Tag Archives: kids

It’s a (pink) girl’s world

I try very hard not to fall in to the blue/boy and pink/girl trap. I hate the fact that some very ordinary things are being gender-coloured. See exhibit A: Pink Globe.

Pink globe

It's a (pink) girl's world

Is Lego just for lads?

My boy has always been showered with Lego gifts. Cars, rockets, spaceships, planes, robots, trains… But when it came time for his sister to experience the  world of high-quality plastic studded construction bricks, she was not impressed.

I wanted her to use her imagination to build wonderful freeform creations  from generic secondhand Lego. She wanted cool Lego sets like her brother, but they had to include pink, sparkles, babies and ice-creams. Sigh…

My solution – I scoured eBay for girly Lego. It took ages, but I think I’ve found the solution.

The Lego spaceship

The Lego spaceship

Little Lego car in corner

Little Lego car in corner

Lego on pillow

Good morning my lego love

Hello Kitty tea set with Lego

Hello Kitty tea set with Lego

Lego with playmobil ice cream shop

Lego combined with Playmobil ice cream shop

Girl power

Here’s one of my favourite pics of a strong female role model for my daughter …

Princess leia in bread

The Princess of carbs

Will you be my friend?

The fastest way to make friends is to have a brief chat, run around a park for a bit, then exchange phone numbers.This method seems to be working quite well for my son.

We’ve been in London for only a few weeks, so we don’t know a lot of people over here. While I wonder how to make connections, my son meets children in the park and asks “Can I come over to your house to play?” Simple, really… I wish I had his confident approach to networking.

I’ve been wondering who ‘my tribe’ here will be:

  • Lady of leisure? One day maybe – right now, kids are eating dinner from a small rickety garden table and I’m wrestling with the new art of vacuuming stairs…
  • School mum?  Not yet – it’s school holidays, and I still haven’t officially heard when the kids start school.
  • Art gallery fan? Perhaps, if I was without the children. I took them to the Tate Modern, and all they wanted to do was eat snacks at the cafe. I pretended that the only way to get to the cafe was via some of the exhibition rooms, just so I could trot past a few pictures. (They were asking me why it was taking so long to find the cafe.)
  • Aussie expat? Not right now – I’m more interested in becoming a local, rather than celebrating the joys of distant Sydney. Plus, like a new mother, I am getting a LITTLE bit sick of advice from strangers.
  • Digital hipster? Not any more – I had lunch in a fashionable cafe in Shoreditch last week, and I felt like Dr Who going back in time, avoiding my past-self. Casually self-important young men glanced at iPads. They wore neatly buttoned checked shirts and not-too-tight plain coloured jeans. Pretty girls in ugly glasses and Scandanavian A-line skirts flicked through magazines and tapped away on iPhones. I knew the 90s music they were playing (My Bloody Valentine; Mazzy Star), and the coffee was good, but I am now a mature-age student at the school of cool.
  • Chinese immigrant? hahahaha – I have been struggling to cook edible rice in a pot (I am really missing my rice cooker!) My non-Asian husband does a much better job at it.

Maybe I should browse online for people who will overlap me in a Venn diagram of interests. Meet up instead of just emailing and admiring from a distance. Or maybe I’ll try my son’s approach?

Goodbye from the Orchard Twins

I assembled this card just before I left Sydney, and took  a dodgy phone picture. The card is by ‘Art and ghosts‘ and I added the vintage Scrabble tiles.

Goodbye card with scrabble tiles

The card is by 'Art and ghosts' and I added the Scrabble tiles ... I(http://artandghosts.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/02/the-orchard-twi.html)

Top tips for enjoyable flying with babies and kids

I am not part of the flying sisterhood. As the exhausted, grim-faced mother unbuckled herself and struggled to her feet yet again, I just felt sooooo pleased I wasn’t flying with a baby.

