A Quick Life Update

Almost 10 months and nary an entry!

So much has happened, and I thought I’d do a quick update, since the year is coming to a close:

  1. We completed our home renovations and moved in last April
  2. Our home was featured in the November issue of Manja magazine
  3. I went to Krabi twice — once in April and recently in December
  4. I officially became a statistic on the NEA website — not that it was a good thing. I got dengue in September and it was horrible. HORRIBLE
  5. Faz and I have been married for 2 years, Alhamdulillah!
  6. We went to Japan to celebrate our second wedding anniversary, and we both LOVED JAPAN LIKE CRAZY
  7. I picked up swimming and am damn proud to be able to swim now, considering the fact that I had a phobia of water

There’ve been some months that I was incredibly busy, but I think I’ve mostly kind of fallen into this comfortable routine of going to work everyday and then coming home and doing some chores or watch some TV with Faz before we go to bed. On some evenings, we’d go swim at the public pool.

Before Faz recently started doing office hours, he was doing shift work — and sometimes if he’d be home when I returned home from work, we’d cook and have dinner together. But then he started doing office hours and found it too tiring to cook, so we don’t cook as often any more. In fact I can’t remember the last time we cooked — must’ve been 2-3 months ago!

On weekends I’d have my swimming lessons, after which Faz and I will visit my parents. Sundays are my rest days — I’ll normally want to stay home, unless I have some compelling reason to go out.

Somehow, blogging just never makes it to the to-do list. Although it seems like a gargantuan task now, I do actually want to blog about our reno and trips before I forget all the details.

Soon, Insyaallah!


Woes and Winnings

I have been sooo busy you cannot imagine. Well, ok maybe those of you who have gone through the home renovation process can.

To cut to the chase, Faz and I finalised the design for our house just last week and renovation works have commenced! The hacking work is now complete!

When Faz texted me pictures of the end product, my heart swelled with joy and pride. I mean, I know it’s just walls and I’m aware of how I sound like I’m exaggerating but I am really just emotional like that.

Perhaps a little background story to put things into perspective: We got our keys in October 2014 but we’re only starting the renovation now four months later because we had initially made a mistake choosing the wrong interior designer. How did we come to choose this ID? Let’s just say we listened to our brain and not our heart.

We found that this ID did not have our interests at heart a single bit. Looking back, I should’ve seen the very first red flag. He came to our very first meeting with preconceived ideas of his own, and he hadn’t even asked us about what we had in mind — this meeting was to do just that! At first it did seem like he was proactive and all but it didn’t take long before I knew he was just interested in using his ideas for his portfolio.

What a mistake it was to set our second appointment with him the very day we collected our keys, at the new flat. What began as a day to rejoice became a day utterly ruined because this guy was just pushing his ideas. Any suggestion we had were quickly dismissed as not the best way to do things. They were “not unique”, “not the best way to utilise the space”. He knew damn well we had reservations about his proposal, but get this — he went ahead to ask us if he could go ahead to prepare the quotation! This was only our SECOND meeting. The rate at which he wanted us to sign on the dotted line was ridiculous.

I just knew right then that I could never work with an ID like that because I am simply a person who does not appreciate being told what to do and how to do it. And especially when it’s MY bloody house. Faz said he had never seen a face of someone who had just gotten a new house so black.

See, the thing is we had paid a deposit (probably worth a nice dining table) upfront. Of course we had to have some consideration for that hard-earned money. Friends we related our experience to said we should just be stern with him and tell him what we want because ultimately it’s our house and we’re the ones paying him. Yes, true, but are we not paying him for his ideas? If he’s not even interested in getting to know what we want, how is he to offer us usable ideas in line with our vision?

