Archive for January 2009

 

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Making Baby 3, Pregnancy Week 18 – Depression

30 January 2009

These weeks of my pregnancy have been hard. Hard for me. Hard for my family.

It’s difficult to explain and it’s difficult to deal with.

I have read many stories of women with depression. I have a friend who counsels women with depression. And I have heard heart-wrenching stories by friends who are going through depression.

So I feel safe to say that I don’t have “that level of depression”.

What I have does not even compare to the harrowing struggles I have heard.

I know what I have is linked to my pregnancy. I know my body is undergoing all kinds of chemical and hormonal changes and imbalances.

I know I definitely do not experience the full impact of the hormonal illness.

Whatever it is, I have tasted the reality of it, and I am both shocked and shaken.

It’s like I have something evil inside of me. An evil version of me. It knows everything about me. It knows which buttons to push. It knows exactly what to say to make me cry. It brings everything that is good inside me, down.

Some days I am so down, that I am literally paralysed. Paralysed with an overwhelming cocktail of sadness, self-loathing, confusion, uncertainty, insecurity. It’s suffocating and relentless.

At first, I thought I could over come it with positive thinking. Rational thought. Being optimistic. Using the power of the mind. Or simply distracting my mind with something else.

Then I thought, all I had to do was surround myself with happiness. Arrange time with my family. My friends. My favourite places. My favourite music, foods, flowers, chocolates, long strolls at sunset, a manicure, a new dress, some pampering.

That was my surprise: That whatever I did or whatever thought – NOTHING CHANGED IT. NOTHING MADE IT GO AWAY.

Some days, something will trigger it. Someone will say something. Or I will see something.

It might be the tiniest, most insignificant thing – yet it would instantly make me feel unreasonably upset, guilty, sad, or scared.

Someone might mention that my child was a bit small and I would feel guilty that I wasn’t a very good mother. I might see a picture of a gorgeous model and suddenly feel upset that I wasn’t more beautiful. Or I might read the news of a burglary and feel completely terrified that someone was going to break into our house that night.

And these feelings will grow and grow AND GROW until it’s so intense, I’m utterly consumed and I can’t function normally.

Thankfully, all this comes and goes. I might get it for 3 days, then things will be fine for a week. Then it’ll hit for 4 days, and then settle down again.

I’ve learnt how to ride my own depression, knowing fully that these crazy spells will disappear after my pregnancy. I can see the end. I just keep going, one step at a time.


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


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The Perth Markets

29 January 2009

The Perth Markets

On the weekend, we went to visit The Perth Markets at the Perth Cultural Centre, in the shade of the old trees between the Museum and the Art Gallery in Northbridge.

It was the first weekend of The Perth Markets  as the new, regular weekend markets in the city, and it was very exciting to walk around and see the beginnings of a new local tradition.

There were all kinds of market stalls – fresh produce, organic products, herbs and spices, flowers, art work, jewellery, accessories, bits and pieces. There was also excellent street music, balloons and face painting. Perth’s inner-city multi-culturalism was really on display as well!

I think the best bit was that all their profits go to a charitable cause – helping Youth In Crisis.


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Star Wars Fever

28 January 2009

Star Wars Fever

This summer, my husband decided to let my sons watch Star Wars.

Deep down, I felt that my little babies were still too young to watch anything but animated cartoon movies – however I could tell my 5.5 year old desperately wanted to know more about Darth Vader, because the other boys talk about Star Wars at school.

So, in the space of two weeks, Callum and Sean have seen all SIX STAR WARS MOVIES. My husband had to sit with them, with the remote control, starting and stopping every 3 minutes to explain each and every thing. It would have drove me crazy, but my husband enjoyed it.

My 5.5 year old was absolutely fascinated by the story of how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, enemy of his own son, Luke. He was drawn to the serious drama of the whole saga of human weakness, loss, betrayal and redemption. And he was very interested in the meaning of the colour of each character’s lightsaber and the powers of the Jedi.

My 3.5 year old, didn’t care about the story at all. He just LOVED that there were robots being cut up with lightsaber, and spaceships crashing into each other. The weird looking aliens were just a bonus!

So now starts the Star Wars obsession…

Every moment of the play, every story they tell, every drawing they draw, every toy they pick up, every character they pretend to be, is centred around Star Wars, Star Wars, STAR WARS!

Perhaps 12 months ago, this craze would have irritated every molecule in my wholesome, well-balanced, politically-correct, attitude towards parenting. I don’t like fighting. I don’t like guns and lightsabers. I don’t like wars.

But. I’m seeing the unexpected benefits to all this… and I like it.

I kid you not, my boys will run off and play by themselves for 2 HOURS at a time! They will sit in the lounge room, building Star Wars ships and re-enacting scenes and characters from the movie.

They will play wonderfully and passionately. They are the best of friends. They will tell stories, laugh, cooperate, use their imagination, solve problems, burst with creativity and originality. Together. No fighting. No screaming. No whinging.

Then when things start to slow down. I’ll throw them outside, where they will play Star Wars adventures for ANOTHER TWO WONDERFUL HOURS!

It’s perfect.

It’s like an instant childhood. Just add Star Wars.

Photo caption: Sean is obviously Darth Vader. I think Callum was trying to be Yoda.


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Fashion Find: Hats for Summer

27 January 2009

Fashion Find: Hats for Summer

How many times have I been invited to a lunchtime BBQ, and found myself standing in NO SHADE, sweating and roasting in the full sun!?

