Archive for April 2009

 

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Colour for the Unseen

30 April 2009

Brown Frog

The other day we were digging in our garden, preparing the ground for a new vegetable patch. My 4 year old son spotted a frog – which he first thought was a chameleon, because it was so much like the sandy soil around it.  He only noticed it because it moved as it fell out of the shovel full of soil. There were squeals of delight from my boys, as it jumped and croaked.

My first reaction was, UGH! MORE ICKY CREATURES.

But on closer inspection, I must admit, I found its colour and skin pattern to be quite amazing. Lovely earthy brown patches with soft leathery bumps.

I felt the beginings of design inspiration from this otherwise ugly creature. At the very least, it is beautiful because of the way it is so perfectly adapted to its surroundings. And I almost admitted that it was cute… until the boys wanted to pick it up.


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An Autumn Favourite

29 April 2009

Witchery - Loose Fitting Tops

I’ve become a huge fan of the Loose Fitting Top. They’re casual and relaxed, but still look stylish. Slap on a pair of skinny jeans, boots and maybe a cool belt, and you’re good to go.

These are from Witchery.

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Anzac Day 2009

28 April 2009

ANZAC Day Medals

This past weekend, it was Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand.

For those of you who are not from either of these countries, it is the day we remember all the men and women who have given service in the armed forces – from way back, right up to now.

The day usually starts with a dawn service in every tiny town, suburb and city all over the country. There are also services all over the world wherever there are Australians in any number. And there are huge dawn services held on major battlefields of the First World War in Turkey and France.

At mid-morning, there is a very slow, quiet march of current service men and women, and then of all the veterans who are still alive. Often the children or grandchildren of old soldiers who have passed away march in their place, wearing their medals, and carrying a picture of them.

There are no big parades of weapons, or talk about victories, or anything grand. It is all very subdued. After that, people usually spend time with families or friends.

The whole day is extremely important to the Australian identity, I guess because Australia is only about as old as the First World War. Not to mention that Australia and New Zealand lost so many people in the wars.

I have to confess, although I am respectful of Anzac Day and think it is such a beautiful thing, I personally am not impacted as significantly and deeply as my fellow Australians. Perhaps this is also true for the wider Asian-Australian community, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s because we are mostly more recent immigrants to this country, and don’t have the same personal family connections to the wars.

Anyhow, my husband had made the boys watch the march on TV. We tried to explain who all the marching men and women were, who the very old men were, and why everyone was wearing special uniforms. But the boys didn’t really get it. They came away thinking that every “old fashion soldier” was called an Anzac.

Later in the day, I took the boys to visit my parents. It turned out that a friend of my father had spent years in the Air Force, and served overseas in peacekeeping missions! He had just been marching, and spending time with other veterans.

He was dressed up in a nice suit, and had all his service medals pinned on his jacket. The boys were so impressed with the medals (Sean thought they were money at first).

In the car on the way home, the boys asked lots of questions. Why is there war? What is it for? Which side is God in the war? Why do they use guns? Why do countries fight? Why did good people want to fight in the war?

It was pretty difficult trying to answer their questions and explain everything, and also why it is so important to remember those who fought in the wars.

My heart was in my throat, and for me, the wars suddenly became more real. What would it be like to be a mother, watching her sons go off to war, as so many did. And I prayed that my sons would never have to experience the tragedies of war.


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No Point Crying Over…

27 April 2009

Spilt Milk

Just another day for a breastfeeding mum and a baby with reflux…


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What Else Are The School Holidays For?

23 April 2009

Callum and his new friend

I usually force myself to be very relaxed when it comes to my boys and the creepy crawlies they find.

If they find a spider, or a slug, or a grasshopper, most likely, they will catch it with their bare hands, run over to me and gleefully show me how it can walk up their arms.

I will say through clenched teeth, “That’s nice dear. Now go set it free or something.”

Well, the other day we were at the river, playing with some other kids.

One boy taught Callum a new trick! The brown spotty jellyfish in the river don’t sting!

(We’ve always taught them to NEVER TOUCH THE JELLYFISH, because they might get stung.)

So guess what, they spent the next 2 hours wading in the river collecting and playing with their new pets.

