Monday, 21 September 2009

My oh my, what a wonderdul day!

I am happy to report that my return to work today went rather well. I got to work early at 0720 only to realise that I couldn't get in as the receptionist had not yet arrived for the day. No matter, a workmate kindly let me in and another let me in through the glass barricade that encircles the stairs.

Once at my desk, I saw that my laptop was not there and neither was my phone. My first emotion was panic. Would I get to keep my wonderful extension 2600? or had they given it away to someone less worthy? Maria, our administrative assistant will not come in until 0930. Oh well, time for a chai latte. I was aghast to find out that the price of my favourite hot beverage had increased to $1.30. I had to move on and cope with this so I brought my drink with me to enjoy with a Tim Tam while I pondered what to do next.

Amanda, another colleague, had a brainwave and suggested that my laptop could be in the storeroom. She let me in and after rummaging around, we found a laptop. I turned it on only for it to die a few minutes later. After about 30 minutes of failed resuscitation attempts, IT rescued me by advising me to take out the battery pack and re-inserting it. Karen rescued me by finding me my phone. This meant that I could now call Malcolm, Sharon and Vivien in my breaks.

Maria, upon her arrival, informed me that the laptop I had scavenged was not mine. IT was still "refreshing" my laptop and it would be ready by 2pm. Oh well, I guess I couldn't do much work until then. Damn shame as we have a meeting scheduled for 2pm. In the meantime, I wiped down every surface I could see with anti-bacterial wipes and cleared out the previous owner's stationery drawer. After testing out every pen/highlighter/permanent marker, sorting out all the paperclips into large, medium and small, and organising my 3 pairs of scissors, 2 sticky tape dispensers, clips, blu-tack, a regular stapler, a light up stapler, rulers, post-it notes and notebooks, I finally got to visit my most favourite place in the building...the stationery room. It was definitely one of the highlights of my day!

By this stage, I thought I'd better watch Amanda do a few cases on our new database. This didn't take long and before I knew it was time for lunch. Hurray! After lunch, I acquired myself another thermal mug for my tea breaks. It was then meeting time. By the end of the meeting, my laptop still had not arrived. The time had been delayed until 4:30pm. Bummer, I guess its time to have another break. To my joy, I rediscovered why it was so hard not to put on weight when I was working before. There was a lovely selection of cakes and pastries leftover from a meeting. I helped myself to a yummy macadamia nut caramel slice and wondered what would be served for lunch at the meeting tomorrow. After chatting to Malcolm, Su and to Sharon briefly, my laptop finally arrived. I was delighted to discover that I had received one the newer laptops complete with a new bag. I was even happier to find out that on Wednesday, we are all going out for yum cha at Rhodes to farewell Diana (the girl who replaced me while I was on maternity leave).

It was now time to go home. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful first day back.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

No more naps

Tomorrow signals the re-awakening of my non-career. From Mondays to Wednesdays, there will be no more morning and afternoon naps, trips to Ikea, or leisurely lunches with other fellow stay-at-home mums. Yes, tomorrow is the day that I have to go back to my glorious role of Pharmacovigilance Associate in a multinational Pharmaceutical company.

Other than my breaks to have children, I haven't really moved up the career rung. Some will know that I only work for the annual "Lula" Park day. Others have the wrong impression that all I do is ebay at lunchtime and hang around Macquarie shopping centre. Let me tell you the real reason. I work to feed my Disney addiction. Somehow, someone has to pay for all these expensive upcoming holidays! Perhaps the greater significance of tomorrow is the revelation of prices for the 2011 Disney cruises...

In all seriousness, I have conflicting feelings about going back to work. Although the emotions on the surface are those of partial relief for the opportunity to spend some time doing non-children or house related activities, there is a part of me that is deeply saddened by the change that is about to happen tomorrow and what it means.

