Sunday, September 13, 2015

Art as Meditation

It's been so long since I blogged but I feel compelled to write about my art experience yesterday. I've always wanted to do one of those art and wine classes... a glass of wine, a guided painting class, but never had the opportunity before yesterday.

I found a series of classes through Artbeat San Diego called the "creative sanctuary" series. You paint on a bluff overlooking the ocean to the sound of waves, to use painting as meditation, and to bring more self-awareness to our life through positive affirmations. Sounded right up my alley after spending 10 weeks overseas in my urban-jungle home country! So I invited my mum friends to join me for a mum's creative day out instead of our usual nights out.

Sunset Cliffs, Point Loma
I got there early enough to pick our spot, and I immediately felt the calming effects of the ocean breeze. It was a mighty hot day, but we were thankfully shaded. I am by no means an artist, so I was a little apprehensive about the whole process. Kristel, the founder of Artbeat and our guide for the afternoon, made me feel very at ease. Once everyone arrived, we sat in a circle and she talked about the third eye chakra, our focus for the painting we were about to do. Everything she said resonated with me and definitely set the mood for the painting.

We then found our seats again, and she went around with a deck of affirmation cards, and had us all shuffling the deck and picking out a card while she got our paints set up. 

Again, the message on the card resonated with me, and I thought to myself, "I'm meant to be here, I should be doing this". As a stay at home mum, I often feel guilty to take time away from my family, especially with a very active toddler, but as I sat there with my fellow mums enjoying the environment and the afternoon kid-free, I felt my inner cup filling up again. We needed to do this for ourselves!
Starter paint... blue was the color of the day/chakra
Kristel then lead us through the steps of creating our painting, mixing gray for our outlines, drawing our horizon line, and drawing our mountains. Of course, being no artist, it felt really strange picking up a brush and free forming images on canvas, but I had to trust the process.

Mandy, the resident artist in our group, and her mountain range
Next came color blocking. First by painting the water, then the mountains. Kristel suggested colors for us to use, but we were free to mix and paint what felt right to us. Some chose the straight blue for the water from the paint provided, others mixed. Same thing for the mountains and sky. I was surprised to find myself using lighter, brighter colors while Mandy was surprised hers took on a darker hue.

Briana and Mandy at work with color blocking, my canvas in the center
We learned how to add depth to our painting by dabbing and flicking. I was surprised to see how quickly all our inner artists came out. We were so absorbed in our work that we didn't even notice that the sun was setting on the horizon, but I took a quick break to capture the moment.

Sunset over the Pacific

With the sun setting and us losing light, I did hurry a bit to try to finish my painting. At the point the sun set, I only had some finishing touches to add to my painting and to finish up my orb. And thus, my interpretation of "Clear View", was complete. I was again surprised by the colors I ended up using, especially the yellows, oranges and reds, which have never been "my" colors. I felt so at peace and content, and excited that I had created something from nothing. It was an amazing feeling.

3.5 hours later, my painting is complete!
As mums, we often forget to feed our own souls, and I definitely felt like the time I spent creating this piece made me a better, calmer, happier mother because my soul is nourished. We'll be back!

Proud and happy mamas!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So long, 2013!

Wow, what a year. I'm starting this post 53 minutes away from the stroke of midnight, and I'm still up, reflecting on the year. The year has been a blur of events, and I'm trying to recall all that's happened. That's what I get for not keeping a diary or blogging often enough. I'm wary of making resolutions for the next year though, since the one resolution I made for 2013 (to learn to sew) hasn't yet come to fruition.

The biggest event that happened in 2013 was the arrival of our little girl, and our family of two became three. We settled into our home here in San Diego, and were lucky to find renters pretty quickly for our old house when it became available for rent. We had to upgrade to a mom mobile since my old faithful car's transmission started going south, and having an unreliable vehicle with a newborn was not an option for us. I've been semi-retired for most of the year, but the new job of being a 24-7 mom had a pretty steep learning curve, and definitely took some getting used to. I still don't feel like I'm doing a good enough job of being a mom.

