Archive for May 2007


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Wednesday Nights

30 May 2007

Sometimes I sit across from my husband and we talk.

We bounce ideas, we laugh, we ramble, we connect. We talk about the stories of the past, the intricate details of the present, and the big possibilities of the unwritten future.

We share our dreams, our ideas, our goals, our plan for the future. We lay it all out on the table and we just work it out. Everyone wins. Everyone is inspired.

It’s not compromise. It’s realignment. I always come away refreshed, recharged, excited and refocused. It’s a damn good kinda love.

Sometimes I stop mid-sentence, I gaze across the table and think : This guy is absolutely perfect for me. For my heart, my soul, my everything.

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Bits and Pieces Around the Web

29 May 2007

These last few days I’ve been out and about the web, setting stuff up and tinkering with that and that.

I’m on Facebook! Feel free to add me, but be aware that I’ll probably only add you if I “know” you or your blog.

Finally set up a Technorati Profile. Add me to your favourites!

Updated my Flickr.

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28 May 2007

When you’re at a party, sitting around, half drunk with friends you love, conversations about the stupidest things always seem quite funny.

This is what we came up with :

Aunt Flow is coming to visit
The Bleedies
Bloody Mary on the rocks
The Crimson Tide
The Curse
My red-headed cousin from Virginia
Nosebleed in Australia
On the rags
The painters are in
The playground’s muddy
It’s raining down south
Raise the Japanese flag
Sprung a leak
The vampire trap
There’s a War in Virginia
Strawberry week

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The Accidental Effect of Flash Cards

27 May 2007


When Sean was 20 months old, I began reading him an ABC book. Each page had a letter and a picture of an object starting with that letter. I would say the phonic sounds of each letter, Aaa is for Apple, Buh is for Ball. He loved it. So we did it every night as his bedtime story.

I didn’t realise at the time that I was in fact implementing a flash card learning technique. Now I don’t know much about the technique. But I have some friends who use flash cards on their infants. They do it 3 TIMES A DAY for their daily learning routine. I see them wave cards with “WEDNESDAY” and “ELEPHANT” at their tiny babies, who seem more interested in the specks of dust twinkling through the windows.

I used to think, “Whoa that’s dedication. Interesting, but definitely not for me.”

The irony in all this is : now that Sean is 26 months old, he can recognise and give the phonic sound to 22 letters. He gets stuck with V, J, P and Y.

I’m not exactly exploding with pride, because I’m too busy being gobsmacked. I can’t believe it. It happened so… suddenly and unintentionally. It’s very freaky, especially when his older brother (4 years old) can recognise 24 letters. Not that I’m comparing or anything. It’s just interesting to notice the outcomes between stuff I’ve done with one kid versus the other.

So I stand corrected. I’m very impressed with this flash card thing. Especially when it’s raining outside.

I went out and bought a set of proper alphabet phonic flash cards. And it got me thinking, I’d like to have some good Chinese flash cards (with pinyin). With simple everyday words. Anyone have any ideas where to buy them online?

Amazon – Chinese Flash Cards

China Sprout – Flash Cards

Asian Parent – Listen & Learn Bilingual Chinese Flash Cards + CD

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Autumn : One way to look at it.

26 May 2007

During our walk in the park, my 4 year old turned to me and said, “Hey mum! The ground looks like it’s covered in curry puffs!”

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Sean – 26 months

25 May 2007

Sean 26 months

I have the impression that Sean is pretty smart. Either that, or he’s a very good sponge. He absorbs almost EVERYTHING that Callum (4 years old) is into at the moment. I guess that’s the advantage of being the second child.

He can recognise and say the phonic name of 22 letters of the alphabet. He can sort shapes and colours. He can almost sing all of Callum’s Kindy songs. And he enjoys playing simple word, guessing and rhyming games (that I play with Callum).

I remember noticing that Sean was quite sensitive when he was only 8 weeks old. It’s quite interesting to see how it has developed in his character.

Sean is a very affectionate kid. When his big brother cries, he’ll put his hand on Callum’s shoulder and says, “It’s ok. Don’t cry.”

When I exaggerate my sadness, he’ll walk up to me and give me a big cuddle and say, “Mummy happy now?” He’ll plant me with kisses and cuddles, and say “I love you mummy!”

He has a special bunny and a special rug – and he MUST sleep with BOTH every night. I’ve never pushed the idea of having a comfort object with my kids. I personally find them to be a bother, and believe comfort should come from within. Nonetheless, I work with what I’ve got. Sean used to cry and sob whenever his rug was in the wash. He used to sit outside and stare up at it as it dried on the washing line.

