Monday, November 30, 2009

Fun In The Middle Of Nowhere

I was too tired last night to get my post done. We spent the day in the bush. Well, it looked like the bush but it wasn't really. This place was only about 15 mins drive from the Gympie town center but it really looked in the middle of nowhere.

We went there for a Clogging Christmas Party. Obviously I'm not clogging right now but I still like watching and Aaron seems to enjoy it too. It didn't matter that the temperature must have been in the mid 30 degrees Celsius and that the low roof you see there was made of zinc. Everyone had a fan in hand and was still having a blast. Its great that these people are so enthusiasitic that they don't let these 'minor' discomforts stop them. My parents included!

We packed frozen drinks, a box of popsicles for Aaron and a stack of frozen towels to hang around our necks. Aaron was the only little kid there but most of the crowd were grandmothers so he was kept entertained. Or maybe he was entertaining them, I'm not sure. Either way, we all had a good time.

It took us nearly two hours to get there and then we were in the heat for about four hours but Aaron was surprisingly well behaved. I nearly didn't go because I thought I'd have a miserable time trying to control him and stop him from being a pest to all the people there. But, he surprised me. Isn't that always the case?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

He's Feeling Christmassy

The house that we are in now is the same house that we have lived in since my family moved here in 1988. Yet, this year is the first year that there is a Christmas tree in it. I remember that we did put up a tree in Malaysia each year but when we moved here, we didnt' move the tree.

I love the Christmas season and all the giving and good cheer that it comes with. My parents never saw the need for us to have a tree by the time we moved here and really, I don't think its all that important either. Its just something nice to have. However, Aaron has been so enamoured with all the Christmas trees and other decorations in the malls that I thought it would be nice to get one for our house too. So, we now have a tree with lights, a bit of tinsel and a few ornaments. Its not a super fancy tree but you should see how excited Aaron gets about it, especially when I turn the lights on.

The next thing I need to do is start playing all my Christmas carols CDs. Thats my favourite part of this season.

We'll definitely be doing some Christmas shopping but I'm trying my best to teach Aaron that it is the season of giving instead of receiving. I know he'll automatically get excited about receiving presents but at least he should know that the joy comes from giving too.

The strange thing about Aaron, for now, is that he isn't all that interested in Santa Claus. He knows about the bearded old man and how he leaves his home in the North Pole once a year to distribute presents but somehow, he's not all that excited about him yet. And, I'm not encouraging. I won't shatter the idea of Santa Claus but I'm not going to play it up either because its probably something that will happen naturally anyway. What won't happen as naturally is remembering that Christmas is about the birth of Christ, so I am talking about that a bit. I've also noticed that two malls near us have the nativity scene displayed too.

So far, its been a lot of fun sharing in Aaron's awe at all things Christmassy. It has always been my favourite time of the year and it has become even more enjoyable now that we have an older Aaron to share it with.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Where There Is No Holiday

There is no Thanksgiving Holiday here in Australia but I thought it would be nice to reflect on some of the things that I have to be thankful for anyway.

I know I am blessed in a hundred different ways and have always been. My life has always been happy and worry free. I never had everything I wanted but I did have everything I needed. So, there are plenty of materialistic things and achievements that I am thankful for. But, the thing that I am most thankful for in my life is my family. Everything in my life has been possible because of this fantastic family that I have.

Of all the people I know, I feel as if I have the best parent-child relationship around. Throughout my life, I have enjoyed their company as much as my friends. There have been times when I have invited my dad along to outings with peers just because I know that he will make the trip more fun. My mother has been the most supportive grandmother while at the same time the least critical. There are lots of obvious benefits to us living here in their house but I am thankful to be able to live so happily with them. The house is big enough so that everyone gets their privacy but we still we have fun every day. We do things together and we respect each other.

