Hyped up for The Hobbit!

For those of you who don’t know, I’m actually crazy about all things Middle Earth. It’s been a long time since The Lord of the Rings movie came out but I love it just the same. And yes, I have actually read the books too.

When The Fellowship of the Ring came out in 2001, my mum insisted that I read the book before I go to watch the movie. My uncle gave me the book to read – not just The Fellowship of the Ring, but the full 3 books in one – it had over 1000 pages. I was on school holidays, so I sat and I read. And read. And read.

Something I may have forgotten to mention is that in 2001, I was only 11 years old. And I must admit that it was quite heavy reading for an 11 year old. I was also speed reading to make sure I read it in time – 5 days (and nights) later, I did it (and got to watch the movie).

It’s funny because in contrast, I remember Daniel talking to his friends about how they watched that movie when they were in college. It’s times like these that the age gap between us (7 years) shows – but of course, it doesn’t bother us now. It would have been a bit odd if he were trying to date me when he was 18 and I was 11, though…

I think I read The Hobbit after I read the Lord of the Rings, and found that book a lot easier to digest. I always hoped they would make a movie of it, as I grew quite fond of Bilbo and the Dwarves. I have a soft spot for hobbits because I look like one next to Daniel – although sometimes I look more like Gollum. What do you think?

IMG_5282Anyway, Daniel and I watched the first installment of The Hobbit again last night, and I’m really excited to be going to the movies again! Jacob will be looked after by his grandparents (thank youuu!) and I hope he’ll be well behaved.

Short post today as I have lots of housework to do! I don’t believe Jacob is a basket case but he seems to think otherwise…

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The aftermath of Christmas…

It’s amazing how so many things build up to one day and then it feels like that’s it, the end! Do you feel that way about Christmas? I felt a bit deflated yesterday but am intent on keeping the Christmas spirit going, at least til the New Year’s spirit takes over. To keep the flame burning, Daniel and I watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which was really quite funny!

I guess one of the highlights of the days after Christmas is enjoying all the presents we received. And boy, were we blessed this year with lots of wonderful gifts from family and friends!

On my Christmas list this year, I put down some kitchen equipment as I’d like to do some experimenting. Before when I was working full time, I never really had the time to bake or make elaborate meals, but now that I’m at home a lot, I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes! The large contraption at the back is actually an ice shaver – perfect gift for summer! Ais kacang, here I come! (It’s a shaved ice Malaysian dessert, fyi.)

ImageProbably two of my favourite gifts were the musical instruments I received – I got an awesome green ukulele which I’m learning to play now, and Daniel got my guitar fixed (well, it’s theoretically his guitar but I’ve claimed it as my own). Dan sent me on a treasure hunt though, with a list of clues to seek out the gift! It took me all over the house and I finally found the guitar in the back shed!

ImageBut if there’s one thing I’m excited about, it’s Jacob’s presents! They feel like presents for me because I’ll probably end up playing with them with him. The lucky boy got lots of colourful toys and awesome books like Hairy McLairy and Mem Fox books too. He also got clothes as well as Praise Baby, which is a lovely DVD set with praise songs and lovely videos of nature, people, etc. that are to grasp the baby’s interest and stimulate the mind. Jacob had a good time lying on the carpet watching some of it.

ImageThanks again to everyone for giving us such lovely presents! Now, to clean up and put the house back in working order.

But of course, this post would not be complete without a picture of my two lovely boys! Christmas can be an exhausting affair, and these two are recovering from it in style.

ImageHope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

What a beautiful time of year this is! And what a beautiful excuse to be busy – spending quality time with friends and family.

On Sunday, Dan and I had a lovely Christmas dinner together as a couple with a small lamb roast and watched Four Chrismases (which we realised we had seen before). On Monday, we visited Dan’s brother and had a fun time with the kids too. And yesterday, we had a small party and then just lounged on the couch at night watching the Carols on TV.

