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05 February 2017 @ 11:33 pm
It was Ruth's 4th birthday yesterday. I asked my sister - 'how do you think Ruth is different from Eoin?' Eoin was there (16 months old), standing in the playground, smiling, toddling around. falling frequently, and saying 'eh!'

'Well', she answered, ' when Ruth was a year old, I put her on the swings and she kept on saying "higher!, higher!". She was already talking to me and telling me what to do'.

That's true. At 10 months, Ruth knew how to say hello to Marbles, say bye bye.. and a few months later it was singing twinkle twinkle littler star, and the wheels on the bus.. but was she the super fast amazing baby that i remember her to be?

Certainly she had so much more life experiences, and she had speech quicker than Eoin, but according to my records she had more words but not sentences. She threw tantrums (eoin doesn't), threw food around (Eoin does but i'm better at stopping him) and had bad nights (Eoin just doesn't). Eoin is an easier baby, more calm and relaxed.. Ruth was smart. She was switched on. She listens when i say no. She sat down and read books.

I think Eoin would be just as smart if i had more time spent with him in playground and having fun experiences, instead of just being cooped at home in the winter, and forever stuck int he pram doing school drop offs and pick ups. He naps ALOT.

But honestly, was Ruth so much further advanced? I'm not sure. The circumstances of their development are so different. Oz was the best for child rearing. Eoin is, for sure, the cutest, happiest baby i've ever met. He is just so sweet and gentle. He loves me and Ruth so much. He brought me something when i asked. However, the general impression is that he is a the cute baby and Ruth is the smart one.

Do these labels affect our lives or are they a description of the truth?

I was going to write a post about how that was the truth but now, confronted with my electronic evidence, i'm not so sure. Perhaps Eoin's intelligence is overshadowed by his calm and sweet nature.

Oh whatever, good night.
: Stand - R.E.M.
06 January 2017 @ 02:09 pm
I miss the good old days, days when you are say things like 'DID YOU KNOW??' and someone will reply 'NO!! I Don't believe you!' but it didn't matter, they didn't have the resources, or wherewithal to check.

Now it's more like 'Did you know...'

'Really? Tell me more'
'Just google it'.

And the conversation is over. But i don't want the conversation to be over. Asking questions, informational questions, are a part of conversation, the long and messy road to connecting with you. I could google stuff, but then i wouldn't need to talk to you. And i want to speak to you. I not only want to know the facts, i want to hear you present the facts to me, as by doing so i hear your opinion and your thoughts. The sequence you list the facts speaks volumes about your personal priorities.

Most of all, i get to hear your voice.

I miss conversation, inane, silly, random conversation, sometimes about wrong facts.
: Can You Feel It - Jacksons
01 December 2016 @ 10:12 pm
When Ruth was just born, i was really happy with the lot i was given, after the initial shock, of course. after about 10 weeks, it was great. She smiled. She slept. She fed well and she liked sitting in other peoples' arms as well as mine.

I thought it was wonderful watching her grow, get smarter.. look at me adoringly. Lift up her arms when she wanted to be carried. She walked at one year, said things like 'mama', 'dada', 'see you!' and 'uh oh!' at that time. She understood NO and always stopped in her tracks when i said it. She was competent at the stairs, going up and down, and i would call to her from upstairs and she would crawl up to me from the downstairs play area. She was sorted.

An experienced friend told me it would get even better. She said the best things about kids are the funny things they do and say when they are older.

Here are some experiences:

1) A year ago (2.5 years old) we are sitting in the car, for another LONG hour and a half journey from Hackney to Wimbledon. 'Mummy, London is so.. far away'.
We had just moved form Oz, where car journeys we took were only 10 minutes.

2) One afternoon after nursery. "mummy, i had an accident'. Me: WHAT??! where how?'. 'It was last night. i changed out of my clothes and cleaned the floor up'. 'Where are the dirty clothes??' 'In the laundry hamper'. True enough, there they were, and the bathroom floor was spotless.

3) *when throwing a tantrum for a few minutes*
Me: Ok... that's enough now. let's breathe and calm down.
Ruth : actually breathes deeply with me (like in yoga) and calms down.

