Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 will be different

I went out today to buy myself a 2009 diary. Its the first time I've ever done this (buy a diary). And its the first time I've really felt that I need to do something "tangible" with the next year.

2006 was all about growing a baby.

In 2007, that baby was....still very much a baby.

In 2008 that baby grew in leaps and bounds to be a running, swimming, drawing, sometimes whining, toilet trained, mostly self feeding, 1 time a night waker.

Back to that diary I bought....

2009 will be very much the same as 2008. I don't have any plans to go back to work or anything drastic like that. We'll still be here in Palembang and my days will still be very much focused on Aaron.

I don't want to drift around the way I have been. The diary has a full page for each day and my only resolution for next year is to spend time each Sunday, planning for the week.

If I'm disciplined enough, there will be a weekly teaching plan for Aaron. Hopefully, I'll be able to come up with a framework for what I want to teach him in the upcoming week and work it into some fun activities. At the end of each week, the plan is also for me to write a short summary of what worked (or didn't) and what we achieved. I believe that this slightly more structured approach to spending time with Aaron will help me feel more efficient about "mothering".

Alright, I've blogged about it. Its out there for everyone to read...hopefully it will help me stick to the plan.

Happy New Year Everybody!

To all my blogging friends: Thanks for sticking with me throughout 2008 and always leaving me insightful and funny comments. I've enjoyed all your blogs and am grateful for the virtual friendships we have. See you all in 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Part 2 of Life in Cairns - Touristy Things

Cairns is basically a tourist town. The main attractions are the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforests. On a previous trip to Cairns, we took one of the Reef tours but I remember being a little disappointed and didn't want to spend the money again. I guess they don't take you to the truly beautiful parts of the reef otherwise they'd be ruined with all of the visitors. And, lack of research (i.e. laziness) left us too little time on a day trip north to fully explore the Daintree Rainforest. So we didn't do either of the main touristy things.

This doesn't mean we didn't have any fun. My mother offered to look after Aaron for the only weekend that Richard was in Cairns so that we could do the semi-touristy stuff with my brother and sister-in-law.

On the Saturday, we went to Crystal Cascades. It is one of the local swimming holes that my brother's workmate told us about. Nestled in the middle of the rainforest, it took us about 15 mins to walk to the actual "cascades". We didn't want to be swimming downstream of whoever was upstream, ifykwm.

Here's the highest spot we could reach. There were several people there when we got there but they left soon after we arrived and we had the area all to ourselves.

On Sunday, we drove to Port Douglas. Several years ago, I watched a travel program on Port Douglas and have since added it to my wish list of places I want to live. This is the place that I will move to once my little family can survive without either Richard or I having an actual job. Yes, when we're filthy rich!

It did not disappoint. It is also a touristy place but the views there were awesome. The ocean was such a magical blue and beaches pristine.

Here's where I'll be blogging from someday...

A huge disappointment about these northern beaches were all the warnings they came with. On this particular day we couldn't even go swimming within the flags because of the stingers.

So, we headed to the Mossmon Gorge to cool off instead. This was a little like Crystal Cascades but on a larger scale with cooler and clearer waters.

I enjoyed the time with my brother and sister-in-law immensely. I'm a little embarrassed to admit it but I was glad Aaron wasn't around that weekend. When he's around, I can never carry on a full conversation with anybody. So, two whole days of being the non-mother me was very refreshing.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Life in Cairns - Part 1

Hello everyone! We finally got back yesterday morning after a more problematic than usual journey. In a nutshell, the check-in people didn't know how to route our bags to a remote place like Palembang. And, when they finally found somebody who could, they still ended up screwing it up because when we got to the boarding gate, Aaron and I were supposedly offloaded from the flight. Somewhere in between, we had our hand luggage weighed and had to repack because although we were within the weight limits, we had it crammed into 2 bags and not 3. On the plus side, Aaron was asleep by the time we were halfway down the runway and we had a relatively pleasant flight.

We were in Cairns for three relaxing weeks. You'd think that I'd have lots to blog about after being away so long but we mostly kept to the same daily routine. When Richard finally joined us, we did venture out to some of the nearby sights but I'll leave that for tomorrow's post.

Our morning routine was the same for almost every day there. Aaron and I would wake up about 6am, get ready and take a short walk to the lagoon. We were usually there for about two hours. My father and sister-in-law sometimes joined us. And when Richard was there, he would sometimes do solo "lagoon duties" while I stayed in to do some sewing. Yes, I took the sewing machine all the way to Cairns.

They had some lovely fine, white sand on one side of the lagoon. Aaron couldn't get enough of it and seems to have brought some all the way back to Palembang!

Here's a photo with my sister-in-law and her funky sunglasses. Aaron adores her and especially enjoyed the time at the lagoon when she came along.

After the time in the lagoon, Aaron was usually worn out and in need of some food and a nap. So after morning tea, he'd go for a 2 hr nap. Sometimes my mother would put him to sleep so that I could walk around Cairns a little.

My father had his own daily routine of walking down to the esplanade with his crab pots and fishing rod. He caught a couple of legal sized crabs for dinner each day and on Christmas eve, he managed to catch a total of 5 for a feast!

Here I am, being very disinterested in the fishing because the sun was crackling my skin.

And here is Aaron with his first ever catch.

Afternoons were, lazing at home or maybe running some errand but at around 5pm each day, there was another round of swimming. This was at the pool in the apartment complex. We all chipped in to help Aaron get comfortable in water. My brother would come back from work and go straight down to the pool with Aaron. In the beginning, Aaron would not let go of whoever he was with but by the time we left, he was willing throwing himself into the pool and trying to dive under. I was amazed at his progress and hope that he doesn't forget it all while we're here.

In the evenings, we carried the dining table out to the balcony for some alfresco dining. Every single meal was delicious and of course the company was the best I could hope for.

Even though we didn't have big outings each day and instead, had a very predictable routine, I think I enjoyed it more than I would have if I had tried to pack all sorts of trips into the time there. We had time to relax, chat, laugh, eat, watch dvds and basically enjoy time together with the whole family in a wonderful location. What a life!

I'll be back with the photos from our drives to Port Douglas, The Mossman Gorge and Crystal Cascades tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We're enjoying Cairns

After 1700km, 2 McDonald's meals, 1 picnic, 1 buffet dinner in Rockhampton, 1 night in a motel, the same 2 CDs repeated fifty times at Aaron's request, we arrived in Cairns on Saturday night. The drive up here was a huge success. We did have one major crying session in the car but overall, Aaron was great in the car and we made it here in much less time than expected. We made a tray table for him in the car and that allowed him to do his drawings, eat, move his trains around or convert into a "keyboard". I'll post a photo of that when I can.

It turns out that my brother has not subscribed to internet here and will not until he moves to a more permanent place. Bummer! I'll just have to spend more time in the lagoon. So, I guess daily blogging will only resume when we're back in Palembang in a couple of weeks.

We're staying at a city apartment that is a short walk from the ocean. I mentioned lagoon in the previous paragraph because Cairns doesn't have a nice sandy beach. And, because of the stingers in the water, you can't swim in the sea here. Instead, they've build a huge lagoon and put some sand onto the sides so there is a "beach". It sounds fake but its actually an easier place for me to play around with Aaron because of the shallow edges. My plan is to go to the lagoon each morning, come back for his nap and then maybe head to the shops in the afternoons when its hot. Night time is reserved for all the movies that my brother has lined up for me to watch. My sister in law has also put aside 3 books that she recommends highly so I'll have to get to those too. Just as well there isn't the internet to distract me.

