October 2010

Road smarts? Uh-uh.

Dropping Angus off at daycare today has brought back all my insecurities about my driving and parking skills – or lack of, as is the case for me. If there is such a thing as road smarts (as opposed to street smarts), then I can confidently say that I have none. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Comprendo?

Maybe I’m over-reacting. Maybe it was no big deal.

But I did somehow manage to forget I was taking Angus to daycare. Which meant we ended up at the local community centre instead. Angus was clearly privy to my mistake as well because I heard a very distinct “Ah haaaa!!!” from the back seat. I could only be thankful that he was two and probably wouldn’t retain much memory of his mother’s failings.

When we finally arrived at daycare, there were heaps of parking spots available. For some reason, I ended up pulling into the one spot that had a pillar on the right blocking the back door. Which meant I couldn’t get Angus out. Which kind of defeated the purpose of going to daycare.

So then I spent about five minutes trying to re-manoeuvre the car into the spot on the left. Five long minutes as another family that had pulled into the carpark looked on with increasing impatience. Or at least that’s what I surmised from the look the mum gave me when she stepped out of their car.

It was only afterwards, having dropped Angus off upstairs, that I realised what I had done: I had parked in a disabled spot. And not just in any disabled spot. It was the only disabled spot in the whole carpark. I can only imagine what that woman was really thinking about me.

So, you guys, what’s your verdict? Am I over-reacting? Or do you agree that I’m still as bad as when I first started to drive)? Be honest now peeps – no need to hold back. This is the internet after all.

This one is from the archives. I wrote it back in 2003, and I feel all warm and fuzzy every time I read it:

Given my fear that my parents would hit the roof upon discovering that I was going out with a non-Asian, their reaction came as no less than a big surprise. A very pleasant surprise, but nonetheless a big surprise.

I came home last Tuesday night after seeing a movie with Rick to be confronted with the age-old question by my mum in the bathroom: “So who did you watch the movie with?”

Options that immediately flashed through my mind:

1) A friend?
2) A good friend?
3) A special friend? ?
4) A very….eerrr…special friend?
5) My boyfriend?
6) My boyfriend whom I’ve never told you about?
7) My boyfriend whom I’ve never told you about and who also happens to be caucasian?

Before I could come to any sort of rational decision, I was betrayed by something I had absolutely no control over. My laughter.

That’s right. Instead of telling my mum the ‘solemn news’ in the mature way that I had envisioned, I started giggling like a silly schoolgirl. And of course, once you pop, you can’t stop.

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What I saw

Today was Rick’s day off, and we had hoped to spend the afternoon at the beautiful Balmoral Beach. However, it began raining heavily after the boys woke up from their nap, so instead of heading east, we drove up the F3 freeway to Bobbin Head. Despite the persistent rain, we had a lovely time driving around in the car: Pete munched on a Rusk stick the entire time while Angus was curious about everything that he could see outside his window.

This was what I saw from my window:

1) Gorgeous boats on the marina

Boats on the marina

2) Gorgeous husband running to find the gents

Husband running to the gents

United by stillbirth

As you may or may not have caught on Channel Nine News on the weekend, the Stillbirth Foundation Australia held its 5th Little Feet Lunch at Dockside, Cockle Bay Wharf, on Sunday.

Since Cameron died three years ago, I’d always wanted to go along and this year, I’m proud to say that I finally got my act together and attended this wonderful event with my dear friend Sarah.

The guest speaker this year was the Honourable Kristina Keneally, our NSW Premier, who is now Patron of the Stillbirth Foundation Australia. She spoke about her daughter Caroline, who died 10 years ago without breathing a day on her own. She spoke about how hard it was to get out of bed each morning and the lasting impact that Caroline has had on her life. I deeply appreciated the warmth and honesty with which Kristina spoke. I found her talk inspiring too, and it encouraged me to reflect on how Cameron’s death has not just been an end but also the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I would not be the woman I am today if not for Cameron.

