Archive for July 2012

Sunny side up

July 31, 2012

My favourite food is egg. I love eggs whichever way they are cooked. Scrambled, fried, omelette, hard-boiled, half-boiled, poached. When I was little I would always ask my grandmother to cook me a fried egg. I would say, “Please make sure the yolk is ‘wobbly’, Grandma!” Grandma can no longer cook now so I make my own fried eggs these days, always with the yolks still runny, just the way I like it. But Grandma’s eggs, fried over high heat in her carbon steel wok over a charcoal stove, always taste the best.

Red & Yellow

July 20, 2012

I got a bunch of beautiful red and yellow roses from R yesterday (a belated commemoration of my fourth anniversary in Wales). They are just some inexpensive ones from the shop at the bottom of our street which I always wanted to buy. I put them in a short vase on my dining room table and every time I look at them I can’t help but marvel at how gorgeous they are. They are in such intense shades. The yellow is the colour of an egg yolk and the red is a velvety crimson. My all-time favourite is large white roses but these are equally delectable.

Old is good

July 20, 2012

My Danish friend flew to Wales specially to visit me this week and stayed with us for two days. On the first night he cooked us a lovely meal of pan-fried salmon with roast potatoes and stir-fried vegetables. We spent the next day and a half visiting some sights in Wales, and he spent the last night chatting with R on the sofa till 1.00am! We have known each other since 2000 and last saw each other in 2005. Although it has been 7 years since we last met, and more than 12 years since we last lived together as flat mates, the chemistry is still there. There is something so nice about being with an old friend. There is no need to put up any pretences or defences, no need to waste time finding out each other’s past, we just picked up where we left off, comfortable in each other’s company. I think that is so awesome, wonderful and magical. Some friends you know, are for life.

One day four years ago

July 15, 2012

Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of my arrival in Wales. I got here on a 2-year visa, with one suitcase, £700 in the bank, no job and full of love for the man I was going to live with yet filled with apprehension on how things would pan out.

Before I left, my girlfriends threw me a surprise farewell breakfast party. I got annoyed because I hated farewells. But deep down I was so touched by their gesture that I excused myself to go to the bathroom to cry. I was very, very scared.

I didn’t even remember that July the 14th was my anniversary last night until I got into bed exhausted, at 22:35. I was just about to doze off when the date sprang into mind. I ran downstairs to tell R, “Hey! Today is my anniversay!” And he replied, “Happy Anniversary, honey.” Typical!

I’d been busy yesterday supervising some guys who came to do a few jobs around the house (fix the broken door bell, put the loose screws back onto a cupboard, paint a few walls in the house and tidy up the back garden), then cleaning up the place after they’d gone.

Then I went grocery shopping with Lucien and he was a wretch as usual. It poured down while we were out and I struggled with putting all the bags of stuff in the car and my shoes were so wet with water they squelched when I walked. I took my shoes off and put my wet foot on the pedal and drove home.

After unpacking all the food, I came into the living room and discovered Lucien had ripped a small strip of wallpaper off. Devastated and speechless, I went to grab my glue stick to stick the torn paper back onto the wall as best as I could. I was too tired to reprimand the boy.

The life I live now is a world’s difference from when I was living with the folks. I thought I knew it all then but actually I had no clue about anything. How much do vegetables cost?  How much do we pay for gas, water and electricity? Who to call when things break down? What’s a mortgage? How to cook a meal for three? Where to grab bargains? Which type of car insurance suits me?

I really had an easy life and did not know it. I came home to piping hot freshly cooked food. I never had to do the dishes nor housework. My clothes were neatly ironed and folded by my maid. No wonder my mother laughs at me now when she sees me washing the loo, “To think you were a 千金小姐! Now have to wash toilet and do everything yourself.”

You never really grow up until you leave your old bedroom behind and strike out on your own. Then you realise that instead of being able to spend 50% of your income on clothes, eating out and other materialistic luxuries (and saving the other 50%), now 50% of your income immediately goes to bills and repayments, with the other 50% going towards food and transport.

You realise that you didn’t know you had it in you to be so strong in the face of adversity. You didn’t know because your parents did such an excellent job in making sure adversity never found you. You now also have to be strong because there is a child whose life you are responsible for, whose mouth you need to put food into, and whose future depended on you. The usual excuse of “I can’t do it” simply doesn’t exist in my life because I haven’t got the option of not doing it. And you know what? I find that is kinda good in a sense that it toughens you up. It makes me stop whinging and just get on with it.

Of course I get bad days where I argue with the husband , the weather’s so shit and depressing or I have the urge to duct tape Lucien to the wall because he’s so ill-behaved, but I have never lost sleep or agonised over the day’s events. Part of it is accepting life as it is now and appreciating what comes with it, part of it is doing little things that make you happy, and part of it is trying not to sweat the small stuff.

How does one do that, you ask?

