Archive | December, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions: Make Them ? Or Break Them ?

29 Dec

It’s started.  The television is constantly hammering us with advertisements for “quick weight loss deals” and “exercise offers”.  Suddenly, we are all too aware that the new year is fast approaching and the coinciding message is loud and clear:  Start the year by committing to making some life-changes.  Get a head-start for self-improvement goals.  Make that list of New Year’s resolutions.

So, last night, I thought I would give it a whirl and started my schedule for 2011. After giving it some contemplation, I managed to include the usual “house-cleaning” items.  You know the kind:  “The must do less/gotta do more” type of agendas.

Here are some examples:

  • Eat less crap unhealthy foods/Lose more weight
  • Spend less time watching all the trashy shows on Channel 9 and 10 TV/ Read more books
  • Do more exercise/Spend less time watching Modern Family episodes on DVD while eating a bag of Salt and Vinegar chips being a couch potato

I read through my list and although I wasn’t completely satisfied with it, I figured it was just a “draft” and had plans to complete it the next day.

Putting the list aside, I just wanted to retire to my bed, anyway.  Having spent the past 3 days at Nulla Nanna‘s place for Christmas, the boys had been unsettled throughout the evenings.  Between them, they had woken up at least a dozen times each night.  Thus, leaving both Hubby and I completely exhausted.

Thinking that they just needed to be back in the comfort of their own cots, I was relishing in the hope that we would all finally get a good night’s sleep.  I couldn’t have been any more wrong.

Within an hour, we woke up to Little N’s restless cry.  He had a fever.  As I tried to comfort the little munchkin in my arms, feeling his warm little body in the dark and facing another sleepless night, I started thinking about my little list again.

If resolutions were about setting up and ticking off year-long goals or to start and successfully achieve projects to better oneself;  Motherhood was surely the other extreme.

Since becoming a mother, tasks were not only never-ending, they were never fully- completed.  I could never seem to reach that box and give it a big tick of satisfied accomplishment.

As an occupation, motherhood is like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge from one end to the other.  It would take forever to paint the entire structure. When you finally get to the end of the bridge, the paint would have worn out and you have to start all over again.  I am reminded of this metaphor each time I look at the bottomless laundry basket or the kitchen sink that is constantly full of dirty dishes and baby bottles.  Don’t even get me started on the smelly, always-full-to the-brim nappy bin.

I know it’s not just me that has these feelings of “incompleteness”.  When discussing what motherhood meant to her, my oldest friend from high school asked me, “You know how at the end of a working day, you finish your “Things-To-Do” list and you’ve accomplished everything you had set out to do ?  And there’s a true sense of satisfaction when you leave the office because your desk is tidy and clear of paperwork ?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Well, at home with the kids, I never feel that way,” she shrugged.

I rest my case.

I wish you all lots of love, laughter and all the big ticks for 2011.

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The Highs and Lows of 2010

27 Dec

With a belly full of Christmas lunch (and dinner), ample time wasted spent watching the cricket (Australia, what an embarrassment !) and much lazing about pondering on the couch…it was time to head back to the computer and recap the year gone past.

To sum it up in five words: What.A.Year.It’s.Been.

So, here it is – 2010: the good, the bad and the not-so-pretty.

Lousy Loopy Lows:

  • Having Little N and K in the NICU for 16 days
  • Having nipple thrush for almost 2 months (Oh.My.God…I have never felt such toe-curling pain like it !!!  Another story, another post…)
  • “Someone” (ahem) forgot my birthday.  Not just any ordinary birthday, mind you, but the first birthday as his wife and mother to his twin sons (Oops, did I give it away ???).  Such (almost) unforgivable forgetfulness left me completely livid (to say the least) for three days.  (Yet another story, another post…)
  • Having done the sums, it would appear that we would have changed a total of 5, 392 stinky poo nappies
  • Do I need to say it ?  Yes, I do:  The sleeeeeep deprivaaaaatioooooooon !!!!!!!

    Me ? Tired ? What makes you think that ???

