Improve your mind
Recent studies have revealed some curious things when it comes to the mind. Apparently if you do puzzle and brain teasers early in the day, it is like a workout session for the brain and keeps it sharp and thinking clearly and logically. A crossword or simple word games in your mid-morning break is a terrific way of maintaining your sharpness and keeping at bay dementia in the elderly.
How to keep your body looking good
Exercise is always fantastic for the body and resistance workouts will make your heart stronger. Walking is good for the heart but by adding a ‘resistance’ like walking up stairs, doing push-ups or lifting light weights, you can firm up muscles and boost your metabolism.
Self-help for your spirit
Being positive and sharing it with other people will reap many emotional rewards. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, as by appreciating something as simple as a well-cooked meal will make somebody close to you feel good, and boost your levels of positivity. What you give out will come back to you in other ways. Give out a positive and it will always come back. Unfortunately, this is also true for negativity so don’t go there.
We are what we eat
Get rid of all that unhealthy food and start from today to eat healthily. There are no substitutes for fruit, vegetables, and unprocessed food. If you are going to eat a fish, then it is more healthy if it actually looks like one. If you love a good burger, then buy the beef and make your own healthy alternative. For a snack eat an apple, for dessert how about a fruit salad. It isn’t always that straightforward to get started, but once you do, you will never go back.
How to end your day
Life is all about ‘wanting what you have’ rather than ‘having what you want.’ At the end of every day, try to find five minutes when you can reflect about all of the positive, healthy things you have achieved and any failures. Remember, tomorrow you can start again and ensure that those failures are turned into physical, emotional and mental triumphs.
That’s me, I hope! 🙂 I meant to write this post last month (!) but as usual, work got in the way, as well as motherly and wifely duties at home! Now that I have some time during lunch, let me quickly jot this down before the next year comes. 🙂 So I grew another year older last month, and celebrated it with my small little family. On the morning of my birthday, we attended a friend’s daughter’s birthday party! It was at this nice park where Little J had the time of his life playing with the swing, the slides and bubbles! For the actual celebration, since Little J was older, we decided to have a nice dinner in a somewhat classy place with him in tow. We went to Trevi Lakeside Restaurant, which was really located next to the lake, and had a nice dinner there.
Upon sitting down at our table, we requested for a high chair for Little J. The staff told us that they were out of high chairs but promised to get us one even if he had to borrow it from another restaurant. 🙂 Now that’s going out of the way for the customers, and it made us feel really welcomed. A few minutes later, he came back saying that he found one in the store room that he didn’t know he had before! They actually wiped the chair down before placing it next to us for Little J to sit in it. Once we’re all settled, we took a look at their menu and placed our orders. We chose the Scallops for our entree, and the dish came with confit pork belly, 3 pieces of juicy sea scallops, carrot and plum sauce. The scallops were seared nicely and were really plump. The pork belly interestingly had a piece of crispy crackling on top, which Saucer and I both enjoyed. It was overall a nice start to our dinner.
For Little J, we initially ordered the kids meal of Pasta with Tomato Sauce, but I decided to change his order about 5 minutes after placing it because I thought my dish would have pasta in it, so we could share. I called the wait staff and politely asked if it’s too late now to change the pasta order to a calamari dish. He said he would check with the kitchen first. 5 minutes later, the pasta dish actually arrived on our table, so I was confused and a bit disappointed. The same staff came back to me and apologised because it was too late to change my order at that time, but he came with a small plate of complimentary calamari to make it up for me! That was a really nice touch. Best of all, the calamari was deep fried to perfection – crispy, tender and not at all chewy. We’d definitely order this again.
Saucer had the Confit Duck Breast which came with hazelnut mash, heirloom carrots and mandarin napoleon reduction, with a ravioli on top. This dish was totally up his alley because he loves vegetables and healthy dishes, and it’s a bonus when everything tasted delicious. The only thing he would have preferred was if the duck had crispy skin, but otherwise, the duck was tender and moist, and the sauce was flavoursome too.
Last but not least, I was really surprised when my order of Seafood Hot Pot arrived, because it was gigantic! It was literally a mountain of calamari, fish, black mussels, balmain bug and octopus on a bed of tagliatelline in napolatana sauce. This dish could easily feed 2 persons, especially if you’ve had starters. Even before the plate touched my table, I could already smell the gorgeous aroma of all the seafood with the beautiful sauce. It was creamy and tasted like the sea, with a hint of heat to it. I was glad that Little J had this tomato pasta now because the sauce actually had a kick to it after a while! But I wasn’t complaining, I loved it! The seafood was fresh, the portion was huge and the pasta was still al dente. Both Saucer and I enjoyed this very much.
