Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Golden Oldies

When I created this blog, I didn't have a name in mind. How do I sum up in a few words what the general feel would be? Not sure what made me think of music, but I went with Rock Fob because:

1. Rock - I like rock music. Maybe not as much as a bogan. But I think as much as a born-and-raised Samoan mongrel can be (thanks Magik FM and Rick Dees). So not surprisingly, the car radio is nearly always on The Rock radio station. (And funnily enough, but unrelated, we go to a church called The Rock. Oh yea, I love that Rock - Jesus - hard out)

2. Fob - Need I say more? Growing up in a kuaback village that meant you couldn't go to school after heavy rainfall because all the fords were flooded....yea, I don't think there was much hope of not being a fob. Being under permanent house arrest with a bookshelf of Laura Ingalls, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Nancy Drew and a Collins encyclopedia set was still not enough to deviate me from fob-ination. I mean, Mum had Daniel Rae Costello, Five Star, Misiluki and Aniseto tapes playing non-stop...and of course every year Boney M at Christmas time. And the most surprising music influence - my grandma. Her little squeaky transistor radio, always on 2AP, was the source of my love for the Rod Stewart/Dire Straits/Bee Gees/Lionel Richie types.

In recent times though, I have lost interest in new music. Actually to be frank, I think most of the music coming out nowadays is average at best. Harsh, maybe? Am I a dinosaur? At the young age young age? I mean, who remembers that J-Lo was one of Janet Jackson's "friends" in the clip of "That's The Way Love Goes"? And that Courtney Cox was a front row fan in the concert clip of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark"?

I find watching Juice TV exhausting. Most nights now, while we're working on our respective computers, we've got the TV on MTV Classic. What a find. A channel that plays music from artists I know, with melodies that I can understand, and lyrics that are intelligent, deep or witty. With charts like 'This Is 1993' can you go wrong?

I should consider a blog name change to "Golden Oldies", along with a "Back in my day" series. I'll have a cuppa tea, then think about it some more as I clean my dentures.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

God speak to me...quietly...

You can't fool God. I know, that's a dumb thing to say. Of course you can't fool God. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. But today, I had an experience first hand that was a reminder of this. God is watching us...but not quite from a distance (sorry, Bette...)

The past few weeks at church, the sermons have been based around the topic of Generosity. [Cue vigorous eye rolling and the-church-is-only-after-your-money mutterings]. I have found the sermons to be very challenging and also enlightening. I don't exactly view myself a stingy person, so initial thoughts before the Generosity series was "Oh ok, I know all this, but good to hear it anyway". Umm, no. Upon close examination I have found that I have a tendency to keep things close. And this is not restricted to finances either.

Example: I hog my time at home. When I come home from work I need me-time. Toddler, go entertain yourself in your room...why else did I buy you all those DVD's? Husband, I don't want to watch your YouTube clips of Samoan slaps and best league tackles. And no, I don't want to watch a movie. Are you serious? I need to work (and then return to my Bejewled game).

I label myself as "antisocial". So when I go to church, I sit at the second to last row on the far left. Well clear of any activity and attention. I don't speak to anyone, unless the pastor says "Say hello to the person on your right", then it's a quick hello, then look at feet and shuffle back to my seat.

So today, we were sitting in our usual spot (far left, second from back row). The nice lady that usually sat behind us wasn't there today. Instead there was a man that I had never seen before. Was he new? I mean, if I was an "established" member of the church, I would know for sure if he was a regular member or not, and was just sitting there because someone had taken his spot on the other side. Oh well, didn't think much of it.

