Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just in time for goodbye

The Little Madam's naps are sooo irregular. Just when I was getting comfortable with her taking 1-hour naps at around 9am and 1pm most days (and one or none on the other days), she goes and changes again. This morning, only a couple of hours after getting up, she whined and whined until it became clear to me that she really wanted to go back to bed.

So she napped from 8am-9am. Which wouldn't have been a problem, except on Thursdays she always has swim class at 9am.

As soon as she woke, I threw on her fleecy coat, grabbed the nappy bag which was bursting full with snacks and swimming gear, and headed to the pool.

We got there just five minutes away from the end of the class. They were doing underwater swims (i.e. ducking the bubs into the water and hoping they don't swallow any), and obviously TLM couldn't go straight from being completely dry to getting a good dunking.

So the only class activity she got to do was the bye-bye song.

(We stayed on afterwards and did our own thing, but it's hardly the same thing).

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

reading about fertility rites

Did you think I'm doing it to improve my own fertility? Not likely.

During The Little Madam's afternoon nap today, I did my exercises (despite soreness from yesterday's) and still had a little time left over.

It's about time I read something that wasn't about parenting, so I pulled The New Golden Bough from my bookshelf and settled down on the couch for some mythology-anthropology.

Did you know that only around a hundred years ago, European villagers were getting their young and nubile to get jiggy amongst the crops, in order to ensure a good harvest? And I used to think that the penis-worshippers in The Wicker Man were a bit over-the-top...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An unfit mother

Don't call the Social Welfare dudes yet - this isn't anything to do with some of the less savoury items on my previous post's list. This is about physical fitness, or in my case, the lack of it.

All of my adult life, right from my teens when I got fat, when on stupid diets, got fat again and then discovered exercise, I've been a fitness junkie. Right up until my last term of pregancy, that is. At the peak of my physical fitness I had the oxygen capacity of a woman ten years younger, and could do a Tae Bo class and still breathe through my nose.

I know there are women who ran marathons when they were eight months pregnant, or who launched into a fitness program as soon as their respective babies popped out. But I wasn't one of them (pushing The Little Madam around in th buggy used to be great, but now that she's so mobile I hate to keep her harnessed up for long). And because breastfeeding helped me lose all my maternity fat, I didn't quite have the motivation that some new mothers did.

But things are going to have to change. I'm sick of looking at my belly in the mirror and seeing a ripe candidate for liposuction. I'm sick of getting out of breath pushing the buggy up the hill to my house (though to be fair, it's a very steep hill). And soon (I hope), I won't have breastfeeding to use up all those cake'n'biscuit calories I've been consuming for the last 18 months.

So today I started a modest fitness programme; just seven exercises which I can do at home while The Little Madam is napping, and the whole thing can be finished before she wakes up, even if she's decided to treat me with a 45-minuter. It's just a few lunges, ladies' pushups etc, but it's a start. And perhaps in the weekends I can use my baby-free time to do some laps at the local pool (not that I haven't been unsuccessfully meaning to for the last six months).

Today's workout:
supermans - 2 sets of 8
leg lifts, inner and outer thighs - 2 sets of 15
twist crunches - 2 sets of 15
ladies' pushups (the ones you do on your knees) - 2 sets of 15
shoulder blade squeezes - 2 sets of 15
lunges (no weights) - 2 sets of 15

Obviously if I keep this up, I'm going to need weights in the near future - not to mention a wider range of exercises and some cardio work. I'll worry about that in a couple of weeks.

Monday, August 28, 2006

150 things to do before you die

I stole this off Scholiast.

What I've achieved is in bold -

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (Mt Egmont in NZ)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said "I love you" and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped (and I live in the bungee capital of the world)
11. Visited Paris (twice)
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise (but didn't really appreciate it because I was a little drunk and a lot tired)
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (It would be too boring)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa (even though I've been to Pisa)
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars (does it count if I was under a tent?)
20. Changed a baby's diaper (just a few times)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne(yeah, but it only took half a glass)
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope (and found Scorpio and a meteor)
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight (it was at a medieval banquet. Those potatoes are HARD).
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse of the moon
34. Ridden a roller coaster (just a mini-version)
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (That's how I always used to dance)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (that's so tacky)
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was shit-faced(you know who you are...unless you were so shit-faced you don't remember...)
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country (even when I danced like a fool)
44. Watched wild whales (at Kaikoura)
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe (...and Africa, and South America, and Thailand)
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach (what about midnight skinny dipping?!)
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland (if you include Northern Ireland)
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love (oh, the embarrassment)
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them (it's the kind of thing you do when you're travelling, eh?)
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke(Once my singing team won a prize, another time I was booed off stage)
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class(I used to be a brown belt in karate)
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party (a really good Christmas party held by a very large advertising agency. The food and band were wonderful).
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River (but I have rafted the Zambezi River)
82. Been on television news programs as an expert
83. Got flowers for no reason (from the boy)
84. Performed on stage (but only at school)
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark (that's just fish'n'chips, isn't it?)
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand(twice, and didn't like it either time)
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently (-ish. Cantonese.)
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children (wel, I haven't quite finished yet)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country (I would, but I can't ride a bike)
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over (does a year in Edinburgh count?)
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds (how about the same 4-5 pounds over and over again?)
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart (I think so, but he'd never admit to it)
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari(just a short one; most of the time I was backpacking/hitchhiking)
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (just in a shooting club on open day)
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse (and it made me itch and sneeze like crazy)
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours (only when I had terrible food poisoning)
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states (but that would be obvious!)
124. Visited all 7 continents (but 6 out of 7 ain't bad, right?)
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days (on the Wanganui River)
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper (it was a local freebie newspaper, and about a badly-made chicane on our street)
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school (art school and library school, but couldn't commit to either)
131. Parasailed (in Bali)
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one important author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions so far (it's hardly a difficult thing to do)
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language (amazing how you can get buy on phrases like "Coca Cola", "Rolling Stones", "Bruce Springsteen" and "fast motorbike")
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream (for about nine months, when I was an "artist")
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you (oh c'mon...just selling one's artwork to someone who does know you is a big achievement!)
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair (blue and red, on separate occasions)
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A new best friend every day