Halfway through dinner, Saucer surprised me with a gift! I was genuinely shocked, because he had already got me another present earlier. 🙂 Anyway, who doesn’t love to be spoiled? 😉 I was more touched with the fact that he took the effort to get the present without my knowledge and wrapped it as well! The wrapping paper was a leftover from Christmas last year (LOL) but that was the only wrapping paper we had at home so, A+ for effort! And oh, the present was a beautiful white Seiko watch which I really like! It’s solar-powered too so no more changing batteries for me. Yay!
Back home, he also gave me the second present (which wasn’t a surprise) that arrived a few days earlier all the way from the US. This was the present that I was expecting because I actually chose it myself and told him that I’d like it for my birthday. 🙂
Last but not least, what’s a birthday celebration without a cake? I was really happy with the choice of cake as well because it’s an ice-cream cake (only the best type of cake) in my favourite flavour (strawberry). Triple brownie points for Saucer this time! It was truly a night to remember – I had fun and most importantly, I was surrounded by my loved ones. Here’s to another year of being wiser!
About 2 weeks ago, I was reminded by the fact that time waits for no one, and without realizing, I was another year
older wiser. I really do believe that time seems to fly much faster when you have a baby! Every day is just a mad rush in the morning and right after work. The only solace I have is actually during work in the office, where I have my own me-time, doing my own thing, without having to constantly look up to see where Little J has gone to, or whether it’s time to prepare his food, get him to nap, etc. I can do things according to my own schedule, not his, and it’s liberating, for that 8-9 hours a day. Right after work though, it’s a continuation of my hectic rush of picking him from child care, preparing dinner, feeding him and myself at the same time, doing the dishes, preparing his bath, milk and finally putting him to bed. Repeat this every day and night, and without you knowing, a week has passed, and then a month and now, a year!
Since my birthday fell on a weekday, Saucer and I decided to take the day off, send Little J to child care as usual, and have a day out, just the two of us! Yes, we have to resort to taking our annual leaves to have some alone time, now that we have Little J in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, nothing in the world makes us happier than he does, but once in a while, we need to have some adult time with each other too. And so it started with us watching a movie together in the cinemas. Gosh, almost forgot how that felt like! 🙂 Then, we took the train to the city, and had lunch at Lowenbrau Keller at The Rocks. Being the birthday girl, I had my meal there for free! So generous of them indeed.
Schweinshaxn / Oven-Roasted Pork Knuckle (AUD$36)
Crispy pork knuckle skin
Upon the waitress’ recommendation, I had the Oven-Roasted Pork Knuckle that came with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. The pork knuckle was huge! The skin was mostly crispy (except for some parts on the sides which were still chewy and rubbery) but we thought it was overly salted. Yes, I know that we have to salt the skin to get it to be crispy but I would expect the chef to remove most of the salt once it’s done. Other than that, did I mention that the portion was really huge? It was full of meat and even after 20 minutes of eating, Saucer looked at my plate and said, “It looks like you didn’t even touch the dish!”.
Jägerpfanne /Charcoal-Grilled Veal Backstrap (AUD$31)
Saucer, on the other hand, ordered something different. We were well aware of the fact that German restaurants are usually good for pork knuckles, sausages and beer, but since we’re already having 2 out of the 3 specialties, he decided to go with the Charcoal-Grilled Veal Backstrap. It was served with home made egg noodles, mushroom sauce and melted cheese in a cast iron pan. When the dish came, I have to admit that it didn’t look all that appetizing because everything was mixed up into a mush. But it did smell amazing because of the cheese, and Saucer liked the veal too. So I was too quick to judge. But would we order this again next time? Probably not. We prefer sticking to the old favourites. 🙂
Saucer and his dark beer
Lowenbrau Dunkel (AUD$12)
Having pork knuckle in a German restaurant without a beer seemed like a crime, so we ordered one. The Lowenbrau dark beer was surprisingly very smooth and easy to drink, even for my standards. In fact, it was the perfect drink that day since it was quite warm in the afternoon, and the cold, smooth and refreshing beer was what we needed.
