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To Assume, Or Not To Assume; It’s Never A Question

30 Jun

Back in the day when I was fighting my way through the crazy corporate jungle which was full of bigger -than-their -BMW’s-business egos (compensating for their insecurities and other “shortcomings), I had many an idiot of a boss.  One in particular.

But, ironically, this is the idiot that left one piece of advice that has always stayed with me:

“Never assume.”

This man doesn’t deserve any more of a mention but the other day those words struck a chord.

Waiting in line for my much-needed coffee, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and while pointing to the twinlets said, “Oh, please do tell me some of your nanny friends so I can refer either you or them to my daughter.  She’s looking for someone at the moment…and you seem to be doing a fabulous job with those twins…”

“Haha, I should think so.  After all, I am their mother…” I replied, trying to contain my urge to whack the tactless lady in the head.

Arriving at playgroup, I told the other mums about my run-in.  One mum knew exactly where I was coming from.  She is Hungarian; Her husband is of Filipino background; Their little boy is his dad’s mini-me.

Another mum made an interesting point.

“She just should’ve just asked straight up if they were yours.  At least she could’ve saved herself the embarrassment.”

And although I almost despise being asked that question too (It’s up there with “Are they IVF ?”), I think my mum friend is right.

I started thinking about assumptions and tried to recall a time where they have every played a positive role.

Being an Indonesian born Australian, I’ve been dumped with a few in my life.

There was the time a QANTAS flight attendant was frustrated with all the Indonesian passengers who couldn’t speak (shock !  horror !) English on a flight from Jakarta to Sydney.  Getting peeved at having to repeatedly explain that the dinner choices were either fish or chicken, by the time he came around to me, he spoke so slowly and yet in an impatient and rude manner.

I turned on my thickest of Aussie accents and twang:  “Um, dunno.  Maybe the chicken, but what’s in the fish ?”

I’ll never forget his look of shame and his lame attempt to explain his bad behaviour.

Then there was the awful time when my dad had a seizure in the middle of a road trip and we had to race him to the nearest hospital.  While waiting for his CT scan results in the emergency room, a nurse started speaking candidly to his colleague about my dad’s condition, thinking he and his family who were in the room didn’t speak English.

There will always be morons in this world.  There’s no denying that.

But I think assumptions can be prevented.  (And likewise, I definitely need some hard-up lessons of my own).

Perhaps, we could argue that they aren’t as severe as unsolicited judgements or criticisms.  One could even see them as harmless.

Yet, my life experiences tell me differently.  I think assumptions can be the root and the stem of the yuckiness and negativity of close-mindedness and prejudice.

Feel free to correct me, if I’m wrong.

Anywhoooo…ending on a lighter note.

Here is the latest photo of me and the twinlets:

Please, please, pretty please tell me that  you can see a teeny tiny resemblence of me in them.

The flat nose ?  The squidgy lips ? Anything ?

Lies and far-stretched truths will be happily accepted 🙂

The Unspoken Dissent of Twins

28 Jun

During their 6 month check up, our paediatrician made an interesting comment:

“I know it’s hard with twins at the moment.  But just wait and see.  They’ll be each other’s company and entertainment.  You won’t have to worry about finding things to do.  You’ll have it much easier than parents of single babies.”

I clung to those words like superglue.  Waiting earnestly for the days of self-sufficiency.

And we’re here.  And to a large degree, he was right.

Largely, people are correct to assume that twins means a natural closeness.  An inseperable bond.  A happy harmony.

But no one mentions the flip-side; the clash of opposing personalities.

Just because they’re twins, they will still go through sibling rivalry.

Even in the womb, Little K was dominating by nature.  After all, he was the one that took up two-thirds of the nutrients from the placenta.  He was also the one that did most of the kicking and swirling around.

On the other hand, Little N was placid.  He was happily snug in the downward position two weeks before the scheduled C-section delivery.  Sometimes in the middle of the night, with Hubby spooning me and both of us with our hands on my belly, we would wait and wait for Little N to finally make some movement.

Yet – once arriving in the outside world – their different personalities seem to have complimented each other.

Until recently.