The Little Madam has never had a lovey, or special toy. We keep a little chimp stuffed toy in her cot, but really her alliances seem to change daily. One day it's the chimp, the next it's a mini-Eyore doll. Cose to bath time it's her little toothbrush decorated with ducks and during pajama time she'll clutch likely a closed jar of bum cream like it's the most fascinating thing in the room. Or, as this photo illustrates, it might be a sock she's been wearing all day.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Dim sum, an obvious choice?

I don't know why I never thought of it before, but surely Yum Char must be the best choice for eating out with a half-Chinese finger-food fanatic?

The only thing I can think of as a possible problem would be if The Little Madam reacts to the prawns or soy sauce, of which the latter is of course a mainstay of Cantonese cooking. Oh, and MSG of course. And having to check for egg. Well, no cuisine is perfect.

But really, little bits of meat and veges wrapped up in little bitty parcels? We already know that TLM likes deep-fried wontons; I'd be shocked (and stunned) if she didn't take to at least one or two of the many dishes which are paraded around the tables. Though perhaps not the chickens feet.

On the home-cooking front, I've just tried her out on asparagus rolls. She didn't take to them (so, more for me), but on the other hand she did like the avocado open sandwich I was eating.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Food for allergic kids

My sister-in-law has been a treasure trove of knowledge as regards the feeding of little'uns who need to avoid the Evil Five. She was the one who gave me the recipe for egg-free, dairy-free chocolate cake, and told me how to make egg-free and gluten-free meatballs. I've tried to note down everything she's told me, but now I don't have to because it's all published on the Itchy Kids website.

Tomorrow The Little Madam gets to try lamb French cutlets. They're kind of expensive, so if she ends up throwing hers on the floor I might just retrieve it (without breaking the 5-second rule) and eat it myself.

I had another chat with our GP today, as a prelude to our up-coming visit to the hospital's pediatric dietician. There seems to be a lot of conflicting advice about when fish, eggs, dairy, wheat and nuts should be introduced when the child's got allergic family. However, I've got the go-ahead to give TLM yoghurt again, because she's had it a few times in the past without any problems. It may be quite some time before she's offered peanut butter sandwiches, omelette or smoked salmon sushi though, because some of the literature advises waiting until 3-4 years old.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Comfy evenings in front of the telly

The upside to having a child who sleeps more or less from 6pm to 6am is that we usually have time to ourselves in the evening. Perhaps this is why the boy has always ensured that our collection of unwatched television and film DVDs is never allowed to remain low.

Currently we're enjoying Season Two of Battlestar Galactica. Who'd have thought that a remake of a silly-sounding Seventies sci-fi show, starring an actor whose previous role was as a cowboy (Lorne Green, Bonanza), could be so watchable? Well it is. The good guys aren't all good, the bad guys aren't all bad, and one of the main characters is despicably amoral.

The 4400
is also turning out to be quite good. It's about a group of people who've disappeared over a period of about fifty years, seemingly into thin air, only to re-emerge by a lake somewhere outside of Seattle. Slowly, it becomes obvious that these people have all come back with enhancements e.g. super-strength, the ability to suck the life out of a fellow human, or gestating an embryo that wasn't in her womb before her disappearance. Sounds a little like a serious-fied version of X-Men, I know - but it isn't.

And last but not least, I finally got around to watching Extras, Ricky Gervais' follow-up to the cringingly funny The Office. It's damned funny. Quite apart from the star-spotting (Samuel L Jackson was in the last episode I watched), Gervais and his female co-star play movie extras who have a special talent for putting their feet in their respective mouths. I'm not going to try to give an example though; you should just watch it.

That's all folks. My mum is currently staying at my brother's house and soon I have to go help her use their shower-over-bath.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What to get for Fathers Day

I've only just found out that there's a new Bill Bryson book out, The Life and Times of the Thunderbold Kid. And if I hadn't been perusing Dymocks' Fathers Day junk mail, I would still be ignorant of it today.

Buying it for the boy, for Fathers Day, wouldn't be appreciated though; I'm the Bryson fanatic, not him.

And so we come to the same problem I have at least twice a year - what the hell to get the boy who buys himself everything.

As soon as The Little Madam starts drawing with crayons (rather than eating them), his presents are going to be framed baby-art.

The clock that lied

I've noticed lately that The Little Madam has started waking quite a bit earlier than usual. She's gone from calling for milk and a Baby Einstein DVD anytime between 6am and 7am, to calling desperately for milk at around 5am. This isn't so surprising to me, since she's sleeping lots better now and getting very little - if any - milk during the night. But I was starting to wonder whether 5am was going to be the new 6am.