Working part time over the past few years has always been rewarding because it made me appreciate the best of both worlds. Now that we have had our last baby (yes this is definite and non-negotiable), it makes me even more desperate to hang on to the "home" part of my world, to hang on to the precious moments of my baby's childhood. Going back to work means my baby is growing up! The year has flown by so quickly. I can hardly believe that my baby is about to turn one and is looking more and more like a toddler each day. Suddenly, a career has even less priority than before. I do not want these precious years to be lost. I do not want to worry about how to fit my children around my working days. I want my working days to fit around my children.

I have been very fortunate to have a job that is close to home, part-time, low-stress, pays well, as well as a boss that is very understanding. The company has also been very supportive and understanding during the very difficult months of my pregnancy when I was very ill. All in all, I have been well looked after. To ask for reduced hours during current times would be unfair. And so, I will plough on for the time being. Who knows, maybe the french will one day realise that full time equivalents works much better than having head counts. I only hope that the day arrives sooner rather than later.

Until then, I will just have to savour the 2 weekdays that I am at home and enjoy the HOT chai lattes while I am at work.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Never give up, never surrender!

This is all to hard...ok Belinda...stop, breath....focus....focus

I have too many things on my to do list. On top of all the planning required for our Mediterranean Disney cruise, I now have to divert some of my focus toward Project Orlando in January 2011. This all has to be done at the same time as organising Jonah's birthday party, surviving Little Athletics on Saturdays, planning our next Cuisines of the World dinner, getting ready to go back to work on Monday, as well as studying for Thursday night trivia (I have assigned myself the task of learning flags of the world and African geography).

We had the bone carpenter, Sn0apple and their little cutie Samuel over for dinner this evening. It became obvious that we had to pull up our socks with regard to the planning for our trip in January 2011. Our concern was whether or not the crowd levels on the New Years Day weekend would take away from our total Disney experience. With Disney music, Chim chim cheree to be specific, streaming live in the background, Malcolm made the decision to pay a statistician for his services to forecast the crowd levels in Walt Disney World in early January. He seemed to be suitably qualified and had allocated "weight of importance" to the many variables that affected crowd levels. For example, time of day has a rating of 10, whereas, day of the week had a lower rating.

Things were getting serious. Important decisions had to be made. $10 disposable Walmart phones or walkie-talkie? Which kind of walkie-talkie would be best? Do we all need call signs or code names? Do we need a communications officer? Should we have a dedicated planning wall for the trip or would a simple spreadsheet suffice? How many shore-excursion specialists should we have? Do we need a craft coordinator for the group T-shirts that we are going to make? Who should be assigned the vital task of designing our logo...the Mickey Meeple?

Alas, the meeting had to be adjourned so little Samuel could retire for the night. This gave me the opportunity to look up the reports for the staterooms on the Wonder as well as investigate the new categories that Disney has introduced. I feel much better now that I have our preferred set of staterooms ready to go for September 28. I feel even less anxious now seeing as I also have 5 back up sets ready just in case the first one is unavailable, as well as a list of non-interconnecting rooms that are acceptable.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Only 1 year, 3 months, 2 weeks and 5 days to go

Things have moved along since I last checked in on that tension-filled day of September 11. I surprised myself by resisting an early morning wake-up to check the new Disney 2011 itineraries. And so it is set. The Disney Wonder will be repositioned to the West Coast which means a Panama Canal cruise! With Los Angeles as its home-base, the Wonder will be cruising Alaska as well as the Mexican Riviera. The Magic appears set to continue its 7 night Caribbean itineraries with a summer break in the Mediterranean. The Dream will have its grand announcement on Oct 29. Why can't they just do it all in one go?!??!?!

Today, the Kohsino frequent flyers met up to discuss our strategy. One of the highlights of the day would have to be finding out that our theme park strategist cum secretary had purchased the newly released 2010 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. I was impressed and secretly (ok so not so secretly) chuffed that he took his assignment so seriously.

Whilst munching through our allowed yearly ration of KFC, we formulated a plan. At 11pm sharp on 28 September (that is when the bookings open), Malcolm will hit the phone while I use my touch typing prowess online to try and secure us 2 interconnecting category 9 rooms on the starboard side mid to aft ship with an over-the-corridor inside Category 11 room. Failing that, we will take whatever we can get. Failing that, we will go on a 7 day Disney eastern Caribbean cruise instead.