We'll do all the touristy things when Richard gets here next week. So, maybe I'll just save all the photos and commentary for when I get unlimited time in front of a PC. I'm doing this post from the local library but they don't allow any uploading or downloading from their computers. AND, its only a 1 hr booking so I'd better stop now if I want to have a peek at what all of you have been up to.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We're off to Cairns tomorrow!

Just a short post tonight. I haven't been organized enough to prepare a proper post for today and its been a long day. We've spent a tiring day packing and cleaning. And, I had a fantastic visit with my piano teacher.

Tomorrow, my parents, Aaron and I will start driving up to Cairns. It is about 1700km from Brisbane and we've estimated that it will take us about three days to get there. Of course, it can be done in less time but I'm going to need to let Aaron out for lots of breaks. I have no idea how he's going to handle the trip. This is a little guy that just two months ago couldn't last more than thirty minutes in the car. I've packed Wiggles magazine, 6 new pocket sized Thomas books, 1 Harvey the crane engine and all sorts of healthy new snacks for the journey.

My brother recently moved there and we're going to stay until Christmas. Richard will be heading straight up there too as soon as he arrives in mid December. I've only been to Cairns one other time, about 15 years ago, and I remember it to be a very touristy but fun place. My dad has already announced that he will be going fishing twice a day. Supposedly, he's going to teach his 2 yr old grandson how to fish!

Anyway, I'm off to bed. My patience needs to be fully charged for the trip. I'm sure I'll get some blogging time up there but its my brother's computer so, I'm not sure if I'll be able to get daily posts in. Take care everybody!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Piano Teacher

Tomorrow, I'm going to visit my former piano teacher. Seventeen years ago, going to her house for my 45 min lesson was more often than not, a chore. Yet I am really looking forward to seeing her tomorrow. In fact, I try to meet up with her each time that I am back in Brisbane.

Back in the 90s, I had my lessons in a room under her house. She has a Queenslander and had a little "room" built underneath for her to give her piano lessons. Let me say that it was a crappy room and I didn't particularly like her piano. Yet, I stuck with her for close to seven years. I finally stopped my lessons when I got my Associate Diploma. At that time, I just didn't want to practice anymore to attempt the Licentiate but am regretting that a little now.

Its a little fuzzy but I do remember liking her as a teacher and feeling that she did have my best interests in everything she planned. I say fuzzy because there were plenty of weeks of me not practicing enough and her getting annoyed. I wonder what she thought of me back then.

We didn't see each other for a few years after I finished. When we did meet up by accident (in a mall) things were so different. While I still had all the respect I had for her as I did when she was my teacher, that same teacher-student relationship was gone. She asked me to call her by her first name and she talked about all sorts of things with me. Like friends!

Now, when I visit, I get to go upstairs, to the main part of her house. She did join a Carmelite Monastery briefly and I have visited her there too. I was looking forward to visiting her there again this year but, she's out.

Although I'm here in Brisbane for months at a time, I usually only meet up with her once. I feel as if I should make more of an effort but its too late this year since we'll be leaving for Cairns soon. But then again, I might feel like we're friends but she might think I'm just being a nuisance. I guess it really doesn't matter as long as she knows that I visit because I care.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The moon smiled at my big ears

Early this morning, I started obsessing that one of my ears seems to have grown bigger. Not longer, just sort of wider. Googling this phenomenon doesn't help either because I now have confirmation that our ears do grow as we age! However, its usually to do with sagging and ears getting longer. *sigh* I know its trivial and there are many more useful thoughts to use my brain cells on but I've thought of my ears many many times today.

Anyway, I did do other things besides obsess. Today, I experienced what it would be like if I didn't have a car and had to rely on public transport. Ordinarily, I would have said it was fun and allowed a lot of time outdoors. Unfortunately, with a toddler in tow, life becomes HARD instead of FUN. I wanted to take him on the trains so I ambitiously planned to return some library books and also do some grocery shopping. After all, these are ordinary things that any person would have to do (with or without toddler) even when they don't have a car. Getting to the library was easy. After that, doing the shopping was not overly taxing. I only got a few light items. We made it all the way to our train station. Unfortunately, by then, Aaron was hot and cranky but we still had a short walk home, uphill. I had a backpack, one bag of groceries hung around my wrist, Aaron's water bottle in one hand and Aaron's hand in my other hand. It was a loooong walk home. Aaron started crying and refused to walk the last two steps to hour house. Next time I'm going to be more prepared with a bigger backpack and the stroller, even if he only sits on it to go up the hill.

Finally, tonight, we saw something interesting in the sky. A smiley face! I checked the news and it was Jupiter and Venus forming the eyes with a crescent moon making the smile. Venus and Jupiter were very bright and twinkling. I guess its trying to tell me that its ok that my ears are getting a little bigger. At least I'm lucky enough to have a car.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Photostory Friday - Early Christmas Surprise

Last week, I was in a big hardware warehouse. They had all the usual drills, ladders, wheel barrows and whatever else needed for handyman type stuff.

Strangely, they also had a section of children's outdoor toys including a cubby house and a backyard jungle gym. I remember looking at it and wishing we lived here in Brisbane so I could get him the cubby house. It wasn't overly expensive but it also wasn't an amount I was willing to pay since we'll only be here for a few more weeks.

OK. Fast forward to this week. We were driving through a suburb that was having their annual large "junk" items pick up. Once a year, the Brisbane City Council will come through the neighborhoods to pick up oversized items that you can't put in your weekly bin. Things like mattresses, TVs, ovens, fridges etc.

We were on the way to the library and just laughing at the stuff that people were throwing away. Suddenly, we saw a cubby house!!!

Someone else's junk is now Aaron's treasure :)

We've put it on the deck because its been raining so much. Its also not a "house" according to Aaron. He calls it his restaurant and here he is handing out my order of fried rice.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Things I will miss

I'm down to my last few weeks in Brisbane and am starting to think of all the things that I won't get to enjoy till my next trip here. These are the top 13 in no particular order.

1. Sausage rolls - I kept myself to one a week so far but I think I'll just have them whenever I feel like it now.

2. GRASS - We have none in Palembang and there is no place to go to really enjoy grass.

3. Parks - Separate to the grassy part of parks. We'll definitely be missing the children's play equipment.

4. Libraries - We'll miss the story telling, and all the toys they have in libraries. And we'll definitely miss the abundant books that are on long for as long as a month each time. Here is a photo of Aaron playing dress up at the State Library.

5. My mother's oven - There have been more than a few failed meals but it has been fun.

6. Sewing - THIS has definitely been one of the highlights of my time here. Every night, after blogging, I rush down to spend a good 2-3 hrs sewing. I feel productive and it gives me a real sense of accomplishment.

7. A dry bathroom - *sigh* I think readers in the West may not realize it but many bathrooms in Asia are still the wet kind. And, our bathroom in Palembang falls into that category. There are no partitions, so, after a "shower" the whole floor is wet. Actually, its not really a shower, its more like throwing buckets of water over yourself.

