Sunday, September 30, 2007

The New Brain

Its truly amazing to watch a baby's development. Each new skill learnt is so triumphant for both the baby and the parent. Today, I have been marvelling at his powers of observation.

We thought he had a good memory when:
- he could identify our house and lead us home from the park down the road.
- he could lead us to the pool a few doors away.

It was pretty cool when:
- he made a lot of noise and went crazy all of a sudden in the shopping center. He kept pointing backwards at something we passed. Then, we realised it was the corridor leading to the feeding room that we had been to a couple of times.
- he did the same thing in another shopping center for a different feeding room.

Today's mind blowing trick:
- We took him to Southbank Parklands for the first time today. There were hundreds of people about. The grounds are sprawling and we were meandering everywhere. We passed a girl holding a balloon in the shape of a green alien and Aaron went crazy with his 'Buh' sounds. We walked further for about another 15 mins and then turned back again. When we reached the same spot where the girl was, Aaron kept saying 'Buh' and pointing to where the girl was sitting even though she had left.

How did he remember? There was nothing outstanding about the location. It looked very similar to many other parts of the park. When did his brain develop to this stage? It makes me wonder about all the other developments that take place in the background that I just don't realise.

Here's a photo of the kids water area in Southbank. See the people? It was like that EVERYWHERE.

Summertime in Ipswich

Ipswich is a city to the west of Brisbane and is Queensland's oldest provincial city. It actually has 6000 heritage listed sites but, we weren't there for the history today. We were there to visit the Nature Center at Queens Park.

The Nature Center is a free mini zoo with a few of the Australian animals like the Wombat, Wallaby and Kangaroo. I thought it would be a good idea to take Aaron there since he is not quite ready for a full day at a real zoo. Unfortunately, it was an extremely hot day and all the animals were either in their burrows or dosing in the shade. We were all scorched! I think the temperature reached 30 degrees Celsius today.

Aaron did manage to get up close and personal with some of the farm animals he has been 'reading' about in the zoo's nursery though. He was snorting with the piglets and 'baa-ing' with the goat but he didn't recognise the calf. Have you ever noticed that the cows in children's books are almost always the black and white Frisian variety?

Somehow, I didn't get any good photos of the zoo to share here. I do have a couple of the playground though.

Here is the slide we only had to go down 100 times!

He got himself completely wet splashing about here. The little girl was joining in the fun too.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Night Terrors

I've always enjoyed dreaming and used to look forward to bedtime because there was a fantastic adventure to be experienced in my sleep. Unfortunately, Aaron's sleep doesn't seem to be as inviting.

He's always been a noisy sleeper and often makes crying and whimpering sounds in his sleep. These few weeks, he's had several nights of screaming while completely asleep. Sometimes his body is limp, his eyes closed but his mouth wide open and screaming louder than in the daytime. All attempts to feed, in order to calm him, fail. Sometimes he throws his body around if I try to carry him. Its incredibly disturbing to watch and I've found that he cannot be roused from this. It usually lasts about 5-10 mins. Sometimes he 'gets up' but other times, he manages to latch on and continues sleeping.

I thought these episodes were nightmares (bad dreams), but after doing a little bit of reading, they sound more like night terrors. Night terrors aren't dreams at all and happen during the non-REM (non-dream) phase of sleep. According to several websites, the child may cry, whimper or flail and the parent will be unable to soothe him/her. Sounds like whats happening to us.

I'm not too worried about it at this stage because they only last a short while and have not been happening in any particularly routine manner. Perhaps it is just his learning new skills with each new day, or maybe it was over-tireness, or maybe some other distressing episode like us not giving him something.

Not worried here but still heart breaking to watch my little baby be so scared of something and not be able to comfort him.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Stay in touch

I came to the realisation today that with more new technology available out there, the less in touch I am with my friends. This is strange because the 'technology' I'm referring to here are all communication tools - Instant Messaging, Text Messaging, Social Networking, Email from your phone/computer/blackberry. There are numerous ways for people to stay in touch but somehow, it also makes us more out of touch.

When the postman and the phone company were the only two ways to touch base with friends and family, I used them both. All the time. Long letters were mailed on a weekly basis. I was also great at making Telephone Porridge. (There's a Chinese saying about making telephone porridge when you're talking for hours on end) Back then, it didn't matter if the other person lived in the same city or on the other side of the world. I stayed in touch.