Other things that were settled on the day included the fact our dining strategist will research the best lobster buffet available, and resident craft guru will create autograph books for character signings for all the children. My mind is already racing with all the extra door magnets that I have to create. So little time...

Friday, 11 September 2009

Only 2 hours and 42 minutes to go

I am too wired to sleep. Disney will be making its announcements for the 2011 itineraries. There are exciting rumours of cruises to Hawaii, Europe, Alaska and many more. However, staying up until 2am may not be the responsible thing to do as a mother, seeing as I have to go to Mia Mia fete duties in the morning before taking the children to Little Athletes and then making it to a birthday party by 11am.

Malcolm is unfortunately on call the whole weekend. He kindly helped to bake the cake this evening for the fete tomorrow but forgot to add the baking powder so we had to bake the cake again. We are now waiting for the cake to cool so we can ice it with the chocolate icing.

The kids athletics uniforms are ready, snacks prepared, water frozen (hot day forecasted tomorrow), party clothes and shoes chosen, present and card loaded in the car and the baby paraphernalia packed.

If only the sleep would come...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

My little athletes

Last Saturday was our debut for little athletics. It wasn't smooth sailing all the way but we made it to our first week...

I was quite hesitant about the whole Saturday sport business. As I spent most of last year with my head in the bucket due the pregnancy, I didn't have the privilege of accompanying Elliot to his cricket games. All I know was that it chewed up a big chunk of our Saturdays. Elliot had decided that he would like to give athletics a go this summer but we didn't take the idea seriously until Lara chimed in that SHE too would like to do little athletics. As opportunistic parents, we immediately signed up for the Northern Suburbs Little Athletics club. Here was our chance to get the children into an activity where they go to the same grounds and at the same time.

On our way to Little Athletics

Somewhere along the line, Lara had decided in her mind that she was a runner. Persistently, she asked if "training" is on today. She would voluntary run around moving her chubby little legs like we'd never seen before. This was contrary to my expectation that she would become a great shot putter (based on her size as a baby). She may have multiple talents and be a decathlete!

On Friday night, as we were looking for their uniforms, we realised that their numbers and badges had to be sewn on. For a household with no needle and thread, this posed a problem. At 10:30pm, there was only one place to go...Malcolm rang his parents and headed there straightaway. The plan was to feign such utter ineptitude that his mother would do the job for him. Well, the plan was nearly executed to perfection. He had to wake his mother first as she asleep and he was made to iron the edges down and tack the pieces on, but she did do the sewing on! And Malcolm got to watch some of the cricket that was on pay TV at his parents...

The next morning, the children excitedly jumped into the car for the 2 minute ride into the sports ground. We dropped Lara off first with her group of Tiny Tots before depositing Elliot with the Under-7-boys.

Elliot did very well. We only just received the results from last week via email. He posted the second best time in the 50m run and the third best time in the 100m run out of 24 boys. And may we add that the boys who came first and second were big strapping boys for their age. He also came 6th in long jump and 9th in discus. After, emphasising to Elliot that Little Athletics was all about improving your best records, we did a little "woohoo" on the side.

Lara surprised us all and also did very well. During the quest to teach the group to run in a straight line, she showed a surprisingly fiery competitive spirit! She looked around and really pumped those legs to make sure she came first. She took each activity during the morning very seriously, even more than Elliot.

We have just read through the "handbook" and discovered that we, as parents, have "duties" such as manning the canteen, set up, pack up, time keeping etc. Bugger...too late now.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Just another day

Today was just one of those pleasant days even though nothing of significance happened!

The day started off well. The baby seemed extra cute and cuddly today and went down for his nap with a smile. Mothers' group kicked off at our home today at 1000. I was feeling nice and relaxed having had the previous hour to browse through a few more trip reports from the 2007 Disney mediterranean cruisers. The study today was on instilling the Christian faith in our children. It felt good to know that despite our imperfections, God had entrusted us with His little miracles to nurture. Although there were moments of fear and feelings of immense responsibilty, I felt even more motivated to be an active rather than a passive christian. Hopefully in the process of trying to be more Christ-like, I will be a much better christian parent and my children will know and love God of their own accord.