8. Quiet nights - We'll be going back to the sound of the A/C, the water pump, the neighbor's water pump, the beeping of all the neighbor's cars when they lock it, the mosque at 5am etc etc etc.....

9. Special K - I can honestly say that I haven't missed a single morning of my Special K routine here.

10. Playing on the deck - Aaron and I spend a lot of time on the deck. Its a fun area that is outside but still shaded. And there are no mosquitoes to worry about.

11. Free concerts on weekends - We got a brochure that listed free concerts for each month and have been going to many different places, including several wonderful parks.

12. Clogging - I'm going to try doing this by myself but its just not going to be the same. I doubt I'll have the drive to continue alone for long.

13. Gym classes - I'll go back to my old gym routine in Palembang but there are no classes there. The instructor led classes here have been so much more interesting than my jogs alone on a treadmill. The torture that they have put me through seemed to have done a lot of good too. I'll definitely miss being pushed to get fit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I've Been Everywhere

Recently, I bought Aaron a children's CD of Australian songs. I have no idea what songs little kids here learn but I found it helpful that Aaron already knew all the nursery rhymes that are sung during library storytimes and playgroups. So, just in case they are also learning these Australian ones, I bought a CD. It had all the usual ones like Walzing Matilda, Road to Gundagai and Tie me kangaroo down, sport. Initially, I was enjoying the CD more than Aaron but he's familiar with it now and tries to sing a long.

There is one particular song there that leaves us all in fits of laughter every time. It is the "funnest" song I have heard in a long time. I can't even say some of those names fast enough let alone sing it!

According to Wikipedia, the original "I've been everywhere" was written in 1959 by Geoff Mack and made popular by Lucky Starr in 1962. Go here to see the Wikipedia map of where all the Australian places mentioned are located. You'll need to scroll down a little. Looks like there are plenty of other versions of that song now for many other countries.

Have a watch and listen. I can't say for sure if ALL the photos are from the places but I know that Indooroopilly and Canberra are correct. I think I've only been to 15 out of the 92 places there. There could be more if you count driving past those towns but I really don't remember.

Be patient. The first few slides are just come later.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Exponential Defiance

I've mentioned before that I don't have a stressful life. I do find that I have a lot of tension in me though. Probably from the daily frustration of needing to repeat instructions multiple times before getting any sort of response. And, this has been increasing exponentially in recent days.... [Yes, I know they don't call it the terrible twos for nothing]

Firstly, I have to say that Aaron is a really great little guy for 99% of the day. He is truly funny, helpful, quick to learn and a pleasure to be around. But for 1% of the day, I could really just throw him in the store room under the stairs and lock the door. I haven't done that of course but he gets me so mad.

Its as if he has to fill a quota of defying me each day. He could be happily picking up his toys and will come to the last one, then refuse to move it the 30cm left to place them IN the cupboard. The intensity of his refusal then spirals upwards at an unimaginably fast rate. Before I know it, he's crying/sobbing as if I had really locked him in the store room. I've noticed this happening over the most trivial of non-issues! And, its happening more frequently. (He's 2 years, 3 months and 21 days old)

Anyway, I'm big on exercise and have always known that a good workout session fixes any day. Recently, I've found a SUPERB way for quick release of all tension and bringing on a immediate smile.

I've been going for this gym class called Body Attack (It attacks my body by making me jump/hop/bop/lunge on the spot for 55 minutes). Somewhere towards the end of the class, there is a very short section, probably no more than a minute and a half where there are sequences of jumping up and stomping down hard with both feet. Just like a toddler in the middle of a tantrum. I LOVE IT! You all must try it. Do it on a wooden floor with sports shoes on. It makes a lot of noise and it feels great. Once I'm back in Palembang, I'll have to do this all by myself. OR maybe I'll just join in with Aaron if he ever throws a tantrum!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Where is the internet?

I've been pretty good with answering Aaron's questions so far. The last one that I remember getting stuck on was "What is heaven?" I guess it was time for another tricky one to pop up.

Like many other parents today, I spend a lot of time on the internet, and, Aaron is often by my side when I am there (or should I say "here"?). He thinks YouTube is the place for all Thomas clips. He also knows that I have to check my "EMU" each day. Its funny how he substituted the word EMU for EMAIL just because "email" wasn't familiar to him. The computer is also where he goes to talk to his dad.

On the weekend, he picked up on the word "internet". I must have mentioned it one to many times that I have to go "download some Thomas" from the internet.

So, the next time we sat in from of the computer. He asks Where is the internet?.

I was stumped. It really is a question that I should have had a prepared answer to but I didn't see it coming. I was speechless for longer than I would have liked, hmmm-ing and er-ing and I did try to fudge the answer but he persisted. He expected it to be a physical place and it was so hard to explain something virtual to him.

In the end, the best I could do was "The internet is an invisible place where people go to share information. Things like Thomas videos and music. When you learn to read and spell, you can find out anything you want to know there."

Today, I've been searching the internet for something I want to know. How do you accurately describe the internet to a 2 year old?

I'm still looking :). Feel free to leave me some comments on how you'd explain the internet to a 2 year old.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Irony of Alone Time to a Mom

One of my frequent complaints about being a mom to a 2 yr old is that I never get any time to myself. I don't think I verbalize this complaint much but I definitely think it A LOT.

The past few weeks have actually been great because my mother has been looking after Aaron in the mornings so that I can get to the gym. I usually rush there and back, sometimes stopping to pick up groceries. All in all, I'm probably gone for 1.5 hrs. And let me tell you, I have been enjoying every minute of that time to myself. The solitary drive in the car, the freedom to walk without "Aaron herding" and of course the time working out.

The gym is in a shopping center and I often look into the shops but never stop to browse. And of course, I wish to myself (many times) that I will one day be able to shop like I used to. To wander aimlessly. To spend too long in the book section. To try on the clothes instead of just holding it out and looking at it.

Well, that day came today. My mother wanted to take Aaron somewhere so she needed the car and would drop me off a little earlier and then would pick me up again later. I thought "Great! I can shop. Maybe go to the library as well. AND, I can get to the gym"

I got there and headed first to the library. I looked for a book I saw on the e-catalog, not there, looked through the magazine section, read one article on how to get sexy hair in 5 minutes and then thought, I'd better leave so I can look through the shops. I zoomed out and made a beeline for the shops that I had taken mental note of. They were probably covered in 10 minutes.

I looked at my watch and I was still 30 mins early for my class.

What now?

I honestly didn't know what I wanted to do with that time. Wandering aimlessly through the shops wasn't as enjoyable as I remembered it to be. I had done all I thought I wanted to do and there was time left over. I wracked my brain and remembered that it would be nice to get Aaron a Wiggles magazine. The newsagents didn't carry any. 25 minutes left.

In the end, I gave up and just went early to the gym to do some cardio first. All the time thinking "Am I sure there is nothing else I want to do. I have all this bonus alone time. Its what I long for. Why am I not using it????"

I think I should just put it down to motherhood making me more efficient with my time and less frivolous with my wants.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cheer, Routines and Walnuts

This evening, a friend commented that I sounded "cheerful". This led me to wonder about my "cheerfulness" each day. Life here is fun. EVERY DAY. I'm cheery all the time!

