Fellowship March 20, 2015
Our cell group leaders are the awesomest of hosts. We were treated to a lovely homey dinner of salt-crusted seabass (nearly a whopping 3kg of salt was used!), beef stew, stuffed portobello mushrooms, begadil and rosemary carrots. The kitchen was warm with the heady smell of stew bubbling away and spices in the potato patties. The kind of warm that makes the tummy rumble and the heart linger.
The missy helped to set the table, and later propped her right leg up on the chair, like it’s home. That sense of familiarity and comfort when you know the folks who live there so well. After dinner, the husband washed the dishes. Like it’s home.
Maybe home simply is this. It is fellowship rooted in the love for Christ, for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It is blessing, it is edifying. It is being honest and generous with our love and time.
And the fellowship continues.
The light every night March 13, 2015
Last night at bedtime, I showed Raeann this blog space. She shook her tiny fists to tell me oh-mommy-I-can’t-wait, and we lay in bed, tucked under the duvet. I kept the door slightly ajar so we wouldn’t lose internet connection, and I thought, this bedtime Ipad thing is really not my thing. I want books. Books made with good paper that I can thumb through, that make me sigh silent happy sighs in my heart.
She breezed through the October 2009 entries, requested for “Today” to be sung to her, because she couldn’t remember. I did, and we read somemore. By the time she was done with October, it was past eight-thirty. The husband switched off the night light, and she protested, probably cried a little. “The letter, I was about to read the letter!” I patted her head, kept quiet. Her hair was slightly damp still, and smelled lovely of strawberries.
This routine that we’ve kept going for years has been working great. Prayers (which include thanksgiving) and books. Five minutes later, she’s out like the light. Without prayers or without books, she gets restless and starts talking to everyone, including her bears, and falls asleep only after much frustration from no one answering her.
The huddy and I then start our night outside, sometimes with a beer for him, ice cream for me. Last night, we worked on our Missy Messy designs, and I had sketches and prints layering all over my mind I couldn’t sleep. So I sat up, picked up Kinfolk from the bedside table, read a couple of features. One last prayer for the night, and I too, was out like a light.
She thrives on routines, and so do we.
What’s your bedtime routine? Do share with me.
Good Morning March 12, 2015
Hello. How have you been? How do you even begin curating stories that have been left untold for years, when there are new ones of everydays? But I know I want to be back. And so we begin, with a good morning.
I climb into bed, briefly wondering why I bother making it every morning. I wrap the duvet around me. How sweet it is to be enveloped by smells of clean cotton and the warmth of morning sunshine. There was stillness, then the sound of Latte digging outside my door. I write a short letter to Missy in our shared journal, take a sip of my mango green tea.
Oh this girl, have you seen her lately? She’s all limbs now, her bangs no longer, and her feet three-quarter the size of mine. How is it that I lock up this blog space, and in a twinkle, my baby all of three kg is now picking up Kinfolk from the library for me, dancing ballet and waiting to be assessed by a foreign lady, and enjoying being the class monitress that every one predicted her to be? This space is a time capsule. Ever so faithful. Thank you.
So much has changed, but much more remains. Our story grows here, and I’m grateful. Thanks be to God, who has watched over us all these years, even when I was rebellious and rejected His goodness, choosing to toss His work aside like unsorted laundry heaped up on my wicker chair. Lost, and thankfully, found.
This morning, this thanksgiving. This is our story as a newly-minted Christian family. Welcome.
In seconds March 21, 2013
I’m back for a bit to say hi.
These days, words fall short. So I take snapshots. I like moments recorded in seconds. Sometimes, there is good light and pictures come easy. I take one, then another, sometimes a third, and I look back and sigh in the simple beauty of those moments.
My breakfasts at the round table, with floral tea towels and wooden bowls. My coffee at the side table, with a fat book. My gingham chair cushion on my rattan armchair, and the cable TV remote control placed nearby. My bed in its wondrous natural creases and mess, all ready to warm us for the night ahead. The sprouts that are now full-grown herbs, each with its own distinct aroma and flavour. The bakes in the oven, non-fancy, no creaming. My flowers, mostly ‘mums in all colours and on fancier days, some sweet williams and eustomas, in old root beer bottles and cute goat milk glasses.
Pardon my short post, my field notes, if you will. I’m off to make french peppermint and savour my new issue of Kinfolk. And I’ll be back to share more.
Cafe | Wooden dreams November 22, 2012
It all started when she got all frown-browed at me for shifting around the furniture in the house. I badly needed a space that isn’t overrun with toys, a small corner where my tea can sit in the teacup, steaming in serenity. So I moved away the chest that doubled up as her ‘kitchen counter’, and tucked her wooden kitchen set in an L-shape set up as suggested by the husband, leaving us a small area along the wall for our chairs and side table.