I'm also thankful to have the most patient husband in the world. Yes, I was just complaining a couple of days ago about how he is having a holiday while I never get one but I know that I couldn't have found a better partner in life. And we have Aaron. I am more than thankful for having him around. How can someone be so cute and so infuriating at the same time? How can he make me so angry yet make me love him so much at the same time? So, my own little family is also the most fantastic in the world :P

And I can't forget my brother. Its just crazy to think that we argued every day growing up and yet we chat like best buddies every day now. I actually found an old notebook from primary school where I had given myself some lines to write. It said "I hate XXX XXX". I must have really hated him back then yet I'd do anything for him now.

So, thats my self indulgent post for today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Back Talk Expected

No, Aaron isn't quite doing it yet but sometimes he really says things that make me wonder what I'm going to be in for in the future. I think its safe to categorise him as a chatty little boy. When we're at home, he talks the whole day long, non stop. If there is nobody to talk to, he just talks to himself. When we go out, its still unpredictable. Some days, he'll start a conversation with a complete stranger and other days, he won't say a word, even if its to one of my friends that he has had previous conversations with.

I think all children go through the annoying phase of talking back to their parents. I know I sure did and one day, Aaron is going to do the same to me.

Today, I heard my mother asking him to pick up her blanket because he had deliberately pushed it to the floor. He says, "Why? Its yours." Its a rude answer but in a way, I think I'm to blame because I always tell him to pick up things and when he asks "Why?", I tell him that its his stuff.

Anyway, this goes further. He leaves the room and comes to me while my mother is speaking to him. And when I ask him why he just left like that when somebody was speaking to him, he says "Now I can't hear her. She expects me to pick up her blanket."

At least he told me why he did it so it was easier for me to turn the whole thing into a learning experience on what sort of behavior is unacceptable. I honestly never expected my sweet son to have such rude thoughts and intentions!

So, this situation wasn't exactly back talk but somehow, it made me think that if I'm not careful, I'm going to be in for some seriously hurtful talk from him. At least he's still very receptive to people teaching him right from wrong at this moment. And, I know I have to cut back on my own sarcasm and uncharitable remarks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What if MEN got PREGNANT?

I'm starting my countdown. No, not to the EDD (estimated due date) but to next Tuesday when Richard arrives. Right now, he's having a holiday in Malaysia. Let me repeat that:


As in a real one where he gets to sleep in, meet up with friends, go shopping, go out to eat, basically do whatever he likes without a kid in tow. Without even a kid to go back to at the end of a couple of hours out.

Well, I'm hoping my holiday starts when he gets here. I'm not hoping, I KNOW its starting next Tuesday. After all, six weeks after that and I'll probably be starting my next stint in hard labor (both types).

In the mean time, I came across these few jokes on what the world would be like if men got pregnant:

~ Maternity leave would last for two years....with full pay.

~There would be a cure for stretch marks.

~Natural childbirth would become obsolete.

~Morning sickness would rank as the nation's #1 health problem.

~All methods of birth control would be 100% effective.

~Children would be kept in the hospital until potty trained.

~Men would be eager to talk about commitment.

~They wouldn't think twins were so cute.

~Briefcases would be used as diaper bags.

~Paternity suits would be a fashion line of clothes.

~They'd stay in bed during the entire pregnancy.

~Restaurants would include ice cream and pickles as main entrees.

~Women would rule the world.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

He Wants To Go Back!

Aaron and I spend quite a bit of time chit chatting in bed some mornings. Usually, the time is spent answering the hundreds of questions he seems to have about the world.

This morning was a little different. Out of the blue, he says to me "Mama, I remember what our room in Palembang is like. And I remember your desk outside with your computer on it. I think I'd like to go back to Palembang."

He wants to go back?! After all the fun he's been having every day here?? I thought he had forgotten about the place. Richard left Palembang a few days ago and is spending some time in Malaysia with his dad before coming here. Somebody else has already moved into our house. And he's talking about going back.

I've explained to him many times that we're living in Brisbane now but I knew all along that he didn't really get the idea of changing home base. Poor little guy, he thought we were just here for one of our holidays and that eventually he'll go home.

