Archive for March 2007

 

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GO3 Cocktail Party

30 March 2007

My husband attended a conference this weekend – part of the GO3 Electronic Entertainment Expo (read : for GAMING GEEKS). So I got roped along to an “exclusive” cocktail party in the evening. A cocktail party for geeks!

I’m only kidding. I like geeks. Geeks make me laugh. Me and geeks – we get along well. I figured it would be fun – meeting and talking to new people is always fun.

There was definitely a buzz in the air. The crowd had an international and local flavour. There were lots of food, drinks and people mingling and chatting. I talked to heaps of really nice people. I really enjoyed myself – despite the fact that I don’t even LIKE playing computer games.

At one point, I met a some guys and we got chatting. They were trying to explain to me how freaking cool the conference speakers were. Apparently… we were mingling with the MEGA ROCKSTARS of game development. Think Spielberg. Michael Jackson. The Rolling Stones. We were in the presence of GAMING GODS.

And to see a bunch of well spoken, intelligent and not-bad-looking geeks… suddenly go all star-struck and gushy, well, it was cute.

I was told I HAD to get my picture taken with Hideo Kojima (the Metal Gear dude) and Tetsuya Mizuguchi (the Sega Rally and Rez dude). I had absolutely no idea who they are, but I walked up to them anyway and politely asked for a photo. So I hope these photos mean something to someone, because I don’t even know what Metal Gear is!


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Organic Cheese and Chive Scone Recipe

29 March 2007

Organic Cheese and Chive Scone Recipe

No added sugar. Organic. Incredibly tasty. Easy for kids to help. Quick to make. Makes about 12 – 16 medium scones.

225g (8 oz) self raising flour (organic wholemeal or white)
50g butter (organic)
1 cup cheese (organic)
¼ teaspoon of garlic salt (or regular sea salt)
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
¼ cup of milk to make a soft dough

1. Rub butter into flour.

2. Add salt, cheese, chives and give it a stir.

3. Add milk and mix to make a nice soft dough. If too sticky add more flour.

4. Throw onto floured surface. Knead a bit. Press flat with hands, thickness of 1-2cms. Cut out with a scone cutter. Place on oiled baking try.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes in 230ºC/450ºF oven, or until golden brown.


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Reward Charts

28 March 2007

These past few months, we’ve had a tough time trying to shift some “unsatisfactory behaviours” in our almost 4 year old. I wouldn’t say that they are BAD behaviours… because really, bad is more like… when kids throw a tantrum involving smashing up furniture and swearing in your face. So to his credit, my son isn’t all that bad.

They are more like… annoying habits. Habits which make us parents nag and nag and nag until our eyeballs peel and our brains implode. I don’t like to nag. I don’t like entering into the same marathon of daily negotiations. I don’t like the whining and the whinging. It spoils the love.

So after months of no success, today we’re trying the reward chart.

I’ve always avoided the reward chart system. I’ve always imagined it might make my kids NOT genuine in their actions, perhaps superficial, and maybe focused on instant gratification. Sure he has a clean room, brushed teeth and says hello to people, but might his motives be elsewhere? Does the end justified the means? I guess all that never sat right with me. Anyway – despite how I felt – I figured I would try it out as a short term learning tool.

Here’s our little masterpiece. We have a row for Eating Dinner, Afternoon Nap, and Good Playtime. When the kids collect eight stickers in one row, they get a little reward. A piece of chocolate for eating dinner, a book for sleeping, and a toy car for playing well.

I looked online for some ideas on reward charts. Unhappy with the print outs, I created my own. I made it in a collage style, getting the kids involved too. If your squint you might see little bits of paper broccoli and paper potatoes stuck to a blue plate. I made each paper “sticker” and used a bit of GluTack to stick it to the chart.

Since we started, it’s all very novel and exciting. But I’ll let you know how it goes!


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Boredom

26 March 2007

Today, at 7:45am, my boys decided to lay some blankets and pillows out on the tiled foyer and play a game called, SLEEP!

It was quite funny. Then they just giggled and giggled, and shouted out things like, “Hey mum! Look at us! We’re going to SLEEP! Hehehahaheheheha!”

By the time I grabbed my camera, the game evolved, and they were taking turns to tickle each other’s head.


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Art Refresher

25 March 2007

Hey look what I got up to on the weekend! I painted! With oils!

I worked out that it’s been about 10 YEARS since I picked up a paint brush and painted a picture.

