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Archive for the ‘Me Time’ Category

a peek into my 34yo self

Peering into the baby monitor whenever DZ makes a peep at night, sometimes having to go over to his room to give him a pat or a bottle of milk if he wakes and for some reason couldn’t go back to sleep on his own, and typically crawling out of bed at around 7a.m (though with Sari now I could escape back into my room for another hour or two of snooze time) to start the day.

While some of my peers are busy climbing the corporate ladder and building an accomplished career, my typical week looks something like this: scheduling weekdays around play dates; outdoor time at West Coast Park, Botanic Gardens and the likes; doctor’s appointments; art class on Thursday morning; reading and trips to the library; grocery shopping and wet marketing; menu planning and cooking; plenty of play dough, puzzle and playground time, AND not surprisingly very limited personal time.

Some days are easier than others. Like when DZ decides to be a perfect angel at a playdate session, or when he finishes a meal withou much fuss. When everything I planned for the day unfold beautifully and seemlessly that for a delusive moment I thought I had this childminding thing down to a pat.

Then there were what felt like endless days of temper tantrums erupting from within my little volcano, when I’d be emotionally drained after a day of constant buttons pushing and boundaries testing. Or when a bout of cold coincided with another tooth coming out and broken sleep became the order of the day once more. Oh how my body and mind sometimes long for a break from all these daily nitty gritties.

That’s pretty much what life’s like nearing the mid thirties. Two years on and I’m still entertaining questions and suggestions from both friends and total strangers on my intention to return to work. Perhaps it is the fact that my mother was a stay-at-home mom to her four children and played a big and influential role in our growing up years, making this choice to give up work for family felt almost natural to me. The very, very occasional pangs of self doubt aside, this is truly a “dream” job albeit a much more exhausting and challenging one than I’ve ever imagined or was ever warned. So yes, nevermind the irreversible eyebags and dark circles, I know I am lucky indeed.

jamie olivers

Advanced birthday meal at Jaime’s Italian with the hub as he was away in London on business trip on the actual day. Thank you for making it possible for me to be a big part of our child’s life and devoting my time and energy to our family as a SAHM, I love you so much!

bday with dad and momDad and Mom who insisted on taking me out on my birthday for simple lunch and tea at ION foodcourt. And the simpler the sweeter. Thank you for being ever supportive in all that we choose to do. You guys are the best!

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Tiring and at times overwhelming, but yet exhilarating, 2012 had been by and large good to me.

Admittedly, there were days when I felt stretched juggling multiple roles– as mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend– that I wondered if I’ll ever have time for myself again. And there were days I struggled to just get by, when I secretly questioned my existence as a SAHM.

There were genuine happy times of course but the down moments were well, pretty down too. Like when DZ fell really sick and I had to force foul-smelling, awful tasting medicine down a struggling child everyday for two long weeks. Like the days following a bad fight with the hubby. Having a child has definitely brought us even closer together as a couple but oh how baby and taking care of one in the early months has also changed the dynamics in the household. Seriously, I don’t recall us quarreling much pre-baby days!

But pecisely because of baby, there were many wonderful and unforgettable times too. Like witnessing our son’s many firsts and milestones together. Like his birthday bash and our Japan trip. Like the way his silly antics and new tricks made us laugh so hard. Like those heartwarming moments when he saw Daddy and Mommy hugging and he’d charge toward us for a big group hug because he didn’t want to be left out. And in those instances, any self-doubts simply wither away because nothing beats being able to see DZ laugh, grow and discover the world around him everyday.

In other news, I undertook a mini home improvement project that took 4 months to complete. It was a lot of hard work executing and overseeing the project and much as I am pleased with the end result and reaping the benefits of it now, I would not attempt to pull off another endeavour of such a scale anymore, at least not until my kid(s) are a little older. In my zeal to overhaul and organize our home and living, my personal life had ironically spiralled out of control as a I found myself consistently rushing for time and my sense of well-being took a beating.

In the past, I’ve always made resolutions but cleanly forget about them before the end of January roll around. Last year this time, I was too sleep deprived to bother making any. This year, for a change, we decided to make joint resolutions and agree to evaluate our progress on a weekly basis. So far it seems to be going well because compared to previous years, I feel more motivated to stay the course. It is still too early to conclude but I certainly hope that I can produce a stellar report card at the end of the year. In no order of importance, here goes:


1. Eat well.

After months of takeout and eating out, enough is enough. More homecooked food and hopefully a healthy and balanced diet for all!