I definitely don't have a stressful lifestyle (here or anywhere else). My life is often tiring but its not particularly hectic. The best word that I can use to describe it is "routine". It is full of routines revolving around Aaron.

This is especially true in Palembang. I've forgotten what it feels like now but I know that our time in Palembang is often less cheery that what we have here in Brisbane. The routines are more routine than ever over there. Its a little like Groundhog Day over there. And, spending the whole day being cheery with Aaron often leaves me with zero cheer at the end of the day for anybody else.

I think next year is going to be better. I know a few more people and Aaron is a very talkative companion now. Plus, I have several new ideas to try out.

Still, I need to do things to remind myself to have fun and enjoy each day. Sometimes, forcing yourself to be cheerful (when you don't feel like it) and purposely finding something to laugh about is all thats needed to make a day that little bit brighter. I think I sound a little like a self help website, but I'm genuinely starting to think about things like this because we'll be back in Palembang in a little over a month and the routine will start again.

Alright, enough of that. All it needs is planning and I'm starting now. So, let me leave you with something funny I heard this morning. It has been floating around my head the whole day and has been adding to the giggles I've had.

At the gym class, the instructor said something like "OK. Squeeze your butts. Pretend that you are trying to crack a walnut!" I just can't get that imagery out of my head.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Smoking in the rain

It has been raining continuously for a few days now and is forecasted to remain this way until Friday. This means I have to get creative with activities for Aaron indoors.

While Aaron hasn't made it out of the house much, I've kept to my routine of going to the gym each day. This morning, as I left the building where the gym is I walked past a row of people standing outside. Actually, they were all a little bent over and trying to stay dry because there was not much cover. And, they were all smoking.

We have been enjoying the smoke free environment here so much that I think I forgot about smokers. I wonder at the percentage of smokers here vs Palembang but I don't think I'd be able to find any real statistics on it. All I know is that there isn't a place in Palembang that I can go without being surrounded by smokers, indoors or outdoors.

Anyway, I know that people start smoking for various reasons and like any addiction, it is hard to stop. So, I am not judging those people I saw today. I just felt grateful that the non-smoking laws are so prevalent in Australia that it has taken me 2 months to inhale some second hand smoke.

Mike wanted a new numbers person and while I'm nowhere near as knowledgeable as Numeric Life, I managed to find these interesting numbers on what happens after your quit smoking. I got it from the American Lung Association site. I never knew that over time, the effects of smoking could be reversed.

At 20 minutes after quitting:
* blood pressure decreases
* pulse rate drops
* body temperature of hands and feet increases

At 8 hours:
* carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
* oxygen level in blood increases to normal

At 24 hours:
* chance of a heart attack decreases

At 48 hours:
* nerve endings start regrowing
* ability to smell and taste is enhanced

At 2 weeks to 3 months:
* circulation improves
* walking becomes easier
* lung function increases

1 to 9 months:
* coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath decreases

1 year:
* excess risk of coronary heart disease is decreased to half that of a smoker

At 5 years:
* from 5 to 15 years after quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of people who have never smoked.

At 10 years:
* risk of lung cancer drops to as little as one-half that of continuing smokers
* risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases
* risk of ulcer decreases

At 15 years:
* risk of coronary heart disease is now similar to that of people who have never smoked
* risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked

Monday, November 17, 2008

He wants me in his dreams :)

Aaron is a real chatterbox. He talks non-stop all day long and its constant chatter chatter chatter around the house. I love it! I can't get enough of it. He's cute the whole day long (yes, a bit of mom's pride here) but he's cutest when you're having a conversation with him.

Last night I said to him "You know, big boys go to sleep by themselves." So he tells me he's not big, he's just a little boy. It was probably an hour earlier that he insisted he was a big boy and should be allowed to stand on a stool in the kitchen to cook his dinner. But anyway...

I tried to explain to him that sooner or later, he's going to have to go to sleep by himself and that everyone does it. I'm not in a hurry to push him into this but I'm really trying to put the idea in his head. He doesn't say anything and appears to be deep in thought.

So I asked him why he felt he needed me to lie down with him every night. He had a really long and drawn out answer. The gist of it was :

"... When I go to sleep and close my eyes, I get a dream (I always ask him what he dreams about but I wonder if he really has noticed them.) Sometimes, we go to the Island of Sodor, or to the library, or to the park. We see Thomas and all the engines. And, I want Mama to be there too. Because you are my BEST FRIEND."

*sigh* You can't imagine how sweet he looked and sounded when he said it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photostory Friday - Family Heirloom?

Look what I found on the top shelf of the broom closet. I know that sunglasses like these have made a come back recently but these aren't from this century! My mother wore this pair in the early 1980s, making them nearly 30 years old. Its mind boggling to think that she was in her 30s then. Seems like yesterday that she told me she was 36....

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Food Memories

Here are 13 memories associated with food from my childhood.

1. FISH: Steamed fish with ginger, coriander, Chinese mushrooms and soy sauce was a regular at our dinner table. We must have had it 3 times a week. Definitely not one of my favorites. Thanks to this, I'm not a big fan on fish at all.

2. Lap Cheong: This is a chinese sausage made with pork. I loved it and still do. My mother used to make these at home and hang them in the front garden to dry and harden. I didn't need anything else with my rice if I had this.

3. EGGS, BOVRIL, RICE: When I was 11, my piano lessons were on Wednesday nights and it was always a real rush to get home from school, have dinner and then go out again for the lessons. To make things simple, my mother always fried an egg sunny side up and we had this with Bovril and rice. I liked this.

4. PRAWNS: The only "seafood" I like are these huge prawns from Tanjung Tualang. And actually, they aren't from the sea but from the river instead.

Each Saturday, after evening Mass, we would have Char Koay Teow for dinner at a neighborhood coffee shop. It was at this place that I first saw hail.

6. KFC: I think KFC was the only fast food restaurant Ipoh, Malaysia during my childhood. Back then, nobody in my family spoke about eating healthy and I have a vivid memory of my mother taking my brother and I there for dinner here before going to watch Superman IV in the cinema opposite the restaurant.

7. McDONALDS: The first one opened in Kuala Lumpur around the time I turned 10. I remember my father returning from a business trip to KL with cheeseburgers for my brother and I.

8. PIZZA HUT: I believe Pizza Hut came after McDonalds. We didn't get to try it out because my brother took one step in the restaurant and ran straight out again. He was nauseated by the smell of the cheese!

9. CHEE CHEONG FUN: This was my favorite breakfast growing up. Its basically a big sheet of rice noodle that is rolled up. The best place to have this was from a really grumpy guy who was a little like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld.

10. NOODLES: In the first grade, my mom would give me RM0.20 on some days so that I could buy a bowl of noodles during the break.

11. SANDWICHES WITH CRUSTS ON: On other days, I took sandwiches with peanut butter. I was always really envious of my best friend because her mother used to cut the crusts of the bread while mine always had it on.

12. SAUSAGE ROLLS: When we moved to Brisbane, I loved having sausage rolls for morning tea at school.

13. BEETROOTS: Prior to moving to Brisbane, I didn't know about beetroots. At a school camp, I was attracted to the vivid colour and filled my plate with some. Ugh! I regretted it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Surprise Trip

Guess where we went today? Seaworld!

