Letters from the road : What is a Tenggaroh?

We had meant to leave Singapore this morning – but Denn and I are not morning folk, so we were both discussing how much we were dreading the  morning wake up and drive. “Leave later!” Cried he, “pfft,” I replied, “we’ve always had the worst luck at the causeway. Jam jam jam.” “Leave now!”, so we left– at 5 pm.

Two hours later, we found ourselves on the other side of the causeway — still jam la, stuck for two hours — and decided to get dinner out of the way, while I arranged for somewhere to stay for the night (no booking!) 

So we couldn’t find any place suitable in Mersing, and ended up somewhere in this place called Felda Residence Tanjung Leman, in the middle of what looked like a palm estate? The road here was harrowing with rain, police stops and despite the fact we had  2 GPS, google maps and a Dennis Tan who can figure out his bearings from a glance at the map — we still got lost as the “hotel” was off the grid, and had to trust our instincts.

Coupled with my night blindness and tiny bladder, I really was feeling quite afraid — but I rationalised that we were safe, and full, and dry and had a tank full of petrol. And really, we travel all the way to Nz to get lost — what’s the difference? I’m still with my Favourite adventure buddy and we weren’t that tired that we couldn’t go on further if we needed to. It was undulating winding roads with  limited visibility from the rain, fog and terrain — and I am sure my overactive imagination was at work and as we drive our today in the light I am sure to be laughing at my crazy exaggeration. 

Thankfully they had room at the inn, so to speak and we shook off our road dust and settled for a “sea view” room. Room’s clean, water runs hot. Denn and I have stayed in literal tin cans and backpacker’s inn, so this wasn’t too bad. 

This morning i peeped out the window and caught a glimpse of the sea — it’s about 20 m from our room, and my heart was filled — just filled. I think maybe God knew how much I needed this breather – and pray he ministers to both of us this trip. It was a rough decision to be away on Good Friday, and we’ve been torn about it — but God has his own ways of consolations. 

This morning, we thank God for journey mercies and for the roads to come. E is safe with her grandparents — don’t worry. 

F is for Fixing a broken heart

It’s Sunday midafternoon and I am sitting on the couch keeping an eye on E who’s taking her nap — and an old familiar tune comes on the radio.

There was nothing to say the day she left/ I just filled a suitcase full of regrets/ I hailed a taxi in the rain/Looking for some place to ease the pain/Then like an answered prayer/I turned around and found you there

-Fixing a broken heart, Indecent Obsession 

And despite having heard it hundreds of times over, it struck me what the lyrics mean. How wonderful, how redemptive it turned out– Much like my story with D: whom I met in the throes of deep pain from the breakup. 

Have I told you, D, how in so many ways you helped me find my footing, when my world was swept from under feet. And how our relationship held so much healing and growing. Thank you for being there when I turned around – and for staying around to see me whole again. Redemption. Love. 

Those days. 

T is for Tempest

Psalm 89:9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

It has been a harrowingly Long week (and only Wednesday!) E is down with an inexplicable fever and while thank God the fever broke last night,  she has developed a honking cough that makes her sound like a crazed goose. Poor kid. Her spirits are up, though. Kena nebulised.

Work has been harrowing, to say the least– and I’ve been on the phone so much these few days dealing with busy-ness. Sometimes it leaves me feeling so defeated, really — so much drama — if everyone would just calm down, life would be so much better for everyone. We’re expected to tend to every fight between colleagues, every complaint, every disgruntled anybody — but who tends to us? 

Everyone’s always on fight mode. It’s exhausting. 

R is for rekindle

E and I are learning our alphabets – A is for Apple, B is for ball.. etc. This blog titles are so fitting. 

So this year (2017) a close Friend of mine challenged me to write more– I’ve stopped writing — he said. I countered with “do you know how many emails I write a day!? It’s no longer fun.” But on days like these when I am frazzled and my mind races in a million directions and I am not in the mood to do anything else, I think why not wax lyrical for the 3 people who frequent my blog even though my last post was a year ago. (Yay, you!) 

