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01 January 2019 @ 11:03 am

People on Facebook are writing meaningful entries on their experiences in the past year, so I suddenly started thinking. What have I done? 

Nothing! And that's the best thing! 

In 2015, we moved countries and I left my job in the process. I was pregnant, we found a rental home in Wimbledon, London after a month or purgatory in a serviced apartment in Richmond. We decluttered all our possessions to fit into said rental home. We completely changed our lifestyle from the relaxed sunny Aussie way to the urban London style. I made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I found a nursery for Ruth (who was 2.5 years) and enrolled her in a few classes. I found a doctor and a physio and we welcomed Eoin into the world in Q4. After a few months of motherhood, new mothers group friends, dealing with two kids etc, I started house hunting for something to buy. Eoin was a superstar, sitting nicely in his maxicosi while we moved him from one viewing to another. 

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14 August 2018 @ 08:47 pm

So.. it started with an innocuous conversation about couches, and how they fold down so people can sleep on them. My 5 year old daughter, Ruth, then commented on how people should sleep on couches. I begged to differ. I told her a story of a bad man who was lousy with money, squandering it whenever he earned it and who ended up homeless and sleeping on friends' couches when his wife left him. 

I reiterated that we are a sensible stable family who doesn't go shopping for toys and prefer to spend on sensible things like our house. WE didn't want to end up sleeping on couches. Then she said, 'Imagine a world where everyone had all the money they needed and they could buy all the toys they wanted.' 

How do you explain how it is the restriction of money that makes it valuable, that hyper inflation (ie. where everyone has unlimited amounts of money) makes things worthless?

I pushed my reluctant memory to the days of microeconomics and EconB, the first economics module we had in university. 

Me: Ummmm, in the past, people would trade things instead of money to get what they wanted. What can I give you for you to give me baby rabbit? 

R: nothing. i will never give baby rabbit away.

Z: What about this clay cat? What will you accept for this cat? 

R: One stripy suitcase. 

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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