Thursday, 27 May 2010

Photobook Projects

Here's a sneak peak of one of the photobook projects I've been working on. No surprises whose book it was going to be.

I know it's hard to believe, but it's actually the first time I've used their new software launched some months ago.

There are so much more you can do with this new software, tweaking with the photo colours, brightness and contrast; adding borders, masking, fading and much much more. It's like a mini photoshop, except much easier. It's amazing!

Now I can't wait to see the end product. I've chosen the small square softcover for gift books (for grandma, for aunts and uncles overseas etc) and hardcovers to keep for ourselves. Next I'm going to make a large landscape image wrap, and the boys' birthday book.

Check out their new website, and new free to download software. And if you're stuck for ideas, there are some wonderful featured books on display. Check out Baby Willow's book, makes me want to make Lily pose nude for some photos too. Go on, hop on over! Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Carousel Cowboys

I was cleaning up my desktop and look what I've found...

Me and my two cowboys. I was 7 months pregnant with Lily. Best Blogger Tips

Monday, 24 May 2010

Happy Fullmoon!

It's been a month since you were born, and I can't believe how time flies.

Once more, I never knew I was capable of feeling so much joy, warmth, love, heartache, and satisfaction.

I never knew I could lie awake in the wee hours, despite the sleep deprivation, feeling like I have my heart outside of my body.

It's amazing how something so small could make someone feel so important and happy.

You have been my favourite baby, just don't tell the others......... ;) Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Confinement Food

For the past month or so, the food I've been eating comes in many different shades of brown. The list is weird but wonderful and let me tell you this, it is the BEST thing about being in "confinement".

Every meal I had is protein rich, and almost everything is cooked in sesame oil and ginger! Sauteed chicken in sesame seed oil and ginger, pork in ginger, omelette with ginger, chinese broccoli with ginger, and everything topped with crispy toasted ginger shreds. It's absolutely divine!

In most Asian culture and beliefs, it is customary for a woman who have just given birth to a baby to remain indoors, kept away from the chill and wind and to be kept warm at all times. And the special diet in confinement is said to nourish one's body, to expel wind, to keep warm and to revitalise the health of the woman back to its original state. (wish!)

So mum flew in from Malaysia, and cooked me three square meals a day. She made nutritious herbal soups with lots of brandy. She looked after the boys, cleaned the kitchen, did laundry and shopped for groceries. And dad has changed more dirty nappies in the last 2 weeks than he ever had in his entire life! Bless you both mum and dad, we are a very very fortunate bunch!

Goji berries with herbs and red dates in chicken broth, topped with lots of crispy ginger shreds

Steamed belly pork with pickled mustard green "mui choy".

Stewed pig trotters, eggs and ginger in sweet black vinegar. This is such a popular dish, that was even eaten by most of our visiting family and friends. My mother in law made a huge pot some months ago, and was first eaten by my sister in law after the birth of her son. She kept adding more and more stuff into the pot each week, enriching its flavour and richness. She said that the stew could keep up to 3 years because of the pure black vinegar acting as a preservative. Ugh!

And my absolute favourite: Pig stomach pepper soup!

At this moment, you're either salivating at the thought of confinement food or being sick with disgust wondering how one could consume bits of gut and trotter and say it's the best food in the world! Best Blogger Tips

Monday, 17 May 2010

A Special Gift from a Bloggy Friend

Look what Mr. Postman brought in the mail today?

A parcel for Lily Jade, her very first one. And inside are two cutest little softies, a giraffe named "Alfie" and a bear tag blanket with her name "Lily Jade" embroidered on it! Her very own security blanket! I'm sure it will be following her to bed, to the shops, to a holiday, to grandma's and everywhere for many many years to come.

Thank you so very much Charmaine and your family for your thoughtful and generous gift. I am deeply honoured, that someone we have not even met personally, is thinking of us. We hope to one day meet you and your family.

Grace and Lily Jade Best Blogger Tips

Qi Massage

For my birthday this year, which is a few days after the birth of Lily, my sister-in-law gave me a voucher for a relaxation massage by Qi Rhythm. It was the next best birthday present, second to Lily of course. So thank you, Chai!