Apart from the busy-work which is my life, I am mummy to little E whom I fear I cannot keep up with. Today this freshly minted two – year old changed the words of the finger song– “where is mummy, where is mummy.. I don’t know, I don’t know!” And while part of me marvels at her little nimble mind, I wonder if this is her being cheeky or if she sings this when I am otherwise engaged at work. 

Most of parenting is guilt and self doubt, I think.  I am not spending enough time with her, she’s going to start speaking with a Filipino accent (I do love our helpers). Is she eating enough, pooping enough– oh Gawd I don’t even know what she ate, or when/if she pooped. 

Staying home with her is equally trying – am I too controlling? Am I letting her run too wild, am I disciplining her too much? Why does she tiptoe all the time? Should we be out in the sun– the beach? The zoo? The park? Why can’t she put food in her mouth without causing a huge mess? Why won’t she eat!? How do people do this all day? Oh God, when does D get home, I need adult conversation. Oh man, did I give her water at all today? 

And then, on the day she turned 2, my bff texted to say how well I’ve done– look how far we’ve come, and I am filled to tears with love, for this impossible unreasonable creature that came from me. How far we’ve come indeed.

T is for Thirty!

I turn 30 in a week and for such a big milestone birthday, i guess i expected a lot more aplomb and excitement but instead, i find myself feeling.. what’s the word for it? ah, there it is.. grateful. 

Now that i have a child of my own, i think turning 30 made me think about the sacrifices and the love my parents have showered on me all these years.

Ping Birthday

oh the trauma mum went through! there is something about the raw bestiality of childbearing that makes me appreciate my mum that much more, especially because she had a really tough pregnancy with me. and then she probably realised that was the easiest part? did she know that day her life would forever change? i was a tough baby, an even worse, clingy and needy child, a defiant teenager, an absent young adult and a stubborn and strong-headed adult. thank you mum, for the loving patience and all encompassing love that you’ve demonstrated with me and with my sisters and now our children. you are twice the woman i’d ever be.

“it takes a village to raise a child” and don’t i know it? raising a child is scores harder than birthing a child — and i have plenty to be thankful for, for dad who is my lunch buddy and supper kah-ki. i dont think dad has ever refused me a lift anywhere or denied me anything i wanted  needed. dad’s my closest friend and there is nothing we cannot talk about and he is the parent i aspire to be. dad teaches me the meaning of putting his children first in all things; and that family sticks up for each other, no matter what.

ah, i am misty eyed.

maybe because i am spending this milestone birthday away from them with my new family– if everything goes according to plan, the three of us will be taking in the night parade at Disneyland on my birthday.

what a timely break, i have found myself stuck in a rut for a while, emotionally. it is not easy to do a long distance relationship, especially with such a young child. i know we’ve got it better than most. (we have so much help!) but its still different to live apart — and to be completely honest, Denn and i are used to doing alot together, so it does feel like i am not whole without him.

i’d be travelling up with my in-laws, and then we’d have some tan-family time in Napa Valley, then we’re all headed to Disneyland before we split off from the main group. Denn, E and I are heading to San Diego/ Santa Monica while the Other 4 Tans are heading to Vegas! This would be the first time Dennis and i would truly be alone with Elizabeth with no external help and i am really looking forward to it. (praying for patience!) We will all then head back to SF for christmas and new year’s.

i have much to be thankful for this birthday.

Lotsa Love,


P is for Packing List

We leave for SF to join Dennis on friday morning, and i have to admit, i am really stressed out about it. a couple of nights ago, my dad came to sit with me when i was battling a migraine, and told me “its a stress headache”.

Elizabeth has been the sweetest baby, all smiles and content to sit in her carrier, sleeping and eating on schedule, able to play quietly by herself, engaged with books and toys for long periods. until last week. suddenly she has learnt a new skill: defiance. pushing boundaries, threw a few tantrums and i have to admit it has given me quite a shock. and frustrations.