Pork knuckle and I
In the middle of our meal, I was faced with yet another surprise with a 2-person band walked to our table and asked if someone was celebrating her birthday today. I nodded embarrassingly and they broke into a Happy Birthday song complete with 3 cheers. 🙂
Saucer and his veal
After our long and filling lunch, we took a walk around Circular Quay and visited the Museum of Contemporary Arts for the first time. It was quite impressive that such a large and spacious building in prime location is used to appreciate modern arts with free entrance. We then walked to the city to get me my birthday present but the item that I wanted was out of my size. 🙁 I guess I will have to make do with a belated birthday gift.
Home-cooked dinner by Saucer
When it was time to head home, we took the train back and Saucer insisted to do some grocery shopping before picking Little J up. The sweet man wanted to make me dinner for my birthday! It was nothing fancy, but just knowing that he put in the effort to make my day special was enough to make me gooey inside. After dinner, we completed the celebration with a birthday cake. I insisted on waiting until Little J was back to cut the cake, because it wouldn’t be complete without him in the picture, would it? We had a pretty tear drop shaped cake from La Renaissance, a famous patisserie in The Rocks. It was a mixed berry mouse cake encased in almond sponge and topped with glazed berries. Tasted as good as it looked too! Yum!
Pretty birthday cake – Larme de Gaugin from La Renaissance Patisserie
Mixed berry mousse, encased in a decorative almond sponge and topped with glazed mixed berries
Last but not least, a family picture for the album. We managed to take this self-timer shot after less than 10 tries, which was quite an achievement seeing that Little J is always so fidgety. My birthday celebration overall – it was nothing fancy, no romantic candle-lit dinners, no late-night movies, none of that. But we have our little bundle of joy with us, and that makes a whole lot of difference. I wouldn’t want to have it any other way, this year, and for many years to come. 🙂
A picture of us <3
As mentioned in my previous post, we went to Canberra just before the Easter break to register for Little J’s birth and to apply for his Malaysian passport. There were a lot of planning involved in that trip, not only logistics (Little J’s food, clothes, nappies, timing the trip with his nap/sleep time, etc) but also preparation in terms of the documents we needed. The last thing we wanted was to drive all the way there after making an appointment a month in advance, to find that we forgot to bring an important document needed to register his birth! That would really be a disaster and a waste of all the effort we (I) had put in.
Nothing like a sleeping child on a road trip 🙂
Anyway, as with everyone else in Sydney, our nearest option to register for our child(ren)’s birth with the Malaysian Consulate would be in Canberra. All the information you need really is in their website. One key point to note is that to register for your child’s birth, it is highly recommended to do so before he turns 1 year old, because after that period, you would need more documents and have to wait for a longer application time (more than 6 months according to the website).
- Make an appointment as soon as possible. Note that appointment times available are only from 9am to 10am, Monday to Thursday. So if you are making a day trip there, it means starting your journey from Sydney at 5.30am the latest. Or if you are planning to stay the weekend there, you might want to book a Monday morning appointment. For us, we managed to get the appointment on the Thursday before Good Friday, so we got to stay a night there after our official business.
- Take passport photos of your child beforehand (if you want to save money). If you are like me, trying to save the AUD$15 for photos, you could take the photos of your child beforehand at home. It’s actually not too hard especially for babies who are not that mobile yet. Just lay them on a piece of white cloth and snap the picture with his/her eyes looking at the camera, mouth closed and head straight (not tilted). We did this and the officer accepted our photos! Printing the photos ourselves at the photo shop only cost us AUD$0.15 by the way. 🙂
- Double and triple check all the documents required for the application. Most importantly, make sure all the original documents are with you. If you don’t/forget to make enough copies, as long as you have the originals, you could still make the copies there. But without the originals, your application might have to be put on hold.
- Parking off-street in front of the consulate. Since it was our first time there, we were not sure where to park and tried to enter via the gates which were closed. After several attempts at the intercom, we then found out that public cars were not allowed inside the building. We had to park outside by the road or across the building. Entering the building was via a side gate which was unlocked.
- Child registration and passport application are two different processes. Read more about this in my experience below.
Posing in front of the Malaysian Consulate
We reached there right at 10am on the dot. We were worried about being late but there was actually another family in front of us still in the process of renewing their passports so we sat down and waited. There were 3 counters but only one with an officer. There was no numbering system so we thought we just had to wait until the family was done to get to our turn. That family actually took more than 30 minutes (3 adults and 2 kids) to renew all their passports and by the time the officer was available, it was about 10.45am. So we quickly went over to the counter, ready with documents. When the officer asked for Little J’s Malaysian birth cert/Borang W, I said I didn’t have it and that I was supposed to apply for it then. Little did we know that the officer that we were waiting for was actually in charge of passports ONLY, while registration of birth was handled by another officer who was freely roaming around in the office behind the counters. 🙁 When he came out, he said “Oh I saw you waiting earlier. Why didn’t you call me?” I felt so stupid for waiting for 45 minutes with a hungry Little J for no reason. Stupid for assuming that everyone was supposed to wait for that one operating counter. Anyway, to cut the story short, we had all our documents ready, Little J did some thumb prints, we paid the fees and proceeded to the next counter for passport application. Thankfully, the officers were quite nice and fast, so we managed to submit everything within half an hour.