He seemed genuinely disturbed for awhile as I explained to him again that maybe one day, a looooong time from now, we'll go back to visit Palembang. But of course, he's three years old, easily distracted and has his most important person with him - ME.

We had another great day in Brisbane today with a relaxing afternoon listening to a band in a park. He's now off for a bicycle ride with his grandfather by the river. These days, I don't exactly miss Palembang but I still have so many fresh happy memories about the place. I think maybe it is the same for Aaron - which is touching.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Calendar For Activities!

I still can't get over how many kids activities there are each week here. Right now, I'm using a calendar to keep tabs on everything coming up each week. With Christmas coming up, there is going to be even more. And the best part of this all is that so many of these cost absolutely nothing!

My favourites are all the concerts and there are plenty of free ones. Something is going on in a park somewhere almost every weekend and we have been going to quite a few of these.

Today, we went for one that I had bought tickets for. It was AUD10 per person for the Christmas Capers by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. AUD10 isn't a lot of money but initially, I still wondered why I decided to pay that instead of just enjoying all the free concerts.

Well, I don't regret it at all and I'm already on the look out for another one of these Kiddies Cushion Concerts to take Aaron to. It was fun, had some educational value and tailored specifically for little kids. And of course, the orchestra was good. Its been such a long time since I've listened to any orchestra indoors that I was already thinking "WOW" when they started tuning! They played all fun pieces and had singing and dancing in between. It was of course all very casual and lots of kiddy jokes.

A few weeks ago, whenever I took Aaron to any place where there were many other little children, he seemed very tense and unsure of the crowd. As if he wanted to be part of them but didn't know how. Thats the downside of not going to school and so far, not having any group activities to go to. The upside is that he's picking up fast and today he was joining in and enjoying himself like everybody else. Phew! Thank goodness for all the free kids activities around Brisbane. I still try to balance him with plenty of time at home but these upcoming Christmas activities are irresistable.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Old Friends Becoming New Friends

When I was at university, I had three extremely close friends - two guys and another girl. For five years, we had classes together every day and often met up on Saturdays as well. I'd like to say that we were inseparable but there were at least two brief periods within the five years that the group 'broke up', oozing immature anger and animosity. Thankfully, our final year together was a good one. These are people that I truly cared about and who cared for me. They had seen me at all my lows, highs, and remained true friends even when I was pig-headed and immature.

I left Australia immediately after graduation but we still managed to keep in close contact for many years. Each time I visited Brisbane and we hung out, things were always like old times. It only started evolving as we started getting married. And once there were kids in the picture, we were really down to the two emails on birthdays and Christmas each year.

Of course, each time I visited Brisbane, we still met up and tried to re-capture old times. And, its no different now. I've met up with them and everybody seems keen to get reacquainted. I mean, we have such good memories of each other but life took over and we all moved in different paths. Its almost like meeting new friends except that you have this expectation that you will click because you have in the past.

I went shopping for a birthday present for one of them today and I had no idea what to get. I thought hard about things from the past and all I came up with was that we had an old joke about him liking pink umbrellas and that he was a tea drinker. This was a guy that had told me everything about every girlfriend he had. I used to know everything about him and I was, at one time, the expert on what made him happy. It was a little saddening to feel that I knew nothing about him now. I hope he's still a tea drinker because I ended up getting him a teapot that sits on top of a tea cup.

We're all meeting up again this Saturday and I hope we'll continue to get together so that we can get past this stage of getting reacquainted. I know that we'll have to find some sort of new balance and that will take time. The fact that there are spouses around now seems to keep everyone a little more distant too. Its strange to feel the same level of awkwardness with these old friends as I would meeting up with new friends. I hope I make a good re-impression!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

He's Finally Head Down

I guess I'll have to start my visualisations now. A scan finally confirmed that the baby has turned itself around and is head down with 7 weeks to go. I believe in visualising but up until now, I felt that doing it for both a quick, calm, normal delivery AND a c-section wasn't going to be effective. I should have visualised the baby turning around but I didn't really bother with that either.

