August 27, 2009

Bad Kiwi

Yesterday, I was tempted to start this post with a curse, something like “Good kiwis? Bullshit!” OR “Cilaka punya orang putih!” OR “Thieves should rot in hell” OR “Orang putih buduh” OR…well, you get my drift. I started typing my curses on the spreadsheet and midway, I got stuck. I just couldn’t continue. I was SO mad that the only words I could think of were curses and more curses. So I decided to sleep it off, cool down and clear my head a little. That was yesterday.

Now that I’m more ‘sober’, I can attempt to write this post more sensibly. Okay, where should I start? Right. This post is about a parcel. A very special parcel that could’ve changed my life. Well, maybe not that dramatic but a very important parcel nonetheless. You see, in an effort to combat my pigmentation, I had asked my good friend Zee to help me get some beauty products from Australia which I can’t get in NZ. Coincidentally, Guess was having a major sale at that time so I asked Zee to get me new pair of jeans, which according to her was to-die-for. So, in this parcel were my pigmentation cream, vitamin-C cream and my drop-dead gorgeous jeans. Apart from those items, Zee also threw in some gifts for me and Alva as well as a few CDs for hubby.

The parcel was sent on August 4th and was expected to arrive on my doorstep in 4-10 days. 18 days went by, and still no sign of my parcel. I told Zee about the delay and she too found it bizarre. She however assured me that there was nothing to worry about since it was registered. At the same time, Zee took the trouble to check the details written on the receipt including my address and phone number. It was then that I discovered Zee had sent the parcel to my old address! I froze and was going like “Oh NO! No wonder lah..” and Zee was going “Alamak liz…matilah” We both panic for a moment there. After a few more OMGs and 30 minutes on Skype, we finally calmed down. I knew the new tenants of my old house so it wouldn’t be a problem to get the parcel..or so I thought.

The next day, I went to Kaiapoi to ask the new tenant about my parcel. The door was opened, so I walked myself in….  

23 August 2009 – 11.00 a.m.

Me: Hi, good morning….

New tenant: Hi..Yeah?

Me: Did someone send a parcel here? My friend got my old address and she mistakenly sent it here.

New tenant: No, Shaking his head). Just mails…but we put them back in the mail box.

Me:(Confused) Really? It’s a registered parcel. No one came with a package over the last few weeks?

New tenant: No…(Both husband and wife shaking their heads).

New tenant: We’re waiting for a parcel ourselves. (wife)

Me: Aha…Well, if you do get a parcel, can you contact me? (I had already given them my number a few months ago)

New tenant: Yeah sure..what’s your number? Me: It’s XXXXXXXXXXX.

New tenant: Right…ok…

Me: Thanks. I went back, confused.

Not satisfied, I called Zee to get the reference number for the courier and called NZ Post to track it down. I spoke to the customer service consultant and gave her the number. Imagine my surprise when she told me that the parcel was delivered to the Kaiapoi address and was signed for by a Dave New Tenant. Can you believe that??? He signed the receipt of delivery under that name! It’s not even a real name. I just couldn’t believe he was that stupid. But then again, I wasn’t sure Dave was his real name. All I wanted to do was kill this Dave. I was angry and I told hubby all about this. The next day, we decided to pay Dave another visit. I rehearsed my lines in the car, thinking of ways to persuade him to return my stuff. I thought about those interrogation scenes in CSI and told myself “I got this”. We dropped the kids at Es’ place (in case things get dirty) and zoomed to see Dave. Hubby parked the car by the roadside and we both got out of the car, ready for action. Like Mulder and Scully, we barged into the property FBI style (minus the guns).  

24 August 2009 – 3.00 p.m.

Me: Can I speak to Dave?

Dave Idiot: Yes, that’s me.

Me: You’re Dave? I think you know why I’m here (angry tone)

Dave Idiot: No, I seriously don’t know (fake confused look)

Me: I know my parcel was sent to this address. I called NZ Post to track it down and they told me that it was delivered on the 10 of August.

Dave Idiot: I told you yesterday, I don’t have your stuff. I told you right? If I got it, I’d call you (with his eyes terkebil-kebil/ palak palak).