I don’t know, it has taken me 4 years, 7,000 miles, 1 c-section, 1 husband and 1 child to figure this out. Get yourself thrown into the deep end and I’m sure you will work something out.

A very sick day

July 7, 2012

We had such a wonderful time on Lucien’s birthday but a couple of days after that, I came home after work to learn that he had thrown up twice during the day. Apart from not really interested in having anything to eat nor drink, he was otherwise playing and running around like normal.

R had to clear up the mess in the cot (he threw up in there after his afternoon nap) and on the sofa, and shower poor Lucien twice to get him clean. More disaster struck after we tried to slowly feed him a piece of toast for dinner. Thankfully, this time he did it near the kitchen and not in the living room where it is carpeted. R and I mopped up the mess and changed Lucien into his pyjamas.

That night he went to bed without his usual bath and milk.

On Friday night, I woke to the sound of quickened footsteps downstairs and then loud retching. My husband was being sick. I laid in bed feeling queasy listening to the awful noise. I brushed off my stomach discomfort as a psychological reaction but the next morning when I woke with body aches, I knew something was wrong.

I popped two painkillers and took an extra hot shower to get warm. I dragged myself around the kitchen to prepare soup for the boys. But by 9.30am I was feeling so tired and unwell that I was dozing off on the sofa while Lucien tried to “revive” me by headbutting every part of my body. It only made me feel worse. At one point I felt so nauseous I was afraid I would throw up and I quickly went to take an indigestion pill.

God knows how I managed to last through the morning and after putting Lucien down for his afternoon nap, I collapsed into bed myself without having any lunch. I turned the heating on, put on a sweater and switched on the electric blanket and covered myself with a thick duvet. This was summer but I was so cold and shivery.

When we both woke 2 hours later, I felt much better and headed quickly to the corner shop to buy a pastry to eat. I thought the worst was over but I felt horrible again 30 minutes later. I brought Lucien to the park but it was very windy and I felt very cold and achy again. We went home to get my coat and play outside for a while.

At about 5pm I had to lie down on the the sofa with a blanket again after taking more painkillers. I watched the second hand of the clock tick by and wondered how I would be able to last till Lucien’s bedtime. I tried to think of somebody I could phone to babysit Lucien but could not think of anyone who would be available. Out of desperation I phoned R to ask if he could come home any sooner. I knew what the answer was. There were sicker people he was looking after.

Then my fever broke at about 7pm and I was covered in sweat. I instantly felt better and more alive. I bathed Lucien and settled him down for bed at 8pm and I had 2 pieces of toast and half a banana for dinner. When R came home at 8:45pm (he did manage to come home an hour early), he said I looked “terrible and grey”, and ordered me straight up to bed.

For days after our tummies weren’t right but we felt a whole lot better. I still don’t know how I managed to pull through last Saturday with fever, chills, body aches and extreme fatigue. I guess the answer is simply: mei banfa.


July 2, 2012

Daddy: Do you want me to read you a book?
Lucien: Yes please!
Daddy: Okay, go find a book then!
Lucien: *gives Daddy a Chinese book*
Daddy: Oh… er… Mummy!!

*note: this photo of Lucien was taken when he was about 9 months old.


July 1, 2012

The boy turned two on Monday. Last year we had two big parties in Wales and in Singapore but this year we decided to have a fuss-free, quiet celebration with just us three. I baked a chocolate cake and decorated it with two small tractors, almond flakes, chocolate shavings and strawberries the day before.

On Monday morning, after ripping open all the cards and presents Lucien received, we drove to Cefn Mably, which is a working farm park catered for kids. We took quite a while longer than we should to get there because we got lost and the place wasn’t at all signposted along the way. It was also rather scary driving through the one-car wide country lanes with two way traffic – you never know what’s coming round the bend so we were crawling at 5km/h just to be safe. Finally, we made it at 11:30am, just as the sun came out. The weather turned out to be perfect for a farm visit. It was warm and sunny, the animals were happy and grazing and despite it being a Monday, there were lots of other families who were also there to enjoy the sunshine.

Lucien loved being able to run around the park, which is child-friendly and climbing onto the tractor, combine harvester and mini-digger and pretend-driving them. We had lunch at the park and got home at 3:00pm.

The heat made us all sleepy and we went for an afternoon nap. At 5:40pm, we woke with a jolt, realising we were only 20 minutes away from our dinner appointment with my sister and brother-in-law. Thankfully the restaurant was only a 5-minute drive away. After a simple celebratory meal with Lucien’s auntie and uncle, we came home and tucked into the chocolate tractor cake, then I divided the cake and gave some slices away to our neighbours who bought him presents. Lucien loved the tractors on the cake and successfully blew out the candles all by himself!

He was overly excitable and hyped-up when his bed time came around and it all ended in tears when he refused to go to sleep. We were all well exhausted at the end of the night. So much for a quiet celebration eh.