And now we have Christmas Day, and we’re scooting off to have breakfast at the Crowne Plaza with my in-laws. A shoutout to my parents, grandparents and other relatives overseas – Merry Christmas and wish I could be home with you!

Since Jacob and I love carolling so much, here’s a short video of him and I playing O Come All Ye Faithful. Next year, I’ll give him a bigger part (but he has to learn to sit up first). Merry Christmas!

Jacob plays baby Jesus!

At long last, the day finally arrived – Jacob’s first stage performance!

We had the privilege of participating in the Living Nativity which is part of the Lobethal Lights. As I mentioned in a previous post, a little country town called Lobethal lights up during Christmastime – houses put on their most dazzling displays and there are markets, pageants and so on. In the middle of the main street, a nativity scene is conducted, telling the story of the birth of Jesus.

I remember first witnessing this nativity scene two years ago – our church choir sings in it once a year, and it was a festive event indeed. It’s a really amazing experience for kids and tourists too as it really brings the scene to life – there are live animals, and of course, a live baby Jesus. 

ImageSo first, we got dressed. Daniel’s all dressed and ready to go, but my costume is a bit more complicated. Jacob didn’t need a costume as he was just supposed to be swaddled in a wrap. Unfortunately, the day’s temperature reached 41 degrees and it was still quite warm that night, so a wrap was not the best idea. 

ImageAnd here’s Joseph and Mary. I had so many layers to my costume that I was steaming hot in it! And I wasn’t allowed to wear glasses as, obviously, they didn’t have glasses back in the day. So I was a bit slow cos my vision was impaired, due to the heat and also because I still had a stuffy head (surviving on Panadol).

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Jacob was obviously Mr Popularity – he was a hit with the angels! I made it a point to give him lots of good naps (he had a good 2.5 hour one before) and he was in a great mood then. He was fed, changed and loved by the multitudes.

ImageSo, naturally, when we get on stage, he screams his head off. Sigh. Typical baby. I couldn’t blame him on a 35 degree night, honestly. I’m sure baby Jesus cried at some point anyway. In the first performance too, he grabbed my costume and my headdress came off – it was probably slipping anyway from the slippery hair and sweat! Gabriel had to come and fix it for me. And I was going to feed him quickly between the performances, but he fell asleep and was an angel for about a minute and then woke up in the middle of the second performance, where he had perfected his mortified wail.

It was funny that he somehow found the right cues to cry at, which made it quite funny really. Examples:

1. The first of the three kings presents him with a gift of gold – as soon as he puts it down in front of Jacob, WAAAAAAAA! (Clearly he doesn’t like gold)
2. Angels crouching around him singing “Silent night…” WAAAAAAAAAAAA! (Not very silent unfortunately)
3. The whole cast singing “We wish you a merry Christmas!”… WAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! (Not very merry either)

Other points to note were the animals. Goodness me, they were cute! My favourites were the calf and the kid (goat), who were relatively playful and insolent. In the first performance, the little goat refused to move back into position and had to be dragged by the shepherd. In the second performance, the calf did the hugest pee in the world right in the middle of the set. Hilarious!

ImageBut despite my screaming child, I decided to take it in my stride and smile and try to have a good time. Really, I did feel quite proud to be part of the production (and the photos don’t show that he’s screaming his head off anyway). It really is a great memory and something we can look back on and laugh at together. And it certainly has made his first Christmas extra special.

Credits to my mum in law for her awesome photos! Go paparazzi nanny! 🙂

For any of you who haven’t yet gone to see this, you have to! The festival still continues to Dec 30th and you can find out more here:
http://www.lightsoflobethal.com.au/

Perfect swimming weather!

We’re just recovering from Adelaide’s hottest December day in 82 years! The temperature hit just over 43 degrees yesterday and I think everyone was feeling the heat, especially poor Skittles (we let her in for a bit and gave her many ice cubes). We bought a shell yesterday (because I’m not into blowing up a pool, and Skittles bit a hole in our old pool) and it was lovely.

