Archive for November 2007

 

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Making Baby 3, Part 7: Attack of the Pink Hormones

30 November 2007

pinkjumpsuits

Women are hormonal creatures. More so when pregnant. And maybe even more so when TRYING TO FALL PREGNANT.

Thus I’ve been experiencing some very strange hormonal symptoms lately.

Firstly, I have a hormonal condition called Foggy Labour Memory – where I’ve had two babies, yet I can’t exactly remember all the details for each one. I can’t seem to recall how painful the pain was for each birth. Did I give birth without drugs? I can’t remember? Did that doctor really take 2 hours to stitch me up – while I was awake?

There must be a hormonal plug that stops a woman from remembering her labour pain, or there would definitely be less babies on this earth!

Then there’s the Baby Clothes Hormone. Which goes off every time I walk past the baby clothes section. LOOK AT THESE CUTE BOOTIES! OMG! WHAT GORGEOUS EMBROIDED FLOWERS! THEY’RE SO TEENSY TINY! AWWWWWW.

As I dig through my son’s old Size-OOOO clothes, I am completely blown away. I remember how huge that OOOO jumpsuit once looked! And how my baby would look like a frog in a pillowcase! The sleeves and legs of the jumpsuit would dangle and flop, and I wondered when-o-when would my baby ever grow big enough to fill them!

Then the Pink Hormone. OOOOH! WHAT A CUTE PINK TOP! WITH A MATCHING PINK SKIRT! AND PINK SHOES! AND PINK SOCKS! Did I mention I’m trying natural methods to conceive a girl?

Then there’s a Nesting Hormone. Where the long-term-planner in my brain switches on and I start doing things like buying maternity bras because they are on sale, and cleaning out the spare bedroom to make way for a cot.

Also there’s a The Clock Is Ticking Hormone. My two sons are growing up so quickly – they are riding bikes and lecturing me about wildlife conservation. My friends are approaching their 30s and 40s. We’re getting old! Time is catching up!

And lastly, the ever-potent Holding Someone Else’s Baby Hormone. I’m sure this needs no explanation.

I’ve read somewhere that there is a condition called pseudocyesis (false pregnancy) where a woman can have all the symptoms of pregnancy – morning sickness, sore breasts, expanding belly, even foetal movement – but NOT have a foetus inside her. Apparently the cause is attributed to the struggle of emotions and desires.

The human body is surely a weird and wonderful creation!

Click here to see the whole story of Making Baby 3.

Original image from Ninemsn


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Simple Pleasures of a Saturday Night Dress

29 November 2007

Mirror

I was twinkling with joy at the fashion show on Saturday night.

Partly from the buzz of the event, and partly because I was finally able to wear my Butterfly Bubble Dress! So happy!


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How To Get Your Kids To Eat Vegetables

28 November 2007

Vegetables

Another very frequent question people ask me is, “How do you get your kids to eat vegetables?”

Firstly, my kids are normal kids – they will usually choose junk food, pizza, hamburgers, meat and chocolate biscuits OVER ANY KIND OF VEGETABLE.

But the fact that they will happily eat raw carrot sticks, raw snow peas, munch on lettuce, dip celery sticks into hummus, eat broccoli florets, raw sprouts, avocados and capsicums – well, it kinda freaks people out a bit.

So I’ve written up a few tips on how to get your kids to eat vegetables :

1) Start them young
Offer them a wide variety of vegetables at a young age, and offer them at EVERY MEAL TIME, including snack time. Some of my kid’s favourites were carrot sticks, peas, corn off the cob, broccoli, cooked chick peas.

2) Limit the salty / sugary foods
This is pretty obvious. If they eat lots of salty / sugary foods regularly, of course they’re going to balk at the taste of a bland carrot stick.

3) Get them involved with cooking and preparing meals
Kids can watch you cut up vegetables and sort them by colour or size. They can wash potatoes. They can help grow tomatoes and herbs. Throw some beans into a glass with a bit of cotton wool and water at the bottom. They can make vegetable faces for a snack. Make a meal plan, then a shopping list, get them to help you buy the food, prepare the food and eat the food!

4) Eat vegetables YOURSELF!
If the kids see YOU snacking on raw vegetables, then they are more likely give it a go too.

5) Change your attitudes towards vegetables and the kids will too
Most people don’t realise it, but they have different attitudes towards different foods.

As I grew up in a Chinese household, we were brought up with notions like:
“The meat dish is the main meal, everything else is a side dish.”
“A dinner is not complete without a meat dish.”
“Meat must be served to guests, or we will look incompetent and poor.”
“Meat is tasty. Vegetables are not.”
“A proper Chinese banquette must have AT LEAST beef, pork, chicken, duck, fish and prawns.”

