One of those days...

Monday, November 29, 2010


Friday, November 26, 2010

Working on a cot quilt for my newest nephew, Alexander Jack. He's 4 months old already but I am hoping to have it all finished in time for Christmas.

Baby name game

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oh yes, that time has come again, dear reader. You've read patiently while I pondered names for JW and now, with a mere 14wks until my due date, you can add your opinions to the current baby name quandary.
The baby name conversations are heavily one-sided at the moment because naming babies is not Mr Duyvken's favourite way to spend an evening. I think he figures that
a) we're a long way from holding this little bub in our arms and
b) since he dislikes most of my suggestions it is unwise to get into a debate with a slightly hormonal mother-to-be.
He's got me pegged with b) but I prefer to pretend that he's being unreasonable.
I suspect we won't have a name until just before the little one arrives. Nevertheless, I have been thinking a lot about it and have a bit of a list going. Here's what the scrap of paper looks like at the moment;

Girls Names

Boys Names

Any suggestions?

Ghermez Cupcakes

Friday, November 19, 2010

JW and I took the train into the cbd today to meet Mr Duyvken for lunch. JW and I delighted in walking as though we had somewhere very important to go just like all the people around us (very little strolling seems to happen in Martin Place) and when we arrived at the Christmas Tree we weren't disappointed. JW adored it and chatted about it all the way home, layering it into her story about the dinosaur she'd battled and all the cute tinysaurs who'd helped her. She has a vivid imagination, that's for sure!
We were absolutely stuffed after lunch but I couldn't resist buying a couple of cupcakes from Ghermez on George St on the way back to the station. We bought a regular red velvet cake and a mini strawberry cake that JW devoured on the way home. I saved the red velvet for 5pm when I knew the pregnancy munchies would kick in and I have to say, I was kind of disappointed. It just tastes like coconut which is great and all but I was wanting a red velvet and cream cheese frosting kick.
Ah yes, she looks pretty but like Nicole Kidman in The Golden Compass she disappoints.

Sandakan - Flight 3

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leaving Kuala Lumpur and flying to Sandakan airport in Borneo doesn't take very long but it transports you to a very different place. As travellers we found this exciting and, at times, challenging. We trudged across the tarmac to our plane (lots of walking across tarmacs on this trip because low cost carriers don't pay for air crews and gate fees) in KL excited about the jungle and wildlife adventure we anticipated was ahead of us and disembarked from the plane in Sandakan to see this, and this creaky old luggage carousel, and felt just a little chill along our spines... a taste of the new experience our little family had been craving.
One ludicrously cheap 40min taxi ride later and we were at Sepilok on the edge of the rainforest in a traditional malay house (bumbung panjang) built on stilts with a gabled roof, big windows for cross ventilation and woven wicker covering the walls and ceiling. We sat in the shade, drinking lemonade, sweating lightly in the humidity and looking out over the murky ponds and dense rainforest that surrounded us. Lush, bold beauty was all around us tempered by the haze the heat and humidity generate. There is nothing subtle about the beauty of the tropics and it is intoxicating. There were road crews and gardeners constantly at work hacking away at the jungles edges as if keeping it at bay. Watching them work in the full sun and heat of the day while wearing long pants, shirts and balaclavas (we never did find out why they wear these but it seemed like madness) made us feel like wimps as we struggled to aclimatise.

We spent an afternoon at the wonderful Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary. Walking along the wooden boardwalks deep into the rainforest only intensified the humidity and we were sweating up a storm by the time we reached our destination.We saw several orangutans but the thing that impressed me most was the thunderous sound they make as they crash through the trees. It sounds like tonnes of earthmoving equipment is moving towards you and then just a group of animals appear. It doesn't seem possible that so few creatures can make so much noise. Of course, my crew could have given them a run for their money but they were on their best behaviour, gently shushing one another if they said anything above a murmur as we waited for the animals to arrive. We only spent one night at Sepilok before heading back to Sandakan for the rest of our stay. The staff at the Sepilok accomodation seemed bemused that we were spending so much time 'in town' and we soon discovered why. Sandakan, for all the palm oil wealth (at least on paper) and the many wildlife and diving trips that originate there, is a pretty depressed place.

We felt like a travelling exhibit everywhere we went. People would stop what they were doing to turn and stare at us until we were out of sight, coming up to touch the children (dilarang touchar!) and marvel at the odd sight before them. We didn't see any other tourist families and, from chatting with a few people, discovered that we were definitely a rarity. You go on holiday prepared to observe so to be so openly observed definitely put us out of our comfort zone. We actually stayed in our hotel room for most of the first afternoon after a bizarre experience of trying to find lunch in a place that is, largely, without restaurants or food outlets. We ended up finding cheese and salad club sandwiches (you foodies would have laughed - white bread with the crusts cut off, one sad lettuce leaf, one Kraft single and one sliver of tomato. We anticipated some unusual food moments but not this kind of unusual food moment!) and KFC.

But, it's good to be shaken up from time to time, so we quickly gathered our nerves and got back to the business of seeing Sandakan.

