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Friday, April 30, 2010

The Dark Ages

This place where we are staying now only has dial-up internet! 

Normal programming will resume after the weekend.



Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Sheila: Hey TSCD!
TSCD: Hey!
Sheila: So, I heard you went to the Royal Easter Show last week.
TSCD: I did - it was AWESOME.  We saw lots of animals and Stardust rode on a carousel for the first time.  He really enjoyed it.
Sheila: Did you watch the racing and diving pigs?
TSCD: Yeah, and there was a cow competition so there were all these beefy teenage farmers escorting their prize bulls from the pens to the ring and the feed stations.
Sheila: Did you check out the woodchopping competition?
TSCD: No.  I wanted to but it was too late in the afternoon and Stardust was getting tired.  What is that about anyway?
Sheila: Oh, it when they compete to see who is the fastest woodchopper.  It's hilarious.
TSCD: Why is it hilarious?
Sheila: Well, its all about the burly dudes with the sweaty teenage-ness and muscles.  They have handicaps and racing axes!  RACING AXES!  It is great.  The commentators are very serious!
TSCD: What?
Sheila: Yeah, they strut into the arena with their shirts off and carrying different implements to use at different angles of chopping and each of them have a special super-secret chopping technique.  It's like watching wushu but with axes.
TSCD: (confused) Why must they do it with their shirts off?
Sheila: Because it's hot.
TSCD: I'll bet.
Sheila: No, I meant that it's the end of summer and therefore is freaking hot.
TSCD: *giggling*
Sheila: You are such a CHILD!!!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Sydney Royal Easter Show 2010

I have ALWAYS wanted to go to a county fair ever since I read about them in 'Farmer Boy', 'Charlotte's Web' and 'Blandings Castle'.  I really like the idea of families from the farming communities coming together to show off their superior skills in animal husbandry, agriculture and craftsmanship...and I've always wanted to witness a pumpkin competition.

We got to Sydney just in time to catch the tail end of the Royal Easter Show and I was really excited about bringing Stardust along.


We ate baked potatoes, whilst sitting on bales of hay and watched a sheep-shearing demonstration, then Stardust met a family of prize-winning pigs...
...watched some dancing horses...

...rode on a hundred-year-old wooden carousel...
...and touched a GIGANTIC first prize pumpkin!!!!

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Photo of the day: Trains and hats

Friday, April 23, 2010

Plan for the week ahead

Day 1: Recuperate from car journey
Day 2: Explore local county
Day 3: Explore adjoining counties
Day 4: Meet up with friend and explore countryside
Day 5: Meet up with another friend and explore cityscape
Day 6: Travel to seaside town and live in hideous hole cheap motel
Day 7: Travel to another seaside town and live in seaside inn


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thoughts on a car journey

1. Keeping a small wiggly child in a carseat for 5 straight hours is like trying to imprison the Kraken.
2. Bringing rice crackers to feed the Kraken with was a brilliant idea.
3. The remake of 'Clash of the Titans' was highly overrated.
4. The Ozzie radio station played a mix of Bach, Country-Western, Cake, Jordin Sparks and Islamic Altar Call. Them DJs must have eclectic tastes.
5. Australia Vogue doesn't have enough pictures in it to amuse a 2 year old.
6. Not bringing the cover for Stardust's milk bottle was a stupid, stupid idea.
7. So was not bringing enough rice crackers.
8. Sheep appear to neatly graze in one direction whilst cows are not quite so militant in their feeding formations.
9. Echidna look very sweet when they are trundling along the side of the road.
10. I think I like pugs.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010


(gentle sounds of snoring)
TSCD: Snnnrrrrk...ehhh...what?
TSCD: *coffcoff* Is it...morningtime...?
MDH: THE HILLS!!!! fill my heart...mumberdumberling...ddd...neh...
TSCD: (looking blearily at clock) It's...freaking...two in the morning!!! Good.  Grief.
MDH: ...snerkingsnark...the sound
(gentle sounds of snoring)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010



Monday, April 19, 2010

Photo of the Day: A Healthy, Hearty Breakfast

The voice of Ozzie youth expressed through sidewalk graffiti.  Wholesome.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Photo of the day: Hello little mouse

It's never to early to start teaching children to respect animals and be gentle with them.  Of course, we already knew that this little mouse was well trained and well cared for and would be gentle with Stardust too - the last thing we would want is for the little mouse to nip the little fingertips and for Stardust to fling the poor creature across the room in shock.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flying for 8 hours

Prior to takeoff:
Explain to Stardust that when the 'Fasten your seatbelt' sign is on, it means that he has to be buckled up in the seat.  Prepare biscuits for takeoff.