It took me many years to shake off those ideas!

For example.

Years ago, I never ate raw snow peas. I thought it was a bit strange. I preferred them cooked Chinese style – quickly tossed in a hot pan, dark green, warm and still crunchy.

My husband ate them raw. On the weekends, he’d take the kids to the fruit and vegetable market, and buy a bag full of snow peas. Then he’d come home and sit on the couch and MUNCH ON THEM LIKE CHIPS. Weirdo. It was like eating raw bok choy – so wrong.

But then after some weeks, I noticed the kids joining in and eating them too. They were helping themselves, and grabbing huge handfuls. They were even fighting over who had the biggest snow pea. They would clean out the whole bag in minutes – with each kid eating something like 20 raw snow peas for afternoon tea.

I couldn’t believe it.

So I started to join in. And now we have a snow pea party after visiting the green grocer. And I LOVE raw snow peas now, can’t get enough of them! I even grow them in my garden so I can eat them fresh!

I guess the point is, if you eat raw vegetables as if they are the most normal thing in the world, your kids will grow up thinking the same.

I keep imagining what would happen if my husband bought home a bag of potato chips instead!

I also wrote : What Should Kids Eat Each Day?


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In Transit – Fashion and Jewellery Show

27 November 2007

Curtin Fashion Show

On the weekend, my husband and I went to the Fashion and Jewellery Show by Curtin University Graduates. It was such a fantastic event! It was really well done.

There were 24 designers, each showcasing about 4-5 pieces. For many pieces, my jaw dropped. I was amazed and inspired by the style, beauty, innovation, freshness, plus there seemed to be no difference to the garments shown on international catwalks. It was so exciting!

Curtin Fashion Show

Added to all this. I managed to get a media pass, which let me backstage.

Before the show, I crept into the dimly lit backstage area. The room was filled with frantic and busy people. You could just feel the excitement and nerves in the air.

Models were pacing around in their garments. Designers were rushing about. Dressers were sorting through racks. Stylists were teasing hair. Organisers were giving directions. Tables and corners were exploding with artworks, garments, accessories, boxes and bags full of STUFF!

Soon the models were rounded up. The moment arrived.

The music blasted on, and one by one the models disappeared onto the stage. Everyone who was backstage – including me – froze. All eyes were fixed on the TV screen, watching the first group of models walk along the catwalk. No one seemed to breathe. My stomach started to shrink with nerves too, OMG it was just too much.

When the last of the models waltzed backstage, the room roared with cheering and clapping, ah… it was such a rush to be part of it all!

Here’s hoping the designers make it big in the fashion world!


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Blog Loving – The Food Pornographer

26 November 2007

The Food Pornographer

As part of my usual Monday posts on Blogging, Photography and Design, I’m also reviewing some blogs that I love reading, and greatly admire.

Although I don’t blog exclusively about food, I am most certainly a foodie at heart. I LOVE MY FOOD, and I just LOVE food blogs. So, I’d like you to meet The Food Pornographer.

If you’re looking for super-stylised, magazine-perfect, unblemished photography – you won’t find it here. This site is about REAL FOOD. Real food sitting on a plate, steaming and glistening, dripping with oil and sauces. Real food that you can actually buy, or cook.

As I scroll through her photographs, every olfactory gland in my body erupts with a craving desire. My eyes swell as large as my stomach. I can SMELL that plate of hot fried noodles. I can TASTE that steak burger.

Things I love about this blog

I love the name of the blog. It’s hilarious. And as you look through her photos, there’s that extra dimension that adds originality, humour and a tongue-in-cheek wit that you don’t find in most food blogs.

I love her spontaneous photography – all pictures are taken with a completely ordinary camera. No special lenses or fancy lights.

I love her quirky everyday stories – with everything pretty much centred on FOOD!

I love her honesty. She tells it like it is. If the meal was awful, she’ll say so and explain why. Likewise, if it’s great, she’ll rave about it, and your mouth will water.

So here are a few questions that I’ve been dying to ask her!

Interview

Karen: You obviously take a lot of pictures of your food while you are eating out. Does anyone ever ask you what you are doing? Do they think you are a government health inspector? Or a spy from another restaurant? What do you usually tell them?

TFP: Funnily enough, no one’s ever asked me! I do get strange looks from customers at adjacent tables. Occasionally I get laughed at by people who notice what I’m doing. But as long as they’re not getting in the way of my shots, I can put up with it.

I do my thing, then put the camera away and eat my food. I try not to take photos when I know staff are watching though, just in case they get paranoid for whatever reason and tell me to stop.