It started occuring to me last week that the baby may have flipped. I was getting constant jabs in my side ribs and these are getting stronger each day. Sometimes, they really give me enough of a shock to jump back. And now, he's using his head as a battering ram downwards! If he's not doing that, he seems to be moving as if he's trying to flip himself back the other way.

Anyway, everything is good. They did all the other growth measurements and I don't have anything to worry about. Not for the baby anyway. BUT, there is a number stuck in my mind - 8.57cm. Its the baby's current head diameter. Great number in terms of baby's growth but when you think about it a second longer...not so great. On top of that, I Googled the average diameter of a newborn's head - 11cm! I shudder when I think of these numbers.

All I can say is that I've done it once, I can do it again. Faster this time :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two Years Ago...

WOW! Take a look at these photos. They were taken two years ago when we first took Aaron to Wynnum. I even had a short post on it here.

His hands and feet were still so chubby. At that time, he wasn't quite walking yet and was mainly just a 'stander'.

And here he is today (try to ignore my stupid shadow):

This time, he was very interested in the park. There was a seaside theme to it and he was Captain Hook. See the hook?

I've been thinking to myself recently that I enjoy Aaron more as a person who can speak but then I look at these old photos and remember how cute and cuddly he was. How could I forget that those times were fun and exciting too? When friends that I don't often meet look at the recent photos of him, there is always the remark about how time flies. I'm glad that I can say time has moved at just the right pace for me. I might have had some extremely slow days in Palembang but I think that has given me the feeling that things are moving at just the right pace. Thats something to be thankful for.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Application For Enrolment

It won't be until 2012 that Aaron will be old enough to start the Prep year here but I think I'd better hand in his application for enrolment now as waiting lists are long. He will automatically get a place in the nearby State School because we live in the area but I also wanted to keep my options open by enrolling him at the Catholic primary school as well.

I actually like the look and feel of the State School more but the religious education aspect of the Catholic school has been gnawing at me. I am not overly religious but my faith has helped me through many stresses in my life and I want Aaron to have a similar sort of grounding to me. In this world, it feels as if religion is compartmentalised into the place of worship only. My brother went to that Catholic school so I know it does not have an overbearing amount of religious education but instead, it sound as though its just integrated into everyday school life. Thats what I want - for religion to be part of who Aaron is.

Anyway, I got an enrolment form over a month ago but didn't get around to filling it out until tonight. I'll be honest - I'm feeling a bit judgemental towards the school now.

The first page of the application is all about the parents. Not unusual I suppose but they also asked for levels of school and higher education and has multiple choice answers that were extremely categorised. They specifically wanted to know if it was Grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 that a person left school. There was also 'Occupation Group' where parents were categorised into five groups. If I were to label those groups crudely, it would be 1) Big Bosses, 2) Middle management, 3) Worker Bees, 4) The Help and 5) '8'.

The '8' was for any person not in paid work for the last 12 months.

OK first and foremost, they didn't have a category for 'STAY AT HOME PARENT'. I thought that as a school, this would be extremely pertinent information. I wouldn't have thought so much of it had they just put in an 'Occupation' field to be filled out. BUT, they have specifically asked for how far up the career ladder the parent(s) has climbed by asking for those categories. So why not find out if the family had the luxury of a dedicated person for parenting?

I can definitely see how that sort of information will be 'useful' to a school's admissions officer but unfortunately, I'm seeing it as 'useful' in all the wrong ways. I also know that this is how the world works a lot of the time. Even for primary school enrolments because this school will then lead to certain Catholic secondary schools and so on and so on. Hey its the private school vicious cycle!

Lets keep things in perspective, he's still only 3!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Mass in Brisbane

I have to admit that I find going to Mass in Brisbane one of the most stressful times in my week. Aaron is generally well behaved and has had good training in Palembang because masses there are regularly 90 minutes long. The difference over there is that there is always so much noise in the church from other children or traffic noises when people open and close the doors that any misbehavior from Aaron is often unnoticed.