Not to mention my skin is getting sun burnt, sun spots, aging with wrinkles and increasing my chances of developing a skin cancer.

I need a nice hat! I have a straw hat that I use for gardening, but it’s a utility hat. Plus, it doesn’t go well with a summer dress. So I’ve been desperately looking for a nice hat to wear to social events…

Hats in the top row are from Mimco. Bottom row from Witchery.


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Australia Day 2009

26 January 2009

Australia Day Fireworks 2009 - Perth

We had a fantastic day today! I do believe it was a fairly “typical Australia Day” for most people.

We woke up late and ate a leisurely breakfast of eggs and baked beans on toast.

We made our way to the city to visit some new markets in the Perth Cultural Centre. We popped into the museum to see dinosaur bones.

We walked over to a food court and ate Asian food for lunch, while watching a Lion Dance, complete with drums and firecrackers.

We came home for nap!

Then we made our way to a friend’s house for a delicious barbecue dinner. We swam in their pool, ate summer fruits, ice cream and lamingtons.

As the sun set, we walked down the road to the river foreshore.

We played football on the grass, we waved flags and glow sticks from our picnic rug.

And we watched the fireworks sky show until dark.

Like I said, fantastic day.


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Happy Chinese New Year 2009

25 January 2009

Chinese New Year 2009

This year, by wonderful coincidence, Chinese New Year falls on the same day as Australia Day.

Perhaps I hoped for a more creative combination of the two cultures – barbecued roast duck, mushrooms in vegemite sauce, crab and beer soup. But I suppose it’s best not to mess with tradition.

We had huge reunion dinner at my grandmother’s house, with my whole Chinese family! It was so much fun! So nice to see all the little cousins and grandchildren grow up.

Chinese New Year 2009

I found the stash of Chinese New Year cookies. Some hand made by my aunties. It brought back so many memories of being a kid. We used to snack on this stuff for weeks. Until our bellies were full and our cheeks were raw from all the sugar and peanuts.

These days, I don’t give my kids any of these snacks as liberally as my parents did for us. In fact, I don’t eat of lot of this stuff anymore.

But today I couldn’t help it. I opened up each jar, one by one, savouring each one, remembering the weird and wonderful flavours. Remembering my childhood favourites – the love letters!

Chinese New Year 2009

After dinner and dessert, my grandmother, the oldest and most senior in our family, made all the little grandchildren and great-grandchildren line up to receive an ang pow.

When Callum received his, he crept up to me with a very worried look on his face. He whispered, “I don’t mean to be rude, but I think Ah Tai forgot to put money in this ang pow! Should I tell her before everyone finds out?”

I had to laugh. “Dude. She’s giving you PAPER MONEY OK?”

Ah, it was a great evening.


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Making Baby 3, Pregnancy Week 17 – Baby Movements

24 January 2009

With my first baby, I felt kicking when I was 22 weeks.

With my second baby, it was 20 weeks.

With my third baby, I swear I could feel kicking at 16 weeks.

Most literature on pregnancy describes the feeling of fetal movements to be like: gas, popping bubbles, a tickling sensation, a fluttery feeling in your abdomen.

For me, I would say, baby movement feels like you have an ALIEN IN YOUR STOMACH KICKING THE CRAP OUT OF YOUR BOWELS.

It feels like you have a creature swimming inside you.

Something that is jabbing you in the ribs. Something squeezing against your side. Something pawing at the lining of your tummy. Something head-butting your lungs and bouncing off the walls of your uterus.

It feels alien.

The first time is always the weirdest.

And later, you learn the daily patterns of the movement. It’s always quiet during the day. But the moment you lie down to sleep, the baby throws a party and learns to dance in there.

But you get used to it.

It becomes normal. You learn to expect it. And love it.

In fact, I distinctly remember that it becomes so normal, that AFTER I gave birth, I would actually miss the movements in my belly. My tummy would feel empty and quiet. It was just me in this body.

The party was now elsewhere.


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


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Perth Bloggers Meet Up – January 2009

23 January 2009

Perth Bloggers Meet Up - Jan 2009

The other night we attended a Perth Bloggers Meet Up. It was really nice to see heaps of news and old faces.

I had an excellent time meeting different people from all walks of life! There was a really nice vibe in the air and I had some great conversations. It was a good night!

Perth Bloggers Meet Up - Jan 2009

I also met David and Ming, from Nuffnang, who kindly sponsored the event.

If you’re interested in attending future meetups in Perth, feel free to join the Perth Bloggers Meetup Facebook Group!


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Lights, Camera, Roll!

22 January 2009

Rolling Through A Cinema

We went to watch Madagascar 2 the other day.

The cinema was completely empty when we arrived, so the boys took the opportunity to make themselves feel at home by rolling down the dimly lit aisle.


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My Interview with Lance Armstrong

21 January 2009

Lance Armstrong and Karen Cheng

When I agreed to interview Lance Armstrong, I wanted to advise his Lance Armstrong Foundation of a few things.

Firstly, I’m not a professional journalist. Also, neither I nor my readers are particularly interested in the technicalities of cycling or professional racing! But I am very interested in doing something about cancer awareness.

Basically, I wanted to ask Lance questions that were from the heart – issues that were perhaps a bit more thought provoking regarding cancer, personal strength, fundraising, and cancer awareness.

Lance Armstrong is one of the world’s most successful cycling champions, who has used his fame to create LIVESTRONG – a movement to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. It has an incredible online resource for people who are dealing with cancer and its effects – both for the actual person who has it, but also for the people who love them.