I was quite freaked out that I might have forgotten how to paint.

Light and colour, landscape tones, blending, mixing, weight and pressure of the strokes, consistency of the paint, loading brushes, working with the medium. It all came back. Everything. Even the smell of the oils. The turps. My old brushes. It all came back.

I painted a seascape (I refuse to paint fruit). It’s not really finished yet. It was just a refresher exercise for me to regain some painting confidence. And phew, I can still paint. But I’m a bit too shy to post it up! Sorry, maybe next week, after my next painting.


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Summary

23 March 2007

My parents returned home from a 2 week holiday in Singapore. It was good to see them again. They were full of entertaining holiday stories. Plus I was tired of watering my mother’s gazillion pot plants and feeding her feral chickens.

They brought home bags full of gifts – ranging from matching Spiderman jackets for the boys, cute Chinese outfits for the boys, Giordano tshirts for the boys, NBA sweatshirts for the boys, matching hibiscus shirts for the boys, and a home therapy spa kit (?).

It was nice to see the boys SO excited by new clothes. It was Christmas all over again! But they didn’t know what to do with it all. In the end, when the adults weren’t watching, they threw the pile of clothes in the air and rolled in it.

  On Wednesday evening, my husband and I went out for dinner to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. 5 years is half a decade!

  On Thursday night, I had a girls night out. We had Japanese food while talking about skiing holidays in Japan, gynecologists, boyfriends who snore and art exhibitions.


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Happy Birthday Honey

20 March 2007

Today is my husband’s birthday! We had a lovely morning tea celebration for him on the weekend – with cake, scones, waffles, whipped cream, berries and lots of fruits. There was so much food! We also managed to go to a Saint Patrick’s Day party that same evening – which was great fun. Then our friend’s 4 year old party on Sunday. It was a party filled weekend and frankly, we were all birthdayed out.

As for today, I wasn’t actually planning to do anything birthdayish for my husband. But as the day ticked by, I couldn’t help myself. It just seemed so wrong to NOT honour someone you love and cherish so deeply on their birthday.

So I threw together some bread mix and baked him… a loaf of bread. Yes, a bread cake! Tee hee. After dinner, I brought out the “cake”, I turned off all the lights, I lit the candles, and all four of us sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY as loud as we could. We cut the “cake”. We ate slices of the “cake”. I even offered everyone butter!

The boys didn’t seem to notice that things were slightly askew. They were just so excited about the CAKE! CAKE! CANDLES! CANDLES! My husband and I shared a silly smile over the burning candles, and knew this was going down in our history books of silly moments, as The Day Karen Made Andrew A Loaf Of Bread For His Birthday.


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Cakes and Tats

18 March 2007

We went to a 4 year old’s Disco Birthday Party today. It was so nice and laid back. It rocked! There was a bubble machine, a mini disco ball, a simple dinner, lots of balloons and of course, Abba. The kids had a great time.

My friend also invited a relative, who worked for a theatre and was a professional face painter. She set up a little face painting station with all her pro paints and brushes… and all the kids lined up to get their faces painted. The girls got butterflies and flowers. Callum got a rocketship. Sean got a plane. Others got bugs, spiders and bumblebees. When all the kids finished, I asked if I could have one too. A dragon one, please.

Check out my ink! Ha! Perhaps the fire was a bit of an overkill. And personally I would have skipped the red. But feeling like an Asian biker gangster chick at my friend’s 4 year old birthday party was very funny indeed.

All the other mums got painted up too – with very cute [and respectable] Sesame characters and animal critters. My husband, who decided that dads could be cool too, got a jellyfish one.

The kids thought we were indeed so cool.


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Vegetarian Pizza

16 March 2007

I must admit, I’m not a natural vegetarian. Some people can drop red meat and chicken from their diets and never even notice. I’m SO not one of those people. I crave meat all the time. I day dream about roasting lamb racks and sizzling chicken thighs. And I have an automatic, secret fear that whenever I make something vegetarian, it will turn out tasteless and bland.

In order to mentally impede my fears, I have been slowly collecting together a list of tasty vegetarian meals into a folder. Recipes that are really tasty, easy to make, healthy and organic, and most importantly… kids love them and eat them.

One of our favourite recipes – Vegetarian Pizza. I took a picture of the cheesey one. But they taste just as good loaded with veges, without any cheese.