You should have seen me scream inside. Aieeeeeeeeeeee.


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Paris Fall 2009 Ready to Wear

22 April 2009

Some garments from the Paris Fall 2009 Ready To Wear Show that made me chuckle with delight.

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac Fall 09 RTW

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac incorporates a hint of Muppets into his designs.

Balenciaga Fall 09 RTW

And Balenciaga made me marvel at just how brilliantly fashion can capture a moment in time.

Photos from NYMag.

Check out my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Making Baby 3 – The Middle of the Night

21 April 2009

It’s 4am. I’m sitting in the nursery, rocking back and forth in my rocking chair. Every molecule in my body is glowing with happiness.

Liam is asleep on my chest, purring like a happy kitten after a good feed. I’m gently patting his back hoping he’ll burp out any air he might have swallowed during the feed.

Burping is important – I’ve learnt over the years. Burping can’t be rushed. If I put the baby down too early, he’ll grizzle and grumble, and will probably throw up his entire feed. There will be curdled milk all over the blankets, carpets, floor, chair, and of course me. Not something I want at 4am in the morning.

So I rock back and forth, and pat. The top of his head is nuzzled into my neck. I can feel his velvety, fuzzy hair tickle my chin. His skin is soft and squishy.

And, ah yes, then there’s that newborn smell. The smell of milky, clean skin and warm fresh cotton.

And newborn noises. Little, squeaky breathing. Tiny, bubbly gurgles. And the cutest little sighs you’ve ever heard.

The weight and warmth of his body, pressed against my chest is unlike anything I can describe.

I am a mother and I am totally in love.

Liam at 3 weeks
Liam at 3 weeks, looking like a stately old man in deep thought.


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


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Reality Bites the Birthday Cake

20 April 2009

So, with baby number three here, my time is divided so many ways. All is well with baby Liam, but I am feeling, to be a honest, not quite as energetic as I had expected almost three weeks after he arrived.

Yesterday was Callum’s 6th birthday party! We have been planning his party for weeks. Since he is currently Star Wars obsessed, of course he wanted a Star Wars cake. He was imagining that it was going to be either a realistic 3D sculpture of Yoda, or a light sabre that had flashing lights.

callumbirthdaycake

But with a new baby, Easter and everything… we got to the evening before Callum’s party, and I still hadn’t even started his cake!

I asked my husband to bake the cake – just an ordinary packet buttercake, but we didn’t even have any eggs! So I sent Callum next door to beg for some from the neighbours.

By the time the cake was baked, the boys were in bed. But Liam was up again, and needing a lot of attention.

I reluctantly accepted that Callum’s 6th birthday cake was not going to be my finest ever work. My husband made up the packet icing, and my contribution was that I smeared the icing on the cake one handed while I was feeding Liam in front of the TV. We didn’t even have time to make some coloured icing to write Callum’s name.

I stole some of his Lego Star Wars characters from the toy box, stuck them on top of the cake, and made up the number six from some other Lego.

How poor is that!

Callum seemed untroubled, and had lots of fun playing host at his party, but I still felt guilty.


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The Orange Moon Rises

16 April 2009

Out and about early one evening with my husband, we happened to park the car at exactly the right moment to see a huge, orange THING appear on the horizon. I was pretty shocked, but then realised it was the moon, and that its colour was due to the very strange cloud cover, and the angle of the sun.

orange_moon01

We watched it rise, and of course I couldn’t help but start snapping pics. I am always amazed by how fast the moon and sun rise and set when you really watch them – and their strange colours make the whole experience even more exciting. But then something else happened. The moon started to disappear again.

orange_moon02

It was rising behind some clouds, but as the sun had just set, the clouds and the sky were all one blue-grey colour, so the clouds were invisible.

I was just so delighted by the accidental beauty of the movement of the heavens and the atmosphere.

orange_moon03

And later on, after it was completely dark, the moon re-appeared much higher up in the sky, bursting through a break in the clouds, and created a completely different visual effect.

I love seeing new things for the first time! I’m so glad I didn’t stay in and watch TV.