These days, I find that one of my excuses for not being in touch with somebody is that I don't know their IM contact name. If I can't chat with them instantly, I forget to touch base with them. Yes, I do have their email addresses, their home addresses and their phone numbers but ... the easiest and most instantly gratifying means of communication is instant messaging. Its INSTANT.

I'm not proud of this at all. In fact, I've started to reform by sending out emails to all my friends and giving some of the local ones a call. I even sent out a real birthday card (the type made from paper) to my friend Mr LB. It felt good going to the post office again but I was so out of practice that I actually got a paper cut from the envelope somehow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who is the teacher?

For the zillionth time today, I heard the words 'Its such a waste that she's staying home to look after the kids'. Bah!

Anyway, I am a stay at home person and with each passing day, I am learning about Aaron and more about myself than any other time in my life (except my own babyhood I guess).

Its all about communication now. Aaron tries so hard to communicate what he wants, what he's being playful about and how he feels. He uses plenty of words and sounds but we just don't understand them all yet. Nevertheless, we are communicating. I find that with 100% attention on him and a genuine interest in what he is saying, I eventually work out what he means. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, other times a few days. Patience definitely plays a big role here because until I get it, the sounds escalate to high pitched annoyances. Its easy to get frustrated and dismiss him but that doesn't solve anything. Sometimes I am guilty of it but, thats life - I get tired.

We have also been teaching him to sign and its starting to pay off. He has been using several signs that I taught him. His favourite is pointing his index finger to the palm of his other hand indicating 'more'. The real payoff is that he is starting to make up signs of his own and teaching them to me. Today, I learned the sign for glasses. He pats both his ears! I deserve an 'A' for picking that one up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bovril Risotto

I love it when I try something new. And I did just that today - Risotto.

It really was my very first time cooking AND eating it. I've always seen it on menus in restaurants but at first, I didn't know what it was and then when I did, I thought "I'm chinese. I eat rice almost every day. Why would I want to eat rice in an Italian restaurant?"

I've been on the hunt for menus that are suitable for the whole family, including Aaron. He loved this one. I really enjoyed it too. Very different from the usual types of rice that I'm used to. Although, I'm pretty sure my grandmother would say that it was too mushy, wet and not properly cooked through.

I tried the following a recipe but didn't have all the ingredients so here is my version of it in non-cook-book speak:

Feeds 2 adults and 1 baby:
2 cups Bovril stock (the original recipe was chicken stock)
1 slice lean bacon cut into tiny pieces.
12 stalks (i think) think asparagus halved and then cut into 3 cm lengths
5 white mushrooms sliced
1 onion chopped
1 cup arborio rice
Chedder cheese. You're supposed to use parmesan but I forgot to get that.

Step 1 : Fry up the bacon, asparagus and mushroom, then put aside.
Step 2 : Fry the onion until its soft, add rice and stir continuously for 1 minute.
Step 3 : Add stock to onion and rice a bit at a time. I covered the rice in it then waited until all the liquid was absorbed before adding the next bit. Do that until all the stock has been absorbed.
Step 4 : Stir in the bacon, asparagus, mushroom and cheese.
Step 5 : Serve it!

I'm pretty sure that this isn't how its traditionally made (especially the Bovril bit). I also have no idea what a real risotto meal tastes like so I have no comparison at this moment. However, I did have an extremely tasty dinner and thats what matters!

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'd rather...

This isn't a meme. Just some thoughts that have been popping in my head because of this wretched cold. I really hate colds but it seems to be the only 'illness' I get. I don't think you can even call it an 'illness', just an annoyance. Not that I like to be sick but sometimes I think I'd rather have a cough than a cold.

I'd also rather:
Do the dishes instead of hanging out the laundry.
Have fantastic rhythm for dance instead of a beautiful singing voice.
Eat bread instead of rice.
Go to the beach instead of a hike through the rainforest.
Take photos instead of being in the photos.
Catch the train instead of the bus.
Get a massage instead of a manicure/pedicure.
Sleep on something hard (like my porcelain pillow or a Bible) instead of a pillow.
Spend money on a great meal instead of clothes.
Lose my hair instead of my teeth.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

New Farm Park

I can definitely see why New Farm Park made it to the Top 10 List of Brisbane's parks. Firstly, it is HUGE and looks fantastic with a rose garden around.