Hip Hip Hooray Highs:

  • The much-anticipated arrival of our beloved boys – Little N & K
  • Meeting and making life-long friendships with mothers of other premature babies who were in the NICU

    Friends Forever - Me and mums of other premmie pumpkins

  • Being possessed by a motivation (or some would have said “insane”) streak, caused me to participate in the 14 km City2Surf Fun Run, then a month later, the 8km Bridge Run.  The crazed running phase continued as 2 months after that, I entered the 10 km Sydney Olympic Park Fun Run  (A friend on Facebook made a very good point:  “Why are they called ‘Fun Runs’ ?  Where’s the FUN ???”)

    My devoted Cheering Squad at one of the Fun Runs

  • Aunty Sari visiting us from over yonder Honkers
  • The amazing abundance of love shared and demonstrated by N and K’s grandparents – both Indonesian and Australian.
  • Officially becoming a publishable (amateur) writer…with an alias pen name, no less (Okay, so it was only one 40o word newspaper contribution but I’m going to soak it up… for all it’s worth…).
  • Starting up this blog

So, for the first time, in a long time, my year of highlights do not include exotic overseas trips or any grand, extravagant purchases.  I’m cool with that.  On the flip side, it was duly noted that, none of the listed lows entailed the usual worries and woes of the past – career, finances and yearning of material possessions.

Bigger house and car ?  I’ll be honest.  It would be nice.  I wouldn’t say no if someone was offering.  With our expanding family, God knows we need both.  But these past 12 months hasn’t been about anything tangible, shiny or lavish.  Instead, 2010 has seen a turning point of a different kind.  For me, the meaning and understanding of the year that was, can be found in – of all places – a Sheryl Crow song:

“It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got”

Sheryl baby, you nailed it.

Premmie Pumpkins: Little Miracles

22 Dec

42,000.  That’s the annual number of premature and sick newborn babies who need to be looked after in either a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN), throughout Australia.  Within this vast figure, 2 of these babies were mine.

Last week, I went to the Miracle Babies NurtureGroup Christmas get-together.  Catching up with other mothers of premature babies and seeing how much their munchkins have grown, I was compelled to write about those early days.  We have indeed come a long way.

I won’t lie.  This post is a particularly hard one to write.  It’s an exercise of re-tracing a journey that was full of anxiety, uncertainty and yet a LOT of hope.

Day 1: Little N

Little N and Little K were born 5 weeks premature.  At around 33 weeks, it was discovered that Little N had stopped growing (ie my placenta was just about going kaput) and due to the growth discrepancy between the twins, delivery was brought forward to 35 weeks.

Aware of our deep concern of what was to lie ahead, our obstetrician introduced us to one of the leading paediatricians at the NICU prior to the scheduled delivery date. To try and help ease our minds, he took us on a tour of the unit.

Same Day: Little K

There we stepped into a completely different world: Tiny babies in humidicribs, some connected to life support systems .  Tubes attached to small bodies, surrounded by midwives and doctors busily checking and monitoring each little patient.  There are the anxious parents vigilantly standing by.

It was then that I thought about how we live in a society where we naturally believe that bigger is better.  Cars, houses, bank accounts…and I realised that this mentality also applies to newborn babies.

Our chests swell up with pride when a “bouncing baby boy” is born well over the “average” birth weight.  Yet, we tend to shy ourselves away or left without words when, for instance, a friend, an acquaintance, or a relative announces that their little one has arrived 10 weeks early and weighing in at a fragile 820 gms.

At the last ultrasound, it was predicted that Little N’s birth weight would be around 1.6 kgs.  (A pip squeek !)  During the tour of the NICU, I specifically asked the paediatrician to show me a baby of a similar weight.  When he did, things started to shape into perspective for me.

I was one of the more fortunate mothers.  I had time to mentally prepare myself . There are some parents who don’t have that luxury.  Sometimes, Mother Nature takes its own course and without warning new parents are faced with their premature newborn suddenly having to learn a basic human instinct – how to survive.

So, on the 28th of January, 2010 at 10:33am, Little N was born at 1.8 kgs (a whopping 200 gms heavier than his predicted birth weight).  2 minutes later, Little K, our little “Fatty Boom-Bah” arrived at 2.5 kgs.

Day 2

Unlike mothers of full term babies, after I was discharged from the maternity ward, I went home, leaving our precious boys at the NICU.  I really can’t express in words how emotionally wrecked I was that day.  No new mother should ever have to leave a hospital without their babies.  It’s a heart-wrenching experience.