As long as no one prevents me from taking photos, I don’t really care what they think. If anyone were to ask me what I was doing though, I would tell them I have a food blog (as I do when people at parties ask).

Karen: What is the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten?

TFP: I bought a Filet O Fish from a McDonalds recently – the fish was all shrivelled up and BROWN – it smelled absolutely revolting.

Karen: The beautiful way you write about your food reveals you are a woman of deep passions. Do you make noises – when you eat?

TFP: I think I eat very quietly. But I do tend to eat too quickly and burn my tongue on hot food.

Karen: Do you get to eat for free because you do reviews?

TFP: I was given a freebie meal once by a restaurant, but then I felt like I couldn’t write freely about what I thought of the meal. I didn’t like that feeling of being ethically compromised – feeling obliged to only write good things.

I’d love to be paid to write my reviews, but so far that hasn’t happened. I just write for my own pleasure and the pleasure of my readers – for free!

Karen: At your funeral, what meal will be served to the guests?

TFP: Hmmm. Hard to decide if it would be Western or Asian food. It would be cool to have guests eat some of my favourite dishes from childhood – lotus root soup, pongteh, minchee, Malaysian-style chicken curry and rice pork chok with all the trimmings.

But then a barbecue would be great too. A very meaty barbie, with sausages, lamp chops, pork chops, marinated chicken thighs, barbecued onions and garlic field mushrooms. Mmmmm.

Vote for The Food Pornographer!

The Food Pornographer has been nominated for “Best Food Blog” and “Best Photography Blog” in the 2008 round of the Bloggers Choice Awards (where I’ve also been nominated in four categories).

If you’d like to vote for The Food Pornographer, or me, or just surf some amazing blogs in a wide range of categories, then:

1) Go to http://www.bloggerschoiceawards.com
NOTE: If you have already voted for me you won’t need to create a new user account – just skip to step 3.

2) Create an account – you do have to fill in everything, except the “choose a picture”, and you do have to give a real e-mail address. A message will appear telling you to check your e-mail for a confirmation message. Mine arrived in less than thirty seconds, and you click on the link in the message.

3) On the right hand side of the screen is a “search” box. Type in the word “FoodPornographer” or “KarenCheng” (all one word).

4) Click on the drop down menu called “Choose a Category to View this Blog” and you will see a list of all the different categories we’ve have been nominated for. Choose any one of the four nominations.

5) It will load up a little profile of the website, and there will be a yellow “vote” button. Hit the vote button! It will turn to a set of question marks, and then you can just quickly click on the other categories as well.

Next week – more blog loving!


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Jacaranda

24 November 2007

Jacaranda

In Australia, we don’t have snow. We don’t have snow men, snow flakes, or snow angels.

During this time of year, our trees and roads are not covered in white.

They are covered in purple. The most spectacular display of dazzling, light purple.

I know Jacarandas grow all over the world, but to me, the sight of those gorgeous purple tree tops dotting the horizon can only mean one thing – Christmas is near.


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Making Baby 3, Part 6: Sex By Appointment

23 November 2007

Sex By Appointment

Trying for a baby isn’t as easy – or as fun – as most people think it is.

The reality is, when the PRESSURE IS ON, all notions of spontaneity, enjoyment and magic is lost from the moment.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, if you’re like us (trying to conceive a girl) trying to increase chances of choosing a particular gender is all about timing sex in relation to ovulation.

You already know weeks ahead, exactly what day and time you need to have sex. You have to mark it in your calendar. Put an alert on your phone. Write a post it note on the mirror. Add it to your To Do List.

Tuesday, 10pm – HAVE SEX!

Then when the day arrives, not only do you have to have sex. You have to have LOTS of it. Cancel dinner with friends. Forego your favourite TV show. Put the kids to bed early, because it’s baby making time.

After all, in order to increase the chances of conception, lots of sperm are needed in that small window of opportunity.

Twice a day? Again? Right now? Can you wait a minute, I just want to finish this crossword. Oh wait, let me defrost the chicken for dinner too.

It becomes a chore, not far from cleaning the oven, emptying the worm farm and picking up the dry cleaning.

Like I said, no magic.

Then again. Technically speaking, us women don’t really have to do much. It’s the men who do all the work. Their contribution is … small, but unquestionably important.

Us women are just supposed to lie still… but that’s next week’s topic!

Click here to see the evolving story of Making Baby 3.


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Thoughts on Parenting : Discovering Strengths

22 November 2007

Another cool thing about being an involved parent is, that while you see your children develop their personalities and characters – you discover their strengths.

Maybe your child is surprisingly good at drawing. Or strangely expert at counting things. Or unusually advanced at organising the other kids in the playground.

No matter what it is, seeing your child use his strengths to succeed, is awesome.