More importantly, it had an awesome playground that children of all ages can enjoy. Take a look at this incredible tree that all the kids are climbing on. I can definitely see Aaron on it in the future.

If they kids got bored of climbing the tree, they could climb on this rope pyramid. Look in the background of this photo.

For now, Aaron is content to go down and then try to climb up the slide. I spend most of the time stopping him from biting the sides of the slide (pole, swing, see/saw, tree etc) or putting the bark from the ground in his mouth but its all good. I wipe his hands with disinfectant wipes every so often.

I'm really really REALLY looking forward to enjoying the rest of the park's attractions with Aaron. It will be so much fun when he can climb around and walk through the the wobbly bridges and cubby houses.....I can't wait!

Baby = Better Eyesight

Recently, I've felt that I've needed to wear my glasses less. When I wake up in the morning I often forget to put them on and don't even realise it. And when I'm feeding Aaron, or looking at him in bed, I find that he's blurry, until I take my glasses off.

So, I went and got my eyes checked and its official. My prescription has reduced in both eyes. In fact, I am straining my eyes if I have my current pair of glasses on. Its amazing! Before I had my glasses, I always wished I needed them. Then, after a year at work, I definitely needed them and hated them as well. Now, after 3 years off work, including 1 year of significantly reduced time in front of the computer and total dedication to Aaron, my eyes are 'getting better'. I wonder if another year will get rid of the glasses completely!

Aaron doesn't know what he's getting himself into by wishing he could have a pair of glasses. I'm sure he does WISH it because he keeps doing this:

p/s Those are NOT mine. And luckily, my mom no longer wears them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

My report card - TaxPack 2007

In school, there were report cards. At university, results were published in the newspaper. Now, there is the tax return.

Many of us have grown up with an incredible amount of focus on results. Results in school, sports, dance classes, music classes or whatever other extra curricular activities we had. There are obviously pros and cons to this emphasis on delivering results but I'll save that for a different post.

My point today is that the tax return has now become one of my report cards. I'm not sure that its a good thing to measure how I'm growing based on how much money I've earned but I do look forward to completing it. I didn't do this when I had the usual 9-5 job but that was just because I had another form of report card from work - the annual evaluation for increments and promotions!

My tax return has only become my report card since I stopped going to work in an office. Now, with my home trading, its the main way I assess my growth from year to year - not just the bank account but personal development as well. I look forward to it and I actually enjoy tabulating all my gains (or losses). Yes, in the end I end up having to pay some tax but if you look at it in a roundabout way, it just means that the more tax I pay, the better I am at what I do.

This year will be a little different though. It so happened that Aaron was born 2 months into the financial year (July-June) and there has been no time to monitor, let alone enter all that many trades. So, perhaps I will end up paying less tax but my growth had definitely not been stunted. I just grew in a different way. I don't want a report card on my mothering skills though! I don't think I could handle that.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Guilt Free

Here is our free little image! Its not a really good photo of the photo but no matter what angle I did it at, it just kept reflecting.

Our appointment to view the photos was actually last week but I forgot to go. I was dreading the day so much that somehow I must have made myself forget about it. Anyway, I went for the 2nd appointment yesterday and am completely guilt free. The photographer was extremely nice. The first thing she said after laying out the photos was about the free one before even mentioning the prices she had for the package. I have to admit that I had it in my head to at least purchase a smaller photo for $20, IF there was such a thing (which there wasn't) but there was no need to. She didn't hover or try to push us into buying.

In the end, I told the truth. Aaron wasn't in a good mood the day we went for the sitting and there was only a single smiling shot of him. So I just explained that I was looking for more smiley photos and she was so understanding. This made me feel so much better. She gave me another voucher to come back any time in the future if we wanted to try it again. This is the way to be a good business person. Don't push it, be nice and people will come. If I ever decide that I want to pay for some professional photos, I'd think of her first.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'll have what you're having

I've read that babies will reach the stage where they insist on feeding themselves, just like how the grown ups do. Well, I think we're there. We're also at the stage where Aaron is refusing to eat anything that doesn't look like what we're eating.