This is what I love and appreciate about my stay-at-home lifestyle. I can just take off on a day trip whenever I feel like it. We didn't go to sleep last night thinking that we'd be spending the day at Seaworld today.

I woke up, checked the weather forecast (mostly fine, top of 26C), and thought, 'Sounds like a good day for Seaworld'. Especially since I got a shop-a-docket for adults at kids prices a couple of days ago.

Aaron didn't get a full nap so there was a bit of a meltdown at 4pm but other than that, we had a great time. My favorites from the day are the dolphins and the sharks. And of course, for Aaron, the rides were the highlight. This was the first time that he went on any sort of ride. I've never let him go on the ones you see in malls because I didn't want to set that precedent and ruin all future shopping trips. So, I guess it really meant something to him today.

Aaron was asleep before he hit the bed tonight and I think I'm headed that way too now. I can't imagine what it will be like when he's a little older and needs me to go on those big kids rides with him. Or maybe, he won't want me by then....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Santa Who?

I don't really remember Santa Clause being a very big part of Christmas during my childhood. My parents did perpetuate the myth that somebody broke into the house at night and left a present for us but I don't think they spoke all that much about Santa. I also don't remember how I found out that he didn't exist. Perhaps we knew it all along. It wasn't a big deal.

This year, Aaron has seen the old man in the red suit around the shopping malls and I made a lame attempt at explaining who he was. I tried telling him that he needed to be "good" or Santa would know. Then I told him that Santa delivers pencils and paper on Christmas day. I even took him to visit Santa but he took one look at the guy and walked out again.

The whole idea of Santa has left me a little unsettled. While the fantasy of it all may be exciting for the little kids, I'm not sure its something that I want to encourage. Also, I believe 2 year olds are all about logic and fact so, the whole Santa story isn't really plausible anyway. It took me a few days to sort it out in my mind but I think I've decided now not to have Santa leave any presents.

I can make Christmas just as fun and exciting without Santa. And, without the emphasis being on presents. I do want Aaron to know that the real reason for Christmas is Jesus and it is the season of giving instead of receiving.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Photostory Friday - Sewing Apnea!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

My grandmother was a seamstress and my mother has picked up quite a bit from her so I'm hoping the sewing gene is in me too. I've never learnt how to sew and my mother didn't do much of it when we were growing up in the house but I really enjoy it. I make up my own techniques as I go along and end up with less than perfect creations but I always find it so fulfilling. The main problem is that I hold my breath whenever I step on the sewing machine pedal and I always end up with a headache after awhile!

I don't have a sewing machine in Palembang so I'm hoping to make use of my mother's one while I'm here. This is what I made for my mother.

Its a type of tote that closes up without zips or buttons. Not quite perfect but I'll be making another one for myself so at least I'll know where the pitfalls are.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Brought to you by the letter "A"

I've always felt that there were a lot of "A's" in my life. Lets see if I can get to 13.

1) Amanda - My name

2) Australia - Place of birth

3) April - Month of birth

4) April - Month that Richard and I were married legally. The ceremony came later in July.

5) Aaron - Son's name

6) August - Aaron's birth month

7) Auchenflower - Suburb where I live here in Brisbane

8) ABRSM - Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Almost all of my music exams were from them.

9) All Hallows' School - My high school

10) Accountant - My dad's profession

Those first 10 was easy and I did it in about 3 minutes. I had to get Richard to help me with the following 3 so I guess I really only have 10 "A's" in my life.

11) Avocados - Since I got here in September, I've had avocados at least 3 or 4 times a week.

12) Astro - This was our satellite TV provider in Palembang. Last month, it ceased operations and now I need to look for a new provider.

13) Amadeus - Mozart's middle name. I remember being told by one of my teachers that my musical style was more suited to Amadeus's music rather than Ludwig's. Whatever that means...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes we can!

I had another post drafted out for today but it just didn't seem suitable. Australia had a full afternoon's coverage of the U.S. elections. Of course, I know all the details of the policies each party has been claiming they will implement but I still enjoyed the speeches by both John McCain and Barrack Obama. Even Aaron seemed to have a fun afternoon. He cheered when the people on the TV cheered and then during Obama's speech, he chimed in at every "Yes we can!"

Here are a few of the questions we had in our house as we watched and waited:

Does George W Bush already have all his bags packed and when does he move out? Or HAS he already moved out? Is Obama's bag packed as well?

Does the entire staff currently working at the White House have to leave their jobs?

The US ambassador to Australia has already announced his resignation. Do all the other US ambassadors in the world have to do that too? Or just the Republican ones? Or maybe they currently are all Republican....we don't know.

What happens between now and January 20, 2009? Who is responsible for the U.S.?

Do they repaint the living areas of the White House whenever somebody new moves in?

Does the outgoing family take all their bed sheets with them and then the new ones pick out their own ones? Will they bring sheets that they currently own or do they buy new ones? What about cutlery? What belongs to the White House and what belongs to the families that reside there.

OK. Enough of all that. We wondered about all sorts of stuff. Somebody should do a documentary about the details of what goes into moving into the White House.

Yes, the speeches were gracious and stirring but, my favorite quote from today was from the news anchor saying something like "they will be moving into government housing shortly...." I just couldn't stop laughing at how they put it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Out of place in a real gym

My mother transferred her Fitness First membership to me and I started there yesterday. I go to the gym in Palembang but thats just a hotel gym with slightly dated equipment and just a few cardio machines. Plus, when I go, I'm almost always the only person in that room.

I must admit feeling quite uncomfortable the first few minutes I was there. It took me awhile to work out their locker system and then when I worked out how to use one of the elliptical machines, I dropped my locker card under the neighboring machine and had to lie on the ground to stretch my hand in to get it. Yes, I looked like a real klutz!

AND, to top it all off, I think I might also be the Ugly Betty of the gym in terms of gym fashions. I believe in wearing my comfy old t-shirts. After all, I'm just going to be sweating in them. And in this case, my old t-shirts are really old since they are from the time I actually lived in this house - school days! Luckily, I do own a pair of those calf length legging things. Everyone else seems to be on a fashion shoot for gym wear! OK, I exaggerate but seriously, they are definitely in some uniform gym wear that is on the trendy side.

I feel awkward there but since I stopped working, I get that way easily. Maybe its a confidence thing. Anyway, I'm there to go for as many classes as I can because there is no such thing in Palembang, hopefully build some strength/stamina and of course people watch.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cubby Mansion!

I've been taking Aaron all around Brisbane to wherever there are free concerts. Yesterday, it was the St John Ambulance concert band at a park. I had never been to this park before and just imagined some open ground with shade for the concert band.

To my surprise and Aaron's absolute delight, the park had an enormous, wooden, play area. The only way I can describe is is "Cubby Mansion" as opposed to "Cubby House".

It was huge and was like a maze inside. It zig zagged in all directions with slides coming off the sides and monkey bars scattered around the place. It also had a lookout from the center and more than enough swings outside.

Remember yesterday's post about Aaron misbehaving during Sunday Mass. Well, he seemed to think that this area of the Cubby Mansion was a church and he needed to kneel down to say a prayer. Making up for his earlier naughtiness I guess :)

My dad came in to see what we were doing and got this last shot of Aaron. Look at that face! He had just been 'run over' by a train of pre-teen kids.