During takeoff:
Allow Stardust a free flow of biscuits to encourage him to swallow and balance his inner ear pressure.

Hour 1:
Watch 'Fantastic Mr Fox' on video.  Stardust does not appear to understand the concept of headphones but is having fun wearing them and honing his fine motor skills by plugging and unplugging the headphones.

Hour 2:
Some turbulence occurs and the 'Mr Fox' video is disrupted - time to bring out a small box of raisins to keep Stardust distracted.  Stardust is happy to eat raisins and drink diluted apple juice through a straw.

Hour 3:
Lunch is served.  Stardust is unimpressed by the pasta but eats some of it.  I get to eat the chocolate biscuits that come with his meal as he has rejected it in favour of the fruit salad from my adult meal.  Travelling with a health-conscious child has its perks!  After lunch, I change his nappy and take out his small toy train for him to play with.

Hour 4:
The videos are back online so Stardust resumes watching 'Fantastic Mr Fox' from the beginning but without the soundtrack - he has dismantled his headphones.  Stardust doesn't seem to be bothered about the story as long as he gets to see stop motion anthropomorphic animals going about their business.

Hour 5:
Stardust is tired of watching the video, so we take out the colouring book and crayons and he does some scribbling.  He insists on wearing his broken headphones - I don't argue because it doesn't bother me so long as he is quiet.  He drinks up his milk and after this I change his nappy.

Hour 6:
Stardust is getting tired but he doesn't want to sleep so he lounge on a pile of pillows that I have arranged to cover the armrest (for some reason, the armrests will not lift up and out of the way).  I wrap my arm around him and he asks to watch 'Fantastic Mr Fox' - but I notice that he isn't looking at the screen but at his own hands. 

Hour 7:
Tea is served.  Stardust is totally unimpressed with the pancakes and sausages so I eat them.  He drinks diluted apple juice and eats some raisins.  After a nappy change, he decides that he wants to watch the Fox programme again, but instead of watching it, he holds up his toy train and pretends that it is part of the show.

Hour 8:
Stardust is very restless now and very tired of sitting in his seat for so many hours.  The plane is beginning descent so he is starting to pull at his ears as the cabin pressure changes.  I distract him by getting him to pretend that he is a shark eating up a big school of fish - he is able to decompress his inner ear by opening his mouth as wide as he can.  The video is switched off much to his distress but now there is much to see outside the aeroplane window.  We watch the lights of the city as they get closer and closer, until....

We finally arrive at our destination!

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Packing for 8 hours

In my carry-on luggage:
8 disposable nappies
2 sets of long sleeved pyjamas
2 sets of mealtime equipment (bowl, spoon, fork, sippycup)
1 box of wetwipes
1 sweater (for me)
1 tube of lip balm (mostly for me)

In Stardust's carry-on luggage (yes, he has his own bag now):
10 books
4 finger puppets
3 toy cars
1 toy robot
1 trinket keeper containing random junk treasures
1 ziplock bag containing 10 arrowroot cookies (for take off)
1 box of raisins (for pockets of turbulence)
1 colouring book
1 set of crayons
1 set of markers
1 set of stickers

Onward, we go!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day off

Ugh, I am just NOT in the mood for anything today. 

Sometimes, I wish this job came with 28 days of annual leave. 

I could do with a day off.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Clerking in conversation

One thing that I've noticed about myself recently is that when I meet people for the first time, I fall into a rhythm of chit-chat that is my style of medical clerking. 

Over the weekend, Stardust and I attended a neighbourhood get-to-know-you party and it was so much fun meeting all these mums from different backgrounds.  We have quite an eclectic mix of people where we are staying, probably because it is a fairly new neighbourhood and there are many expatriates living in this area. 

Later on, I was telling my mum all about these cool new people that I met - a pastry chef who sailed solo across the pacific ocean with his wife in a tiny cutter, a yoga instructor who used to teach in exotic beachside resorts, a professional wakeboarder, etc etc - she asked me what I told them about myself.

I realised that I hadn't even told them anything.  Nothing about myself at all.

At the end of the party, I knew how many children they had, where their parents were from, what hobbies they have...even their sleeping and eating habits!  I don't think I said anything about myself.  In fact, I don't think any of them asked me anything.  It's not because they were being self-centred, not in the slightest.  I think I just kept the conversation rolling by conducting a medical interview...and I don't think they noticed how much they were telling me.

