Coffee Catch Up: July 2019

King Street July 2019

Helloooo there…

1
For those who missed it, I’m now working full-time as a UX Designer for a software company that specialises in developing cloud based apps, data platforms and infrastructure modernisation etc etc.

I’m about 6 weeks in and each day I’m learning new things, using my skills and working with the loveliest + smartest bunch of people.

Each day I leave the office feeling happy, valued, respected… and each day I feel like I’m building skills in so many areas: work / life / career / working in a team / problem solving / creativity / knowledge / personal interest.

I have been absolutely loving it!

2
Most evenings, I can’t switch my brain off. I have zero interest in watching Netflix and relaxing. I desperately want to read technical books, business books, psychology books, philosophy books, management books, fascinating articles, biographies, memoirs, case studies, opinion pieces, and yeah, even more classic literature and history books. I just want to pile on more and more into my head!

Thus I have been feeling a bit guilty. I know I shouldn’t be thinking about work 24/7. But to me, it’s doesn’t really feel like “work” work… It’s like more: personal development, my interests, my hobbies, general skill building, intellectual pursuits… all rolled into one!

So to combat my tendency to burn myself out, I’m trying hard to keep my life really balanced – making sure I spend quality time with my husband and kids,  hang out with my extended family and girlfriends, and make sure I fit in time do other things I love, like running, yoga, cycling, cooking, baking, gardening and being creative with art, fashion and photography.

3
Okay so everyone has been so modern, so polite and so politically correct! No one has asked me “What’s happening with your kids? Who’s going to look after them?”.

I know it’s a bit of a no-no to say that to a woman these days. But honestly, I wouldn’t be offended if someone asked me that. I’ve been stay-at-home and work-from-home for 15 years… so I see it as a very normal, friendly, conversational and quite an obvious question to ask me.

And personally, listening to someone talk about their “life change” is lovely and all, but really, I want to know HOW they manage to get it done and listen to all the real-life struggles and “in the trenches” stories that come with the journey and success.

So what’s happening with my husband and kids?

My answer:

4
Now that I’m working full-time, my husband has left his job of 20 years. I guess you can say we’ve switched roles and he’s having a break from the 9-5 life. He’s working from home, freelancing and contracting. He’s doing the school runs, taking kids to sports games, being the taxi parent, managing the house, doing the house cleaning, cooking, laundry and life admin.

He’s doing a pretty good job. And I think he’s even enjoying it.

5
In fact, my husband has delegated most of the tasks to my sons, who are now 16, 14 and 10. With me at work, my boys have had to step up in a significant way. It has kind of forced them to NOT rely on me so much. It’s been brilliant.

They cook dinner, clean the kitchen, do the laundry, clean the toilets and bathroom… I don’t really know what my husband does all day?! Haha just kidding.

My only complaint, is that my standard of FLOOR CLEANING is not the same as their standard. So most days I just have to look the other way, smile and be happy that I don’t have to do any cleaning!

6
I’m really enjoying the commute to work again. It’s so nice to have some quiet time that separates home from work.

I love the fact that I leave work at 5pm and I don’t need to do anything until 9am the next day! Amazing! No late night deadlines, no extra emails, no invoicing, no following up and chasing people for money, no frantic stress, no constant hustling, and no more going to bed at 1am and feeling like I hardly scratched the surface of my workload!

I know lots of people believe that running a small business and working for yourself is the ultimate career goal. I enjoyed my time in it, but it was time for a change.

7
My kids have been taking the change just fine. If anything, I’m the one who has been emotionally affected by the change. I feel a bit guilty that I don’t spend enough quality time with them. So when I get home, I’m pouncing on them and hassling them: TELL ME EVERYTHING!

But they are usually busy doing their homework or housework, so we do our “real chats” on the weekends and that’s when I hear all their funny stories and thoughtful randomness.

8
I work right in the middle of the city, in the fashionable end of town. I love the coffee, cafes, the bookshops, the Japanese food, the street style, the city scape, having lunch with friends and feeling like I’m in the middle of all the action.

That’s all from me for now!

I’m wearing:
Coat by (unknown Korean brand!)
Green silk top by Witchery
Black jeans by Acne Studios
Silver Boots by Rag and Bone
Bag by Proenza Schouler

A Full Health Check + Blood Test Results

Every year my husband organises to get a full check up and blood test done for himself.

And every year he lovingly pesters me to get mine done too.

(In case you didn’t know, my husband had cancer twice and he had lots of chemotherapy in the past, so he’s quite passionate about managing his health… and making sure his family and friends look after their health too!)

So yep, I get a full health check up every year.

It is mostly just a blood test.

I simply request the test from my doctor. And I am tested for everything from cholesterol, to hormone levels, thyroid, blood count, iron, vitamin levels, electrolytes, liver function, glucose, tumour markers and more.