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Redback Spider

15 April 2009

redback_hats

Look what we found dangling above where we keep our hats!

This is the most famous spider in Western Australia. It’s called a Redback, for obvious reasons. It is absolutely tiny, and its speciality is hiding in the dark nooks and crannies that are in bikes, shoes, shoe laces, hats, under tables and chairs, and the holes in things where you put your fingers in to grab hold and lift.

And so, every parent is terrified of them, because they hide in the places kids play, and because they are venomous. I was recently told that they are not nearly as dangerous as their reputation…but they just looks so evil! All black, except for that red blaze on the back. UGH!


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Making Baby 3 – The Hospital Stay

14 April 2009

I have been very, very lucky with my third pregnancy. The labour was pretty much text book, and there were no complications on my part. Just two small stitches, for those of you who know what that’s about.

When the doctor put Liam in my arms, I was overcome with the joy of meeting my little boy!

But the doctor, who sees babies being born four or five times a week, was carefully watching Liam’s breathing. After about two minutes, he decided that Liam was not breathing quite right, so he took him away from me and connected a blood oxygen monitor to Liam’s tiny foot.

His oxygen levels were a little low, but improved when pure oxygen gas was blown on his face for him to breathe.

They doctor asked me if it was okay with me to put Liam in a plastic box called an infant incubator, where he could be kept warm, and breathe added oxygen, and be monitored by a special nurse. Of course, I wanted to make sure he was getting off to a good start, so I said yes.

Liam in the Infant Incubator
Liam in the incubator. Here, he is about an hour old.

After I had a shower and cleaned up, I went to visit Liam. And about an hour after he was born, he had his first feed. This was another hurdle that can come up for a newborn, that is, if they don’t quite “get” how to attach to the breast for feeding. But I am glad to say that Liam was a natural.

By the next morning, it was quite clear that Liam was just fine, and didn’t need to be in the incubator any more. So we shared a little room all to ourselves. He did just what a perfect baby was supposed to do at this stage – eat and sleep. As a result, I could also pretty much just eat and sleep.

At the end of the first full day, my husband brought Callum and Sean to visit, and they were so excited… for five minutes. After waiting 9 months, they were expecting to meet a super hero, but what they found was a little red lump who didn’t do very much.

Karen, Callum, Sean and Liam
Me, Callum and Sean looking into crib. The boys are underwhelmed.

The novelty of having a new brother wore off very quickly, and then they were more interested in playing with the remote control on the hospital bed: Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Half way up. Half way down. Back up a little bit. Back down a lot. Argh it drove me crazy!

By the end of the second day, things were so well that I was bored. Nothing was wrong, and I didn’t need any help.

However the last time I had a baby, I developed mastitis (infection in my milk ducts), so I thought it best to stay in hospital till after “my milk came in”.

When you have a baby, your breasts don’t produce milk immediately and instead baby drinks a substance produced by your breasts, called colostrum. It’s kind of like a training course for the baby’s digestive system, with a built in immune system upgrade. Babies are actually getting their calories from their own fat supply, and their weight goes down immediately after birth, not up. It takes 3-4 days for the “milk to come in”.

This is a polite medical way of saying that you wake up one morning, and suddenly, your breasts are doubled in size and have become extremely firm – like melons. This may sound like a miracle, but actually, it can be very, very, VERY painful. The suddenness of this volume of milk can cause problems, and so I had to be hooked up to a milking machine, just like a cow. This provides such a relief from the pain that I don’t mind the humiliation!

The Milking Machine
My milking machine. My good friend.

But, by the fourth morning, my doctor came by and said that I should just go home. Everything was just going so well. So I picked up my new baby, and took him home to start his life with our family.

I am so grateful for such an easy start.

Liam 2 Days Old
Liam looking cute, two days old.

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


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Daily Outfit – 3 weeks Post Pregnant

13 April 2009

Daily Outfit - 3 Weeks Post Pregnant

So I am about 3 weeks post-pregnant, and I am very relieved to be small again – I can walk! I can jump! I can bend over to pick something up!

And most importantly… I can fit into my skinny jeans!! (They’ve got a bit of stretch to them.)

