Tuesday, August 5, 2014

stronger and sweeter

Yesterday, it dawned on me that my little baby, well, not so little anymore, is turning one in a month time. As I looked at him, sleeping soundly in his stroller i realized how much he has grown since I birthed him. Struck by this realization of the inevitability, I couldn't help but cry while sitting across Oliver in a busy cafe. 

I know I have written some struggles I faced being a new mom, dealing with Zachary's eczema and just day to day challenges. But in all earnestly, I love being a mum. To me, motherhood is a great gift. I have grown so much being a momma to Zachary. Everyday, I learn a little bit more about Zachary, a little bit more about myself as well as our relationship in retrospect. 

I recall one particular night during the earliest days when we had Zachary, Oli and I were up pretty late that night. I must have just put Zachary to sleep. We were sharing a bowl of instant noodle, just catching up on things but, mostly to talk about Zachary. Back then, parenthood was still surreal to us. I remember Oli mentioned something along the line of "I don't know why some people have problems in their marriage after having kids. I mean, there are so much interesting things to talk about." I agreed without thinking further. Fast forward, I could see how having a child or children could put a strain to any relationship. It is a combination of stress, divided attention, unmet expectations and sometimes selfishness that could often result in disappointments and arguments. Oli and I have a fair share of that. 

You see, I am the type of person who bottles up everything inside. I don't necessarily say what I feel when I am frustrated or upset over something. However, my action speaks louder. Loud enough that Oli could feel that something was wrong. The problem is more often he does not know what he did or rather did not do. So there i was, angry; I mopped, I scowled, I clinked-clanked the dishes louder than usual, I huffed and I puffed. You get the picture. He, on the other hand, once realised my changed demeanour, left puzzled trying to figure out what he did wrong. It got to a point where our relationship became bitter because I was upset and he was upset because I was upset. It was unhealthy to our marriage. I think the turning point was when we started to actually communicate. I told him "I feel like I had to do everything in this house." to which he told me " I feel like you don't appreciate the things I do." and so, we just started talking from there on, our frustrations and unmet expectations. 

In a way, things have improved. Of course, there will still be days we will be upset with the other but we learn from the past, we focus of the things that matters, we forgive and we move forward. 

'Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you had a grievance against someone. Forgive as The Lord forgave you'. Colossians 3:13 

Times as such, reminds us how much we need God's grace in our marriage and our life in general. When it is so easy and possible to just say Enough and walk out of the door, God's grace pulls us together to forgive and to love. To remind us the covenant we made in our marriage before Him. 

'And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast'. 1 Peter 5:10 

So while we celebrate the tears and joy seeing our little baby grow up before our very own eyes into the sweet boy he is becoming, we also celebrate the bad times and good times that made our marriage stronger and our love sweeter.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Luck of the Irish

A week prior to our trip to Ireland, I checked for the weather forecast in Ireland. Well, specifically at the places we were planning to visit like Dingle, Killarney and Dublin. Almost everyday and each time it showed a little sunny, cloudy, rain and cold which was why we packed our umbrella and jackets along. So when we flew into Kerry and arrived in the afternoon, guess what greeted us. Almost clear blue skies and sunshine. An old Irish man who was behind us when we were queueing up for immigration said to us as a matter of fact, "This weather is quite unusual for Kerry. I know because I live here." I guess we got struck by the luck of the Irish.Weather aside, Ireland is probably one of the most picturesque places I have ever been to. Rolling hills and green pastures, dramatic coastal cliffs, turquoise ocean and serene lakes.

Ireland is blessed with these natural beauties. As we skirted along farmlands and cliffs, we lost count of the cows and sheep we encountered. We stopped by prehistoric sites and castles and imagined how it was back then, how the people used to live, where kings ruled, peasants slaved and vikings attacked.

Our six days itinerary was jam packed with road trips starting from the small bustling tourist town and port of Dingle, Dingle Peninsula and Ring of Kerry, both very picturesque routes making car rides bearable and almost pleasant, Killarney with its colourful store fronts, boutiques and restaurants and our final stop, Dublin, where we stayed for a night before flying back home.