When I finally met Lance, it was late in the afternoon. He had spent the morning riding up and down several nearby mountains as training for the big race in a few days. He was very relaxed, and radiated a very charismatic energy. We chatted about Adelaide, the hills, Perth, being pregnant, and he seemed really nice and easy-going. And then I asked my questions.

Karen: You’ve been quoted as saying that you would never have won the Tour De France if you hadn’t had cancer. Can you say why that is? Was it just that winning a bike race (even the toughest one in the world) seems easy compared to beating cancer?

Lance:
It doesn’t have to be cancer, it could be anything devastating that reminds you of the fragility of life, the fragility of your career, and of your potential.

I had a decent perspective on my sport before, but after the diagnosis and the treatment, I realised that cycling was truly special to me personally, so I redoubled, recommitted myself back to cycling in a much different way than I did before.

Karen: Your media persona makes you seem like a very tough, direct, forceful guy, and winning the Tour de France so many times tells us you have a lot of self-discipline. But what was your lowest emotional moment with cancer. And how did you get out of it?

Lance: The lowest moment…hmm…yeh, that’s a good question. It would be hard to compete, in terms of the lows, with the actual diagnosis, because that was such a surprise. This fear rushes in, and uncertainty rushes in, and the immediate thought or question is “am I going to die?”. That’s a natural reaction.

After that, I kept getting more and more bad news, but it didn’t compare to the initial diagnosis. The way you deal with that, at least I did, and I think most people do, is through friends and family, this strong support structure that ultimately lift you up.

But also, I put a lot of faith in my doctors and nurses. I realised I was going to find the best doctor in the world, and the best medical team in the world, and we were going to throw everything at this disease, and if it didn’t work out…it wasn’t meant to be.

Karen: At what point did you realise you were going to do something as big about cancer as LIVESTRONG. Was there a single moment where you realised you should, and could?

Lance: No, this all started around a little table in a restaurant, just talking to friends, thinking we should do something to raise a little bit of money. LIVESTRONG wasn’t even in existence at that time, it was just the Lance Armstrong Foundation. LIVESTRONG came about in 2003/2004.

Karen: It must be a huge undertaking, organisationally, to get something a big as your foundation and LIVESTRONG rolling. How do you start something like that?

Lance: The same way we got through the low points of the cancer itself. Friends and family and myself sat around and said “we gotta do something”.

So the very same people who helped me through the tough times, the low points of the diagnosis and treatment, were the same ones who were there to start the foundation.

Karen: I know that cancer research is enormously complicated, and expensive, so fundraising is very important. I also know that most people feel like there is nothing they can do about cancer, because the size of the problem is so big.

What proportion of funds raised by your foundation comes from small donations like 5 and 10 dollars, as opposed to big benefactors? How important is it for ordinary people to give a little?

Lance: A lot, a lot. I would say that the bulk of the money we have raised, going way back to the beginning, is from small amounts. If you go way back to the beginning, and consider that we have raised more than 300 million dollars, the biggest single component of that was from the sale of the yellow wrist bands, which was 60 or 70 million dollars, which is a lot of money. But all of that was people spending one dollar for a yellow wrist band.

So 70 million people gave us a buck. They said – “here you go, here’s a dollar.” So that built a brand, and a movement.

There is a lot of five dollar, ten dollar, and even twenty two dollars and thirty six cents kind of donations, which to me is really cool, I rather have a lot of that, because that represents a movement, an army of people, whereas if you had ten rich people giving you a bunch of money, you couldn’t say that you speak for an entire constituency of people.

Karen: I get really discouraged when I get hate mail – and it happened to me right after my first little fundraiser for the Red Cross. How do you deal with the detractors who question your motives, especially when you have such a public persona?

Lance: Anyone who is in the public eye who has a measure of success will have detractors, will have naysayers, will have non-believers, will have haters. And that has been amplified now, in the current generation, because there is so much output in terms of the media, like magazines, blogs, message boards. Anybody who goes onto a message board and reads about themselves is going to go crazy.

I told someone the other day, I thought that Tina Faye summed it up best when she accepted her award at the Golden Globes, she said “For all of you out there who are just starting to feel good about yourself, there is this little thing out there called the Internet.” And then she listed off the names of people who’ve said bad things about her on the net, and then at the end of it all, she thanked her husband.

At the end of the day, it helps to ignore it, but also if you want to, you could also say some mean things back. (laughs)

Karen: An obvious possibility with having cancer is that it might come back. I know my husband gets very tense while waiting for the results of every blood test. How do you deal with the fear of recurrence?

Lance: I think that fades over time. My big ones were one month, two months, three months, every month in that first year. One year was a big deal, two years was a big deal, and then five years was just a huge deal. And really, I don’t think that much about it, so when I go in for my annual check-up twelve years later, I don’t know, maybe it’s a bad thing, I don’t get that nervous.

But in the first year, or two years, I was just a ball of nerves. I think that’s totally normal.

Karen: My husband has had testicular cancer twice, and he says it was a very different emotional experience second time around. How do you think you will deal with it differently if your cancer comes back?

Lance: Oh my god, I can’t even imagine. Hopefuly that won’t even happen, but it certainly can.

It’s hard to say. It’s like if you’re totally healthy and someone says how would you deal with that the first time, you can’t respond to that.

I know that just like before, we would work hard to find the best options, go into it with the best attitude, and throw everything at it. It would be different now, because I have kids.

The first time, I was a twenty five year old kid, and if I left, the only one who would be really sad was my Mom, but it’s a lot different now. I don’t even like to think about it.