As 2013 ends, I'm resolving to be a little more organized, to clean out my closet, and to finally unpack all those boxes I have in the garage. When I have some time. I also hope to start cooking again, now that baby is a little bit older, and is a bit more independent. I need to figure out how to squeeze work-work into my day, and figure out how to keep baby busy while stimulating her wonderful growing self. Lots of things to figure out. Hmm. I'll just resolve to enjoy every single day of 2014, and just focus on the positives :)

It's 17 minutes away from midnight... that's how long it's taken my tired mind to string together some semi-cohesive thoughts. Sleep, here I come. Happy new year, everyone!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Hot Mess of Emotions

Just had to say bye to my folks as they leave on their much anticipated vacation, though I think they would have rather stayed here to wait for baby's arrival. I'll admit that I'm really bummed she didn't make her appearance so my folks could meet her before their trip, but that's where today's technology comes in handy. I'll be able to give them a call on their cellphones no matter where they're at, and send them some pictures too.

Still no baby yet... she must be super happy and snug in her little cave, gaining weight. Her little elbow that we've been able to feel the most has definitely lost it's boneyness, and has rounded up some. I wonder how much she'll weigh at birth.

At my appointment on Monday, my midwife talked about induction and antenatal monitoring, especially if she doesn't want to show up on her own. "I will calmly meet whatever turn my birthing my take" is a Hypnobirthing affirmation that comes to mind... I just have to remember that this is her birth too, and she definitely has a lot of say as to when she wants to show up.

Monday, August 5, 2013

And now we wait...

39 weeks vs. 6 weeks... how I've grown!
It's been a pretty crazy 37 weeks or so since I've had this not-so-little cupcake baking in my oven now. The cupcake's dad is anxiously awaiting her arrival, and so is my family that's visiting. I really hope she shows up on time, so my dad will get a chance to see her and spend some time with her before my folks have to leave on a trip they've had planned for more than a year.

Time has taken on a strange quality now that I'm on maternity leave, and just home waiting. It has been awesome spending time with my mum, who's been cooking up a storm, so I've been able to enjoy the yumminess that is home cooked cuisine, which I don't get very often, since the traditional Straitsborn-Chinese style cooking is tedious and takes a while.

I am definitely enjoying my last few moments of "quiet" on this Friday night before the baby arrives. As I'm partially writing this post, it's just the kitties and me at home, with Breaking Bad playing on tv. The hubs and my mum have gone to LAX to pick up my dad, and my sister arrives tomorrow. This is definitely going to be my last moment of peace, I think. Baby might be agreeing with me too, since she's been really active this evening, more so than she's been in the past few weeks.

She's definitely taking her own sweet time. Today's attempt at getting her to "come on down" was retail therapy, since a foot massage, walking up these crazy steep stairs, and exercise hasn't really coaxed her out of her shell yet. I must have a pretty comfortable oven for her :)

I have had a relatively uneventful pregnancy, save for the crazy hormonal days, nausea earlier on, and a below-the-belt episode sometime in my 2nd trimester. I have to think my bi-weekly (now weekly) chiropractic treatments and twice-a-week pilates has helped tremendously. I can still see my ankles and my waistline (yay), and am currently feeling pretty good except for the pressure in my hip joints, thanks to the growing belly. I've gained about 20 lbs as of my last appointment, which I think is pretty darn good too.

The first trimester was really challenging for me, since I have never ever felt such debilitating fatigue before. I would fall asleep right after meals several times a day, napping all the time, and nausea was making it difficult to eat. Of course, it didn't help that we didn't really have our house to ourselves since it was going through some remodeling, and we were between houses too, so it made for a challenging few months.

Once the second trimester rolled around, I felt like my old self again. That truly was the most wonderful time... my bump was growing, I felt great and energized, and got a lot done. I was finding a good work/home life balance, plus it helps that I work from home too. I think the best part of the second trimester was finding out that our baby is a girl, and feeling those first few flutters of movement from her (on Easter Sunday night no less!).  That was when it started becoming "real".

When the third trimester rolled around, the tiredness set in again, but nothing like it was in the early weeks. I found myself napping more, and my joints started aching once the bump really started growing. As of this update, I'm currently a day away from my 40 week mark. The hubs thinks that my oven is too comfortable for the not-so-little-anymore cupcake. We'll see what my midwives have to say at my appointment this afternoon.

Perhaps baby is waiting for my to write my pregnancy story out before making her appearance. My sister helped us decorate the baby room this weekend, so the room is all ready for her. We just need her to show up :) I'm drawing a blank right now as to what else I should say. I guess I'll end it here for now, and will post updates if I think of anything else.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ikea furniture hack...