Me: I got the proof here stating that on the 10 of August SOMEONE from THIS house accepted the parcel and signed for it. It’s all in here. (Too angry sampai bergagar)

The wife: Well, we didn’t take your stuff. It wasn’t us

Hubby: If not you, then who?

Dave Idiot: I can swear to you I didn’t take your stuff. How stupid am I to tell you I didn’t take it if I had signed my name? No way man (Looking at the receipt)No way. I can swear to you.(with hand gestures)

Me: So, who’s responsible for this? The fact is, someone signed and took my stuff! If you didn’t do it, who did? (“Bullshit! You punk!” was on the tip of my tongue, but I restrained myself)

The wife: What was in it? Me: A lot of things. They're all brand new. (I read the list of items).

Dave Idiot: Well, they are no use to us. No offence here, but your clothes won’t fit my wife (smiling weakly, pointing to the wife who looks like a hippo)

The wife: Yeah.I don’t have small girls. You can go to the police if you want,but we didn’t take your stuff (appearing to be indifferent)

Me: You should understand why I think you took them. Your name is David, and this(holding receipt) is signed by DAVE NEW TENANT! You’re the new tenant. It was signed on a Monday morning. Who’s at home on Monday mornings??? (still bergagar-MAD)

Dave Idiot: Nobody. We’d be sending the kids to school (Stupid answer).

Hubby: Then who signed?

Dave Idiot: I don’t know…

The wife: Well, there’s a bunch of us staying here..We have people coming and going all the time…(so annoying)

Dave Idiot: Yeah..I’m sorry but I can’t help you right now

Me: Well, someone from this house signed for it. Someone needs to be responsible for this.

Dave Idiot: I didn’t take it man. NO WAY! (Shaking his head)

Hubby: Then we don’t have a choice…

Me: I just want my parcel…I don’t want to make this big. I will have to go to the authorities if no one wants to be responsible…

Dave Idiot: I’m sorry but I can’t help you now…I'll ask my friends

Me: Alright. Can you call me back by tonight and tell me who’s responsible so I can talk to the authorities? If you don’t call me, it’s your name on the paper.

Dave Idiot: Sure..sure…I’ll call you…

Me and Hubby: Thank you (So polite lagi)

We got to the car and I felt sooooooooo depressed, thinking about the lost of my parcel… Thinking about my jeans, those beauty products…Arggghhh…I got angrier. Not satisfied, we went to Kaiapoi Police station and consulted a police officer. We told her all about the parcel story, from A-Z and showed her the receipt for proof of delivery. She took our statements and even asked for Dave’s description. I told her I had threatened Dave about going to the police if he didn’t call. She smiled and said “Well Alice, if Dave calls you, I want you to inform me okay? You can reach me at this number” giving me her name card. That night, I waited by the phone and Dave did not call me. I tried calling him, but it led to his voicemail. It was nerve-wrecking.

SOOO…the next day, I went to see Dave and punched him in the groin. His wife tried to stop me, but I kicked her fat ass so hard, she fell on the floor. KIDDING. I’m not that crazy.

SOOOOO, the next day, I called the officer (Helen) to tell her that Dave lied about wanting to call me. I also told her that Dave couldn’t be reached on his cell phone. Helen said “Alright Alice, leave it to us now. You shouldn’t call him anymore. I’ll talk to the sergeant”.  

26 August 2009-2.00 p.m.

Constable: Hello..May I speak to Alice Wong?

Me: Yes, speaking.

Constable: Alice, I’m Constable X from Kaiapoi Police station. You’ve lodged a report about your lost package yesterday and I’ve spoken to David Gordon. He has admitted taking the package.

Me: He admitted???!! He told me he didn’t know about it! (Shocked and bewildered)

Constable: Yes…he denied it at first..but we put pressure on him and he finally admitted taking the package.

Me: Oooooh….(still so tekejut)

Constable: He said he took the clothes to the clothing bin. Alice? Are you with me?

Me: Yes…Why did he do that? How bout my jeans? His wife can’t fit into them..She’s fat.

Constable: Yeah. I reckon he’d sold them. He’s now charged with theft and will have to appear in court next month. Okay?