Qi Rhythm specialises in pre and post-natal massage at the convenience and comfort of your own home. I made the appointment by phone, and didn't have to wait long for a visit by one of their practitioners. The timing was just perfect, Gary was taking the boys to the Wiggle's Concert (Lucas' birthday present) and my parents were going out. Lily was a sweet pie, sleeping through the whole session even though it was her feeding time. I had the whole house to myself, a quiet and contented baby and a masseuse, what a luxurious hour!

The massage was very relaxing, focusing on the tight spots particularly on my upper and mid-back. I could feel the knots melting away as she gently kneaded through. I think a post-natal massage has so many positive aspects, not only does it provide physical relief but also works on emotional improvement. It invigorates and soothes the mind. I awake from the massage a much calmer, relaxed mom, which is fundamental to the caring and nurturing of my children. Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Friday, 14 May 2010

Moments That Matter

Some time last year, we attended the first birthday of a lovely little girl, Kiara. And along with her birthday festivities, she had a Naming Ceremony to celebrate this very significant milestone. The day was beautiful, clear blue skies, lots of sunshine and a light breeze playing on our hair and we all stood under a shady tree in the front garden of her house. The kids were playing on the grass. There was a happy, positive energy in the air.

This ceremony was the first I have ever heard of. It was officiated by a civil celebrant, who was actually also the birthday girl's grandmother. It was special. Such a momentous time in her life, it needs to be celebrated and remembered.

"Ceremonies mark life’s essential moments. They may reflect your beliefs, hopes, traditions, culture and spirituality but they must express who you are. They should be celebrated because of who we are and with whom we share our lives."
Anna Wong, civil celebrant.

Anna is an Australian registered civil celebrant, mother of 3, trained nurse, midwife, childbirth educator and founder of Moments That Matter.

Her passion for family, children and life led her to train as a Civil Celebrant in 2008. She now combines her specialist training in Childbirth Education and Parenting with Civil Celebrant services in a business that celebrates the love, passion and wonders of life's "Moments That Matter".

Anna trained as a nurse and midwife in England and moved to Singapore in 1980. She founded her own health education centre called Birth & Beyond in 1985 and quickly became a leader in the field of childbirth education and parenting. She has spent over 24 years educating, supporting, empowering and inspiring women and their partners through pregnancy, birth and beyond in Singapore and Indonesia.

Call Anna on 0412 601 398 or visit Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Bilby blues

Earlier this year during Easter, my friends gave me a large Haigh's chocolate bilby and I wondered how on earth I was going to eat all of that chocolate! It looked so gorgeous, all wrapped up with a cute blue and chocolate bow and sitting on little chocolate eggs. I thought I was never going to eat it. So it sat perched on one of the shelves of my pantry, tempting everyone who opened the door.

So this week is my third week after giving birth to Lily, and I feel bloody fantastic. Except at 5pm, when the boys are getting closer to turning our place into a mad house, and I am feeling like a ship wreck tending to the needs of a 0, 2 and 4 year old. Where have all my happy pregnant hormones gone?

I sat on my big comfy chair in my bedroom, and fed Lily with tears streaming down my cheeks. And then hubby crept into the bedroom with Mr. Bilby. Don't eat it all at one go... he said, kissed my wet cheeks and then left the room.

So now Mr. Bilby is missing his ears and a large part of his crown. Sorry!

Moments like this, I feel like the luckiest woman alive. Best Blogger Tips

Feeding Lily Jade

One of the striking differences between the two boys when they were babies and Lily was how they fed. For the boys, milk was serious business. Chomp chomp chomp nom nom nom, and the job is done 20 minutes tops. *burp*

Lily opens her mouth, looks around, attaches, detaches, fiddles around with the nipple, tries to reattach, sucks a bit, withdraws a bit and it takes for...e...ver. And milk! It goes everywhere! It dribbles down her cheeks, pools in her ear, and I get a wet sleeve. It is so bloody annoying.