Today is Easter Monday. It’s a public holiday here in Australia and we’re off to an afternoon lunch with family.

I’m wearing a One Teaspoon t-shirt I bought in a shop along Bondi Beach, Sydney. An old pair of jeans that I recycled and turned into skinny jeans. Red faux snakeskin flats I bought at some markets in Melbourne.

Liam wears a yummy cotton romper from Baby’s Got Style.


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Inspecting the Ceiling

9 April 2009

Inspecting the Ceiling

My husband has been doing lots of “odd jobs” with the boys lately. Fixing this, building that.

I love the way my husband has no fear or misgivings about allowing the boys to explore dangerous things.

I love the way he takes them away and says, “Today we’re going to cut down a tree branch with a CHAINSAW!”

Or “Today we’re going to CLIMB ON THE ROOF to check the air conditioning unit!”

For me, I don’t think I could sustain the calm state of mind needed to deal with two boys and a step ladder!

If you look carefully, you might notice that he even made sure the boys wore their bike helmets and boots, so they feel like they are real workmen.

Ah, bless him.


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Addicted To: Body Butters

8 April 2009

Body Butters from The Body Shop

There’s something very special about rubbing nutty butter all over your body on a warm, balmy evening. My personal favourites are the Shea, Cocoa, and Coconut range from The Body Shop.

My children keep asking, can we put it on our toast?


Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Making Baby 3 – The Birth Story

7 April 2009

It is Saturday morning. My two boys wake up early and play happily in their room, while my husband and I sleep in.

It is a nice slow start to an easy morning. We all have eggs and toast for breakfast, then I sit in the garden, sip a cup of tea and read a book.

I have a phone conversation with an aunt – no, no signs of labour yet. After 40 weeks of waiting, I have given up expecting signs.

11:45am – I suddenly feel a little twinge in my abdomen. It is unlike any other twinge I have felt in the past weeks. It is like a light squeezing in my stomach. It goes away, then it comes back again a few minutes later.

12:00pm – I start to track the twinges. They come every 5 minutes, so I casually mention this to my husband. He starts to pack the car and get the boys ready to go. We make a few phone calls to my mother and the hospital. I move around and gather all my things and re-pack my bag. The twinges don’t hurt at all.

1:00pm – We drive to the hospital. My husband drops me off, then drives to my mother’s house to drop the boys off. I chat happily to the receptionist, and I get the impression that she doesn’t believe I am in labour. To be honest, it doesn’t really feel like I am.

1:30pm – I am taken to a birthing suite, and introduced to a midwife. She spends a considerable amount of time fussing around with her preparations – shuffling paperwork, laying out implements, making sure various machines work, opening packets of this and that. I sit on a chair and watch her.

My contractions are so mild that once again, I’m happily chatting away about the cute little garden courtyard outside the birthing suite.

The midwife hands me a few bits of paper for me to look at. They turn out to be the hospital food menus! She wants me to choose what I’m going to be eating for the next few days!  There is no sense of urgency.

Making Baby 3, The Birth Story
Shall I choose the vegetable lasagna or the… oh wait I’m having a contraction… or the assorted sandwiches?

2:00pm – The midwife does an internal examination, to see how far my cervix has opened up (dilated) . She is pretty surprised – it is already 7cm! Since we only need to have 10 centimeters to get baby out, this is pretty advanced.

The midwife now believes that I am very close to having a baby! She calls the doctor, who says he is coming right in. Suddenly, things are happening. I really AM having a baby!

2:15pm – The midwife wants to establish a baseline for my contractions and baby’s heart rate, while things are “quiet during the labour”. She straps a little metal disc to my belly and shows me how the monitor works. My contractions are still really mild. I’m absolutely fascinated by the machine, and spend ages watching the graph rise and fall with each contraction.

My husband arrives and makes a joke about hoping to have missed the baby arriving. With nothing to do, he looks at the food menu. We both think it’s hilarious that I’m HAVING A BABY and the hospital staff want me to decide on what food I want to eat. It doesn’t seem real.

2:30pm –The doctor arrives. He is wearing sandals, board shorts and a very loud floral print shirt. But hey, this is Australia, and it is the weekend after all. He says I don’t look like I am having a baby, and we banter about how convenient it is to have a baby on a Saturday afternoon (as opposed to a midweek 4am delivery). I don’t make any jokes about his shirt.