During morning tea, I briefly mentioned my thoughts of a possible career change. Being holiday crazy, a career in travel might not be bad idea. My fellow mothers agreed that becoming a travel agent would be worthwhile. So I added this to the list of the many things that I have to do. As the others left, Ethel and I enjoyed some mee pok flavoured instant noodles with fishballs. Mmmm, boy do I miss the hawker centres in Singapore. The things you do to satify cravings!

Malcolm coming home early from work was a pleasant surprise. The happy feeling lasted despite the fact that he had to go back to the hospital to fix the haemorrhoid that re-bled because the patient tried to do a big poo. This (the happy feeling) could have also been due to the fact that I managed to squeeze in an afternoon nap, and woke up to the wonderful aroma of apple cake that Alessandra had baked during my slumber.

Jonah and I had to control ourselves and refrain from eating the cake until dinner time, so we decided to have some of our recommended serves of fruit and veges for the day instead. After sharing a gold kiwi fruit (I make the distinction here as I can't understand how anyone can eat the green variety), Jonah and I amused ourselves by pulling out weeds in the backyard. Well, I pulled out weeds while Jonah randomly pulled out bits of the lawn. I also experimented with the 5 new mock-stone Jamie Drurie solar lights that we bought from Big W while Jonah chewed on the instructions. Mal thinks the light is wussy but I like it. Its nice and has a soft glow, giving out just enough light to see where to put your foot down next. Re-arranging the lights in different positions took up the rest of the afternoon. Before I knew it, Elliot and Lara were back from swimming, it was time for dinner and the kids were in bed.

I now had time to do my research about being a travel agent. It appears that they work very hard for very little pay and that part time work is very hard to come by. So drats, there goes the cheap cruise fares, flights, accommodations and every other discounts that travel agents get. No cheap holidays for me after all.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Fishy business...continued

It was a semi-productive shopping expedition at IKEA. I managed to get Sharon to come along to bounce ideas off. IKEA fortunately had great products for my need. There were many pre-made items with bright colours at a good price.

One thing became apparent very quickly, going in with NO plan about what my fish extender should look like wasn't a good idea. Not only did it magnify my indecisiveness but it also brought out my worst Asian qualities. After dragging around different items in multiple quantities, I finally settled on the FABLER bag. I couldn't decide which colour I wanted. I knew it came in red, green and blue. Red is my favourite colour. The red bags, unfortunately, were out of stock. There were plenty of green ones but they were way down on my preference order. There were only 5 blue bags left. Should I wait until the reds return? Or should I stick with the blue? Maybe I should get a combination of green AND blue? Should I get 2 greens and I blue or 2 blues and 1 green? And then, Sharon asked the worst possible question ever..."Don't you want pockets for Malcolm & yourself?"

OH NO!!!! I now had to decide whether I wanted to have 3 OR 5 pockets! So putting my best kiasu (see definition below) foot forward, I took 3 blue and 3 green bags...just in case. Besides, as Sharon quite rightly pointed out, I could always return them. I wouldn't want the blue ones to sell out as well. The reds may never come back...

Now I had to decide what I should glue the bags on. The choice was endless...there were materials galore, towels, blankets, wraps, aprons all with nicely sewn edges that could be converted to form my fishy backbone. It was all a bit much for my disorganised brain. I decided to call it quits and ruminate some more at home before another shopping expedition. I needed more inspiration.

Looking at my purchases upon reaching home, I suddenly realised I didn't how high the "fish" was on the wall. Will it be high enough to fit all 5 pockets? Luckily for me, DISboards came to the rescue. I found out that it was approximately 6 feet high. I also discovered how to make the Mickey dowel ends that so many people had on their fish extenders. The one thing I haven't got the answer to is the weight capacity of the fish. I will keep trawling...