Just as we were getting into a great routine of making nutritious purees for him, he's decided that he's not going to eat anything that we're not eating. In a way, this is good because we can just cook the one type of food. But, it also means that I can't blend a heap of superfoods (like avocado, quinoa, brocolli) together and feed it to him because I certainly don't want to eat that. What did I expect? He has tastebuds too and if I don't want to eat the stuff I've been feeding him, why would he? At least I got a good 7 months of those foods into him.

He is also uncontrollable if there is anybody eating while he isn't. So, this afternoon, we were making Blueberry Smoothies for ourselves and of course, there would be no peace unless he got some too. The only difference is that his was made from not-so-yummy baby yoghurt and ours was from ice cream.

Oh yeah, we had to 'drink' the smoothies from bowls because the little boss can't drink properly from a cup yet and had to have it out of his bowl. So, we had to all look the same!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Potato Chips

Lime and Black Pepper. Honey Soy Chicken. Mustard and Honey. Sweet Chilli and Sour Cream.

Those are some of the flavours in the Red Rock Deli Chips range. I told myself that I was going to stick to my No Salt Corn Chips (in moderation) and not get into any of the other chips but, I caved. How could I resist trying all those interesting flavours? And now that I have gone onto the chips, I dying to get a pack of my old favourites, Salt and Vinegar.

Usually I get a drink of cold water or brush my teeth to stop me from eating any more but I must be low on self restraint at the moment because I polished off an entire pack by myself this afternoon. I think the only way is to not walk down that aisle in the supermarkets. And keep reminding myself "A minute on the lips, forever on the hips". I'll just keep repeating that.....

Its not just about weight anyway. I was reading the 'nutrient' listing while chomping on them and under fats, it has saturated, trans, monounsaturated AND polyunsaturated. How unhealthy is that?! I'd better make the Mustard and Honey pack my very last.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Always something new

Having a baby really provides a person with surprises EVERY day. Its always something new even if its with something old. And sometimes, they surprise you by not liking the new stuff. Sometimes you prepare yourself for a deafening car ride home but instead, you find a peaceful, sleeping baby. Its just so unpredictable.

Last week, he crawled into a large wardrobe, sat down and tried to close the sliding door with him inside.

Yesterday, he figured out how to open the cover so the tube of sunblock and I found him licking it all up.

Today, I'm still waiting....

Good or bad surprises, I'm really learning to enjoy them all. As long as Aaron isn't endangering himself, somebody else or some precious inanimate object, I let him explore. Will I end up with a wild and uncontrollable child that gets into everything? I hope not. Afterall, it is just the natural curiosity of an inquisitive mind that is driving his actions. I make the areas he plays in as safe as possible but at the same time, I also have to try surprising him by mixing things around and offering a change to both routine and environment.

This really is the most on-your-toes, creative, fresh, crazy and fun job around. Sometimes, mothers just need to remind themselves of this in order to enjoy it.

After the wardrobe, he's been trying out all other cupboard space....trying to find his own space I guess.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Picnic with the Governor

Once a year, the Governor of Queensland opens her house and gardens to the public for a BYO picnic. The Governor here is the representative of The Queen and the main function of this office is to ensure a stable government. The first Governor was appointed in 1859 by Queen Victoria and since then, there have only been two female governors. Ms Quentin Bryce is the second and current one. She walked around the grounds today, talking with anybody that walked up to her. Aaron had a short chat with her too but she got called away before we got a photo.

We had a Malaysian style picnic with three types of fried noodles. There were plenty of babies around and Aaron had a great time chasing after them. He seems to be actively trying to find friends but I don't think babies know how to play with other babies at this age. The other kids usually just stare at him blankly and then crawl away.

Here are a few photos from the day.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm not a shopper....

Like most other women, I like shopping. However, UNLIKE most other women, I usually can't buy anything. On the days like today, when I go somewhere with the intention of spending, its even worse. All I spent on was the car park and a balloon for Aaron. Its ridiculous! I really wanted to get myself a cleanser, moisturiser, pair of shorts and maybe a pair of shoes. I looked for all of them. Saw some that were of interest but somehow, nothing 'called to me' today. Thats how I decide if I'll buy something....."Is it calling me?" Occasionally, I have a good shopping day when everything just shouts at me. Its rare though. And I can usually tell if its going to be that sort of day if I buy something within the first 15 mins.