Now I’ve bought a second rug, and cycle them. But I only have one bunny. It’s getting pretty filthy and I’m scared to wash it.

Sean takes a really long time to get over an upsetting experience. For example. He doesn’t like my sister – because she used to babysit him and now he associates “Aunty Christine” with “Mummy’s abandoning me”. He’s afraid of the dark – because once during a shower we had a 5 minute blackout and he completely freaked out.

Sean speaks a LOT. In big, clear, long sentences.

The other day, he was playing with some toy boxes and I heard him yell out,“HEY! What’s this doing here? This Spiderman remote control car book is not belong in my Mr Tato Head box!”He ran up to me with an instruction leaflet that he found in the wrong box. He was furious. It was so cute.

He can re-tell a picture story back to me. He knows the parts of his body. He can count to 10 (but he forgets the 5).

Sean is pretty good at getting around. He’s agile, coordinated and has excellent balance. He’s not keen on heights. But other than that, he’s absolutely reckless with his safety and considering the consequences of his actions.

One day we were making dams in the creek. The kids had their gum boots on. Sean began to wade into the water. I watched him and wondered if he would get upset when his socks and pants got wet. But he kept going deeper and deeper until the water was up over his knees and filling his boots! And he still didn’t stop! He had no fear, I tell you.

He’s very interested in babies and caring for his teddies. He makes sure they are fed and tucked in at night. I notice he’ll spend a lot more time with character toys (animals, dolls, action figures) than trucks, cars, tools, balls and blocks.

He can do a large 16 piece puzzle by himself.

Sean used to be great at bedtime. We used to put him to sleep at 6:30pm. He’d quietly stare up at the ceiling until he fell asleep. Sometimes he’d be awake an hour later. But still staring quietly in the dark.

Now, possibly because of a more developed sense of awareness, Sean gets out of his bed 5-10 times a night before he actually goes to sleep. It’s been a bit of a nightmare. We’ve tried so many different techniques and none seem to be working. We just hope he grows out of it.

Photo taken by my friend, Dorothy

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What Should Kids Eat Each Day?

24 May 2007

A girlfriend came over today and she noticed a newspaper clipping I have stuck to my fridge. We had a good old chat about it, and I thought I might share it here too.

It’s a little chart that is great to look at – every time I’m in the kitchen – when I’m about to prepare a snack for the kids, or taking a mental tally of what the kids have eaten that day. I try to follow it everyday. Most times it’s impossible. But at least it’s a good reference!

The following information is based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating 2007 :


Fruit (2 serves) : One apple. One small box of sultanas.
Photos from Getty

Vegetables (4 serves) : A raw carrot. A cooked potato. A cup of steamed veges.
Photos from Getty

Calcium (800mg/day) : A cup of lo-fat milk. 200g tub of yoghurt. 20g slice of low-fat cheese.
Photos from Getty

Cereals (3 serves wholegrain) : Cup of porridge. 2 slices of bread. Cup of cooked pasta.
Photos from Getty

Protein (1 serve) : One egg. Cup of lean mince.
Photos from Getty

Other (no more than 2 serves) : 20g butter / margarine. 35g sweet biscuits.
Photos from Getty

(All images taken from Getty Images)

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Hello World!

23 May 2007

If you haven’t noticed, this site is now powered by WordPress!

After 8 years of fiddling with HTML, I decided that this website needed to conform with, well, the rest of the blogging world.

I’ve spent the last month or so tinkering with WordPress, painfully tweaking the CSS, then transferring 4 years worth of posts (more than 600) into this new site. Oh yes, it hurt.

Here are some changes :

You can now link to individual posts.

I’ve got RSS, a Contact Form and a complete Archive List.

I have categories. You can see all my shopping links, recipes, stories about my kids, my thoughts on parenting, my crafty projects, etc.

I’ve got a working list of My Favourite Posts.

Currently, I have a small section on pregnancy. I’ll be uploading a whole heap of unpublished posts in the next few weeks.

I’ve put up a lot more photos of Callum when he was a baby (April 2003, May 2003, June 2003, July 2003, August 2003, September 2003)

I’ve updated my Header Gallery.

I have a few favourite Monthly Archives : September 2006, August 2006, January 2005, February 2007.

Anyway, feel free to have a browse around! Enjoy!

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Net-A-Portering in the wrong hemisphere

15 May 2007

Now. I don’t think I’d actually buy a Missoni dress for £1,463.83. Nor a Jimmy Choo clutch for £370.21. But damn it’s fun to dream.

Speaking of dreaming. The cold weather is here and I hate it!