As I mentioned once before, it’s an intoxicating mixture of pride, shock, euphoria, happiness and terror that is parenthood.

My 2.5yo son Sean, has always been particularly receptive to sounds.

First it manifested in a way that I believed to be disadvantageous. He was overly sensitive to sounds, and would cry at every strange noise in the house. I instantly regarded him as being “high maintenance” and “too sensitive”. Then I realised that I should look at it in a positive light.

Over the years, I’ve slowly seen how this sensitivity has become part of his strengths.

First I noticed that he could recognise and recall all the phonic sounds of the alphabet, just by listening repeatedly to me.

Then I noticed that Sean responds really well to music, in a way quite unlike his big brother. He just has this groove for rhythm, songs, rhymes, beats, tunes, sounds. Sean “gets” it. Music really does engage his body, mind and spirit. Music and sounds seem to be his thing. And he’s been a great dancer since young!

He also responds really well to language. After some reflection, we’ve decided to teach our kids Chinese, by trying to speak it ourselves! We borrowed a Learn Basic Chinese CD and play it in the evenings. And we all practice together as a family.

Both our boys have picked it up really well. But as I have revealed before, Sean’s pronunciations are absolutely outstanding! I think it would be easy to attribute it to his age (learning a new language is easier for younger children), but as a parent, I KNOW this is his strength.

In fact, I’m the ONLY ONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD who knows his strengths. Not him, or the babysitter, or his brand new teacher at the start of school.

The development of his strengths, right now, is my responsibility.

Will he grow up using it confidently and expertly, encouraging and inspiring others?

Or will he use it in vain, looking down on his peers and causing misery upon others?

Or will it lay redundant at the bottom of his priorities? Forgotten. Untapped. Meaningless?

Read More Thoughts on Parenting :

Thoughts on Parenting : Crafting New Experiences

Thoughts on Parenting : Children’s Characters

Thoughts on Parenting : Raising Boys

Thoughts on Parenting : Working vs Not Working

Thoughts on Parenting : Two vs Three

Parenting Is…


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Shark Teeth of Inspiration

21 November 2007

Shark Teeth I really cherish people who inspire me – and possibly unbeknownst to them – fuel the little fires going off in my head.

7 years ago I used to be a keen scuba diver, diving all over the well known West Australian dive sites.

But since the arrival of the kids, I haven’t touched my wetsuit ( almost five years now! ), and all my gear sits in a dusty bag under my bed. So. I decided a while back, that I was going to get back into scuba diving. Do a refresher course. Then.

Dive with sharks! At Perth’s Aquarium.

I know heaps of people who have done it – and one friend in particular, brought back some souvenirs that she showed me the other day. Teeth! How awesome!

For a moment, I stupidly thought she had an “encounter” with a shark, hence the teeth. But she assured me that shark’s teeth fall out naturally and the tank floor was littered with them.

How exciting! I can’t wait!

I’ve given myself a little deadline – to dive with sharks before my 30th birthday next July.

What crazy thing have you done to celebrate a birthday?


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Northbridge Festival 2007

20 November 2007

Artrage 2007

The other night I went to the opening of an art event called, Alphabet City as part of Artrage and the Northbridge Festival.

It was great fun! Well organised and very cool! I met some random people. We grabbed a Precinct Map and worked our way around the art circuit – wondering here and there, bumping into the colourful crowds of the arty underground.

We saw everything from framed modern prints, to urban graffiti art, to snow board art, to a warehouse exploding with confetti and singing robot penguins. It was loads of fun!

This is my friend and I posing on one of the exhibits in The Ice Cream Factory.


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Photoshop Tips : How to Enhance Your Photographs Using Layer Blending Modes

19 November 2007

Ever wonder why – no matter what you do – your photos always look dull compared to others? How is it that other people’s photos have this very stylish quality to it? Something about the contrast or the colours?

In this next tutorial, I’m going to introduce you to Layer Blending Modes, a very simple function to help enhance your photographs. And it’s really easy.

Before / After

I will use a photo of my son Sean (left) which was taken against a white wall in my lounge room on a sunny day, and show you the steps to give you the final image (right), which has more vivid colours and contrast.

(more…)


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Why Kids Really Love Me

18 November 2007

Karen Pang From PlayschoolSo. A funny thing happens when I am a rostered helper at Callum’s kindergarten.

The kids FLOCK to me. They surround me and look up at me with their big wishful eyes. They go, “Karen’s here! Karen! It’s Callum’s mum, Karen!”

So cute.

I thought this was the usual reception for all mum-helpers at the kindy!

Until I recently discovered that the kids think I’m KAREN FROM PLAY SCHOOL. Playschool! The most popular, longest-running, most outstanding, and just the best children’s TV show in Australia!

