Archive for March 2008

 

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My Two Anti-Climatic Medical Stories

31 March 2008

1.

In 2000, I was leaving work, walking quite fast towards the office exit, saying goodbye to my colleagues. Suddenly I walked into the very clean glass door.

I blooded my nose and smashed my teeth. One quarter of one front tooth had broken off. That’s right. I didn’t just chip it, I BROKE it. All the money my parents spent on my teeth had gone to waste!

I stood in the bathroom washing the blood off my face. I looked into the mirror, examining the damage. It was just one tooth. It could have been worse.

But it looked like my face was in a magazine, and someone had coloured in one tooth with a black marker. I looked ridiculous! Completely and utterly ridiculous! I was so embarrassed! I BROKE MY TOOTH!

My colleagues stuffed me into a car and rushed me to emergency dental surgery. I kept my head bent low, my hands cupped over my mouth, speaking only with muffled Mmmmm-mmmm-mmm’s.

Everyone must’ve thought that I was in so much pain. But really, it was my pride that was hurting.

2.

Several years ago, I noticed a small lump on my nose. I thought it was cancer. I completely freaked out and quickly went to get it checked out.

My doctor sent me to a skin specialist, who said it was a common skin virus – otherwise known as a WART. OMG I HAVE A WART ON MY NOSE! A WART! ON MY NOSE! LIKE THE FINAL STROKE ON THE EPITOME OF UGLINESS, I’M A WALKING CLICHÉ!

My doctor said she could burn it off. But it might grow back. There might be scarring. The scars might never fade. The burning might irritate it and it might grow back even bigger! OMG I HAVE A WART ON MY NOSE!

Then my doctor suggested I see a plastic surgeon.

Seriously? What will a plastic surgeon do? Isn’t that a bit drastic? I have to see a plastic surgeon to fix my nose? That’s the solution for ugliness? Can this situation get anymore clichéd?

While I was umming and ahhing about seeing a plastic surgeon, the lump disappeared by itself. THANK GOODNESS!


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Relaxing By The River

30 March 2008

Coffee at Jo Jo's Karen at Jo Jo's

My husband and I took some time out the other day. We were in between appointments, and made an effort to meet up. We don’t usually get to see each other in the afternoons. It was really good to see us both at our “best” – when our brains haven’t turned to pulp at the end of the day.

We had coffee and lunch at Jo Jo’s– a restaurant on a jetty, on the Swan River. The view was lovely, the food was nice, and the atmosphere was good for long, deep conversations.

It was a spectacular day. Bright and sunny. Big, blue skies. Not a breath of wind. The river was calm. The water was sparkling.

Jellyfish in the Swan River

We saw some jellyfish around the jetty. They were everywhere. Hovering and bobbing, like UFOs on cruise-control. Strange, yet amazing. Ugly, yet beautiful.

We managed to take some cool photographs. The water was so clear and still, that it looks like I used an underwater camera.

Jellyfish in the Swan River

I loved the way the water would bend oh-so slightly as the jellyfish thumped its head on the surface. It would make the relfections of the clouds warp and shimmer, as if painting the surface with white spirals.


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Making Baby 3, Part 24: You’ve Got to be Yolking

28 March 2008

I was flicking through a rather encyclopediatic looking fertility book, when something caught my eye.

“Alternative Lubrication”

Uh-oh.

It is commonly known that many forms of artificial lubrication can hinder or kill sperm – such as petroleum jelly, oil-based lubricants, baby oils, vegetable oils, glycerine, even saliva.

So the book suggests that you should use RAW EGGWHITE.

Apparently eggwhite is a suitable, vaginal lubricant that may assist conception and is least harmful to sperm.

1) Try not to use eggs which are straight from the fridge.

2) Separate the yolk from the eggwhite.

3) Apply where necessary.

So there you go.

Other medical experts caution the use of eggwhite as a lubricant, as there is a slight possibility it might contain the salmonella bacteria.

They classify it as an “old wives tale” and “only for recreation”.

So I guess chocolate sauce, strawberry ice cream and whipped yoghurt is definitely out of the question?

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


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Weekly Meal Plans

27 March 2008

Cooking is definitely one of my passions. I love cooking simple, healthy, delicious, everyday meals, that are quick and easy to make, using fresh ingredients.

I thought I would share some of the concepts behind my weekly meal planning and collect some of my daily recipes.

This is what I made last week –

Pan fried salmon with soy sauce, mixed vegetables and rice Pasta salad, with sun dried tomato pesto, spinach, feta, tomatoes, capsicum and a sprinkle of pine nuts Eggplant and potato Thai red curry with rice Tuna and brown rice salad, with assorted chopped vegetables Meat Balls

Mon – Pan fried salmon with soy sauce, mixed vegetables and rice.
Tue – Pasta salad, with sun dried tomato pesto, spinach, feta, tomatoes, capsicum and a sprinkle of pine nuts.
Wed – Eggplant and potato Thai red curry with rice.
Thu – Left over curry and rice
Fri – Tuna and brown rice salad, with assorted chopped vegetables.
Sat – Meatballs and pasta with homemade tomato sauce.
Sun – Dinner with my parents.

(More examples of my meal plans at the end of this post)

When I create a weekly meal plan, I always try to consider the following things:

Fresh and Natural
I like to use fresh ingredients that are preferably organic, no msg, no additives, colours or artificial flavours. I stay away from instant powders, mixes, sauces, soups and dressings. I’d say the only instant stuff I use are Indian curry pastes and the occasional stock cube (but even then I’m really picky with my brands).

Healthy
I try to use less oil, salt, butter, cream, and sugar where possible.