Karen: Twenty years from now, would you rather be famous for being the world’s greatest bike athlete, or for creating LIVESTRONG?

Lance: Even today, I’d rather be known as the founder of LIVESTRONG, and so obviously, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now, till we don’t need to do it anymore, the same would apply. If I could pick what goes on my tombstone, LIVESTRONG would be higher than athlete.

Karen: It’s safe to say that your story, both in sport and with cancer, has inspired lots of people. But who inspires you?

Lance: My Mom. She’s always been a hero in life, and a hero in the example she set for me. She’s a tough woman who believed in a certain set of things when she was young, and had an incredible work ethic and drive and motivation. Even today, she 55 years old, and still a young lady, and we are very, very close and great friends.

We ended my interview, and then it was his turn to ask me questions.

I told him my husband’s story, how it affected me and our family. And shared some thoughts about cancer awareness in Australia, and what Australians can do to spread awareness of cancer and help activate communities.

Overall, I was really impressed with Lance’s answers, and the way he answered them. Directly, strongly, confidently, with real interest and passion.

I was struck by how similar his views on his cancer are to my husband’s, and how he freely admits, like my husband, that it was his family and friends who got him through his cancer.

A few days after meeting Lance, I had lots of thoughts. I feel that my own plans to do something to raise awareness of the need for improved cancer prevention and treatment are probably not ambitious enough!

After all, Lance Armstrong is just one person, and although he has had a lot of help, he has been the one individual who was the focus of it all. So one person can make a huge difference! I’m inspired!


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Singapore Fashion Designers – Desmond Yang

20 January 2009

During my trip to Singapore in June, I had the opportunity of meeting several of Singapore’s established and emerging fashion designers.

One of them was none other than Desmond Yang, owner and designer of fashion label, Abyzz.

Singapore Fashion Designer - Desmond Yang

I was so excited to meet him. Our email exchanges left me glowing, for he was so generous and accommodating. He was allowing me to take a peek at some of his new garments for an upcoming fashion show, and take a personal tour of his showroom and workshop.

His studio was set in the stunning location of Emerald Hill Road, a Singapore Heritage Conservation Area, near the Orchard Road District. The area was just magnificent – grand old buildings and big trees – full of old Singapore charm.

I was warmly greeted by Desmond, and he led me around his workshop. I loved the way he was so open and honest – completely unconcerned that I saw the clutter and chaos of his fashion studio. The place was brimming with boxes, mannequins and rolls of fabrics. I met one of his seamstresses. I met his manager. They all seemed like a close family and an admirable team.

Desmond was glowing with a passion for garments and fashion design. He didn’t have that flamboyant, pretentious, superstar persona so often associated with fashion designers. He came across as down-to-earth, sincere and really clever.

With my own background in design and visual communications, I somehow liked to think we had a little connection happening, but unlike me, this guy clearly had a formidable creative and innovative mind for fashion.

Desmond began his training at Raffles Design Institute Singapore, and even before he graduated, he received international recognition and several awards.

In 2003 he created his brand Abyzz – and since then, he has participated in local and international fashion shows, and collected a strong list of awards, including being winner of the International Apparels Federation Designers Award 2007.

When I met him, he was preparing to launch his latest collection at the Taipei Fashion Week – featuring some stunning and exclusive multi-wear dresses. He was generous enough to let me have a look at them and try some on. He told me that no models had tried on the dresses yet. I was the first person to try them on!

Desmond describes his style as versatile – sometimes sophisticated and casual, other times modern and edgy, or sexy, elegant and fun. He loves his multi-wear and transformational garments – where a dress can be worn as a top, or a top as a skirt, or a cardigan as a dress.

Singapore Fashion Designer - Desmond Yang

These four dresses I am wearing, are actually THE SAME DRESS – just in different colours and worn differently. The dress can be worn in many different ways, which transforms it into a completely new look. It was gorgeous!

Singapore Fashion Designer - Desmond Yang

I also tried on a few outfits in his new line, at the time, they were soon to be released at the launch of his first dedicated retail outlet. I really loved these two pieces – casual, smart, stylish, and a bit quirky.

Desmond’s fashion label Abyzz can be found at his retail outlets and stockists in Singapore:

Abyzz
Millenia Walk
Level 1, #01-50
(65)6336-9082

Isetan Scotts
350, Orchard Road,
Level 2, Shaw House

Philippines:

Crossings Department Store
Edsa corner Shaw Boulevard
Phase II, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
Mandaluyong City, 1552

You can also see more of his collections online at www.abyzz.com.sg.


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Want to Meet Lance Armstrong?

19 January 2009

Lance ArmstrongI got an email last week, out of the blue, inviting me to interview the American cycling champion and cancer campaigner Lance Armstrong while he is in Adelaide, South Australia. Lance is participating in the Tour Down Under Professional Cycling Race.

Who is Lance Armstrong, you might ask? If I wasn’t married to my husband, I also probably wouldn’t know.

But I do, because my husband and Lance Armstrong have something in common – they have both survived testicular cancer. My husband has actually survived testicular cancer twice.

Lance Armstrong, on the other hand, has only had testicular cancer once, but he is world famous because he has won what is probably the world’s most grueling and agonising sports event (The Tour de France) SEVEN times – and he did this AFTER he recovered from cancer.

So Lance Armstrong has become a very powerful public symbol for overcoming cancer, and living a full life. He has created a charitable foundation LIVESTRONG that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research, and he hangs around with people like past and present Presidents of the United States. He inspires people.

