Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dear Aria,
Papa and Mama met 10 years ago today on Pangkor Laut Resort.

5 Years ago today, Papa, in sleepy sarong, on bended knees and with a ring in hand, told Mama "I want you to marry me". Mama said "yes".

Almost 6 years ago, Papa sent this song to Mama in one of the "ASongADay" emails.
We had not planned for you yet and we have since forgotten the song.
Papa found this song by accident again yesterday.... what a nice coincident and surprise we now have you, our precious Aria.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Baby Chua the First: Month Six (March 2015)

Dear baby girl,

Let me tell you about the babymoon. I had been adamant that I wanted to do something different, unique, adventurous - no lying by the beach and no large city stays. What I really wanted was a repeat of our honeymoon (which we'd already repeated once). Cape Town, Garden Route road trip, then into Kruger for safari.

Oh how I pleaded and begged for weeks! But there was an ebola scare on, plus the risk of an emergency while on safari...there was no budging on the 'NO'. 

Watching safari videos on YouTube led us to consider whale watching somewhere else, then eventually I found out that blue whales were in season in Sri Lanka - we had never been, so it was heavily considered until further researched showed that there were no guidelines to protection of the whales, AND the boats seemed to crowd them rather than respect. Considering they grow up to 30m long, I wouldnt want to be around an upset blue whale.

Something finally led us to a crowd-funded research cum whale expedition being launched 2015 in south western Australia - orcas! Animals that we were obsessed with. The crew were welcoming of this pregnant woman, so we booked and planned a roadtrip around it, Margaret River, Denmark, Albany, Bremer Bay (whale watching lift off), Perth.

What a great trip it was! If there's anything we love, its road trips and we had a fabulous time hanging out with Aly, Cam and Michael in Margaret River, exploring roads and tourist attractions, eating, going to the beaches, markets and fitting in as many movies under the stars as we could, then ending in Perth for a few days with Jonno (Aly and Cam made the weekend trip too).
First of many movies under the stars

With aunty Aly at Cape Lodge - she's going to balance out my anal-OCD side and expose you to doggy kisses and the like

Freezing one evening at Cape Naturaliste

His first shortrib EVER

I had the best almond croissant in the world here, custard filled (from the Margaret River town square markets)

Stealing apples in Manjimup

An afternoon at Green's Pool- this was a perfect day. We saw the forest giant walk, lunch at a vineyard then beach time

As we drove, we stopped at these farm stands with honesty systems, stocking up on fresh fruit and veg to cook

I made a stone fruit cobbler because we had so many peaches and plums, when it was ready, your dad announced that he doesn't like hot desserts -__-

Seasick at the back of the boat, serves him right after the cobbler comment

We saw about 50 or more orcas in a 2-hour span

You made my belly go all sorts of weird shapes during the second trimester

He's very good at chilling (I am not so)

I had a bit of a freak out the first night we arrived in Bremer Bay, we had booked an Air B & B cabin promising spectacular views and access to the beach, but driving in, we were the ones doing the mapping on google maps, it was that isolated. A further 250m down a dirt road and we came to this container cabin - a bedroom at either end and a kitchen and living room in the centre. It was casual, obviously a well loved holiday home, with little in the way of security. 

That night I didn't sleep, my nerves shot over the impending 1.5 hour boat ride in less favourable water out to Bremer Canyon(it had rained that night) and the fact that no one knew where we were (the cabin)  nor could anyone rescue us quickly if we were attacked by a crazy person. Add to that the warnings of electricity going off and there being no main water supply (don't waste water!) AND I was pregnant and going on a whale watching expedition - was I mad?!?!

Luckily, the next day went alright, I lay on my side on the choppy journey out to the nderwater canyon, Pa got very badly seasick, but we saw countless orcas and eventhough the boat broke down on the way back and we had to be towed for about an hour..all was good. Except for the carpet python living in the ceiling of the cabin, but thats a story for another time.

Back in KL, more renovation management and frustration, I knuckled down with some freelance projects.

We went to Singapore on the third weekend, where I hung out with aunties May and Nina for a bit, Pa went to the wake of uncle Jeremy's (one of his bestfriends from school) dad. Then we celebrated Pa's birthday dinner with Ama, chik-chik, aunty May and Uncle Jack. We also saw uncle Robert and aunty Shan for lunch before we left and fit in one Mee Pok for dinner!
This is you on your father's birthday, the doctor had to turn me every which way to get a decent scan of your face which I then framed 

Pa turns 41, dinner with aunty Fi and uncle U-Ming at Sassorosso

Aunty May and aunty Nina looking so fresh for brunch after their wild night out

And finally, the last weekend of the month, we flew to Penang to visit the Penang family. Grandaunt Nat and Ainon had just opened a cafe so we went to show our support, and we also hung out with grandpa, your uncles Brendon and Sean and grammie Becks.
Old cars are party of the story of our lives

It was sweltering down there, not helped by being pregnant and Pa's mini's battery and aircond dying. One day, we were stuck in a jam on the way to Market Lane cafe and I wanted to cancel plans to go, but Pa insisted. Irritable and dripping with sweat, I was so FURIOUS I nearly stepped out of the car right there and then but he convinced me to stay - turns out my lovely friends had planned a surprise baby shower (thanks aunty Celyn!). Sweetness.
Aunty Celyn made this :D

Surprise baby shower in Penang
And that, was our very busy March 2015.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Baby Chua the First: Month Five (February 2015)

Hello sweet baby!