It doesn’t mean I use more lo-fat / lo-sugar stuff, because manufacturers usually put in other stuff to compensate. I just go without.

Lots of Vegetables
I always try to keep vegetables raw. If not, I steam, or boil, or bake, or lastly fry. In that order of preference.

I always try to have vegetables at the table at every meal. I like my dark green and red vegetables.

Time and Convenience
I am really short on time. Each meal has to take me 30 minutes to actually cook and put together. 45 minutes at the most. I very rarely make a meal that requires time during the day to prepare (eg. prepping and baking a lasagne, folding dumplings, skewering kebabs.)

Cost Concern
I go shopping once a week. I buy lots of things in bulk. I grow my own herbs and some vegetables.

When I buy a “feature” ingredient for one meal, I create other meals in the week that can also use it. Eg. If I buy a tub of bocconcini, I’ll use it on pizza, a side salad, and in a pasta. So there’s no waste.

The “feature” ingredient is usually more expensive, so I tend to only buy 2-3 per week.

“Staple” ingredients are the things I usually buy every week – eg. tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, carrots, fresh fish and meat.

“On-going” ingredients are stuff I buy in bulk – rice, lentils, canned vegetables, olive oil.

Eat Out Once a Week
I believe in breaking the routine once in a while. Hanging out as a family and doing something a little special. We usually go to my parent’s place for dinner, or we go to the beach and eat fish and chips. Sometimes I pack a picnic dinner and we’ll sit by the river.

We very rarely go out to a restaurant and eat out as a family. Mostly because of cost. Partly because I can’t bring myself to eat crappy, mass-produced, badly-made, over-processed food.
So fast food places, cheap pizzas, and local Chinese takeaway is out of the question.

More Fish. Less Meat.
Each week I try to make 3 vegetarian meals + 3 fish meals + 1 red meat meal. I don’t believe there’s much nutritional benefit from pork or chicken. But I think I need a boost of iron from red meat.

Fish meals – one meal with an oily fish (salmon, cod), one tuna, one white flesh fish (snapper, barramundi).

(more…)


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Book Review : The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

26 March 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
by Kim Edwards

From the back of the book:

This stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. For motives he tells himself are good, he makes a split-second decision that will haunt all their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child as her own.

After reading the excerpt, I immediately bought the book. It sounded like such an intriguing story, something I would really like. And ok, I admit, I really liked the cover image.

But unfortunately, I didn’t connect with the characters at all. Perhaps it was because I haven’t personally experienced any of the issues in the story – loss of a child, dealing with deep personal grief, living in a difficult, empty marriage, keeping dark secrets from loved ones, not taking control of your life until you discover that you’re 40 and full of sadness and regret.

So maybe others will find it to be exquisitely moving and touching.

For me, I was mainly annoyed with the characters, and overburdened with the intricate detail of someone else’s tragic life.

Having said that, it wasn’t a badly written book. I finished it in less than a week.

There were some really beautiful moments as the characters faced their grief and confusion – moments of the past, layered and entwined with the details of the present. If you don’t like long, poetic paragraphs of snow falling, soaked with memory flashbacks, the book’s probably not for you.

It’s an okay read. Not great, just okay.


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Dresses from ASOS

25 March 2008

Dresses From ASOS

A friend sent me a link to ASOS Online , an online fashion store. The dresses looked really nice and really affordable. I picked out a few I liked, which, after seeing them placed side by side, all seemed quite similar. Must be a phase I’m in.


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Where Rubbish is Not Interesting

24 March 2008

Every morning, my 3 year old will wake up by himself, any time from 6am to 7:30am.

He will plod over to the kitchen, take his night-time nappy off and put it in the bin.

However, 2 seconds before he does that, still holding a soaked nappy in one hand and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he takes a moment to inspect the contents of the bin.

If there is anything remotely interesting, worthy of inspection, or that he feels for some reason should not be in the bin, he will pull it out of the bin and shout “WHAT’S THIS DOING IN THE BIN???”

The object may be dripping with sauce, coasted in grease, tangled with hair and dirt and finger nail clippings. It doesn’t matter. He’ll drag the object in to my room, to my bed and wave it in my face.

“I SAID, WHAT’S THIS DOING IN THE BIN??? WHY’D YOU THROW IT AWAY HUH??”

Obviously, I am not too pleased about it myself. Considering I am not a morning person.

He demands an explanation. I speak kindly, but firmly. But. Despite what I say or do, it happens every morning.

So what did I do? After weeks of trying to get on top of it, I have admitted defeat.

I surrendered. I have lost.

Some may nod their head with recognition and see it as an issue best left overlooked. Others will shake their head at such a cowardly and humiliating defeat…

But I see it as – “Making sure that our rubbish is not interesting!!”


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Easter Sunday

23 March 2008

Despite the fact that we had such a busy day yesterday, we all woke up at 7am to attend an Easter Egg Hunt. I have to mention that I absolutely despise Easter Egg Hunts – but oh, how I love hot cross buns.

We went to church, stayed for lunch, caught up with my cousins and family. Got home. Slept. Babysitter arrived. Then the hubs and I left for a party.

We went to a friend’s 40th birthday party at the Mosman Park Bowl Club. We ate roasted meats, sipped wine and played bowls in the setting sun, overlooking the river.

It was another glorious day.

(Oh and it was also our 6th wedding anniversary!)

Sunday Evening at the Bowling Club

Sunday Arvo at the Bowling Green

Sunday Evening at the Bowling Club


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The Day of Sean’s 3rd Birthday Party

22 March 2008

We spent most of the morning preparing for Sean’s birthday party.