2. Kick start a new exercise regime.

Sign up for weekly yoga class at nearby community center. Swim 30 laps once/twice a week. Simple weight training exercise to regain some arm and leg strength.


3. Sleep routine.

Go to bed before midnight every night, well maybe not on Friday and Saturday nights!


4. Re-energise myself daily.

Try to get some rest during DZ’s nap time. I can’t nap so 15 minutes on the massage chair is essential for a much needed midday break. Meditate another 15 minutes in the quietness of the afternoon.


5. Spend wisely!

To be much more mindful about the money I spend this year. That means not another cup or platter. Ok, a nice cake stand is another story altogether…


6. Read more.

And that means reading beyond potty training and Heidi Murkoff’s What to Expect and random surfing online. If anything, set aside 30 minutes before bedtime daily to browse a magazine, read on the iPad, flip a book.


7. Keep a happy journal.

Some days I may be skipping with energy and happiness. Other days I am stressed and frustrated. I came across a nice habit to pick up- whether it is a good or bad day- to find 5 things to be thankful for at the end of the day and jot it down. By constantly reminding myself just how fortunate my life has been, it helps to put many things into perspective.


8. Better time management.

Go easy on social media. Make weekly meal plans. Plan the day the night before. No more chores after 8PM.


9. Spend time with the hubby.

From the time DZ was about 5 months old, we had been going on a monthly date. We will be continuing with this, as well as to set aside more time to just chill together, chat and keep the communication channel open and clear.


10. Go out once a week, by myself.

Take the car out, hit a cafe with a good read and cup of coffee, go shopping. What can I say, alone-time is wonderful balance for the soul.

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Confessions

I’d like to think of my blog as a happy little island where I muse, ramble, chronicle, journalize and photograph life in general– the everyday small stuffs, milestones, celebrations, baby, travel tales, recipes and well, whatever that tickles my fancy.

It is like a little notebook for me to jot down memories to be shared with future generations (yes lofty idea I know!), and not meant to be a diary of my deepest and darkest secrets. Most times, I try to avoid writing too many negative things, not that I want to paint a perfectly rosy picture of my life, but simply because I’ve never been the kind that rant by writing and feel better after.

That having said, this entry exists because I do not want to sugarcoat motherhood. Along with the beautiful moments, there are also the not so pleasant and far fom desirable ones that a mother grapples with, inevitably.

Truth is, I am not exactly the most loving and patient mother when I get overtired.

For the most part of last month, I was feeling all bothered and frustrated because DZ was sleeping very poorly in the afternoon. He had trouble napping past the 45 minute mark and I found myself cursing whenever he woke up crying for me. I attribute my baby sleep obsession to the time when DZ had trouble sleeping both day and night and I found myself pouring through literature, both online and off, in the hope of helping all of us get some sleep. While I am immensely thankful that his night sleep had improved remarkably since, nap continues to be a battle that we fight on a daily basis.

On several occasions, after rocking an almost 10kg load to sleep and only to have him woke up 35 minutes later, I was overcome with anger, exasperation but most of all exhaustion. When attempts to rock him back to sleep failed, I bounced him roughly on the bed and glared at him accusingly. My baby burst into tears from the shock and so did I as I realised my folly and remorse gripped me. It was no doubt a case of mommy burnout but really I have no excuse for my behaviour. I felt terribly lousy about it and still do whenever I recall the look of hurt in his eyes.

I would have continue to be really hung up with things had I not visit this site. I read her stories and I cried. And cried. And hang my head in shame. The strength and sheer determination of this woman amazes me. Nothing like a little inspiration with a dose of reality check.

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For the longest time, Alvin had been suggesting that I resume yoga lessons again. Or go for a swim for that matter.

These are really my two favourite activities but since the arrival of baby, exercise inevitably took a back seat. Most days, I am so physically spent and at times emotionally drained from looking after an infant that there is simply little energy left for anything else.

I find myself making all sorts of excuses. After all, I am having a good workout everyday just from bathing, feeding, playing with and going after an increasingly mobile baby! And this went on for half a year.

A deep sense of guilt, lethargy and listlessness eventually got the better of me. I’ve been feeling somewhat off-balance for quite some time now. I hate to admit it but yes, I’ve gotten lazy.

Finally, last Saturday morning, as per his instruction, I got ready a bottle of milk and left the rest to him.