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Mother’s Day

13 May 2007

I received a heart-shaped message from my 4 year old son (via his Kindy teacher). It was a bit freaky, but oh so adorable. It says :

Callum’s Mummy

What is Mummy’s name and age? Her name is Karen and I think she’s 55.

What does Mummy look like? She has long, black hair, brown eyes and she’s shorter than Daddy.

What clothes does she like to wear? Jeans and Tee-shirts and slipper shoes.

What do you like to see her wear? A pink dress and hair ties.

What is Mummy’s favourite thing to eat? Salads with cheese mixed in it.

What T.V programme does she like to watch? Shows about painting pictures.

What does she like to do for fun? She goes shopping for clothes.

Does Mummy go out to work? No. She has to look after Sean and me.

What jobs does Mummy do at home? She goes to buy food, she cooks, hangs out the washing and she sews broken clothes.

What do you like doing with Mummy? Playing with lego sets and craft. I like to help her cook.

Why do you love Mummy? Because she cuddles me and she’s pretty.

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Flowers from my husband

12 May 2007

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Mother’s Day Morning Tea

11 May 2007

Callum’s Kindergarten class invited me to a Mother’s Day morning tea. We did activities with the kids, ran around the playground, they sang action songs, then we all sat down for tea and nibbles – it was all very cute.

Sheesh. There were so many activities. We made bracelets. We painted dinosaurs. We drew houses. We rolled play dough. I was so tired.

We also made these Rice Bag Babies, based on our child’s birth weight. We were given some stockings, ribbons, eyes, blanket, a pacifier and some rice – in our case – 3.3kgs (7.3lbs) of Australian short grain rice.

Now I don’t know how many of you have carried one of these rice bag babies – IT’S WEIRD. You carry these things exactly like you would carry a real newborn. One hand on its bum to carry its whole weight, and one hand to support its neck and head.

And if you wanted to go ONE HANDED, you have to cradle your arm in that strange angle that stops its head from hanging down like a limp chicken. So in fact, when held, it looks strangely realistic.

It was a cute activity. I guess it was supposed to make us feel all nostalgic. But I just found it HEAVY. It was irritating. I found every opportunity to place it on the floor next to my handbag. Or pass it to Callum, who also found it too heavy, and chose to drag it across the floor by its head.

At the end of the session, I carried it back to my car. My arms were full – rice bag baby, a bag of goodies, bits of craft and my handbag. I rolled my eyes, Oh man, what am I going to do with a sack of rice?? A door stop? Sushi? It was long walk. In the sun. Ugh. My arms were aching.

As I approached my car, I carefully used my elbow to open the trunk. I stepped back, did a little run up and with one big heave, I threw the rice baby into the trunk with a satisfying WUMPH!

GASP! I suddenly realised how WRONG this must have looked if somebody saw me THROW MY BABY INTO THE TRUNK!! I quickly spun around in a panic, scanning the streets and carpark. Phew. Hopefully no one will be calling any child welfare agencies.

(Callum also gave me this super-cute interview on a Mother’s Day Card)

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Craft Overload

10 May 2007

My 4 year old loves craft. His life revolves around craft.

When we’re eating Easter eggs at the shops, he keeps the foil in irritatingly pristine condition – for craft. When we’re in the park, he gathers leaves – for craft. Or discarded straws, bottle tops, bits of wood and empty chip packets. Or shells, seaweed, drift wood, cuttlefish skeletons from the beach. My craft box would stink without the blessed zip lock bag.

But now that he’s started Kindergarten, he has access to the Magical Craft Trolley. The never-ending supply of other people’s recycled household crap! Oh the accumulation of crap! What do I do with it all?!

My son brings home a new creation each day. Proud. Beaming. A present for mummy. Each one is a new improved design of a battleship of some sort, complete with stories and sound effects. Lucky me.

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The Last Straw

9 May 2007

The boys have been displaying really awful behaviour these last few days.

I swear. Every 5 minutes they are fighting, arguing, bickering, pushing, screaming, crying, shouting. I want the blue plate! No I want the blue plate! Why is his bigger than mine? He stepped on my foot! I dropped mine! Get off the table! Stop doing that! Don’t spill your water! No spitting! Stop shouting! No hitting! Sit on your chair! Stop grabbing!

It’s been pushing me closer and closer to that very dark place.

I used to think that I would handle these situations with calm and strength. But after 3 non-stop days of the relentless fights. I snap. I shout. I blow up. And I’m reduced to tears. Sigh. It’s been a bad week.

However, there were a few moments I managed to laugh.

One day the 2 year old decided he wanted EVERYTHING the 4 year old had. Every single thing. The cup. The book. The truck. The spoon. The ball. The box. Fighting. Shouting. Crying. All day. It was ridiculous.