4) This morning (she's 3 and 3 quarters now), i woke up early and was taking a shower. Suddenly, the lights in my bathroom went on. That was Ruth, who recently got tall enough to reach the switches. I expected her to be in my room, waiting for me. In fact, after my hair dried, i walked downstairs to find the living room lights on and her, at the kitchen table, painting. She had helped herself to her craft scissors and was cutting out pictures of cats and rabbits i had drawn for her years ago, and managed to open the watercolours and fill her glass with water to wet her brush.
'Good morning mummy!'

5) Me: Darling, tonight i want you to sleep by yourself and not come into my bed
Ruth: Ok
and she doesn't.

6) When she does come for cuddles at night from a nightmare, she gets kicked out of bed if she fidgets after 3 strikes. Now, she just cuddles for a bit, and then leaves to go to her own bed

7) (this is a bad experience) Baby eoin is fast asleep. When i put her to bed at night, she feels awake. After a while, i hear little chirps and squeaks from Baby Eoin. I walk into the room and find her inside his cot, standing over her baby and pulling at his grobag. Eoin is smiling and chirping at her.
'ARGH!!! why did you wake baby eoin up?! He's sick!!!! He needs sleep!'
Ruth 'But i want him'.
07 November 2016 @ 01:37 pm
Hi was guy fawkes a few days ago. In order to get into the premium fireworks event in our local park, i had to buy tickets at non members' prices and then offer to volunteer to get the priviedge to attend! It was worth is. We walked there, met lots of neighbours, saw familiar faces, and our kids could run around with the other kids.

Since i was volunteering, i was assigned to be those ticket checkers. I hung out with two other women - both had teenagers and were stalwarts of the community,  and they were keen to give me the low down on the neighbourhood as well as lots of advice on boring school things like which schools are good, how do kids travel to school (by tube! by themselves! even at 10!) and lots of stuff that everyone knows - except people like me who are new in country.

But the best thing was watching the fireworks with Eoin AKA Baby boy. I held him up close to me, we were cheek to cheek as i used my cheek to cover one of his ears and my hand to cover the other. We watched the fireworks together and at the end he chirped and smiled and gurgled at me. The second best thing was having Pman bring some whisky from home so we could sip and enjoy together.

Happiness creeps up on you unannounced.

I had no hands to take pictures with so here's a recent pic of the little one, at 13 months old.

25 August 2016 @ 09:49 am
This was the first time we went camping with the kids. Well.. this was the second time i went camping as an adult. I remember camping about four times in my childhood - once when i was 12 in the SPECHLL camp - we set up tents in a school garden and were fed food off styrofoam boxes and there were millipedes and centipedes everywhere and in between peeking at the boys (I was in a girls' school) we tried to improve our spoken mandarin.

The second time I was 15 and our school had organised a camping trip at a youth campsite so that we could learn how to be young ladies. We had a 'colour me beautiful' session, a catwalk session, some kind of cheerleading thing and lots of games. The toilets were better.

The third time i was in the Girls Brigade and we camped in a woodland type area with really bad toilets and large canvas tents with milions of us crowded underneath. It was like in the army. There we did high courses and it was the most terrifying thing in my life to climb up a very tall tree and walk across the tree trunk.

Fourth was when us 15 year olds (again!) were invited to some government youth camp run by the military. We were shown videos of how to eat and kill iguanas and chickens and pigeons like the soldiers did. We attempted to light our own little disposable BBQs. I failed.

This time, i had two children. A baby (11 months!) and a 3.5 year old. This was a holiday campsite with a lot of facilities so we could do washing up in the large bank of sinks (some were clean - i brought gloves) and i could wash my expressing milk gear!