I believe the tests were all covered under Medicare (that is, free).

There are other specific check ups, like breast and cervical screening tests, eye checks, skin checks and dental care. But I do those on a separate schedule.

My Overall Result:

I have excellent health! Yay!

My cholesterol levels are great – I was a bit nervous about this result, because I eat a lot of meat and corresponding saturated fats. Did you see what I did there? I should have said: because, I eat a lot of FRIED CHICKEN.

My Shortcomings:

I have very low Vitamin D (essential for strong bones) – and I was instructed to take supplements, at a specified dosage.

I have very low Iron – and instructed to take supplements, at a specified dosage. I’m also taking a blood-sugar-regulating supplement, you can check it out at https://observer.com/2021/03/blood-sugar-blaster-reviews-2021-everything-to-know-before-buying/.

Then I’ll have to go get another blood check in 3 months to check my levels.

My Overall Health Plan:

Not much to change.

I don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol. I eat low sugar/low carbs/low processed foods, eat a wide variety of nutritious meals, eat everything in moderation, and eat small portions. And with the rise of online drugstores like this Canadian Pharmacy, it’s easier to get the medicines I need.

In terms of exercise, I should probably do a bit more aerobic and cardio each week.

Good health is so precious and I am so grateful for it.

At the end of last year, I was really sick for a week. I was completely run down for 3-4 weeks after that. It took me so long to get better. I got quite depressed thinking it was the beginning of the end.

It was finally happening! I’M GETTING OLD! My body was giving up on me! It was all down hill from here! I’m turning into a little, frail, old lady! This is how it’s going to be! Nooooo!

Thankfully I got better.

So here I am, bouncing out of bed at 6:30am, looking out the window, saying good morning to the sun and thankful for each brand new day.

Hello to my new look

Wisteria

Well look at that!

After years of procrastination and working at a glacial speed, I’ve finally updated the look of my blog.

My last blog design was made in 2010 – it was a hand-coded, hacked-up version of WordPress, made by me, kind of an ode to my old school blogging days, which I still love in essence.

The biggest differences now:

  • My blog now scales nicely on mobile devices (omg finally)
  • I have lots of NEW CATEGORIES, so my older posts are easier to find
  • The photos are larger
  • You can now leave a comment (way hey!)
  • And boring technical stuff. My posts are in a new database. New WordPress framework. This is a bought theme. I didn’t hack up the php this time (ok only two changes).

Embarrassingly, I’ve been working on this update for 3-4 years.

Why did it take me so long?

I have over 3000 posts on my blog, with my first post starting back in 2003. I’ve edited them all.

It captures 15 years of my life and my family’s life, albeit only an edited portion of my life.

Working on this was like writing a freaking autobiography. The story of my life! It was emotional. Overwhelming. Entertaining. Hilarious. So many great reads. So many funny stories. So many stories I would never share now, but I’m happy I did share them back then… and happy to keep sharing.

I try to stick to my rule of 50% fashion and 50% life stories.

I hope you like it!

If you’d like to browse around, I recommend you find a random date on the right-hand column —>(which I have left there intentionally, because the size of my archives looks ridiculous haha!).

Or take a peek at the menu on the top of the page.

Or check out my About section.

I’ll be making little tweaks here and there over the next few weeks.

Feel free to say hi in the comments!

Coffee Catch Up: September 2018

castorboard

It’s been a few months since I’ve shared various random thoughts in my head. I managed to sit back this weekend, take stock of things and write up what’s been going on around here.

1) Imma just cruising, thanks!

I wish I could share some HUGE, EXCITING NEWS and be all SUPER INSPIRATIONAL — but I got none of that haha!

Life is simple, life is good, life is just cruising along at a good speed.

With all the crazy shit happening in the world right now, I just want to hug my husband and kids and be grateful for stability, good health and a roof over our heads. Super happy about that.

2) Travel plans

After travelling overseas for 4 weeks, the general consensus of our household: No more overseas holidays! We just want to stay home and get shit done!

Having said that, last weekend we travelled out of town and went camping with friends. We spent another  weekend out of town with friends. My husband went on a “Boy’s Trip”. And we have an interstate trip coming up. We are blessed!

2) I’m learning how to skateboard

Three new families have moved into our street and there’s been an explosion of kids outside our house almost every day. It’s been great. I love the sound of kids NOT on their devices!

(Plus there’s a little girl who changes her outfit 3 times a day?! She’s such a cutie.)

I’m teaching some boys across the street how to ride a castor board (pictured above)… and they are teaching me how to skateboard. It’s super fun. But I’m not very good, because I’m too afraid of falling and breaking my teeth.

Once I’ve mastered basic skateboarding, I’d love to try a longboard… and then eventually try surfing :)

2) My body shape is changing!

While it’s easy to think that this is an age thing, I believe other factors might be at play here.