We begin the month of February by flying to Bali, (or more accurately we flew on the last day of Jan), a little trepidation as the last time Pa and I were in Bali together at the same resort, our house was broken into and car stolen...

But, it was the last time we could enjoy the perks of my work and also see Sharon, who was leaving her post as the resort manager there (I was afraid that things might change too much once she left, and also the resort only welcomes guests about 16yo - difficult with you coming soon) so we went ahead to Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali. 

On the way to the resort we stopped for lunch with the Rambits and Enzo and Marco before making our way north. 
Your cousin/god-brother Marco chasing a girl in the fields ;)
Uncle Ivan and cousin Enzo being tech geeks
We were determined to enjoy the serenity of Tembok, just chill in the pool and sea, switch off, and eat healthy, which we did. It was a much needed break and we both enjoyed the daily massages (prenatal for me) and did yoga as well.

One thing stood out to me during this time - I had my first pregnancy associated calf cramp and boy did it hurt! Still, some quick massaging and the muscle would unclench but leave an underlying soreness. 

Mini bump

At 5 months pregnant, I had a slight baby bump and was feeling normal besides the cramps, which would happen about once every 10 days and persist throughout my second trimester.
Prior to Chinese New Year, McDonalds' around the region start serving the Prosperity burger,
the only time we frequent McD's. This year, Malaysia sacrilegiously left out the curly fries, so I was thrilled to find that Indonesia had not altered their formula.
After the short break we were back in KL, Pa to work, and me to plan the contractor schedule for full replacement of our floors scheduled before and after Chinese New Year. 
This was what home was like throughout February and March 2015

February was also the month that I had a rare craving, for grassfed ribeye and Maine/Boston lobster thermidor Surf n Turf. After about a week of hunting, we caved and made our own. Turned out better than anything we would have found out anyway.
Grassfed ribeye and Boston lobster thermidor Surf n Turf craving

On Feb 14th, we drove down to JB. Your chik-chik Will, Ama and his friends were having their first 'open day' for FOLO farm so we went to see and support. Its really cool what they are doing, organic farming to feed the families of those involved, and to later expand to feed more on a membership basis and also open up the farm to members, allowing them to benefit from its serenity and the therapeutic properties of tending, gathering vegetables and just being in nature. No doubt you will spend much time running amok at these farms in a few years.
Pa practising with uncle Gerald's baby girl

FOLO farm open day
Chinese New Year we spent in Malacca with your Ama and chik-chik Will, and grand Uncle Lai and Aunty Siew Poh.  It was also our first Air B & B experience in a retro old house owned by an artist, quite cool.

On the 21st of Feb, we left for babymoon-more on that next.

Friday, June 5, 2015

BabyChua The First: Month Four (January 2015)

Dear BabyChua,

And so we passed the first trimester. 

The all clear from Professor Raman meant that our Dr. Prashant signed off on you as well, leaving us to consider KL ObGyns that we would like to see up till your delivery. Every one that had been highly recommended was a student of Professor Raman's, classmates of Dr. Prashant. 

We went to see Dr. Guna at KPJ Damansara, since he also delivered your second cousins Enzo and Marco (we would later find out that more and more people we knew had gone to Dr. Guna and LOVE him). 

The first visit left us a bit underwhelmed. It was after lunch, and for the first time since we had begin the process of trying to get pregnant, there was no wait. Unlike Professor Raman and Dr. Prashant, he was subdued, a quieter more laid-back personality, nice and informative enough but nothing like the other two's bold confidence. He scanned you, asked if we wanted to know your gender, and told me all was good and to come back in a month. We decided we would see him again and decide then if he was 'the one', maybe he had been lethargic from a banana leaf lunch.

With regards to your gender, up until this point, I felt that you were a boy, and then the pronouncement that you are a girl! It took some recalibrating for both papa and I, but there was no less joy in your existence.

A little baby girl! I dubbed you princess tomboy.
Into the fourth month, I had few of the ailments listed for 16-20 weeks, the one that stands out is a few days of round ligament pains, my ligaments stretched and loosened and for awhile it felt like my uterus was floating/bouncing in my abdomen - when I couldn't take the pain I took paracetamol but it lasted four days at most. 

Some forgetfulness and stuffy nose, but generally smooth sailing . 
The beginnings of a bump
It was also around this time that we made the big announcement on social media, the below picture about having a bun in the oven (it was a bit too subtle or people were hungry and distracted by the thought of cinnamon buns first thing in the morning, and took some time to gain momentum).

Something about a bun in the oven- Uncle Ivan's idea for the announcement
Nana Chris and nana Mill came to visit us last week of January. Your main nana, my mother, passed away in 2009 - she had lupus and various complications (not just health), and it always fills me with sadness that she never got to meet your papa. She would have been a great nana to you as well. 

Still, we have her four sisters; nanas Chris, Mill, Pat and Nat, then of course there's grandpa and grammie Rebecca and your formidable Ama. Your Kong Kong, papa's dad also passed away from illness, but I'll let papa tell you about that.

Here they are helping me prepare root veg for one of our favourite meals, Root Vegetable Stew with Grilled Lamb and Herb Cous Cous, something I learnt while au pairing in Wales (Penny learnt while she was in Algeria)
Still, you're well covered on the grandparents front.

January was my last month at work, and papa and I planned a break for the long weekend end-January, a post-work and mini-babymoon to Bali, where we seem to find ourselves at least once a year.