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.