I’m the same weight as I have been for the last 10 years. I eat well. I exercise well. But I’m just not fitting my clothes the same way. I guess it means that I get to buy new clothes, haha!

But seriously, it’s interesting to see how my exercise routine has changed over the years. I used to do more long distance activities: 4 -5 hours of cycling, or 2-3 hours of running once a week.

Now I do more short, sporadic, high-intensity workouts, mixed up with gentle stretching and yoga, more often.

I’d love to get back into long distance running again.

(And it’s much cheaper than gym classes.)

3) Budgeting household spendings

My husband and I sat down one day, we looked at our last 3 credit card statements and put it all into a spreadsheet. It was really interesting to see the distribution of our combined income.

We spend about $350 per week on groceries and household consumables for a family of 5.

I’ve been trying sooo hard to bring that figure down. I’ve been buying in bulk. Buying on sale. Buying cheaper cuts of meat. Buying less processed foods (our weakness is chicken nuggets and frozen pizzas, they are so convenient to bulk up my teenager’s school lunch boxes. Works out much cheaper than them to buy from the canteen). Buying home-brand items. Buying from cheaper places like markets, independent grocers, in-season produce. I bake a lot of treats and desserts (instead of buying). And we don’t eat out very much.

But despite everything, my weekly bill is always about the same.

Nuts are a killer. Almonds are about $20/kg and peacans are $28/kg.

(Good grief! Just listen to me! First world problems here. Haha sorry! We eat a lot of nuts.)

On the other hand, we still manage to put 10% – 15% into savings each month and it’s very satisfying to see our savings creep up and up.

4) Health Insurance

Our other big + regular spend each month – would you believe it – is health insurance!?

We spend $280 per month on health insurance for a family of five.

I have in the past tried to cut it back (delete things off our plan that we don’t use). But after sitting down to crunch the numbers… it turns out that we actually get back ALL that amount from our kid’s dental bills, orthodontic bills, plus my husband has ongoing check ups with medical specialists and optical work.

Sooo it doesn’t “cost” us anything in the end. And if we have an actual emergency, we’re covered, so it’s all good right? I have no idea.

5) Pointless wasting of money

On the topic of money. My kids have been sooooo careless and infuriating.

We have an outside freezer. I freeze all my bulk-bought meats, bread, berries, frozen foods etc. One evening, my son went outside to grab a smoothie bar and didn’t close the freezer properly… so the next morning my freezer was beeping (too softly!) with its door WIDE OPEN. $300 worth of food was soft and mushy! I was so mad!

It took me a lot of slow breathing (and a bit of shouting) to get over it.

Ugh…. at least I cooked up a whole lot of dinners and gave it to some mum friends.

6) Teenage boys and online shopping

Also on the topic of wasting money… (just joking!)

My two older boys, who are 15 and 13year old, prefer online shopping to actual shopping.

This is amazing, because I don’t have to drag them around the shops for hours. They simply browse and buy their own clothes. To me, this is a godsend.

I always remind them to check things like: Well-known online shop? Ships to Australia? Shipping fee? Refund policy? Shop around? Read reviews. Check sizing. Sign up to newsletters to get sale updates and a discount code!

They like to compile a list, email it to me and I will send back some feedback. I’m pretty brutal though. Such as: Don’t you already have 5 plain black t-shirts?? You’re way too short to wear that style. That’ll look pretty bad in real life.

They make the purchase and they sort out the refund or exchange if it doesn’t fit.

They are excellent and very careful shoppers. Not impulsive at all. I’m very proud haha!

(They like to buy from The Iconic, ASOS, Nike AU and Adidas AU).

7) Teenage boys and saving money

The downside of possibly getting my kids hooked on online shopping (let’s face it, this is ALL my fault) is trying to teach my kids about saving money too.

I made them read “The Barefoot Investor” and they thought it was pretty good.

They’ve set up their multiple bank accounts, they’ve committed to saving over 50% of any money they receive, and they are already planning how to be millionaires. Ah to be young!

Anyway, that’s all from me now.

xxx

Coffee Catch Up: May 2018

Lemon Sky

Hi everyone!

Here’s a mysterious photo of my lemon tree, branches bowing from the weight of lemons (which aren’t very good because we don’t water it enough) set against the beautiful, blue Perth sky on an Autumn morning. The image makes me beam with delight!

Anyway, I’ve been jotting down lots of little stories for my “Catch up with me over coffee” blog post… so here goes!

1) New Ambassador Based Projects

My latest projects for Kailis Jewellery, Breast Cancer Care WA and HBF Run for a Reason (and a few more) are in full swing. Keep an eye out on my Instagram (@karenlycheng) and I’ll be posting about them on my blog next week too.

2) Reducing Freelance Hours

Recently I’ve been cutting back on the amount of work I take on, because I have a lot of LIFE STUFF happening.