Facebook has this feature where it reminds you what happened on this day X no. of years ago, and sent me a notification that on this day, 2012, i attended a friend’s wedding and this song played — filling me with peace.

what a lovely song, and what a wonderful reminder that despite all the hassle and bustle — i’m going to fly over to Dennis, and what a happy reunion that would be. i’ve been so caught up being so frustrated over Elizabeth and packing logistics that i forgot the reason why i am going over — to be with my beloved. to look forward, to be basking in his attention and love.

When Love is Found

When love is found and hope comes home,
Sing and be glad that two are one.
When love explodes and fills the sky,
Praise God and share our Maker’s joy.

When love has flow’red in trust and care,
Build both each day that love may dare
To reach beyond home’s warmth and light,
To serve and strive for truth and right.

When love is tried as loved-ones change,
Hold still to hope though all seems strange,
Till ease returns and love grows wise
Through list’ning ears and opened eyes.

When love is torn and trust betrayed,
Pray strength to love till torments fade,
Till lovers keep no score of wrong,
But hear through pan love’s Easter song.

Praise God for love, praise God for life,
In age or youth, in husband, wife,
Lift up your hearts, let love be fed
Through death and life in broken bread.

i have much to be thankful for, and looking forward to.

Letters to Elizabeth, 9 months.

Dear Elizabeth

A part of me regrets not writing to you on the previous milestones. i wasn’t in the mood then, i wasn’t ready to talk about it then, i wasn’t all there mentally then, the words wouldn’t come… excuses excuses.. so here i do a mash up, chop-chop version of the events leading to now.

you were born, while most women would tell you childbirth is one of the most profound experiences in their lifetime, let mummy tell you, it was not one of my favourite. there is nothing fun about trying to pull a fishball out of your nostrill –dont try that!– but it got me, you so that day is forever etched in my memory darling. i truly felt like i left the last dregs of “girl” behind and became a woman (hormonal, sweaty, weepy, angry..) that day.

you had your tongue-tie snipped, that was probably more painful emotionally for mummy than physically for you. daddy and mama connie went into the procedure room with you while mummy sat outside bawling — i wasn’t allowed in as i was to prepare to nurse you. you were a champ though. 2 mins after, it was like it never happened.

you first smiled at me, you were, and still remain, a happy contented child. you are not a crier, often we wake to hear you gurgling in laughter. this world must be a funny world to you — a beautiful baby in front of us, and we adults spend our times stressing out in front of our big screens

you turned one month old, anyone who tells you one-month olds are fun, are lying. eat, sleep, poop, repeat. ah, those wonderful days. but it was lovely to watch your daddy fall in love with you, over and over.

you had your first vaccination, we like your PD very much, he was mummy’s PD too. we werent really used to hearing you scream in anger so this vacc tickled us greatly, sweetheart — sorry, we laughed as you screamed then glared very angrily (as angrily as babies can) at the nurse

you were hospitalized for salmonella, we are fanatic about the cleaniness of your stuff, and noone really knows how you caught it. PD says its probably an inheritance from mummy that you caught on the way out. this sensitive tummy would constantly plaque us over the next few months.

you discovered TV, ah life got easier for us. you are clearly your father’s daughter. once the TV is on, you are enraptured. you can clearly identify your favourite characters : billy and bam bam, vocabu-larry, stick with mick. oh sweetheart, your first crush was on a little blue/purple boy with a red cap and baggy pants. you’d laugh and blush whenever he came on screen.

you tried your first solids, nightmare. you reject everything new violently, and had this amazing ability to projectile your displeasure all over everyone. right now, you like pumpkin, corn, carrots, spinach, rice (not porridge), cereal, pears. you completely dislike fish, chicken, mangoes. ice-cream is your current favourite. i know, what awful parents would give their child sugars and processed dairy? but their fussy-pot child giggles and would-do-anything-for-ice-cream — even tummy time. and also because your mama christine pretends to crave ice-cream every afternoon so she has an excuse to “share” with you.

oh baby. how loved, are you?