We ultimately ditched him because we decided that we shouldn’t put our house at stake just for the sake of the deposit. Their terms and conditions stated that it was non-refundable, but we figured we’d just try to write in and get it back, since the fault’s on their part. I vaguely told them what happened (because it was hard to articulate everything on e-mail), left my contact number and told them they could call me if they needed more details. Without so much as a call to find out from us what really happened, in their reply they said that after speaking to the said ID, they decided that they simply “did not agree with me” and refused to refund me. The bloody ID had lied to them, saying that we had ASKED him to draw up the quotation!

I WENT BESERK. I shot them a super lacerative email in which I questioned their integrity. Apparently that got the director’s attention, and a meeting was set up for us to meet him. Long story cut short, we agreed to a 50% refund. I could’ve pushed for more but Faz didn’t want to push our luck. In fact he’s just so non-confrontational in nature that he had just wanted to give in to them and move on without getting our refund back. Crazy! If you don’t want your money back, let me take it!

So a few lessons to be learnt here:

  1. Sometimes it’s not all that bad to follow your heart. In fact, the times I followed my heart paid off tremendously.
  2. Ask, and ye shall receive.
  3. Never, ever, mess with me.

In a twist of events though, the director actually turned out to be likeable. Not in the sense that made us want to go be friends with him, but he succeeded in watering us down. He succeeded in making us feel that we were important to him, even when he knew were walking away. It’s just too bad that his principle of client importance didn’t extend to his ID, as well as the customer “care” officer I was in e-mail correspondence with. He succeeded in making us walk away with an untarnished view of the company — we instead blamed the individual we engaged. And I suppose it really is true that it all boils down to the individual, because Faz in fact has a friend who had engaged the same company but a different ID, and he has only good things to say. Anyway, something to learn from the director about business and customer relations!

So then I turned to this fabulous ID I’ve been following for a while now, and it was like a breath of fresh air because — FINALLY, SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS MY LANGUAGE! But even with a great ID, home renovations are no joke — especially for analytical and detail-oriented people me, because we tend to treat every home reno decision like a life decision!

After about a month of going back and forth with the design, we’re finally down to the action! It’s kinda a downer that the reno’s only just started but already put on hold owing to the Chinese New Year festivities. But it’s ok. Happy workers, happy home owners!

If all goes well, we should be able to move in end Apr or early May.

SO, SO EXCITED!!


Old Out, New In

Two weeks ago, I officially moved out of my parents’ place in Woodlands and into my in-laws’ in Pasir Ris to make way for my now married brother and his wife — Alhamdulillah they were safely solemnised last Saturday!

I didn’t take leave from work to pack, so I had to do it gradually in the weeks leading up to the move. At the same time my brother was also moving in his stuff bit by bit, slowly transforming my room of 16 years into his. I had already started to feel a bit sad and sentimental then, but nothing could prepare me for the actual move. Seeing the movers take away my stuff from the house, I felt helpless. I didn’t want to move, but it was something that simply had to be done — a rite of passage, if you will.

All too soon, the movers were done packing my stuff into the vehicle and it was time to say goodbye (God, I’m getting teary-eyed recounting this!). I sat on the sofa, asked my mother to sit down beside me, and rested my head on her shoulder like I always do when we watch TV. I hadn’t even spoken a complete sentence when the floodgates burst. I took her hand in mine and in between sobs, thanked her for everything. I asked for forgiveness and asked her to make halal everything that I’ve ever taken from her and from the house. After hugging her long and hard, I sat down and did the same with my dad, followed by my sister and brother. I went to find my cats Meow and Ashley to stroke and hug them, and cried even harder upon seeing their cute faces. Oh, how I was going to miss each and every one of them!

My sister told me not to cry, that Singapore is small and that I can visit any time, and I know this to be true but the point was that I was no longer a member of the household — my 28-year membership was over. The point was that I would no longer see or be around my immediate family everyday, and that was probably the thing that made me the saddest. The point was that the move was overwhelmingly symbolic of the events to come in my life — a big looming monster of both challenge and opportunity, for which I had to close this door in order to open a new one. The point was it was all scary as much as it was exciting.