3:00pm – They take me off the monitor, and I pace up and down the birth suite to try and get things going. I occasionally sit on a large rubber ball thing to relieve the weight on my legs and back.

Making Baby 3, The Birth Story
Pfffft, third time around is too easy! Let’s have a fourth!

My contractions still feel like a mild period pain. The doctor asks whether I want to have my “waters broken” – referring to the membrane that holds the fluids and baby within the cervix. This will quickly progress the labour. I say YES! The doctor uses a special little tool to break my waters.

3:30pm – About half an hour after having my waters broken, the contractions are finally starting to hurt. They feel like very strong abdominal cramps now, lasting a minute. I focus on steady and deep breathing through each contraction, which help me significantly.

4.00pm – My cervix is almost fully dilated to 10cm. Each contraction is becoming stronger and stronger, so that I can’t talk. Each contraction is pushing my baby’s head down into my cervix.

4.20pm – The contractions are now so strong that I can’t stand up. I crawl onto the bed, and trying sitting and lying in different positions.

I suddenly feel the urge to push. The doctor checks me, I’m fully dilated.

And just like in the movies, everyone in the room seems to shout out “PUSH!”

I push as hard as I can, and it feels like I am trying to do a VERY large poo.

Each contraction is excruciatingly painful. And pushing is extremely hard work. No wonder they call it LABOUR.

Because I wasn’t completely exhausted by the early part of labour, I am extremely alert and aware of everything that is happening.

The doctor and midwife are with me all the way, encouraging me, and reassuring me that I’m doing a great job and that my baby is okay.

In a room full of experts, my husband has nothing to do, and just watches. At one moment during a push, I catch sight of his face, and it is like he is watching a horror movie. I try to imagine what he is seeing! An entire human being squeezed out of another human being’s bottom!

The pain is so bad that I am screaming out.

4.41pm – I summon one more agonizing push – I feel like I am going to tear myself into two – and the baby’s head pops out. But I can’t sustain the push and his shoulders get stuck.

A few minutes later, I push baby out into the safe hands of the doctor. Within seconds, the doctor puts my baby into my arms.

As I see Liam’s face for the first time, I am overwhelmed, and I cry from joy and exhaustion. It is already worth it, a million times over.

Liam snuffles and grunts, and takes his first breath. Six billion people on the planet have been born like this, but it still seems like magic to me.

Making Baby 3, The Birth Story
My beautiful little boy.


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


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Look What The Kids Dragged In

6 April 2009

Dragonfly

The other day, my son walked into the house, gingerly holding something in his hands. It was a dead dragonfly. I was absolutely thrilled because it was just so beautiful.

I realised that this was a rare moment for us to see, up close, the colours and textures of such an amazing little creature. I ran to get my camera, set it to “macro”, and snapped away.

But as I looked through the lens, I saw that some plates on its tail were moving, ever-so gently and slowly. I was stunned. My goodness, it was still alive – just.

Its life was fading away second by second, and I felt guilty to be taking advantage of it in such a vulnerable moment.

But I was captivated by the colours and shapes and structures in the wings, and how they reminded me of the finest of lace, the curve of aircraft wings, and of spider webs.

There were tiny, tiny teeth along the edges of the wings, and strange blue dots, and some incredibly thin, glass like material between the strands of the webs in the wings.

Dragonfly

I was completely in awe at the sheer beauty of creation. Of life. Of death.


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My Organic Garden – Broccoli, Mint and Frangipani

2 April 2009

My Organic Garden - Broccoli

My Organic Garden - Mint

My Organic Garden - Frangipani


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Kookai – Autumn 2009

1 April 2009

Kookai - Autumn 2009

After being pregnant and unable to buy any new clothes for NINE MONTHS … I have been dying to do some shopping! So much so, I can’t work out where to shop and what to buy first… I’m almost jittery with excitement. Ok a bit sad, I know.

Kookai’s latest Autumn collection caught my eye, and thought it might be a nice place to start. I like.


Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.




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