Me: Oh..Okay (Felt a jolt of pleasure hearing this). So, will I get my money back? I had to pay for those items, I mean, I paid my friend for those stuff.

Constable: Yes, he’ll be charged and will be ordered to pay for those items.(I can’t recall everything he said, just the gist of it)

Me:Okay..Is there anything I should do from this end?

Constable: No,no…Just wait for our call. Alice, you are NOT going near the property okay. You are not going to 6#, Whitefield St, Kaiapoi. Do you understand me? Me: Yes…yes..Thank you Constable: Goodbye.

Me: Goodbye. I hung up.

For a moment, I just sat there in disbelief, thinking “how can someone be so stupid?” I mean, the guy has got a wife and three kids. He should know what’s right, right? NO. He's obviously an idiot, buduh, mulau, sot and palui (for those who don't understand, they all mean the same). He is now charged with theft for taking my stuff and will have a criminal record, forever and ever. Serves him right! Before this incident, I used to have a sense of security and trust in the community. I used to think that people here are good and honest and that only boy racers create problem. Well, I was wrong. Everyone out there has a potential to be bad, even Kiwis who 'appear' civilized and kind. We can never be too careful when it comes to safety and we should always remember to be cautious. This is one expensive lesson I've learnt this week. I'm not sure whether David Gordon has learnt his lesson but I know he'll have many sleepless nights, thinking about his trial. That thought brings a smile to my face whenever I think about my lost jeans. Now I can sleep happily.

August 18, 2009

Desperate for beauty fixes

This morning when I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my eyes were more puffy than usual. I mean they have been puffy and tired-looking for the past 7 weeks, ever since Alva was born but today the puffiness was beyond normal. And what's more, I noticed that my left eye bag is slightly puffier than the other one (if that's even possible). Forgive me for using the adjective "puffy" more than once...It's just my way of telling you that I am freaking out about the monstrosity of my eye bags. My first impulse was to do a DIY facial at home, slap on some gooey face mask and pray for a miracle. As expected, it didn't make the excess baggage under my eyes disappear but it did hydrate my skin, making it more supple if only for a moment. Ahhh...This made me yearn for a real facial. *Sigh*

Of course there’s nothing better than getting a professional facial, but they are so pricey! A normal, basic facial costs about NZ$60 and that's just cleansing, exfoliating and hydrating just like my own DIY facials you know. No extraction is done and the procedure takes about 45 brief minutes. Crazy right? There's more to this. A hydrating facial with extraction costs about NZ$100 and this takes about an hour or so. A 'complete' facial (that's how they lure you) with extraction and the whole sha-bang will cost you NZ$150 and above. The most expensive treatment only last for a maximum of two hours and this includes consultation time. Outrageous? You tell me. From where I come from, facials last for hours and hours, price starts at RM50 (basic facial with extraction) and you can 'top up' your facial with oxygen masks, collagen treatment, micro care treatment etc flexibly. The best part is, after your facial, you get a relaxing massage on your back and hands. It's just pure bliss. By the way, for those (like my hubby)who don't know what extraction means, it is the process of removing all the blackheads, whiteheads and other impurities in your skin.

Nowadays, the price of beauty has skyrocketed and the cosmetic industry is raking in billions of dollars each year. It was reported that from 1993 - 2000, the trade in cosmetics among ASEAN countries soared from US$140 million to US$354 million (source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations). This figure tells me that nothing can stop a woman from wanting to look young and beautiful. Those pricey 'complete' facials cost a fortune but that doesn't stop women from visiting their favourite salons. Beauty experts come up with new, revolutionised treatments from time to time and women never fail to sample them. The focal point is, it is women's nature to be beautiful. End of story.