Some notes to self - things that worked and things i wished i had:

1) ALWAYS bring slippers. never touch the toilet ground with your feet. NEVER!!
2) Use a clean loo (when in a restaurant or when sightseeing) whenever possible. I didn't care if i or my daughter needed to go or not.
3) bring a potty for the night. It's no fun running outside to the toilet block in the middle of the night when your kid needs to go.. OR having an accident in the tent!
4) bring CASH. Not cards and lots of change
5) Bring laundry liquid, or you'll have to flirt with other campers to use theirs. (doesn't really work in my old age)
6) Bring lots of random cloths and a bucket - for mopping up, for letting baby sit on when messily eating, or cloth showering yourself before you go to bed
7) and lots of wet wipes
8) Bring bedtime socks - i shower before bed, wear the socks and even when walking in my slippers back to the tent the feet stay clean and there is no dust or mud on my feet before sleeptime
9) don't bother with makeup - some campers liked putting on their crap in the misty smelly toilets but not me.
10) Bring a mirror: for contact lenses in the morning
11) bring a dustpan and brush / dustbuster - for cleaning up the tent before you go.
12) and ice packs - the campsite had an icepack freezer
13) Solar powered USB charger - we were bereft of technology for 4 days which wasn't too bad but i couldn't even take any pictures.
14) Camping cooking table WITH shelves (cloth or otherwise) - would've made cooking a lot easier instead of messing about with all our floor bound bags which had to be guarded because of the crawling, curious baby
15) self lighting camping stove - the same as ours except you didn't need to mess around with matches and aforementioned baby
16) a USB chargable lamp - little torches blind you and you need to hold them up
17) lots of plastic bags - for your shower stuff, and to be a rubbish bin
17) hooks for hanging your stuff - lamps, rubbish bins, etc
18) mallet for building the tent
19) emergency tent material and sealant for rips
20) water proof jacket
21) makeup removal/face cleaning wipes

I had alot of coping mechanisms to go camping, given that i am the type who showers twice a day and has to wear gloves to deal with any kind of dirt. But.. i think i would go again!

25 September 2015 @ 04:26 am
I work up from a dream (it's 4am).

At 37 weeks i think i know it's classic anxiety over the impending birth.

I was having drinks with my mothers'group when I had a call from an old friend. she was calling on behalf of my math tuition teacher I had when I was 10-16 (Mr tsing). 'Are you going to come back for math tuition?' She asked. Also, she continued, what food did I need to eat during tuition and did I remember how much it cost so I could pay him?

I was flabbergasted. Why did I need math tuition? I tried to explain that I had gestational diabetes and the food wasn't necessary, but the phone connection went dead. So I asked my friend, @superen - 'is math hard?'

Of course it was, she replied, as did my husband, who also appeared. Another friend materialised and they were all doing homework together, their textbooks open. I had no books. I told them 'wow. I have never been to a lecture and never looked at the work. I don't even have a timetable! I thought I was a mom and didn't need to do homework anymore!'

Oh no, my friend replied. We've got math, science, literature, history and music. It's tough work and exams are coming at the end of the year.

I immediately put together a plan to buy textbooks and get started on work. I had no idea that all my friends had been studying and working behind my back! I thought they would have just informed me and I would be dragged along on their sea of conscientiousness. Why did I need qualifications? Wasn't i done? Apparently not. After the birth I have to go back to school and graduate. Apparently, I hadn't even graduated yet.

Life is so hard.

Upon waking I was filled with a huge sense of relief. The education system with all the tests and exams are hugely stressful. Now I just live life and relax (when the kid is asleep and the chores are done). There isn't a pressing need to study or use all bits of my time learning to get ahead. I thought about my time with my math tutor when I was 15. We were sat around his round table, doing math. There were boys and girls. My friend's brother, Leonard was there and he had brought his friend, Engsu. They were from our brother school and were proper cheeky virile
boys. Leonard was notorious for being cute in his day. They stared at me and made jokes. I decided to ignore them and I was caught up in my world of algebra and math. I liked math especially when I had got the knack and Mr tsing explained everything so well to me. I loved going for tuition.

That night, I think i received a phone call from Leonard, asking permission for his friend to call me. I said yes, and after a while and many calls later, I had a first teenage boyfriend. It was crazy. All I wanted to do was math.
20 May 2015 @ 01:02 am

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13 January 2015 @ 09:17 pm
10 years ago, i wrote a bizarre entry about House of the Flying daggers.

Here http://dieseldawn.livejournal.com/35093.html

I talked about how hot Andy Lau was. I wonder how old is he now, and whether he is just as good looking as he was in that film, so long ago. I also discussed this girl who loved Andy Lau in school and wondered where she was. Her name is SHIRLEY HUANG. I tried to find her on Facebook, but i didn't manage to (i didn't try too hard). It's amazing what the things people do touch you in different ways. Like the way i used to have random discussions with a certain RUTH HUANG when i was 11 in class about her love for Hitler (yes... I KNOW) and her super girl crush on Steffi Graf before she moved to Canada.