Now is this a good thing or a bad thing? Some people believe in retail therapy but thats not something I can rely on. I might end up more frustrated AFTER walking my legs off all day long and returning home empty handed and dehydrated.

Friday, September 14, 2007

It hurts! How cute!

Just a few days ago, I wrote about how Aaron accidentally hurts me. This week, his enthusiasm and eagerness to move around and play has caused quite a few accidents for himself. Just little bumps here and there but some of them have been pretty painful (like him hammering his own mouth).

He has started to indicate to me where he is hurting so that I can somehow make it better. After each accident he gets this extremely cute face with his lips pressed together and turned down. He then starts a long narrative about what happened while pointing to the injured area "eMmmma ma tic tic tic sss ba ba mamamaa". At some point, he will also point to the object that has hurt him and continue telling his story.

So far, cuddles and kisses have been able to fix all the injuries but each time, I can't help taking a moment to absorb that cute face before making it all better.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Emergency Procedures

The earthquake off Sumatra yesterday is still giving off aftershocks. While the tremors from the original earthquake were felt in Palembang, there was no damage there and even if there was a tsunami, the city wouldn't be affected. Here is a map of Indonesia. Palembang is on the eastern side of Sumatra while the quake was near Bengkulu, at the south-western side.

Even though Richard and I joked about his first earthquake experience and how he thought he was suddenly dizzy, this is an eye opener. For the next year and a half, we will be living in a foreign country that is potentially politically, racially and geographically volatile.

We need to be prepared. Its nonsense to just drop everything and run. You need to know WHERE to run to. WHO to run to. WHAT to bring while running. I'm glad to hear that the Australian embassy called twice to check on Aaron and I after the initial quake and subsequent aftershock. At least I know that somebody will look for me but I think Richard and I need to have a solid emergency response plan. How will we meet up? If we can't, where will we both head? Pack phone numbers, money, bars, water???? My mind is running wild!

In the past, I had many business trips to Tokyo and would sleep each night with my shoes laid out for easy slip on and my passport on the night stand next to me so that I could just grab it while I run out during an earthquake. I was alone then....only had to look after me.

I think I'll procrastinate on this till I'm back in Palembang but its definitely something we'll need to discuss.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Second things First

When we were growing up, my mother would always bug us to do "first things first". Whats that supposed to mean anyway? When you're a teenager its probably homework before tv, shower before dinner, chores before going out and the list goes on.

My mother must have bugged us enough that her teachings are still ringing around my head today and I do do all "work" before play. (She reads this sometimes so...I'll have to be careful) So my question is what does "First things first" mean today? And, is it really the best approach to things?

For a few days now, I have procrastinated on doing the dishes and hanging up the laundry until after I've sat down and "wasted" some time on the internet. I find that I'm much happier to do the chores afterwards. Do a better job too because I'm not in a rush to take a break.

So, just as I'm starting to choose the battles with Aaron, I think I'll also take time to procrastinate. It just makes me a happier person to do "Second things First".

Edited 5 mins later to add:
Sheesh! What sort of example will this be for Aaron then? Oh no!....I should have thought of "Second things First" before he came along. Well, a few more days of it won't hurt.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Would you want somebody else to breastfeed your baby?

Jean-Luc Picard left a comment on one of my previous posts saying that wet nurses were making a come back. I just googled this out of curiosity and it really is happening. Well, not a major 'come back' but it is happening. I won't summarise the TIME magazine article because it is already written so concisely so check it out here.

The crux is that people are becoming more aware of all the benefits a breastfed baby receives but at the same time, women are joining and staying in the work force more than ever so.....this is the way to have their cake and eat it too.

I think I might be OK to feed another baby if it were to help a family member out. I'd really have second thoughts about doing it for other people. And, I don't think I would want to have Aaron attached to anybody else's body. The relationship that develops between the baby and breastfeeder is incredibly intense and I guess I'm just too selfish to share him with somebody else. There's no way that I could convince myself that the other person was just a vending machine.