I politely emailed back, and explained that I wasn’t a journalist, and my blog isn’t about sport, and that there must be some mistake with the invitation.

They emailed me straight away, and said, there was “no mistake”. They specifically invited me because of my interest in raising funds for cancer research, and because I have a cancer surviving story to share. I am apparently one of only two face-to-face interviews Lance will be giving the whole time he is in Australia. The other was with Australia’s national newspaper (The Australian).

My next problem was that… I am quite pregnant, I had only two days notice of this meeting, and Lance is in another Australian city, which will take three hours of flying time to get there. All of the flights available were at inconvenient times, since it is the school holidays, and lots of cycling fans are going to see Lance ride in Adelaide.

As well as this, the media people can’t tell me the exact location or time of my meeting with Lance because of “security concerns”.

AND my son had swimming lessons every morning for the next two weeks. It was all very sudden, and getting way too hard.

So I asked myself a question.

Would I fly to Adelaide in these circumstance to meet one of the world’s most famous fashion designers? Answer – No way. I LOVE fashion, but I wouldn’t inconvenience my family AND add unnecessary stress in our lives to talk to someone who designs clothes.

But, raising awareness about the need for cancer research? Well, yes. Yes I would.

So I did.

I flew to Adelaide. I met Lance Armstrong. I interviewed him. I told him my story.

And I am so glad I did!

I just got back and I’m exhausted. I’ll post the interview as soon as I can write it up.


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Making Baby 3, Pregnancy Week 16 – The Curious Case of the Belly Bump

17 January 2009

I’m not a very big person. I don’t take up much room.

So moments like squeezing between two chairs in a restaurant, or walking between parked cars, or through a semi-closed doorway – DOESN’T usually register in my mind.

Until now!

With an expanding belly, you have to be mindful of the increasing area of your “personal space”.

I find myself bumping into walls, trolleys, tables, chairs, and people!

The other day I had a rather embarrassing moment trying to run through a closing lift door.

I zipped in at the last moment. I knew I could make it, and I probably could have – except for my bump. Sure enough, the lift door closed and went DONK on my belly and it had to reopen. And everyone in the lift rolled their eyes at the eccentric pregnant woman.

And another time, after I parked my car, I opened my door as far as I could (without banging it into the next car), tried to step out, and found myself wedged in my car doorway!

There wasn’t enough room for me to get out! I was pregnant and I was stuck! I had to re-park my car!

Another thing about having a large belly bump, is that people – especially old women – like to talk to you. They like to touch. And press. And ask questions. I don’t mind it that much, but sometimes it gets very irritating, especially if I’m in a hurry.

Children also like to ask questions. “Are you full? Do you have A BABY in your tummy?”

And depending on their level of curiosity and familiarity with Where Babies Comes From, you can often find yourself saying, “Maybe you should go ask your mother!”

Sleeping is another problem.

I usually sleep ON my tummy. It’s the only way I can fall asleep. It gets very problematic when your bump gets so huge that you can’t find a comfortable position to get a good night’s rest. In the end – to your husband’s dismay – you have to use 4 pillows wedged here, propped there, and you look like a tangled whale.

For me, the worse thing about having a large bump, is being treated like an invalid.

People won’t let you carry things. Or push things. Or stand on things. Or even lift things.

The other day, a young man insisted on lifting 8 bags of organic mulch into the boot of my car. Poor guy was getting his uniform so dirty.

And the staff at one restaurant, rearranged the seating in their cafe to make a wide enough pathway for me to get to the toilet!

I guess, it’s probably for the better. And sometimes it’s quite sweet. But I just feel humiliated and self-conscious!

Ah. Perhaps I should just get over it and milk it for what it’s worth.


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


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Don’t Play With Your Food!

16 January 2009

The other day, I served up two plates of spaghetti bolognaise for my two sons.

My 3.5yo hungrily plunged his fork into the spaghetti sauce and held the huge glob of it over his head.

He loves to dangle the pasta noodles in the air, catch the ends with his mouth and slurp them up. But unfortunately the whole lot slid off his fork and onto his face.

I didn’t actually think the pasta was THAT hot. I was just going to laugh it off.

But my son screamed in pain. It was the kind of scream that made your spine tingle and believe that there was toxic acid burning the flesh off your child.

Without thinking, I leapt up, grabbed him around the belly, raced to the kitchen, and held his face under the running tap.

I threw open the freezer, snatched up a bag of frozen peas, pressed it onto his face, until he cried from behind a layer of ice.

A good time later, we inspected the damage. He had a small blister on the side of his face. In fact, from far, you couldn’t even see the blister.

Phew it looked fine. My beautiful baby wasn’t scarred for life.

Like I said, the pasta wasn’t very hot at all.

BUT.

By the morning, in his sleep, he had itched, peeled and scratched the blisters, skin and more, off his face! Argh. It all scabbed up in a gross bubbly and grated kind of way. It looked absolutely awful!!

He seriously looked like he had a fight with a wild animal!! Or like he was dragged across a road by his face.

Gah. Everywhere we went, I had to explain to EVERY SINGLE person, how I had been such a negligent mother. How I served acid hot pasta to my child. And how I threw it in his face.

And you should see the doubt flick across everyone’s face when I tried to say, “Really! It wasn’t that hot…”

Gotta love being a parent.