For example, I don't recall asking anyone directly about their medical problems but I am sure that by the end of each conversation I knew what illnesses they suffered with and what kind of medication and treatments they received.

I have learned over my years of training how to talk to people and how to keep my personal life to myself.

I wonder if this means that people don't really get to know me very well unless they happen to ask the right questions.

I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

I hear thunder

Since we moved to our new place, I have noticed that the thunderstorms have become much more violent.  I am not sure if it is related to our location, but I certainly find that the wind out here is more destructive and that the crash of thunder really seems to reverberate.

Stardust never had a problem with thunderstorms before we moved here - now, the terrible roll of thunder is bound to rouse him and I when I go into his room to comfort him, I find him shaking with fear, eyes wide, white-knuckled fists grabbing onto the cotsides.

Today, the storm was particularly bad, so I cuddled him and lay down on the couch with him next to me, thinking that my presence would relax him into slumber.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and WRONG.

He lay down and wiggled all around, looking up at me every so often with a big grin on his face, as if he could hardly believe his good fortune. 

When I started patting his back to help him relax, he put his hand on my stomach and patted it.

I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep, but this scheme backfired on me because I woke up about twenty minutes later to find him sitting up next to me, happily patting my stomach and humming thoughtfully to himself.

The storm had passed over by then so I put him back into his cot where he lay down and talked to himself quietly for about half an hour.

So, he didn't take his nap, but I'm glad I did, because he was incredibly cranky and overtired at dinnertime.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Library Book Review: The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony

The Dandelion Seed, written by Joseph Anthony, and illustrated by his wife, Cris Arbo, is a lovely book about the lifecycle of the dandelion flower. 

I must admit that I was moved by the image of the little dandelion seed that reluctantly leaves the dandelion plant and through its journey, discovers the world and begins to understand the way things are.  It made me think about how people cling onto the things that they find comforting and familiar, resisting change.  It made me consider how much people mature when they begin by putting away childish things, and experiencing what the world has to offer.

Besides being beautifully written and illustrated, I found that it was a useful starting point to talk to Stardust about the lifecycle of plants and the changes of each season.

Stardust loves this book so much that he was utterly gutted when we had to return it to the library. 

He is, right now, bouncing up and down next to me and patting my leg, yelling "Dandelion Seed! Read the Dandelion Seed!" which probably means I should end this post before he gets over-excited.

I must try and find a copy of this book somewhere.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wet feet

We loves the wading pool, we do, we do indeed.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Little Treasures

Stardust has developed  magpie tendencies and during the course of tidying, I have been finding all these tiny bits of junk that turn out to be part of his treasure trove. He gets pretty upset if I throw them away or if he can't find them, so I decided that it was time he had somewhere to keep all of his shiny baubles. 

Traci from Amazing Mae has got a great trinket keeper tutorial which I thought was pretty cool, so I decided to make one for Stardust.  Her tutorial requires the use of grommets and karabiners which are apparently cheap and easy to get hold of in America, the Land of WalMart, but I cannot find these things for love or money, so I decided to make a button-closure instead. 

The tutorial is pretty easy to follow once you actually get started on it.  For those of you who lack visio-spatial abilities, like myself, I recommend doing each step whilst reading the tutorial at the same time.  This was a challenge for me, because I have never sewn a buttonhole before.

Here is the finished product:

If the material looks familiar to you, it is because it is the same IKEA material that I used in the doorstop project.  I have plenty of leftover scraps of fabric, so you will be seeing much more of this yellow striped pattern in the future.

The heart-shaped button that I used is actually one of Stardust's little treasures, so he was very pleased to see it on his 'treasure sack'.  It came from a sweet little thank you note that had a funny little fabric monster on it (you can see the note in the picture above) that Etsy seller Swee of Swiedebie sent with a purchase and Stardust decided that he would squirrel away the card along with the button which had somehow come unstuck (little fingers!).

Stardust was very pleased with his little treasure sack and is now using it to keep all his trifles.

Here is his hoard as of this morning:
It includes Swiedebie's card, a dried macaroni, a smooth pebble that he picked up at a birthday party, a five cent coin that he found at the bottom of the children's wading pool, a plastic Lego head and a red plectrum that was given to him by one of the members of the church band.

