Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Need To Rethink

As you can see, I've taken a break from blogging. Its not so much that I find my days crushingly exhausting but more because I am no longer clear about what this blog is for. When I first started it, we had just moved to Palembang, Indonesia and there was so much to share with friends and family. We had a 7 month old baby and we were living in a very foreign place. People needed to see what I was seeing.

We have two children now and we live in Brisbane, Australia. The blog says "...a place for venting, raving and mumbling in general..." However,  I don't want to vent here any more because I have developed a new loathing for people who complain and I'd hate to be one of them. I also don't want to be another one of those mummy bloggers who takes a thousand pictures a day of their genius and most beautiful children and rave about them. And mumbling...well, it would be boring if all the blog had to offer were my somewhat tangential thoughts on my day to day life.

So basically, the blog has lost its purpose and its voice. I'm am in thinking mode now....keeping my thoughts to myself until I can sort them out....

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Interesting Signs

Its always fun to collect funny signs and noticeboards and I haven't really had much chance to since we moved to Brisbane. Here are a few that I've come across on this trip to Malaysia :

The local coffee shops often provide me with lots of amusing names for foods. Coffee shops in Malaysia are where smaller food vendors rent space from the main owner of the shop. The owner of the shop is usually the one who provides drinks. Depending on the size of the space, there could be as little as 2 different food stalls or as many as 20. Think of it as a mini food court. Here are two signs from the same stall.

Claypot Seafood Curry Mee. At least they were consistent with replacing all 'Ls' with 'Rs'. If you're wondering what 'mee' is, its a noodles. Maybe its derived from the Cantonese word for noodles, 'meen'.

You can't see it all that clearly because there was a table right under this sign and I didn't want to reach too far over it to take the photo. It sells Pork Curry (Wild). Its either some extremely spicy curry or they are trying to say that its Wild Boar Curry.

These next two are from a train we were in Kuala Lumpur. We accidentally walked into the Ladies Only carriage and didn't realise it until we saw this sign. Its very thorough in communicating who belongs and who doesn't. 

And here we have more, a lot more,  DON'Ts for the passengers. It took me a long time to work out the fourth one from the left just by looking at the picture. I ended up having to read it. Not sure if you can even if you make the photo big but its actually 'No Chewing Gum'. And of course, we have the 'No Indecent Behavior' one fifth from the left. 

I never thought that loan sharks would have business cards but it looks like they do. They probably have a Facebook page and Twitter account too! It has daily repayment rates on the back but there is no mention of interest rates. I suppose I'd have to ask Boy about that. 

Thats all I have for now but I'm always looking out for more. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Family Photos in Penang

I don't know about the rest of the family but I found the family photo session very interesting. The last time Richard's family was together was seven years ago and there were no grandchildren yet. Richard's father was most insistent that we go to a photo studio to get professional photos taken. I suggested that we all get dressed up and use the timer on one of the cameras instead but that wasn't going to be good enough for my father-in-law.

Instead, we went to Siow Seong Photo Studio, right in the middle of the city. This place has been around for nearly 70 years. The owner of the studio was a well known photographer in his time, Siow Seong. Although he has passed away, his wife still runs the place to keep his legacy alive. I noticed news clippings proudly displayed under the glass table top of interviews with Siow Seong Jr however, he does not work from his father's Penang studio and has made a name for himself in Kuala Lumpur instead.

I found the studio interesting because it was so old, and it looked old. I imagined how it would have been a big deal in the old days to go and have portraits or family photos taken. What we look at now as a small and old fashioned space must have once been modern and classy. The actual studio is upstairs and had a very narrow and steep staircase leading there. Unfortunately, the air conditioning unit had broken down and there was a big hole in the roof upstairs too. Its sad that the place has been neglected but also understandable that everything has a life cycle. The photographer we had was an old man too and took several photos before realising that the flash wasn't working.

Here are several photos that I took of the place :

I haven't seen the photos yet and it may or may not turn out well but we definitely have a good background story about where we took it. I know my father in law will be pleased with the outcome either way...he just wants the latest photo of his family. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Heat, Humidity and THE HAZE

After a few days in Singapore last week, we're back in Malaysia again. I was ready for the heat and humidity    and was prepared for that. Unfortunately, our visit also coincided with the annual haze season. The haze is what blows over from Indonesia's Riau province when they carry out their yearly forest clearing. Here is what the suffocating smog looked like as we were leaving Singapore.

Thankfully, it is raining in Penang, Malaysia right now. And hopefully, things will clear up over the next couple of days because we're heading to the beach on Friday.

The main purpose of our trip was to celebrate Richard's father's 75th birthday. Richard's brother is also back from the US and the kids are meeting their cousins for the first time. There is a four year old girl and one year old boy for Aaron and Adrian to play with and they have been been getting along NOISILY! Apart from countless meals with various uncles, we have been doing touristy things and trying to infuse a bit of Malaysia into these children.