Lost in Fitness First

$1 per day during September at Fitness First is a great deal and I signed up today. It was my first time in a big, fancy gym chain and it really showed!

I got on a HUGE elliptical machine and started pedalling/running (can't decide which it is) away. When I felt like increasing the resistance, I pressed the upward pointing triangle. That looked like "increase" to me. Nothing happened. Pressed it some more. Still nothing. I thought perhaps it was not working and was about to jump off when I noticed that I was not pressing the triangles on the main console. This was a smaller thing attached at the side. At first I thought it was for convenience, nearer my hand, but eventually, I worked out that I was increasing the volume to the TVs. Who would have guessed that they put the capability of individually selecting whichever TV you wanted at every one of the 50 machines they had there? I would have known this if I had some ear phones on but I didn't. D'oh!

Then at the weights machines...another blurry moment. There were no stack of weights attached to the machines. There as a display in front of the seat that said "Resistance" and "Repetitions" and then described how to use the equipment safely but that was it. Sat down, tried to push off for some sort of arm exercise but nothing budged. I circled the apparatus and eventually a helpful staff member noticed my strange behavior and came up. These fancy machines have little buttons attached to where your thumbs rest so that you can adjust the resistance 'conveniently'. Change the AIR PRESSURE with your thumb! Now why didn't I jump to the conclusion of convenience as I did with the elliptical machine?

As I finished my exercises, I thought of how happy I felt. For one, I really needed the time to quiet my mind with all the daily mess of a baby in it. But the bubbly feelings seemed to stem more from the 'WOW' factor I had floating around me. Its been a long time since I've used something for the first time that I thought was really cool. I may sound like a villager to the rest of the world but I enjoyed my new experiences today at the fancy gym.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Great Escape

We put two sticks on both sides of the sliding doors so that it can be stopped from opening wider than about 10cm. Obviously, thats still too wide for this escape artist.

Blokes Babies Breastfeeding

As I have blogged before, dads plays a huge role in breastfeeding success. At the ABA workshop, there was a session on this and they highlighted a new DVD (Blokes, Babies, Breastfeeding) with "men only content" to help new dads with the challenges of breastfeeding. It is written and produced by men for men and covers the importance of breastfeeding, tips on supporting the mom and bonding with the new baby. Presented with humour and with just 5 main points for men to remember, supposedly, the only thing missing is a cold beer!

Anyway, there is a preview of the dvd at Blokes, Babies, Breastfeeding. I have nothing to do with the DVD and I'm not getting paid to blog about it here. Just thought it was interesting and there might be some people out there who could benefit from this. Check it out or forward to any new dads/dads-to-be that you know.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Have I lost the art of mingling?

I attended the Australian Breastfeeding Association Regional Workshop this morning and during the tea break, I found myself going off to the bathroom because I didn't know a single person there. When I returned, I literally stood and looked around for an individual, pair or group that I could start a conversation with but they were all already DEEP in funny conversations. I didn't have my conversation starter (aka Aaron) with me. I didn't want to seem anti social by sitting down. So I just....STOOD.

I knew that this was a workshop for breastfeeding counsellors and community educators that have known each other for some time but I still wanted to go because I am interested in the topics. (And, I hope to be some sort of counsellor/educator in the future)

In a previous life, I never encountered this problem. I wasn't a power mingler but I've never had to stand around awkwardly trying to fit in. There has always been a nagging fear in the back of my mind that I would become stupid or lose touch with the outside world after leaving my regular job for self employment (and now mommyhood) where I spend so much time home alone.

Was today the first sign that my worst fears are coming true? I don't like to think so since the local ABA meeting I went to was fine. But I really do need to find ways to 'get out more'. Its easy here in Brisbane but Palembang is a whole different story.

I'm still kicking myself for not being more 'out there' and trying harder to make some conversation.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Blueberry Cheesecake

Maybe its been too long since I've had ANY cheesecake but does this remind anybody else of a Blueberry Cheesecake?

Minds and Hearts

Some people say "Absence makes the heart grow fonder".
Others say "Out of sight, out of mind".
I say "Sometimes on my mind, always in my heart".