I called her space a cafe which got her to stop hopping in madness for a while, and the neighbour who happened to miraculously walk by bemused, “Wow, Raeann! You have a cafe!” So it stuck. She has a cafe!
That afternoon, I made her a welcome sign and we drew up a menu (she wants to sell beer and pomegranate smoothie and lemongrass ice cream!). That night, before she went to bed, she flipped over the ‘Welcome’ sign, and it said, ‘Bye Bye!’. “The cafe is closed! Come again tomorrow!” she joyfully cheered as she skipped into the bedroom.
The next morning, she woke up before me and flipped the sign to say ‘Welcome’. She named all the furniture in the house – “That is table one. That is table two. If there are more customers, they can sit on the chairs first to wait.” And when I started mopping the floor, she thanked me for cleaning up ‘her cafe’ and offered to make me a coffee while I mopped.
One night, we went shopping for presents at a Lego store when she uncharacteristically picked up a big box and insisted on buying it. We later realised that it wasn’t the Lego item she wanted to buy – it was the red ‘Sale’ sign she wanted. When it was told to her that the sign can’t be purchased, big tear drops rolled down, and the stall assistant fumbled around to make her smile again. “I give you this, but you don’t tell my boss!” the kind man offered. We came home with this:
“Everything in my cafe is on sale tomorrow! Everyday! Everything is on sale everyday!” she exclaimed on the way home. I shall confess that I wanted to cry. Tears of amusement, of pride, of bittersweetness that my girl, all of four, has a entrepreneurial spirit I never thought possible in a little one.
She keeps her wooden pepper shaker in the compartment of her kitchen she assigned as the fridge, while the salt shaker stays outside. “Because you keep the pepper in the fridge, mommy! You don’t keep the salt inside!” Cheeses, fruits and veggies are in as well. In goes the pizza too, because “there is cheese on the pizza, Mommy”. Yes.
She holds make-believe birthday parties in her cafe. I’m made to bake a “big roasted vanilla chocolate cake” from this “new recipe book that has many many good recipes”. I help her pack goodie bags for the birthday party. She sets up a tray with little stack cups and a teapot – “So my customers can pour iced water themselves and I won’t be so tired!”. The teapot gets ‘refilled’ when the sound stops (this teapot makes some swooshing sound when it gets tilted).
My picnic basket is now her pantry. She stores sweet treats from school in a bag. These, she wants to serve coffee with. “It’s a surprise when they order!” And there are stickers (real), and ‘marshmallows’ (not real – they are the tap knobs in the kitchen set”) that go with every order. She collects short pencils – “these are for my customers to try the ice cream flavours”.
Her latest cafe addition is the receipt, an idea from Aunty Imp. She keeps them neatly in a small basket, ready to be issued out to her make-believe customers.
Oh yes, she has ‘Daily Specials’, subject to change in accordance to her whim and fancy. I know her Tuesday’s Special is grapefruit sundae, but “if it is not available, you can come another day. We have strawberry orange cake with vanilla today.” Everyday, there is latte and cappuccino and flat white, because “we have coffee everyday”.
Just last night, we caught her snooping around in the corner of her cafe, tearing up a pack of sweets I gave to her, meant for a treat after school the next day. We were presumptuous and scolded her for eating sweets without our permission. In between her chokes and tears, she explained later that she was trying to save the sweets for her cafe so “every customer can have a sweet with their coffee”. Oh, the guilt that cut through me like a steel fork scratched across the blackboard.
She’s come up with a Christmas menu. You can look forward to wooden strawberry shortcake and orange macarons. We are going shopping for Christmas sweets (real, not wooden) to serve our customers with. Daddy’s buying her a folder to keep her menu dry and neat, and we’re brainstorming names for her little venture.
Reservations are welcome. I’ll make a ‘Reserve’ sign soon.
If you are keen to work for a bossy but impossibly entertaining little girl, you may apply here. Be prepared to get scolded once in a while because the boss is incredibly particular about the neatness of her work station and you must always “serve with a smile and say “Enjoy your meal!'” We can’t pay you much but you can help yourself to free flow wooden food.
To be continued…
Award | Eleven eleven November 17, 2012
Here are the rules:
- When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
- Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (make sure you tell them you nominated them!) and ask them 11 questions.
- You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated you!”
- Make sure the blogs you chose have 200 or LESS followers (don’t think I’m quite following this rule though)
I’m gonna skip the rules – I’m rather behind on my blog reading, more so after three weeks of ‘single parenting’. But here goes 11 random things about myself:
1. I’m a BIG fan of The Big Bang Theory. Never thought I’ll be hooked to the storyline (four geeks and a pretty neighbour – nay. Or so I thought). Now I watch, rewatch, laugh, laugh harder. If you haven’t watched it, you must one day. And sing “Soft Kitty” with me.