So 10 years ago, i am reading my little young stuff talking about everything. I think we still think the same. I still wonder about why ducks aren't white (unlike in friends) and why interest rates are more than 6%. But I think that life has changed.

Or has it?

One thing's for sure, Ukraine isn't great at manufacturing, unlike my justified and well researched prediction. HA. The big thing about being a parent is whether you get enough sleep, and how awful it is to wake up so early in the morning to suit your kid's needs.

Firstly, not all kids wake up at 5:30.. or 7:00am. Some make it to 8pm. Secondly, even if they do wake up early, you don't have to wake up either. I'm not saying i'm leaving baby to hang out in the cot until i roll out of bed at 11am, but we have slept in till 8:30 without any mishaps (Ruth was engrossed in one of the books i had left in the cot for occasions such as these).

8:30am might seem mighty early to many people, but in the grand scheme of things, is it that different from most of your life?

Let's look at the stats:

Zorka wake up times:

1-4 years: woke up at 7am (i guess. My mother never knew when i woke up since i slept with the hired help *sniff*)

4-8 years: 6:30 am. I remember that because on Saturday mornings, i switched on the TV and had to watch the test screen until cartoons came on at 8am. Or was i wrong?

9-13 years: 5:45am. The school bus came at 6am to get us to school. I think roll call was 7am and we started classes at 8am. The funny thing is that I didn't shower in the mornings because there was no time! Note- showering in the morning is not an all-life habit! *Gasp*

13-18 years: 6:30am? I guess? I think i used to wake up my sisters/mom to drive me to school every morning at 7am. They were always late!

And even on weekends, i didn't sleep in either. Saturday morning was reserved for my extra curricular activities like the Girls' Brigade and going to church on Sundays.

During school holidays (2 months a year) i guess i slept in on Saturdays, but that was it.

19-22 years: 8:00am on good days, 9am for other days. Here is when the sleeping in started. At uni, we had 2 9am classes a week and even though i always made it, i slept through most of Econ B. On weekends, I slept in to a large extent till 10 am sometimes.

23 - 26: 7:15am... sometime even earlier. This was because it was London and commuting to Sunbury took about 45 minutes. I aimed to arrive at the same time as my boss - about 8:30am. I slept in on weekends.

27 - pre baby: 8-8:30am?! Yes i had a job, but i did my 9-6pm religiously and didn't come into the office any earlier. When i came in at 8am there were shocked gasps. I am amazed i am employed. The commute in Aberdeen was like 30 minutes and in Perth was like 10-15mins. I slept in on weekends too.

Post baby: 6:30 on work days - 7:30am on non work days.

So, i guess i spent 28% of my life waking up after 7:30am, and most of my life waking up before. However, the biggest complaint any new mom/considering-having-children-person has is that they can't deal with the lack of sleep and the early wake up times.

I also felt the same way, but the evidence suggests otherwise!

The ironic thing is that because of the perceived lack of sleep of motherhood, i calculate the number of hours i need (8) and sleep accordingly (at 11pm). Sometimes i go to bed with Pman at 10pm and sleep for 9 hours or more. Compared to the bed times i used to keep from when i was in my teens (12am was the minimum for decades), i'm getting the most amount of sleep as a parent than when i was free and childless. I don't fall asleep at meetings anymore and i certainly don't almost fall off my chair during lectures.

I suppose what childless people mean when they say 'I couldn't be a parent because i can't deal with the lack of sleep' is really ' i can't deal with the lack of options for sleeping in'.

In the past, i could always call in sick for work (not that i have. HA), pretend to be sick for school (again, i haven't, HA) or just not wake up and make excuses. There were always weekends to sleep in. As a parent, there are no excuses. You are up every morning, at least by 8:30 and you bloody well deliver. Give the milk, change the nappy and make breakfast, as a minimum. That is true responsibility i guess. There is no one to make the excuse to, no one to cover your ass when you're down. Ok, there is your partner, but it's more likely that both wake up early and suffer together but half as much. It's the lack of options and choices about wake up and sleep times that people are really complaining about.