Day 5: Some skin-to-skin with Little N

Our boys were in NICU for 16 tough and extremely long days.  Some days there was progress.  On others, we would be at a standstill.  We just stayed focused, kept sticking to the routine and taking the advice from our paediatrcian and midwives as sacred.

Day 11

Almost 11 months later, we are – thankfully –  well and truly out of the danger zone.  Sure, the boys are still soldiering their way up the percentile graph.  But as a mum of premmie pumpkins, I decided to ignore whatever the books and all the “laws of baby averages” were dictating as far as what my children’s development should be.  Bugger it.

Instead, I take the time to pause and remind myself of Little N and K’s milestones – the early interaction, breast feeding, cooing, eating solids, crawling and more recently, their absolute delight in discovering each other’s existence.

While the twins are happily playing or crawling around and chasing each other, I look at them in awe and think, “Do you realise how far you two have come ?”

Despite their shaky start in life, I’m just grateful that my beautiful boys are healthy, happy and thriving.

Twins: A Celebrity’s Latest “Must-Have”

19 Dec

“What the hell is in Hollywood’s water ???”  I couldn’t help asking myself that question when I saw the latest headline the other day:  “Mariah Carey pregnant with twins.”

Is it just the fact that I myself am a Mama of Double Joy (or Double Trouble, depending on which day you talk to me), or has there suddenly been a flourish in celebrities having twins ?

Forget the Hermes Birkin Bag, the Christian Louboutin pumps or the Chanel vintage red-carpet dress.  Geez, having an Oscar or a Grammy Award doesn’t even cut it anymore.  Identical or fraternal.  Having twins seem to be all the rage at the moment.

The celebrity gossip magazines (and we all know, that reading them is one of my addictions favourite pastimes) are covered with photos and stories.  We see Brangelina strutting through Narita Tokyo International Airport, each of them with a twin strapped to their chest in a Baby Bjorn.  Then, there’s Jennifer Lopez appearing in a glamorous Gucci photo shoot with her two little Latino lovelies joined to her hips.   Of course, we can’t forget Fashion Royalty herself – Sarah Jessica Parker.  Proclaiming that she’s a lot more low-key than her alter ego, “Carrie”, SJP’s real-life fashion style is still uber cool – complete with carrying a twin…whilst holding a Manolo Blahnik shopping bag, no less.

Don’t fret.  I’m not turning into one of those bloggers who can only write posts about celebrities and not much else (Lucky you, I have a plethora of stories yet to come).  But once I read the Mariah Carey news, I couldn’t ignore the uncanny trend that’s happening in the world of celebrities.  Besides the above mentioned, there’s Celine Dion, Charlie Sheen, Julia Roberts, Rebecca Romijin, Roger Federer, Marcia Cross (the crazy red-head in “Desperate Housewives”).  Hello, even “our” Princess Mary is joining the multiple births parade.  The list goes on and on…and will surely continue.

I must also point out that in writing this post, by NO means am I putting myself in the same A-List category as these movie stars, pop-singers and ridiculously gorgeous people.  I’d be pushing to get to the D-List (That’s the Sydney suburban circuit we’re talking about.  You know, a random photo in the local play group Christmas newsletter).  As a SAHM who has minimal human interaction these days, I spend a LOT of time blankly staring into a revolving microwave while heating up the twins’ dinner day-dreaming and conjuring up some of the things I would say to these celebrities if I had them over for dinner…or bumped into them at a twins mother’s group.

Let me share them with you:

Jennifer Lopez:

J-Lo, (Can I call you that ?), girlfriend, honey, how did you manage to do that fabulous shoot without getting an ounce of drool, baby poo or left-over blueberry and banana puree over those pricey Gucci threads ?  Oh, and your little boy Max’s sunglasses ?  They are THE BOMB.  Can you tell me if Target stock the cheaper version ?

Sarah Jessica Parker:


SJP, let me know when your cute little girls are ready to start dating.  I have the perfect Mr Big suitors for them.  Now, I don’t think my boys have plans on becoming Wall Street finance moguls but will you settle for future professional surfers or AFL players ?  Let’s catch up over a Cosmopolitan and discuss.

Brangelina:

Guys, let me know next time you’re passing through the neighbourhood.  I would love to borrow your entourage of nannies, personal chefs, private tutors as well as your private  jet plane.  Whilst your twins (and entire “rainbow family”) have trekked 3 round-the- world trips prior to their 2nd birthday, we have barely gotten our friggin’ act together for organised our first family holiday to Tassie.