When we got here in October, we started off going to the parish that we've been to since before I moved away. The priest there gives fantastic surmons and the music used to be great. Unfortunately, that priest is also known to leave his surmons incomplete if he felt he couldn't handle the distractions in the congregations. He'll be very apologetic about it and explain that he's not as young as he used to be but its still awkward. Right?

The last time we were there, a teenager was reading the parish newsletter during the homily. He made a general comment that people shouldn't be reading the newsletter but the teenager didn't hear and continued to. Two minutes later, the priest announced that he just couldn't continue. All this happened at the same time that Aaron was flipping through one of his big story books. I tried my best to turn the pages discretely but it was a big and wide hardcover book.

Anyway, we went back to that church a couple of times but it was just too quiet and tense for my blood pressure so we've gone back to the parish in our area. And its great! There is always a baby making some noise for part of the mass each week and the parish priest seems more than tolerant. He even invites children up to the alter to help him during the eucharistic prayers.

I'm not saying that its completely stress free going here because there is still some level of tension as the church is very quiet (apart from noises from kids) but at least I don't have to sit in fear and hold such a tight leash on Aaron.

Also, they have a joke page on the back of their newsletter that I always read to calm myself before mass starts. Here is this week's:

The Book of Smiles

Q: What kind of man was Boaz before he married Ruth?
A: Ruthless

Q: What do they call Pastors in Germany?
A: German Shepherds

Q: Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
A: Noah. He floated his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.

Q: What kind of motor vehicles are there in the Bible?
A: Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury. David's Triumph was heard throughout the land. Also, probably a Honda, because the apostles were all in one Accord.

Q: Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
A: Samson. He brought the house down.

Q. Which area of Palestine was especially wealthy?
A: The area around Jordan. The banks were always overflowing.

Q. Which Bible character has no parents?
A: Joshua, son of Nun.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Me, mother of two? Really?

I really should get a move on with the preparation for this baby. We have been making half hearted attempts to get things sorted out every few days but I must admit that I haven't made a list yet. And, I am a list person.

With Aaron, we found out about 3 months into the pregnancy that we would be moving to Palembang. Shortly after that, we also found out that the house we were renting was being sold and that we'd have to move out to somewhere temporary before moving to Palembang. So we had to plan for two moves and a baby. I won't say it was easy but I had all the time in the world then to plan, make lists and actually do stuff.

Once again, this time around sees us with another major move plus the baby on the way. My rough plan was to get the move out of the way (which we have) and then I can focus on preparing for the baby. We'd not only have to prepare ourselves for the baby but we'd have to set things up for Aaron too.

I have all these ideas of planning out Aaron's days with a sort of curriculum for what he needs to learn. Previously, I was the only one with him so I just planned on the fly but now he may have different people engaging him on different days. At least I have been trialling all the potential activities that we can take him out to each week. I want to set up a routine for him so that it will be easier for us all to know what to do with him and also so that he will continue having all the individual attention and learning experiences that he has had so far.

There must be fairness, of course, but I find myself spending more time worrying about how Aaron will adjust to the new baby and less on the new baby adjusting to life outside the womb. I know that we have most of the baby clothes and equipment somewhere, its just a matter of getting them cleaned and put out where they can be used. In my mind, if I can get the nursing thing settled in a week (i.e. pain free feeding sessions), everything else will fall in place and I can still make sure Aaron is happy. And the baby, well, he'll be all cute, cuddly and easy to handle. (LOL! Yes, I'm laughing at myself too.)

I don't know...its just so hard to fathom being a mother of two! I guess I'll just have to experience it. The same thing happened with Aaron....couldn't imagine life until he was right there, screaming his head off in front of me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pregnancy Perks & Paying It Forward

Celebrities like Jenna Elfman may feel sexy when they're pregnant but ordinary people like me certainly don't. According to her, you've got to show off whats still good looking but if I were to apply that to me, then all you'd be seeing would be my arms from the elbows down. I'm really starting to look round and I've got that silly pregnant person waddle.