On Memorial Day, Anthony woke up with this brilliant idea of hacking some Ikea furniture to make covered litter boxes for the kitties (I guess he got tired of seeing exposed, open litter boxes, its contents, and the litter being tracked all over). Over breakfast armed with our smartphones, we found a site with hacked ikea furniture, and they had brilliant ideas on how we could accomplish this project. After much searching, we decided that the Stuva storage bench found in Children's Ikea worked best for what we had in mind.

We turned this...
into this!

Tools you will need:
- the usual tools you need to assemble Ikea furniture
- a jigsaw
- flexible rubber coating in a can (optional)
- spray paint (to cover up the whole you cut)
- face mask (if you use the flexible rubber coating)
- caulking (optional)

We opted to seal the cutout and the inside seams with the rubber sealant and caulk (along the inside seams) so that any accidents that may happen (the drawers are holding litter boxes after all) don't seep into the MDF and end up warping the panels.

We assembled the drawer as instructed, but before installing the final front piece, Anthony cut out the opening with a jigsaw. After the opening was cut and installed, we used the Rust-o-leum Leak Seal to seal the cut out opening, and Anthony liberally sprayed it inside the drawer along the seams and screw holes, to avoid any accidents. We left it for 24 hours to cure. The cutout was then spray painted, as was the not-so-pretty-when-dried rubber coating on the inside of the drawer. After spray painting, the seams along the joints inside the drawer were caulked to prevent any leakage through the seams (leave to cure for a few hours). Assemble the bench portion of the storage bench, and voila, you get this:

We chose to line the interior with pee pads, to make any mess cleanup easier, and we added a litter mat to trap as much of the litter as possible before the kitties leave the loo. I also added some Arm & Hammer baking soda that was meant for the fridge.

*knock on wood* So far, we have noticed a lot less litter tracking in the room (which happens to be my office space), and it's definitely a better sight to look at than exposed litter boxes.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Happy New Year, 2 months too late

2 months in to the new year, and 8 months (eeps) since my last blog post, and so much has happened since we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary! We have moved, and we're also expecting. That's the best news, I think.

Our first look at Baby Kenniston

I find it fascinating that everything is now "what's best for baby", even though our wee one has only been baking in the oven for 17 weeks. We've already completed our childbirth classes, though at the advice of our doula (yes, I've lined one up too), we're putting off breastfeeding and newborn care classes until closer to our guess date since there will be a lot of information, and taking those classes too early will be slightly detrimental. I've also lined up a post-partum doula to help us out after we have the baby too. The only thing on my to-do list to line up next is a pediatrician. I was slightly discouraged when the first practice I called wanted to hang up on me for not having PPO insurance. Ah well. I'm letting it go. Part of my hypnobirthing class was learning to let go of fears and issues, so I should put that to good use now. Hence I'm not going to freak out about not having lined up a pediatrician yet either. I still have loads of time.

I also started seeing a chiropractor that works on expecting moms to help me with some of my aches and pains. Though pilates has helped deal with a lot of it, I think some fine tuning was in order. Sure enough, upon evaluating me on my first visit, she found that I was misaligned due to a really old ankle injury. So we're slowly working on getting my body back into alignment. It won't be perfect, but it would be a heck of a lot better than it was before.

I'm partly also wondering if my adjustments of late have been contributing to a different level of hormones in my body. I'm a lot more weepy than usual, but my chiropractor says I'm a lot more "grounded" than when she first met me. I'm also having major issues concentrating on work. All I want to do now is sleep and rest and relax. Is my body trying to tell me something? I am also a bit surprised that I haven't freaked out about work yet, even though I have about 20 hours of work I'm probably a lot behind on. Oops.

Next week is going to be a busy one with doctors appointments and prepping for this big meeting at work. And then I get to pack for what will be my last trip to the homeland for a while.

I'm typing this surrounded by a bunch of boxes that I need to unpack. I'm choosing not to stress over it. Some remodeling work isn't complete in our new home yet, which is preventing us (somewhat) from properly unpacking and organizing. Oh well. Maybe I'll get to it this weekend...