I like using pita bread for my pizza bases. Tomato paste for my base topping. Then grilled aubergines, grilled capsicums, green beans, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, sweet potatoes, fresh herbs. Basically, any vegetable that is sitting in my fridge, will go on my pizzas.


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The Magic of Maze Books

15 March 2007

When I was a kid, I had these two maze books. I loved them with all my heart. I treasured them like a tasty treat and kept them away from the sticky little fingers of my siblings.

I “gave” them to Callum a few months ago. Then gave him some rules – No drawing on them and you must always keep them safe in your desk. He absolutely loved them. I didn’t know if he could do the mazes. I just thought he might like the cool monster pictures.

He surprised me! A few attempts. A bit of help. And after a few days, he ploughed through the books, page by page, drawing invisible paths with his finger, flipping and flipping until he reached the end. THEN he would start all over again.

They have been very useful : When I ask him to be in his room for some quiet time, he’ll sit and do them over and over again. If we’re going to a cafe, or visit a friend (who doesn’t have any toys), he’ll happily sit and do them.

This maze was the hardest one of the lot! I had to draw a faint line so he wouldn’t always BUG ME for help! After a while he memorised the way and used an eraser to rub out my line.

Unfortunately I searched far and wide on the internet for these books and can’t seem to find them anywhere. They were actually published by Hallmark Cards, as activity gift books, and they don’t have an ISBN etc.

However I did find Marvelous Mazes (pictured left), Amazing Mazes, Magical Mazes and Space Monsters Maze Book on Amazon. They look quite similar in the coolness department. They are aged 9-12, but I’m sure Callum could do them, with a bit of help.


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When Even Lunch Needs To Be Happy

14 March 2007

Callum woke up this morning and declared it was going to be a HAPPY DAY. EVERYONE had to be HAPPY. Or ELSE.

So I played along. By nap time, I think I was the happiest of all – I couldn’t believe they ate every piece of vegetable on their plate! Oh the things us parents have to do…


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Sean Turns TWO!

11 March 2007

My baby boy turns two today! We had a little birthday party with some of my extended family. Lots of food, fun and presents!

I hastily put together a Thomas Tank Engine birthday cake – which involved propping a few trains onto a chocolate cake. The boys thought it was SO COOL. I must admit, I had a vision of a PROPER train cake – inspired by The Coolest Birthday Cake Site. But. I have a real problem with the use of food colouring in kid’s foods. As I flipped through those awesome cake photos, I could hear the coloured banshee shrieks of E133, E102 and E142 ringing in my ears… so that was the end of that idea.

Sean had the best time. Playing with his cousins. Whizzing around on his tricycle. Popping balloons. Opening presents. Eating sausages. I went all gushy when he blew out the candles. He was just so happy and so excited. I guess it made me look forward to many more years of hasty birthday cake making.


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Sculpture By The Sea

10 March 2007

We dragged the kids to Cottesloe Beach to see the annual Sculpture By The Sea exhibition. It was really cool!

I think there were 50 sculptures in total, all dotted along the beach and water. There were *so* many people there. It was off putting (like a tourist theme park), yet it was deliciously novel.

We took a long walk. Gawked at all the funny sculptures. Explained to my preschooler why ART submarines can’t go underwater like REAL submarines. We took some photos. Sat on the grass under the trees. We ate hot chips and watched the world go by.

Coincidently, my husband and I chose the same piece as our favourite, the rock anchor (pictured above). Callum liked the weird submarine. And Sean liked the sand.


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Callum : 3 years, 11 months

8 March 2007

Callum’s drawing skills have been developing at an incredible rate. Now I leave a box of pencils and a stack of paper in his room, and everyday he surprises me with lots of super cute drawings! (This is Buzz Lightyear. Callum admits he copied it from his school bag, but he insists it still came from his brain.)

He can write his name without any help. And he loves copying out words that I write for him. He can’t write out the whole alphabet yet.

Callum has been settling into kindergarten really well. He absolutely loves it – 2 days a week, from 9am to 3pm. He sleeps when they tell him to sleep. And eats when everyone else eats. I know most kids behave differently when they go to kindy, but I’m amazed to hear that my son actually STOPS TALKING long enough to eat his lunch in the time given and then go to sleep!

He’s obsessed with RULES. He likes to have RULES FOR EVERYTHING. Thus he gets a bit bossy sometimes, and he’s no fun during ball games. Whenever someone else (me, or my husband) breaks the rules, or “decides we just want to PLAY” Callum will stop the game, hold the ball, demand a reason for such unruliness, and will repeat ALL the rules – speaking s-l-o-w-l-y this time, so that we understand. Such cheek!

