Saturday, January 31, 2009

How to make a preschooler sound like Tom Waits

First my mum got it. She had the sore throat and the sneezes; when she couldn't get through the day without a scary-sounding pneumonia-like rattle, I had to take her to the After Hours medical centre. A nebuliser, an x-ray and two courses of pills later, she's almost back to normal.

Now TLM has it. Fortunately for her, she is not an elderly woman with a portfolio of medical ailments. TLM is not likely to need a nebuliser or any kind of medication. But when she sings she sounds like Tom Waits and when she poos I am utterly grateful that she's finally cottoned onto the idea of putting them in the potty.

So we didn't get to go to the white-folks' Chinese New Year festivities. Ah well, there were no fireworks anyway, and probably no lion dance either. There is still a chance of attending the Teddy Bears' Picnic tomorrow afternoon (which is entirely unrelated to anything Chinese).

Otherwise it will have been a fairly dull, croaky weekend for TLM.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year

Are you an ox? I'm not - I'm a dragon. Apparently this is gonna be a good year for dragons. It should be a good year of oxen too, because it's their year.

My mum still keeps up the Chinese tradition of giving out lucky money to the "children" i.e. my brother and I, our respective partners and our respective children. But neither I nor my brother wish to keep that tradition going. Because if we did, we'd have to stay home all day to avoid other peoples' kids. And if we stick to giving money to the kids within the family we'd just end up swapping similar amounts of money (well, we'd hope it's similar amounts)

We don't let off firecrackers at Chinese New Year, mainly because I think it's illegal to use fireworks outside of Guy Fawkes' Night. But we do have a special meal. I suppose in a Chinese family, food-related traditions are probably the last to go!

But there's some touristy stuff going on in town next weekend - y'know, food stalls, a lion dance performed by a local cultural society, um...more food...

Anyway, I'd like to take TLM to the touristy Chinese New Year celebration so she can have a taste of what it's about. She's already done the food and gotten the red envelope (and got to hold it for exactly 2 seconds before I whipped it out of her hand and put it in my purse, because that money's going straight into her bank account). I'd quite like her to watch a bit of lion-dancing, see a few pretty girls in traditional costume, get sucked into a human tide of new-clothes purchasers (if you've ever been in Hong Kong during this time you'll know exactly what I mean)...

Us Chinese may be cheap drunks, but we're expensive eaters.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

In a spin

TLM is having her nap - I should be cutting out my fabric to make that dress I've been meaning to make for the last month, or re-starting my yoga habit, or something. But I don't want to do either of those things because, lately, I get dizzy when my head goes below my waist.

I don't know whether this is a symptom of a bug, or because my sleep has lately been disturbed by strange, or because of the hot weather (I have low blood pressure so it's not unusual to feel dizzy getting up from a hot bath). But it's very disconcerting.

Unfortunately, being light-headed won't get me out of cleaning the house.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Who knew?

Who knew that Christians had sex problems that could only be solved by Christian sex books? (I found this link when looking for websites about yoga.)

Ah well. You can go back to whatever you were doing now.

black and tan

When it comes to sunshine and tanning, I have a problem that is different to most peoples'.

Some people worry about the risk of skin cancer. Other people fret that they can only choose between two skin colours - pink or white. I worry about looking like an easy jigsaw puzzle.

See, my arms are almost black; my upper legs and torso are that sallow-white that you see on Chinese folk who truly shun the sun; my face and lower legs are something in between; my shoulders are off-sallow-white.

This is fine if I'm showing just my arms, or just my legs.

But I don't see myself swanning around in a bathing suit any time soon. Creeping would be more like it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The time capsule in my drawers

I can still remember my mum and I down at the local furniture shop - one of those places that looks like it specializes in stock rescued from the backs of trucks - and picking out a small, unassuming student desk in a dark, mahogany-finish MDF.

It was my first ever desk, and I conscientiously did my schoolwork at it for the next few years – right up until I completed my undergraduate degree, actually.

When I bought and moved into this house, the desk came with me, in the guise of a stand for the television set. Later, I used it to support the stereo that I was looking after for a friend while he was overseas (somewhere along the way I lost the surround-sound speakers, but not on purpose).

And now it is my sewing desk. The sewing machine has in fact been sitting there for the last 5 or 6 years, but now I actually sit at it to sew stuff.

