Friday, February 29, 2008

External approval

I hate to admit it, but I rely on other people's approval more that your average mature-aged person. Without it, I don't know whether what I do is any good - whether it's writing a story, raising a child or working at a job.

Yesterday, the editter dropped by for a rare visit, and she was very encouraging about my plans to write a Chinese story for the School Journal. And because of that, I have enough confidence to go ahead with "Rice Goes With Everything".

Some things would be so much easier, if I had self-confidence.

Degrees of sickness

TLM is in the midst of her second cold in two weeks. She woke up an hour early this morning with her face covered in snot, and protested loudly when I tried to get her back into bed. So there were three cranky people in the house this morning.

Too sick to go to her daycare, but not too sick to have a jolly good time at the park. I can either be glad that she's only got a cold, and can at least be distracted by play; or I can be grumpy because I've missed out on my childfree morning and TLM doesn't even seem all that poorly.

But I have to admit that I didn't have too bad a time. She took great joy in rushing around the playground, and asked to do her poo in a nappy (instead of just letting it drop into her knickers - and for this I felt unreasonably grateful).

And she looked damned cute with her hair up in pony tails.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quick food meme

Angela has tagged me for this one.

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them)
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

1. I am allergic to chicken, eggs, the moulds in blue cheeses, and carrots. I really miss roast chicken and toast dipped in poached egg yolk (not all at the same time).

2. I don't cook well, which surprises people who know my mum but don't know me well, because my mum is famous for her fabulous cooking, in the Chinese community.

3. Some things just smell better than they taste. This is why I stopped bothering with fruity teas and pizza (again, not at the same time).

4. Eating an apple actually makes me hungrier. So I tend to only eat them just before a meal.

5. I don't get why people feel that cooked rice grains should be separated. What's wrong with rice that sticks together a bit?

I tag:
1. the lovely Nigel Patel at Handmade Luck,
2. Daddy L, who makes fun of his wee son in The Jasper Chronicles,
3. the intellectually impressive Make Tea Not War,
4. Satsumasalad/cathi, who tells it like it is via The View From My Window,
5. and the ever-clever Elizaf , from whom I hope to one day get an IT job if we ever have to relocate to London.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Geekdom beckons

I've decided to look for work as a test analyst (as well as look for technical writing work, that is). For those of you unfamiliar with the IT industry, these are the people who test new software before it goes "live". It's always been thought of as extremely boring (which explains why it's so well-paid). But a lot of test analysts get to do technical writing work and the latter is what I'm after. So I'm going to give it a go.

At the very least, I'd be able to earn enough money to pay for the nanny that I'd have to hire, to entertain TLM until she gets into another daycare (one that is open all day).

But if I do this, I'll end up very close to where I started - miserably writing computer programs for a large,greedy corporation. I don't know how I'll feel working again with the kind of people whose idea of heaven is a room full of computer parts, peripherals, cables, modems and little flashing lights.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I am Samuel Taylor Coleridge

What British Romantic Poet are You?
Your Result: You are Samuel Coleridge!

Lay off the happy juice! Coleridge championed the transforming power of the imagination and believed that literature was a magical blend of thought and emotion.

You are John Keats!
You are Percy Shelley!
You are William Blake!
You are George Gordon, Lord Byron!
You are William Wordsworth!
What British Romantic Poet are You?
Create MySpace Quizzes's one I prepared earlier -

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery

(from Poetry Archives)

I found the link at What She Said, which I just happened upon at 1 in the morning.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chinese kids' stories

My sister-out-law sent me a link about writing for the New Zealand School Journal. Apparently they are on the look-out for kid's stories set in New Zealand's Chinese community. So I've been thinking about whether I have any stories to tell and sell. Of course, they'd be based on my own experiences, but told from a child's point of view.

So far I've come up with these possible titles:

  • The day I nearly died of boredom at the supermarket with Poh-Poh
  • The cute girl gets the most lucky money at Chinese New Year (based on TLM)
  • Nudey-Rudey at Poh-Poh's place (or, how to horrify your grandmother by undressing in front of her)
  • Rice goes with everything
  • The boy who loved his mum so much he ate EVERYTHING! (this would be a warm-fuzzy story)
  • Mother knows best. Or else.
  • It's not what you do, it's how much money you make
  • My new puppy and how we cooked it

    Do you think I should get me an agent?
  • Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Funny food names

    One of my favourite sweet treats is a doughnut-shaped, cream-filled chocolate eclair. But I can't say the name of it without guffawing. It's called a dutch ring. (But I couldn't find a reference to this on Google, so maybe it's a local thing.) Is it just me, or does it sound like a sex aid or method of contraception?