Growing up, not lack of sleep - that is the true fear.
: Love Again - Pentatonix
24 September 2014 @ 04:06 pm
Most days i wash my hair with baking soda. On special days i might use shampoo and conditioner. On really special days i might use a brush when hair drying. And a few times a year i go to a salon for a hair cut and then it's all systems go!

Today, Ronan told me that the other hairdressing fellow across from me was also a GHD rep, and Lewis then handed him a set of four new ghd models for him to play with. New gadgets! oooooooohh. He unpacked them from their cases and I saw the big black oval shaped one.

Z: let's use that one
R: It creates looser curls... what is the look that we agreed?
Z: Yeah whatever. It's OVOID.
R: So, since lewis is the sole educator of these products and they are not available yet, you are the first person in WA to have your hair styled by these.
Z: OK. I'll have to take a few selfies and post this ok?

Well, I have never owned a pair of ghds and I didn't even handle the kit, but I assume that the tools did the job.

The only comment i would make is that it's not very health and safety compliant. The heated bit is the of the same colour as the handle. Besides making it look like a sexy dildo, the lack of distinction between the cool and the hot area makes the user more prone to error and burning.

After about 5 minutes (and a few burns) of handling this, Ronan pronounced my hair as very beautiful, (It's alright. I don't understand the art form, obviously) and that he would have the buy the whole set.

Ok, free advert for ghd over, and your friendly -first-ever-styled-by-these-tools-girl is checking out. .
23 June 2014 @ 09:47 pm
'Isn't this nuts?', most of you reading this are saying. Most moms don't have stay at home maids, people to cook, clean and nanny for you 24/7. However, if you grow up in Singapore (or many developing countries where labour is cheap and plentiful), you will know what i mean.

I do not know a single Singaporean mom in Singapore without a maid. I grew up with two. My mother needed two helpers to keep the household in order whilst she pursued her daily activities. Dad was too busy working to bother himself with the trivialities and logistics of day to day life.

There is another way, my friends, and let me tell you how (growing up in the spoilt, pampered Singaporean lifestyle), you can be a mom without a maid!

  • Put your baby on a routine - i wish i started Ruth on a routine when she was 1 day old, instead of 9 weeks old. Once you know when the babe shall be eating and sleeping, you can plan your days. I napped every time she did, even if she was napping for 20 minutes, so was i...

  • Sleep train your baby. No, you don't need to let your baby cry in en empty room for hours to sleep train your baby. There are various techniques out there. I patted Ruth to sleep according to her routine. Some days, I patted her for 45 minutes and she slept for 20 minutes. There was negative payback in the beginning but she got the hint.. eventually. She was stubborn. I was worse.

  • Put yourself in a routine. Part of the terror of being a mom is not knowing what to expect. Seek comfort in your daily routine so nothing throws you off. I slept at the same time, woke up at the same time, had a shower every morning no matter what my baby was doing and ate regular meals. I had to put Ruth down to eat, cook and shower. She didn't like it, but happy mom = happy life. Sad depressed mom = mom in danger of murdering her kids. Did you know that parents are the biggest set of murderers on the planet? That's right... fear not the rapist on the street nor the teenager with the fire arm. You are statistically most likely to be killed by your parents when you are a baby.

  • Be super organised. Everything has its place in the house. I bought things in advance and in bulk so they would be on hand. I bought things online (like all my supermarket shopping) so they would be delivered on schedule. I know what i am eating for breakfast tomorrow and I have meat and fish in the fridge for dinner for the week. There are always batteries and toilet paper. There are always nappies and wet wipes. There is always cash in my wallet and petrol in the car. There are emergency gifts and cards in the storeroom. There is ALWAYS a bottle of wine handy. Let there never be a last minute errand that you have to run with screaming baby in tow. There are plenty of emergencies out there that you have to deal with, don't let simple household life be one of them.

  • Get help. You can't do it alone, so seek help. You don't need 24/7 help with a maid, but use what you've got. We budgeted for a weekly cleaner to help us. I've got a good friend who i can go to in emergencies. Ruth went to daycare a day a week since she was 4 months so i had 8 hours once a week to sleep and recover. When i was hospitalised with the flu, it was easy to increase her daycare days so i could recover and Pman could still go to work. At 6 months we started using babysitters, from the fine selection we got to know at daycare. We managed to go out once a week and get some couple time together.