ImageJacob cooled down heaps in the pool and had a fun splash about – he was a bit shocked that the water was so cool (as he normally has warm baths) but he got used to it. Didn’t keep him in for too long though.

ImageAfterwards, Skittles got a turn. She’s sorta scared of water so won’t go in when we’re there (maybe because she hates baths), but will go and explore it herself later on and have a sip.

ImageToday is still relatively hot – 38 degrees! If it’s this hot now, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like in January! Let’s hope for no bushfires! At least it cools down over the weekend and it’s 30 degrees on Christmas day. 

I know I’m supposed to blog about the nativity experience (and I will in my next post, for sure) but today I really want to talk about pregnancy bodies, weight loss and all that jazz.

Yesterday marked the first day that I stepped into a bikini and I honestly didn’t mind how I looked. Firstly, I have to admit that this pregnancy was really kind to me. It’s in my genes not to have stretch marks (or so I hope anyway – fingers crossed if I have other kids) so I only have my linea negra to show for it, and I had a “not interested in food” pregnancy though I did eat more in the third trimester. I think that we had a good strategy having a winter baby, as the pregnant belly keeps you warm in winter, and you generally lose your pregnancy weight in summer because people lose weight in summer anyhow.

I’m still about 7kg above my pre-pregnancy weight though I think I have toned myself up in the last few weeks. Now, let me assure you that I’m not starving myself (hardly, it’s Christmastime!) and not working out crazily either. I admit that I do take the opportunity to walk Skittles every day (except for when it’s 43 degrees!) and that does help. But breastfeeding makes you really hungry and it’s only right that you eat a good amount so your baby will be nourished too.

I know some of my pregnant friends are worried at times whether they’re overeating, or if they’ll be able to lose the weight they gained over pregnancy. I have to tell you the truth – you’re not going to have your exact pre-pregnancy body back, and not right away for sure. I know for myself that my hips have gotten bigger and my thighs are bigger than Daniel’s at the moment – *gasp*! But I know that in time, I’ll get back to a healthy body shape and that’s all that’s important for me.

So, for you ladies who are pregnant, eat well but don’t overindulge with your cravings. I know sometimes it’s tempting to eat a whole tub of ice cream, but you’ll be fine with just a scoop or even one of those mini ice creams on a stick. (I love mini Magnums, yum!) If you can breastfeed, do so as it does help with your weight loss but if you can’t, you’re still a great mum and your baby will thrive on formula too. 

I think what’s important is to keep active even after pregnancy. Now I’m not asking you to run on a treadmill in the first few weeks after the birth. I actually put on weight in the first few weeks after Jacob was born as I was sitting at home a lot (as opposed to walking the dog and running around heaps as I was doing in pregnancy) and my mum was feeding me lots of nourishing food. But there are heaps of things you could do – walking’s probably the easiest. I know there are mum and bubs exercise groups like yoga, etc. and I find it’s great to meet other mums so you can sit and rant about baby poo stories together. 

But what’s most important is to remember that you are beautiful. I remember going through a lot of “OMG I look like a frog” moments over the last few months. I guess it didn’t help that my skin was peeling, I was losing hair and I don’t look great sleep-deprived either. Partners, this is where it is important to convince your wife that she does not look like a frog. You have to remind her that all her odd bits here and there are just tiny reminders of the miracle that she has given birth to.

And mums, you are beautiful. You just have to look into your baby’s eyes and catch him/her gazing back at you to remember that he/she thinks you are the most beautiful being on earth. 

Bah humbug!