As the service was coming to an end, I heard from God. Not through the pastor or the music team, but he quite clearly said to me "Say hello to the man behind you." WHAT? NO! Even as I was trying to excuse myself out of it, I realised how dumb that was since God was probably listening to my train of thought (and if he was me, cracking up at it). I told myself to calm down, it was probably nothing. I looked behind me and the man looked at me and smiled. I flashed a nervous smile, then bent over and busied myself with picking up Lyla's blocks, paper and crayons from the floor. Ok, that was finished too quickly. At this point, I grabbed Lyla who had fallen asleep during the service, and heaved her onto my shoulder while carrying my bag and her bag. So desperate was I to be "busy" and justify how I could not talk to this man!! Or at least be busy enough until he got up to leave and then I can be like "Oh darn, I was just about to say hi to him, but he's gone."

I heard it again. God saying - "Say hello to the man". OMG (ha!) ... sssshhhhhh!!!! Keep it down, what if that man can hear you?? Hubby stood up and looked behind us. At this point I thought - "Oh thank goodness, he will say hello". He smiled at the man, said "Hello", then started walking out the door. I automatically followed him (laden with bags and baby).

I walked past the man and I could hear in my head (this time it was clearly my voice and not God's) "Coward. You ask for God to speak to you, and what do you do with what he tells you? What are you scared of? Where is your faith? With what measure are you giving?" etc etc. I'm pretty harsh on myself usually, but this time...the burden. With each step I knew in my heart  I was disobeying God, and it was HARD.

By now I was behind the man. He was still sitting, at the end of the last row. I tapped him on the arm, he turned and I said "Hello, my name is Sina. I haven't seen you this your first time?" I know, it's not the supernatural awesome words of wisdom you were expecting, but that's what I said. He stood up, smiled, and started talking. And from there it was easy. We chatted for quite a while, about me, about him, about this church, about Wellington. I could feel a genuine sense of gratitude from the man that someone had talked to him on his first day to church. What did I feel? Apart from relief :) I felt ... peace. No more battle in my head, fighting God, and trying to fool him. Lol. Seems silly now, but what an experience. Baby steps to generosity!

Luke 6:38 "For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you".

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How not to diet

"Eating well" has been going swell the past three weeks. I now eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Little snacks in between. No more second dinner, so obviously that cancels out post-second dinner dessert as well. I know, a lot of sacrifices have been made.

But then along comes Saturday, my "diet day off", the light at the end of the weekly diet tunnel. On Saturdays I don't calorie count. I eat dessert. I don't stress about having dinner later than usual. I basically just be me ... well, a-less-greedy-but-nevertheless-food-loving version of me. Me 2.0

Anyway, so today was Saturday. Woohoo! What I usually do on my freedom day is go out with the hubby and toddler to have brunch at a cafe that we pick at random. Just the thought of a flat white with banana/bacon waffles is making me drool. Regardless of where we go, or what we eat, it is usually a good day. A happy day. (Listen to me, I didn't even realise I was suffering from food withdrawal)

Well, today was no different. A lovely dinner with relatives, that was finished off with the most divine chocolate cake, delivered straight from heaven no doubt. I have a nagging feeling that this day off has cancelled all the good work that was done this week. Three steps forward and two steps back. Tomorrow the nagging feeling will have hatched into a full blown guilt-and-regret dragon. But tonight it remains locked in the dungeons of my mind, and I enjoy the last few moments of this temporary reunion with carbs, fat and sugar.

One minor issue needs to be address though - we came home with a reasonable sized chunk of the culprit chocolate cake. If I eat it tonight, I will technially still be within the "rules of indulgence" right? I'm so full though! I have heard that you can't have your cake and eat it too. But I will try my best...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Two much talk

The two-year-old toddler (or tiger-monkey-queen, as she calls herself) is at that stage where she is constantly learning new words and phrases. How do I know? Because she can't/won't stop talking. When I listen closely, what sound like a streams of gibberish to most (well, to all but me) are actually full sentences with meaning.

Example: On the drive home from work/daycare today, she said, "Mummy, Hengy adasad da donkey donkey I say Hengy a no reezana sked my Daddy say". I replied with, "That's a very good girl". Huh? Well, what she was saying was that Henry [her bestie at daycare] was scared of a DVD they watched called Donkey Donkey, so she told him "There's no reason to be scared" because that's what her Daddy tells her when she's scared.

