Bye Bye Baby Weight(and a blog challenge!)

I have a number of things to post about, but will start with the most recent thing I’ve embarked on – time to lose that baby weight!

So, I’ve decided that it’s about time I stop using breastfeeding as an excuse to stuffing my face and actually start losing some baby weight. No, I am not being hard on myself – I really have been quite indulgent of late and it’s probably time to stop eating so much chocolate!

The pic on the left is when I was 32 weeks pregnant – the one on the right was taken just last weekend and I reckon I haven’t lost much at all (aside from the baby coming out of course!)

This morning was a bit of a bummer – I was all excited about this weight loss thing and told hubby I’d get it done it a flash! I’m very fortunate that my genes are very forgiving and I don’t put on weight that easily. At the rate I eat food, I should be obese by now! Also, I’m not too put off by exercise – it’s more finding the time to do it…

But anyway, so I was being all gung ho and dancing to the Wiggles on TV, and then I leaned to get Jacob and Jared to come and dance with me. A warning to mums – don’t try to lift your baby while you are Doing the Twist. Yup, I did, and I twisted something in my lower back. I have had previous back injuries from cheerleading (back in the olden days haha!) and it feels like a similar strain to then!

So instead of doing all the things I wanted to do, I’ve just been sitting around all day feeling sorry for myself! Okay, not quite – we did end up doing some craft (which I will share another day) but I suppose that my exercise part of my program has to be put on hold for now. Thank goodness my awesome hubby was at home to pick up my slack – I could barely pick up Jared (who is nearing 7kg at just under 10 weeks – argh!!).

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Lying down is a good hobby for now! This is when Jared was just over a week old!

However, I’ve been trying to eat more healthily regardless. The other day, I made up a salad (which is really unlike me as I’m not into salads) and I was so amazed that Jacob ate all of it up! Yes, he ate his salad!!! Fair enough, there was fruit in it, but I was just so amazed that I’ve named it Jacob’s Success Salad. He ate it so quickly that I didn’t get to take a photo! It’s really simple but that’s what I put in it:

Jacob’s Success Salad

Ingredients:
1 tomato, cut into small pieces
1/3 of a cucumber, cut into small pieces
1/2 a carrot, grated
handful of grapes (cut them in half for the littlies)
half an apple, cubed
frozen corn, thawed
lemon juice to sprinkle (optional)

Method:
Mix them all together and serve with a dash of lemon juice (though Jacob has it without – fresh is best). Yummy! 🙂 Other things I could probably put in this are strawberries, mandarin pieces, diced orange and thawed frozen peas.

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And also, before I forget, I was invited to participate in a blog challenge by Tanya from iReview Global on the Bloggers United Australia community! I am looking forward to this and hoping it will keep me committed to blogging (as sometimes it can get a bit difficult with 2 littlies) – I’m really relieved that I only have to blog on odd days, not every day!

This is what I’ll have to follow during my challenge:

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If you want to join, you’re most welcome! You can view Tanya’s original post HERE. Please comment here if you decide to join in so I can check out your posts as well!

Over and out – off to cook some healthy dinner with a sore back! XD

Anzac Day Weekend

We’ve just gotten back from a lovely long weekend away. Today is Anzac Day, which commemorates Australians and New Zealanders who have served and protected their countries in wars and other missions.

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While I grew up in Malaysia, hence this occasion is a relatively new concept to me, the unity seen on the day feels somewhat similar to how Malaysians celebrate our independence day. There is a strong sense of symbolism with the red poppies, wreaths and even Anzac biscuits – and then the memorial services as well. I haven’t been to a service for ages but when I was a student, my apartment was directly opposite from the National War Memorial in the city and I used to hear the dawn service and watch part of it from my room (though lucky me could go back to sleep after – those were the days!).

I was trying to work out if I had been to a memorial service before, and I think we did go to one at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra 6 years ago! Or it may have just been a regular service as I think this was in the afternoon? This was one of the first trips Daniel and I took together – we drove from Adelaide to Newcastle in a day! We plan to do a NSW trip sometime this year as well, but it will be a lot trickier with two kids this time!

As I’ve been in Australia for nearly 10 years, I probably should read more about Anzac Day and educate my kids about it. On a blog I often read, the writer listed a few good Anzac Day books that can help kids understand the concept of Anzac Day – here is the post. Have you read any of these books with your kids?

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On a separate note, we went away for a lovely beach holiday down in Normanville. More updates about that to come, but just wanted to share this adorable shot of these cuties (Jacob, Jared and my nephew) waiting patiently for their breakfast. Credits to my mum-in-law for capturing the moment!