Back in the studio, I got reacquainted with the various asanas and pranayama techniques once more. As expected, my stamina had deproved considerably, the hamstring feels tight and body out of touched. I took my mind off everything and simply concentrate on breathing, stretching and sweating it out for the next 90 minutes.

At the end of the session, I was completely drenched but thoroughly refreshed. I love the warm and tingling sensation after a good workout. But more importantly, I went away with a restored sense of inner peace, calm and clarity.

This whole motherhood thing can be overwhelming at times, if I allow it to be. No doubt baby’s well-being is important but so is Mommy’s. If I burn out, who’s going to take care of baby? I’ve to remember that this is a marathon and not a race.

Endorphins, they do wonders for the mind and soul, don’t they? Now what took me so long to kickstart an exercise regime again?!? And then there was the added bonus of returning home to a baby that was bathed, fed and napping peacefully…

Thank you for kicking me out of the house that morning. But most of all, THANK YOU for being such a dedicated and hands on Daddy all this while. You’re the BEST!

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God bless Narao

Nestled in the Goto Islands is Narao, a small sleepy fishing village, my hometown in Japan.

Returning for the first time since I left 3 years ago, Narao is exactly the way I remember it. The sea and mountains beautiful and enchanting; the people warm and undemanding.

September would have been a tough month had it not been for here. Two weeks of fine weather, fresh air, good food and great company certainly did wonders to the souls.

Sometimes, what we need is a simple return to basics and in a place like Narao, one can find plenty of that.

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3 years ago today

Circa August 2007.

It was an extraordinary hot summer that year. I had left behind my beloved island in southern Japan and journeyed up north: Destination Hokkaido. The last hurrah before my one year teaching stint drew to a close. With all my worldly possessions stuffed into my trusty Deuter and a 3 day ‘All-You-Can-Ride’ JR ticket, I was ready to go. From Sapporo to the Belly Button Town of Furano.

I remember cycling passed fields and fields of potatoes and corns, exploring small towns dotting the vast lands that stretch into the horizon. The carefree afternoon spent roaming among purple seas of lavender and rows and rows of colourful summer flowers in full bloom; the pleasant surprise at having discovered quaint houses and quiet little cafes tucked away in the most unlikely corners. I remember the wholesome home-cooked meals prepared by the hosts at the family-run pension (Japanese style B&B), the fresh fruits and produce I’d picked up along the way and gorging myself silly on one too many sofuto kurimu. Most of all, I remember the peace and tranquil solitude I had felt on my birthday that year.

On my own and overseas then, I was about to return home and pick up the life that I had left behind when I packed my bags and followed my dreams of working and living in Japan. An experience that I will never trade for any other in the world. Even though it was but one short year away, I was recharged. Come what may, I was ready to take on new challenges and embrace the next phase in life.

Fast forward 3 years later.

And things could not have been more similar and different. Living abroad once more, this time married and with a few more life-altering experiences under the belt, the journey has been nothing short of marvelous. And even though the past few months hadn’t exactly been a walk in the park, with all the love and support that I’ve been so fortunate to have, I know I will only emerge stronger and wiser at the other end.

On this birthday, I wish for strength, wisdom and the same sense of inner peace I had felt on the eve of my homecoming 3 years ago.

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hi there

A month had passed since the nightmare began. Here I am trying to make sense of things, while also trying to make progress.

Physical recovery is the easy bit. To date, I could have potentially consumed a few kilos of ginger, red dates and longans; downed a few litres of tonic herbal soups in all its variations. If only emotional healing is as simple as eating and drinking.

To my family whose presence alone provides immense comfort. My father for being the ever 24/7 Dad, my mother for all the nourishing stuff she made, my younger siblings who had shown consideration and care, and my sister Rose whom I know, is hurting as much as us. Life’s treasures are people together. And I’m blessed to have all of you in my life.

To my husband and best friend. Even though you too are in pain, you continued to hold my hand and gave me strength. How you’d soothe my fear and calm my nerves when I couldn’t sleep at night. I wouldn’t have made it thus far had you not hold up the fort. Because of you, I know everything will be alright.

And to all my friends who had shown tremendous amount of love during this period of time. We really appreciate your messages, cards, flowers, and for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. You’ve come to me at a time when I find it hard to reach out. I am lucky to know you guys.

Put wonderfully by a friend, “draw strength from the people who love you…your parents, your siblings, Alvin, your friends. Nothing is ever too hard to overcome, especially when you have people on your side.”

Thank you all for being on our side.

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