2. I have been a pescetarian-trying-to-be-a-vegetarian for more than two years. For ethical, environmental reasons that are a little long to recount here. Now I can’t stand the sight of roasted chickens hooked and hanging at the chicken rice stalls. And I get angry seeing suckling pigs being exchanged at weddings. I’ve seen ridiculous wedding pictures with a ribbon tied to the dead pig and people posing with it like it’s a funny joke worthy of posterity in a wedding photo. I think I fumed for days.
3. I HATE CATS. I HATE CATS. I HATE CATS.
4. I’ve never liked Chinese soups. They taste like flavoured, boiled water to me. At first I thought it was my mom’s soups that didn’t make the mark. Then I found myself making excuses not to go for dinner at my parents-in-laws’ just so I didn’t have to drink their soups. Steamboats are much dreaded too. I’ll make sure I’ll eat something else before I attend any steamboat dinner or party that I can’t avoid. Thick, creamy, chunky soups paired with bread are my staples though.
5. I didn’t wear skirts until I graduated from university. There were dark, brown, unsightly scars dotted all around my legs, and I wasn’t confident striding forward in an outfit that showed my flawed skin. I still don’t have perfect legs, but my outlook on life has grown so much stronger. It’s not what you wear on the outside. It’s what you feel on the inside.
6. Growing up, I hardly had any toys. The best toy I had was a Play Dough machine that my parents bought me when I got first in standard in primary one. It could churn out play dough noodles, and there were moulds to make burger patties. I was the chef, the cashier, the customer, the cleaner. If play pretend had a gene, I have passed on mine to my missy. I went on to get first in standard for the next five years, but my family was going through such turbulence that even I as an eight-year-old knew it wasn’t appropriate to ask for a reward anymore. My first Lego experience – playing with Missy’s first set of Lego.
7. I think I almost went into depression after my first break-up. It was a tough tough tough period. That weighs in as one of the worst periods of my life, together with my parents’ divorce and father’s death.
8. I think Chinese New Year is a meaningless affair. For years, I dread this time and am always plotting to get away from it all. Thanksgiving should be celebrated and honoured.
9. I don’t have the patience for manicure and pedicure. I love seeing the pretty colours on others’ nails, but sitting down for an extended period of time while I do nothing, just quite isn’t my thing.
10. Missy has more pairs of shoes than I do. All thanks to her favourite Aunty Imp.
11. I don’t use squatting toilets. Oh gosh, how I dislike even the look of them.
And, Bookjunkie, here are my answers to your questions!
1. What is the best trip you have ever made that you would recommend to others? Which country did you visit?
Regrettably, I hardly travel, so my recommendation may hardly be of any worth. My last trip to Perth was glorious. There are blue skies with the cutest of clouds, deep green grass that have been home to many picnic mats, gracious drivers who give way and smile, crisp mornings that I can wear a sweater in, lovely coffee anywhere and everywhere I go, quaint bookstores that I can only dream of. My life slowed down, languid and lovely.
2. If you could choose, where would you have liked to be born?
Sweden. There’s fika!
3. What is your dream vocation?
I want to be the owner of a small bed-and-breakfast guesthouse. There will be fresh flowers everywhere, small blooms, no sunflowers because I find that flower a little creepy looking. Freshly baked bread in the mornings, and I will ALWAYS serve dessert. Guests can leave behind a little something, just as a little surprise for the next guest – a ticket stub from the museum, a wild flower that had dropped on the sidewalk, a crisp leaf that had dried up, a handwritten note, hearts drawn on napkins. Writing this makes me smile already.
4. What blog or website do you read daily without fail?
I don’t read blogs or websites daily now. Does Instagram and Twitter count?
5. What book are you reading now?
Bringing up Bebe. And feeling a little proud that I have unwittingly parented Missy in ways that were supposedly ‘French and elusive’.
6. Do you play an instrument?
I played the piano when I was young, and stopped after my Grade 5 exam because taking exams were taking out the fun of playing the piano. Doesn’t the very term ‘playing piano’ signify that it should be ‘play’ and thus ‘fun’? I played the trombone too for ten years in my school bands. That was fun.
7. What did you like best about your childhood?
Reading. My mom allowed me to read at meal-times. I’m hardly seen without a book in hand. I read Jane Eyre at seven, and was hooked to Penguin Classics ever since. Every Enid Blyton book that I own – I have read them at least three times from front to back, some probably in the two-digit range.
8. What is your biggest regret?
Not having the resources to learn many more things when I was a kid.
9. Name 5 of your favourite foods?
My own chocolate-beet cake, my husband’s handmade curry linguine, my neighbour’s assam laksa, salmon sashimi, liu-sha bao.
10. Name your favourite celebrity.
Currently, Jim Parsons. I’m crazy over Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory!
11. What is the most important value to you?
This is hard. I will go with contentment. This got me through my growing up years when everyone around me seemed to have so much more.
There you go. My longest blog post in a long while. Do it if you wish!