Until next time, which I hope won't be too long from now.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

10 years and many more to come :)

We celebrated our 10th anniversary yesterday with a trip to one of our favorite places, the San Diego Zoo... we didn't feel a need for a fancy romantic dinner or anything like that, we were happiest walking around the zoo. It's been such an integral part of our lives together, and it's one of the few places we visit frequently over the years. We both agreed that it was a perfect place to celebrate our decade of marriage.

We even got to see things that we never saw before, in all of our trips... active big cats, up and about, the elusive fishing cat, and the new baby jaguars, who were acting like little kittens! We felt like the animals were celebrating our special day with us too. I was like a kid in a candy store, and couldn't stop smiling!

The only times I frowned were when a foreign family cut in front of us while we were waiting for the skyfari tram (we ended up leaving the line to walk instead), and when I saw a hawk swoop down to steal a duckling from it's family at the flamingo pond... that made me really sad, but Anthony told me not to dwell on it since there's nothing we could have done, and that's nature.

We were exhausted, slightly tanned (it was a very sunny day, even with hats, sun screen and my Columbia Omni Shade shirt for sun protection), but blissfully happy by the end of the day, enjoying cheesy 80s music on our drive back from San Diego, and a humble dinner of Chipotle and the very trippy Erik the Viking movie on Netflix to cap off our special day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

... and why isn't blogger posting my returns??

ARGH! My previous two posts have had no paragraphs, even though I wrote them with. What am I missing? *sigh* Must brush up on html again...

Time flies...

I can't believe it's already almost the end of June... I've now spent almost 2 months being "semi-retired", and I'm finding myself filling up my days with things to do. How did I manage to do it all before? We had a wonderful weekend for Father's Day in San Diego. My dad arrived on Friday evening in LAX, and I had to battle rush hour traffic to get down to San Diego... a normally 2.5 hour drive took almost 4. We had a lovely dinner with my in-law's at Roy's, and I had to have a little cocktail to calm my nerves from the drive. Saturday started bright and early for the hubs, my dad and I... we had houses to look at! We're starting the process of looking at homes in San Diego... it's scary and exciting at the same time. We then headed to the Oyster Festival, held at the Embarcadero park area by Seaport Village. The early bird really does catch the worm... we're so glad we got there early, snagged a table, and got to taste pretty much all the oyster offerings there. It kept getting more and more crowded. We looked over the park area from our hotel room a couple of hours later, and the crowd was so thick it was standing room only! So glad we got there early. We also took a leisurely touristy ride on the Seal tour... I love being on the water! We had a fantabulous dinner in the downtown area at a restaurant called Salvatore's... wow. Just wow. The place looked like a museum, and they had a harpist playing throughout dinner. The pastas are all hand made, and were simply delicious. We sat for at least 2 hours enjoying our meal. I've never ordered so many desserts either, but they were all so delicious we couldn't pass them up. I need to post photos of them. We all had breakfast on Sunday and parted ways... my in-laws to get some food shopping done in Little Italy, and more house hunting for us. We looked at 11 homes over the weekend, but haven't found the perfect one yet. More to look at in the morning tomorrow!

Monday, June 4, 2012


I seem to only add a post annually at this point in time, which I should definitely work on. So much has changed since I last posted on this blog. I've made 2 trips home, travelled to Melbourne, celebrated my dad's 60th, took a trip to Bali, and made some big decisions about my career. 11 weeks ago, I turned in my resignation from the company I've worked for for the last 10 years. 7 weeks ago, I accepted a transfer to part-time status, enabling me to work from home. 5 weeks ago, I started my new "job" from home. The transition was pretty tough. I think after being stressed out for so many years, I was continuing to find ways to stress myself out, until my friends told me to quit doing that, and to enjoy my newfound freedom. I'm taking a few months off before starting my other part time job, which is affording me some down time, and to also reclaim my home, which had been sorely neglected up till now. I found it interesting that I couldn't get myself motivated enough to get things done, even though I now had the time. Again, my friends stepped in and told me I needed to recover from all that stress. I am likening stress to an illness... recovery time is absolutely necessary, as you would with a cold. I thank the heavens and all my lucky stars that I can afford to make this change. I am finally feeling like my old self again, and have started the process of summer cleaning. Boy, does it feel good to start tossing out old things! I foresee our garbage cans being filled to capacity in the weeks to come. I feel good. I feel rejuvenated. I am ready for a new and improved me.