This morning, her yelling was so loud and insistent that, even though I usually try to wait until 6am before going to get her, I ended up struggling out of bed at 5.30.

TLM seemed pretty glad to see me, and the idea of putting her straight back to bed after nursing her didn't pan out because she got upset when I started to veer off the normal get-her-dressed-and-put-on-a-baby-DVD routine. So I brought her out into the lounge.

And that's when I noticed that the clock in the bedroom is a whole hour behind.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hospital drama, the sequel

The Little Madam and I went to visit my mum in hospital this morning (and not an hour too soon, because as soon as we got home it started pissing down like you wouldn't believe), and The Chinese Patient is feeling pretty much back to normal. She's due to be discharged tomorrow, and we're currently organising for some home help for the first few weeks. This includes a weekly cleaner, which hopefully means that I no longer have to put off seeing to that mould in her shower box.

The hospital staff, on the whole, have been really good, especially considering the language barrier and my mum's old-lady fussiness. I hope the janitor doesn't mind having to scrape all the shrapnel from TLM's lunch, off the floor by Mum's bed; rice balls have a habit of disembowelling themselves all over the place, their constituent grains sticking to tenaciously to whichever surfaces they land upon (hey, what a lot of big words I used in this sentence!).

We intend to go back after TLM wakes from her afternoon nap, so if you have the weather god's ear could you tell her to please make it stop raining?


eb and jb have possibly found the answer to my problem with those annoying pop-ups which appear when you lovely people view this blog. I never thought to blame it on the Nedstat code, visible in the form of a little button at the bottom. But the writer of this article does. So I've removed it and will simply have to survive with not knowing whether anybody reads my blog - at least until I find a replacement.

So the upshot of all this is, if you still get the pop-ups then let me know. Otherwise you have the cunning eb and jb to thank.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hospital drama

My mum nearly died today.
First I got the call from my sister-out-law, that something had happened to my mum and an ambulance was already on its way to her home. When I rang Mum, hoping to speak to her friend who just happened to be with her, at first I thought I'd rung a wrong number, because I couldn't understand the voice on the other end. I kept saying "It's me, Mum - what's going on?", only to hear a distant voice that sounded as though it was talking to someone else in the room.

By the time I'd arrived at her house, my brother was already there and the paramedics were wheeling her into the ambulance. They were having trouble finding out what had actually happened, because she was speaking incoherently in Cantonese. To me, she only repeated over and over that she was feeling very faint and light-headed.

It turned out that her heart was beating very slowly, which was affecting her blood pressure. This had caused her to almost lose consciousness, and the oxygen debt was affecting her brain. I am so damned grateful that someone was there to call for help.

At the Emergency room, staff in green scrubs, blue scrubs and office clothes (that would be the cardiologist) bustled around getting blood and checking her vitals. At one point, I was asked to put my finger on her arm, where they'd put a needle in. And that's when it happened.

My brother and I had been trying to talk to her, but she wasn't responding. She didn't seem to hear us. Then she was making strange gurgling sounds, and one of the green scrubs was hoisting my mum's chin up so hard that it left finger marks around her jaw. There was a brief commotion involving an oxygen mask and more chin-hoisting, before we were asked to go to the back of the room i.e. get the heck out of their way. Seconds later, there were audible sighs of relief. The leader of the green scrubs (the chin-hoister) said something to her colleague about Mum "nearly giving up" on her, and that was when I realised how close my brother and I had come to being orphans.

Although they aren't sure, the general consensus is that the problem is likely to be due to some of the medication she's on for high blood pressure. Mum's okay now, resting in the cardiac unit for overnight observation. Her blood pressure and heart rate are back to normal and she's already started to complain about the food. As far as she knows, she merely dozed off for a while this afternoon.

Second thoughts on sleep

It's only because The Little Madam recently graced us with the third-ever night in which she slept through from 6pm until 4.30am or later, but I'm now having second thoughts on whether it really is a good thing to sleep train one's child.

For most of TLM's first year of life, she woke me up 2-4 hourly at night for a night feed. Despite all my moaning and groaning that something had to be done about it, in the name of my sanity and ability to drive without falling asleep at the wheel, we never did get around to sleep-training her (except for her naps, twice).

So I've been both amazed and relieved that she has started to sleep through all by herself, without any "training" on our part (not counting the night-weaning, which only started this week because she still usually wakes for a nightfeed once per night, and only because I've no more patience).

Several mothers told me their kids were all breastfed to sleep, and it didn't stop them from sleeping through by age two - but I sure didn't want to wait that long.

It was Dr Weissbluth's (or Dr Wisebum, as one cheeky reviewer referred to him) book, lent to me by the wise Make Tea, that told me my daughter risked becoming an insomnolent teenager with zero-powers of concentration. And most sleep books told me that the longer we left it, the harder it would be to fix.

But it looks as though, in our case at least, they are wrong, wrong, wrong.

This has brought on a bout of wisdom-in-hindsight. If we knew then what we know now about TLM's evolving sleep behaviour, would I have been so grumpy and insistent that sleep-training was necessary? Would I have been more accepting of these nightly interruptions if I'd known for sure they would last only a few more months?