Somehow, just within this last month, we have managed to go from here:

To here:

We knew it was coming.

It began discreetly.  Little K would snatch a toy right out of his brother’s hand.  Little N – the accommodating one – would just move on.  Happily play with another toy.

But now as their personalities further develop, their own ideas of what they want are also setting in.

And because Little K is bigger than his older brother, he will get away with more.  In return, Little N – being a sensitive soul – will run away in a corner and cry.

We see that there’s an imbalance.  We’re trying to reason with Little K to give back the toy.  But when both are still too young to communicate and understand the “sharing game”; where there isn’t an older sibling who will “know better” and surrender that toy; it all results in a lot of chaos.

What’s baffling about it all is that Little K is actually not aggressive with other children.

If he sees another kid playing with his favourite toy at playgroup, Little K won’t act on it.  But if it’s his twin brother ?  Watch out.

Fortunately, Little N is starting to stand his ground.  And despite the Little K tantrums it causes, we’re encouraging Little N to stick to his guns.

Again, the effects can be horrendous.

But we have to do it.

Until we can actually sit down with them and explain the concept of “taking turns” or “sharing”, it’s going to be a rough ride.

“So, you guys going in for another round ???”

27 Jun

It’s a question I get asked a lot these days.

Random people tend to particularly like asking while I’m dealing with a twinlet tantrum or chasing them as they run in opposite directions.

“Haha !  Depends on the day you ask me !”  I manage to force a fake laugh as I scurry away, trying to catch one.

It seems to be a bit of entertainment for some people; seeing if a parent of twinlets would dare want any more.

It’s like they’re asking if I’m up for some more torture; wanting to see if I’m crazy enough to experience another dose and a half of sleep deprivation.

“What if you have another set of twins ???” is the next favourite line.

Yet, none of these people know that I would love to have another.  And if we had another set of twins – God help me – I know we would somehow manage.  There’s plenty of love in this house for more.

But there’s a few factors to consider.

First and foremost is finding the blessed time AND energy to procreate.  Have I mentioned how dawg-gone friggin’ exhausted I am these days ???

Hubby's response after asking him if there was going to be any bedroom action later...

The other important point is the fact that I’m around the corner from the 40’s shop.  And I’m not sure whether by the time I get there, the baby producing aisle will still be open and available.  Know what I’m sayin’ ?

Even if we just put aside that second issue for just a moment and focus on trying to find some time for a bit of bow-chica-bow-wow in the bedroom.

The whole process has become so clinical and almost unromantic…it’s actually laughable.

Two weeks after “Flow’s Come To Town” I promptly let my husband know that I’m ovulating.  (Well, I think I am, anyway…).

The moment the sentence leaves my mouth, I realise how far we’ve come from our raunchy-can’t-keep-our-hands-off-each-other-child-free days.

How did we get to this stage of such complacent abstinence ?

A couple of months ago, I decided to head to bed early.  It was my cue to let my beloved know I was *ahem* ready.

A couple of hours later, the light finally switches on in Hubby’s head and he manages to tear himself away from the telly and makes himself to the bedroom .

By this time, I am well and truly in the depths of the slumberland forest.

Hubby tried a couple of his “special” moves to wake me but in the midst of deep sleep…I pushed him away.

“Sorry, Lovey…I’m just too tired,” I apparently mumbled in my sleep-talk.

Yikes !

I NEVER say no to a bit of bedroom action !!!

At the same token, there have been a few momentous occasions where I – the obvious sex goddess that I am – have also been (Shock, horror !) rejected due to sheer exhaustion.

So all this push-pull activity in the bedroom is surely telling us something.

I’m not ready.

Neither is Hubby.

But, with the odds starting to stack up against me in the baby stakes, I wonder if we will ever have the chance to be.

I guess I just have to leave it in the hands of Whoever.

Happy to have another.

Feeling extremely blessed with two.

The Mystery of Identical Twins…

20 Jun

Being a mother of identical twins, I find myself exposed to two main questions from random strangers:

“Are your twins conceived through IVF ? (“None of your bee’s wax”)

“Do twins run in your family ?” (“Nope”)

Usually, my flat ‘no’ reply to either question is insufficient.  Without fail, this fly-by person will ask the alternative one.