For those like me who can't afford outrageous, 'complete' facials every month, no worries. There are plenty of DIY facial recipes for us to try on the internet and helpful beauty tips worth reading. I came across this beauty article today and thought I'd share it with you. For the time being, I'm just going to rely on moisturisers and lots of eye cream for these eye bags. I'll let you know when I decide to burn my pocket ;-) Taken from  

How to Get Rid of Wrinkles
The Secrets Dermatologists Know (But We Found Out) - By Julyne Derrick,  
No one likes wrinkles, which are caused when collagen breaks down deep in your dermis, far below the skin's top layer. The key to improving or preventing wrinkles is two-fold: You need to stimulate collagen production while keeping free radicals such as the sun, stress & pollution from causing more damage. You have a number of options available to help you turn back time a bit without going under the knife. Here's a rundown of 5 options currently on the market that are created to minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Better yet, most of these can be bought over-the-counter: 

1. Sunscreen. Sun damage is the #1 cause of wrinkles. Wonder what your skin would look like if it was never exposed to the sun? Look at your bottom. Wrinkle-free, eh? That's what your skin would look like it it was kept under cover all the time as well. A good rule of thumb: If it's daylight outside, you need sunscreen, no matter how cloudy it is. In the June, 2005 issue of InStyle Magazine, Dr. Fredric Brandt, dermatologist to the stars, suggests using a 'two-finger scoop' of sunscreen daily to the face & neck. Also, don't forget the top of your hands. Dermatologists report seeing women with young faces & old hands all the time. 

2. Vitamin A (retinoid) creams. To prevent wrinkles or keep them from worsening, look for products containing vitamin A like prescription Retin-A, Differin or Renova. Used nightly (or every other night), vitamin A creams stimulate collagen renewal & prevent skin cells from breaking down. Women in their 20s & early 30s can use these to keep fine lines from turning into deeper furrows. I've been trying one percent Retin-A on my skin for the past month & I've noticed a marked improvement even though best results can be seen in about 6 months. (Just make sure you never go out without sunscreen when you're on these Vitamin A products, your skin is extra susceptible to sun damage). Don't want to go to a doc? A great over-the-counter anti-wrinkle product is RoC Retinol Actif Pur Anti-Wrinkle Treatment. Matrixyl is a newer ingredient that is becoming very popular and is touted as being great for sensitive skin. 

3. Alpha-hydroxy acids or microdermabrasion. If you're in your mid-30s & worried about wrinkles you might try exfoliating once a week with a alpha-hydroxy acid (AHAs) or a microdermabrasion kit. Don't use both & be careful not to over-exfoliate. Chemical exfoliators (the AHAs) work great on oily or combination skin, while the physical scrubs (microdermabrasion) are great for very sensitive skin (make sure it's in a creamy base). AHA's are glycolic or lactic acid formulated to increase collagen in sun-damaged skin. They are also known to reduce pore size, redness, blotchiness & fine lines. Microdermabrasives smooth fine lines & get rid of dead skin. I've tried several kits & like Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion In A Jar. I also like Lancome's RESURFACE-C MICRODERMABRASION Resurface-C Microdermabrasion Kit. A less expensive, but still excellent option, is L'Oreal ReFinish Microdermabrasion Kit. 

4. Antioxidants. Free radicals -- the unstable oxygen molecules produced by pollution, stress & sun -- are a skincare nightmare. They attack healthy skin cells & cause collagen breakdown, all of which lead to wrinkles. Antioxidants like green tea, vitamins C & E, & coenzyme Q10 work together to neutralize free radicals. A cocktail of these antioxidants are like a multi-vitamin for skin, according to dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross. The most popular antioxidant on the market right now is prescription Prevage, a cream that is made with idebenone, a synthetic antioxidant & 'star chemical' dermatologists swear by. Another excellent (over-the-counter) option is Skinceuticals C E Ferulic serum, which clinical studies show reduced sunburned cells by a whopping 96 percent. Elizabeth Arden's Prevage Anti-Aging Treatment also gets high marks from dermatologists.

Good luck!

August 16, 2009

Walking on air

This is going to be a very short post. As short as one paragraph and probably less than 150 words. I don't even know why I mentioned that...I guess years of teaching essay writing in class has conditioned me to think about paragraphs, topic sentences, word limit etc when it comes to writing. But anyway, this is NOT an essay, so I can blab about what I need to blab in one paragraph. The main idea of this post is: I WILL BE FLYING BACK TO KK NEXT YEAR!!!! YES, NEXT YEAR. 349 days from now :-D Thanks to CL who told me about the AIRASIA BIG SALE (God Bless Dato' Tony Fernandez!), I have managed to purchase a one-way ticket from Melbourne to KL at an unbelievable price. So here's the plan. We're flying from Christchurch to Melbourne, Melbourne to KL and finally KL to KK. Home sweet home...ahhhh...Can you imagine how ecstatic I am? I don't think so. I have been high in cloud nine for the last 24 hours, thinking about my balik kampung trip next year. Thank you CL, thank you AIRASIA. Now, everyone in the family can fly - and that's my closure for this short paragraph of a post!