The boys cleaned up the house and backyard. They tidied the patio. Pruned the vines. Swept the paving. Set up chairs in the garden. Blew up balloons. Strung up decorations.

I made food. Lots of it. I made chicken and eggplant curry, roasted turkey, sweet potato salad, a bean salad, a garden salad, and sausage cocktails. My dad made fresh satays and homemade peanut sauce, and my mum made an amazing platter of fried noodles.

I love implementing parties. But I’m not too keen on PLANNING them. Pirate theme or jungle theme? What kind of food should we have? What time should we have it? Should we have games? Can the Wong family make it? Maybe we should have it at a park this time? Which park? Will it have a lake? That might be dangerous for the little kids…. it can stress me out big time.

Haha. So in the end, it’s usually the same. Big family bash in the backyard, with lots of food. I don’t know why I bother to stress about it in the first place.

Sweet Potato Salad

My roasted sweet potato salad with snow peas, sprouts, toasted pine nuts and sun flower seeds, tossed in creamy mild French dressing.

Also. In the afternoon, I brought our boys to another kid’s birthday party. I was considering to skip it, in case the boys got too hyped-up and sugared-up for our own party that evening, but it was for some good friends – and in our household, good friends are treasured.

The kid’s party was held at a warehouse sized, indoor play gym, with lots of screaming kids, party food and face painting.

Jungle Gym

You’d think that after an afternoon of running, jumping, swinging, climbing and sliding, that my boys would be tired? Not a chance.

Callum as Spiderman

My 5yo got his face painted like Spiderman. It COMPLETELY made his day.

I was slightly worried that he would look at himself in the mirror and freak out. But thankfully he loved it.

Then I got very worried that he would come home and throw himself face-first onto the couch and leave face-prints on the carpets. So the moment we got home, I made him wash it off. He looked as if he had a bad face rash for the rest of the day.

We made the kids take a short nap. Then the guests arrived.

Egg and Spoon Race Game

We played an egg and spoon race – with these adorable plastic eggs and bean bag egg yolks. Sooo cute.

Sean cheating with the bean bags

And we had bean bag races (Sean cheated).

Pirate Ship Birthday Cake

And last of all, I made a pirate ship birthday cake!

It was actually supposed to be a TREASURE CHEST birthday cake. Bursting with gold coins, necklaces and yellow snakes. That’s what I planned anyway.

But as I pulled it out of the oven, I realised my mistake. Damn! I used the wrong cake tin! The cake turned out wide and flat, rather than slim and tall. It was 10pm at night. And after exhausting every possible solution to fix it – I decided to bake ANOTHER cake. But I looked at my egg carton. No more eggs. Damn! I can’t make another cake! Argh!
So the pirate ship was a last minute improvisation. I’m so pleased with it! No food colouring! And I even found a little toy pirate guy in the kid’s toy box.

Sean was very, very happy.


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Making Baby 3, Part 23: The STRESS Factor

21 March 2008

I thought that stress was a major cause for being unable to fall pregnant.

Apparently, the medical community “acknowledges” that stress affects women’s menstruation, in different ways.

And they also state that when “stress-reduction techniques” are applied, some women have been able to conceive when they originally could not.

But other than that, there is not enough scientific evidence to support that stress causes infertility.

Now I don’t think I’m a stressful person. And I don’t think I lead a stressful life.

So I usually glaze over the section where is says : Trying to fall pregnant? Reduce the stress in your life! Go for a walk! Take a bath! Read a book! Pick up a new hobby!

Doesn’t apply to me!

But I was talking to a doctor friend of mine, who was a lot more open minded towards holistic medicine and wellbeing.

She asked me to check my dates from when I first started trying to conceive, “How long are your cycles?”

I almost brushed her off, thinking that small irregularities in my cycle were not much of a concern to me. After all, everyone’s irregular. But I went home and I counted up all my dates, including before trying to conceive.

28. 28. 28. 29. 29. 30. 29. 32. 33.

Oh wow. My cycles are getting longer. Geez.

I guess I’m getting all stressed out about trying NOT to be stressed!

Time to take a bath!

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


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My Husband’s Birthday 2008

20 March 2008

Birthday at Cream

I took my husband out to dinner last night.

He would have been perfectly happy with a cheap and cheerful café, with home-styled Malay food… but I wanted to take him somewhere a little *extra special*.

I found a little restaurant called Cream, in East Perth, with modern Australian food. Our dinner tasted great, the service was good, the wine was delicious. Most importantly, the atmosphere was quiet, sophisticated, classy and romantic – it was perfect.

Dinner at Cream Restaurant

We chatted throughout dinner, took silly photos and stroked the faux fur covered walls. Later we strolled hand in hand in the moonlight around Claisebrook Cove. It was such a lovely evening, hanging out with my most favourite person in the world. Happy birthday babe.


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A New Project

19 March 2008

I thought I’d let everyone know that I’ve started a new project.

I’m co-producing a book! It’s a commemorative book, we’re publishing it ourselves, we’ve got funding, and that’s all I can say about it at the moment.

Officially I’m the art director, but being on the production board (there’s only 3 of us), I’m pretty involved with everything else – so it’s been really interesting and exciting!

I’ve been going to business meetings in the city – which involves me dropping off one kid at school, driving to the babysitter’s place, drop off the second kid, drive to the meeting, after a 1 hour meeting, I drive back to pick up the kid, we have lunch, drive home – the whole process takes about 4 hours. It’s crazy. I waste so much of my day.

So I was chatting to the secretary about it, she insisted that I bring my kid and she would entertain him for an hour. My child? HERE? IN AN OFFICE?

“ARE YOU SURE??? ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY SURE???”