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Hope you all had a great long weekend! 🙂

Tanunda Day Out

I love the Barossa Valley but not so much for the fancy wine and diverse local produce. The Barossa does hold a special place in my heart as hubby and I spent our wedding night out at the Novotel Barossa. We cruised into the place in our bright orange car, with the windscreen smeared with lipstick messages written by some of our friends and relatives. I think we had in room dining for dinner, which wasn’t too impressive, but nevertheless it was awesome that we could just stay in and relax after a big day.

We also stayed out there for our Babymoon i.e. our little getaway just before Jacob was born. Here I am at 37 weeks, chilling out right after I finished up at my previous workplace. Yet again, we enjoyed the same beautiful views of the rolling hills and picturesque vineyards.

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We’ve also stayed up in Tanunda previously for Big Camp – it’s a church camp run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church Conference of South Australia, and it’s usually held on the grounds of a school up there. Two years ago, we camped there with Jacob – look how small he was then (and what a happy camper he was)

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Big Camp is running again right now but we opted not to camp as we weren’t sure it would be the best idea with an 8 week old baby (though Jared is such a calm baby that we probably would have survived). There is an option to watch some of the programs via Livestream, which is very handy for families like us who have kids who make too much noise to be in the main program -here is the Livestream link just for interest sake.

We made a couple of trips up there as I was helping with the music for the kids program. There are programs for kids of all ages, but I was particularly impressed by the Beginners program (which is what I was helping with, and is for kids from 0-5). The camp’s general theme is Going Home – the Beginners team took the approach of telling stories of people in the Bible who were displaced of their homes and then were given a promise of home.

To visit these people in the stories, they constructed a Time Machine. They made a big grandfather’s clock with a timeline where they turned the dial back to the time of the story, and then the kids stepped through the time machine, which was in the form of a Narnia-themed wardrobe. The wardrobe led through a dark tunnel with fairy lights that took them to a tent where the Bible character was waiting for them to tell them the story. I love the effort they put in for this and I know the kids really enjoyed the whole experience. I was going to take photos but it’s hard to get photos of things when you have two kids on your hands!

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However, I did get to take photos of food -we went for brunch at a cafe called Red Door Espresso. Initially I wasn’t too impressed as nobody seemed to pay us any attention at all (I literally was saying “Excuse me!” rather loudly to some staff behind the counter who was just staring off into space and munching on something?). But the girl at the cashier (who was busy at that time) was prompt to make up for that once she had finished with her customers, and set us up at a nice table outdoors.

It was a lovely day out but not too hot for a couple of hot drinks! Daniel ordered something called the Ultimate Hot Chocolate? Or something like that anyway, I forgot. I’m not cut out to be a food blogger, but the hot chocolate was sure awesome! He basically had to pour pure chocolate out of a bottle into his cup and then mix in cream to his liking. Beautiful and not too sweet! Here he is constructing it, as Jacob enjoys his babycino.

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And our food arrived – we ordered some all day breakfast options, because we are huge hot brekky fans! Yet again, I have forgotten the names of the dishes but on the left is something like crushed avocado and garlic mushrooms while mine was the duck and veal sausage with tomatoes, poached eggs, rocket, etc. Delicious!! We ordered hash browns for Jacob and just shared some bits and pieces with him – he’s more of a grazer anyway.

But another thing that made this place pretty awesome was the little corner that it had for the little people, and a whole bucket of chalk. No, Jacob didn’t draw all those things but he did have fun scribbling all over what was there. The only bad part was probably the parting – we had a bit of a screaming match when we tried to get him to leave.

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Anyway, if you’re ever up in the Barossa (and you’re not already lunching at Maggie Beer’s Farm, which is like the classic tourist destination), check out Red Door Espresso cafe. A nice touch in the heart of the little country town.

Auf Wiedersehen bis bald!

DIY Cardboard Door Signs

Finally I’ve had time to do a bit of craft with Jacob – or more like incredibly easy DIY projects because I am not incredibly artistic. In fact, I’m good at creating messy, clunky things – hence why Jacob loves making art with me!

We had a dilemma to solve. Daniel and I were constantly confusing Jacob’s and Jared’s towels, mainly because of the frequency of us changing towels for them. One poos on a towel, the other makes his towel completely muddy, etc. We try to put them in the same spot at all times but it doesn’t always happen. Anyway, I decided that I would make name labels for Jacob and Jared and put them up behind the bathroom door to make this process easier.

