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Family Portraits: Jeffrey & Juliet

Jeffrey and Juliet are from China, but their hearts are now in Malaysia, after falling in love with this country. They first moved to Malaysia in 2013, when their son was only 3 months old. In 2016, they moved to Brunei but couldn’t stop thinking about the apartment they rented when they were living in Malaysia. So in 2018, they decided to relocate back to that same apartment in Malaysia even though Jeffrey still works in Brunei. It was a place of special memories.

For Jeffrey’s 40th birthday, he decided to do something special by arranging for a family portrait session at their beloved home. I had the privilege of seeing snippets of their lives including meeting their very fascinating furless Sphinx cat named Luna. I am also amazed at how beautifully Austen plays the piano! It is truly inspiring.

So happy to get to know your family, Jeffrey and Juliet. May you continue to build long lasting memories in Malaysia.

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Happy birthday papa!

My dad turns 79 today. It almost felt like yesterday that I sat on his lap as a child. I remember those moments when I refused to go to bed at night even when I was exhausted – I would pretend to be awake in front of the TV, but then he knew better. There were times when he picked me up and carried me up the stairs to my bedroom, and I was probably about 20+kg at that time! Not a bad feat for a 5 foot man whose frame is pretty small too.

I also remember moments when I was studying for my exams and would stress out completely about it, but his words to me were… “Just do your best.” He was proud when I did well, but when I didn’t do so well, he would just say, “Just do better next time.”

My dad loved playing golf. Once, he got a hole-in-one and proudly hung his certificate on the wall of our home to show it off to everyone. There was one time too, when he swung his golf club a little over-enthusiastically inside our living room and accidentally knocked the chandelier, breaking it into a million pieces! (don’t ask me why he was doing that INSIDE the living room).

Unfortunately for my mum, my dad was a typical old-school ‘man’ who never really lifted a finger in the kitchen. My mum was a great cook but the kitchen was her domain, so she never got much help there. My mum’s a workaholic (just like how I am now!) so I do remember instances when he would lecture her into taking things easy and not stress out in the kitchen. Especially after she began having heart palpitations, but would still wake up at 5am to make hundreds of Chinese New Year cookies to fulfill the orders made by friends and neighbours.

Since I am the 3rd and final child in the family (with a huge age gap between my 2 older siblings!), I got away with a lot of things and was pampered as I was growing up. I used it to my advantage a lot (and also, though embarrassing to admit, I had temper tantrums too when I didn’t get my way). I don’t remember the rotan (cane) very much, like how my other siblings described their childhood, but now that I think back about it, I must have been a handful.

Due to my dad’s Alzheimer’s, I don’t really talk very much about these things to him anymore. He doesn’t realize it’s his birthday today, but just because he doesn’t remember, doesn’t mean that he cannot feel. So we’ll pop a small candle on Alex’s home made brownie later and sing a birthday song to him.

* Photos by Anna-Rina


The Final Goodbye

28th June 2011. That was the date we said our final goodbyes.

Goodbye to the place I called home when I was a child. The place where I learnt to ride my bicycle, play fashion stylist to all my 9 Barbies, reluctantly helped my mom bake her pineapple tarts so she could sell them for Chinese New Year and also the place where I tried to cram my head full of info for my SPM exam.

It’s never easy to say goodbye, but in life, you have to move on.

While I discovered my treasure trove of Barbie dolls with clothes that have been lovingly hand stitched by my mom from scrap pieces of cloth…

My sister discovered some old pots that she decided was worth keeping. And my uncle from Brisbane discovered his old copper art piece that he created years ago.

We also discovered my brother’s old teddy bear that my sister claimed was bought by my dad when he was in London years ago (like 40 years ago or so!). And my dad’s beloved chess set. He was the President of the Malacca chess club in the 80s.

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SOLD: The family home

For those of you who have been following this blog, you’ll know that my parents made the move to KL in 2009 to live with my sister and I. Since then, we’ve been clearing up old stuff and trying to transport as many nostalgic things as possible to KL. After procrastinating for such a long time, we decided the time has finally come for us to sell the house. Today, we signed the S&P agreement.

As my mom sat in her kitchen (possibly the last time), I felt a little sad to hear her asking for things like her oven to be brought up to KL. She said that the glasses in the cupboard are really good and I should keep it. Those glasses from the 60s with floral patterns and which were only used during Chinese New Year.

Reality is, we can’t move everything with us. That’s life. We accumulate material items in our lifetime, only to die and leave them all behind. What’s left are memories.

My sister discovered some stray albums that we missed in our previous trip back.

My sister’s and brother’s car collection. Should this go on eBay?

My little Lego looking set that I had since I was a baby (according to my sis).

My parents outside our home. My dad is still oblivious as to what is happening.

Next trip would be to pack some larger items into the lorry for us to transport up to KL. Then, it’s the final farewell.

Our Home

350 square feet. That’s about the amount of space I have for myself since Alex and I moved out of our home last August. It was stressful looking for a new house when you have to move out of your old place by a certain date. Well, we’ve purchased a new place, and started the renovations end of last year. After going through a few hurdles like waiting for ages for MBPJ to approve our renovation plans, things finally picked up beginning of this year.

My 350 square feet of space is Alex’s old bedroom in his parent’s home. I am not complaining, because I completely enjoy having home cooked meals waiting for me when I get home from work daily! Yup, totally spoilt by my wonderful in-laws.

According to my contractor, the home should be ready by May. Frankly, I don’t completely enjoy looking through the details of what needs to be done for the home, how many lights to buy, what kind of roof profile we should have, how many inches should the switch be from the door… I am not a very meticulous person by nature. Combined with my short term memory (we have to call the termites guy to do the treatment… what? you mean he’s already done the treatment? when?!!! *alex rolls eyes*), it becomes a recipe for disaster – especially for my relationship.

Alex and I have gone through many tense moments while planning for the house. Today, I went to the tile shop to purchase tiles, proud that I had brought all the measurements with me… only to find out that I didn’t bring the designs from our ID! Alex wasn’t overly pleased. My puppy dog look didn’t help at all. So, people, if you want to test your relationship, go buy and renovate a house together.

Luckily for me, Alex is a rather forgiving person. And I’ve learnt to say sorry… many many times.