August 12, 2009

Attack of the Boredom Bug

Maternity leave is a period where moms get a chance to bond with their babies and recuperate. So far, I have definitely enjoyed my bonding time with Alva as I get to rest and see her grow. Despite this new found joy of being a mommy, I’m starting to feel really bored just being at home all day. Let's face it, there's not much excitement to be found in my routine activities at home. My life now consists of waking up, feeding, cleaning, washing laundry, changing diapers, surfing the net (when possible) and watching Little Einsteins day in and day out.

Yesterday, as I was washing the dishes, I felt so drained and bored that I began to reflect on the things that worry me. The one that came on top was my studies. I was mainly worried about not being able to juggle between work in campus and my motherly duties. Negativity started to sink in and it made me feel totally down. Realizing that my worrying wasn't doing me any good, I then started writing this post to let it all out. These are some of the silly things that crept in my head...

  • I don't know what to do with my hair...It's so not vogue 
  • my pigmentation is annoying - need to get tenant for Penampang apartment 
  • need to read more journals
  • Alden's portfolio not done 
  • when i get back to work, will Alva be okay at nursery?
  • electricity bills killing me...can't wait for winter to end. Hate the winter. 
  • how can I get Alden to eat more? 
  • house chores...laundry...yuck 
  • meeting with Supervisor next week...tension... 
  • parcel from Zee hasn't arrived...can't wait to see my new jeans...what if it doesn't fit? Shit! 
bla bla bla....I think I'll spare you the outrageous ones ;-)

All this ranting does not mean that I am not grateful to be at home with Alva. It's just that when your life is centered only around the home, you feel detached from the outside world and everything seems so bleak and uninteresting. I know it's just a matter of adjustment to get things moving again and combat this boredom bug. All I need to do is reorganize my routine and prioritize things. It's the whole balancing act, as my friend CL puts it. This afternoon I sought for advice from my therapist (the world wide web) and found an article that may be useful for mothers like me who are going cookoo at home. Here's part of the article which highlights some good ideas. The full article can be retrieved from  

Set up a schedule. For most new mothers, a routine gives them something to look forward to and can help stave off boredom and isolation. Try to build regular events into your week. For example, make Monday story time at the library, Wednesday playgroup, and Friday the gym. Use the other days for errands, grocery shopping, and neighborhood walks. "It's easy to stay in your pj's all day," says Denise Talley, mom of Jamison, 8 months. "It takes discipline for me to get up and get ready every morning -- putting on my makeup and fixing my hair -- but it also makes me feel good." Besides getting dressed each day as you did when you went to a job, apply other work strategies to feel more productive. Ritz, for example, makes daily to-do lists, garnering satisfaction by checking things off.  

Develop a support network. Ask at the hospital or your doctor's office for referrals to new-mom groups or breastfeeding support circles and check out your church, your neighborhood parks and recreation department, or your area YWCA for mommy-and-baby gatherings. Sometimes it takes just one connection to get the ball rolling. "I was fortunate to have a sister-in-law just a few miles away with two children, ages 2 and 4," says Michelle Lajiness of Warren, Michigan. "She would visit or check in by phone almost every day. I also joined a playgroup she had started. I went a few times when I was pregnant to get to know the other women." Lajiness also counts on a circle of families at her church that meets once a month to pray, eat, and socialize.  

Reach out online. Check out bulletin boards, join chats, read the news, e-mail family and friends, ask experts parenting questions, or make new friends -- any time of day. For Heather Odeh of Cumming, Georgia, going online helped fill a void. "My colleagues at work gave me a lot of advice about my love life, pregnancy, and more. Once I left to be home with my baby, I felt disconnected from them," says Odeh. "Online newsletters and articles gave me answers to questions about sleeping, eating, and breastfeeding, and provided me with a sense of community." Ralana Chinsolo of Powhatan, West Virginia, says what helped her most was taking classes online to finish a college degree she had been pursuing. "It helped me maintain a sense of self," she says. "There were a lot of single mothers and stay-home moms taking these courses, so we had common ground."  