Hence I employed the assistance of my crafty boys! One loves painting and the other just loves peeking at what we’re doing (though in truth, he was actually just tipping over sideways as I took the photo)!

We cut out two little pieces of cardboard (from a pizza box actually!) and decided to do some painting. For some silly reason, I only had fabric paint at home and was unwilling to lug both boys to the shops to buy paint, so we stripped down to bare minimum to paint the cardboard. I certainly recommend poster paints that can wash out from clothing because it was an absolute struggle to clean up, especially since Jacob dripped paint on our white tiles (EEK!). Just FYI, Vanish works really well for getting these stains out of tiles! It was just a bit of fun really – Jacob was more keen on painting himself in truth!

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This is the finished product of the painting. Yes, it doesn’t look like much. Did I mention I was good at clunky, messy craft?

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Earlier this year, my husband’s grandpa turned 90 and we made a memory jar for him. I bought rustic-looking lettering stickers to decorate the jar. I checked and luckily, we had enough letters for JACOB and JARED. And voila, the finished product below, which we stuck on the back of the bathroom door with Blu Tack! Now we won’t get their towels mixed up again (unless we put them in the wrong spot, of course), and Jacob is absolutely proud that we’ve actually used his artwork for something functional!

Also, another thing I thought was worth a mention is Jacob’s ingenuity in creating a drink that will become a new go-to in this house. I’m not sure if you noticed in the picture further above (the one with the stickers), but there is a box of these absolutely AMAZING cookies that we buy from Coles that are like 40% chocolate chip! That’s like nearly as much chocolate as it is cookie! They also crumble in the most fluffy of ways and melt in your mouth when dipped in milk!

So, anyway, Jacob had been pretty good at mealtime so we gave him one cookie with his warm milk (which he drinks from a sippy cup). Jacob removes the sippy cup lid, puts the cookie in, replaces the lid and gives it a shake. Then he proceeds to drink it and realises he has made the most amazing cookies milkshake hot chocolate concoction! Delicious! I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of him drinking it, but I did get this shot of him having an ice cream yesterday (and lovin’ it!)

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Hope you all have a scrumptious week ahead!

Full Moon Party (just a tad bit late)

So, I may have mentioned this before, but part of my cultural heritage (and probably the largest part) is Chinese. While I don’t really practice a lot of the Chinese customs, it was wonderful to have a lot of my Wong relatives visiting from various different part of the world, hence we decided that we would have a full moon party for Jared.

In my not so in-depth knowledge of Chinese culture, here are a few things to know about a full moon party:

  • It’s a celebration of a child turning one month old. Jared was born on 23rd February, so his full moon party should have been on the 23rd of March but our relatives were only arriving in April so we just had it a bit later. Their visit was planned around Jared’s due date (which was the 7th of April) but Jared was a bit early!
  • It’s meant to mark the end of confinement, which is where the mother is literally ‘confined’ to the house and has a number of rules and rituals to follow (like drinking red date tea all day, eating only particular foods and not washing their hair for a month). I didn’t actually undergo confinement and was out and about a couple of days after Jared was born!
  • There are a number of customs that are celebrated at the full moon, such as shaving the baby’s head and having mum and baby bathe in water mixed with pomelo leaves. No, we didn’t do these either – where on earth am I meant to find pomelo leaves in Adelaide?
  • However, we did try to cook food to suit the occasion (or rather, mum and grandma cooked because I had two children stuck to me all day). Just look at the spread:moments_65887a52-c043-452e-b3ac-1b5852ff6358

Some of the dishes there are ginger wine chicken, chicken curry, beef rendang and gado gado. We also made nasi kunyit (glutinous sticky rice with turmeric) but my mum was not too impressed with my steamer. No, I don’t have that typical huge Asian bamboo steamer thing, so we tried to go between rice cooker and microwave steamer and most of it turned out okay (though one lot I burnt right to the core, oops!).

Afterwards for dessert, we were meant to make ang ku kuehs (red glutinous peanut cakes) but decided that we would just rather make glutinous rice balls instead. Love the pink! I’m amazed that Jacob actually ate two balls – he’s not usually the type to eat things that are chewy! I was half afraid that he would choke because they’re so sticky.

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The event was fairly low key and it was just nice to be able to spend time eating good food with family. The older boys (3 and 2) had a ball of a time playing in the sandpit outside and running about the house with cars and trains, while Jared pretty much slept through it anyway! Speaking of which, here he is:

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My talented sister-in-law made this beautiful framed piece for Jared as a dedication present (we had his dedication the day before that)! And here Jared is, posing in his fancy Ralph Lauren suit (also a gift to us).