As for the concert band, they were alright. Good background music but nothing engaging enough to warrant sitting down and listening intently. The Cubby Mansion was way too much fun.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Aaron the Button Pusher

These few days, Aaron has made a habit of pushing our buttons. Its not that he has any plans to do it. In a way, I can almost say that the adults in this house lead him to it. He does something he's not supposed to, we say "Don't" or "Stop it", he gets the "Aha!" look on his face and then continues doing it with even more enthusiasm. I've tried to remember not to use any words in these situations and just ignore what he's doing or if possible distract him.

Unfortunately, in some situations, its impossible to ignore him. This morning, in church, he pushed one button after another. There is no way to just ignore a noisy situation in such a quiet environment. And, I failed at all distractions and ended up using threats. "Keep doing that and I promise to take you to the naughty square as soon as we get home!"

During the drive home, he says : "Aaron is a very good boy."

I said : "Not really."

He insists that he is and we go back and forth on this awhile.

I thought I could maybe meet him somewhere in between and told him he was a little bit good at the start of Mass. He just kept insisting that he was a very good boy throughout.

In the end, he started to get all upset and he blurted out "I don't want to go to the naughty square!"

Yahoo! I was secretly rejoicing. He's afraid of my threats after all. I didn't think that he would remember that I had said that. OMG! He was actually dreading the moment we got home.

He looked so pitiful and I knew that I should really have carried out the threat since he remembers what I said but I just couldn't. I caved. I struck a new deal.
I told him that if he would be a good for the rest of the car trip home then he could avoid the square.

Maybe I'm digging my own grave for next Sunday's Mass but its done now. I'll have to make sure to take advantage of his next crazy button pushing episode and carry out anything I say then. I almost feel like I should look for an opportunity where a trip to the naughty square is warranted and then make it happen.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Numbers!

Sometimes, I just browse the internet aimlessly for the express purpose of stumbling upon something interesting that I would never have thought of to search. Today, I came upon numbers and followed that train of thought.

Here are 13 Interesting Facts About Numbers & Maths

1) 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321.

2) 1234567.9 x 9 = 11111111

3) Multiply 37,037 by any single number (1-9), then multiply that number by 3. Every digit in the answer will be the same as that first single number.
For example: 37,037 x 5 = 185,185; 185,185 x 3 = 555,555

4) 2 is the only even prime.

5) 18 is the only number that is twice the sum of its digits.

6) 81 is the square of the sum of its digits.

7) 12+3-4+5+67+8+9=100

8) A Googol has 100 zeros.

9) 25 (5 x 5) is the smallest square that can be written as a sum of 2 squares
(3 x 3 + 4 x 4).

10) 40 is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.

11) 89 = 8^1 + 9^2 (What I mean is 8 to the power of 1 and 9 to the power of 2.)

12) Pi has been calculated to 2,260,321,363 digits. The billionth digit in Pi is 9.

13) This one is for people like me who can't remember their multiplication tables.

You can use your fingers for 1 x 9 to 9 x 9.

Hold both hands out in front of you, palms facing away. For 1 x 9, bend the little finger on your left hand. You're left with 9 fingers to the right of that little finger. Of course, you probably didn't need to use this method to get the answer to 1 x 9.

For 2 x 9, bend the ring finger on your left hand. Now there is 1 fingers to the left of the ring finger and 8 to the right of it. The answer is 18.

Jumping to 5 x 9. Bend your left thumb. Now you have 4 fingers to the left of your thumb and 5 to the right of it letting you know the answer is 45.

Its so much easier to explain if you could all just see my fingers! Try it out anyway :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Habit of Cramming

I was never one for studying consistently throughout the semester. I always start out with good intentions and would probably carry out the plan for a good week or two but then, I'd fall into old habits and in the end, I'll spend the final few weeks cramming for the exams.

Thank goodness I don't need to sit for any exams these days. My brain is obviously not as "fresh" as it used to be and is too full of other rubbish to cram anything in quickly.

That didn't stop me from trying today.

I might have mentioned in previous posts that I have started clogging here in Brisbane. Its been 5 weeks since I first started and I don't want to be a beginner anymore. Actually, there are very few beginners around.

At tomorrow's class, there will be no teaching. Instead, its going to be a social where there will just be 3 hours of dancing. I don't want to be SITTING during that time. Hence, the cramming.

I've been wearing my dad out making him teach me all the dances he knows. My mother usually looks after Aaron for the morning while I go to this class with my dad. Its really the first time since Aaron was born that I've had some time to go learn something new. It is definitely refreshing (physically and mentally)!

For those of you who don't know, clogging, in a nut shell, is like tap dancing without needing to remember a routine. You just need to remember the steps that they call out and you're set.

Now here's the funny part to clogging. There are some really strange names for the steps. Names like, Emu, Donkey, Creeper, and even Outhouse! So...thats what I have spilling out of my ears at the moment. Wish me luck for tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Then and Now

Look at the difference a year makes when you're 1 and 2 years old.

This post was about Aaron going to a park in Milton in August 2007. He still looked like a baby at that time!

And here he is today, on the same climbing dome thingi. I have no idea what its called!

He's moved on to the more challenging pyramid so who knows where he'll be in the 2009 photo!

We went to that park because I wanted to register him at the school adjacent to it. Supposedly, he'll be ready to start prep in a mere 3 years from now. Imagine that! I was excited for him just filling out those forms but at the same time, I have no idea where we'll be and am half preparing myself for home schooling during his early years.

Monday, October 27, 2008

An Unexpected Lesson

Every mother knows to expect the unexpected. And by keeping that in mind, I think many mothers have learnt to keep an open mind when watching for possible dangers. Think like the child. What does he see? What looks interesting?

Sometimes, we make last minute saves but other times, we're not so lucky. But, thats just part of growing up. Thankfully, nothing serious has happened yet.

And then of course, you have those times where there is absolutely nothing dangerous in the environment. You can let your guard down. A public restroom used to be one of those places. (Yes, dirty but not much room to physically hurt himself) As long as I gave him a bit of toilet paper to avoid him grabbing it himself, he wouldn't need to be tempted by the only interesting thing in those little stalls.

That was when he was short and clumsy. He's now taller and his little fingers can open just about anything. My first shock came when he reached up, played around with the twisting lock and opened the stall door. It was one of the normal sized stalls and thankfully, I had our bag leaned against the door. That gave me time to slam it shut again.

So what happens when you have a pram and have to go into one of those big stalls? Don't forget to put toddler in pram and strap him in! Otherwise, you'll find yourself shaking your head and screaming "Noooooooo!" while the door just swings open.

No matter how quick you think you're going to be, the toddler is quicker!

Lesson learnt!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Aaron's dreams come true

After the months and months of steam engine talk going on in this house, we finally got to go on a few today. Even though they were just miniature ones, it didn't take away any of the thrill and excitement that trains have come to evoke in this house.

You can see Aaron and my mom peeking out from behind the driver here.

There is a park about 30mins drive from our house that has miniature railway tracks on it. And, once every month, train enthusiasts will bring their trains here, attach 'coaches' and give rides. It was AUD 1.50 a ticket and the proceeds went to one of the Lions' clubs in the area.