    Other food names that raise chuckles:

    - You probably already know of the the steamed suet pudding, with currants in it, the infamous spotted dick.

    - According to the boy, many Kiwis cannot say "kumquat" without snorting into their teacups.

    - I also remember coming across Bimbo bread when I was in Italy. I guess you'd have to be a bit of a bimbo to buy the packaged stuff when you could get wonderful warm, crusty loaves at any panificio.

    - A few years ago, my flatmate had a bottle of Fighting Cock whisky. I could not possibly drink any of it. I don't think even he did.

    I bet you folks can think of several more funny or rude food words.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    the job hunter's progress

    Since I first posted about my possible job interview, I've:

    1. been offered a 1-month assignment at the place I used to work;
    2. had my tech writing job interview postponed;
    3. had to turn down the 1-month assignment, because I really wanted the tech writing job; and
    4. done the interview, which turned out to be a meet'n'greet interview only

    I'll know in a couple of days whether they want me to do a second, full-on panel interview. Hopefully by then they'll have read my CV properly and won't ask any more questions that are already answered in it.

    So anyway, it's just as well that I went out and bought a bunch of new interview clothes items, because I wouldn't want to be known as the interviewee who has only one nice outfit.

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Us Asians all look the same to her

    While TLM and I were visiting a daycare centre today, TLM went up to the young, Chinese teacher who had her back to us, and put her arm around her. The other teacher present thought TLM had simply taken a really liking to that teacher. But I knew that TLM had mistaken her for me. (It didn't last; as soon as the teacher turned to look at her, TLM beat a quick retreat.)

    This is where I should joke that I was flattered to be confused with a pretty 25-year-old. But it's more about the fact that very young children can't necessarily distinguish their parents from other adults of the same gender and colouring.

    This explains why TLM has always smiled more at Asian women than at other people. On the other hand, strange white men seem to be no more to her than that. Is she better at distinguishing white folks? Or is the boy significantly more different-looking than I am?

    Saturday, February 16, 2008

    Watching the Shaolin monks

    We nipped in to sample some of Te Papa's 10th anniversary celebration. Mainly, to see the famous Shaolin Monks in action. It's nothing like David Carradine in Kung Fu - but you probably already knew that.

    The amphitheatre was crowded; so crowded that latecomers ended up sharing space with ducks who'd wandered up from the pond outside the main building. It was so crowded that, when it was time for the strapping young specimens of Chinese athleticism to start their demonstration, they first had to persuade dozens of spectators to back up. We had to squeeze up so much that The Boy, long limbed as he is, had to fold himself up like a glasshoppah (if you say if with a fake Chinese accent).

    And still, there was only just enough space. I worried when the monks started their routine with the sword-thingummis, because the idiots who plonked themselve down right at the front, refused to get up and go somewhere safer. In fact, I'm pretty certain that there were at least a couple of unwanted fringe trims before the show was over.

    They wore bright orange robes that coincidentally matched the hue of the flowers worn by the previous entertainers, a local kapa haka group. Some of their routines looked like dance moves - there was even a moment when I was sure he was break-dancing. A young kid (perhaps 10 years old) who threw his body around like a yelling, thumping gymnast, was an early favourite. The choreographed routines with staffs (i.e. big sticks) were familiar and impressive. Watching one guy break a staff on another's bicep was possibly my personal highlight.

    And then it was time to get spicy noodles for lunch.

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    It was the worst of times, it was the more convenient of times

    Valentines Day was pretty uneventful at our place. It really wasn't helped by the untimely arrival of my red-headed cousin from Virginia.

    Untimely indeed. My job interview was scheduled for this morning. Who wants to be having a job interview for what could be their dream job, when the "crimson tide" is in full flow?

    As it turned out, my interviewer rang up to postpone until next Tuesday. On the one hand, it makes them look a bit disorganised. On the other hand, I won't have to feel intimidated by tremendously high standards, if I get the job.

    So, instead of spending my childfree morning trying to give off professional vibes, I shopped for an outfit that would make me look like I deserve to be paid a lot. I didn't find anything.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    What's my daemon?

    Romulus is a dingo, by the way. He looks elegant, and his name means that either he has a classical background (like, his bro's name is Remus), or that he's an animal from the Star Trek-verse (like, y'know, a Romulan's best friend). Way sexier than a ferret or a budgie, but oft-accused of baby-eating (but if you're not Antipodean, you'd have to know something of recent Australian history to get that reference)

    I won't be going to see The Golden Compass, even though I loved the Phillip Pullman books that the film is based on. But that doesn't mean I can't go to the film website and find out what my daemon would be, if I lived in Lyra's world.

    Those of you who feel you know me, are invited to click on the image and do the quiz yourself, to see whether I've got the right daemon for my personality.