Perhaps I have the better end of the deal, being part of the 'away team', but I think Richard and I are used to long periods apart. We do try to chat every day but the time difference makes it a little difficult and we've gone back to the old days of sending emails. I actually like it this way. It reminds me of the 'early days' when we would trade emails several times a day. Although, the topics are somewhat different nowadays.

I'm not a person that misses other people. Usually, I do all my 'missing' before I leave. A sort of guilt laden missing that stems from knowing that I'm going on holiday while leaving my husband behind. It sounds cold doesn't it? Fortunately, Richard understands who I am and how I am. This must be my heart growing fonder!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Little Images

Tomorrow, we'll be going to a proper studio for Aaron's first baby photos. Actually, going to the studio will also be a first for me since my own babyhood.

I have come across so many vouchers that waive the sitting fee AND give you a free 10" x 8" photograph. Of course, they must be working on the assumption that any parent seeing such cute photos of their baby could not possibly resist purchasing ALL of them.

At this moment, I have it in my mind to use those vouchers and not purchase anything. Is that so wrong? Afterall, they did advertise and print out the vouchers in newspapers that thousands of people would have come across. But somehow, I feel bad thinking about doing it. Afterall, the photographer would have to spent her time and effort on it. I haven't even done anything yet and already I'm preparing myself for feeling guilty. Isn't that just setting myself up to buy the photos?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sleep and weight gain

One of the things I enjoy about coming to Brisbane is the news and current affairs programs they have. With Aaron around, I really only get to hear half of whats going on but this snippet caught my ears. Sleeping too little will lower your metabolism and this may lead you to gain weight. Then the reporter said something else that I didn't hear but it was something to the effect of the reduced amount of sleep being as bad as eating two cheeseburgers!

According to the research, adults need 8-8.5 hrs of sleep. It is only after you are 80 yrs old that your need drops to 6 hrs. I guess just like everything else that many people don't seem have time for (reading books, family, cooking proper meals) sleep is also on the list. Most people like sleeping but they are also most likely not getting enough. Do yourself a favour and go to bed early tonight.

I feel GOOD!

Two day's ago, Bilbo borrowed an idea for a post from Serina Hope's blog. That post was on things that got on their nerves. Today, Bilbo has a follow on post on things that make him feel good and I'm borrowing that idea here.

These things always make me feel good:

1) My son's cheeky little face. The twinkle in his eyes when he raises one eyebrow. This usually happens right before some lunge into mischief.

2) Richard surprising me with KFC. He does this every month or so. Bad for my body but really makes me feel goooood. I love junk food but limit myself to just one major junk meal (things like KFC, McDonalds, Pizza etc) a month.

3) Accounting for all our money. It may sound crazy but I really enjoy tracking our family's monthly expenses and matching all the inflow with the outflows. It is extremely satisfying when everything matches up.

4) Lazy holidays by the beach. Somehow the water and the sand always makes me happier than any other holiday destination.

5) Diving! The SCUBA equipment may seem awkward and heavy out of the water but when I am down there amongst the fish and coral, I am a MERMAID. I don't feel good before and after a dive because lugging all that weight around is no joke but when I'm in the water, the feeling is indescribable.

6) Having a meal with my entire family, including parents, brother and sister-in-law. We always end up having such good laughs and everybody is just CRAZY.

7) Having a movie night at home with my husband. When we were first married, we could watch up to 4 movies in one night. The last movie night we had in July ended at around 9.30pm after only half the movie. We may not have the luxury of being able to stay up late anymore but that time together still feels just as good.

8) Getting completely immersed in a multiple book fantasy series. The one I'm currently on is The Serpent War Saga by Raymond E Feist. For now, I have to use my ears for books instead of my eyes but it feels just as good to get lost in the story.

9) Exercise. Everybody knows that. Exercise makes you feel good. While it may take a bit of self convincing these days, I do enjoy a tough workout. Its the fastest way to putting yourself in a good mood.

10) Sleeping on rainy days. Warm pumpkin soup. Meeting old friends. Meeting new friends. Sitting down and reflecting on the day. Waking up early and going out for a walk when it is still crisp. Nachos. Christmas carols. Etc, etc, etc......

I believe that there are plenty of things in everyday life to make us feel good. However, sometimes, we're just too busy/stressed/preoccupied/grumpy to notice them and allow the goodness to be felt.