So the following week, I brought my 3 year old son, Sean, to my business meeting. I felt mad. Totally and utterly insane.

I had put him in nice clean clothes, I combed his hair, I packed a backpack full of snacks, toys, drawing pad and pencils, and prayed that he didn’t create havoc in the office. I introduced him to Sandra the Secretary, and she dazzled him with her array of secretarial office implements.

Highlighters! Hole punchers! Staplers! Stamps! Post it notes! Paperclips in 4 different colours! Chocolate biscuits! This kid was in heaven.

Now and again, I would peep out from the board room. I would see Sean constantly busy, doing stuff, giggling and chatting happily to Sandra. She was awesome. I had a great meeting. I was so relaxed.

When I finally emerged from the meeting, Sean had [FAXED] [COPIED] and [PAID] stamps all over his arms and he was playing Solitaire on someone’s laptop. Haha.

Ah, life would be so dull if not for kids and new projects.


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Book Review: The Kite Runner

18 March 2008

The Kite Runner by

The Kite Runner
By Khaled Hosseini

I have been itching to read this book ever since it came out.

Years ago, I read an inspiring interview about Khaled Hosseini and his childhood memories of Afghanistan. It invoked in me a desire to revisit my own childhood memories, even though they are worlds apart.

The novel is set in Afghanistan, then later in America, focusing on the lives of two boys and an event that changes their lives forever.

I don’t know anything about Afghanistan, save what I hear and read in the news – wars, political turmoil, hardship. But this story was amazing in that it opened up this new world to me; that I could see the fairy lights sparkling in the trees, set against the rocky hills, like in a scene of a movie; I could hear the rocks and snow crunching beneath boots, echoing off empty walls in the streets; and I could smell fresh the naan breads and spices wafting through the air in the markets.

The story is very well written. Very easy to read. No dull bits, there’s something happening and engaging in every chapter. All the characters were suitably developed and straightforward, which made the narrative easy to follow.

It deals with issues like friendship, betrayal, a father and son relationship, unravelling of a secret past deed… but I didn’t find it too emotionally “heavy”.

I was captivated the whole way through. I read it in 3 days! An excellent read!


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Kids Behaving Badly – A Follow Up

17 March 2008

Callum and SeanIn January, I wrote about my Kids Behaving Badly.

I was having a really hard time with their behaviour, defiance, moods, and bad attitudes. It was going on for months and I was close to insanity. I was stuck in a rut that was quickly spiralling downwards.

Well. It’s two months later and everything has settled down now.

In fact, when I read my post again, it was hard to believe that THAT was going on HERE.

Time has passed and yes, it was all just a normal part of growing up. It was a phase.

It was a phase probably brought on by end of school, a break in our routine, Christmas, New year, too many parties and late nights, general boredom around the house and boy hormones. But we survived.

Since Feb, the boys have been the sweetest, coolest, funniest, loving, most excellent and most wonderful little darlings. I would go as far to say that they have never played better, or been better behaved as they are now.

How did it happen? What did I do? Ha! I have no idea!

OK that’s not entirely true. I have a combination of theories and reflections:

1) Realised that I’m not to blame.

First I had to realise that my 3yo son’s defiance and strong-spirit was NOT because of a fault in my parenting skills.

I was constantly stressed and experimented with the experience I was creating for him – maybe he’s not playing outdoor enough, maybe he needs new friends who are his age, maybe I need to be tougher with this rule, maybe he needs to be away from me for a while, maybe he needs more structured play? It went on and on. Nothing worked, and I felt like such a failure.

I had to realise that it was simply because of who he is and his personality. I had to accept it, and work with it. Realising and accepting this fact alone lifted about 90% of my stress and anxiety!

2) Realised that it is just a phase.

As I said before, kids behaving badly is just a normal part of growing up.

3) Initiated a new plan, and STUCK TO IT.

My boys were in a pretty bad cycle of defiance. I realised that I was quite wishy-washy with discipline. We had some black and white rules. But for the grey areas, I kept making up new rules and discarding old ones as new situations unfolded. So I guess the kids didn’t take them seriously, or they just got confused.

I think I gave a lot of empty threats, which I did not follow through with. When I asked them to do something, I should have expected them to do it. But instead I renegotiated and explained and listed reasons and talked and talked, thus I let them get away with it and they wouldn’t do it until I blew up in anger.

I basically wrote a new bunch of rules and punishments up on a chart so everyone could see them. I announced that these were the new rules and from this day on, this is how we’re going to do things. I made sure that the boys knew what I expected and what the punishments were.

I was also very aware that I was dealing with two very different personalities, so what will work for one, will probably not work for another. We stuck with it for a week, oh god it was painful, but it worked!

My 4.5yo seemed to only need “punishments” in form of restricting his favourite things (sweet treats, no participation, or no tv). That was enough for him to change his behaviour.

But for the 3yo, I used some techniques suggested by James Dobson (The New Strong Willed Child). It worked within 3 days. He got the message, and it was enough to break the cycle. I haven’t used it again since.

4) School began.

The 4.5yo started going to school 5 days a week. That kept him well entertained, engaged, interested and out of proximity from his younger brother for most of the day.

The youngest also became a big boy too. He started pre-kindy and now has his own teachers, classroom, school bag, activities, routine and friends. It was probably a huge boost to his confidence, development and identity.

5) Use Progress Charts.

I wrote about some new progress charts we tried. Not only did this make things easier for me in the mornings, the boys had a clear routine, and they followed it like a sacred law.

6) Read Excellent Parenting Books.

There are some who say you shouldn’t read too many parenting books, or you’ll get too confused by all the different opinions and teachings.