Taking a final wefie at the door before I leave

Taking a final wefie at the door before I leave. Doesn’t look like I just cried here, but believe me, my heart was breaking. :(

For the next  few days I felt displaced and empty, like a huge chunk was missing from my life. I cried on the way back to my in-laws’. I cried myself to sleep. I cried the next morning. I cried again at night.  It felt like my time with my family was a person who had died and I was mourning her death. It was literally one of the saddest days of my life.

Thankfully my in-laws and husband have been nothing short of accommodating, and have been so kind, making sure I’m settled in well. Also, I  had my brother’s wedding to take my mind off things, so fortunately the sadness didn’t last all that long. I don’t have a room at my parents’ place anymore, but I’ll still try to sleep over whenever I can so that I don’t give myself a chance to miss them and fall into another bout of melancholy.

/SNIFFS

Anyway, on to happy stuff! Some pics of my brother’s wedding at An-Nahdhah mosque in Bishan:

Performing the tahiyatul masjid

Performing the tahiyatul masjid.

Can't believe my little brother is now someone's husband!

Can’t believe my little brother is now someone’s husband!

Zul and his lovely wife, Huda

Zul and his lovely wife, Huda. Like Faz and I, I think they can pass off as siblings.

Pengantin dah basi dan bulat

Pengantin yang dah basi dan bulat

Their entire wedding, from the Nikah to the reception was held at An-Nahdhah, and it was simple and fuss-free. The combined wedding of about 900 guests — which the mosque was able to accommodate comfortably — was split into two areas: the area outside the musollah on Level 1, and a room on Level 3. A venue to consider if you’re looking for a mosque wedding!

Zul and Huda, I wish you all the best as you embark on your journey as husband and wife. I’ve only been married for a year, so I don’t think I’m in a position to dish out marriage advice, but hey, we can learn together!

May your marriage and love last till Jannah, insyaAllah.


Keys to the Future

OMG OMG OMG OMG.

HDB has finally furnished us with a date for key collection! And that special date is the 7th of October!

I know it’s possible to request an earlier key collection, but honestly we’re far from ready to receive our keys. I don’t know why but we’ve been really taking our time (or procrastinating, rather) with the planning. I think much of it has to do with the fact that I’m still, after almost a year, recovering from the exhaustion of planning our wedding (which is almost a year ago now!). Also, knowing that planning for a house is probably going to be 100 times more exhausting just puts me off.

Have you seen that Doctor Doors commercial in between episodes of Renovaid on Channel 5? The one with this lady waking up in the middle of the night screaming like a mad woman? And it turns out that she’s having nightmares — about renovation? I thought that was frickin’ hilarious. I laughed my guts out the first time I saw it. But it got me thinking, hey, that could be me! And then I shuddered.

But now that key collection is just around the corner, I don’t think we can put it off any longer. Faz and I already have a general idea of how I’d like our house to look, but it’s time to get into the specifics like what kind materials we want and everything.

Faz, as usual, has agreed to leave the interior design ideas to me — on the condition that he gets to be in charge of the home entertainment system. I don’t see what’s the big deal about having a home entertainment system. Never having one never killed me, and to be honest I actually even think it’s a waste of money, but I’d better be picking my battles wisely. I have a premonition of myself liking a nice, expensive piece of furniture I can’t get out of my head — which of course Faz will happen to think is an absolute waste of money….

My interior design preferences have evolved over the years — from ‘industrial loft’ to now, ‘rustic scandinavian’.

I still do like the industrial loft concept, but I think the novelty will wear off and over time I’ll wish I had a warmer concept to my home. I’ll probably still retain some industrial elements, but I’ll keep them to a minimum.

I’ve never been a fan of ‘modern executive’ interiors with its sleek, shiny surfaces because it reminds me too much of an office and all the stresses of work. I want my home to be an escape — a laidback place to relax and unwind, which is why we’ve decided to do away with one bedroom to make for a bigger living room. The space will be mostly white, typical of Scandinavian interiors, but rustic with lots of wooden surfaces and earthy tones, and contrasted with thoughtfully curated pops of colour.