Anyway, looking pregnant (especially pregnant with little boy in hand as well) has its perks. Aaron and I had a wonderful morning today. I woke up full of energy and decided we would take the train to the city and then walk across the new Kurilpa Bridge to the State Library for Rhyme Time.

The train was very full and I thought that I'd have to juggle my big handbag, hanging on to Aaron and hanging on to the handrails. Nope. People were nice enough to offer me their seats. I think this may be the first time in my life! Later on, when I was lining up at the restrooms, a lady looked at me and offered to let me go first. It was a great feeling to come across such simple generosity today and it put me in a really good mood and I, in turn, found myself being extra nice to other people as well. The whole pay-it-forward thing was happening for me today.

On top of all that, I had a great time alone with Aaron. We strolled across the bridge and stopped multiple times to watch the ferries go under us. Aaron also had a good time with all the Nursery Rhymes in the library. And before we went home, I took him to the Museum (almost a weekly event) to visit the dinosaurs for a few minutes. They have a musical shadow show with five catchy tunes on various dinosaurs that he loves.

Here is a picture that I took from the middle of the Kurilpa Bridge. The city is on the left and the building to the right is the library. Its actually three photos that I stitched together...the individual photos look much bigger, maybe the panoramic view here has squashed it small (I have no idea). Please click on it to see it properly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Would you think of food....

...on your deathbed?

My father and I have very similar tastes when it comes to food. And, our tastes are almost the complete opposite to my mother's. I wouldn't be too far off if I said that my mother thinks of food purely as a source of nutrients to keep her body functioning - and thats all. She rarely craves any sort of food and tries to tell us that things like brown rice with stirfried vegetables (with no seasoning) is as satisfying as something like Peking Duck.

I'm not judging my mother here, just making observations. If she has really convinced herself, or perhaps she really does enjoy food like that, then good for her because she has a super healthy diet and she keeps the rest of us in line too. My father and I are healthy eaters too 80% of the time but that tends to work towards us planning extra tasty and perhaps slightly less healthy meals every now and then.

We had a particularly tasty and unhealthy meal today and my father and I were going on about how good everything tasted (my mother didn't eat the unhealthy bits). One thing led to another and eventually, we were having a discussion about how my father will have many more rich (and tasty) encounters to remember on his deathbed as compared to my mother because she didn't take pleasure in food.

Anyway, as always, my parents provide a good balance in our family and while both my parents agreed that they would probably not be thinking of food on their deathbeds, it has left me wondering what I would be thinking about.

I do think about food a lot of the time and its not inconceivable that I might think of some last minute tastes I'd like to have in my mouth. Maybe that might be the case if I were to live a long and fulfilling life. But if the end was to be right now, I think all I'd be thinking of would be Aaron. And it would probably be selfish thoughts like how I wouldn't be able to cuddle him anymore instead of worrying about him not having me around to raise him.

What morbid thoughts!! But, its good to think about things like this once in awhile. It makes me overlook things like Aaron's whining and helps me take the gentler approach to stopping those noises.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crazy Headlines!

A quick post today as I was late coming online tonight. As usual, I've visited all the regular blogs I read and I've scanned the news headlines. These two articles really stood out for me.

The first article was about a twelve year old girl who gives birth to a baby boy. I have heard of this happening in various parts of the world but if the details of this story are true, the girl was 11 years old and having a 15 year old live in boyfriend! However this came about, its a sad situation for that little girl to be in.

I'm not one to go on about values but I am starting to think about it more since our move to Australia. Its not that the values in Malaysia (or Indonesia) are any better but things like sexual promiscuity are a lot more hidden and maybe easier for parents to 'preach' against since its not as in-your-face as over here.