But I really believe that you should read as much as you can, filling your brain with knowledge, studies, different opinions and anecdotes. And I believe you should keep an open mind. Don’t just read one book and follow it to the letter. Form your own opinions, pick and choose what techniques work for you and your kids in your unique situation.

Here are some books that have been recommended to me by my readers.

7) Talk to someone.

Finally, I recently befriended a mother in our library story-time session. She migrated to Perth from Singapore, and she has two young boys (5 and 3 years old), born in the same months as my own two boys.

What’s great about our friendship is that our two older boys and our two younger boys have really similar temperaments. The two older boys are charming, bossy and sulky. And the two younger ones are reckless, defiant and loveable. It’s really funny, yet uncanny.

We will spend hours talking about our boys in the most tiniest of details – which I swear, would absolutely bore anyone else to tears. We don’t give each other advice or counselling, we just talk and talk and talk and talk, and then finish off with a big laugh. It’s so good for the soul.


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Make Your Own Kid’s T-Shirt Print

16 March 2008

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

During my art school days, some of my specialities were silk screening and textile design.

So it’s no surprise that it breaks my heart whenever I’m standing at a shop, about to spend $40 on A SINGLE printed t-shirt for my kid, who will grow out of it next season.

Today was one of those moments. So I grabbed two plain, long-sleeved t-shirts instead and I told my protesting 4.5yo, “When we get home, we’re going to do some art!”

We made our own t-shirt prints! Stencil style. It took us 30 minutes from start to finish.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

First we brainstormed a few ideas for the print. Callum wanted a lightning bolt and I began to doodle. After a few sketches, he decided he liked the one with the cloud and raindrops. It was GLOOMY!

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

We transferred our design onto a bit of glossy cardboard.

You’re supposed to use a special plastic coated stencil sheet – so that the paint doesn’t bleed under and ruin the stencil. But since I didn’t have access to proper silk screening materials or plastic stencil sheets, I just used whatever I had.

Using a cardboard stencil, just means that I won’t be able to use the stencil too many times, as the water from the paint will be absorbed by the cardboard and make it buckle.

One of my readers mentioned that I could recycle and use old xrays (thanks Emma!). That would work really well.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

Then I cut out the stencil with a pen knife.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

I slipped a bit of stiff cardboard into the t-shirt, behind the printing area.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

Then I aligned the stencil onto the t-shirt and stuck it down with some sticky tape. Usually you should do a test print on some scrap paper or material, but, well – I’m annoyingly self-confident.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

This is water-based, permanent fabric paint. It fixes permanently onto fabric when it is heat set (with an iron). It’s really good stuff! I’m sure you can pick it up from any art shop. I bought it for $11 from my university bookshop 10 years ago.

The paint’s consistency is supposed to be thick. But because it was so old, it was TOO thick, so I thinned it with some water and removed some lumps.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

I used a thick round brush, and applied a little bit of paint at a time, with a dabbing motion. Be careful not to allow the paint to clump and collect at the edges of the stencil.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

Finished painting inside the stencil.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Print

Carefully lift off stencil! Let it dry for a few hours.

To set the paint, I placed a plain white piece of paper over the print, and used an iron on a medium heat setting over the top. The heat will set the paint, so it won’t dissolve in the wash or flake off.

Done!


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Sculpture By The Sea 2008

15 March 2008

Perth Sculpture By The Sea Exhibition

We went to Cottesloe Beach to see the Sculpture By The Sea exhibition.

We had so much fun! There were so many people there, strolling, chatting and smiling, all enjoying the sand, sun and art. Everyone was so happy! Especially my two little monkeys.

Perth Sculpture By The Sea Exhibition


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Making Baby 3, Part 22: Get Ready for a Healthy Pregnancy

14 March 2008

When we first tried to conceive our first baby in 2002, I was completely clueless. I didn’t know much about being pregnant and what to expect.

I didn’t know any first time mums, I didn’t know how to look after a baby and I didn’t know anything about typical child development. I didn’t know there was a term called “stay at home mum” and I didn’t know there was such a thing as a “healthy pregnancy”.

We conceived in our first month of trying, and I realised that I wasn’t completely ready to be pregnant. I had to learn everything as I went along – through reading books, magazines, talking to nurses, doctors, and other mothers.

It was only after I conceived, that I read about the things you should do to get your body ready for pregnancy. I was struck with the fact that I was pretty naive and ill-prepared, and it drove me to do something about it.

All the reading, research, and doing positive things towards my pregnancy really prepared me physically and mentally for the big day. It helped me feel more in control and confident, and less fearful and uncertain.

Experts recommend that if you are thinking of having a baby, you should do the following things to get your body ready for a healthy pregnancy:

Have a medical check up.
Your doctor is probably the best place to start. He or she will be able to discuss your individual medical history, circumstances, and put you on the right track.

Give up smoking, alcohol and drugs.
Research shows that smoking, high consumption of alcohol and the use of hard drugs can increase the risks in pregnancy, birth defects, development problems, disabilities, to name a few.

Get regular exercise.
A fit, healthy mother has a higher chance of having a healthy pregnancy.

Watch your weight
If you’re over weight, you may have an increased risk in developing high blood pressure, diabetes and other complications during pregnancy.

Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Try to stay off junk food and food high in salt, fat and sugar. Eat lots of vegetables, wholegrains, fruits, milk, making sure you get lots of the following vitamins:

Folic acid is important for the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Calcium is important for your baby’s growing bones, your own bone health, and to guard against calcium deficiency.

Iron is needed for your baby’s growth, and he/she will deplete your supply, leaving you tired and anaemic.