  • Learn the importance of delayed gratification - and that is for me and baby. I had to learn that i couldn't leave the house at a drop of a hat to go to a party if i hadn't organised it well beforehand. I had responsibilities. Likewise, Ruth had to learn that even though she really wanted me to pick her up, she had to wait until i was done washing my hands, or emptying the dishwasher, or finishing my shower. She cried and got super pissed off that she wasn't the queen of the world and i wasn't her slave. In my opinion, the best thing a parent can do is to teach their children that they can't have everything that they want instantly. Sometimes they have to wait, and many times, they never get it. Ruth has all my love and many many cuddles, but i always give her exactly what she wants, on my terms. At 16 months, Ruth is definitely learning patience.

  • Teach your child NO. And teach yourself that No means No and don't give in! The second Ruth started doing wrong things, i taught her NO. No pulling my hair. No biting me when breastfeeding. No playing with wires. No killing yourself. There were a lot of Nos, but after she stuck to the basic household rules, everything else was a YES. Once baby knows the household rules, you don't need a nanny to constantly run after her to check on what she is doing. In a reasonably childproofed home, a child can wander free.

  • Let your husband help, and make him help if he is reticent. I assume you married a halfway decent bloke who isn't out there gambling and whoring. Asking your man to 'help with the chores' isn't specific enough. Pman and I worked out what was solely his responsibility and what was mine when it came to baby. He did bath and bed time. I shut myself in the room and (even though i thought i could do it better), tried my best to keep out of his way and let him figure it out for himself. His job was his job and i let him get on with it. I got a break, and daddy got himself the eternal love of his daddy's girl and the best bath time and settling skills ever. Economic specialisation at its finest.

  • Stop buying stuff. Stuff is clutter. Stuff costs money, and stuff needs to be packed away, and cleaned. Chores are bad and we need to survive without a maid! So decorative items are out. Dry clean only clothes are out. In fact, shopping is generally out because toddlers hate being cooped up in prams when they could be running about in the park. Babies don't need things, they need love. You can't consume your way out of parenting. You can't buy a sleep aid to make baby sleep through they night, they need you to train them. Pare it all back.

  • Let your child be independent and a part of the family. If they aren't screaming for you, let them play by themselves. You don't need to be in their face all the time. I left Ruth to play by herself for 2 minutes, then 5, then 10.. then 40. If they want to feed themselves, let them. While they are eating, you can hopefully eat your own breakfast too.

  • Eat together. We had to shift our mealtimes so that we could eat as a family, but it meant that I cooked one meal for everyone, and Ruth could emulate her parents in using cutlery. Fewer meals = fewer chores! Yes, we all ate super healthy food when she was younger (she had the same thing pureed), but that meant that we all benefitted from a healthier diet.

  • Understand that your old life has died. Doing things at a drop of a hat is over. No more last minute evening parties and get togethers - we need to organise babysitters. Pman can't go out drinking without my corporation if he doesn't want to be in daddy mode the next day nursing a hangover. It sucks, but life sucks right? That said...

  • Understand that a new life has begun, and it's glorious. parenthood is tough, but you will never know what unconditional love is (at least in the first few years!) until you have your own child and are attentive parents. No pain, no gain.

  • Finally, a word of caution to those with maids:

    Be care of too much outsourcing. Outsourcing is insidious... you start with an hour or two each day.. and then you are off for days without seeing your child because there is someone at home who is taking care of your child's needs. Yes, you think.. my life is important. Yes, your life is important, but (ignoring the obvious arguments of being an attentive parent), if you want your children to call you regularly once they grow up or hang out with you in your nursing home, invest your time in your children now. On a more practical note - you might want to reduce the outsourcing if you want to go on holiday without a maid and actually have the skills to handle your own children without paid help.

    Money is important, but what are you spending on? Can you take a pay cut and give up those luxury holidays if you could come home an hour earlier each day and put baby to bed? What I've learnt form my own upbringing is that you can't have everything.
    : Mothers Of The Disappeared - U2