The second article is about a 2 year old who can't cry or she might DIE!!! She has Reflex Anoxic Seizures that are triggered when she cries. Thankfully, it sounds like she can grow out of this condition but can you imagine being the parents of this two year old and doing everything that needs to be done to avoid tantrums?

Thats all from me today. I had planned on a post on some funny things Aaron has been saying but I've forgotten it now because I didn't take the time to note them down! As Bilbo reminded us in his post today, its the month of everyday blogging. I really need to get my thoughts and time in order for more routine blogging in the remaining three weeks of November.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Slept In!

For the first time in years, I had a bit of a sleep in today. Sort of. Actually, Aaron woke me up at around 6am and I started the day as usual. But, after breakfast and after making his bed, we sat down on his bed to listen to the tape of Brothers Grimm Stories. Thats when I fell asleep. I was asleep for over and hour and he let me! Thats the amazing bit - Aaron actually left me alone to sleep while he went off to do something else.

Recently, Aaron has been 'growing up' a lot and my life has become easier. 'Easier' in the sense that I don't have to watch him every second of the day, be physically carrying him or constantly entertaining him. Obviously, this has been happening continuously for months but I never noticed it as much until recently when I've started imagining endless days that merge into nights with the new baby. That cycle of feeding, putting baby to sleep, changing nappies, and then feeding again is looming for me.

I keep trying to think that every baby is different and that things might be easier this time around since I have done it before but, I know it will have its own set of challenges. Aaron is probably going to be a huge factor in the new challenge too.

Its not all doom and gloom though. I'm just trying to set some realistic expectations for myself. The first time around, I thought it was going to be all about cuteness and had no real idea about the hard work. Although, I'm looking forward again to all the cuteness coming our way. The new baby smell, tiny toes, baby skin, gummy smiles...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A World Of Differences

I went for one of my routine pre-natal visits with the midwife today. It was my third time there and still, I'm amazed at how different the experience is from what goes on in Malaysia.

Firstly, since I'm going through the public system, it was absolutely free. And each visit, my waiting time was no more than 15 minutes (this morning only 5 minutes).

Just over three years ago, when I first got pregnant with Aaron in Kuala Lumpur and went in search of a good obstetrician, I ended up waiting 3 hours or more for a mere 10 minutes with the doctor each time. And, it regularly cost over RM100 per visit. (The public system there is definitely not where you want to be hence the hunt for a doctor.) The majority of doctors there are still very old school in terms of birthing practices with episiotomies still routine and mandatory delivery in the supine position. Thankfully, I did find a doctor that was much more supportive of natural birth and definitely more reasonably priced.

Also, midwives in Malaysia play a very small role. In fact, I only interacted with the midwife during the final 30 mins of labour with Aaron. And she wasn't all that much help even then. I like what I hear from the midwives here so far. They have been very helpful and friendly during the routine visits and supposedly, they stay with you throughout labour and provide a lot of guidance. Imagine that! Well, I'll reserve any more raving about them until after I have the baby but it certainly sounds like a more helpful situation to be in than what I had with Aaron.

The thing that makes me most happy about the system here is the emphasis on breastfeeding and the support around it. Today, I asked if I could have some time with the baby after birth to nurse before they take it away to do whatever, if the baby could be kept with me at all times they need to do and about how much they 'pushed' formula feeding. She just looked at me with what I imagined to be an expression of disbelief over how silly my questions were. She was nice about it though and explained that they will hand over the baby and encourage you to nurse, and the baby stays with mum at all times. They have lactation consultants on hand and also available at no charge for the first month after birth. They were also promoting lots of skin-to-skin contact with the baby. All the things that I had to specifically request when I had Aaron!

Anyway, my experiences with the public health system so far certainly makes me feel better about the taxes I have to pay in Australia. I hope it stays that way....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A New, Old Toy

We're still at the stage of introducing all sorts of 'new' things to Aaron just within the confines of the house here. Even something as mundane as the letter box has been amusing to him because we didn't have one in Palembang. The only problem is that he's starting to get bad tempered about never getting any mail. I've asked Richard to send him a letter and hopefully, it will arrive before he does!