I’m in a relatively un-Chrismassy mood this week because I’ve somehow caught a head cold, or perhaps it’s hay fever that’s developed into a cold. It doesn’t help that it’s really quite hot the next few days…

In the bah humbug spirit, here are 5 things that are annoying me at this time of year:

5. Headaches – There are so many reasons that people get headaches; change in season, weather that’s too hot, sleeping badly, not enough sleep, staring at the computer screen for too long… While I do credit my headaches to some of these things, I think the main reason is my thick black hair. I’ve been dying to go and cut it but just haven’t found the time. I just know every time I put clothes out on the line, you could probably fry an egg on my hair. Not that you’d want to!

4. Fighting for parking spaces in malls – When I was pregnant with Jacob, I was always anticipating the joys/privilege of using Pram Parking spaces. And yes, I have had quite a few opportunities to park in such spots. But around the school holidays, don’t even think that you’d get a chance to park in one of those spots. Not to mention you’ll find some dirtbags who don’t even have prams parking in those spots (unless of course, they somehow have a pram in their convertible sports cars with no car seats in them).

3. The mad Christmas rush – I have to admit that I’ve always loved shopping malls, and especially love it when they’re open til late. But I think I’ve been spoiled by being a stay at home mum, where I normally shop on weekdays during office hours (off peak hours). The Christmas rush kills me! You can’t get your pram anywhere (and, being me, I crash into things) – plus, the queues are long and when you want something in your size, it’s sold out. I much prefer online shopping but it’s getting a little bit last minute if I want it to arrive in time for Christmas.

2. Delayed postage – My Ebay stuff is not here yet!!! Yes, I’m an Ebay junkie and a lot of my Christmas presents come from there. And of course, I understand that there’s a high demand around this time of year – but I want my parcels!! XD Not to mention the post office is now SOOOOO busy!

1. Housework – yes, parties are coming up and my pile of ironing in the lounge room (what’s it doing in the lounge room?) is about 10 metres high! I realise that it’s only 8 days to Christmas so I do have a lot of tidying to do. Soldier on, Lianne!

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Jacob decided to grump around like his mum as well. 😛 He’s started laughing lately, like when you “Peek-a-boo” him – and it’s a contagious laugh! I’ll try to take a video sometime.

We had a bit of a fright last night where he rolled himself off the bed – I don’t think it was a full roll but it was enough for him to slide down a pillow and onto some clothes on the floor. Thank goodness I’m a slob! Poor baby was just a bit shocked but he stopped crying relatively quickly and was just his normal ol’ self this morning.

I’m really happy he’s getting more mobile, though I know it comes with more hazards. Here he is in his tunnel which he’s started to enjoy more and more.

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But honestly, things otherwise have been really good. Christmas shopping is nearly done, my parties are nearly planned and there are some baby showers to look forward to in the early new year. I also have to organise my documents for doing my passport and orchestrate our trip to Melbourne which now incorporates a wiggly baby (thank goodness he still sleeps a lot in the day).

I need to write another sermon by next weekend (gosh, I am quite last minute) and get some more writing work done. To those I owe writing, I am sorry for all the delays! When my head doesn’t feel like splitting in half, I’ll look at it and do it ASAP!

Oh, speaking of writing, the newest edition of JOM Magazine is out and I had the opportunity to do some of the phone interviews of successful Malaysians in Melbourne. I’d love to expand on the experience in a later blog post, you can read the magazine here first: http://issuu.com/jommagazine/docs/jom07

Going to grab some Panadol and will blog again soon. Tonight is the big night where Jacob gets to play baby Jesus, and I’m praying for a miracle! Just going to make sure he has lots of naps in the day so he’ll be in a good mood tonight… fingers crossed!

Babies babies babies!

I did I say I was going to blog more regularly but I had to choose the busiest month of the year to start, didn’t I? It’s been a crazy end of the week but I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

This week was particularly busy because the youth at our church were in charge of preparing a sermon. I have to admit that we always do things rather last minute (at least we gave ourselves a week this time!) but it usually turns out alright. We ended up doing a panel discussion on The Rich Young Ruler and discussed things like materialism, prosperity, spirituality and so on.