I’m planning and organising our upcoming 4 week family holiday. I know this is such a first world problem, but it’s such a headache to research, look for the best deals, gather contacts and information, compile an itinerary, send emails, book tickets. It’s taken me weeks!

I think for once I’d like to go on a holiday where everything is organised perfectly for me. That’ll be a real holiday for me!

I also had a few things to organise… stuff for my father in law, stuff for the kids, and medical/dental stuff too… which brings me to my next point.

3) My 9 year old had dental surgery recently – eekk!

He and my husband woke up at 6am one morning to head to the hospital. Then he had a general anaesthetic to extract a few “extra teeth including wisdom teeth Boise” that were pushing against his regular teeth. According to the experts, the extra teeth needed to come out now (one was growing in his palate?!) or they would cause problems in the future.

I was pacing up and down my house, my stomach all in knots and my heart fluttering from all the nervousness. I’m glad my husband went and not me.

Hours later, he was a bit sore, tired and grumpy about the numbness, but he was absolutely fine.

He even snuck outside to ride his bike on the street with the neighbours in the late afternoon! Ugh!
4) And speaking of neighbours, a new family moved into the house across the road.

They also have two boys aged 10 and 8, so they are very similar ages to Liam, my 9 year old.

They have been a breath of fresh air for our family dynamics! Liam plays with them every afternoon, for hours and hours and he is so happy! It has been wonderful to see him play with kids his own age. Sure he has heaps of friends at school. But this kind of play is a kind of long-form play brought about by boredom, hanging around and thinking up of crazy boy ideas.

Now Liam has someone to play Beyblades with, talk about Pokemons, play tennis on the street, dig holes in the garden, make books about cats, draw Minecraft pictures, build a cubby house, ride to the park, make lemonade from lemons in the backyard… all the things my older boys used to do when they were younger.

It made me realise that my older two boys (aged 15 and 13) just don’t play in that kiddy way anymore. If they did play tennis on the street with Liam, they would get so frustrated by his lack of skill, or start playing at a lower skill level, but then move to an increasingly higher level, and then eventually Liam would get frustrated. Fights! Tears! Screaming! Every! Single! Day!

So in a way, Liam has missed out on a lot of brotherly “long-form play” over the years. I’m so happy he has some new buddies his age to spend time with.

5) As for my older boys…

I’ve been slowly teaching my 15 year old some life skills and responsibilities.

Meaning: When life stuff comes up, I make him do it.
He recently bent his debit card and it stopped working. He couldn’t use it for paypass, but he could still buy stuff online. Every time he complained about it, I politely reminded him that all HE had to do was call up the bank to get a replacement. So easy!

After 6 weeks of procrastination (ugh, teenagers!) he finally looked it up online and discovered that he didn’t have to call and talk to a human, he just had to log into his account and apply for a new one online. But he now has to wait 7 more days for it to arrive in the mail haha.

Lesson: Sometimes things are not as hard as you imagine they’ll be.

He also recently broke the gears on my bike (my derailleur!) and I made him walk it to the bike shop (only 1.5km away), explain to the bike guy what happened, arrange contact details, payment, pick up details and walk back home. He was not happy, but he did it anyway. Only cost him $70 in the end.

Lesson: If you borrow something and break it, it’s your responsibility to pay for it and fix it.

Omg every day something new happens and there are new lessons to be taught. It’s been slow and painful. But he’s doing pretty well and he’s such a great kid.

6) My 13 year old boy got a job too.

I think it’s such a great/important/crucial way for teenagers to grow up, learn skills, interact with other adults and start being independent.

He has been helping my brother-in-law with house renovations, in particular, moving and cleaning bricks – hundreds of them! It’s good hard work and he gets paid by the hour.

Apparently he’s a “good worker” with a “good attitude”… which is exactly what I want to hear, yay!!

7) Thinking about universities

I know right?! What the heck?!

With lots of encouragement from his high school, my 15 year old has started to thinking about what he wants to do after high school, which university he wants to go to, what course he wants to take etc etc.

My mind is blown. I can’t deal with it.

8) Randomly, I’ve been invited to be on an Australian Reality TV Show

I received an email asking if I’d like to be a contestant on an Australian version of the Chinese mega-show “If You Are The One”!

Haha! Um, no thanks!

Firstly… 1) I’m already married… 2) I’m not exactly a fun-loving 22 year old!?! 3) I’m old, boring, I like gardening and reading, I’m cynical and sarcastic of all things media and TV reality show related and… 3) I’m ethnically Chinese, so the TV producers are probably going to portray me as an “exotic”, “piano/violin playing”, “straight A student”, “quite-spoken prude”, or “dragon cougar lady”. Haha omg no thanks!

OK that’s all from me!

Have a fantastic week!

xxx