It’s as though they need to hear a logical reason.

Yet, the responses I have to offer are insufficient.

So then, there is a slight pause of disbelief.  Followed by disinterest.

It’s as though I can hear their thoughts:

“She’s either lying or just doesn’t want to tell us.”

If I’m up for it, I sometimes find myself trying to describe the randomness behind identical twins.  That, unlike fraternal (dizygotic) twins, there is no geneological explanation.

Then I realise my voice is fading and the person who actually initially started the conversation has already drifted away.

I always end up wondering what does it take to let others know that there is no clear cut, black and white hypothesis for identical twins ?

Then, I think that maybe I shouldn’t give these sceptical people such a hard time.

Even for ourselves, we were surprised, to say the least.

You see, our road to conceiving wasn’t so forthcoming.  And although we didn’t go through the process of IVF, our story still had struggles and included a fear of lost opportunities.  But that’s another story for perhaps, another time.

So, yes.  When I found out I was having identical twins, I too was surprised to discover just how much of a fluke…or dare I even say, a miracle…they actually are.

At around week 20 of my pregnancy, this is what I found out:

  • The causes of identical (monozygotic) twinning are unknown.  Why an egg splits to produce two (or more) embryos is – for lack of a better term – an abnormal process.  Hence, identical twins can happen to anyone.
  • Identical twins do not run in families.  There is no evidence that suggest identical twins are caused by hereditary traits.
  • Fertility enhancing drugs or IVF treatment is not generally a direct influence to the production of identical twinning.

And these are the facts I’ve chosen to stick with.

Yet, as I scour through the interwebs, I see that people are still in search for some rationality.

There is a plethora of stories talking about high incidences of identical twins in certain families.  Cases submitted by those who are trying to “figure it out” and argue that there are definite causes for identical twinning.

But why does there need to be an answer ?

Just as there are still a small number who decide not to find out the sex of their baby until its arrival – claiming it’s one of the few surprises left in life – why do we need to try and resolve something that’s always been unknown ?

I’ve stopped asking.  I no longer wonder.

I still get frustrated with those who are dissatisfied with my lack of reasoning.

But then, I figure, what does it matter ?

I’ll happily sit back and just enjoy that I’ve been bestowed with one of life’s mysteries.

Playing in the Puddles

13 Jun

Despite being a staunch republican (the Australian anti-royalist type, not the American right-winged kind), I do love a long weekend.

And although the Queen’s Birthday comes at a non-eventful time of the year weatherwise (Rain, rain and more rain), who’s gonna say no to an extra day off ?  Even for a mum who’s job is 24 x 7, anyway.

This time last year, I was in such a hormonal daze, I honestly don’t remember how we spent the weekend.  I’m sure it included three hourly breast feeds, maybe a recovery from nipple thrush and definitely sleep deprivation.

So, this weekend we took advantage of finally breaking from the chains of in-house confinement.  We even braved the cold, wet windy weather to go ahead with a day trip to the south coast.

In fact, we made sure we were well prepared.

As pragmatic mountain trekkers and  inhabitants of cold climates will tell you, as long as you’re well equipped and appropriately attired, then the weather shouldn’t be an obstacle.

It’s all about water-proofing and layering.

And the end result ?  Two little eskimos – a blue and a red one.

Happily jumping in the puddles, slipping and sliding their way through a soaking and slippery playground.

During the brief intervals of the dancing in the rain, I managed to catch up with old uni friends who I haven’t seen in a lifetime.

Seriously.  With one friend, we couldn’t place the exact time we last saw each other.  Japan ?  Australia ?  It was never concluded.

So, hip, hip hooray for *ahem* non-important public holidays.

Yay for rare opportunities to catch up with dear old friends and their growing families.

God save the Queen, indeed.

Training for the City2Surf: Finding Will Power – Week 2

9 Jun

I’ve made it public last week about my sordid love affair with Salt ‘N Vinegar chips.  In the past, it has gone beyond control.