I just wanted to share the video we showed, which gives some really interesting insights into money and how it affects one’s mindsets:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuqGrz-Y_Lc

It’s funny but I have actually noticed the trend mentioned in the video (that people of a higher economic standing can be less generous than people of lower economic standing). In my work selling MBAs, I met an array of different people from a wide range of economic backgrounds. I found that people with higher incomes actually were more petty about small charges like application or exam fees than people earning less – even though it was a relatively small amount of money that they would be parting with.

I hope that I don’t get like that – I don’t claim to be a high earner (in fact, I’m not earning anything at the moment – gasp!) but I am blessed with a comfortable lifestyle and many luxuries others don’t have. Around Christmastime especially, we have our Christmas tree up with gifts all under it, while some people don’t even have a house to live in. I want to always remember to help those that are less fortunate than I am.

ImageOn a separate note, this is Jacob in his new chill-out spot. Warning: there is nudity in this picture, but naked babies are cute anyway.

Jacob’s had a bit of a stuffy nose the last few days and has developed a bit of a cough from the nasal drip. Poor baby sounds like he has a smoker’s cough at times! We’ve been using a nasal aspirator as advised, but it isn’t really clearing it out – maybe it’s a bit too solid. We’ll just keep it going and also give him steam treatment (i.e. breathing in steam from a bowl of water and steam from the shower). But he’s still his happy ol’ self and is sleeping like a baby now.

Speaking of babies, Jacob is no longer the youngest baby in the family. My sister in law just had a beautiful baby boy yesterday and named him Malachi. He was almost the same weight as Jacob, and when I was carrying him, I couldn’t even imagine Jacob being that light and tiny. Jacob’s now like a little elephant compared to him. Welcome to the family, Malachi!

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Happy weekend to all, and to all a good night!

Santa’s little elf

Santa's little elf

I have been so busy!! I thought I would be freer this year – last year my parents were over and we were travelling to Tasmania around this time. But yes, everything seems to be piling up like house cleaning and present wrapping, etc.

But anyway, I did manage to take Jacob for his photo with Santa and I am NOT disappointed. 🙂 Thanks for being my sun, moon and stars, Jacob!

Book Review: “A Taste of Gold” by Deryn Pittar

Finally I’ve managed to find the time to review this book. I actually finished reading it on Monday but was swamped with things to do (namely meeting friends as well as Jacob-related business). Enjoy!

gold

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Suspense

Note to self: Read the blurb before reading the book. The initial page shocked me with talk of guns and drugs, but I was soon reassured that this was not a fanfiction of Breaking Bad. And the cover did remind me a bit of Twilight, which sent a shudder down my spine. But no, I actually really enjoyed this novella…

Jason and Levi remind me of Fred and George Weasley, in the sense that they’re totally in sync with each other and love a good adventure. Their gifts for gold and gems could have made them the richest men in the world, yet they have an innocence about them where they just want to do the right thing. I love the way the writer evokes the senses, bringing the gold and gems to life through the twins who can physically smell and hear them – makes it easier to relate to something that doesn’t usually bring much appeal to me (no, I’m not into jewels and stuff).

The story takes the Australian twins on a road trip through The Coromandel Valley in New Zealand, through some towns that I’m sure I’ve been through when I was there. I once stayed on a family friend’s farm up in that area and had fun feeding sheep, watching chicks hatch and going off to pick pippies… okay, I digress. They’re on a prospecting holiday but they stumble upon some gang thieves and find their loot twice. Being the good boys that they are, they return it to the police, only to attract media (and possibly physical) attention from a local reporter Abby. Unfortunately, this media attention helped the thieves track them down and Jason is captured to be their ‘gold-digger’. No, please get your mind out of the gutter – not that kind of ‘gold-digger’.

However, I’ve failed to mention another interesting part of the book, which is where it brings in ancient folklore to life. Taniwhas are part of Maori mythology – the twins meet one who seems to have that same affinity towards gems and gold as they do. The Taniwha gives them humming stones as a symbol of their promise not to reveal his lair, and these stones also offer a means to call a Taniwha should they need help. And help was indeed what Jason needed at the time of his capture.