I was excited to hear from Emma McLeod* – founder and director of the Stillbirth Foundation Australia – that the charity was close to raising its first million dollars. This is money that will fund essential research into stillbirth to help ensure that the high stillbirth rate in our country begins to decline. Currently, 1 in 140 babies in Australia are still stillborn.

Another highlight was finally getting to meet my beautiful friend Sally in person – we’d first ‘met’ almost two years ago through Cameron’s blog. Sally is an amazing woman who has written beautifully and eloquently about her precious daughter Hope. I feel very lucky to know her.

I was also very encouraged by all the men who attended the lunch. For some inexplicable reason, I had not expected so many to turn up. But seeing them all has reminded me that stillbirth doesn’t just touch the lives of women. The dads, the grandfathers, the brothers – they, too, are all changed by the death of a baby before birth.

Sarah and I really did have a wonderful afternoon together at the Little Feet Lunch: from the amazing food, to our handshake with the Premier, to bumping into our friendly obstetrician, to our candid chat with the lady on my right who turned out to be Kristina’s security guard.

But the whole time, it was not lost on either of us that we were there because we belonged to a club that no one would ever wish to be a part of. As my friend Sally said on Facebook on the morning of the lunch: “Stillbirth Foundation lunch today. Wish I had no reason to know about this great organisation. But sadly I do and I’m so glad they exist.”

*If you have a free moment, listen to Emma McLeod in her Conversation with Richard Fidler.

I am utterly spent. I feel like I’ve just spent three hours at the gym. Instead, I’ve spent forty-five minutes at Gymbaroo with Pete and I am simply wasted.

They should make it clear on their website that parents are required to be fit. And strong. And fit again.

I will never forget our first lesson three weeks ago. Ten minutes into the baby exercises, our lovely leader Di had instructed us to lift our babies upside down by clasping our hands around their thighs. Naturally, I was the only mum who couldn’t do it. Poor Pete was crying hysterically with his face planted on the gym mat as his chronically unfit mum struggled to get him even one centimetre off the floor. Of course, it didn’t help that Pete is a 11-12 kg nugget baby or that I was laughing hysterically the whole time at my own incompetence.

Strangely enough, we weren’t just hanging them upside down for the fun of it: Apparently, it is good for babies to have lots of upside down time. And to have bare feet. Both help to promote mobile development, balance and co-ordination.

I was at once embarassed, mortified and enlightened when Di told us this. Embarassed because I was the only one (yet again) taking Pete’s pants off there on the mat so that I could in turn take off his Bonds bodysuit in order to achieve ‘bare feet’ status. Mortified because both Pete and Angus were almost never allowed to go bare feet by their Asian mummy. And enlightened because I finally understood why I myself was so uncoordinated: I’d spent my entire life in slippers while my typically Asian childhood had been filled with Kumon exercises and maths timetables instead of hanging upside down off trees, monkey bars and the like.

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Love Me Baby wrap

It’s official: Pete is now too big for his Love Me Baby wrap (hereafter the LMB).

Rick is all sorts of happy about this because he thinks that we’ve been somehow holding Pete back by not letting him roam free around his cot at night (no matter how I try, I just cannot buy into that male kind of logic).

As for me, I am quite sad to say bye bye to the LMB.

It has been such a life saver in terms of doing away with swaddling (it’s seriously ten times faster to put them into the LMB) and not having to worry about the little man squirming his way out of his wrap (only a mini Houdini can get out of this one).

Plus the LMB makes the little ones look so cute, all zipped up like a little (or in Pete’s case – huge) caterpillar.

Like my jeggings, I was very bad when it came to putting the LMBs into the wash – Rick usually had to intervene before the situation got out of hand.

Anyway, to pay tribute to the LMB, here are some photos of Pete in a large sized one.

Honestly, I tried to stretch it as much as I could. But when a rip started appearing, Rick made me face the hard cold facts: it was time to let go and move on.

Goodbye LMB. You will surely be missed.

But I guess I’ll be seeing you again in five months.