Aaron lined up patiently for nearly 30 mins for the first round with no complaints at all. It just shows that when the incentive is attractive enough, he'll comply. After that, the crowd was gone and he went for two more rounds without having to line up for more than 5 mins. I think each trip around the track lasted about 10 minutes.

These little trains were more powerful that I thought they would be. Just take a look at how many people they're pulling along. There were a couple of instances where the trains did break down and had to be retired to the workshop. Just part of a routine steam engine day I guess.

Aaron and I are on the very last bench.

Here is a closer look at some of the engines.

At the end of the day, it was another great Sunday adventure. Aaron was totally satisfied and so were we all.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Photostory Friday - Alma Park Zoo

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Apart from the trip from Palembang to Brisbane, today is the first time Aaron and I have been on an "big excursion" alone. Of course, we go for short outings everyday but never for something that takes a whole day. Today, the both of us took a 1 hr drive north of Brisbane to Alma Park Zoo. He was an angel in the car.

When we were there, he was the perfect little guy. Cute, obedient and full of smiles. He missed his morning nap but still, he behaved.

He finally did fall apart right at the very end when a deer came, snatched our bag of feed and munched everything up (including the paper bag). We headed straight for the car and he was asleep even before I left the car park.

I really had a wonderful day and I'm pretty sure Aaron did too. Its great that he's now old enough for us to do things like this together.

While I have many cute photos of Aaron, it might be this shot of the donkey that will stand out in my mind.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - TV Show Characters

13 TV Show Characters I Like

1. Barney Rubble from The Flintstones

2. Hawkeye from M*A*S*H

3. Fran Fine from The Nanny

4. Q from Star Trek : The Next Generation

5. Quark from Star Trek : Deep Space Nine

6. Alan Shore from Boston Legal

7. Ling from Ally McBeal

8. Lynette from The Desperate Housewives

9. Agent 13 from Get Smart. (I think thats his number. He's the one thats always hiding in weird places)

10. MacGyver from MacGyver

11. Punky Brewster from Punky Brewster. (I still want a bed like hers!)

12. Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer

13. Ren from Ren and Stimpy

What about you? Which characters have been memorable for you?

When I grow up a little more, I want to be a ...

I have a very vivid memory of myself as a 5 yr old saying "When I grow up, I want to be a hairdresser". That idea was quickly quashed by my mother saying that my hands will be completely ruined by all the hair products.

Then when I was 7, I wanted to be a nurse. Unfortunately, back then, my mother didn't really encourage my interests in nursing either. With the shortage of nurses today, she's singing a different tune now.

After that, I was basically one of those people with no idea what they wanted to be when they 'grew up'. I went through phases of saying I wanted to be an occupational therapist, a social worker, a doctor and a radiographer. You'll notice that all those are health related.

Instead, I ended up studying engineering and business. I don't even really remember why I put that double degree course down as one of my choices. It may be purely because it was one of the first combined degrees around these parts at the time. So, was it merely for the fun of it? I really don't know. Fortunately, I did have fun.

My current job gives me the opportunity to be hairdresser, nurse, occupational therapist and social worker all on the same day. Some days, I'm also a doctor but there are no x-ray equipment in the house so, I haven't been a radiographer yet.

I'm trying to think ahead to when Aaron starts school and I get some time to myself again. Is there something that I really want to try my hand at? I don't mind going back to school to learn something new. So far there is one thing that I have found interesting and could potentially be a work-at-home job on a flexible schedule. I would never have thought of it when I was thinking of careers the first time around.

A lactation consultant.

Don't laugh readers, many women with newborns will tell you that these people are more important to survival than doctors!

Preliminary research shows that I may need to train as a nurse first though. So, after 25 years, we're back to Square 2. Its still just an idea.....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Superior Scribbler Award from Bilbo

As mentioned in my last post, I'm a little behind on my blogging (writing AND reading). It was a lovely surprise to find out last night that Bilbo has very kindly awarded me with the Superior Scribbler Award. Thank you very much, Bilbo!

The award originated from The Scholastic Scribe and you can read all about it here.

There are 5 rules that accompany this award:
1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List.
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Alright, drum roll please. I am passing the Superior Scribbler Award on to:

MamaGeek at What Works For Us. She takes the most amazing photos and has incredibly witty words accompanying each. Also, she has a toddler son that is almost exactly the same age as Aaron. Its interestgin to read about somebody else going through exactly the same things as I am.

Kellan at On the Upside. Kellan is an experienced supermom with some hilarious stories. She is definitely a superior scribbler.

Egan at Les Singes: The Life of Monkey Boy. I really enjoy this blog. Its funny, intelligent and sometimes a little strange (in a positive way). Its not always written from the same perspective but is always a good read. There are even a few posts there by his baby daughter!

Jean-Luc Picard at Captain Picard's Journals. I'm a huge ST:TNG fan. This blog is great to carry on my Star Trek additiction with original stories every couple of days. I don't know how the author manages it!

NapWarden at The Chronicles of a SAHM. I love reading about peoples lives and the everyday things that they do. It inspires me and very often gives me a cyber kick in the behind to get me moving. This lady has two toddlers, designs blog templates AND trains towards a goal of one day participating in the Boston Marathon.

OK. I think I've followed all the 'to dos' listed by the rules.

Thanks once again to Bilbo. Its really rewarding to know that other people do read and enjoy my blog.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Non Stop Weekends

I miss my blogging time in Palembang. Over there, I always had more than enough time to sit down and blog.

Over here, its non stop whenever the sun is out. So, its usually 8 or 9pm before I get online to do anything at all. Sometimes, like yesterday, I sleep right through 8 and 9pm! Weekends are the worst because there are so many additional activities that are happening around Brisbane.

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon in the City Botanical Gardens. They had a free performance by the Woodwind and Brass Sections of the Queensland Pops Orchestra.

The music they performed were all themes from movies and musicals. No heavy classical stuff. It was fun and Aaron enjoyed looking at all the instruments in action. Afterwards, we hung around while the musicians packed up so that he could look at the instruments up close.

Before going home, we had a brief game of hide and seek around these amazing trees.

As soon as we got home, we had a brief chat with Richard and then headed out to one of the nearby parks.

When it was time to put Aaron to sleep, I think I fell before he did! This was at 7.30pm. I woke up about 10pm but just went right back to sleep again. There was no need to change or do any of that other stuff you do before going to bed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Video Friday - Return to Sender

I usually play Photostory Friday but somehow, I don't have any suitable photos this week.

Instead I have a video of Aaron attempting to sing Return to Sender. There are many dropped words and I'm not sure if its recognizable as "Return to Sender" if I didn't say it was. I'm about the only person that can recognize what songs he's singing.

I apologize for the slightly shaky quality to the video. Thats just my whole body shaking from trying to hold in my laughter.

*sigh* How can this little person make me laugh so hard one minute and the next minute make me so frustrated that I get a spontaneous tension headache? He can be so endearing when he wants to be. So, why does he also purposely be the stubborn little imp that refuses to let me wipe his face? There are times that I almost want to return him.

I know, I know....its all part of growing up. His emotional development. Its good for him. He needs it. He's two. No, I'm still not saying he's terrible. Blah, blah, blah. Its just who he is right now.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 13 Hours

If I could have 13 straight hours to myself, say from 7am-8pm, this is what I'd like to do.