I’m secretly paranoid that my kids will show signs of learning difficulties. So I play heaps of “learning” games with Callum whenever we’re together – instead of, you know, talking about CRAP. I’ve grabbed heaps of great tips from his kindy teacher!

Apparently (I did not know this) kindy/preschools don’t emphasise on teaching the kids to recite their ABCs. They teach phonics instead – “Ah” “Buh” “Cuh”. They go through little exercises like “Duh” is for “D-og” and “D-addy”. They do lots of word rhymes, break words into sound syllables etc. Apparently it makes it easier for kids to learn how to spell.

So Callum and I play this game. I say something like “Why did Mrs White have a fright?” And Callum would say things like, “Because… it was night? There was no light? She lost her kite??” It all sounds really brainy, but let me assure you, we quickly fall into good ol’ toilet humour. Poos, wees and farts, never cease to entertain.

“Where did Mr Blue do a poo?”
“In his SHOE! In a LOO! In the GLUE?”

Ok I doubt it’s educationally sound, but it’s all gold. We play heaps of other phonic games too. And by “games” I mean casual chit chat, “Hey soap sounds like BOAT! What else?” Resulting in Callum being very aware of rhymes – perhaps irritatingly so – because some days, every second word he says will be a made up rhyme – “Hey mummy pummy? Where’s my sandal dandle?”

As you can tell, I’m not very hardcore or pushy with all this literacy stuff. I believe a child’s education has to be well rounded (beyond the numbers and letters) to also include stuff like – problem solving skills, self-discipline, self-confidence, strong sense of why things are right and wrong, creative solutions for sticky situations, how to care for others, a love for life, etc etc.

Callum’s a great big brother. He does not hit back, shove or bully his little brother. Sometimes he will irritate Sean, but it’s usually from being playful, rather than being malicious. He’s not dismissive, nor does he ignore Sean. Most times he wants Sean by his side, and it’s Sean who wants to do his own thing.

Callum is a bit reserved on the social front. He has a best friend at kindy, who happens to be a girl from our mother’s group. And when asked, he doesn’t seem interested in making other new friends. I’ve introduced him to the fine art of making friends in the playground – “Just walk up to another boy and say ‘Hey you wanna play pirates/ball/cars?'” – and he seems to be doing fine now.


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A Beach Walk

7 March 2007

This evening, my husband and I went for a walk by the beach. A REALLY long walk. Took us something like 2 hours! We started at Leighton Beach (I think) and walked towards Cottesloe. Just strolling and talking. It was very cool. Especially the sunset.

My goal was to make it to Cott for an ice cream. But alas, as we approached that last hill, I knew my legs wouldn’t be able to make the 45 mins walk back. Oh well. The stretch felt good.

It made me remember July 2002, when we were in Scotland. Every second day we’d go out for a 6-8 hour hike in the mountains. Crazy!


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So. Cute.

5 March 2007

Wow. There are some really cute stuff for kids out there. I am continually surprised. I can barely hold myself back with these play foods from Mahar Drygoods.

I hear myself saying, Oh these will be wonderful for the boys, they’ll love the cute shapes and textures and enjoy hours of pretend cooking…

But in reality, I know the first thing they’ll do is… try to see how many food pieces they can stuff into their mouths.


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Dressed Up

3 March 2007

I know there will be a time when I won’t be able to put up funny kid photos on my site. Ah what a sad day that will be. Until then… here’s what we got up to today.

Will they ever forgive me?

(Can you believe it, that turtle suit still fits Callum?)


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Wedding Lunch

1 March 2007

Some good friends of mine got married this afternoon, with the official, full scale wedding next month in Indonesia. Today was a small intimate gathering for family and friends, who won’t be able to make it overseas.

It was really lovely and extra special – because the bride recently (like, less than 2 weeks ago) underwent emergency major abdominal surgery, and survived! Amazing story. Plus she was so calm, happy and in such great spirits. I was actually still a little shaken from my shock of it all, and kept pestering her like a mother – “Should you be eating that? Are you tired? Do you want to lie down? Drink water!”

I met some really nice people. Met the family. Took heaps of photos of the pretty area surrounding the Blue Water Grill in Applecross.

I also managed to get some nice photos of my meal. I don’t usually like take photos of what I eat when I go out. But the natural light spilling into the function room was gorgeous and I just couldn’t resist.