On one hand, it's great being able to understand pretty much everything she says. As a Samoan raising a child outside Samoa, I'm a bit paranoid about the external influences on her upbringing. In Samoa, parenting is a more of a community activity. There is a more common sense of morals and beliefs, and people are not afraid to (or more like they just can't help but) scold or even physically discipline you even if you are not their child. At the very least, they will no doubt rat on you to your parents if they see you doing something they perceive to be wrong (and all the guilty-as-teens nod). Over here, parenting is a more of individual or couple's task. Sure, there are plenty of courses, books, blogs etc with information galore on the how-to's of parenting, but the actually "doing" comes down to you, the parent.

So getting back on track...I'm trying to encourage my daughter to talk to me, and at this early stage of her life, she does. Oh yea, she doesn't stop. Hopefully the communication channel remains open (and going into her early adolescent years. Especially since smacking has been outlawed in the land of the long white cloud.

But there are times, and there are actually quite a lot of these, when I want her to just stop talking. Like after work, cooking dinner and cleaning up after, I just want to be left alone with my laptop to spend a couple of mind-numbing hours playing Bejeweled. But no, she plops down next to me with one of her books, and says, "Mummy, you broke my book?". There was a little tear in the book cover. In my head I scream "Pleeeaaase, leave me alone!!!" I play my last (pre-smack) card. "Lyla, you tore your book, not I. You need to take responsibility for your actions and not lay the blame on others. That's not right, you must accept your mistakes, and make amends."

The tiger-monkey-queen looked at me. I could see her mind struggling to attach some meaning to the jumble that just came out of my mouth. It takes two seconds for her to accept defeat, clamber down from the couch and say "I go to my room". In my head - "Yaaaaaay!! Woohooo!". I shrug and say "Ok".

Monday, June 20, 2011

What DO I do?

Just recently while the in-laws were over from Samoa for a visit, my MIL (mother-in-law) saw how I was up most nights working after the toddler was put to bed. This was after the usual full day at the office.

Curious, she asked (in Samoan) "So what do you do at your job?"

EEK! I'm sure she saw the look of helplessness on my face. I am not a teacher, laywer, mechanic, engineer, dentist or doctor. I don't work at the bank. I don't drive a bus or a taxi. I don't work in retail. Those are pretty much the only jobs I can describe accurately in Samoan. (I know, how sad). As it was, I struggled to get people to understand what I did while conversing in English.

I am an IT Consultant of sorts, primarily in Business Intelligence. Huh, you say? I work in Information Technology. Ooohh, can you fix my computer? I think that's my least favourite question. As far as anything to do with a home computer setup goes, I know as much as anyone out there who can read a manual. And I can understand how that confuses people. I mean, I'm in IT right? Like the IT department that you call to come fix your computer when it does something unexpected or undesirable. Right?

Wrong. Ok, attempt no. 3. I write programs that load data from different sources to a central location, and transform it into a format that the business owners can use to make business decisions. At this point (if the poor listener was patient enough to hang around) I get a look of "get better work stories". Ok, it is not thrilling, creative stuff. But I ... like it. If I had to work (and believe me, I do, and I will have to for quite a while yet), then this is what I want to do.

So back to my MIL. Looking at me. Expectant. I took a deep breath, and out came a jumble of words ... actually, every second word was "computer" (and that isn't even Samoan!). I can't even remember what I said, and if I did, I would never repeat it. I looked at MIL. Yep, there it was. The " you have a boring job that involves computers" look. Bingo. I think I could sign that off as a success!

Note: I actually am a competent BI Consultant...if anyone is looking for one...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Politically Correct Baking

Today I set out to make some melting moments (I think they're also called yo-yo's?). You know, those round white shortbread biscuits with custard-like filling. Mmmm...

So I found a recipe online that looked easy and had enough good reviews. For some reason, whenever I Google for recipes, I start with "best". e.g. today I typed "best melting moment recipe". Naive maybe. But so far, it's given me some good results.