7:00-7:30 am: Wake up, stay in bed to read.

7:30-8:00 am: Have a leisurely breakfast

8:00-8:30 am: One session of Bikram Yoga (at the hot studio of course)

8:30-9:00 am: Snack and more reading

9:00-11:00 am: Sewing (I want to make a bag)

11:00-11:30 am: Lazing / Napping

11:30-1:30 pm: Meet a friend for lunch

1:30-2:30 pm: Peaceful shopping

2:30-3:30 pm: Play the piano

3:30-5:30 pm: Long, uninterrupted, reading time

5:30-6:30 pm: Cook an elaborate dinner.

6:30-7:00 pm: Eat that dinner slowly.

7:00-8:00 pm: Long, hot shower. Wash my hair. Blow dry it. Spend the remaining time reflecting on the day and probably missing Aaron.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Happy Hunting Ground

I really don't know how I know this song but I do: Running Bear by somebody called Johnny Preston. Anyway, I was singing it for Aaron this evening while he was having his bath. Here are a few lines from the song to set the scene for today's post.

On the bank of the river
Stood Running Bear
Young Indian brave
On the other side of the river
Stood his lovely Indian maid

But their tribes fought with each other
So their love could never be

Running Bear dove in the water
Little White Dove did the same

Now they'll always be together
In their happy hunting ground

Aaron kept asking. "What it means?" I still can't get him to say "What does it mean?"

So I explained it as simply as I could. He seemed to get it. Then I told him that the "happy hunting ground" was heaven. Here's what I recall from the conversation. All my giggling at the time may have interfered with my memories here!

Aaron: "What it means? Heaven."

Amanda: "Heaven is a really nice place. You can do anything you want there."

He then pauses for awhile before he says "Lets go there next week!"
I wonder why he wanted to wait a whole week.

Amanda: "No, we don't want to go there yet"

Aaron: "I want"

Amanda: "No, only dead people go there."

Aaron: "And then they are not dead."

Amanda: "Yes. Then they are alive again. But we don't want to go there yet. Usually, only old people go to heaven." Yes, a bit of a lie but I didn't have time to think my answers through!

Aaron, after thinking a long while: "Like Mimi....and Ah Or". Thats what he calls my mom and dad.

Amanda: "No, we don't want them to go there yet either."

I felt like mentioning really old people, like my 90yr old grandparents, but I don't want them going to the "happy hunting ground" any time soon either!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Google Street View of Australia

I think this was launched back in August and I've been meaning to check it out for weeks but kept forgetting. Tonight, I've had my fill of "driving" up and down all the streets that I already drive up and down every day in real life.

I'll have to do some reading up on how they did this. The images are seamless.

It was immediately obvious that the photo of our house was taken on a Tuesday morning, sometime between 7am and 8am. I know this because the rubbish bins are out with their lids flipped open, so the garbage trucks have already come and gone.

I wonder when they are going to update these images. I'll go put something (or maybe myself) in front of our house to liven up the shot.

Here are a few images from life in Brisbane. Use the left/right buttons on the maps to see what I see over here.

Here's the library I mentioned in yesterday's post.

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Turning left at this intersection takes us home. Its also where we cross the street to get to the riverside cycle path that we use to ride to the city (and library above).

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The entrance to my old school, All Hallows School. Funnily, the first thought that came to mind when I looked at this image was the fact that the wall outside the school was built by convicts.

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This is strange. I don't usually get car sick but after driving around all these Google Street views, I don't feel so good right now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Boys and Reading

I have no idea if its true but supposedly, boys are slower to read and usually find it harder as children to sit down with a book. Where did I hear this? My mom of course :)

For now, Aaron is willing to drop everything and come whenever I say "Lets do some reading". Unfortunately, if its not a Thomas & Friends book, I have to work really hard to make him stay.

I usually do one non-Thomas book first and then let him have as many Thomas books as he likes. After all, reading is reading right? Nobody tells us grown ups what to read. We just read whatever interests us. I just want Aaron to want to read.

Each Monday morning, Aaron and I go to the Brisbane Square Library in the city. My parents have a clogging class and we tag along for the bicycle ride and library time. Usually, we spend 1 hr there but today, my parents stayed longer at their class and we were there for 2.5 hrs.

The setup of the children's lounge was ideal. There are toys (but not too many) there to distract young children. This distraction works more like a break from the books to revive the short attention span that kids have. It was easy to read Aaron a story, then allow him to go off to play while I picked out another book. He'll eventually wander back for another story again. In between stories, I also managed to enjoy a couple of my old favorites - The Adventures of Tintin.

I was amazed at the calm and quiet time we had in the library. 2.5 hrs is a long time for Aaron to be in the same space. It was me that suggested we leave in the end because I was getting a bit hungry and cold.

I feel happy today that Aaron has come to think of libraries as fun places to go.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I mean it!

Aaron is two years, two months and five days old today. He communicates all his needs/wants/demands in words and understands all of my words perfectly. So, there are no excuses.

I've been cautioned so many times (by books and humans alike), that parents shouldn't make empty promises or threats.

It has been easy keeping all the promises. I like seeing him "succeed". So far, I've tried not to make the rewards too materialistic. Its usually a story or maybe some unscheduled time at a park. Of course, I have also resorted to the types of promises that appear more like bribes. Its a fine, fine, line between a promise a bribe.

It has been hard carrying out the threats but at the same time, interesting. I do try not to make any threats in the first place but sometimes, in the heat of the moment, things get said. So far, I've thrown a pencil out into the garden, taken away a train, things like that. He's at the stage of being so possessive/protective of his belongings that it is usually a deprivation threat.

Yesterday, I finally got fed up with Aaron's increasingly long and drawn out meal times. Its not that he's picky with food. Lately, he just refuses to feed himself and even when I give in and feed him, he just keeps it in his mouth without swallowing. After 45 mins of begging him to chew and swallow, I said that if he didn't eat normally, I would throw his food out.

And I did.

WOW! I should have gotten my camera ready for the reaction. He looked exactly like one of those cartoons of a baby crying with mouth open and tears spewing in two big arcs to the sides of his head. I couldn't help laughing (making me appear even more evil). I could see the look of disbelief and hurt on his face. He really didn't expect it. I was just so mad and there was no turning back after I blurted out "Eat or I'll throw it away".

Anyway, today, I realized that throwing the food away is too wasteful. So, to set things straight, at the first sign that he was going to make breakfast difficult, I told him that if he didn't eat up, I would eat his food. I ended up taking one bite and that got him eating normally. I hope it lasts....I do hate myself for doing these things.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Photostory Friday - DIY Toys

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

When we were growing up, my father always managed to setup some crazy "toy" out of the most mundane things he found around the house. One time, it was with two huge telephone cable wheels he found outside the house (dumped by the roadside somewhere).

He hasn't lost the art of making something out of nothing. This morning, Aaron was treated to these "railway tracks" for Thomas, Percy and Dennis. They definitely had fun with this!

After the setup shown in the photos, they managed to rig it so that the track was like a see saw and would tip downwards as the little engines climbed over the pivot point. By then, I was joining in the fun and didn't want to play photographer anymore :)