We visited the Sunday morning markets (tamu), enjoying the colours and sounds of this bustling place on the edge of the Sulu Sea.We visited the Puu Jih Shih Temple overlooking the city below and looking out at the scores of freghters waiting to transport palm oil all over the globe.We visited Buli Sim Sim, the chinese water village built on stilts over the water to maximise the cooling effect of the sea breeze. It is a suburb over the sea and the tiny walkways between the houses are strung with drying laundry. Each front door has a pot holding burning incense sticks as a heavenly offering on the step and a tv satellite dish perched over the door. It was a wonderful place.
We took a day tour with Mr Aji to the Kinabatangan River, puttering along the black water listening to the sounds of the jungle, spotting the signs of crocodiles in the river and enjoying seeing proboscis monkeys, macaques, mambos, orangutans, hornbills , lizards and kingfishers in their natural habitats. This was one of the highlights of the trip for us. Mr Aji was a great guide and the joy the kids took in spending the day on the river was infectious.

That's J looking up at the macaques who had paused at the river crossing to view us as curiously as we were viewing them :-)

I'll write more about Borneo next time because we had two more interesting stops and, to do them justice, I can't just add them as bullet points to this list. I look forward to sharing it with you, dear reader!

A stroller bag and a giveaway link

Monday, November 15, 2010

The day before we flew out I bought an umbrella fold stroller at Kmart. It is just a $25 stroller and is pretty basic which suited us well as I didn't want to be worried about it getting damaged or lost. It even has a sunshade! But one thing I decided I coudn't live without was a basket. So, like all sensible people, I spent the evening before our flight sewing this little bag together.

I've made several lined drawstring bags using this great tutorial from Happy Things. They're scattered through the house holding toys, puzzle pieces and treasures. C keeps a few special things in one and tucks it under her pillow at night and I so love seeing her clutching it in her sweaty little hand as she sleeps. I knew I'd be able to alter the pattern to fit the stroller dimensions and a couple of other adjustments would make it perfect.

I threaded elastic through the top to keep things from falling out but added a couple of fabric loops to hang over the stroller handles. I should have inset the loops into the side seams for a tidier finish but I wasn't about to unpick it to start over again so it will be staying like it is and no-one will notice but me.

A few more loops and some hardware to attach it to the hardware already on the stroller and we were all set. The hardware is the bit that made it all work because without it the bag would swing out and overbalance the stroller. With the hooks the bag stayed put and we were able to carry all the diapers, wipes, bug spray, plastic cups, mylanta (25 weeks pregnant and suffering :-)) and other paraphernalia that we carried around with us on all our day trips.

I used some adorable robot linen that I bought from Retromummy ages ago and have had sitting in the stash and lined it with some red cotton from Spotlight. Now, I'm itching to make a quilted stroller liner to make it even more comfortable.

By the way, retromummy has a great giveaway of Rosalie Quinlan fabric at the moment and I'm itching to win! So head on over and check it out!

Kuala Lumpur - flights 1 & 2

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The idea to go to Malaysia started brewing when Mr Duyvken went to his brother's wedding in Northern Ireland in May. The cheapest flight he could organise left him with a 24hr layover in Kuala Lumpur and he raved about it when he got home. A few months later Air Asia announced a massive 24hr sale on flights and he was able to book tickets for all 6 of us (all adult fares now that Miss JW is 2) and so, after a ridiculously short conversation about it while I was waiting to collect the kids from school we decided to go for it. Buyers remorse quickly set in for both of us knowing that it would further postpone our already postponed renovation plans but it was such a wonderful trip I know that we'd do it all again in a heartbeat.
We set off early one morning catching the train into the airport and flew to Melbourne to spend a few hours showing the kids the city and catching up with Mr Duyvken's sister, Adele. We happened to land on a bitterly cold, wet and windy day so quickly changed our plans from walking through the city enjoying the sights to finding a dry spot to have a coffee and wait out the day. The kids were very excited to be in another city and we loved spending a few hours in a warm Melbourne pub catching up with Adele and watching the kids dance to the live music. They were pretty trashed by the time we boarded our flight to KL and slept the whole way there waking up ready to embrace their first day in Malaysia's biggest city.
We stayed in a serviced apartment complex in KLCC, a short stroll from the Petronas Towers and a cheap taxi ride from everywhere we wanted to explore.
We were immediately hit by the intense humidity (oh the humidity was NOT kind to my pregnant self!) so spent plenty of time in the pool,

some of us even practiced our diving,ensuring that we were fit and ready for our adventures.
We went to Jalan Bukit Bintang for dinner,

visited the Central Market, went bowling at Berjaya Times Square - a game G won which left her delighted and J in tears (boys are such delicate creatures!).

We went to the Petronas Towers,some of the wonderful public parks,and wandered the amazingly busy and bustling streets.The kids were quite a novelty for the locals with everyone wanting to touch Charlotte's fair cheeks and JW's curly hair. JW took it all in her stride but Super Medium Girl wasn't happy with all the attention. We ended up having to run quite a bit if interference for her, poor thing.

We also went to the fantastic Aquaria. The kids had a ball and I enjoyed the a/c immensely :-)This photo shows C and JW demonstrating how scared they would be if something that big swam up next to them in the sea. It also fairly accurately represents my regret at not bringing the DSLR and only carrying my Fuji Finepix. There were so many wonderful things to photograph and I barely captured any of it!

After a very busy but somehow also very relaxing 5 days we boarded our 3rd flight for a very different experience in Borneo. Some of us spent the time on the flight updating our travel journals...
...while others took the opportunity to mock their wife's inability to complete puzzles.
I suggest that some people spent their time more productively than other, don't you agree?

We are home

Saturday, November 06, 2010

We arrived home on Thursday afternoon from our grand adventure through Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Sabah and Langkawi. We had an amazing time. Joyful, challenging, thought-provoking, fun and relaxing.
Can't wait to tell you all more about it soon, but in the meantime, post-trip laundry is calling my name!

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