Coupon Collector

When I was younger, I never paid any attention to the coupons at the back of my shopping dockets. Now, I ALWAYS take a look and cut out the ones that I think will be useful. These, I keep in my car. Somehow, as wealth increases with age (hopefully) we also become a little more tight with it.....hard earned I supposed.

So, its just logical that my next step will be look for coupons online. Especially since there are people's birthdays coming up in September, October, November and then Christmas. Any and all savings will really add up. I've been looking aroundCoupon Chief lately.

My mother is one of the hardest people to shop for so, very often, I get her soaps, hand creams, bath gels etc. The Body Shop has some interesting offers available. It sounds boring but she really does enjoy some of these fragrant luxuries for her skin. If I can't find anything in this category, I usually look to something novel. A couple of years ago, we actually bought her a little gadget from the National Geographic Store that could read your mind after 24 questions. It really could!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Red and White Packets

I was triggered to think about this because I heard of somebody passing away today and somebody else giving the 'Pak Kum'. A direct translation of that is 'white gold' but its not really gold. Its the money that Chinese will give to the family of the deceased, usually in a white envelope.

Anyway, we Chinese give money at almost all occasions. While it is practical and often useful, it sometimes seems like the easy way out to me. After all, it takes time and effort to give a thoughtful gift. Here are the occasions that I can think of where cash is given.

Your Full Moon - One month after you are born. Comes in a red packet with cash known as the Ang Pow.
Each of your birthdays - Your parents will probably get you a present but grandparents/aunts/uncles tend to give you Ang Pow. Peers will give gifts.
Your Wedding - Ang Pows from all guests. This really helps to defray the costs of the celebration. During the tea ceremony, family members sometimes also give jewellery. I have heard of some instances here in Australia where people have also started to ask for cash instead of presents.
Chinese New Year - If you are married, you have to give Ang Pow to any unmarried person you. Once people start working, they also give to their parents and grand parents. I have been paying out for 7 years but in 2008, I'll be collecting! Well, Aaron will be anyway :)
Your Funeral - As mentioned above, people will usually give Pak Kum to the family.

The shirt off my back

Here is another one of those tips that I read from the baby sleep books. Although I had tried it before when Aaron was a newborn, it didn't seem to work then. I tried it again this week and for several days now, his morning naps have been 90 mins instead of 45 mins.

After I feed him, I stay there until he falls asleep, then I leave my shirt behind!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fight Club

Well, not quite. But playing with Aaron is certainly starting to make us both look like we've been in some sort of fight. He really loves to tumble around and enjoys physical play. He's had a couple of minor bumps and is sporting an eye thats a little like a boxer's today but I think I'm the one thats been taking a beating.

So far, he has:
- head butted me and split my lip twice.
- caused multiple bruises up and down my shins from playing on the floor.
- probably re-fractured my previously fractured sternum by digging his elbow into me to push up.
- given me an eyeball ache by once again head butting me.
- bitten me in a moment of madness and left an ugly purple bruise on my arm.

Those are just the obvious injuries. I also have:
- an aching back from bending over and holding both his hands while he walks.
- a sore neck from always having my head at 90 degrees to my body while i play with him or read to him or just look at him.
- extremely tired gluteus maximi from pushing him up and down these hills. A good workout towards a Jennifer Lopez behind I suppose.

This really gives new meaning to 'No pain no gain'.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

When do we learn the word 'can't'?

OK. I have to rave about the baby again. Its just so amazing to see him continue to try to walk (and do other things). When he falls, he just picks himself up again WITH A SMILE.

Sometimes, I sense some laziness in him but most times, I'm just in awe of how ambitious he is. If you couldn't walk or even stand steadily, would you attempt to balance on your trolley and push off with one leg? Babies really operate in the mode of 'Monkey see, monkey do' and don't have any idea that there are things that are just not possible. So, when do we learn to say 'I can't'? Will it help if I never mention that word around him? I can always try. At the moment, we just offer him lots of encouragement and applause for whatever it is he is trying to achieve. In a roundabout way, this baby has made me realise and cherish my own parent's style with me. They offered 100% support and encouragement even when they knew I probably bit off more than I could chew.