From back here, between my two TV-sedated kids, I saw her reach in to the bassinet. It looked like she was trying to stuff a boiling, seething mass of tiny arms and legs and teddies and dummies and blankets in to a shoe box. A small part of me felt sorry for her. A larger, more smug, part of me was just glad it wasn’t me…

Top tips for enjoyable flying with babies and kids:

– Leave kids behind at airport staring dumbstruck at 1 kg blocks of duty free chocolate.
– Ensure husband’s inflight TV doesn’t work so he has to hold the baby.
– Find all the sick sacks or vomit bags you can as soon as you sit down. Sometimes one is not enough.
– For several years before you fly, strictly control the amount of TV your kids are allowed to watch. Then let them loose on the plane. Yes, you can watch that film 3 times in a row!
– Replace your real baby with a life-like educational doll. Much, much more placid.
– Remember to charge the iPad fully. And stop lecturing your toddler on why they should be gentle with it. If you hand it over, it is possible that they want to bash Dora the Explorer’s head with a fork.
– For girls, try to guess which ridiculous diamond-encrusted watch mummy likes in the airline magazine.
– For boys, try to assess the relative probability of different flying-related risks on each route eg ash clouds, engine failure, computer malfunctions, pilot narcolepsy.
– Have lots of “skin to skin” time with your baby. People won’t make eye contact with you if you’re naked.
– Drop a bag of small sweets on the floor and let the kids eat as many as they can find. Sweets that roll well are more fun.

Show me your private parts

Pre-digital privacy was such a clear concept:

  • Teenage diary with “Keep Out. Private.” written on the cover
  • Letters addressed to you
  • Your phone calls made at home, in a room with the door shut
  • Holiday photos stuck in a photo album.

I’m making my own decisions about what I share with people I’ve never met (like some of you dear readers).

My private parts

  • My location. I don’t want everyone to know where I am all of the time. And I can’t be bothered doing it. Or constantly reading about what supermarket you are in.
  • My kids. Hmmm… I’m just not sure about putting my kids’ details and pictures out on the public web. They are, of course, very photogenic and clever and amusing. Maybe when they’re older, and able to actively consent to it, I can make them famous.
  • Facebook. Many years ago, my best friend’s mum read her diary – a serious breach of schoolgirl diary protocol. Do the modern youth also feel so protective about their status updates?
  • Religion. I prefer not to discuss my god, gods, gurus or higher powers. I’m still working it out.
  • Domestic arguments. Some neighbours had a long-running domestic breakdown in their backyard. It was messy and noisy and painful to listen to.

My public parts

  • The bathroom. In a small house with small kids, our bathroom is just another room. It’s not unusual for all of us to be in the bathroom at the same time – one in the shower, one on the toilet and the others just chatting. Family time.
  • Twitter. I’m on it. Follow me @lorrainel if you wish, but I can’t guarantee the quality of my tweets!
  • This blog. I started “A life less digital” because I had so many thoughts whirling through my mind, and not enough people to rant to. I just have to remember that anyone in the world can read my blog. Greetings to my former colleagues and potential employers.
  • My name. Lorraine Leung. I’m not using a pseudonym because this is my blog about my thoughts. Good blogs reflect the personality and passion of real people. I’m not a poor student being paid $2 per blog article. Promise.

Here’s one I wrote later…

Pictures of my kids, or not? My kids are too attractive to put pictures of them in my blog. Their beauty and grace would make you weep tears of joyous wonder over your keyboard, rendering you unable to see or type.

Brought to you by the Interweb – My 1920s name

I grew up thinking I was unique, but if you Google me, there are quite a few of me around. Other Lorraine Leungs seem to have better careers and more friends than I do.

According to the Namevoyager, my name ‘Lorraine’ was most popular in the 1920s.

Things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me

Here are some things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me. Modern parenting just seems a little more complicated these days …

“No, we cannot buy that on eBay.”

“Go play Angry Birds on dad’s phone. Mine has no games on it.” (I’m lying to them, but it stops them playing with my phone.)