I suppose when it comes down to making the decision whether to wait or train, it's a matter of whether you think you can endure it any longer and still function effectively as a parent. Did any of you parents have any regrets as to whether you made the right decision, whether it was to train or go with the status quo?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Night weaning moves

I reckon by now it's high time I got my boobs back. So a couple of nights ago I embarked on a night-weaning programming to get The Little Madam used to sleeping without a minimum of one or two breastfeeds per night.

The only thing is, I'm not sure it's working. Maybe she really can't go more than 9 hours without food (her birthday sleep-marathon notwithstanding).

The programme goes like this: First, work out how long she feeds at night. Then, each following night, when she cries out for boobie, feed her for one minute less than the night before. When she protests - and by god she will - cuddle her until she goes to sleep or will at least settle back in her cot. Once down to a two-minute feed, omit the feed altogether and just go for the cuddle. The next night is when you start the actual sleep-training (i.e. let her cry for a bit, then go in to check on her, then leave, repeat until she's put herself to sleep).

The first night I timed her nightfeed, she clocked in at seven minutes.

Then TLM got her jab, so I put the programme on hold for a couple of nights.

Night #1 of night weaning, I unlatched TLM after seven minutes; the boy and I then spent about 45 minute resettling her. Then she fell asleep until about 6am. Total amount of night sleep lost - about fifty minutes.

Night #2 of night weaning, I unlatched TLM after seven minutes again because I thought I'd take it a little more slowly. I unlatched TLM, then upset her when I dropped the clock, which made a loud, echoe-y clatter on the floor. It took about 45 minutes to resettle her. Then she woke again at 3.30am and did this slow wail that sounded like she'd settle down, but didn't. I went in about an hour later, fed her for seven minutes, and spent another 45 minutes resettling her. Total amount of night sleep lost - about two and a half hours.

I need a carrot to keep going; I will now peruse catalogues for non-maternity bras and shirts that don't open or lift up easily.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Writing stuff down

I thought of a great subject to post about last night while I was bed, but I'd already forgotten what it was by this morning. What I should do is have a notebook and pen on the bedside table, just in case I come up with an idea I want to remember.

After all, if I didn't write stuff down I wouldn't remember anything except my name.

When The Little Madam was about three months old, I started to record the times she fed and napped because I hoped to work out what her routine was. It never really worked, because by the time I'd determined what it was, she changed again. But I still, even now that she's one year old, can't stop logging her naptimes, meal times, meal contents and overnight sleep times.

It must sound totally anal to you, dear reader. But I can't stop. I've already filled up two whole notebooks with this stuff, and have just started a third*.

What can I say - I've got one of those obssessive personalities. If I'd been any different, I wouldn't have quit my IT job to learn how to paint pretty pictures, or gone overseas for two years at an age when most of my friends had already returned home, or spent 18 months in a sometimes-thankless job helping library customers with their photocopying (actually that last job wasn't all bad, I did fun and satisfying stuff too).

My obssessions are what keep me going.

*I'm not saying that one day in the far future, I'll go back to the notebooks and reminisce over how TLM slept for 40 mins four times a day at the age of four months, or ate nothing but luncheon slices and toast every day for about three months.

But it has been useful for seeing how she has progressed in her sleep habits, or even just to prove to the boy that I really did only sleep in 3-4 hour blocks most nights last month. It'll also be handy if she starts to show any symptons of food allergy, because just about every single thing that passes her lips is there on paper.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Emperor and the Assassin

The Emperor and the Assassin (a great review on this link) is an old movie I know (1998), but I'm giving it a mention because it's so very very good. We bought it on DVD on the weekend you see, after a failed attempt to go to a carpet & rug sale (there was absolutely no parking) and a successful search for a child safety gate (so The Little Madam doesn't fall down the steps when she tries to go outside), and I really wanted the boy to see it.

This came out around about the same time as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and at the time my tinny voice could be heard in film-watching circles asserting that Assassin was by far the better movie. It's not just better because it's based on Chinese history (about a king's desire to unite China, how it changes his character, and what his concubine tries to do to stop him), it's also an absorbing story with interesting characters, and one which doesn't try to pander to Western tastes more familiar with Jackie Chan buffoonery (not that I don't enjoy those) and Jet Li action flicks.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hammock time

We just got back from the doctor's, where The Little Madam received her fourth and final Meningococcal B vaccination (two months late). Of course, she wouldn't have the afternoon nap that would have helped her feel a little more rested for the jab. But she took it like a trooper, calming right down after the initial piercing, red-faced shriek.

And I've found that if I put a tired, jabbed one-year-old in her baby hammock (the one she looked so sweet in almost exactly one year ago, here) and bounce and rock it for about fifteen minutes, I can make her fall asleep after all.

More birthday pics

Here' The Little Madam posing on her Poh Poh's lap. Little did she suspect she would soon be attacked by a giant chocolate cake...

And here she is taking her giant jigsaw puzzle apart (she hasn't yet learned that the object of jigsaw puzzles is to put them back together).

The next day, we went out and bought her a car. It's got the words "Hunny Pot Express" on the back support. Now, I'm pretty sure that sounds very slightly soft porn. But I could be mistaken...

Miss Interpretation

Ever since we were kids, my brother and I had to take turns playing interpreter to our mum. Whether she was trying to buy insurance, or get a good price on a lounge suite or convince the electricity company that the bill was unreasonably high, one of us always got roped in to translate Cantonese to English and back again.