A non-celebrity mum of twins...just trying to get through another day

So, with that, I leave you with my 2011 prediction for the next celebrity who is set to having twins. Always-unlucky-in-love Jennifer Aniston takes on a much younger lover and hooks up with teen heart-throb Zac Efron and has identical twin boys.  Crazy ?  You never know.  Stranger things have happened in Hollywood…

I Saw Mummy…Booting Santa Claus

16 Dec

I’m one of those people who don’t believe the hype.  The Christmas Hype, that is. It’s an interesting contradiction to my usual die-hard shopaholic habits.  However, when this season-to-be-jolly-ho-ho-ho draws nearer, without fail, I start to feel ants crawl under my skin.

I dread the crowded shopping malls, the packed-to-the-brim car parks and the aggressive behaviour that stems from the blatant commercialism.  So, every year, I avoid it all as best as I can. I do my mandatory shopping at the very last possible minute, and get the hell out of the rat race as soon as possible.

This year though, things will be a little different…times two.  Some compromises had to be made in order for the twins to experience some yuletide joy.  Hence, Hubby and I began laying the foundations for what will (and will not) be Christmas tradition for this family.

Naturally, the topic of “Photos with Santa” came up.  Hubby was keen.  I was not.  All I could envisage was a cumbersome excursion to Westfield, fighting through the hoards of shoppers and suffering hours of waiting with crying babies.

More importantly, I don’t understand the meaning behind the whole Santa photo.  I just don’t get it.  Why would you have your child sit on a stranger’s lap, capture it on camera, pay for the evidence and then send copies to friends and relatives ?

Maybe it’s a cultural thing (Born in a predominately Muslim country, spending almost a decade in a Buddhist one), but I have no attachment to the big fat guy with the red nose and intimidating white beard.  None.  Whatsoever.

After some negotiation, I made a deal with Hubby based on the following:

  • Photos – yes.  But no Santa (Yipee !)
  • In replacement of Santa, Hubby requested that the boys could wear Santa hats (Hmmm…okay)
  • The photo was to be a family one, and made into Christmas cards (Excellent time saver…Total agreement from me)
  • I got to choose what the boys would wear (Woohoo !)
  • To miss the crowds, we would have to leave the house early to get to Westfield as soon as its golden gates opened (Ugh…)

Right on military time we headed out the next morning, feeling confident that we would beat the rush.  We got to “Santa’s Wonderland” promptly at 10 am on a blah Thursday and to our astonishment…there was already a line.

To save me from the pain of  waiting in line, Hubby assigned me with the task of searching the Santa hats while he grabbed us a spot in the queue.  Off I marched to the Promised Land: Target.

Scouring the aisles, I could only find Santa hats that came with girls’ Christmas t-shirts (complete with bling and puffy sleeves).  There was nothing for boys.  And I didn’t have a choice to only buy the hats.

I gave a sigh of frustration as I encountered every retailer’s oldest trick in the book during Christmas; Don’t offer the customer options, make sure they buy at premium value… all within tight time restrictions.

But I needed those damn hats.  Reluctantly, I bought the outfits.

Rushing back, I could see my husband was close to the front of the line.  We were up.  And it was at this timely moment, that in his booming voice, Hubby tried to explain to the tall, leggy, blonde “Santa’s Helper” that we actually just wanted a family photo…sans Santa.  Was that possible ?

This created some confusion.  Santa’s Helper, the photographer, her assistant, the guy at the register…all gave each other puzzled looks.

I was sure they all thought we had lost the plot when my husband continued with a long-winded excuse about how some of the relatives who were going to receive the Christmas cards, were very religious and a bit sensitive about the whole Santa thing…blah, blah, blah.  The more he rambled, the more attention he was attracting from other shoppers.  All he had to say was:  “This is my crazy wife’s idea…”

Eventually, Santa got the hint.  As he got out of his sleigh (actually looking a little lost and not knowing what to do with himself), Hubby apologised profusely.  I told the man in the red suit and the fake beard that this was a good time for him to take a coffee break.

And that’s how we booted Santa.

So, here’s the end product.  You will have to excuse the crappy “photo of the photo”.  To get the digital copy was going to cost us an extra $22.  (Whatta typical only-during- Christmas-friggin’ rip off !)