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My Organic Garden – Chilli, Zucchini, Cucumbers

15 January 2009

My Organic Garden - Chilli

My Organic Garden - Zucchini

My Organic Garden - Cucumber


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Nuffnang Bloggers Meetup – Perth

14 January 2009

For those of you who are bloggers in Perth…

On Wednesday night, 21 January 2009, NuffNang Australia are putting on drinks and nibbles at The Brass Monkey Wine Bar.

Nuffnang is Asia Pacific’s first (and possibly largest) blog advertising network and community. They have 80,000 bloggers under their wing from Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines – they have recently launched here in Australia. Nuffnang Australia are keen to let Aussie bloggers know about them and spread the word.

Me, Davienne and Ming (from Nuffnang)

Nuffnang also prides itself for nurturing a strong, local blogging community – spoiling their members with competitions, prizes, giveaways, movie tickets, and seasonal events. I especially like that they are charity minded too – donating advertising space to charities for free.

During my trip to Singapore in July, I met two of the Nuffnang crew, Ming (pictured right), co-founder of Nuffnang, and the lovely Davienne (pictured middle). Ming is coming to Perth just to attend this meetup, as is David, the Sydney based Nuffnang Australia Manager.

The agenda for the meetup is just a quick welcome and introduction by Nuffnang, and then everyone can indulge in some free drinks, food and friendly chat.

So if you’ve never been to a bloggers meetup, or have always thought about attending one… you should definitely not miss this one! Please pass the word around the blogging community.

I hope to see some of you there!

Event: Perth Bloggers Meetup sponsored by Nuffnang

Date: Wednesday, 21st January 2009

Time: 6pm

Venue: The Wine Room (The Brass Monkey) at the rear of the Grapeskin Wine Bar, Corner of James and William Street Northbridge.

Theme: Nuffnang New Years Welcome

Food platters and a drinks tab provided.

No RSVP necessary.


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Bump, Baby and Beyond – Online Maternity Fashion

13 January 2009

Outfit by Bump, Baby and BeyondDuring my search for great online maternity boutiques, I came across Bump, Baby and Beyond – an online store for maternity wear, nursing wear, baby and kid’s clothes.

It immediately caught my eye, because of it’s impressive range of maternity clothes at surprisingly reasonable prices. There were branded maternity jeans selling for $30! Nice tops for $25! Cute skirts for $20!

I had a chat to Cath Freemantle, owner of Bump, Baby and Beyond, and she told me that her idea was to create an online “factory outlet shopping experience”.

She hunts around for end-of-season and clearance stock, haggles a considerable discount off the original wholesale price, and then passes the discount onto her customers.

Her secret is that she’s not greedy, and her customers love her because they get fabulous products at fantastic prices. She also doesn’t take samples or seconds, and try to avoid styles that will date too quickly.

Outfit by Bump, Baby and Beyond

The result is an online collection of really nice stuff. She gave me the opportunity to pick out a few outfits to feature – in fact, she sent me a whole BOX of stuff for me to chose from! It was so much fun, but I had to return most of it!

Left: I’m wearing a RIPE Sleeveless Beanstalk Top ($33.95) – Fun, sexy, casual. I love it with jeans (or 3/4 pants).

Right: I’m wearing a RIPE Lakota Maternity Top ($26.95) which is smart and casual, goes great with skirt or jeans. Very pretty wrap skirt, which has been sold out since taking the picture.

Outfit by Bump, Baby and Beyond

I was desperately looking for some nice maternity jeans that fit my petite frame and didn’t cost the earth.

There are basically two styles when it comes to maternity jeans – the “over-the-tummy waisted design” and the “elastic band and button” which you can loosen or tighten to fit your tummy.

Above: I’m wearing Ninth Moon Over Tummy Waisted Stretch Jeans ($55.95) – which fit SO well and were very comfortable.

The white cotton top was a RIPE Adore Maternity Tank for $26.95.

Outfit by Bump, Baby and Beyond

In both these pics I’m wearing the same pair of jeans as I previously mentioned above.

Left: I really liked this satin grey top. Very elegant and goes well dressed up (with a black pencil skirt) or dressed down (with jeans or black capris). RIPE Pleated Satin Top ($44.95).

Right: And again I’m wearing the RIPE Lakota Maternity Top ($26.95, this time with jeans.

Bump, Baby and Beyond carry maternity evening wear, corporate wear, active wear, sleepwear, swimwear, breastfeeding tops, underwear and accessories – with great brands such as Ripe, Pea In A Pod, Soon Melbourne, EGG, Frou Frou, Mango Jam, Ninth Moon, Maternity Plus, and Mother Baby Child.

They also have children’s clothing, baby clothes and gift vouchers. And great rates for shipping internationally!


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Love and Marriage

12 January 2009

These last few days, I’ve been thinking about my marriage.

Yes, we’ve gone through some trying times. Cancer. Infertility. Children. Single income.

But despite all that, my husband and I, our marriage, it’s pretty damn amazing.

Strong. Loving. Full of happiness. Full of foot massages. Little projects around our home. Big adventures in new places. Meaningful conversations about things that matter. Daily giggles about random silliness. Delicious food and healthy living. Long hugs. Quiet moments. Lots of laughter. Mutual adoration, honesty and support. The highest regard for each other. And a passion for living.

Everyday he makes me want to be a better person.

I’m crazy in love.

In terms of our temperaments and personalities, I believe we’re very different.

But we share the same values, feelings and goals towards things like family, friends, health, work, money, stress, holidays, how we spend out time, our future plans.

We hardly have any disagreements. We just seem to align so perfectly with each other in all aspects – that love, marriage, the relationship, the companionship, the everything… well, it’s just so easy.