Sometimes I sit in my big comfy chair with Lily snuggled up against my chest, and just drift off to sleep, only to be woken up by a loud snort! Was that me?? Gahh... have I dropped Lily?? Did I fall asleep?? How long has it been?? An hour??? And she's still fiddling with my nipples...

Sigh... I feel a bit more like a dummy at times... Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Sleep Deprivation

Two words. Every new parent get to know very well.

When Lily was born, she let out this loud, high pitched wail and Gary and I looked at each other... oh no.

Day 1 in hospital: She cried and cried and cried and cried... especially when night falls. A lovely nurse took her at night, and said to me, have some rest. All I could hear from a distance was Lily's high pitched cries. No rest for the wicked.

Day 2 in hospital: Same nurse, same baby. Uh-oh, she said, I think you have a colicky baby. Err. No. Thanks. Can you take her back? I held her all night, rocked her to sleep and whispered sweet nothings into her ears. She slept, like a baby. But as soon as I put her down, she wails.

Day 3 in hospital: She slept and slept and slept. 10 hours straight. I was getting a wee bit worried. I pushed my boob into her mouth, but she refused. Come on Tiger, I thought, if we don't make the weights tomorrow, we won't be able to go home. I was the one prancing about at 3,4,5am, wondering when she would wake for her feed. She's looking a tad yellow, first sign of jaundice. The same nurse warned Lily, if you don't wake up, we will have to prick your heel for a blood test. She woke up.

Day 4: We made the weights despite the long sleep. She weighs 3kg on the dot and we were discharged home with a nurse to check on us for the next couple of days. She slept like a baby all the way home into her new (hand-me-down) cradle. She does 5-6 hour stretches, and even when she wakes, she only makes little kitten like noises. My mother-in-law remarked oh what a good baby she is. What she doesn't know is that the jaundice is making her sleepy.

Day5-2 weeks: She still does her long stretches during the day, but wakes up every 3 hours at night. She must have her nights and days all mixed up, which is what I've expected anyways. It has been like that all these while in utero. She feeds well, poos and wees and putting on enough weight. But she is still jaundiced.

2 weeks-2 days ago: She wakes every 3 hours, she's like a time machine knowing when the seconds are ticking over to 3 hours on the dot. She feeds like a hungry baby. She filled her 0000 suits right up, and now jumping into 000.

Last night (3 weeks old): She woke at 10pm, stayed awake till midnight, would not settle and cried and cried till 2am. She woke at 2.30am, 3am, 4am. She finally went to sleep but then woke up at 6am. And it's 7am, I could hear pitter patter feet coming into my bedroom. Gaaahhh... now Lucas is awake. Good lord!

Now I look like a zombie, and I think a good cup of coffee is coming my way. And if by chance I could evict everyone out of this house, Lily and I would have a nice long sleep. We can only hope... Best Blogger Tips

Monday, 10 May 2010

Birthday Buddies

Lily Jade, Lachlan and Lucas have birthdays a week apart from each other. So, 2.5 weeks in, after the birth of Lily, we celebrated the boys' birthdays. Lucas turned 2 and Lachlan 4.

My boys were so handsome on the day.

Lucas was full of energy, running, spinning and tumbling around, a result of all the lollies and chocolates he has eaten for breakfast. Lachlan has this huge smile on his face, his excited chatter filled the house as his friends from kinder and pre-kinder years rolled in. And presents! Oh my goodness, I have a lounge room that resembles Al's Toy Barn and storage space that looks like Santa's!

My plan for the party was a simple one. I know I will have my hands full with a newborn, and I shouldn't be doing anything more than pizza and cake. But mom being here, she insisted on cooking up a storm. Her Malaysian dishes were a big hit, but that left us with more than half a dozen boxes of uneaten pizzas.

The kids played pass the parcel and had a go at a home made pinata which Gary and I put together the night before. There were so much lollies I feel like sending each kid home with a "sorry" note for their parents in anticipation of the 7pm hyperactivity. You see, being "confined" at home with a new baby, I had to send Gary out to shop for the party. And the list for him was quite simple really, lollies, chocolates, fun stuff for the pinata and lolly bags. He came home with enough sweets for 15 pinatas and 10 parties.