As I end this post to continue organising my baby's birthday party, I keep thinking about what Sharon said today. Perhaps I should let Ethel know about the fish extender business. She does sew, and she is super creative. Plus she has a sewing machine. Maybe her machine can embroider the Disney font...

Kiasu = a hokkien word that literally means 'fear of losing'. Used to describe the must win, never lose mentality of Singaporeans.

Fishy business

The time has come for the fish to take its first breath. Well, hopefully it will soon. After a Disney-free weekend, I am especially motivated to get cracking. But first, let's describe the Fish Extender to those who may not know what it is. And I suspect, there might be many...

I don't know whether or not this is purely a Disney phenomenon or whether this also applies to other cruise lines. The aforementioned "Fish" is a wall decoration that is apparently used as a communications system. My understanding is that it is a message clip and that it does not talk. It is located on the wall outside every stateroom on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.

The "Extender" as posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDies on DISboards "is anything that you care to hang on the fish. Literally anything will qualify, but in general, they are usually some type pocket organizer similar to a shoe caddy or mail organizer. They can be as simple as a canvass bag or as complex as your imagination cares to stretch."

Here is one of many made by very creative and dedicated people who cruise Disney. I found this particular one made by LuvTheEars on DISboards (where else??!?!?!). Cruisers then use the fish extender as a medium for gift-exchange. The intricacies, rules and etiquette are described at length in the forums. For the moment, the purpose of mine will be for gifts for the children "from" Mickey.

I have thought long and hard about how to make mine. I am not particularly creative nor am I a genius with a needle and thread. Having dragged my mother-in-law (She is a sewing guru. She made a life-size Gremlin costume for Malcolm) with two children to the mega spotlight at Auburn last week, it is clear that my skills are definitely lacking. As multi-talented as I like to think I am, I am dubious about my capability to be able to sew so many bits of material together. There is also the small problem of not owning a needle and thread, let alone a sewing machine. So its off to IKEA we go to browse for suitable "components" that I can hot glue together.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Bugger the bath

It is Father's Day today. And surprisingly, there is little to write about. Other than an excuse to buy oneself a present, it, along with Mother's Day, isn't a big celebration in our little family.

I never did get to wrap the sucker-blower that Malcolm bought for himself last night. So early this morning, Elliot, Lara and I strategised as to how best to present "Daddy's present". In the end, the kids decided that it was easier to just put the big cardboard that we had sitting in the corner over the gift. That way, we wouldn't waste paper. My parents would be proud that their grandchildren had inherited this ancient Chinese trait of thriftiness. Elliot then wrote a big "SURPRISE" on the cardboard box. Lara nominated herself as the person who would shout "SURPRISE". The scene was set, the coffee was made...and then I noticed that my microwave rice-cooker was completely warped. I could not withhold myself from letting out a scream. Malcolm came down immediately. Amid the heated discussion of how the amazing feat of destroying the microwave dish was possible, the Father's Day "surprise thing" got waylaid. We realised we were going to be late for church, quickly did the "surprise thing" and headed out.

After church, we did the obligatory barbeque at Malcolm's parents. It was a lovely day to spend lazing on the grass, but not quite lovely enough to stop us from visiting the Kohsino to trial out Jason's new game. Having satisfied Malcolm's gaming urges ("It's the one thing that I WANT to do today"), we did our grocery shopping, hurried through a McDonald's dinner and went home.

We are pooped, so despite the fact that the children had been rolling all over the ground. We say, "Bugger the bath". Besides, there is cricket to watch on T.V.....

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Cover blown!

Alas, the days of anonymity, all two of them, are no longer. At a dear friend's wedding today, Malcolm disclosed the start of my blogging career. My immediate thought was whether or not this would change the way I write or if it would change the contents of my pages. Would I still write about the woman who wore one too many bright colours all at once (who I discovered later is the sister of the groom)? Should I comment on the fact that I think the celebrant may have had slight control issues? Would the bride one day discover my blog and be insulted? Should thoughts just remain as that, thoughts, and not be committed to words? Does refraining from voicing your thought make thinking about your thought ok??!?! I am not sure what the answer is.