Dingle Peninsular

Killarney & Kenmare

Ring of Kerry

The narrow cobbled streets of Temple Bar, which is Dublin's creative and cultural quarter, were bustling with locals and tourists, street musicians, restaurants and bars. This is the place to be if you like to experience Dublin's lively nightlife.

Our third day, we visited Killarney National Park and walked a total distance of over 8 kilometres and maybe more. That walk, although refreshing considering we only did road trips the first two days was tough because I was carrying Zachary most of the time in the carrier and this boy is not getting any lighter mind you. But I survived. Our friend, Andreea, who was over twenty weeks pregnant didn't complain much about the walk, so I should just hush.

Killarney National Park

And the food. How can I not mention the food being a food lover myself. We feasted on Irish stews, fish and chips, shepherd's pies and seafood chowders throughout our trip. Yum, yum, extra yum!

Beer battered fish and chip with tartar sauce and side salad.
Hearty and homey Irish stew
Seafood chowder

Traveling with two kids under three was interesting to put it mildly. There were stressful moments like when they got fussy in their car seats which was totally understandable because it gets tiring and not to mention boring just being strapped to the car seat for hours long. What helped was lots of snacks, singing, and iPads. Hey, don't judge! And because they were either in the strollers or carriers, it was also a good idea to at least go to a park or open lawn where we could just let the kids loose so they could run or in Zachary's case, crawl and burn off some energy. It helped mellow them down so they would sleep during the car ride. I would say Zachary had only one meltdown. Otherwise, we are so proud of him. He is becoming quite a season traveller and an enjoyable one to travel with.

Fun time with Sophia in Inisfallen

Our final stop Dublin is a great city to venture because most of the attractions were close enough to walk from one place to another. What I really love was the abundant of caf├ęs all over the city with tempting and scrumptious looking pastries displayed on the front window and the smell of coffee just beckoning us to enter. Suddenly, Starbucks and Costa Coffee were not as tempting. In Dublin, we stayed in Trinity College's student dormitory because that was the cheapest accommodation that we could find. It was a good location though because we could visit the famous Old Library and the Book of Kells within the compound of Trinity College itself. This was the first time I have visited a library here in Europe and I was super impressed. This library would probably set a high standard for other libraries in Europe if I do plan on visiting them.

Other than that, we really didn't do much in Dublin besides visiting Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral and walking the streets of Temple Bar because of the short amount of time we had there. We did however caught up with our friend, Josh, whom we haven't seen for more than two years.

Just a relaxing afternoon at St. Stephen's Green Park in Dublin.

Another worth mentioning was the dinner we had at The Brazen Head which is Ireland's oldest pub dating back to 1198. While the rest had the pub's famous traditional beef stews and guinness which was devoured with much satisfaction, I had an equally satisfying bowl of Irish stew.

More pictures from the trip in random orders. Mostly pictures of me and Zachary though because I just love our pictures together. :)

I can't believe he is turning one in a month time. :(

We stopped by at O'Carrolls cove beach to take a break from the long car ride. We were excited for Zachary to experience the beach for the first time. Because he loves his baths, so we thought he would love the beach as well. Alas, he was terrified of the waves and he was clinging to me the whole time for his dear life.

O'Carrolls cove
Pictures at a stone circle

Of course, travelling in the company of friends made it extra memorable. Our good friends, The Livengoods are moving to Dallas this coming September and one of the reasons for this trip was to enjoy some quality time with them before they head back.

Pictures of my two favourite people together.

Haha, this last picture was epic right. Don't worry. I don't think Oli threw him that high. I think it was more of the camera angle because I shot from the ground pointing upwards. Really.

And of course, what is a holiday without a couple of 'us' selfie.

We really hope to visit Ireland again because we didn't really get to enjoy the Irish music as much as we wanted to and watch the Celtic step dance. Not easy with a young toddler. Who knows. Maybe soon.

Till we meet again, Ireland.