I hadn’t cleaned the desk drawers in years, so going through the contents of the drawers brought back a few memories: the Margaret Sparrow book on contraception, which was most valuable at a certain time in my life; the belt bags that I bought for my overseas trips and never used (because who wants to look like they eat twice as much pizza as they really do?); the grey fabric dye I bought to fix my favourite jeans following a laundry catastrophe (but they'd shrunk too, so I didn't have to fix the colour stain); the sewing patterns for clothes I never finished (there’s a lesson there); and the drawful of music cassette tapes.

There’s a lot you can tell about me from my collection of music cassette tapes, if you don’t have a million other things you’d rather do.

Spanning the 80's and 90's, it includes AOR, NZ indie, and stuff I can’t even remember listening to. Amongst the slightly uncool Hall and Oates, Beach Boys and Jimmy Barnes, there’re the mystifiying selections of Desmond Dekker, Ofra Haza (didn’t she have a dance hit in the 90’s?) and Linda Ronstadt singing in Spanish. Some I bought as souvenirs of my travels: Ram Narayan, I got while waiting for a bus in India; Aguas Claras, bought in Peru; The Peking Brothers after I saw them busking in London.

Some, I wish I’d got on CD, so I could play them now: Prince and the Revolution (x 2); Bill Withers; U2; Hunters and Collectors (x2); The Psychedelic Furs; Straitjacket Fits; Nina Simone; Hot Chocolate.

I’m faintly embarrassed to have: Nigel Kennedy’s Four Seasons (a present); Apache Indian; Jimmy Barnes (x2); and Kid Creole and the Coconuts. The Tom Jones tape belongs in this category, but then it was an in-joke referring to the time I got the Welshman confused with Sean Connery (and after I’d been living in Edinburgh for almost a year!).

I’m loathe to dispose of the little buggers, but we don’t have a cassette player – I don’t know whether anyone does any more. Perhaps I could just keep the cover inserts, for old times' sake, and ditch the tapes at the dump.

Monday, January 19, 2009

poos to you Blogger

I just wrote the wittiest blog post ever, and then lost the whole damn thing because the Save Now button wasn't working. So poo to you, Blogger.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I might look like mutton dressed as lamb, but I don't care. Much.

Contrary to my earlier post about what I was going to sew next, I decided to make an old pair of jeans into a skirt. You must've seen them around, especially if you were conscious in the Seventies because I think that's when they were really in.

I actually made a jeans skirt out of a pair of jeans back then (well, either the Seventies or the early Eighties - I don't remember exactly), but I messed up fixing the the crotch seam and ended up with bulges in peculiar places.

This time around though, I was inspired to try again when I saw these instructions on the internet. I ended up not following them exactly, but I'm pleased with the result anyway.

I'm just not sure if this kind of thing is appropriate on a 44-year-old.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Should never have been kissed

"Haven't you watched this before?" the boy asked, when he came into the living room and saw me watching Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed. I bet you'd be thinking the same thing - it's a very old film and it's almost unthinkable that Barrymore would look so nerdy, now that we've seen her all foxed-up in the Charlie's Angels movies.

So, no - I hadn't seen it until a couple of nights ago when it screened on the telly (because now is the time that the programmers schedule repeats of old shows, right?). I'd heard that it wasn't a bad movie. But actually, some of the movie is bad.

In case you haven't seen it either, Barrymore plays a 25-year-old newspaper reporter whose undercover assignment is to infiltrate a local high school and bring forth juicy teen gossip articles. Having had a truly hellish time at high school the first time around, our heroine is initially confident that the second time around will be much, much sweeter. Only it isn't because going back to high school would be like going back home. It doesn't matter how much you've changed, you'll revert back to your old self once you're there. Then her ever-popular brother joins in, pretends to be her cool teenage ex-boyfriend and wham! Barrymore's nerd is suddently hot stuff. She's one of the "popular" girls, rejected by the geeky (i.e. intellectual) friend, going to the prom with a studly 16-year-old (hmm...) and headed for an almost-inappropriate relationship with her tasty teacher (double-hmmm).

It's light and all, so I wasn't expecting it to be thought-provoking or life-changing. But still. I just have issues with the ending. The girl accidentally outs herself and her teacher is totally disgusted, which is quite understandable. Then the girl writes an article in the paper which resembles one of those confessionals you see in the trashiest of women's magazines, inviting the hurt teacher to meet her on a heavily-populated baseball field for a kiss.

As if, I thought to myself. If I were a teacher who's found myself falling for an underaged student, only to find out the student was under cover and under orders to find a scandal, the last thing I'd want to do is go kiss her in front of a huge crowd (not to mention tv cameras).