“Who re-programmed the dishwasher again?”

“That’s called ADVERTISING. They want us to spend our money on more stuff we don’t need.”

“I don’t know the answer why. I’ll look it up on the Web later.” (See my earlier post Curiosity killed (by) the Internet.)

“If you don’t finish your homework, you can’t play Star Wars games on the computer.”

“Stop right-clicking the mouse! Use the other finger!”

“No, the Lego company does not use the money we give them to help poor people.” (A true answer to a real question about whether Lego existed to help the disadvantaged…)

“Can you please help your sister find the Angelina Ballerina website? Make sure you turn off that sound!”

“It’s full of chemicals and I don’t think it’s good for you. Have some organic locally-produced cold-pressed vitamin-enriched guava infusion instead.”

“Shall we Skype our friends in America?”

“I’m making dinner. I can’t find Puff the Magic Dragon video on YouTube right now.”

Brought to you by the Interweb – Angry Birds film

Seems like we have so little creative talent left in the world that the Angry Birds app is going to be made in to an Angry Birds film. I wonder if they’ll be producing Angry Birds shaped cheese-flavoured ice-cream snacks for the little ones?


We are all alone, together

Looking down the hill, the lights of the party twinkled and crinkled through the trees. The wafts of voices floated up past me in the dark. I could see my friends arranging and rearranging themselves in to little clumps of conversation and mid-priced wine.

From this small distance, my friends were still familiar, but separate from me. Facebook makes me feel a bit like this – on the outside, looking in. Just quickly sweeping my hand over the bumpy surface of my friends’ profiles.

Are you a happy strand of the World Wide Web? Do Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email and forums make you feel connected? There’s still something ‘lite’ to me about online communities. Perhaps I need to find the niche forum out there for Sydney mums called Lorraine who used to work in the Internet world.

The pen is mightier than the keyboard

I’ve always written letters to my friends. Pen and paper and my terrible handwriting. There’s a stillness and focus to writing a letter. It takes time, but I feel as if my voice is absolutely captured and transmitted. I write this for You, and You Only. There are no digital copies.

Some thoughts and feelings seem to suit paper:

I’m sorry that you’re sad but I will bake a cake from your recipe, and think of you when I eat it.

I hope he didn’t notice when I laughed and a little bit of mushroom soup came out of my nose.

I miss you so much that my ribcage is creaking.

A life less digital – happy first birthday

My blog baby is a year old.

As a responsible parent. I tell my kids that they need to enjoy healthy food as well as ‘treat’ food. Every day I try to balance offline experiences with digital treats. Slow food and fast food.

“Walnuts and pears you plant for your heirs”, says an old English proverb. These trees took a long time to mature and bear fruit, and were planted for future generations. My garden is too small for fruit trees, but I am still planting real-life ideas and experiences and values in my home.

Depending on where you are living, perhaps you could:

Child writing at table

Concentrating very hard

Brought to you by the Interweb – a handwritten email

When email was still new and mysterious, I heard of an exec who needed his secretary to re-type and print out emails he’d received, to read them ‘properly’. Now you can send emails in your handwriting. Let me know if it’s any good …

Lego love for all the family

It really really hurts when I step on hard, sharp, pointy bits of Lego. I suffer through strange foot indentations because  Lego is wonderful. The kids use their brains to think of things to make, eyes to find the right pieces and fingers to click it all together.

Of course Lego have a bountiful website, but nothing compares to the sound of small hands rummaging around in boxes of plastic bits.

Lego snowman

A snowman to last for years

I’m not sure about the sinister eyes, but the carrot nose is very amusing.

Vintage Lego – groovy

1970s lego people and furniture

I believe this is called ‘vintage’ Lego.

I found some of my old Lego at my parents’ house. The people look quite ABBA-esque don’t they? I loved the cute furniture too, although the scale was not quite right.  These Lego people would have had a hell of a time trying to wash their hands …

Vintage Lego – space age

Check out that hi-tech computer!