I think I’ll say no more about the synopsis so as to not spoil too much for the reader. I found this book enthralling and I was glad to be able to finish it in one sitting as it would have annoyed me not to know what happened next. I love the way the author made the characters grow on you to a point that you can connect to them, despite not being a twin or having psychic powers. However, it was slightly anti-climatic to me, where I was hoping for a bit more action towards the end – however, I guess there’s only so much that can happen on one road trip (believe me, I know about road trips and strange happenings). And it allows space for a sequel if intended by the author. 🙂 Kudos on the story, Deryn.

Rating: 7.5/10

Cakes, a Christmas tree and baby Jesus…

It’s a lovely rainy morning – the baby’s asleep and I’m just on my laptop in bed. 🙂 This is the life! I think it’s going to be raining all this week, and Daniel should be done with school later in the week too. I can’t believe we have only two and a bit weeks to Christmas, and just three and a bit weeks to the new year!

Anyway, I really did enjoy my weekend. On Saturday, it was church as usual and after that, we headed to a briefing/rehearsal for the Living Nativity as part of the Lobethal Lights. Lobethal is a lovely country town in the Adelaide Hills where houses put on a brilliant display of Christmas lights – there are choirs, markets, pageants and, of course, the Living Nativity where we have a actual narrated nativity scene with real animals and people.

More info here: http://www.lightsoflobethal.com.au/

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This is a photo from last year’s nativity – our church normally sings at the Living Nativity every year. However, this year on the 18th of Dec, Jacob is playing baby Jesus (and naturally, I’m Mary and Daniel is Joseph). I’m extremely excited but of course, frightened to death that Baby “Jacob” Jesus is going to have a crying fit all the way through. There is a part where I have to put him down in the manger (and he HATES being put down flat on his back). I’m allowed to have his dummy there for him, though it takes away from the authenticity of the scene (unless I make a wooden one or something, haha!). Perhaps I’ll just carry him the whole time and see how he goes. Fingers crossed!!

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Speaking of Jacob, here he is admiring our Christmas tree and wondering what a tree is doing in our house. I must admit that I like the silver tinsel very much, as well as the blue baubles. Maybe I can open my mind to a multi-coloured Christmas tree!

ImageAnd here I am trying to prevent Skittles from eating the tree or all the presents underneath. There are still more presents to be wrapped, and I realise I don’t have one for Jacob yet!

Anyway, second highlight of the week was the Birdwood Bake-Off! We were to bake our best cake and bring it along to be judged by a panel of cake experts (which included my father-in-law who is the Cheesecake King).

So I set out to make the best cake ever! (Please read my previous post if you want to know about my baking handicap.)

ImageI spent most of the day making the cake because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss a step or didn’t put the wrong ingredient in. I once made a cake with salt (and no, it wasn’t something that was meant to be savoury). Daniel helped me with the parts that involved electric equipment (e.g. putting orange in food processor. Whenever I use a food processor, food goes everywhere) and he also put on the final touches with the decorations. And here is our end result:

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If you want to find out how I made it, I actually just followed a recipe I found online, which sounded decadently good: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1356/dark-chocolate-and-orange-cake

Anyway, here is the spread of only some of the awesome cakes we had last night. They were of all shapes and sizes and some even had names like “Abomination Cake” and “Chocolate Nightmare”:

ImageOur cake didn’t win, unfortunately, though one of the judges revealed that we were tied for fourth place on her list anyway. It was fun nonetheless, but I don’t think I’ll be eating any more cake anytime soon. I still have a bit of baby weight to lose!

My next post will be a book review – I only briefly skimmed the book over the weekend while waiting for my ganache to cool. Will give it a proper read today before I head out to the shops again. Happy Monday, all!