It may take a while before our house is fully furnished though because I think I’m going to be very picky about the pieces of furniture we buy. Every single piece has to count!

Seeing as to how we have yet to meet our ID to discuss our plans, I foresee that our house will only be ready for move-in by end December or early January. But the sad thing is that I’ll actually have to move out of my parents’ house earlier — as early as October! My brother’s getting married in November, and he and his future wife will be moving into my room. My sister, who is a sad case because she’s currently roomless and lives in a makeshift “room” in our study, will take over my brother’s former room. With all the rooms occupied, it looks like I’ll have to stay over at my in-laws’ for about a month or so while waiting for our house to be ready.

October is just next month, so I’ll have to start packing real soon! SOBS!

Can’t believe my time at my parents’ is going to be up…FOREVER. Moving out is truly going to be bittersweet. I’m absolutely elated to be starting this new chapter of my life with my soulmate, but I’m going to be miss everyone sorely. How do you go from years and years of living with the same faces — to suddenly living on your own?

 

 


My Eid Twenty-Twelve

Eid Mubarak!

Hope everyone’s been having a ball of a time. I, on the other hand, have seen better days. I developed a throbbing headache a day before Eid, and it went on for a couple of days! I suspect I may have taken the spring-cleaning a bit too far. I took a week’s leave from work the last week of Ramadhan to help prepare the house for Eid. I didn’t think it would actually take a whole week, but it did.

My parents are such hoarders! The amount of stuff they’ve amassed over the last 28 years is just….unbelievable. It’s a challenge to convince them to throw stuff away. Sure, these things cost them money but if they’re just sitting there and eating into living space, then I think it’s just better to pass them on, seriously.

But it’s a lesson learnt. When Faz and I get our own place, I’ll make it a point to buy only the things we need. And if I want to buy something new, something old has to go. It’s the only way I can think of to prevent stuff from accumulating.

On the topic of Eid, I really enjoy looking at my Facebook timeline during this period. I love how colourful it is! It’s endearing to see people making an effort to dress up in Malay garb (polka dots seem to be in trend this year) and unite with family and friends over good food.

I must be under some sort of spell because for the first time in my life, I did not buy a single piece of clothing or accessory for Eid this year. Hell, I didn’t even set foot in Geylang to get the customary dengdeng and Ramly burger! Instead of buying our raya goodies like we always do, I also convinced my mom that we could bake them. Seriously, this is a breakthrough for me because I’ve never been thrifty type. Boyfriend, if you’re reading this, you should be proud because this illustrates my level of commitment! My hope is that one day I’ll finally be able to fully internalise thrifty living, making it a principle of life. Very tough to do, though.

What I’m NOT proud of is….that Project Wedding Body has taken a backseat! Instead of taking advantage of Ramadhan to lose weight, I took the bloody backseat. I’m very, very, VERY disappointed in myself. It’s such a waste because I was doing so well before. I’m back at square one now, having to work hard to build up my stamina — again. Especially after all the sugary stuff I’ve been eating. PFFT.

To make things worse, I totally forgot that the 10km Safra Bay Run that I had signed up for is on 9 September! That’s in two bloody weeks. And the 6km Yellow Ribbon Prison Run is just the week after. I thought I had a couple more months to go! I’m so dead.

Looks like I’ll have to redeem myself during the Great Eastern Women’s 10k in November. NO EXCUSES.


R is for Reluctance

So June is less than a month away now. If you recall, one of my 2012 resolutions was to book most of the important vendors by June.

That’s going really well. -.-

To date we’ve secured the venue, photographer and videographer. We’ll talk about our choices later on a sidenote, but yes, ONLY these three! I am beginning to panic a little.

After self-disecting my very muddled brain, I now know the true reason why I’ve been putting off making appointments with vendors.