Yes, you can call us cheap skates…

Putting Things In Perspective

12 Dec

The place looks like a bomb hit it. Piles and piles of laundry – both dirty and clean – stacking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Babies crying and taking a LOT longer to settle. It’s a marathon of running back and forth into their nursery to comfort them from the tears and trying to get them to sleep.  This is life as we know it.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I remember my previous life where, despite there being order, predictability and freedom; There was a pang of dissatisfaction as there was still so much love to give.  The feelings of desperation of wanting a family and not knowing if it was in our future.  The hurt of watching time go by and thinking that maybe I had missed my boat.

During this season of love, this time of giving and reflecting on the events of the past year, I think of my many blessings.

And there are two in particular…

A New Mama’s Greatest Fear Unravelled

10 Dec

I’ve been avoiding it for years now.  And with the few failed attempts I’ve made to overcome my fear – it hovers over and around me like an annoying mosquito.  It ain’t going anywhere.  There is no escape.  I must confess:  I suck at baking.

I would’ve happily continued to dodge the bullet but the subtle warnings were starting to tell me that my time of denial is up.  I foolishly thought that I still had ample opportunity to start building that all-important mummy criteria of getting creative with batter, flour, eggs and electric mixers. But in a blink of an eye-lid, the twins’ first birthday is drawing nigh.  In fact, it’s happening in less than 7 weeks (eeks !).

Thanks to a conversation with a mum at my local play group (Lucky for her, she shall remain nameless), I was “kindly” reminded that, “I better get cracking.”  Hence, I have hit the panic button.

It all started quite innocently.  It was only my second attendance at play group so I was still working my way around –  keen to make mummy friends.  As I happened to be chatting with the mother who baked the lemon sponge cake that had been provided for morning tea, I thought I would be polite and complimented how tasty it was.  Then, (stupidly) I mentioned my own lack of skill in the baking department.

“Really ?  But aren’t the boys turning one soon ?” she asked.  “What are you going to do ?  Are you going to have one cake or two ?  Are you just going to have a numbers cake ?  Or are you going to do a themed one ?  How about a Thomas the Tank Engine cake ?  Did you think about using M&M’s as cake decoration ?”

As she bombarded me with question after question, I felt I was sinking further and further into my inadequate replies of: “Uh, I dunno…” and “Um, I hadn’t thought about it…”

It didn’t take long for the pressure, kinda like a grand piano, to lie heavily on my shoulders.

Yes, yes, I can just imagine some readers rolling their eyes right now.  You all think I’m being a drama queen. But seriously.  Have you heard of anyone messing up a White Wings Baking Packet Mix…continuously ?  And I don’t mean a chocolate cake being “a little uncooked in the centre ” or a tray of brownies being “a little too dry around the edges”.  I’m talking about a brown, chunky, misshapen cube that was seriously singed and burnt on one side and completely goopy and sloppy on the other.

With one charred tin of chocolate cake, I was so appalled with the result that I was ready to throw it out.  Instead, my husband actually ate it.  The whole thing.  I kid you not.  He even had some for breakfast.  For a fleeting moment, I actually thought that the oven and I had finally become firm friends.  Then, I smartened up quickly and realised that with his undying passion for cakes, desserts and all things sweet (including me…haha), he was just surrendering to his sugar addiction.  I was back to square one.

I have even taken the mentality that with every problem, there is bound to be a solution. Yesterday, I trudged over to the local library and picked up some Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cakes recipe books.  But as I flicked through the pages, the more daunting it became; ice cream cake echidnas, jam roll choo-choo trains, vanilla sponge cake pirate ships.  I plan to return the books tomorrow.

I can hear you all shouting the alternatives: “Buy the god damn cake !” “Get Nulla Nanna to bake one !” “Have an Indonesian curry themed birthday party !”  And I have seriously thought about all these options.

But here’s the thing: Even if I exempt myself from the tedious task this time; I will eventually have to learn how to bake…and master at least one type of cake or cookie.

To all my mummy friends that not only bake with confidence, but are also loved by their munchkins for the scrumptious sweet treats that they provide…I truly envy you.

Dream Cake: What I would love to be able to make for my boys' 1st birthday

Reality Cake: What I will most likely bake...

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