Cassette tapes have also been providing all sorts of enjoyment to him. I never bothered to show him one before because I just don't play them these days. However, I came across some of my old favourites from childhood and he seems to enjoy them too. The two at the corner of the photo below are 'A Maiden's Prayer' (a compilation of famous piano pieces) and 'Brothers Grimm Fairy Stories'. He also likes my old 'Grease' soundtrack and a mixed tape of jazz favourites. The sound on both are still pretty good to me.

The little radio/cd/cassette player has a lot of travel miles under its belt!

My father bought it for my brother about 15 years ago. He bought it in Ipoh, Malaysia and brought it over here to Brisbane. We used it here for awhile and for some reason, accumulated several other variations of it. Eventually, there was only my mother in Brisbane and too many for her to use. So my father took this little guy back to Ipoh. When I moved back to Malaysia and was looking for something that could play tapes, I took it with me to Klang. And when I moved to Palembang, we took it there too. Once again, because of that tape player.

I've always had it in the back of my mind to introduce some of my old tapes to Aaron, thats why I keep lugging this bulky mini compo around. So now, you guessed it! We brought it back here to Brisbane and Aaron is finally fiddling around with it.

Its really cute to watch him use it. I always think of it as old and rough technology and don't really take much care in putting tapes in because they seem so sturdy. For Aaron, its something new and 'precious' and he appears to take so much care in putting the tapes in the right way or turning them around.

So, does anybody else out there still play their old mixed tapes?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Aaron's New Pets

When we got to Brisbane, over a month ago now, my brother gave Aaron an Ant Farm Kit. They tried looking around the house for ants but all we had were bull ants and at that time, my brother thought they were too dangerous for Aaron since they bite.

Well, for the past few days, my father and Aaron have been hunting for ants around the neighborhood but in the end, today, they decided that it was going to be a Bull Ant Farm.

Back in July, I did a Photostory Friday post on ants and had an incredibly fascinating time observing them at work. Now, we can observe them even closer and they truly are very captivating.

I feel a bit bad about 'imprisoning' them this way so maybe we can rotate this batch of ants with another batch in a week or so. I wonder how long they'd last anyway....

I've told Aaron that he needs to give them water and food every two to three days. Lets see how responsible he is :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What a gimmick!

This weekend, we went for the 'Inaugural Thomas & Friends Family Fun Day' - organised by politicians! It certainly was a clever crowd drawer on their part because hundreds of little kids, their parents and grand parents turned up. I didn't see much 'political' stuff there and there weren't any speeches or anything like that. In fact, I'm not really sure what the whole message of the day was which makes me wonder how they are measuring the success of the Thomas gimmick. Although.....I do remember the name of the MP that organised the thing so, maybe that was all he was after.

The bulk of the crowd there were all under six years old! Many were dressed in their 'Thomas' clothes, wearing their 'Thomas' hats and carrying their 'Thomas' backpacks. It wasn't a huge event but I can fully understand that to the target market (and their parents), this was a big day.

They organised for a live sized Thomas to be there. Even though it was a stationary model (that didn't talk, whistle or chug along the tracks), I saw little face after little face light up as they noticed it. The Fat Controller was there for storytelling every 30 mins. They also had a jumping castle and a 'train' that drove around the park.

Aaron got there at 9.30am, 30 mins before it officially started, and we stayed until about 1.30pm. This was way past his nap time and he had woken up extra early at 5.30am so the poor little guy was completely crabby, hot and sweaty by then. The amusing thing was that at around the same time we left, I heard lots of other little kids starting to have breakdowns. Guess they all missed their naps for Thomas. And as we drove out, we saw the next batch of littlies arriving - the after-nap crowd I guess.

Here are a few photos:

This final picture is of the park that the event was held at. I can never get enough of seeing beautiful parks like this after having lived with no parks to go to for so long.