Then. As I intervened in the biggest disaster in the universe this minute, I growled “What are you guys even fighting about??”

There were tears. Sobs and wails. There were bite marks and missing bits of clothing. Then the 4 year old produced this. Yes. A small black thread.

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Boredom in the Ball Pit

7 May 2007

After 4 years of hanging out at these playgyms, I can proudly say : I CAN JUGGLE THREE BALLS!

I sit. I have balls up to my waist. What else am I supposed to do?

The only problem is… it attracts a lot of kids. Kids like jugglers. They stop and stare. They come closer, ask me questions, and try to juggle too – always smiling and laughing.

I used to play along and chat happily to them. Tell them funny stories, while juggling. A bit of slapstick. Engage them in my performance. They loved it. I was good. I was like, the coolest mum ever.

But then the obnoxious ones would emerge. They ask me why I’m doing the same trick over and over. They demand I do cooler tricks. They throw balls at me and call me crap.

And suddenly I am a CHILD ENTERTAINER. An unpaid child minder. Like hell! I don’t pay money to come here, to look after other people’s kids, and then have to put up with this!

So now if an unsupervised child tries to talk to me while I’m juggling, I say, “Are you lost? QUICK! GO FIND YOUR MOTHER! THERE’S A LOST CHILD OVER HERE!”

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Heathcote Playground

4 May 2007

If I was a children’s playground designer, this is what I would have built.

I too would have picked an erie field on top of a windy cliff. Then built a large wooden pirate ship-like structure, with boardwalks, caves, dungeons, bells, a crow’s nest and a huge wire opctopus.

The structure was enormous. This photo only shows the southern “wing”. I think there were 4 more sections to it, including a smaller version for toddlers. It’s uber cool. We packed a picnic. And the kids had a fantastic time.

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Nepalese Restaurant

2 May 2007

My husband and I went to a Nepalese Restaurant in Applecross for our weekly date night. I would often walk past it and think, Oooh I’ve never eaten Nepalese food before, we have to try this place!

The interior was nice and cosy. There was no long wait for the food. When it arrived I was mildly surprised that it looked and smelt very similar to Indian cuisine.

Ok I naively thought that since Nepal was between India and China, there would be some sort of Indian-Chinese fusion thing happening, but nope. I’m Chinese, and it was definitely Indian food.

It tasted pretty good – tasty and fresh. BUT. It was shockingly over-priced. I was quite cut, because for this price we could’ve had a REALLY excellent Indian dinner. I guess the real killer was the service. Now I’m not easily irritated by poor service, but these guys were really bad. Such a shame. Oh well.

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Thoughts on Parenting : Children’s Characters

1 May 2007

Over the past few years, I’d say my biggest concern for my kids are : What kind of character will they have?

The question continually plagues me. Sometimes I stay awake at night, wondering why the boys behave the way they do. Why did they react like that? How did they develop THAT behaviour? When did I first see it? Did I do something to cause it? Did I NOT do something?

The question has forced me to look at myself and grimace : What kind of character do I have?

Because as I watch my 4 year old go about doing things, I see some scary things – he’s just like me. Ok not exactly like me. But I see very strong threads of my own characteristics in his behaviour. The good and the bad. It’s freaky.

I see a lot of aspects in his personality that – I know from experience – will get in the way of other aspects.

For example. I was a very cautious child. As a kid, I used to be proud that I had never broken a single bone in my body – no broken ankle, arm or wrist. Never had any stitches. I’ve never stepped on a bee, got stung by a jelly fish, fallen out of a tree, wandered too close to slippery rocks.

I was suitably adventurous, sociable, and all that – but when it came to taking a risk, I was overly calculative and cautious. I always considered the consequences – and while that sounds like a valuable trait to have – I didn’t take many risks. I didn’t step very far from my comfort zone.

It took me ages to coach myself past that way of thinking. I think there’s a huge degree of intellectual and emotional laziness associated with it, as well as the need to be in control, and the need for stability. But I’m no psychologist, I don’t know what all this means – I just know how to work around it in my life.

To this day, I regularly have to wake myself up with a kick in the butt, drag my sorry self away from my bubble of contentment, and force myself to do something out of the ordinary.

Which leads me to : How can I help my kids develop good characteristics in the first place?

I racked my brain thinking of activities and practical lessons for my children – different ways to contrive situations to encourage good character traits. How can I teach them about generosity? Friendliness? Honesty? Determination? Self-control? Integrity? Optimism?

In the end – the truth hurts. I should work on my own character first. I should work towards displaying these traits in my own life. It’s leading by example in the little everyday things. It’s making good character a good daily habit.