A quick Saturday recap:

1) On Saturday, I discovered what a truly impatient mum I am. Rick was out for most of the day, so I had the boys to myself. If my life was a fairytale and I was a fairy-like mum, we would’ve spent the most perfect day together made up of sunshine, milkshakes, cream buns and fairy floss (actually, not sure if I’m thinking of fairytales or my own appetite here) with no tears and lots of laughter. Instead, we had rain, lightning and thunder (thanks to the crazy Sydney weather), and every time the little boy Angus whinged, his wicked mum just lost it. Every single time. Friends – what do I do? I don’t want to be such an impatient mum. I don’t want to be a mum who has a tanty every time her child has a tanty. To all the wiser and more experienced mums out there – please send me some much-needed ‘Dear Pink Ronnie’ advice.

2) Speaking of the crazy hot-one-day-rainstorm-the-next Sydney weather, it reminds me a bit of myself when I’m trying to order food. I can never decide: “Do I get the chicken sandwich? Or the chicken schnitzel? Maybe they do a good burder. Oh wait, maybe the chicken nuggets. Doh, it’s just for the kiddies. Oh wait, I have a kid! But then, what will Angus eat? Okay, maybe I’ll have the sandwich then. Oh but look, they do chicken wings too….” And so, Sydney weather, as Rick would (gently) put it: For the love of poultry, just pick something and stick to it!

3) I was looking at my blog stats and it seems that someone actually Googled ‘Blue tac in the mouth of child’ and ended up on my blog page. So maybe I’m not the only one out there…

4) We did some channel flicking on Saturday night and ended up watching a Hong Kong triad movie on SBS called SPL. Rick was absolutely enthralled. I was not so impressed with all the hard core stabbing and slashing scenes. That’s one thing I noticed about Hong Kong movies as I was growing up: they really like their knives and swords on-screen and they like to do really gruesome stuff (why can’t they take a leaf out of Hollywood’s book and just use machine guns, nuclear weapons and aliens?). Unfortunately for me, mum and dad really liked their Honkie triad movies and I always thought watching TV was a preferable option to studying for the HSC. And so I would often find myself on a weekend night sitting on the couch, averting my eyes and blocking my ears as I asked mum over and over again: “Is he dead yet? Is he dead yet? Is he dead yet?” Now that I’m thirty, it seems I’m no less capable of watching someone onscreen die painfully from a gruesome knife wound because I found myself muttering the same thing to Rick on Saturday night: “Is he dead yet? Is he dead yet? Is he dead yet? What, how can he still be alive? It’s been, like, ten minutes! Stupid made-in-Hong-Kong movie…”

While we weren’t sleeping

This morning as Rick and I lay in bed at 6.45 am in the morning with both Angus and Pete lying awake (noisily) between us, we fantasised about an invention that had the capability of beaming our children to their choice of grandparent for sixty or so minutes which would thus allow us to sleep in for an extra hour.

For example, Angus could be teleported to Grandpa and Nan’s bed where he could have an early morning chat with Grandpa about cars and planes while Pete could be beamed to Por Por and Gung Gung‘s where he could have his bottle and Weet Bix. Grandparent-grandchild relationship would become stronger than ever and when the kiddies were beamed back, mummy and daddy would be bright-eyed and ready to party.

So everyone wins.

It seems now that Angus has turned two, he is old enough to be a pawn in our morning ritual.

After fantasising about the teleporting machine that would save our sleep, Rick decides it is time for us “all” to get out of bed. Lazy Mummy of course does not want to get out of bed. So I just keep lying there, hoping Responsible Daddy won’t notice.

While Rick is busy putting Pete into his high chair for his breakfast, Angus manages to open the cupboard door in the corridor connecting our bedroom to the kitchen. One of Rick’s camouflage black military utility bag falls out. Not wanting to get up, I continue lying in bed as I shout instructions to my two year old to “push it back inside.” Obedient boy that he is, Angus tries to do just that but with no success.

By this time, my sweet husband has re-appeared in the corridor and assesses the situation at once.