    Oh yeah, I found the link at Rullsenberg Rules.

    Playroom envy

    What I like about going on playdates is that TLM gets to check out other kids' toys, and I get to talk to grown-ups (even if we end up talking about our kids). What I don't like is that everyone else seems to have homes with much better playing spaces than ours.

    We've got a teeny tiny lounge and TLM has a teeny tiny bedroom. Our backyard is not quite teeny tiny, but it's not very flat and not at all conducive to ride-ons and paddling pools. My friends all seem to have large family rooms, large decks for alfresco dining, and large outdoor play areas ideal for sandpits, pools and pretend bear-hunts.

    They aren't doing it to show off, they're just fortunate to have the space and the equipment. But it often brings out the inferiority complex in me.

    I shouldn't complain. If it's never at our place, then we never have to clean up the mess that multiple toddlers make. And most of the time, we have just enough space - and stuff - to be happy.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    ants in my lunch

    Just now, as I was making my Nutella sandwich, I noticed tiny little ants crawling around the inside of the jar top. Then I peered into the jar itself, and sure enough, there were tiny little ants crawling around on the Nutella. How the hell did they sneak in? I always, always keep the jar firmly lidded.

    So anyway, I put the jar aside for disposal. But I couldn't see any ants in my sandwich, so I decided to eat it anyway. Is that really yucky?

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    30 months and counting

    TLM turned 2 1/2 yesterday. In just 6 months time she'll officially be a pre-schooler, and she's already halfway to starting primary school! If I keep up this line of thinking, we can forget about moving into a house with more outdoor play space because in eight years she'll be spending most of her time at the mall with her tweenie girlfriends.

    It's much less depressing to mark the passing of time with your children's development, than with your own growing decreptitude.

    Sunday, February 10, 2008

    Wassup this weekend

    On Friday, I traded in the (unworn) toilet-training pants that I'd bought a week before, for a copy of Baby Jazz. TLM loves it, and it makes a nice change from French Playground (which has been playing constantly for months). Can't imagine a ciggie-toting toddler in a black turtleneck? Give it time.

    TLM is obssessed with the orange jellyfish she saw on our HD DVD of David Attenborough's Planet Earth. It's, like, the best thing since Fairy Trina.

    I have a cold, and all weekend I've been feeling sluggish and unhealthy. Is it possible to feel both light-headed and leaden-headed at the same time? Because I do. Oh, and TLM has a cold too.

    My mum, my brother and my brother's family are all back from Hong Kong. Apparently it's been quite cold over there, so I bet they're a little disappointed to return home just in time for a cold snap. TLM and I will probably head over to see them once we've stopped sneezing and spluttering.

    Saturday, February 09, 2008

    The stalking has been postponed

    The folks who'd promised to call me about a job interview, finally called. By then I'd left two voice mail messages and given up on them. In fact, when my cell phone rang, TLM was sitting on a rocking horse in an upmarket kiddy store, and I was standing nearby, mentally composing a gently complaining blog post about them.

    But I'm glad I didn't get around to doing that. She seemed keen to chat with me and find out where I might fit in their organisation; I've got an appointment with her next Friday morning.

    Tee hee...

    Friday, February 08, 2008

    You dirty Rat year...

    Happy Chinese New Year!

    I didn't celebrate it this year, mostly because my mum and bro have been in Hong Kong for it. I don't envy having to put up with trebled prices for new clothes or haircuts; nor do I miss getting sucked into an engulfing tide of shoppers every time I leave the apartment. But it would've been fun to enjoy yum char with the family. Still, many red packets of lucky money are headed our way - ostensibly for TLM, but which might get diverted to pay a household bill or two.

    Despite the rat's bad reputation in Western culture, being a Rat in Chinese culture actually sounds okay. According to the Chinese Centre of San Francisco:

    People born in the Year of the Rat are noted for their charm and attraction for the opposite sex. They work hard to achieve their goals, acquire possessions, and are likely to be perfectionists. They are basically thrifty with money. Rat people are easily angered and love to gossip. Their ambitions are big, and they are usually very successful. They are most compatible with people born in the years of the Dragon, Monkey, and Ox.

    I'm a Dragon. If I'd hooked up with a Rat, I might be a heck of a lot richer. But he'd have been too stingy to buy us a plasma tv. He'd be annoying me mightily with his perfectionism and scaring me with his temper. And he'd probably be blogging about my own shortcomings.

    Probably, I'm better off with the boy Rooster.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    Thank goodness she doesn't say this stuff in public - yet

    Most mornings, I get to dress in private; the boy is still asleep and TLM is in the lounge eating cereal and watching a DVD. But yesterday I let her follow me to the bedroom and hang out while I dressed - I should've known that would set a dangerous precedent.

