Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Live In The Moment! – Selena Quah

One of the moments Selena managed to capture.

One of the moments Selena managed to capture.

Selena Quah enjoys the little things in life and hopes her children will pick up this trait from her too. She thinks kids are an excellent excuse to indulge in things she likes such as strolling through parks, doing art and craft, and baking. A dancer from young, she hopes to get back to it when the kids are older, though for now she’ll have to make do with dancing around the house while her boys wonder why Mummy is mad. She is expecting her third child and today, she wants to make it known to everybody that she will strive to be less trigger-happy in 2014. You can find Selena’s blog Unlikely Lady of Leisure here.

I had prepared another story for this week’s submission, only to be faced with a 21st Century problem – a technology blackout. My PC, netbook and smartphone all decided to take an unannounced holiday at the same time. My story and all the associated pictures were wiped out. Add to that, hardware malfunctions of my two portable hard-disk drives.

I was left reeling from the fact that I had lost all the photographs, notes and contacts on my smartphone that I hadn’t gotten around to backing-up, not to mention all the years of pictures of the time we lived abroad, of family gatherings, and other special occasions that were stored on the portable hard-drives. Precious memories lost.

Then I thought about my remaining store of photographs. 48,443. That’s the number of pictures I have on my hard-disk. Yes, I can rationalise that it spans from 2007 until now – a good six years or so. But still, that’s crazy!

But that’s the problem that we face nowadays, isn’t it? And this is especially true of parents with young kids. We simply have too many pictures. The advent of digital photography has brought about a conundrum. It is so easy to capture little moments compared to when we saved our film for the truly significant events. And while this means more memories of fleeting kisses and secret hugs, it also presents the problem of sheer volume. How many of us have actually gotten around to printing our photos for posterity. Well, I certainly haven’t. I’ve spent more time taking and uploading, than sorting and printing. I harbour ambitions of compiling the significant pictures into photobooks. But going through 48,443 of pictures is simply too daunting. And how can you possibly pick one to represent so many that are different and unique in their own special way?

'fess up. How many pictures did you take of your kid blowing out his birthday candles?

‘fess up. How many pictures did you take of your kid blowing out his birthday candles?

Admittedly I am quite trigger-happy, and this is my downfall. I’m sure there are the more organised mothers out there, but I am sadly not one of them.

So this 2014, I will strive to do a few things.

First, take less pictures. Still take them, but be more restrained. Just take one or two of them blowing out the candles, not 52! Just one or two of them running in the park, not 185! Capture the special time, but don’t overdo it.

Second, get into the habit of regularly printing out pictures. It’s really so easy to print pictures from our phones nowadays. Although it may cost more to print just a few each time rather than accumulating them, it is definitely much more worthwhile than having them disappear into thin air when software or hardware decides to fail.

Third, something that I had strived to do in 2013 and will continue to do in 2014, live in the moment rather than seek to document.

Lastly, I’m gonna buy me a network-attached storage (NAS) device to double or even triple back-up my stuff lest something similar happens again.

Technology, you may have won this time, but I will have the last laugh! Ha!



Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

If Life Were A Pinterest Board … – Deborah Tan

How do you throw a photogenic party??

How do you throw a photogenic party??

… I would be so damn stressed.

I look at pictures of beautiful table settings showing plates that don’t match … but still look good together. My plates and bowls are all the same colour and they look like crap whenever I throw a dinner party! Why?

Wow! Isn't it great when all your earrings kinda fall into the same theme?

Wow! Isn’t it great when all your earrings kinda fall into the same theme?

I have tonnes of accessories and knick-knacks that I don’t use anymore. When I go to Pinterest to see how people recycle their stuff into kitschy, adorable bookmarks, door hangers, coasters, wall art, etc, I’m amazed how they had the foresight to buy stuff that lend themselves so easily to recycling. I mean … wow! You actually knew that one day your scarves would come together to become a work of installation art?!? I want to know how too!

When I go on holidays, I try to capture those Pinterest-worthy moments that would make my friends go, “Awwwww …” but by the time I’m done fumbling around with my camera settings, the moment has passed. The sunset? That darn sunset that everyone seems to be able to capture, where is it?!!

How come I don't look this good when I work out??

How come I don’t look this good when I work out??

After a workout, I’d like nothing better than to have a mood-shot of me looking glowing and with sweat dripping off my face in an artistic way. A picture that’d inspire my friends to join me at bootcamp next week. A picture that would get comments like, “You’re so beautiful, keep doing what you’re doing, girl.” But when I do get someone to help me take a picture, I just look like a bulldozer has ran over me.

Oh! How about my OOTD shot? You know those shots of painfully stylish women standing on the street looking so nonchalant about having their pictures taken? These women just happened to be there, and somehow, their photographer boyfriends or talented friends managed to capture the moment (it’s always ‘the MOMENT’!) where they were looking at some bug on the road, or a bird flying overhead, or looking at their feet contemplating life. Whenever I try to get my boyfriend to help me with an OOTD shot, he has only one way of holding the camera – from a high angle and I end up looking like a cast member of The Hobbit.

Don’t even get me started on home decor. All that home office pictures make me so, so, mad. I have a home office and it’s surrounded by paper bags of products. My files don’t match because obviously I can’t afford to friggin’ shop at Kikki.K all the time! Vases of flowers, photos of friends and family (and they all happened to be cute!), beautifully upholstered chairs … seriously, where are the documents, the receipts, the junk mail … signs that work is actually being done in these home offices?

Are the pictures on Pinterest a big fat lie? Most people I know don’t even put up original content on Pinterest. Their boards are filled with repins of images they aspire to recreate in their individual realities. Brides-to-be repin pictures of wedding favours they see themselves giving their guests, mothers repin pictures of theme parties they want to organise for their kids, aspiring chefs repin pictures of orgasmic food porn they believe they’ll be able to recreate … do they ever?

"DIY"!?!?! HOW?!?

“DIY”!?!?! HOW?!?

Even if you’ve wisely observed that your friends are more repinners of beautiful pictures than pinners of original content, does Pinterest make you feel – to some extent – that your life needs to be “photogenic”? Do you continue to strive to compose that Pinterest-worthy snapshot, hoping that someday it will become one of those pictures that get repinned to death?

No other social media platform makes me feel more inadequate or inept than Pinterest. That’s the truth. I’ve been inspired by home decor pictures and gone and splashed out on expensive rugs and cushions … and still they were lacking. I’ve been inspired by fitness pictures and tried to capture images of people working out … but they never ever look like the toned, glowing, fitness models that populate Pinterest boards about health and exercise. No matter the camera I buy, no matter how much clutter I put away, I can never shoot the spartan, minimalist home offices that conveyed success, control and good taste.

There is Pinterest, and then there is Life. And, we need to get that the two really don’t belong together.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and is feeling really shitty that her couch does not look Pinterest-worthy. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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