There is no doubt that I am enjoying the food here. I don't miss the food when we're in Australia but when I see it here, I just have to eat, eat, eat. We barely have time to finish digesting one meal before we start stuffing ourselves with the next. And when I'm not eating, I'm thinking of what I want to eat next. For example, I think I'll have some fried carrot cake for dinner tonight. Its probably not the type of carrot cake you have in mind. I'll take a photo and put it up here another day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Accidental One Direction Styling

I'm the hair stylist in this house and I actually have a lot of fun with it. I use the clippers for Aaron but haven't tried them on Adrian yet. The scissors make me feel more.....professional.

OK. So, I am nowhere near professional but he's willing to let me practice as long as I let him watch some Thomas and Friends while I'm snipping away. 

I know who One Direction are but I have no idea what their music sounds like. I just remember them as the group of boys with funny haircuts. Take a look at the guy on the right....

And now take a look at Adrian today...with no styling mousse. We got this look through a combination of the way he slept last night and the dry windy weather we've had today. 

I must be getting trendier with my snipping too...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Permanent Home Pre-Schooler?

We're into June and Adrian is nearly three and a half years old. Most of his peers have started Cycle 1. By 'peers', I mean the toddlers that he went to the once a week,mother and child,  Montessori environment with. Cycle one is the first cycle at Aaron's school and its classes are for the 3-6 year olds. 

We chose not to start this year and have been targeting the beginning of next year. Thank goodness for that decision! As he grows older, I am often asked why he isn't in the school yet and very often, I find the other parent doesn't quite understand why I would hold my child back this way. They think I can't let go of him. (Some shake their heads and wag their fingers at me.)Whereas, I think I can give him a much richer and definitely more loving environment for the stage that he is at now, than the classroom can. Adrian is thriving at home. He doesn't miss out socially because he plays with the same kids that he would have been in class with, every day when we go pick Aaron up. And, we do get around to many similar activities as his class would have offered. 

He is cheeky but so funny to be around once I'm giving him 100% of my attention. Its always a worry if I am trying to get other things done and often, frustrating because he's making a mess at one end of the house while I'm cleaning up the other. He is playful but is also very willing to learn new things - he sees it as play.  

Lately, I've been wondering if I should start him when he turns 4. Why not when he is 4.5 years old? Thats when Aaron started and I thought that instead of a sudden burst in knowledge from being in an 'educational' environment, there might have even been a little bit of a slowdown in knowledge 'uptake' from the distraction of it all.

Why not skip the whole pre-school and kindergarten phase and just start in primary school? After all, we're not talking about a neglected child here. But no, I won't go as far as that. And its not because I think he needs to learn to socialize either. Its more for learning how to be self regulated and also carry out some independent work in an environment away from me.

So, I'd better take full advantage of the next 6-12 months because after that, he'll be off on the long (and increasingly questionable) road of 'formal education'.

p.s. I recently watched this very interesting talk by Sugata Mitra, an education researcher, about child driven education.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I've Got Some Of The Answers

I started reading Bilbo's wonderful Mothers' Day posts a few years ago but this particular part, which he includes each year, about how we think of our mothers often floats to the forefront of my thoughts. 

Age 4: Mommy can do anything!
Age 8: Mom knows a lot!
Age 12: Mother doesn't know everything.
Age 14: Mother doesn't know anything.
Age 16: Mother is so old-fashioned.
Age 18: Her? She's out of it.
Age 25: Mom might know something about that.
Age 35: Before we decide, let's ask Mom.
Age 45: What would Mom have thought about that?
Age 65: I wish I could talk that over with Mom.

With Aaron and Adrian, I think they still think I know a lot, if not everything, and can do anything, and everything at once.

The funniest question this week is from Aaron :  "How do you know who to marry?"
*sigh* Perfectly simple question isn't it? My quick-as-a-flash response was "You ask me and I'll let you know". He almost looked like he was willing to accept that as a valid answer but then I felt bad and tried to give him a reasonable one. It was long. I rambled a bit too much and as I carried on, I said things like "You have to make sure that the other person will love your parents and want to live with them when they're old"

The question I did not have a quick answer for was from Adrian : "Who is God?"
Thats a question full of traps isn't it? Jesus' father? The person who created everything? The person who looks after you? All lame answers if you ask me. I can't remember what I really said but it couldn't have been very satisfying.

And then we had this question "Why is the sky blue?"
I used to ask my mother to ask me this question! I remember it as something that I took time to learn and understand in high school. I know the answer well. Light has colours, various wavelengths, the molecules in the atmosphere scatter the light blah blah blah. Unfortunately, the entire explanation was lost on the two of them. I'll have to make it into some little project to see if I can show them what I mean and how the sky ends up blue. 

I also get questions like "Is Indiana Jones a super hero?" The answer to this one didn't seem to be well accepted at first. I said "Yes, definitely" but they said that he couldn't fly or shoot out spider webs. The rebuttal to that is that Batman can't do either of those things. That got them thinking....

Questions, questions, questions. I found this recent article with some smartypants answers I may need soon. It also had some statistics claiming that the average mother gets asked 105,000 questions a year (almost 300 a day) - more than any politician or teacher!

I know that irregular blogging has meant that I also have very few (but very loyal) readers, so posing a question may not result in many responses but I am going to do it anyway : What was the strangest question you can remember being asked and how did you answer it?