    Because she insisted on coming along this morning too. And while I got my underwear on whilst trying to look comfortable with nudity, she announced "Mummy has two bellies!", loudly enough to make the boy wake up and wonder if I'd indeed been overindulging in vanilla ice cream lately.

    Well, it turned out that TLM was refering to my boobies. Although I'm not sure if that was an improvement.

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    The best thing about local tv drama

    The best thing about local TV drama, is the possibility of seeing your home town - perhaps even your self - on the screen. When I started watching The Insiders Guide to Happiness on DVD, I didn't know (or had forgotten) that it was filmed in the suburbs and streets near my home.

    It's a great little ensemble drama set in urban New Zealand, about a group of 20-something and 30-something Kiwis who find happiness in various ways. It's a little surreal, a little philosophical, and doesn't make me cringe to watch it (i.e. it's not Welcome to Paradise - go here for an idea of how bad Paradise was compared to say, Flight of the Conchords).

    There's a lager-head who is, temporarily, the reincarnation of a time-travelling Buddhist monk; a needy young woman who wins 6 million bucks on the day her boyfriend leaves her for a skanky ho; a nice Samoan boy who meets the love of his life just before being hit by an ambulance, and spends several episodes as a ghost; and the woman whose unborn child sends her txt messages.

    As riveting as the story of The Insiders Guide to Happiness was, I couldn't help being distracted by the urge to identify every cafe and street the characters appeared in. I suppose this kind of thing doesn't affect the residents of oft-filmed locations like New York, London or Paris.

    Monday, February 04, 2008

    Waiting by the phone

    He said he'd call; he said I'd hear from him either end of last week or beginning of this week. Perhaps they've changed their minds and don't want to interview me after all.

    It's almost as bad as dating.

    Sunday, February 03, 2008

    Another one of those cute toddler things

    Just before the boy took TLM off to the zoo yesterday afternoon, he and I had a tiff; I wanted him to take the toddler toilet seat with him so she'd have the chance to do her business in the zoo loos if she wanted, he didn't want to bother. I won, but it was a victory that had me feel bad about forcing him to succumb to my wishes.

    So I txted him an apology, and he replied that he had a super-cute TLM story. And when they returned home, he told me all about it.

    Apparently, when they were at the tiger enclosure, one of the inmates did a huge tiger wee just a few feet away from where they were standing. TLM pointed this out to him, and then proceeded to tell the tiger off for not using a potty. Then she turned to her daddy and said that the tiger must not be a grow-mope (i.e. grown-up).

    Saturday, February 02, 2008

    It's all in the underpants

    Yesterday afternoon, I tried out a pair of training pants on TLM. She didn't seem to object, and it was great not having to worry about finding unexpected puddles on the furniture. But once she took them off for a toilet break, she refused to put them back on again. She absolutely insisted on wearing her big-girl Dora underpants. Fortunately, this coincided with a pleasantly surprising leap in her toilet-training progress; she is now much less resistant to using the potty. She has even started actually using it.

    At first, I thought "Geez, she must dislike those training pants so much, that she'd rather use the potty". But I remembered that a couple of her daycare friends have recently started wearing big-girl undies. So I guess it's peer pressure I have to thank.

    Another thing that's keeping my wee-worries at bay, is that I've placed a super-thick, furry throw on one of the sofas; something nice and absorbant.

    I'll be taking the other 3 pairs of training pants back to the shop. I hope they stock Thomas the Tank Engine undies...

    I know it's way early in the experiment, but in hindsight I think I should have used training pants from the start, and only used pull-ups for outings.

    Friday, February 01, 2008


    When I asked TLM the other day whether she wanted to wear knickers or disposable pull-ups, she said "pull-ups". And I can't blame her, really. In the latter, she can pretty much do what she likes without me getting upset about getting wees on the sofa or poos on my foot (that's another story). The pull-ups are so efficient at holding everything in, that I can relax too. And if I'm relaxed, she's relaxed.

    But I don't want to put her in pull-ups all the time - they're relatively expensive and are probably not helping TLM to toilet-train. On the other hand, if I put her in knickers, I end up following her around all afternoon with a towel, anxiously peering at the area around her bum (we have carpet and our sofas are upholstered in fabric).

    So today I went and bought some Bright Bots training pants. They're washable (hence, eco-friendly), inexpensive, and should keep small amounts of wees in while at the same time allow her to feel what it's like to have wet pants. Hopefully, in these, she can learn without being confined to playing in the skin-cancerous outdoors, and I don't have to follow her around with a double layer of protective cloth.

    I guess this might be one reason that camping is a good holiday option for small children.