Make "me" time. When you're home full time, you might feel like all you do is try to meet everyone else's needs, says D'Amico. Do something that makes you feel good, even if it's only for an hour or two a week. Read during naptime rather than doing chores, or put together a cookbook for your church. Join a group that has nothing to do with the baby, such as a book or garden club or a ceramics class. Exercise can help fight depression and keep you fit, which boosts your self-image. For Coleman, committing herself to regular workouts made a big difference. "Before I became pregnant I used to love to jog by the beach. It was a great stress reducer," she says. "For the past few months, I've scheduled time every morning -- as if I were going to work -- to take a walk with the baby." 
Redefine your goals. As Ritz looks back over the past 18 months, she laughs at her prior preoccupations -- what to wear to a meeting or whether she would get the next promotion. "It all seems so frivolous now," she says, "compared to watching my baby become a walking, talking, thinking little person." Still goal-oriented, Ritz now aims for new accomplishments, such as a good night's sleep, a nutritious meal, and a meltdown-free day. "Going to work may be fulfilling in a different way, but I wouldn't trade this for anything."

I don't think all the ideas work for me but I'm pretty sure the last two points are practical enough. Having some ME-time is what I need at the moment. I think a trip to the mall tomorrow will give me just that.

August 6, 2009

Mini Milestones

It has been five days since my family left for KK and though I am still sore at heart, I have to admit I’m feeling better now. I guess the recent flow of wonderful weather has put a smile back on my face and a spring back into my steps. For the past three days, the temperatures have peaked at 16 to 19 degrees Celsius and these double-digit temperatures are forecast to continue for another week. Weather experts believe that the shift in the weather and the presence of sunshine in the afternoons are indication of an early spring this year. I hope they are right about this cause I can’t wait to see the cherry blossoms!

As the season slowly transits from winter to spring, my life somehow goes through a transition of its own. I am now a mother of two and in a few more weeks, I have to come out from post-maternity hibernation and get back to campus *shiver*. I can imagine how chaotic my life will be once that happens. Come to think of it, my life at home is already chaotic, with the screaming, “Alden, don’t spill your Milo!”, the house chores “Alden, clean up your toys!” and sleepless nights, “Dear wake up, can you burp her?”. Yes, I am going through a MAJOR transition. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining at all…simply sharing the bits and pieces of what you’d expect to get when you have an adorably naughty three-year-old and a newborn baby to care for. The effects have started to show and they are now etched on my face. My way of handling all this pressure? Anti-aging moisturizers and secret retail therapy….Shhh….

Anyway, let’s take a breather from the chaos at home and focus on baby Alva instead. Alva's first month has flown by and we celebrated her full moon two weeks ago, when my family was still here. She's now 5 weeks and 6 days old and at 4.01 kg, she’s already acquiring quite a vocabulary of coos and murmurs. She's beginning to smile a lot, a habit she’s developed in her sleep and it's so adorable! Her sleeping smiles give me a hint that she’s going to be a fun little girl, just like her brother.

So far, she has been such a well-behaved baby in the sense that she doesn’t drive me up the walls at night with endless cries for food. She wakes up for a feed a couple of times and after burping she goes right back to sleep. With Alden, the midnite feedings and cries were so frequent. When Alva's not asleep, I try to give her some 'tummy time' and show her a picture book in monochrome. According to my midwife, tummy time is a vital part of the baby's development as important muscles used for moving and exploring are strengthened. Sure enough, Alva enjoys looking at monochrome pictures, lifting her head like a turtle, moving it from side to side as she lies on her tummy. After a minute or two, she gets tired and with a few strokes on her back she dozes to sleep. Isn't that wonderful? This time around baby sitting is so much more relaxed and easy. I know it's probably too early to count my blessings but instincts tell me Alva's good behaviour will linger. As spring draws near, I'm not only excited to see tulips bloom in full swing, I'm just as eager to capture Alva's tiny milestones with my camera :-)