Let's talk about the wonderful bits. My friend looked absolutely stunning and radiated happiness. The wedding has been a long time coming and we felt privileged to be a part of it. The venue, the groom's parents' home, was beautiful and was a lovely backdrop for the ceremony. The speeches were great to listen to, and it was nice to catch up with friends.

The sad bit is that I had to veer away from Disney for the day. And it appears that I may have to do this for a few days yet. For in my current Disney focused state, I had nearly forgotten to organise my little baby's first birthday. Bugger me!

Oh, and that reminds me. I'd better go to the garage to wrap the sucker-blower that Mal bought for himself so the children can give it to him first thing in the morning tomorrow for Father's Day.

Friday, 4 September 2009

I dream of Disney

I have always been a big fan of everything Disney. From the very first time I went to Disneyland as a little girl, I was hooked. After marriange and children however, things seemed to have toned down somewhat. I have always wanted to take the children to Disneyland but I was too worried about too many things. What if they're still too young to enjoy it, what if we don't cope with the jetlag, what if it's too expensive? The list goes on...

And then, we booked ourselves a Disney holiday. We will be cruising the mediterranean not just on any ship, but on a DISNEY ship. Yes, that's right! We are going on a Disney cruise! We didn't even know that Disney had their own cruise line. We accidentally stumbled across it whilst surfing the net for our planned 2011 Disneyworld trip (Yes we're going on another Disney holiday!). When we saw the "kids sail free" promotion for the mediterranean cruise, we knew it was too good a deal to pass up. Besides, we HAD to make sure that Malcolm could handle being on a ship before going on a cruise in the caribbean in 2011...

Suddenly, the yearning for everything Disney was re-ignited. I now salivate whilst dreaming about churros. I hum Disney tunes constantly. I discover and recite mundane Disney facts. I get annoyed that my disney DVD collection is not complete. I dream about towelgami. I feel happy simply thinking about Disney. I am sure everyone around me thinks that I am mad. Luckily, my partner in crime, Malcolm, understands! He has enough "boy" in him to embrace the magic that is Disney and enjoy rather than be cynical about the whole thing.

And then, the panic set in. How are we going to get there? Which flights would work best? How much is this going to cost? Where are we going to stay in Barcelona? Do we need US dollars onboard? Is Jonah too young for this? There were so many questions that needed answers. There was so much to do. There was only just under 8 months to do it in.

And so, the planning started. And oh boy, did it start! I discovered the Disney forum, and found other Disney freaks who were more freaky than me by a hundred fold. If you want to find out about anything Disney, you will find it there. The threads fuelled my previously dormant obsessive compulsive disorder. I even forgo sleep to be on the forums. Those who know of my love for sleep may not believe this. As a result, I now know all sorts of esoteric information on cruising with Mickey. As incredulous as I found the people on the board and their dedication for Disney, I quickly discovered that I fit right in and that I enjoyed lurking around the forums. So much so that I befriended someone whom I have never met on facebook just so that I can read his blog about his Adventure with Disney (tours that Disney provides...something new to try down the line...) I want to be IN... the whole hog. I don't want to be half-hearted. I am proud to announce that I am a Disney fan.

I am on a mission. I am so inspired that I have convinced myself that I NEED to make fish extenders for the children. That will be project 1. Project 2 will be to make magnetic door decorations. My parents, who are also coming on the cruise, don't know about this yet. I am too embarassed to tell them just yet. I will just have to show them my creations. Project 3 is to make a water-bottle holder that was inspired by our travels to the hilltribes of Thailand and Vietnam in our early 20s. It will be crocheted out of recycled plastic bags. I only have to make 6. How hard can it be?!?!? Surely a mother of 3 children who is going back to work in 2 weeks time can do this.

Wish me luck. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

In the beginning...

I don't really have any idea as to how to blog nor any plan about what I want to write about. All I know is that I have always wanted to do it. I have been putting this off for years. Today is a momentous day when procrastination ends. So here I go...

Is that the baby I hear?!?!? Drats, I'll have to start tomorrow.