And as for the cakes... well, I think I deserved two big pats on my back. But what I got was even better, two huge smiles on two very happy boys. Lucas chose a lollipop birthday cake, a design from the Women's Weekly Kids Birthday Party book (Phew, an easy one!). And Lachlan, we all know he wanted a scary green alien cake. The alien turned out to be one of the friendliest looking thing. It's hard to make scary looking things unless I let the boys decorate the cakes themselves!

Next year? Let's not think about it yet...

And a special Happy Birthday to our birthday buddy Aunty Lins, we love you! XOX Best Blogger Tips

My Newborn Daughter

I am hopelessly, helplessly in love. Once again.

At 4am, I lie awake listening to little baby gurgles, tiny little grunts and squeaks. I know in a minute or two, she will cry out like a hungry kitten. And if being ignored, these little mews will escalate to a high pitched cry, a tiger cub that she is. And I have a huge smile on my face. Am I turning mad?

I pick her up, her head nuzzles against my chest. Her skin so warm, soft and squishy. Her velvety hair on my face. And the smell of a newborn! Oh if only I could bottle up this smell, I could well be a very rich person. Musky, milky, clean and sweet scent of a newborn.

I know that this will be the last time I would hold a newborn so intimately, and I can't help feeling a little nostalgic. I want this moment to last... a little longer. I know how quickly they grow up, and I know that every moment from now on end, is precious... Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, 9 May 2010

And then there were three...

So who am I kidding? When I had two boys, the most common question I get has got to be "So you guys going to try for a girl next right?" And my answer to that has always been, so what if it's another boy? If I have three boys, I will be completely, honestly happy. But I have no doubts, three is the number and we will STOP at three no matter what.

Deep down inside, there's always been a little tug at the heart every time I walk past a rack of tiny pink baby clothes with little cute embroidered flowers, matching pink booties, tutu skirts and everything PINK! Come on, it is quite blatantly obvious, I want number three and I want a GIRL! Three penises at home is quite enough, thank you very much.

Now I have been granted my wish, and I hate to brag, but I am deliriously happy. Motherhood has never been an easy ride, but we take each and every turn and tumble as it comes, we learn from our mistakes, and it gets easier each time after. So number three, she is quite an easy baby and she had each and everyone of us wrapped around her teensy tiny little finger.

And yes, she is tiny! And I am wishing she would stay tiny for a wee bit longer. You see, the two boys were whoppers at birth by normal standards. Just forget the 0000, they went straight into 000. But this time, Lily looked like a little tadpole swimming in her 0000 with dangly floppy arms. Ohh sooo darn cute! I am seriously suffering from pink baby syndrome and it is contagious! Come see for yourself! Best Blogger Tips

Rest and Recuperation

The best thing about "Asian Confinement" is the time it allows for resting and recuperating. You know what they say about not getting your hands wet, or not being allowed out of the house, else you'll get "wind in your bones" and arthritis in the old age. Well, is it a myth or is it not? Either way, I'm happy not doing any washing or toddler poo duties or cooking or kinder runs. There are more important things to concentrate on right now, like putting my feet up and having a bit more baby and mummy bonding time.

And the next best thing is definitely the food! Warm, sensuous aroma of sesame seed oil and fragrant shredded ginger toasting on the pan... mmmm. It warms you up inside out.

I guess there's no way better than the middle way. I don't do extremes like not washing my hair for a month. Ugh! I can't stand it, 4 days is my max. And in between there's dry shampoo that my lovely friend Laura gave to me. And of course I do wash my hands in running tap water especially before lunch and after changing a precious little princess' pooey bottom! *LOL*

I am extremely lucky to have my mom and dad here from Malaysia. They keep the boys entertained and mom pampers me daily with her delicious home cooked meals. So thank you mom and dad, we are so grateful for all the help we get. Best Blogger Tips