Well, that Karen sings. She wears bright orange tops with green jeans. She does the wiggly jiggly spaghetti dance. She makes rockets out of milk bottles and paints purple stars with her toes. SHE’S SO COOL.

Me. I’m not that cool.


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Roast Vegetable Pasta Salad Recipe

17 November 2007

Roast Vegetable Pasta Salad

This is another one of my lazy – but healthy – vegetarian recipes.

Chop 1 medium eggplant, 4 tomatoes, 1 red onion into quarters. Put into a slightly greased oven pan. Throw in 5 cloves of garlic (unpeeled). Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper.

Roast at 180ºC for 1 hour. While you’re waiting, Boil 250g of spiral pasta.

When roasting is done, toss in a handful or two of fresh spinach leaves and fresh basil leaves. The heat makes the spinach wilt a bit.

Take out garlic cloves, unpeel, squash. Whisk with ¼ cup of olive oil and ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar. Pour this into the roasted vegetable mix.

Tip in pasta, toss everything, and eat immediately!

(I personally like to throw in some marinated feta too!)


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Making Baby 3, Part 5 : The M Word

16 November 2007

Warning : I must give a warning to men and women who are a bit squeamish. This post is all about WOMEN’S CERVICAL MUCUS.

LOOK AWAY NOW! LALALALALALA!

The Billings Method ChartThe other week, I mentioned that there is scientific evidence that boy sperm swim faster but die quicker, and girl sperm swim slower but last longer.

The Shettles Method is based on this idea. It describes natural techniques that increase the chances of having a boy or girl. Apparently it boasts a 75% – 90% success rate, if done correctly!

According to the book I am reading, one of the major principles of the Shettles Method (and Billings Method) is to know when you ovulate – that is, when the egg is released from the ovary. All women’s cycles are different, so it’s actually pretty tricky to pinpoint the day of ovulation. One method suggested is to use a Cervical Mucus Chart.

Now. Maybe it’s just me. But when I think of A CHART, I think of a reward chart. Little coloured squares, with smiling cartoon faces and big gold stars. But no, it’s not that kind of chart.

Apparently your mucus changes depending on where you are in your cycle, and this helps to indentify when you ovulate. So you are encouraged to ASSESS your mucus on a daily basis.

You know. ASSESS. Like get down real close. Touch. Smell. Feel the consistency between your fingers.

Apparently you have write your results on a calendar. Use words like elastic, egg white, cloudy, sticky, gluey, stringy, slippery, clear, white, pink, brown, yellow! There are even International Charting Symbols!

At this point I put the book down and gave up instantly. I was utterly defeated by the major eeew-ness of it all. I said to my husband, I’m not going to write about mucus on my website.

He made a noise like a chicken! Directed at ME! ME! A COWARD!

So I instantly began to read a chapter OUT LOUD to him. Inflicting every single diagram and photograph on him, by waving it under his nose. LOOK AT THAT! YES IT’S A PHOTOGRAPH OF SOMEONE’S MUCUS! AND YES! IT’S STRINGY!

So after reading it OUT LOUD for a week, I’m over it. I’m over the eeew-ness.

I can proudly say – I’ve had two babies and a mucus chart, surely nothing can gross me out now. I am truly a woman.

But for my poor husband? He’s definitely a chicken.

You all still here? Do you still respect me? Are you still my friend?

By the way, you can read more about The Shettles Method in Dr Shettles’ Book, called How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby.

I also have a book called, The Billings Method (the one with the gross pictures) and you can read all about it on this website. If you really want.

More next week!

Click here to see the evolving story of Making Baby 3.

Image from BOM


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In Transit – Fashion and Jewellery Show by Curtin University Graduates

15 November 2007

In Transit - Fashion and Jewellery By Curtin Uni Grads

I absolutely love going to fashion shows! Especially shows by graduating student fashion designers – because there’s always an amazing energy in the air.

One annual show I love seeing is that of the graduating students from the Fashion and Jewellery courses at Curtin University in Perth. It’s always incredible! Already, some of these “bright young things” have won major prizes and industry recognition.

Each year they hold their one night stand in a different venue, with a different theme. It’s a great big, noisy, indulgent, lush, colourful party. While most fashion shows are a bit stuffy, the grad ones are so much more relaxed and fun – and fresher.

So this year, the Curtin Grad show is called ‘In Transit’, and held at the Fremantle Passenger Terminal, Victoria Quay, Fremantle Harbour, on Saturday 24th November 2007 – door open at 7.30pm, show starts at 8.30pm.