I think I will be making some more of these trinket keepers - it would be nice if I could get grommets and karabiners because then he could just clip the little pouch to his trousers when we go out.  I must keep an eye out for them when we are out shopping.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

The many uses of Basil

MDH has planted a little kitchen herb garden on our balcony for me.  So far, we have got two types of basil, a very happy rosemary, a curry leaf plant and a tiny chilli padi shrub (we don't really eat chilli at our house - so this plant is purely for looks.  MDH harvests the chillies for my mum which pleases her to no end.)

It's so nice to have some fresh herbs to use!  The flavour is so much stronger and sweeter.  I also love using fresh basil as a garnish on tomato-based dishes.  It's so pretty and green. 

I made a beautifully red tomato-and-basil soup - I also like to add a bell pepper for some kick and colour - on a particularly rainy morning this week, so the air was very cool.  It was just the right weather for light lunch of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  The soup would have probably been nicer with a swirl of cream or creme fraiche in it, but we're trying to be healthy so I used a bit of milk instead to give it some richness.

Since my George Foreman grill retired from the kitchen, I have been grilling my sandwiches using a stove top griddle.  I don't use oil on the griddlepan as far as I can help it and it seems to work quite well - as long as I get those nice crisscrossed lines on the bread, I am quite happy.


I might go and have some of my leftover soup now.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Music in the Park

About a fortnight ago, the Aged Ps took us to the Botanic Gardens for the Big Band Bash.  We had so much fun!  We brought Stardust's dinner along to keep him occupied and we took turns holding and feeding him so that each of us had a chance to relax and take in the atmosphere.

It is such a privilege to be able to take Stardust to listen to live music in the park - the informal setting means that he can enjoy the music and be a feisty little boy at the same time without irritating other music lovers.

If anyone is interested, the Singapore Symphonic Orchestra is holding their first open air concert of the year at the Botanic Gardens this coming Easter Sunday, 4th April, at  6-7pm.  More details here.

If you are going with a little one, here's what you will probably need:
1. One large waterproof mat to sit on (the grass can be quite wet)
2. Plenty of snacks and cold drinks or dinner in tupperware containers
3. Mosquito repellent (this is Singapore, after all!)
4. Something to help you keep cool such as a cold face towel or a handheld electric fans (this is Singapore, after all!)
5. Quiet outdoor toys to add to the experience e.g. bubbles, glow sticks
6. Plastic bags to throw away your garbage before you leaveand help keep the garden looking tidy!

Have a great Easter weekend!

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

5 Indulgent household buys

I am a penny-pincher by nature.  I'm not miserly - I like to be generous - but I also like to stretch each dollar as far as possible.  As far as possible, I try to buy things when they go on sale, or I wait until I have a discount coupon.  For household items, I prefer things that are functional as well as decorative.

However, there are a few things that MDH and I have indulged in - that is, we liked them so much that we were happy to pay full price for them, or we bought them 'just for fun'. 

Here are five our indulgent household buys!

1. 'Britannia' cushion by Laura Ashley
It's knit, it's in duck's egg blue, it's a Union Jack.  'Nuff said.
2. High Chair in Expresso by Svan
We needed a high chair for Stardust, and I wanted one that would grow with him and have a small footprint.  Some of the highchairs on the market are so bulky and they come with too many frills.  I don't need a highchair that can recline because I don't need Stardust to lie down when he eats.  I don't need a chair that can play music because it'll be too distracting at mealtimes (not to mention annoying).  I don't need a chair with a million creases and crevices to hide food particles in. 
I love the Svan chair because it's a lovely piece of design and it blends in nicely with the rest of our furniture.  It was pretty expensive, but we've been getting more use out of it than most of the other big ticket items that we bought for Stardust.

3. Novita 'Heritage' Desk fan
These provide a decent breeze but they are a little rattley - in keeping with their vintage appeal, I suppose!
4. Cath Kidston Mouse Pin Cushion
This little fellow does nothing more than sit quietly on the corner of my dressing table guarding my photographs.  Ain't he the sweetest wittle fing?

5. Purple potted hydrangeas
We saw these at Far East Flora during the run-up to Chinese New Year.  Most of the plants sold during Chinese New Year are purely for decorating the house during the season - they tend to wither and die once their blooming ceases.  There are hydrangeas that do grow and flower well in Singapore's tropical climate but I get the feeling that the plant we purchased will probably be eaten by whitefly and shrivel to a crisp pretty soon.  Still, it looks lovely on our balcony.


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