Everyday he tells me how much he loves me, why he loves me, why he loves his life with me. Sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s random, and sometimes it brings a tear to my eye.

It’s been 6 years, and I’m one lucky woman.


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Making Baby 3, Pregnancy Week 15 – The Hormone Roller Coaster

10 January 2009

This pregnancy has been so different from my first two.

Especially when it comes to the effects of my body’s changing hormones.

One day I will be happy. DELIRIOUSLY happy. I will wake up in the morning and I will be literally singing with glee and gladness from my ear lobes to my toes. Everything is wonderful and nothing can go wrong.

I will cook up a storm. I will clean the house from top to bottom. I will take my children to brand new places for brand new adventures. I have all the energy and optimism in the world to face anything!!

Next day I will be anxious. I’m tense. I’m stressed. I worry and I bite my nails. I fret, agonise and lose sleep over the smallest, tiniest details.

What if this happens? What if THAT happens? I better do this, this and this so nothing will go wrong. But what if something ELSE happens? I can’t control anything! What’s wrong with me??

Next day I will be angry. I am frustrated, irritable, easily annoyed, and very short-tempered. I will shout at the children. Snap at my husband. Growl at random people I meet during the day.

My children are doing everything wrong! Why does the toilet have to block up TODAY of all days?? Nothing is going the way I planned!! My blood will boil until I am paralysed by my own rage.

Next day I will be sad. Really, really sad. I am miserable and depressed. Nothing is going right, so I curl up on the couch and cry.

I have no motivation to get up, get dressed, make something to eat, or anything. I have no confidence and not a scrap of self-worth. I just want to lie there and sink into a deep dark hole where no one can find me.

The funny thing is… a big part of my brain knows that these things are NOT NORMAL for me. In my head I KNOW that all this is just the effect of the hormones. Yet there is very little I can do, but manage it all.

My saviors:

My husband. He hugs me and tells me that everything is all right. He doesn’t try to fix things, he just listens to my irrational words and tears, until I talk my way into laughter.

My kids. Even after a long hard day, they cover me and my tummy with hugs and kisses. They know nothing else but to love me because I’m mummy.

My parents. Ready to cook me the most delicious food in the world. Ready to look after the boys and love them and spoil them in a way grandparents can.

My friends. Always there when I need a bit of girly chatter, pampering, long superficial conversations about anything and everything, and loads of female insight.


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


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My 3.5yo Philosopher

9 January 2009

The other day I was walking along with my 3.5 year old son. We were holding hands and chatting about some random thing, when he asked, ever so sweetly,

“Hey mum. When does my real life start?”

“Uh. What do you mean?”

“My REAL LIFE. When does it start?”

I explained that he was going to Kindergarten in a few weeks. Then he’ll grow up a bit, be in Year 1, then Year 2. Soon he’ll be a teenager, then a young adult… and in fact, his REAL LIFE has already started. He’s living it RIGHT NOW!

“No no! I’m talking about the life where I get to make my own rules. THAT’S when real life starts! I want a real life and it’s taking too long…”

The poor kid prattled on and on along some long complicated 3-year-old-philosophical reasoning and I wondered how on earth I was going to get out of this one.


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Fashion Find: The Little Black Dress

8 January 2009

Fashion Find: The Little Black Dress

The other day, I was talking to a friend about silhouettes and fashion, and what clothes best showed off your “silhouette”.

I laughed because my silhouette was slightly distorted, due to being pregnant.

We agreed that the most obvious piece of clothing was the figure hugging, strapless dress. And it set me looking online for some dresses. These are from Bebe.

That evening I was going to a party, and I thought I’d wear my own little black dress – and show off my bump!

Fashion Find: The Little Black Dress

My dress is possibly 10 years old. Spandex and polyester. I think I paid $100 for it at some local boutique, the name of which I have long since forgotten.

Great for layering. Great for dressing up with accessories – hats, feathers, scarves, silk wraps. One of my favourite wardrobe basics!


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Craving: Chinese Food

7 January 2009

Craving: Chinese Food

I went out to dinner with friends the other night.

With all this healthy eating, I was craving Chinese food. ANY CHINESE FOOD!

Give me something exploding with salt, dripping with oil and glistening with sauce. Something sweet with pork. Peppery with crabs. Sour with prawns. Spicy with sliced beef. And of course, white jasmine rice and black tea.

I was a happy girl.


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Hidden Treasures – Designer Fashion Sale for Charity

6 January 2009

Hidden Treasures - Charity Fashion Event

A few weekends ago, I was invited to a designer warehouse sale. Most times I would have ummed and ahhed about whether or not to go. Especially since I was trying to save money.

But I love unique shopping experiences! And this event caught my eye – the proceeds were going to a charity organisation, The Breast Cancer Foundation of WA.

The event was massive! The place was completely packed. There were so many people, and the queues stretched from one end of the hall to the other. The selection of clothes from WA designers were all really, really impressive too. I couldn’t believe how much stuff there was.

The woman behind the event was Alison Cotton. A West Australian fashion designer, creator of the gorgeous fashion label, Joveeba.

On the day of the event, I was quite surprised to discover that the “staff” working in the hall were actually Alison’s friends and family members. They handled hundreds of garments, sorted, tagged, boxed, transported, sorted, hung them all, stood behind the counter, worked the sales floor. It was a huge job. All done by unpaid volunteers.

And she organised it all by herself!