Tickets are $25 (which is a great price for this kind of event), it includes complimentary drinks and nibbles. You can try buying limited tickets available from the door on the night, or you can get tickets from the La La Orange Boutique at 411 William St, Northbridge, ph 9328 8630, e-mail hello@lalaorange.com.au (I don’t think you can buy the tickets off the website though.)

Maybe I’ll see you there! If you do see me….say Hi!

Photograph Credits: Designer – Alister Yiap, Photography – Meiji Nguyen, Model – May


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Dating Since 2000

14 November 2007

East Perth

For our weekly date night, my husband and I took a nice long stroll in the evening, around East Perth’s Claisebrook Cove.

We reflected that it’s been a year since we employed our babysitter so that we could have some time away from the kids.

What have we been doing every week for the past year?

Sometimes we eat out, sit in a cafe, or hang out at our favourite places. Sometimes we might meet up with friends, go see a play, or an art event. Having that regular time slot, forces us to do a bit of planning, which is great because it’s so easy to fall into a too-lazy or too-tired-to-do-anything-state-of-mind.

Plus, we’re not exactly the most romantic couple we know. We’re a bit on the practical side, and we don’t like spending too much money. The price of dinner + wine + movie + snacks + coffee + babysitting is something crazy like $150. And there’s no way we can afford to do that on a weekly basis!

We like to talk. And walk. We like to enjoy the quiet. And each other’s company.

It’s been good for us.


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Fashion Junkie!

13 November 2007

Fashion Junkie Dresses

Ok. I’m not exactly a celebrity junkie, or a die-hard fashionista. But I came across this site, Fashion Junkee and couldn’t help oohing over the Jessica Styled Halter Dresses, the Eva Deep V-Neck Dresses and the Tyra Off the Shoulder Dress.


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Photoshop Tips : How to Select an Object from its Background

12 November 2007

Following on from my Photoshop Tips : How To Put An Object On A White Background, I thought I’d tackle the frequently asked question –
How do I select an object from a coloured background and place it onto a white (or different) background?

How to select an object from its background

In this example, I will use a photo of my son Callum, during Christmas 2004.

(more…)


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Cloth Nappies Vs. Disposable Nappies

11 November 2007

As you might know by now, we’re working on Making Baby 3. So I’m beginning to think about all the things I’m going to do different, AFTER baby 3 arrives. One of those things are nappies.

Someone once told me that a standard baby’s disposable nappy takes about 500 years to decompose. Ok. I have a hunch that it’s actually more like …100 years?… but EEEP THAT’S SHOCKING!

This papery white bundle with a bit of wee in it… will OUT LIVE ME AND MY CHILDREN! What a astonishing and horrifying thought!!

When we had our first child, we pretty much used cloth nappies exclusively – only using a disposable nappy when we knew we’d be out of the house for a long time.

Mind you, we used the old-school cloth nappies, big towel squares which we folded into shape and pinned down with a safety pin.

We used cloth until our son was 10 months old. By then, he walked and moved so much, that the nappy just kept falling off.

Using cloth nappies for our second child was much harder for us. It was a very trying time for our family. We were going through a lot of stress due to my husband’s illness and I was suffering from a mild post-natal depression. We weren’t entirely on top of things, and we were just getting by one day at a time.

So for our second child, we used disposable nappies exclusively.

To ease my guilt, I bought eco-friendly disposable nappies. They were 70% bio-degradable, and claimed to decompose in 6-12 months. But they were also more expensive than the premium disposable nappy brands.

But it cost us so much money! For example – 1 baby wears 8 nappies per day for 365 days per year costing approx. 50 cents per nappy = $1460 – and that’s just the first year!

There are some 100% bio-degradable nappies you can buy, which you can put in your worm farm! But I would have to ship them in from overseas, plus our worm farm is not big enough!

On hindsight, I wished that instead of using the old style “have to fold them each time” cloth nappies, that I spent the money on specially designed, pre-fitted, reusable cloth nappies. I would have saved so much money and so much folding time! I’m absolutely kicking myself!

These days there seem to be heaps of different cloth nappies you can buy over the internet. So since we’re hoping to have a third baby, I was wondering if anyone can recommend me a brand of pre-fitted cloth nappy?

(Not to mention, we’re still using disposable nappies for my 2.5yo during the night.)


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Beading For Kids

10 November 2007

Yellow. Green. Yellow. Green.

My 4.5yo demonstrates the joys of beading – developing fine motor skills, assembling shape and colour patterns, and above all, CREATIVITY!

(He ran out of green cylinders.)


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Making Baby 3, Part 4 : Pee Sticks – Pregnancy Test Kits

9 November 2007

Pregnancy TestSo, we’re not pregnant.