Fibre will help you maintain a healthy bowel, as most pregnant women experience constipation.

Reduce exposure to chemicals and pesticides
Eg. Weed killers, harsh cleaning fluids, and vapours from chemicals may effect your baby’s development.

Organise health insurance.
Doing a bit of research and organising your health insurance might save you money and headaches in the near future.

(We got caught out! We forgot to switch from a young couple’s insurance plan to a young family plan. Oh well.)

Take care of your emotional health.
I think this one is most important, and I stuck it in here (even though I’m not an expert). I really believe that you and your partner should talk about and enjoy the process of pregnancy and parenting together! Also establishing a network of family and friends who can support you is invaluable!


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


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Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

13 March 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl
by Philippa Gregory

Considering that I usually read science fiction and contemporary literature, this is the first historical fiction I have read, and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I read it in a week!

If you put aside historical inaccuracies, the book is well written and easy to read, and it’s an intriguing and absorbing story of two women competing for the love of a king.

It’s full of extravagant encounters, bitchy princesses, tasty characters, betrayals, sex, evil plotting, and it’s no wonder it’s been turned into a movie.

I recommend it, especially if you don’t usually read historical fiction.


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Blogger Meetup and Updates

12 March 2008

Perth Bloggers Meetup March 2008

I had a really nice time at the Perth Bloggers Meetup! I met, talked and hung out with some lovely people, chatted to old net friends, took photos, drank a bit, and received gifts (thanks girls!). More photos here.

I also managed to get some online bits and pieces up and running again. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep them updated now!

> My Wishlist (Amazon)
A few very sweet people were asking for my wishlist. So I’ve finally updated it and made a separate list for the kids!

> My Twitter
Interested to know what a SAHM does all day? Ha ha maybe not? Well you can now follow me on Twitter. And you have to check out the tiling grass.gif I made 9 years ago. It’s SO 1999!

Me elsewhere:

> Facebook

> My Flickr

> Stumble Upon

> Technorati


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Sean Turns 3 Years Old

11 March 2008

Sean Turns 3

To my dearest little Sean.

Three years ago our little family was going through a rough patch. Dad was pretty sick. Things weren’t looking good. We didn’t even know if we could have you.

But you were our little miracle. You gave us hope in a time of darkness. I would lie in bed wishing the world would swallow me up, and suddenly you’d kick and dance across the walls of my tummy – making me chuckle with delight.

When you were born, my hormones weren’t right. I looked at you bundled up in my arms and instead of buzzing with joy and happiness, I was tired, sad and I cried a lot. It wasn’t you, it was me.

But now I can’t imagine life without you. You are the blazing rock and roll on our otherwise quiet stereo. You are the spicy chilli in our tandoori. You are the sirens, the fireworks, the drums, the sparkle. You bring so much joy and laughter to our lives. I hope you know that.

In you, I’ve discovered a child’s love that is so tender, so sensitive, so sweet and so whole-heartedly absolute. When you say you love me, I don’t have to search deep in your eyes to see if you mean it, because it’s splashed across your face – you really do love me.

When I say goodnight to you each evening, you take my face in your hands and you plant little tiny kisses on my nose, cheeks and eye lids. And you’ll look up at me with a sparkle in your eyes, like I’m the most wonderful person in the whole world.

Sean Turns 3

I just love it when you smile. I love the way your face and nose wrinkles up. You look so cheeky and happy. It’s adorable, infectious and it makes my heart crumble into a thousand happy pieces.

This new year has seen lots of new changes in your life.

You love school. Starting Pre-Kindy this year has been amazing for you. You have your very own a teacher, classroom and bag hook. As I suspected, you thrived on the kindergarten’s structured activities, routine and rules. You’ve blossomed into a smart, sociable, confident little boy.

Sean Turns 3

You love learning. It boggles me to discover how much you pick up, understand, and repeat. You ask me questions about bugs, trees, water, birds, trucks, elevators – how they all work, what they are for, what can go wrong, what to do when something goes wrong. You listen carefully to everything I say, and will repeat it back as if it’s your own.

You speak so well. I really am so proud of you. Your pronunciations, your sentence structure, and your expressions are all amazing for a kid your age. Some of the clever, random things you say makes me laugh and laugh.

Sean Turns 3

When someone meets you for the first time, the first thing they comment on is your voice. You don’t squeak in a high-pitched, baby voice. Your voice is low and strong. You always sound so serious and authoritative, like a little man – but once you smile, you turn into a giggly little boy again.

Then there’s your eye lashes. And your puppy dog eyes. You make me writhe with jealousy.

Sean Turns 3

You’ve got a big personality, a strong spirit and a whole lot of big ideas. You’re a wonderful and charming little person with a great big heart. I love you Sean, Happy 3rd Birthday.


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The Father of My Children Joke

10 March 2008

The other day I was in a supermarket aisle with my kids, when I noticed a guy glance towards my 4.5 year old son. I registered it, but I decided to let it slide.

Then I saw him take another glance, this time slightly longer than the first.

I immediately went into caution mode. I took visual notes – he was a 30-something, athletic-built, blonde-haired guy who looked a bit like Hugh Jackman, wearing a red t-shirt and black pants. Then I took my boy’s hand and walked the other way.

Later on as we were waiting at the checkout, the same guy slipped into the queue behind us, and my son waved at him and gave a cheery “HI!”

I looked the guy square in the eye and gave him this evil blank look that said YOU HAVE TWO SECONDS TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF MATE.

The guy smiled and said, “Callum’s one of my kids! Gymnastics. I’m his teacher.”

It took me a few seconds to register… man… gymnastics… teacher… no need to scream.