After spending a long extended stint in Japan (namely, almost a decade), the first thing I did when I arrived back in Australia was crash on my parents couch, watched Foxtel and ate bag after bag…after 175 gm bag of salt and vinegar chips.  Yeah, I know.  Disgusting, right ?

"Salt 'N Vinegar Chips, how do I love thee ??? Let me eat through the ways..."

While living in Tokyo, my folks always sent care packages with an abundant supply of these sodium-rich, mouth watering snacks.  Opening the boxes, the packets had inevitably burst open from the high-altitude air-freighted journey, leaving me with broken chips scattered everywhere.  It didn’t stop me from picking up and savouring each and every tiny little precious crumb.

So, here I am today.  On my running and fitness kick.  I know there shouldn’t be any room for my beloved crispy pals.  But breaking away from them is oh, so, so hard.

Going to Coles for our weekly grocery shopping on Sunday, I managed to achieve the unthinkable.  Walking by the confectionary aisle, I noticed an inviting bright yellow sales tag under my source of addiction:

“2 for $4”

I walked by that aisle three times.  Despite all the pacing, I stayed strong.

I left Coles without those extra snacks.

The drive home was excruciating.

I could only think about how terribly delicious that combination of salt and vinegar always is.  And how I was missing out.

Last week I mentioned how motivation and encouragement comes from others.  It takes friends, peers maybe even family to give you that hearty kick up the butt to get moving.

But when it comes to will power…that is all you.

No one else.  And although that can be a lonely concept, the rewards are again, only for you to reap.

Not buying those chips was a small triumph for me, but it lead me to avoiding bigger regrets.

Instead, I was able to enjoy this week’s highlights and achievements.

Highlights:

No major weight loss this week, but I can feel my body changing.

Wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans, they no longer feel tight.  There is a certain sag in the bum and in the legs.  Although I don’t need to yank them up all the time, when I do need to pull them up, they don’t stop in the same place.  My jeans can actually go a little higher on the tummy.  Amazing.

As for that post-natal rubber tyre stomach ?  It’s still there.  But that stubborn bulge is less prominent.  It’s no longer a tyre.  More like a billowing cushion…

I even got to wear new slinky jeans on date night !

Achievements:

One of the mums from my personal training group suggested we go for a run last Saturday morning.

Jeepers.  I am so not a morning person.  Yet somehow, I agreed.

So, she texted me at 6am.  It was pitch black outside.  I grumbled getting out of bed to put on my running gear.

Then, getting outside I realised just how magical early mornings are.  There was a pink sunrise.  Only cyclists and the milk delivery truck on the road.

We ended up having a great time.

During our run, this mum made a great point, “This is the only time in the day when I can truly say it’s just time for me…”

No screaming tantrums.  No smelly nappy changing.  No unpredictable family or children-related dilemmas.

We’ve arranged to go for another run tomorrow morning.

Tune in next week for more running and fitness adventures 🙂

Chocolate Mud Cake Commotion

18 May

If you’re looking for one of those perfect mummy blogs with the equally flawless homemade cake recipe –  you’ve landed in the wrong place.

In fact, dear reader, you might as well click that little crisscross button on the top right of your screen.

Before we delve into this episode, there is a background.

Cakes, muffins, cookies – any type of baking foods – was not something I grew up with.

My Indonesian mum is a top notch cook…of Indonesian cuisine, of course.  But a baker, she ain’t.

I didn’t grow up knowing how a cake was supposed to rise or how to blend cake batter.  Even as a young adult, I still didn’t have an interest.

However, I can say this:  The fixation on learning how to bake…derived the moment I started having a family.

Over a short course of a week, three unrelenting attempts were made.

Monday night:

After my frisbee cake fiasco, I was adamant to give the “No-Egg” product another whirl.

As advised by a vegan friend who was familiar with the egg replacer, I decided to make a cake from scratch, using a recipe that another friend promised me was fool-proof.

Yes, but was it oven-phobic Mama Grace proof ?

After much preparation and reading through the recipe thoroughly, there was momentum.

I was mixing.  I was blending.  I was in the zone.

The kitchen and the baker were both humming along nicely.

