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My 2011

Well, it was a long year - most of which was spent writing my thesis which I handed in at the end of September! That was a relief, but immediately followed by the realisation that when it comes back from the examiners, there will be revisions, and no doubt some difficult questions. So it didn’t have the release that one usually gets from finishing exams, or a school year, when there is nothing more to be done.

The Australian doctoral system does not have a viva (i.e. an oral defence of the thesis) as is common everywhere else. Someone explained to me that this is due to historical reasons - previously it was too difficult to arrange for Australians to defend in person when their examiners were typically in the UK or the USA. Instead, the examiners write an evaluation and can ask questions which have to be answered in written form.

It’s kind of excruciating waiting for the examiners’ responses, which I hope to get soon, from time to time it pops into my head, and I wonder what they are going to say. No doubt they will have detailed questions and they are sure to find some flaws somewhere... That’s their job after all.

OK. Here goes for a rapid review of 2012.

January: Of course, Charlie has been the most enjoyable part of the year. I stopped posting about him because I started to feel a bit uncomfortable about pasting him on the internet - after all, it’s his life and he may not appreciate all his baby photos being online when he gets older :-) Anyway, in January he was learning to drink from a cup. By now that is not a problem and he is walking, talking, and just started his first (pre)school yesterday! Apart from that, the highlight of January was being invited to present at the Pecha Kucha event organised by Niki Cheong and the British Council. It was a good night, and the principle (20 slides, 20 seconds each) is a great discipline.

February: More Charlie and baby-led weaning. BLW basically means no spoon-feeding. It works and we’re happy we did it.

March: No blog posts. The whole year, up until September, I was trying to block off any other activities. Dividing time between taking care of Charlie for 2-3 days a week, reading, writing and analysing, with little sleep and much stress, sometimes I found myself despairing.

April: Only one post about the 1Malaysia email. It doesn’t seem to have had much take up yet, but I still think that eventually, having a state-certified online identity will become commonplace.

June & May: No blog posts. More writing. Doing a PhD thesis is probably the most difficult thing I have ever done. More than starting my first term teaching with five new courses, and about 250 students. The difference is that with a thesis, you need a lot of self-discipline - it’s easier to work with tight deadlines when you can go from one day to the next, completing each task as it comes to you. The whole point of a PhD thesis is to write something that nobody else has done - so, in the end of the day, you are all alone.

July: One post on Visualising Assemblage. For various reasons, I decided to use Deleuze & Guattari’s theories for my thesis. This meant a whole lot of reading and trying to understand this complex theory. I think it was worth it, but it probably added a couple of months onto the thesis.

August to October: No posts. Heh. Sometime in July or August I realised that when I don’t sleep enough I get very bad tempered. I also started to feel extremely burned out. I learnt that you just can’t do without enough sleep for too long. It’s really not healthy and is unsustainable.

Actually, after I handed in the thesis we went to the UK and Belgium for a month. That was very nice, and after a couple of weeks I started to feel alive again. Spending the time with Charlie was great too, and he really took to travelling well - to our relief, as I was dreading a twelve hour flight with screaming toddler :-)

November and December: only one post about Forced Labour in Malaysia. I cannot ever look at foreign labourers the same again after reading those harrowing witness accounts.

So that was my year. Christmas was on the beach near Port Dickson - chasing crabs with Charlie and eating some homemade mince pies. New Year was a few beers and a great view of the fireworks over KL thanks to some friends.

But... that’s **not** all folks...

Please say hello to Neil!

We’re so happy to have another addition to our family - due in about five weeks :-)

All the clichés are true - having has a child has changed our life, and also brought us the most consistent source of joy ever. To think that soon we will have two is really exciting, and we are so looking forward to seeing them play together and grow up together (touching wood - I get superstitious sometimes).

Finally - all my best wishes for the New Year to you, dear reader, with thanks for taking the time to read to the end of this post.

Happy New Tiger Year baby :)

Just a quick one to wish everyone a bountiful, joyful and prosperous New Year of the Tiger, and to share the latest pics of Charlie :-)

It's weird how you can see so much of your baby before he (in this case) even comes out of the womb. This one is at five months, his face was turned towards us and I felt my heart go 'thump!' as I saw a real human face staring at me (as it seemed)
foetus scan five 5 months

Then at six months, the doctor could even show us a 3D picture, and here is one (2D) of him in profile - looking weirdly like me (though I suppose I would say that anyway :-P)
foetus scan five 5 months

Anyway, here's to everyone out there, and to Charlie - may this year bring all the possible good things to you!

Oh, and a shout out to my other baby, WW, who's doing a great job in spite of increased rounded edges and sore ankles xxx


I've been wanting to announce this for a while, but we were waiting for the first three months - we're expecting!! :-D
pregnancy ultrasound five 5 weeks

It was the best birthday present I ever had - on the 1st September, the pregnancy test confirmed what we've been hoping for for almost two years

Above is the first scan, at about five weeks. When the doctor said 'It's in the uterus', I felt a massive rush of relief, and realised how worried I'd been that we'd have a repeat of what happened two years ago. WW was pregnant, but it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy - i.e. the fertilised egg got stuck in the fallopian tube and started to develop there; surgery was needed and the fallopian tube was removed... :-( Fortunately, WW was fine, but it meant that getting pregnant again was more difficult...

I guess we got our first lesson in parenting - plans are wise, but don't expect them to always work as intended... :-|

A couple of weeks later, all was developing smoothly
pregnancy ultrasound seven 7 weeks

but we've both found out that we do worry about whether all will go well... It struck me that a lot of time being a parent must involve being worried about the kid. Just have to hope for the best, and prepare for the worst, or something like that I suppose.

At about twelve weeks, we heard the heartbeat for the first time! And saw it too - although the heart was just a blinking pixel, it was pretty amazing and really brought home the fact that WW is carrying a living person-to-be in there :-)
pregnancy ultrasound twelve 12 weeks

In the above one, baby was looking a bit like an alien and waving arms and legs. About a week later s/he seems to be taking a nap or something...
pregnancy ultrasound thirteen 13 weeks

Though I guess that also has something to do with the skill of the doctor at positioning the ultrasound, because originally when she started the scan baby was upside down, lol.

She checked three things: the backbone (all there), the nose bone (check), and whether there was swelling around the neck (nope). So all is OK so far (touching wood).

So there you go - sometime about the beginning of May 2010, I'll have some photos of a chubby little Charles or Charlene (named after my grandfather) to share :-) (or does anyone have any other female versions of 'Charles' to suggest??) In the meantime, I'll just have more scans, and find one of those widgets to put in the sidebar, in true proud blogger parent-to-be :-D