My Cantonese-speaking workmate used to have a great laugh when she overheard me on the phone, acting as the go-between for my mother and some poor furniture retailer or whatever her target of the day was. She drives a pretty hard bargain, which totally conflicts with my aversion to this way of doing business (what a sorry excuse for a Cantonese I must seem).

It would go something like this:
"So you want ten percent off for cash? Okay, put me onto the salesman and I'll ask him. She wants to know if she can get ten percent off for cash. You have to ask your manager? Okay, ask your manager, and let me talk to my mother. Mum, he has to ask his manager. Put me back onto the salesman again. What - the manager is at lunch and you don't have the authority? Alright, I put me back on to my mother then. Mum, he says the manager isn't there and he can't give you a discount without the manager. Mum, it's already on sale at fifty percent off anyway. Why don't you just pay what it says on the poster? Okay okay okay! Put me back on to the man. My mother says she can get ten percent off at that shop in the mall. You can give five percent off? Okay, put me back on to my mother. He says you can get five percent off. Why isn't that good enough,mum. Look, I haven't got all day to talk on the phone you know - I have computers to programme. Okay okay...put the man back on..."
And so it would continue until an hour had passed and my mother had got her bargain.

Today I had to hire a plumber for my mother, whose bathroom and laundry taps have become leaky and obstinate. Being the interpreter is much more tedious now, as every other sentence has to be repeated at least twice because my mum is so hard of hearing. It really cuts into my free time (TLM's nap time) you know.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Which Pirates of the Caribbean character are you?

Having only seen the first movie, I find her a little ridiculous rather than admirable. I'd really prefer to be either Will or Jack Sparrow.

Which Pirates of the Caribbean character are you?

I found it at Not quite The Spectator Essays.

Party pic

Here's a piccy of the bemused birthday girl, watching a giant brown, candle-topped slab approach her while everyone sings Happy Birthday. That's her Poh Poh making sure she doesn't make a run for it.

You'll have to excuse the uncropped-ness of the photo because I've loaded it straight onto Handbag (the name of my laptop), which doesn't have any photo-handling software on it.

Oh, and I was gonna dress her up for the do, but her dad was the one who got her up from her nap. He was the one who put her in the sweatpants and McDonalds colours.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's her party and she'll be adorable if she wants to

The Guests -

My mum, who took an hour to get ready but made enough deep-fried wontons and rice rolls to feed a all the staff of your average south-Chinese sweatshop.

My brother, his partner and their two kids (aged 5 and 2 respectively). My sister-out-law provided the recipe for eggless, dairyless chocolate cake. The very fact that I managed to not quite get it right just shows how unlike Nigella Lawson I really am. The fact that the cake still tasted really good is testament to her (my sis-out-law, not Nigella) ability to select the right chocolate cake recipe to suit my baking "talent".

The Editter
, who stepped in as the god(less)mother-by-proxy. TLM's actual god(less)mother is in fact Flying Kiwi, who is of course overseas.

TLM's godparents, who are the boy's most fab friends. They left their super-cute, floppy-eared doggies home to come over and set The Little Madam up with her next season's fashion wardrobe.

The rest -

I made sure there was lots of food on offer, but my mum's wontons were the clear favourite. Next year I'm going to forget about ordering bakery goods, and just get mum on the job. TLM didn't really take much notice of the presents (loads of the latest in toddler-wear, a truly great pop-up version of We're Going On A Bear Hunt, Chocolate Mousse For Greedy Goose and a genuine piece of greenstone all the way from the Deep South - South Island, that is) but only because she was too busy watching her cousins trip and land in other people's cake. There was also the obligatory lap-time to be spent with each adult present, no doubt pretty tiring for someone who is more used to being in a crowd of three.

She was a worn-out little angel by the time everyone had left to go home.

p.s. We did take photos, and I'll endeavour to post some up soon.

All night long

It was The Little Madam's birthday, but this morning I felt like I was the one who got the present - amazingly, she slept from 6pm till 6am without a single night feed. There were a few cries around 1am, but five minutes later (I think - I was in a deep sleep at the time) all was quiet on the baby front. Twelve. Whole. Hours.

Unfortunately, I woke up at 4.30am to the sound of the boy's snoring, and didn't get back to sleep at all. That didn't do anything to change the amazing-ness of TLM's night though.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A quiet birthday

Today was just another day for The Little Madam, but to me it marked two things - her first birthday, and the fact that I really did survive my first year of motherhood with my sanity more or less intact. So far anyway.

She's fairly blase about the birthday cards, her present from the lovely eb (acopy of That's Not My Dragon) and a cheque from her grandad, all the way from the UK. As far as The Little Madam was concerned, it was just another day in which to bumshuffle-crawl into the rubbish bin, stick her fingers into kitchen cupboards and pull the tea trolley until it toppled over and landed on her face.

Since the actual celebration is not until tomorrow, I'm assuming that's why the boy hasn't conjured up any birthday presents. And I didn't get her anything at all. When she's old enough to ask me why, I'm going to tell her exactly what my mum used to tell me (in stern Cantonese) - "I gave birth to you. You should be giving me a present."