We are just so blessed to have a rich cultural heritage and a beautiful and supportive lot of family members. No matter the distance, we will draw close to each other in good and bad times. 🙂

My first day of solo parenting

So, my parents left and I had to face reality – that I am going to be spending a lot of time with these kids on my own!

Just for fun, I thought I’d document my first day (or rather, first 12 hours) of solo parenting. Hubby was at work and had parent teacher interviews til late, and I had to pick him up as the other car had been sent for repair.

I hope not to bore you but this is roughly how my day worked out.

7.30am – We farewell daddy and have breakfast, which comprises Weetbix Bites and Cheerios (and has to be mopped up from the floor eventually).

8.00am – I realise that it’s the playgroup party day and I haven’t made “party food”! Cue scrambling around to find something, and then the Asian in me prevails and I make fried bananas. I certainly will share my recipe one day!

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8.30am – Get both kids ready for playgroup. Since it’s Siblings Day (or I think it’s the day after, but never mind), I dress them in their matching shirts! Seriously, I’m one of those mums that loves to dress their kids in matching stuff. I would probably dress to match them too if I could. I would also do daily photoshoots. But I digress…

9.30am – So, we do get to playgroup after taking heaps of photos of the boys in their matching stuff. Playgroup is great, but there’s always that one kid that goes up to another boy, shouts at him and takes his helicopter. And the one who has a tantrum as he’s frustrated that he couldn’t get something to fit into something which clearly defied physical laws. You know, the kid who won’t sit still for morning tea time and pulls out the storytime blanket from under some kids because it’s “MY BLANKET”. Yes, that is my child. I think the other mums are a combination of understanding and sympathetic towards my cause. At least my fried bananas are well received.

12.00pm – We are done with playgroup! Playgroup ends at 11.30am but it took me close to 30 mins to round up my unruly lot (i.e. one child) who took off his shoes, then I put them back on and he lost one again, and then he ran off with the door stopper and insisted it was his phone. Thank goodness for baby carriers, so I could have the baby nicely nestled in it while I lug the toddler  to the car.

1.00pm – Finally, we are organised and are eating lunch. Leftovers again, because I had no time to make anything new! That’s what weekends are for, right? Toddler is bribed to eat his food by bartering Lego pieces for his new police truck. He’s really into Duplo at the moment so I might as well make the most of it.20160322_150951

2.30pm – A friend comes over to visit with her little boy so the kiddos have a good play. I give the boys little chocolate cupcakes as treats, and there are suddenly crumbs everywhere. Try to vacuum it up with the hand vac but it doesn’t work as somebody turned the power off the charger. Brush it off and pretend the crumbs will evaporate.

4.30pm – My friend is just about to leave and we realise the boys have been pretty darn quiet. We enter the room to see half a tissue box worth of tissues on the floor!!! I reckon the boys made a pile each! My only regret is that we didn’t take a photo!

5.30pm – Normally hubby would be home by now but he’s out, so I try to put food on the table. Yet again, it’s leftovers but a different kind of leftovers (lunch was stir fry and rice, now it’s pizza). Faced with strong opposition by toddler who eats about 2 bites and then does a poo in his nappy. Take him out to be changed while baby fusses (he’s normally fussy in the evening) and the baby does a blowout, so change that and toddler’s like “Mummy, I did another one.” A lot of nappy changing and very little eating done, and then I realise that we have to go and pick hubby up soon. By now it is nearly 7pm and I’m going to run late, so we resort to a baby food pouch – Apple and Fig Porridge – which is well-received, thank goodness!

7.30pm  – We get to hubby’s workplace to pick him up, and some of hubby’s colleagues get their fair share of baby cuddles. Thus ends a busy yet fun day!

I look forward to many more fun days with my boys, as trying as they can be at times!

And also, happy (belated) siblings day!

Of distance and time.

For time is the longest distance between two places.
– Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

I am sitting in the lounge room with my toddler and we are munching on some sort of crispy Asian snack that we really shouldn’t be eating at this time of day, but that’s okay. There are crumbs on the sofa, a washing load going on in the background and a silence in this house that hasn’t been there for many weeks.

After about 6 weeks of camping out in my house, my parents and grandma finally left this morning. My grandma was only here for some of the time, which meant that she and mum were in the spare room and my dad slept in the lounge room. It was a busy household, with Jared rousing in the night and Jacob running around from the wee hours of the morning. Then there was dad doing his yoga and responding to work emails, mum cooking and cleaning to keep my household up to scratch and grandma helping out here and there, particularly with holding the baby.