Here was someone who was courageous enough to do something a little different, driven enough to inspire the people around her to contribute to a cause, and motivated enough to do something significant.

I was truly inspired by her.


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My Real Reason for Wanting A New Swimsuit

5 January 2009

The other day I drove the kids to my mother’s place for a swim. Upon arrival, I discovered that I completely forgot to bring the swimming clothes bag that I had packed. Ugh.

Not to worry. I have a bag of spare clothes for the boys that I leave at my parent’s house… so the boys can swim in their t-shirts and underpants.

But what about me? I sheepishly asked my mother if I could borrow her swimsuit.

Now. My swimsuit is a plain, black, two-piece. I admit it is BORING.

But. It is made from industrial strength, chlorine resistant, lined material, with an SPF rating of 50+. It cost me something like $150 and it has lasted 6 years of swimming with children in icky, super-chlorinated, public swimming pools.

It has not faded, stretched, nor is it saggy in the butt! It’s boring, but it’s functional. And it has saved me money, time and effort every summer (that I would have wasted on looking for a new swimsuit).

My mother’s swimsuit turned out to be a blue hibiscus monstrosity. Like a Hawaiian clown threw up on it. Like the manufacturers ran out of swimsuit material, and used some hideous 1960s curtains instead.

I put it on and I instantly felt like a 50 year old woman. (Not to insult my mother, for she is 60 with an excellent figure for her age.)

My sons baulked. It didn’t help that they kept saying, “Hee hee! You don’t look like mummy! You look like grandma!”

But the final stroke was when they said, “You should just stick to your boring black swimsuit mum.”

So after I deliver my third baby. I swear I’m going out to buy a hot-looking, coloured swimsuit, and my sons can eat my shorts.


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Fashion Find: Seafolly Swimsuits

4 January 2009

Seafolly Swimsuits - Summer 2009

It’s funny how you desire things you can’t have RIGHT NOW.

I’m a third of the way through my pregnancy! My belly is growing day by day! And I’m seriously hankering for a new swimsuit!

Here’s me eyeing some super-cute, yummy pieces from Seafolly.


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Making Baby 3, Pregnancy Week 14 – What do the other siblings think?

3 January 2009

Callum Painting - My Family

My 5.5year old son did a painting at school. The teachers framed it up and he gave it to me for Christmas.

My heart stopped when I saw it. It was titled “My Family”. Goodness, it was so cute.

It just glowed with that beautiful innocence and plain acceptance, that can only come from a child’s heart – we’re having a baby, and it’s going to be part of our family.

After a few minutes of gushing, my husband teased him – “Hey Callum, what’s that on the ground? Is that a dog? We don’t have a dog!”

“IT’S THE NEW BABY SILLY!” he retorted.

I asked my son why the new baby was wearing RED.

He told me that RED was a boy or a girl colour. And that he’s happy to change the colour when we find out the baby’s gender.

Sean Painting - Mum and Baby

Things are pretty much the same with my younger 3.5yo son. He drew this picture of me, wearing a spotted dress, with a baby in my tummy.

I asked him what happened to my hair. Apparently I have it tied up in a ponytail, so we can’t see it.

My son will talk excitedly about all the stuff he’s going to teach the new baby. How cool and fun it’ll be. How the two big boys will have to talk in baby language so the baby can understand them.

I love it that my kids are so excited about our new life with a new baby. A party of five. I can’t wait!


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


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Personal Monthly Goals – January 2009

2 January 2009

ME - Jan 2009I don’t think I’m a naturally disciplined and focused person.

I’m more of a “all over the place person”. I have so many interests and passions, that I often find myself losing focus.

I get easily distracted by problems and projects. I get side-tracked by interesting projects that pop up. Or I have little flits of inspiration that take up large amounts of time.

I think if I didn’t practice any self-discipline, I’d find myself 5 years down the track, thinking, “Huh? Where’d my life go? What did I do with my time?”

So I believe in setting personal and life goals.

Throughout 2008, I’ve made it a point to reflect and work on them every month. And I must say, I’ve found it to be very fulfilling and rewarding.

My goals for the new year are [still] very simple.

Take care of myself. Eat well. Live well. Exercise. Have time for myself. Balance my activities. Manage my stress and anxiety.

Take care of my marriage. Love my husband. Make time for him. Talk. Laugh. Be honest. Men need affection, consideration and alone time too.

Take care of my children. Have alone time with each of my kids. Talk to them. Listen to them. Enjoy them. Create happy experiences for them.

Be part of my community. Make time for friends. Give my time to helping others. Organise gatherings.

I do have a few more ambitious goals. But these take second place to the ones mentioned above.

1) Deliver my third baby naturally, and recover a life of normality in a timely manner!

2) Develop and dedicate a bit more time and energy to this blog. Hopefully it will become my part time job soon!

3) Run in a marathon of some sort.

4) Learn how to play the piano.

5) Learn to speak Chinese.


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A Time for Reflection and Hope

1 January 2009

The other evening I happened to watch a 5 minute special news feature – a video compilation of people and events that defined 2008.

There were earth quakes in China. Bombings in India. War in the Middle East. Terror. Floods. Famine. Disease. Financial Crisis.

Then there was the Olympics in Beijing. Reconciliation for Indigenous Australians. Presidential election in America. And so much more.

I must admit, I was moved. By it all. The good and the bad.

I was struck by a phenomenal amount of sadness. Yet I was filled with a deep sense of hope. 2008 has been quite a year for the world. For everyone. For me.

My heart goes out to all my readers. May you find hope and happiness, in this new year.