Since it was so sunny and relatively warm, I took TLM to a neighbourhood park, where she sat in the swing and laughed at the sight of me in my sunglasses (I don't know why she finds it funny; I like to think I look cool and hip in my sunglasses). Then we went to the library, where I let her loose amongst the board books. When she caught sight of her old favourite, Bathtime Peekaboo, her whole face lit up as though she'd spotted an old friend. It was a rather touching reunion, really. I had to borrow it to take home so she could continue to paw it's pages and gaze at the picture of the giant rubber duckie.

After we got home, I put on a Buffy CD (the first one). I don't tend to play music much now, so it'd been a while since she last heard it. It was really cute how, when TLM heard it, she just sat completely still with this faraway look in her eyes. It was as though the familiar soundtrack was bringing back memories of when she was in the womb.

Then it was off to bed at 6, almost seven hours after she'd woken from her last nap.

So ended TLM's first anniversary.

At last, a meme that means something to me

Thanks to Make Tea Not War, I have found a meme I can get my teeth into...

1) The first movie you remember seeing on the big screen:

It was one of those Tarzan movies. No, not the ones starring Johnny Weissmuller - I'm not quite that old. It was the Tarzan that came after. The next movies I remember going to see were the Bond movies. You can probably guess that I have no sisters ...

2) Movie from which you can quote multiple lines in your sleep:

That's quite a challenge with a memory like mine. I'd have to say Zoolander, because the line "stings like a fissure in my ass" just keeps popping up in my head at the most inappropriate times.

3) Director (dead or alive) that you’d most want to have dinner with:

Is Johhny Depp a director yet?
Otherwise, probably the maker of those hilarious mockumentaries, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. It couldn't possibly be a dull dinner.

4) Movie that should have won an Oscar but didn’t:

Zoolander ;-) I dunno really, I just know what makes my brain tickle.

5) Movie that didn’t disappoint despite being the adaptation of a book:

The Lord of the Rings - but then I never got past the first chapter of the first book. Most often I see the movie before I've read the book, which is probably a better way of doing it. In which case, I can recommend 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Hotel New Hampshire.

6) Movie you were dragged to by someone else expecting to hate, but which you loved:

Trainspotting. I was expecting something that glorified drug-taking, and got the opposite. It was scary, repellant and really, really funny.

7) Movie that scares the crap out of you no matter how many times you see it:

Salem's Lot. The first time I ever saw it my brother and I were home alone. He left the room just before that scene with the vamped little boy floating outside his living brother's window. That scene still gives me the shivers.

8) The movie that makes you bawl no matter how many times you see it:

Usually if it made me bawl the first time, I wouldn't go see it again. But many, many episodes of Buffy make me bawl and it's never stopped me from watching them repeatedly.

9) The movie that still has you rolling on the floor with laughter no matter how many times you’ve seen it:

Zoolander. Of course.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The boy's near-death experience

I'm only blogging about this because it's a nice change from blogging about The Little Madam and television, and because the boy is too lazy to update his own blog...

Something happened to him on his way to work yesterday - a sheep escaped from a nearby abatoir and ran straight into his car. He'd managed to swerve to avoid getting hoofed in the face, but his car has a nice big sheep-shaped dent in it though.

There was some mention of it in Stuff, but anyone expecting to see a mugshot of my man-about-the-house (me, for instance) would have been terribly disappointed. The article basically says there was a sheep limping about on the motorway with a broken leg, possibly caused by a run-in with a motorist. Not so much five minutes of fame, as five minutes more of utter invisibility.

One positive side effect of his facing possible death-by-woolliness, is that he was feeling pretty damned good for the rest of the day. I suppose being grateful for being alive can do that to a person.

I'm not the ONLY crazy mum around here y'know

Granted, this woman's child is almost twice the age of The Little Madam, but that doesn't stop her from being just as anxious about her son's eating habits as I am about TLM's. Ask Moxie is my latest best blog discovery. I wish I'd discovered her sooner - sure, she's no more of an expert on parenting than most parents, but she sure does sound like she knows what's what.

Another reason I'm always concerned about how much TLM eats is that she's very little for her age. It's supposedly normal for babies to triple their birth weights in the first year, but TLM has crept from a 3.66kg birth weight to a petite 8.44kgs at almost one year. The GP assured me that it was probably my shortness genes coming into play, which was not at all reassuring (the boy is 6'2"; I truly believe that short women hook up with tall men because of a subconcsious desire to create normal-size offspring).

After TLM was weighed at her WellChild checkup yesterday I had a chat to the Plunket nurse and she's going to get me an appointment with the hospital dietician. It's pretty hard trying to think up finger foods for TLM which don't include the Evil Five (dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, fish), and hopefully this food expert can give me some more ideas.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Back into the social fray, whilst dodging unpredictable naps

This week is going to be the most social week The Little Madam has experienced for at least a month. Although we're still administering her inhaler twice a day (during Baby Einstein-viewing times, or else there's a big fight), she's pretty much all better now and no longer coughing herself awake at night. She's still waking up lots anyway, but I s'ppose you can't have everything eh?

This whole two-naps-to-one-nap transition is pretty hard - yesterday I put her down for her afternoon nap at midday, and she slept all of 45 minutes. By bedtime she was almost bouncing off the walls (what stopped this from happening was that we have almost no bare wall space). So today, because she woke up at the pre-dawn time of 5.30am I decided it was going to be a two-nap day. And she decided to sleep only in the morning, and talk to herself during the entire hour of her afternoon nap.