Malaysian Consulate in Canberra
On another note, we kept hearing about the famous nasi lemak that was sold at the Malaysian Consulate before and I asked the officer about it. Unfortunately, since the processing of passports moved from Canberra to Melbourne, there were less applicants at the Canberra office, which resulted in declined market for the nasi lemak. Apparently, the nasi lemak was made by one of the staff in the office to sell to people who had to endure long waits for the passport processing back in the time where you could collect them within the same day. Now that passport processing is done in Melbourne (or Perth), we could only submit our application in Canberra and wait for a month for the passport to be ready.
Are we done yet?
By 3pm on the same day, we were able to collect the Borang W (Malaysian birth registration certificate) from the office. For the passport, we had the option of providing an Express self-addressed envelope to the officer to mail it to us when it’s ready, or to go back to the office and collect by hand. We opted for the postage and within a month or so, Little J’s passport arrived in the mail! I have to say I’m quite impressed with the efficiency of the Malaysian Consulate.
Little J’s Malaysian passport!
Is it April already? Is it just me, or does time fly by when you have a baby? Well it certainly feels that way! Even though I do the same things every day, it doesn’t feel boring or routine like I would have pre-baby. Pre-baby, everything was just so… predictable. Wake up at the same time every morning when the alarm rings, take a shower, get ready for work, spend the day at the office, leave office, reach home, prepare dinner, have dinner, wash up, some TV or social media time, sleep. Weekends? Food-hunting mostly! Movies, dinners, walks on the beach, occasional trips to the coast. Yes, that was life pre-baby, and I have to admit, even though I like routine, I did feel that my life was uninteresting. Fast forward to present, and a small part of me actually misses that predictable routine. Fine, a big part of me. I guess it’s true when they say that you won’t miss what you’ve got until it’s gone.
Life-changer, this little one
I do miss having my 8-hour sleep every night. I do miss leaving for office and going back home driving at leisurely speed. I do miss having my own sweet time to prepare dinner every day and to experiment with different recipes when I felt like it. Now? I will be very lucky if I get 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. I am normally awaken by the baby even before my alarm rings. I drive to office in a rush because of the extra time I take to fetch Little J to child care in the morning, and I drive back in a rush too, so that I can reach the child care before it closes at 6pm. And dinner is now an express affair with a maximum of 15 minutes spent putting the rice in the rice cooker and whipping up a very simple stir-fry dish or oven-baked dish. I can’t even remember the last time I tried out a new recipe. Don’t even get me started on holidays. What holidays?
Back when he still had not learnt to stand
On top of all this, there are also the occasional days when Little J gets sick at the child care, and I would have to leave office in the middle of the day, pick him up, bring him to the doctor’s and worry about him until he gets better. Seriously, MOTHERHOOD. It amazes me what motherhood has made me do, things that I’d never thought I could.
Waiting at the clinic – check out his drool!
Can you blame me for missing my predictable care-free life pre-baby? On the other hand, every day when I go home to see this little bundle of joy, I am reminded of how lucky I am, and how much love I have for this little baby. It makes all the dark eye circles, the incessant yawning during meetings at work, the constant worry of getting a call from the child care at work, worth it. At 8 months now, he is so much more active. I have always known that he’s an active baby because he just wouldn’t keep still even when he was newborn. His hands would always be moving and his legs kicking. And now that he’s learnt to crawl, he is going everywhere! He’s also learning to stand, so he will pull himself up whenever he is able to anchor onto something – a couch, cot bar, TV table, you name it.
Every time I look at Little J, I am filled with pride and amazement, mostly from the fact that I have managed to take care of him full-time on my own for the first 6 months, and more than part-time once I start working. I never thought I could do it, juggling work, baby and housework at the same time, but here I am still alive, albeit exhausted. I really don’t know what a good night’s sleep feels like anymore, but I am sure it will come to me soon. It’s just a matter of time, right?
Our precious cutie <3