Well, I found out I didn't have the patience for reading instructions that go something like this - roll into balls of 2.5cm in diameter, use an object with flat bottom to press down to 3cm in diameter, then press with fork until 4cm in diameter. Huh? I just went with what I thought was the "right" size. Sigh.

My goodness, did I get a shock when I opened up the oven, expecting to see my beautiful golden biscuits. What was more surprising though was that they tasted great!

So they may be the wrong colour, but they are perfectly fine in every other aspect. Hmm, where have I come across that before...?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Minor victory

I did it! I lost some xx kgs using my own willpower and not Jenny's "skillpower". With this willpower I plan to move on and conquer my archnemesis Obesity.

Why post? So I can brag about and feel good about myself while knowing deep down that no one really reads the blog so someday down the track 'if' (hopefully not 'when') I gain it back with surplus, well then no one would really know, would they...?

That is all!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Because you're worth it

Don't you just love the smell of Body Shop? All those yummy, clean fruity smells.

Anyway, I was dashing past one during a busy lunch hour to buy an outfit for a "very important work meeting" the next day because the night before I realised that I had no work clothes that screamed "go-getter", "intelligent", "tech savvy" or even just "looked in the mirror this morning". So there I was in a mad panic, running down Lambton Quay in my hiking-looking boots and my puffy jacket.

I was approaching Body Shop. I could smell it before I could see it. Then I saw there was a little stall setup in front of the shop. I hesitated, and in that millisecond of indecisiveness, then lovely sales boy beamed at me and said "We're doing hand massages today, would you like one?" I looked down at the bowl of foamy water, and knowing that it was more about them selling me the hand wash/cream/lotion than me getting a free hand massage. I looked back at him and put on my best "Oh darn" face. "I'm so sorry, but I'm really busy...gotta dash". He said "Ok, but before you go, would you like a free sample of our almond oil hand and nail cream?".

I froze. Did he just say one of my favourite words - free? He must've seen the look in my eyes because he said "Wait here, I'll be right back". So I waited. And waited. And waited. He must've been extracting the oil from the almond himself. He finally arrived with my teeny little hand cream sample. I grabbed it and dashed off.

Never mind that I could see the looks on their faces as I "busily" sped off, probably thinking "not too busy for something free, aye". Hey, I made the time...coz I's worth it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fat chance

This is what I call this food - misery, instead of muesli. I mean, what is it? I could easily Google/Wikipedia it, but at the moment I am using all my energy and concentration on staying put, in my chair, in my office. Instead of wandering downstairs and hunting me some grub, in some form of delightful South East Asian style fried noodles. Drool.

Today is D-Day. Diet Day. The last attempt at trying to improve eating habits and lose weight on my own. Over the weekend I had decided that this week I would call Jenny Craig. I couldn't go on like this, I needed help. (Let me just add that you shouldn't make such decisions after a massive yum cha overindulgence session). Anyway, last night I was doing some last minute Googling to see how much it would be. Funnily enough, Jenny Craig's website FAQ had the question posted, but the "answer" was a waffly "it depends on the program" type of statement. The results of my investigation was as expected. I would have to fork out more money for the program per week than our family's grocery shopping budget. Sigh.

So here goes my last attempt at DYI weight loss. I'm giving myself one week to try and improve my eating habits, before I make that Jenny-call. Hopefully now that I've told the world (my world of 8 people) I will feel some sort of accountability. Fat chance.

Which brings me to today's breakfast. Muesli. I stared at it and poked at it a few times. And now I've decided I'm not eating it. I'll get myself some fibry bark-tasting bread to make toast tomorrow.

So starts the period of depressed, hungry, angry blogging...while I attempt to purge my brain of the delights of buttery pastries, spicy fried noodles, rich curries and heavenly chocolate.

(and in case you were wondering, yes, that is a rock that I keep on my work desk)