So anyway, this morning we went to the Salvation Army playgroup, where she absolutely delighted in spending time with a whole array of unfamiliar toys. Tomorrow morning TLM hits the pool for her swim class - the first in about a month. On Saturday afternoon we're having a cosy wee birthday party, because guess who turns the big One on Friday?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lane is me, and so is her mum

Yesterday's episode of Gilmore girls had this really hilarious scene in it, one which was especially poignant for me.

It's the episode where Korean American Lane gets married, with her ultra-conservative Christian mum receiving the worrying last-minute news that her own mum, a Buddhist, has decided to attend. Lane's mum had obviously never had the guts to tell the matriarch about this slight change of religion; the sight of her sweating buckets to replace all those crucifixes in the house with two enormous Buddhas, is priceless.

I've always identified with Lane because she too, has been occasionally forced to live a double life* ever since she discovered her American/Western side (it's what makes us first generation Asians "bananas" **).

It was interesting to see a member of the older generation suffering a similar dilemma.

* Some of the myriad facts about my life that I hid from my mum:
- that, at the age of fifteen, I bought myself a guitar and practised secretly in my room. She didn't find out for about six months even though we lived in the same house.

- whether I was still a virgin

- that I was a social drinker until that Asian drinking curse caught up with me (not content to merely make me go beet red at the second sip of gin & tonic, now I get physically sick after a drink)

** banana: White on the inside, yellow on the outside

Mummy brain strikes again

Only someone with a colander-like memory like me, would schedule her wee daughter's vaccination jab for the same day as her first birthday.


Never mind that The Little Madam is already two months overdue, with her 15-month jabs already nipping at her heels. I've rung in to get it postponed till next Monday.

Asking to be dooced

The boy has gone and ordered some extra-geeky t-shirts off the Internet, and this is what he got me.

I'm guessing that it's not the kind of thing a person would wear to work, eh?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Eat your greens, don't breathe 'em

The great thing about using a steam vaporiser when you or your child has a stuffy nose, is that it really does help with the breathing.

The dangerous thing about the steam vaporiser is that there's a greatly increased risk of breeding mould on your walls if you use it a lot and can't provide adequate ventilation or clean the vaporise thoroughly.

The Little Madam is just getting over her 6th cold since June, so you can imagine that our vaporiser has been working overtime. I had noticed that having it on all night resulted in damp walls and furniture the following morning, so had made sure that her room was aired out during the day. Well, as much as possible considering the heater was on all the time and I like to keep the door closed to minimise heat loss.

But it wasn't enough. And I obviously haven't been cleaning the vaporiser out nearly enough, because this morning I discovered a thick layer of the nasty green-black stuff on the wall opposite TLM's cot, all around the bedroom window and coating the block-out curtain.

A mould allergy is a pretty likely culprit as a cause of TLM's worrying wheeze, too.

So as soon as the boy got out of bed I sent him to work on cleaning out TLM's room with a bleach solution. We're also going to pull up the (green) carpet, which is probably camoflaging it's own population of spores, and do a general declutter.

So I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that by this time next week we'll have a one-year-old with lovely clean airways, unbothered by fungal things and dust mite poos.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Be careful what you say when you're asleep

The boy has a habit of talking in his sleep. It's not a case of dozing peacefully and then suddenly yelling things like "Watch out - there's a monkey in the swimming pool!". When the boy sleep talks, it sounds just like he's woken up.

Many times now I've called on him in the wee hours of the morning, to fulfill his promise to resettle The Little Madam when she cries out in the night. And many times he's answered by sitting up and telling me he's onto it. And then talking to TLM as though she were in the bedroom with us, before resuming his deafening snore.

At first I didn't realise that the boy wasn't actually awake at these times; once I did, I got into the habit of shoving the monitor to his ear with the volume all the way up. At least anything he said after that came straight from a conscious mind.

Early this morning at around 2.30am TLM cried out, as has been her habit of late, so I prodded the boy as politely as I could and asked him to get into gear. I wasn't expecting the verbal abuse that followed. The word "obssessive" was used and I'm sure the "F" word too. TLM eventually went quiet again anyway, but I couldn't get back to sleep for ages because I was so mad at the boy for being so unsupportive. Mean, even.

I was still mad at him this morning when he stuck his face in the kitchen, where'd I been taking care of TLM since about 6.30am. But the anger was pointless, because the boy claimed to remember nothing of his nighttime misdeeds.

Or is it just another dad's ploy to get out of childcare duties and avoid retribution? Hmmmm?

Friday, August 04, 2006

A one-nap girl

For the last three days now, The Little Madam has been reasonably happy to have just one afternoon nap per day. I put her down for a morning nap around 9-9.30 anyway just in case, because she always looks and sounds a bit tired by then. But this is always followed by half an hour of listening to her (via the monitor) talk to herself and play with her Ocean aquarium cot toy.

Yesterday she napped for a whole 2 hours! I'm so unaccustomed to this that, after the first hour spent on the Internet, I sat around twiddling my thumbs and wondering when she was going to start making "Get me outa here" noises.

But if this turns out to be more than just a temporary nap glitch, then it's potentially going to be a great thing. I'll be able to take TLM out for the morning without having to get her home after about an hour and a half. We'll be able to attend swim classes without me worrying that it's impinging on her lunch time and nap time.

To some extent, I will be able to restart my daytime social life.