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If you must know, my parents and I have an interesting relationship, particularly my mum and I. Our parenting styles are a discussion for another day, but we’ve always had that sort of relationship where we’re seething at each other one minute, and the other we’re having teh tarik at a mamak stall together talking about a random article we saw on Facebook.

In truth, we had every right to be mad at each other. I was an absolute hoon as a teenager, breaking out from my typical Asian upbringing and wanting to be some crazy chick with green hair playing bass in a rock band. And I wouldn’t say mum expected perfection, but she set the bar pretty high.

We are very different people – for example, mum always wanted to have a baby girl and I always wanted to have a boy. We both got what we wanted, fortunately. Mum is good at things like organising (households, suitcases, time) while I am better at going with the flow and making things happen at last minute. Mum tenses up under pressure, while pressure is my element.

But as I’ve been growing older, I’ve been finding more and more ways that we are alike. We are both strong and outspoken about certain things; we are set in our ways about some things but luckily are able to compromise about some to the point of minimising conflict. We both like small country towns, good bargains and Irish/German music. Also, we both operate on coffee and can survive with little sleep (though when we crash, we crash and burn).

I think that every time we meet, we come to a better understanding. I appreciate that you now view me as an adult (and as a relatively competent one at that) and that we value respect over our own views and love over the decisions we make. And I do miss you, more than you know, when you’re so far away.

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Due to the number of car seats in the back and the fact that our car is too narrow for someone to sit between them, we didn’t get to do too many things here.

Mum, I would have loved to take you to more op shops and maybe even garage sales, not so much to spend money but more so for the joy of the browse. I would have loved to take you to the markets more and cooked more food together, rather than trying and being shooed away because I’m not meant to carry the baby in the kitchen. I wish that you’d been able to relax more on your trip here, but I also appreciate all the work that you did here. I can’t say I’ll be able to keep it up, just as in some ways I can never walk in your footsteps, but I will do the best I can in my own way.

Dad, I would have loved to take you to more pubs and wineries just to have a taste. Thank you for coming to Jacob’s swimming lessons with us and for chasing Jacob and carrying him when he wouldn’t come when called. I promise to keep your vegetable patch alive for as long as possible.

Grandma, if only I’d had more time with you here – I’d have taken you to see the roses at the Veale Gardens and the lavender gardens in Lyndoch. We would have had tea and scones more, and sat in picturesque places just talking about anything. I know you couldn’t get your fill of Jared cuddles, but I do promise that you will see him again. 

And if there’s anything more difficult than sending cherished relatives to the airport, it’s explaining to your toddler where they’ve gone and how he won’t see them for a while.

And with Jacob, at 2 and a half, I don’t expect him to understand the concept of time and distance. He doesn’t yet know that he may not see his grandparents and great grandmother for another year or so. This is a conversation we had today (though with some interruptions due to his preoccupation with Lego House building)

Me: Where’s grandmama and grandpa George and great grandma?
Jacob: I don’t know?
Me: Where do you think they went?
Jacob: Grandpa George gone to work…
Me: What about grandmama and great grandma?
Jacob: Maybe outside?
Me: Yes sometimes they’re in the garden. But not today. Today they went in an aeroplane.
Jacob: No.
Me: Yes, they did.
Jacob: Not on an aeroplane.
Me: They did.
Jacob: They going home?
Me: Yes they went home.
Jacob: Where’s their house?
Me: It’s far away.
Jacob: Far like nanny and grandpa’s house? (which is my in-law’s place in the hills, about 40 minutes away)
Me: Yes, a bit further. Just a bit further.

But the sweet thing is that he does remember them. This year, we bought this particular calendar as we though it was funny – a satirical look at parenting. On the day we put it up, Jacob looked at January’s picture (left) and said “That’s Grandpa George!” (Grandpa George on the right as a comparison). He was pretty close I reckon!

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He was initially confused between grandmama and great grandma (they sound quite alike!) but has worked it out since. He occasionally mentions them in his made up stories where they go to the zoo or eat pancakes together.

I don’t know when we’ll all be in the same country again. I checked ticket prices and our next trip to Malaysia may cost us about $3500, argh! But I’m confident that we will go there once again, somewhere in the future and I hope that we can make up for lost time.

Thanks for the memories, mum, dad and grandma! We hope to see you again soon!

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