I think I kind of knew anyway – I didn’t seem to feel like there was anything different. Yet. To be honest, when I saw only one pink line on the “pee stick”, I still felt… disappointed.

I call them “pee sticks” since you have to catch some of your pee in a little cup and dip the stick into it. If you have got something magical going on inside, you see two lines appear. If not – just one, single, lonely line.

Waiting THREE ETERNAL MINUTES for the pregnancy test to develop feels like a lottery. It feels like you’re scratching away on a scratch-and-win card. It feels like you’re the last contestant on a game show and the clock is ticking. It feels like that 30 million dollars could be yours and your LIFE COULD CHANGE IN AN INSTANT.

But no. It’s not to be.

Yes, I’m slightly disappointed. With my first son, Callum, we fell pregnant the very first time we tried to conceive! With my second son, Sean, we fell pregnant on the second month.

So I sit here and think about how I feel, I can quickly see how month after month can pass. How months slowly turn into a year. Then 5 years.

Realising this, I feel tiny pangs of heartbrokenness for the countless couples I know who have been trying, for years, to have their first child. Man, it must be hard.

I’ve got to keep things in perspective. I have to be grateful that I’ve already got two healthy kids. And there are people who just can’t have kids at all.

Ah. It’s not the end of the world. There is always next month. And more pee sticks!

More next week!

Click here to see the evolving story of Making Baby 3.


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Update on the Kids

8 November 2007

Callum on Bike

Callum is 4 years, 7 months.

He’s been a wonderful little kid lately. A real pleasure to hang out with. He’s easy-going, talkative, funny, interested in everything and asks big questions.

On the flip side, he’s noisy. I mean REALLY noisy. He’s constantly making sound effects, or talking about something, or asking questions, or nagging, or suggesting, or singing or something!

He’s always full of energy and very active and fidgety. He’s extremely playful and loves to clown around. Thus, most of the time, he’s not exactly Mr Gentleman nor Mr Concentration.

He’s quite sensitive to new social settings. He takes ages to warm up to anything new. He’s not shy, he’s just assessing how everything works. But once he’s comfortable, and has decided in his own time that everything’s fine, he’s all good.

I love that he’s got a wild imagination, he’s very much into role playing and creating elaborate stories for his superhero toys.

He loves his sports, being outdoors, kicking a ball, riding his bike, helping in the garden, going out for an adventure.

He tells me that he likes school, likes his teachers, likes learning stuff, doing activities, listening to stories and he LOVES playing with his friends.

I’ve introduced him to a few board games. He really enjoys playing UNO (the card game), Guess Who and Connect 4.

Sean on Bike

Sean is 2 years, 8 months.

He’s still going through a “Terrible Stage” where he’s constantly naughty and pushing our boundaries. It’s been hard work!

He can easily keep up with his big brother during playtime. Whether it’s bike riding in the park, climbing in the playground, digging holes in the sandpit, or pretending to be superheroes.

Although he follows his big brother around, Sean is usually the one who gets into mischief, and leads his big brother astray. Sean is the one who brings a cup of sand into the house and tips it on the couch. Sean is the one who uses pavement chalk to draw on dad’s car. Sean is the one who takes out the sliced bread from the freezer, lays them out like stepping stones and jumps on them to a crumbling pulp.

One-on-one time has been really valuable for him. He is a completely different boy when we give him our full attention – he says interesting, surprising and funny things; he’s considerate, helpful and polite; and he’s very capable and courageous.

I regularly take him to a Story-Time Session at the local library. In that structured environment, he is an absolute darling. He’s so natural, sociable, confident, and assertive. He sings along to the songs, speaks up to answer questions, and confidently does his cutting and pasting activity.

The other day, the teacher (a complete stranger) accidentally missed Sean’s turn and moved onto the next activity. In a room full of strangers, Sean raised his hands, stood up and said, “Excuse me! Excuse me! I’m Sean, I haven’t had my turn yet!”

We’ve been practicing simple Chinese words at home, and his pronunciations are always absolutely perfect!

He’s really coordinated in a scary way. He can climb an obstacle course set for 5 year olds, and negotiate all those tricky climbing things in the playground.

And he can now ride his bike (with training wheels) faster than I can leisurely jog.

Sigh. They really do grow up so fast!


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Shiny Stuff from Miu Miu

7 November 2007

Tops from Miu Miu

Ivory satin camisole top, oyster silk v-neck pleated dress, orange satin v-neck empire top, red cowl neck top – all from Net-a-Porter.


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The Preschooler’s Gourmet Sandwich

6 November 2007

Sandwich

My 4.5 yo has developed a rather odd fondness for gourmet food.