Then, finally, the crucial moment…

I thought it looked alright.

Had it risen ?  Check.

Did it smell like a cake ?  Check.

Most importantly, did it look like a cake ?  Checkity check check.

I even did that skewer test thing and – to me – the skewer seemed to come out clean as a whistle.  So I thought.

Excited and thrilled with the result, I called on Hubby to come over to try a piece.

I thought I’d cut him a slither to surprise him.  As I did, this happened:

Wednesday night:

I was in a “Bake or Die” fatalistic mode.  The self-determination to see a cake creation of my own was at its peak.

But somehow, this second attempt  was even worse.  I won’t even begin to go into the sordid detail.

Suffice to say, it rose.  It fell.  Then it was burnt.  With the middle completely doughy.

The sheer frustration even got the better of Hubby who started scouring the internet for answers and would type into Google questions like:

“Why doesn’t ‘No Egg’ work when baking cakes ?”

I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out, because the instructions of the packet couldn’t have been written any clearer than a cloudless blue sky:

“One Egg is equivalent to one teaspoon of No Egg with two tablespoons of water”

So, what was I doing wrong ???  Why wasn’t the cake binding ???

Finally, I found the answer on Amazon.com’s product reviews.

One consumer wrote:

“You need to double your ‘No Egg’ portion to two teaspoons.  Then mix with warm water.  Make sure you whisk for at least three minutes until foamy.”

Right.  Why didn’t anyone tell me that ?

It felt like that scene in ‘Friends’ where Ross finds out Rachel is pregnant with his baby, but doesn’t understand how it happened because they used ‘protection’.  Then, Rachel hits him with the harsh truth and reveals that condoms only work 97% of the time.

“They should say that on the box !!!”

My sentiments exactly.

Image taken from 'Wikia'

Thursday night:

Hubby couldn’t believe that I was going to give it yet, another try.  Well, actually he could.  He has witnessed me crazed up and obsessed with other projects in the past.

Over the years, he has learnt to stand back.  Otherwise, he gets his head bitten off.

This time I was even more particular with the process.  I mixed the batter a little longer.  I took more care in melting the butter and mixing it with the cocoa.

I doubled my “No Egg” portion and made sure I whisked it until my wrist was sore.

I waited anxiously – checking every 20 minutes.  I patted the oven a couple of times.  Told it I desperately wanted to be friends and to be nice to me.

Then, I realised that my oven’s heat doesn’t circulate properly.  It sits at the back.

I discovered that the front of the cake wasn’t cooking through and the back ?  It was starting to burn.

I was ready to pack it in.  I was sick of having my rubbish bin filling up with mushy, half baked chocolate dough.  The kitchen was in a constant array of cocoa powder, flour, sprinkles of sugar and chunks of butter.

But somehow, I perservered.  And although, it wasn’t the most ideal, for the most part, it worked out.

I discovered that cake can be like people.

Flaws exist, but can be covered.  Bless chocolate frosting.

So, to summarise, here’s what my humble little Chocolate Mud Cake taught me…

One cup of butter, two cups of sugar and a pinch of patience:

I was in such a rush to get to the end result.  Frantic even.  I forgot that the biggest ingredient missing was patience.

With anything new and unknown, it was better just to take things slow.  To take time and thought in what I was doing.

Remembering that as the cake needed time to cool down before I could frost it, so did my temper.

There is always a solution.

Despite a crappy old oven and the obstacle of having to bake without egg, with a bit of research, talking to friends, scouring the internet, you can somehow work it out.  Eventually.

Working the oven.  Make it my friend.

Ovens, I have decided, are as individual as people.

Some only blow heat from behind.

Some seem to spread their heat quite evenly.

I discovered that you treat an oven like you would a relationship .  Whatever type of implement you’re stuck with, you gotta know your oven.

Give it the right amount of maintenance, check up on it once in a while to see if everything’s okay.  Sometimes it needs more attention than other days.  It will have flaws but you will somehow work around those.

Making the most of what it can offer.

P.S  Like Ross and his condom company, I plan to write a complaint letter to the company of  ‘No Egg’…

The official cake testers having the final say...

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