But he does.

And that just ruined the whole experience for me.

Is it because she's a lefty?

TLM has been quite accident-prone lately:

This evening, she walked into the bathroom door on her way out and turned her pretty forehead into something Frankenstein-ish.

Yesterday at her best friend's birthday party, she went to pick up her party favour off the floor (what do you call those little whistles that unroll when you blow on them, hitting people in the eyes?) and banged her head on a lowered desk lid.

Last Friday as we walked out of the living room to get to the front door, TLM inexplicably tripped over her feet and grazed her chin on the industrial-grade (i.e. not soft) carpet.

On the first day of our holiday - and after TLM's first dip in the resort pool - TLM slipped on the wet tiles and into a nearby rock garden, skinning both feet.

I've heard it said that left-handed people are more accident prone, and I can offer myself as a prime example. Okay, so it's either because she's a lefty, or because she's inherited clumsiness from her mother.

Friday, January 09, 2009


This morning we all overslept and didn't get out of bed until nearly 8am. But I put TLM down for her nap at 1.30 anyway. And she did exactly what she's been doing all week - fluffing about in her room until 3pm and then falling asleep. She'll probably need to be woken up at 4.

That means she'll have been in her room for, like, 3 hours. And she'll still be having her bath at 6 and be in bed for the night by 7pm - even if she spends the next hour or 2 reading and singing before falling asleep.

So, she's in her room a lot. Which means a lot of down-time for me.

Does that make me a bad person?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Wii fun

The boy and I had sweaty fun playing Wii tennis tonight. I say sweaty, not because of the undercurrent of sexual chemistry running between us through every serve, parry and double-bounce, but because the games room (formerly the study) is suffering from sun-trap syndrome i.e. it gets tons of afternoon sun and we tend to leave the window closed because the boy likes it dark and cave-like in there.

I might have another go at Wii Music, but I'm still sulking because my first attempt at conducting the Wii orchestra yielded me around 11 points, compared to the 100 or so points that TLM got.

The next project

I'm just gonna put that trouser failure behind me for now. Next up is this Burda tunic dress (it's the brown print one in the picture, though I might add the collar from the red dress below it).

The pattern and instructions can be downloaded off their website for free, so I spent most of TLM's nap time today printing and taping all 24 pages of the pattern together. It's supposed to be easy, and it's loose-fitting so I shouldn't have all the fitting issues that have made trouser-sewing such a hassle.

I would love to get into the fabric shops right now (when their sales are on) and find a nice print to make the dress up in, but unless I get there in the weekend then I probably won't get a chance to even start this until some time in February. Still, it's nice to dream.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Time for some feminism training

Yikes. Yesterday TLM declared that doctors are boys and nurses are girls. This, when her own GP is a woman, and the mum of one of her ex-playmates is a doctor too.

Good grief.

Two-nil to the pants

After giving up on my first trial pair of trousers (which frayed to the point where I lost my seam allowance, and which were too tight at the waist), I re-measured everything, re-adjusted the sewing pattern pieces, cut them out in a new fabric and set about pin-fitting them on myself. It took ages. But eventually, I thought I had it sussed. So I transferred my adjustments back to the tissue pattern and sewed it all up, leaving only the hem to finish.

Alas, they make my bum look a couple of denim beachballs.

They're also a little too tight across the bum, the waistline sits too high and the legs bag at the back. And the zip is pucker-y at the lower end. Sigh.

I'm not sure whether to just plough on and make trial pants number 3 (with another attempt at fitting them), or back up a bit and make something a bit easier, like an unlined waistcoat.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

last night at the beach

Today was our last day here at the beach; by lunchtime tomorrow I expect to be home again.

While I'm not looking forward to the end of our holiday because we'd been looking forward to it for about two months, I reckon I'll be glad to be home again.

TLM too - even though she's absolutely loved being in the pool every day and having both parents to play with all week, she's said that she wants to be back in "the old house". She probably misses the rest of her toys, her friends and the much cooler temperature of her bedroom. The bedrooms here are damned hot, and the mattresses are a little bit hard. Although having a dishwasher is pretty damned cool.

My holiday highlight is - still - probably the miniature train ride (and I'm not even a trainspotter). I don't know what the boy's highlight was, but my guess is it was teaching TLM to walk on her tip toes in chin-deep water and generally having a splash-tastic time with her. As for TLM, it's either the daily dips or the Maisy pop-up book that opens up into a dolls house.

Happy New Year.