Instead of helping our son put his camouflage black military utility bag back inside, he suggests to Angus that he should “bring the bag to mummy” and “put it on the bed.” He says this knowing full well that I won’t be able to stand such mess and so will therefore have to get up and put the bag away.

Daddy – 1. Mummy – 0.

To retaliate, I whisper to Angus in the bedroom to “go to daddy” and to “put his (cold) hands on daddy’s tummy.” And so he goes and does just that. I could tell from Rick’s squeal.

Mummy – 1. Daddy – 1.

The games could probably have gone on, except that Pete was getting quite impatient for his Weet Bix. In fact, he’d started reaching for his bib and looked like he was going to eat it in liew of being given actual food. So I put on my Responsible Mummy hat and sat down to feed my little man.

Good times.

Not amazing enough (pout)

Thursday night is usually The Amazing Race night in our household. But this evening I sat at the computer paying bills instead. That’s how committed I am to admin.

With every season of The Amazing Race that we watch, I inevitably ask Rick the same question: “Would you go on the show with me?”

And his answer never varies: “No.”

I tend to pout at this point and try to probe further: “Why not?”

His explanation, year after year, is always the same: If he went on the race with me, we would just spend the entire time trying to find food. We would get kicked out in the first leg. Or even worse, we would never reach our pit stop.

Between you and me, I think that’s a little unfair.

I mean, yes, tracking down McNuggets or Nandos’ chicken wings in a foreign country might be a little tricky. But I’m quite confident that I could easily make up for any lost time with my ability to speak five lines of Mandarin as well as my photographic memory of the entire IKEA catalogue – which I’m certain will be the next Road Block or Detour in Sweden.

Quite frankly, I am a bit hurt. I mean, what does it say when your own spouse won’t partner with you on The Amazing Race (they never tell you to talk about this before you get married). But he’s so nice to me in every other way that I guess I really can’t hold this against him.

But one day, I’ll show him.

I’ll show him that I am amazing enough to go on The Amazing Race. I don’t know how, but I’ll show him.

In other news today, I spent the entire day wearing a pair of my new BDG jeggings, and it was only in the afternoon when Rick pointed out that I had a huge black tag still hanging over my, um, you know, rear. I guess everybody else who saw me today was too busy laughing inside (or with each other) to tell me. Tag dag am I.

Guess which cake is mine?

Many women like to bake. I am not one of them.

Instead, I like to outsource. I outsource the cleaning, the mowing, the weeding and nowadays even the car washing. If it was possible to outsource the outsourcing, I would probably do that too.

Last year, while we were living on campus at Moore College in Newtown, three other college mums and I decided to organise a combined 1st birthday party for our little kiddies who were all turning one around the same time.

In the weeks leading up to the party, we worked out food, drinks and party decorations. We also agreed that we would each do our birthday cake.

And so on the day of the event – and what a beautiful day it was – these three friends of mine all brought along their unique creations.

Lisa had a Barbie cake for Ava, Kristy had a monkey cake for Elissa and my gorgeous friend Cathie had an amazing owl cake for her Finn. I mean, just look at it! Even if you’re not an Oreo or Smartie fan (which would be weird), you’ve got to admit it’s mighty impressive.

And moi?

I was responsible for the generic coffee cake from Michel’s Patisserie of course.

And I didn’t even order it in person myself. Instead, I’d sent Rick out to Marrickville shopping centre and instructed him to send me photos of the different options by SMS. I guess you could possibly call that outsourcing the outsourcing.

It was no surprise that by the end of the party, most of the other cakes were gobbled up by all the children, yet only two pieces of Angus’ cake had been eaten. And one of them was by me.

Still, don’t feel too bad for Angus. We did hold a special birthday and baptism celebration just for him the very next day. And he did get a second cake.

Not a Michel’s coffee cake either, thank you very much.

It was the delicious tiramisu one instead.

Anyway, tomorrow is Angus’ second birthday and – guess what?

Rick is baking him a cake this year.

Thank goodness for Angus his Outsourcing Mummy is married to a Superdad.