“OH! OK! So you are! Mr. Davies right?” I stammered.

Mr Davies is the best and most popular teacher at the gym. He’s funny, cool, and has a great rapport with the kids. He’s like a superhero to them, and oh that’s right, he looks pretty awesome with his shirt off. That’s probably why I didn’t recognise him. Silly me.

So we stood there, waiting in the queue, chatting about gymnastics, being a teacher, bumping into students.

By then I was quite embarrassed, and when I’m embarrassed I have a tendancy to say all kinds of stupid stuff. So my brain was working overtime to stop myself from saying anything stupid.

BUT at the same time, in the back of my head, I was also thinking about that really funny joke about the woman bumping into the father of her child… and I considered sharing it with him, but then I realised that I didn’t know the end of the joke very well, and there’s nothing worse than telling a joke with a crap ending.

So at the last moment, I decided not to.

I got home and I looked up the joke on the internet, and to my horror, thank goodness I didn’t tell the joke because OMG IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO WRONG.

The Father of My Children Joke

A man was in the supermarket when he saw an attractive woman waving him over and smiling. He walked over, unsure of who she was.

“I’m sorry”, he said, “but I don’t think I recognise you”.

“I think you’re the father of one of my children”, the woman said, smiling.

The man’s heart nearly stopped as he thought back to the one time he had been unfaithful – his buck’s night. “Are you the stipper?” he asked, astonished. “Are you the one who rubbed whipped cream all over me on the pool table while you slapped my butt with a with a wet celery?”

Wide-eyed and shocked the woman replies, “No, I’m your son’s math teacher.”


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Sewing Project – Cushion Cover

9 March 2008

One of my personal goals for the year is to learn a new skill or revisit an old one.

I haven’t sewn anything in years, so I’m pretty rusty at it.

I would love be at a level where I can make my own skirts and dresses. But first I imagine I would have to take some dressmaking classes to learn how to sew a bit more professionally.

Cushion CoverThe other day I sewed together 6 curtain panels for our neighbours. Just sew straight lines? I can do that. As it so happened, all the curtains needed to be shortened by 15cm, so I cut off 6 strips and hemmed up the rest.

The material was quite a pleasant silky, brown, mock-suede, and it seemed like such a waste to toss them out.

So I sewed the strips together, designed my own cushion cover and it was done in 10 minutes! I made something! I felt so clever!


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Bananas in Pyjamas Paper Dress Up Dolls

8 March 2008

I found a really cute and simple activity for my kids to do on the weekend.

Bananas in Pyjamas Paper Dress Up Dolls

Personally I think the Bananas in Pyjamas are a pair of dirty old men in banana suits, but my kids think they’re just hilarious. So as long as they don’t start talking like B1 and B2, I’ll be right.

You can download the paper dress-up dolls from the ABC Kids website.


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Making Baby 3, Part 21: Think Happy Thoughts

7 March 2008

When you’re trying to conceive a child, it’s very hard to NOT think about it in your day to day life

Even while I have two kids, it’s always at the back of my head.

As I go through the day, I am constantly struck by the thought : I wonder what it’d be like to have a third kid in this situation.

When I push a shopping trolley loaded with my kids. When we’re at a cafe sharing chips and milkshakes. When we’re paddling and splashing in a swimming pool. When we huddle together to take a family photo.

It’s a consuming thought.

But I shouldn’t let it be that way. Not in a negative way, at least.

I always try to keep a positive and healthy attitude about it all.

I like to focus on the good and happy things in my life.

I like to speak, think and write about it in a positive way.

I like to laugh about it, telling people, “That’s right, we have lots and lots and lots of sex.”

I like to keep some perspective, remembering that there are so many couples who want and can’t have even one child.

I like to think that in the end, if it’s not to be, then I shall be happy with what I have.

If anything, I guess thinking happy thoughts and trying to stay positive will keep me less stressed, relaxed, in the mood and who knows what might happen next!


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


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A Spotlight On My Favourite Charities

6 March 2008

Someone asked me whether I donated any money to charity, and which ones.

At first I was really surprised. Of course I do! But I realised that since I don’t talk about it on my site, it must seem like it’s never crossed my mind.

So I thought I’d let everyone know that yes, I have been earning a bit of money from this site in the last 2 years. And of that money, I have been donating a portion of all I earn to various charities that I feel strongly about.

And I would love to feature them for you –

Cancer Council of Australia

The Cancer Council of Australia
My husband is a cancer survivor. In 2004, before the birth of our second son, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent radiotherapy, chemotherapy and two lots of surgery.

He is now in remission and now strives to live a healthy, stress-free life filled with love and laughter.

Each day that passes, we are thankful for the gift of life. We feel quite passionate towards giving a little of what we have towards cancer research, education programs, support for cancer patients and their families.

Starlight Foundation

Starlight Children’s Foundation of Australia
I have 2 happy and healthy young children. Every time I see one of my boys do a flying somersault leap off the couch, part of me curses their boyish energy, and the other, thanks heaven that they can actually do crazy stunts like that.

Whenever I browse through the Starlight website, I am always so moved by the stories and pictures. I was always think – Am I waiting for my child to become seriously ill before I help in some way?

The Starlight Foundation supports and raises money for seriously ill children. They bring laughter, family escapes, fun centres, express vans, wish granting to the lives of seriously sick children and their families.

I have a secret personal goal to become a Starlight Volunteer one day.

Breast Cancer Foundation

National Breast Cancer Foundation of Australia

Throughout my life, I have personally known 5 women who’s lives were taken by breast cancer. I don’t know if that’s a lot or little for someone my age, but I feel determined towards making a small contribution towards the breast cancer research, a cure, prevention, support and promotion.