Every time we pass the gourmet food section in the supermarket, his eyes light up and he quivers, “Gasp! Soft cheese! Feta! Pate! Crackers! Dip! Hummus! My favourites things in the whole world!”

Well, this morning, I stumbled out of bed, plodded around the kitchen in early morning-blurriness, turned on the kettle for a cup of tea, and mumbled to Callum, “What do you want in your sandwich for kindy today?”

He answered, “Oh! Let’s see! Some butter, two slices of honey ham, feta cheese – make sure it’s all crumbled nicely, and doesn’t have any peppercorns in it – some spinach and carrot please. Uh, and could you grate the carrot please? And don’t forget a bit of salt!”

“Hmm. What’s wrong with bread and vegemite again?”


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Photoshop Tips : How To Put An Object On A White Background

5 November 2007

Raw image from camera
Raw image from camera

Final Image
Final image

In this post, I’ll explain the basic steps to create a picture of an object against a white background.

I’ll use a photo of some gumnuts, which I took (in a hurry), and show how I turned it into the image I eventually used in the post, Spider Boy’s Honky Nuts.

(more…)


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Mixtapezine

4 November 2007

MixtapezineAll my life, I’ve loved zines. The idea of someone putting together their own magazine – a bunch of sketches, some poems, some big ideas, some spelling mistakes, photocopying and some staples – all for the love of it – makes my toes twinkle with excitement.

There’s something really inspiring about grassroots publications with real voices and real ideas!

Anyway, there’s a cool little zine on sale at Etsy, called Mixtapezine.

It’s about making time for the small things – full of craft, tips, articles, tutorials, eco-stuff, recipes and pop culture kitsch. It’s so cute and super cool.

Plus I’ve got a contribution in this issue!


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The Singapore Connection – My Second Home

3 November 2007

In 1998, I finished university, flew to Singapore and began a career in advertising as an art director in a small advertising agency.

It was an easy move, because I have lots of family and friends living there, plus I visited many times before.

I lived the high and crazy life as a single, young woman in a booming ex-pat industry. But it was refreshing to be able to blend my Asian face into the local crowds, and soak up the familiar “Sin’glish” – English as it is spoken at home and on the streets by Singaporeans.

I worked hard and played harder.

Sometimes during the week, we would worked until 2am for 7 days straight. And no one thought that it was a tad abnormal.

On the weekends, I was rarely home – just to sleep, shower and put on some fresh clothes, then back out again.

As a 20 year old, I had awesome fun.

Searching all over Singapore for that elusive “Best Plate of Chicken Rice”, stage dancing at Zouk, zipping over to Malaysia for supper, rollerblading at East Coast Park, eating roti and curry for morning tea, random condo parties, dodgy foam parties, eating fresh durian by the side of the road, catching a cab when I was late for work.

I really miss a whole lot of things about living in Singapore. Lunchtimes at Maxwell. Breakfast at Holland Village after a late night out. Hanging out at Chjimes in the evenings. Jogging through Fort Canning Park. Lazing around at Borders on the weekends. Buying fruit at the noisy wet markets. Adams Road Food Centre.

And most of all – for some reason – I miss that feeling of waking up at 6:30am and feeling the cool, sticky, humid breeze on my skin. I loved that.


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Making Baby 3, Part 3: Choosing a Girl or a Boy

2 November 2007

xyIt’s very amusing to discover what you remember as a 14 year old in human biology class. All those things you thought were utterly pointless – oh look, turns out they come in handy after all.

I knew that there are two kinds of sperm – the ones carrying the Y chromosome (boy sperm) and the ones carrying the X chromosome (girl sperm).

But I DID NOT KNOW, until recently, that boy sperm behave differently to girl sperm! It’s been scientifically proven that :

Boy sperm are smaller, swim faster, but die quicker.

And girl sperm move slower, but they last longer.

Keeping this in mind, since we want a GIRL, we are supposed to have sex every day from 2-3 days BEFORE ovulation, and none during and after ovulation. This allows the boy sperm to die off and gives the girl sperm longer time to swim to the egg.

Therefore, having sex close to ovulation (and none during or after) boosts the chances of conceiving a girl.

It’s all about timing.

It’s all about knowing exactly when you ovulate.

And.

I’m sure it’s all about that notorious phone call, “HONEY COME HOME NOW! WE HAVE TO HAVE SEX. RIGHT. NOW.”

More next week!

Click here to see the evolving story of Making Baby 3.


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How To Get Your Kids To Clean The House

1 November 2007

1) Buy a vacuum cleaner that looks like a Star Wars robot.

Robot Vacuum

2) Attach the vacuum nozzle that looks like a shooting apparatus.

Shooting Thing

3) Sit back and watch your two boys rapturously take turns to make dirt disappear!