What worries me now (and there's always something for me to worry about) is that I've gotten into the habit of offering her midday breastfeed before her afternoon nap instead of after she wakes from it. I want to start weaning really soon, and somehow I don't think that giving her rice milk in a sippy cup is going to have quite the soporific effect that a good suck on a nipple does. It'd be like shoving the boy's face into a car exhaust and expecting it to have the same relaxing effect that a couple of puffs on a cigarillo would.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Balls (sweating the small stuff) *

My sister-out-law, fantabulous mother to two gorgeous but allergy-prone kids, passed on a suggestion for finger food - balls.

That is, meatballs, riceballs and any other foods suitable for a nearly-12-month-old, shaped into balls.

And The Little Madam likes 'em.

Surely a trivial piece of information compared to stuff like the war between Israel and Hezbollah, or the high possibility that our electricity bill for the rest of the winter will top four hundred smackaroos per month.

Yet the success of the balls has been instrumental in transforming me - albeit temporarily - into a picture of optimism and serenity.

* Apologies for any mental images of sweaty testicles which this heading may have induced ;-)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Good old teen rebellion

Just to give me an idea of the potential trials which lie ahead when The Little Madam becomes a (hopefull un-spotty) teenager, we watched Mirror Mask on DVD last night.

It's a story co-written by Neil Gaiman, famous for his fantastical graphic novels (the name of which I can't remember, because I don't remember much these days) and novels.

There's a teenage girl who is utterly dissatisfied with her life in a circus, where she performs with her family. In her spare time she draws, creating an amazing surreal world on the walls of her Brighton bedroom. Her mum gets sick, ending up in hospital, and the girl is both terrified and guilty. The last thing she and her mum did before the mum got sick, was argue over the girl's wish to leave the circus life and live like a normal teenager.

The night before her mum's surgery, the girl falls asleep and dreams that she has entered the world on her bedroom wall. She meets weird creatures and attempts to save the White Queen, who has fallen into a deep sleep (and who is the spitting image of her mum), whilst at the same time avoid being captured by the Black Queen (also a spitting image of her mum).

It's a bit of a coming-of-age story, like Labyrinth but without the rock star. It also reminds me of a children's story which I once saw dramatised on the telly, Marianne Dreams (about a girl who, in her dreams, enters the world she draws during the day).

It's a lot weirder than either, with a world peopled by impressively alien inhabitants (such as orbiting giants and cat-like sphinxes who are terrible at guessing the answers to riddles). I give it an 8/10 :-)

Spoonfeeding by stealth

These are a few of my strategies for spooning food into The Little Madam's mouth. If you have a similar problem with your little darling, perhaps you will find inspiration here...

1. Get her father to stand in front of her and pull funny faces. While she is distracted, quickly put the spoonful of food into her mouth.

2. Hide each spoonful of food with something she really loves, like pear and banana puree from a jar.

3. Just as she's about to take a drink or a bite of oven chip, quickly spoon some food into her mouth. You have to be fast though, because her mouth will be too small for both a spoon and a chip.

4. This works if she's got a cold and has to breathe through her mouth - she'll have her mouth closed whenever the spoon is hovering near, but she has to open it to take a breath some time right?

But if you have some cunning plans which you don't see on this list, feel free to leave a comment...


Before seeing our GP the other day, I'd suspected that perhaps The Little Madam was suffering from an iron deficiency. There was an article I'd come across, suggesting that this can cause loss of appetite and increased susceptibility to colds and other viruses. It was me to suggested putting The Little Madam on supplements, not the GP (though I'm sure I did a good enough job making it think it was her idea).

I managed to get the syrups into TLM by adding some of it into the first spoonful of her food - I could usually get one spoonful into her mouth - and the rest by syringing it into her mouth while she screamed in protest (can't blame her really, I hate cherry flavoured medicine too, always have.)

It's been only three days and three doses, and there's a huge improvement on TLM's appetite. She still won't take much from a spoon, but yesterday she actually ate a whole meatball, a whole riceball and about four kumara wedges. And this morning since breakfast she's been snacking constantly on bits of toast.

It doesn't seem to have done anything for her willingness to take naps though - lately we've had days where she'll only nap at noon, after an exhausting morning of abandoned nap routines, the arm-flapping she does when she's overtired, and finally a breastfeed. And then there have been the days where she won't nap at all.

But one out of two ain't bad.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A wheezer's progress

Yesterday I took The Little Madam back to the doctor's for her follow-up appointment. Apparently the wheezing is better than it was, although they still can't tell me whether what she's got is anything more serious than an unlucky string of cold viruses.

So we've been advised to continue with the inhaler for another week (TLM now hates the spacer, even though she was quite relaxed about it the first few times) and get some nutritional supplements into her. And there's another follow-up appointment on Friday.

The interesting thing about the supplements I bought was the blurb on the respective boxes. This stuff is aimed at babies and toddler who are recovering from illness or are fussy about food and don't eat much. And the latter very definitely fits TLM's profile. But here is an excerpt from the instructions for use:

Dose: 10 drops daily in milk, water or food.

Okay, so I can't add it to the milk, because she's breastfed. I won't add it to her water because she doesn't drink much water at any one time and it'd end up going down the sink. And I don't see the point in adding it to her food if she refuses to eat anything from a spoon. I did think of syringing the stuff into an oven chip, though.

I'll let you know how we got on.