I also really adore the worldwide PINK marketing campaign towards Breast Cancer. The movement is so uniting, beautiful and touching. I also buy a lot of pink chocolate too.

Oxfam Australia

Oxfam Australia
Sometimes the trivial problems of our everyday life hinders us from seeing the bigger problems of the world.

Every day we turn on the world news and there are wars, earthquakes, train wrecks, assassinations, poverty, abuse, hunger. People are dying every day and yet, it all seems so distant when you’re sitting in air conditioned comfort watching it on a very expensive plasma screen.

It’s just not real. We are not affected by it, thus we’re not moved to give.

The challenge is to make it real, with knowledge. Make it personal, by giving.

I love what OXFAM has done – bringing the real issues of poverty and social injustice to us – the developed world that sees none of it.

I also love Oxfam Unwrapped. Where you can buy goats for your relatives. It just puts things into perspective when you read that “a $20 donation can pay for five household gardens to be set up in Cambodia. The vegetable gardens can help families to have a more diverse diet and decrease the chances of malnutrition.”


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Perth Bloggers Meetup – March

5 March 2008

I made a promise to the lovely Simone of EnjoyPerth!, that I’ll be joining her and a bunch of other people (that I know by name and profile avatar) for the Perth Bloggers Meetup.

It’ll be my first time at a blogger meetup!

I mentioned that I’d write about it on my site, but I forgot to mention that I don’t actually KNOW how many people in Perth read my site.

I know three. My husband, my mother and my Aunty Flo. And I’m not sure if they can make it. They’d bring chicken curry for everyone, I’m sure of it.

So please come! Would love to see you there!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008.

7pm

Upstairs at The Brass Monkey
Corner of James and William Street, Northbridge

Perth Bloggers I want to meet : Cellobella, TFP, Kitta, Mooiness, Rodney, Krissy, Bronwen, Duncan, Priscilla, Nat. (Ok I’ve met some of you before, but it’d be good to catch up!)


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10 Personal Goals for 2008

4 March 2008

Karen

It’s the third month of the year already!

And how’s everyone going with their New Year’s resolutions so far?

I made a simple list in January, but I like to call them Personal Goals instead. Here’s how I’m doing:

1) Learn a language.
I’m learning to speak Chinese. By myself. From scratch. With books and CDs. And I’m practicing with my kids. I know it sounds mad. But I’m determined to do it!

2) Eat better. Exercise More.
I’m trying to cooking 3 vegetarian meals + 3 fish meals + 1 red meat meal a week. I’m swimming more often – hopefully I’ll be committing to doing it once or twice a week, soon.

3) PLAY with my kids.
I know this sounds a bit weird, since I’m a stay at home mother. But most days I am so absorbed with doing errands and running the household, that I forget to stop and have fun with the kids at their level. So this year I’m determined to enjoy the kids while they are young.

4) Read more books.
Books I’ve read this year (in the last two months):

Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Secrets of Happy Children by Steve Biddulph
1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan
Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking by Wyckoff
The New Strong-Willed Child
by James Dobson
How To Choose The Sex Of Your Baby by Shettles

5) Get involved with a REAL LIFE community.
Online communities are awesome. But a cup of coffee with some real girlfriends does wonders for the soul. I’m hoping to branch out and meet new people with similar interests.

6) Fundraise for charity.
I haven’t actually done any fundraising yet. But I’ve been to two fundraising events. That kinda counts, right?

7) Take more photos.
I’ve been trying to take photos every day and practice my photography skills. I’m hoping to write up a few more photography and Photoshop tips too.

8) Learn a new skill. Or revisit an old one.
I sewed curtains together last week.

9) I’d like to learn how to play the piano.
I’ve been wanting to learn how to play for years. I don’t think I’ll be getting around to this one just so soon…

10) Write more often.
I’ve been really enjoying writing and posting on my site almost everyday now. It’s excellent practice. I’m hoping to manage my online time better and be a more efficient writer.


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Kids Behaving Badly – Parenting and Discipline Books

3 March 2008

Last month I wrote about Kids Behaving Badly – how I had hit a brick wall with my children’s behaviour and I didn’t know what to do next.

I knew I needed a new perspective, a fresh way to look and deal with things. So I asked everyone to recommend any great parenting or discipline books they have read.

I received up to 30 book recommendations – thank you everyone! I was actually planning to read the most recommended books, and only feature the ones I felt were more excellent – but I’ve been getting so many emails asking me to hurry up! I’ve only read five!

Anyway, here is the top 6 books, starting with most recommended book.

(The titles with pictures indicate the books I have read, or hope to read soon) :

1 2 3 Magic

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan

Raising Boys

Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different-And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men by Steve Biddulph

The New Strong Willed Child

The New Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson

How To Talk So Kids WIll Listen

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber

Supernanny

Supernanny by Jo Frost

The Secret of Happy Children

The Secret of Happy Children by Steve Biddulph


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Accidental Gardening

1 March 2008

Baby Capsicum

I love composting. It’s so easy, eco friendly and my one small step towards sustainable living.

We own an open-style compost heap – which simply means, all our vegetable and fruit scraps, leaves, tree cuttings, and lawn clippings get tipped into a big pile. That’s it. It’s probably the most laziest (and inefficient) method of composting, but it works for us.

One of my small thrills about our compost heap is that when I clear around the edges, I always find dozens of mysterious plants growing out from the base.

I have often replanted the little seedlings to find them turning into avocado plants, rockmelon plants, pumpkins, and tomatoes. It’s such a treat. Like a little surprise gift from my garden itself.

Today, I discovered my newest surprise – a baby capsicum!