Apart from general indecisiveness (which bridal company to choose, how many outfits I want tailored, etc), I found out that I am actually RELUCTANT to splurge on a half-day affair.

Right now, I would say I’m about 60% reluctant. The remaining 40% is basically me being a brat stamping my feet, going “NAK JUGAK!!”.

Heck, who am I kidding. Ok, it’s the other way round.

Still, 40% reluctance is a stronghold. It’s almost half! Every time I think of how the money can go towards supplementing our plans for our house (I’ve grand plans for this too, much to the boyfriend’s trepidation), the percentage goes up. And then when I think of wedding celebrations — the many people I treasure around me sharing our joy, pretty dresses, how smashing everything in its entirety will look in photos — well, it goes down again. It’s very volatile.

I have a feeling we’ll end up at the “NAK JUGAK” end of the spectrum — simply because my heart wants it. We’re trying to cut down on costs, but it’s really hard because we’ve already cut out the frivolous things and cutting any further would mean a compromise on quality (plus there are a few aspects of the wedding that I just can’t persuade my heart to let go). The reality of it is that I think I would be more upset if we didn’t go ahead with these things than if we chose to scrimp on it. Furthermore, money can be replenished but you only get married once. And I mean, it’s not like we’ll be spending an unreasonable amount to begin with…

/sends doe-eyed looks the boyfriend’s way

Gah, a rather pointless post, I know.


Hooray for a lifetime of debt

Cynicism aside, we are truly, madly and deeply exhilarated to have signed the Lease of Agreement (LOA) for our Costa Ris unit on the 11th of March, Sunday.

LOA queue number

If only this queue number was for key collection!

Maybe it was the excitement, but the boyfriend was all hyper and annoying the moment I met him that day. I can’t say that it lasted, because the moment we arrived at HDB, he had simmered down. A little too much in fact, that I knew something was wrong.

Something endearing about him (to me, at least) that you have to know is that when he’s paranoid about something, or worried, or nervous, he will turn quiet. And he will start sweating. Well, he was sweating the first time he met me! Ahh, that fateful day on the 26th of October 2003. Another story for another day, perhaps. ;)

What was quite hilarious was that he was so nervous that he even attempted to sign the LOA with the other side of the pen! I wanted to laugh out loud there and then! But not wanting to go against the serious theme of things (and make a fool out of myself), I had to suck it in.

Just like our previous HDB appointment to select our unit, this one was also an information overload. After 5 minutes or so, I just zoned out. I hope at least one of us was paying attention.

Costa Ris will be ready somewhere in Q3 of 2014. If that goes as planned, I’ll have to stay with the parents for about only a year or so. We’re actually thinking of staying apart for this duration, but we can’t say for sure if we will stick to the plan…because obviously once we’re married it’s going to be a whole new ballgame.

I know people will query our decision and say it’s not good. Well, we have our reasons for doing this:

  • He can’t move in to my place because with my brother coming back from studying overseas, it’ll be full.
  • Even as we speak my parents are thinking of downgrading to a smaller flat, so things are a little uncertain now.
  • It’s always harder for the girl to move in with the guy’s family. (Especially when his bedroom doesn’t have an attached bathroom! The horror!)

Of course we won’t be living completely apart. The plan is for us to spend regular nights at either of our places, maybe on the weekends or on random days, just because. If anything, I think this arrangement is superb because it’ll help us ease into each other’s families instead of having to experience a sudden 360-degree change in our lives. Of course we will still carry out our responsibilities toward each other the best we can, given the circumstances.

Thanks to Zila who commented on this blog post, we got to know about a Facebook group set up for future Costa Ris home owners to share thoughts, ideas and site progress updates…with pictures! They’ve even set up a document in which they’ve listed all the blocks, and you can add your name under your respective block. In essence, you’ll get to be the nosey neighbour way in advance and find out who your neighbours are and what they do….even before moving in! If you’ve signed up for a BTO project, do a search on Facebook to see if a group for that project exists. It’ll be useful!