This is some of my brother’s old Lego. I think the hi-tech computer screens are adorable. I wonder if there are Lego iPad pieces yet?

Lego planes

lego planes on shelf

Lego planes arranged very neatly on my shelf.

One morning I found these assorted Lego planes neatly arranged on my shelf by my son.

Lego sweets

lego sweets

An assortment of Lego sweets.

A piece of foam + Lego lights = sweets on a  cake. My daughter is hoarding these colourful little pieces of plastic to make desserts …

Brought to you by the InterWeb – Edible Lego

Look what happens when Lego nerds get in to the kitchen – edible Lego.

Slightly ranting about kids, technology, good and evil

I can’t decide. Internet = evil cesspit of narcissistic idiots chatting to gambling-addicted paedophiles? Or Internet = global community of inspiring humanity sharing knowledge and joy? Depends on which parent I am talking to …

Too much tech

I frown upon parents who load their kids up with digital toys and knick-knackery, then plug their ‘new improved, with USB and FireWire from birth’ offspring in to the closest device. They don’t need it!

Our childcare centre has PCs for the kids to play with. Our kids have perfect remote control-sized fingers and an uncanny ability to navigate i-anythings. I doubt that many middle-class nice kids will be left picking their scabby knees by the side of the information super highway.

Their digital lives

I also enter in to polite inter-parent debates about why social networking is not irrelevant, and every website is not selling porn. There is goodness out there, and fun, and information, and ideas.

My main point I make to these tech-terrified parents is that their children are already digital. Everywhere their non-hairy non-hardened little feet take them, these kids are surrounded by buttons and screens and keyboards.

Sensible advice from parents

I believe that mums and dads need to teach their kids how to make the right choices, about friends, risks, technology… That’s our job.

  • Look before you cross the road. Cars are harder and bigger than you.
  • Don’t give strangers (real people or online people) your home address, phone number, email address or parents’ credit card details. You might not be able to trust them.
  • Don’t tell other people they are fat/ugly/stupid. It’s mean and you will make them sad.
  • Just because it’s on a website doesn’t mean that it’s true. Some people put untrue things on websites.
  • Meeting friends in person is quite fun. Sometimes more fun than sending them text messages or reading their Facebook status updates.
  • Do not smoke cigarettes because you are making huge tobacco companies rich. It makes your breath smell bad.

See – it’s all just part of the sensible advice you dish out as a parent. And if they ignore you, they’ll get hit by a car driven by someone they used to call ‘peanut head’, and you’ll find a mysterious charge on your credit card for 100 cartons of Indonesian cigarettes.

Brought to you by the Interweb – baby’s first laptop

I’m not sure about baby’s first laptop. The mouse is a mouse, so that’s cute. But overall, I think it’s sort of pointless. My babies used to play with empty tissue boxes filled with rattles.

Is life better if it’s on a screen?

Yesterday we went in to the city to take a look at the Chinese New Year celebrations. We found ourselves at a rather damp market, watching ‘cultural performances’ of varying quality. The troupe of little girls in gold and pink sequins performing cute military-style arm gestures was adorable. The women doing Chinese Salsa were less impressive. How can you possibly combine Latin passion with Chinese distaste for public display of emotion?

The kids were fascinated by the costumes and dancing. However, instead of watching the real, live actual people on stage, they kept gravitating towards the huge screen showing the same performance. They were standing in front of the stage, beneath the camera that was filming the performance, watching the screen… Why is the screen always more compelling than the stage?

We go to restaurants with televisions more often than is fashionable. I am both relieved that there will be something to keep the kids sitting still, and offended that they find the screen more interesting than me.

Brought to you by the InterWeb – Chinese salsa

I Googled ‘Chinese salsa’ and came up with this story on page 3 of the results: Chinese company makes soy sauce from human hair. If it’s on Google, it must be true.