't make you a failure. You only fail when you haven't learnt from them. Mistakes are proof that you've lived. With every mistake, always remember this, there is a lesson to be learnt. Hold on to these lessons, don't ever forget. And never be ashamed to tell your story.

29 years of living and many (hopefully) more ahead. I am still writing my story and without a doubt there will be more mistakes as I go through life. But with each mistake, I get better. With each mistake I live a little more. With each mistake I am reminded that it is easy to fail and that I am dependent on God's help and the support and love from people around. With each mistake, I am reminded I am alive.

For every mistake I've ever made has made me a better person today.

-Ally

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

I'm Not Sorry Kids


As a parent one of my greatest fears is my children learning that not every parent is as tough / strict / nice as mommy. One day, one of them will tell me "I wish XX mom was my mom" or "XX mom is nicer. Why aren't you nicer mommy?" or "But XX mom lets her/him do that!" I know it's coming because I know I'm a strict mom. I don't deny that I am a "NO" mom, saying more nos than yeses. I am also the mom who counts to ten and give time outs. I am also the OCD mom who hates mess, dirt, gross activities and all that weird icky stuff that kids love. 

I know that as they grow up, I'm going to be the mom who focuses on homework and exams. I'm going to be the mom who will insist they respect people older than them, to accept that life is unfair and to always be mindful of their manners. I am also going to be the mom who will seem uncool or not fun because there are going to be times where my kids would love to do something and I'll put my foot down. I am also going to be the mom who will be the mom instead of their best friend. 

I'm going to be that mom. That mom who my kids will one day realise isn't the nicest / most fun mom in the world. To be honest, I'm not sorry. I'm not sorry I'm going to be that mom because I know that while modern day methods of parenting has gotten "softer" and "fairer", I know that there are some things that cannot be negotiated. There are things that as a parent I am responsible for and my kids happiness is not one of them. Yes, it's nice when I get to make my kids happy. Their happiness is my happiness but I will not lessen our standards or principles to make them happy. Their happiness is not my priority but making them into well meaning adults with strong morals and principles who are able to contribute to society and the world - that's my priority. Showing them that they are loved by being the mom who disciplines out of love - that's my priority. 

To My Kids

Your mommy is not sorry for telling you to do your homework and study, for telling you to stop playing with your food and eat everything on that plate, for telling you to address your seniors and respect your elders, for asking you to come in and stop playing in the mud, for telling you that it's not okay to get offended by someone else's opinions and that life is unfair, for giving you a hard time for cleaning up after yourself, for nagging you about your chores, and for all those times that I may seem uncool. I'm not sorry because one day you will look back and realise that everything I do now is for your own good and for you to become people with strong values and attitudes. 

One day you will realise that your uncool mom is protecting you from living a life that is mediocre and unpurposeful. One day you will realise that your strict mom is giving you a fighting chance in a life that is unfair and tough. One day you will realise your unfair mom is teaching you to thrive and adapt to a world that is generally rude, cold and uncaring. One day you will realise your uncaring mom is teaching you to care for others in a world where everyone feels entitled. One day you will realise that your mom is your mom and that she loves you a great deal to give up her happiness to keep you on the straight and narrow so that you will find a life of greatness and to unlock the blessings that are for you. One day you will look back and realise that everything your father and I have done is because we love you and want the best for you even if it seems harsh, cold, severe and tough right now. One day you will look back and thank us. 

We know this because your mom and dad, the two most unconventional people, have had our fair share of fights with our parents. We now look back with so much appreciation and gratitude to the people who raised us tough and raised us right. Your grandparents. It wasn't always easy or nice but those principles and values we cherish today. In a world where morals are blurred and standards are low - we are thankful for every discipline your grandparents have passed on to us. 

So yes, you will "hate" me, you will wish I wasn't your mom, you will cry, you will say I don't understand or that I'm outdated, you will slam the door at my face - it's okay. I fear that day, but I am also okay. Because I know that everything I do is because I love you. So no, I'm not sorry kids. 

-Ally