Friday, April 30, 2010

Still Around 30

I had an action packed birthday at SeaWorld yesterday. Years and years and years ago, I used to wish my parents would take me to places like SeaWorld for my birthday. Well, that never happened since my birthday is right in the middle of Term 2 of any school year.

So this year, I said I wanted to spend the day there. Of course I've been there before and it definitely doesn't provide the same thrills as it did twenty five years ago but I wanted to go because of Aaron. Its such a cliche to say this but the energy and excitement that he let out yesterday was one of the greatest gifts I could have received. Five birthdays ago, I would never have imagined myself feeling that there was nothing better to receive for one's birthday than an indulgent day with my son.

He was the perfect kid all day. No complaints when we waited for the shows, no frustrations while we waited in line for rides and no whinging during the car trip there and back. WOW!!! We took him on a couple of the non-kiddy rides which would definitely have been scary for a little guy but he liked it. I wish we had a photo of him coming down the Flume ride but the camera battery was flat.

Age is definitely just a number but I still prefer to be 'around 30' instead of 'around 40'. So for rounding purposes I'm glad I'm still 'around 30' but the thought of being 'mid 30s' will definitely take a little getting used to.

I got a whole lot of birthday wishes that I'm excited to go respond to now. Most of it came via email and Facebook but I also had two pleasant surprises in the mail. Snail mail and parcels aren't dead after all...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Life Cycles

When we first moved here, the neighborhood was full of families and older people. The families have grown up, moved away and many of their houses have been torn down and apartment blocks built in their place. And the older people, well, they've also moved on.

So now, we're the only house in our street. There doesn't seem to be many families with children living here now. Most of the apartments appear to be occupied by young singles or couples without kids. The cyclical nature of neighborhoods is definitely apparent here.

The life of a mother to young kids means that I'm home on all Saturday nights. I'm not really a busy body but I do like observing my neighbors and their habits. Its inevitable since the back of our house looks into the living rooms of eight other homes.

This weekend was the ANZAC Day long weekend. And, one of our neighbors had a party on Saturday night. In fact, since we moved back in September, this particular neighbor has had a party on every single public holiday eve so far - Christmas, New Year, Easter and now ANZAC day. The only one that he skipped was Good Friday. This isn't a post complaining about other people's parties.

Its about cycles. The neighborhood is obviously going through the cycle of having younger people, younger families, families and then older people...something like that.

Richard asked me a simple question that made me think of another cycle:

"When was the last time you went to a party?"

I've been to a few parties recently. There was a friend's daughter's first birthday, Aaron's third birthday, another first birthday and my own birthday. Not exactly the types of parties Richard was referring to. And to answer his real question, I would have to say 2005.

I think I'm feeling a tiny bit bummed that I've come full circle with parties. The first one I ever went to was my own first birthday and now, I'm back to attending kiddy parties again. Somewhere in the middle, we had those great parties that my neighbor seems to be enjoying right now. Parties that only start at 10pm and went all the way to tomorrow. The kind with lots of people, lots of music, lots of drinks, LOTS OF CAREFREE FUN looking out for nobody else except myself.

I do see some light at the end of the tunnel because my parents seem to be going to a lot of fun parties, no longer with their kids in tow. And not the day time type of party either. For now, we'll have other kinds of fun with Aaron and Adrian as they start their Party Life Cycles.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hey! What Happened?

Aaron is baby #1. That meant that I only had him to look after and I had my eyes on him all the time. I also had my camera on him so often that I actually have a video of the very first time he rolled over from his tummy to his back.

Adrian, baby #2. No less loved, but definitely less looked at (thats looked AT, not looked AFTER) and less photographed. Hey, my attention is divided now. And not just by two either.

Anyhow, I was out harvesting some of our okra when I heard Aaron yelling for me to come back. I had left Aaron to his lunch and Adrian on the floor, playing contentedly.

When I got in, Aaron was pointing at Adrian and shouting "Look! Look!". I took a quick look at the baby. He looked fine. Not hurt. Not crying. Whats the problem?

So I look back to Aaron, "What?"

And he says, extremely proudly and excitedly "Adrian rolled over! I saw him!".

D'oh! How did I miss that? He was having some tummy time when I left and now he was face up! Not only did I miss the actual roll over, I didn't even realize it when I saw him face up.

The best I could do was capture the moment immediately after the first roll over. He just looked so dazed....

Don't worry, I didn't put him on top of a sarong over the hard, tiled floor. Its actually a sarong, over a yoga mat, on top of the tiled floor.

This reminded me of a story that Mike left me about subsequent children:
First kid - Pacifier hits the floor. Mother grabs it and boils it in hot water to sterilize it.

Second kid - Mother picks up pacifier of the floor, wipes it off and gives it back to kid.

Third kid - Mother takes pacifier out of dogs mouth and sticks it back in kids mouth.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back In The Swing Of Reading


(turn page)


(turn page)


Anybody know where those words come from? I call them the 'Peter and Jane' books, because they are all about Peter and Jane (and sometimes their dog, Pat). I still see them around these days but I have no desire to introduce them to Aaron. They were what my mother used to teach us to read but they were dull. There are plenty of other more interesting books available to us now.

I didn't like that series of books but once I got the hang of reading, I read all day long. I have a very distinct memory of a beach holiday with my family where I spent almost the entire time reading. The particular book was literally the size of a phone book!

When we moved to Brisbane (the first time), I got my first taste of libraries. My mother doesn't believe in buying books so the library was like heaven for me. My library card was always maxed out! I read before, after and in between classes at school. Each evening, I'd rush through my homework so that I could get to the real reading. Later at night, I would read in the bathroom so that my mother wouldn't know that I was still awake, and reading.

And then I moved back to Malaysia and there was no more reading.

There aren't any libraries worth going to there. And bookstores? Well, lets just say my mother did a good job brainwashing us with the notion that it was a waste of money to pay money for books when there were libraries. Yes, I know there were no libraries in Malaysia but I was completely brainwashed. The funny thing was that she ended up buying me the odd book now and then.

When we were in Palembang, I started buying books again. Not for me but for Aaron because I felt that we spent so much time in the house that we absolutely needed our own library. So, he's got a mini library.

And now, I've returned to the good old days of reading at every spare moment (apart from when I blog). We go to the library nearly twice a week so between Aaron and I, the house is dotted with books.

So what have I read lately? Usually, I look out for books on babies and young children. So far, two parenting authors that I've really liked are Elizabeth Pantley and Dr William Sears. Yesterday I borrowed "Family First" by Dr Phil McGraw...we'll see how that goes.

I also go for a lot of the cooking books and books on nutrition. Craft books also frequently catch my eye although I never actually find the time to make anything. Its still nice to look through and feel briefly inspired.

In the past, I usually zoomed in on the fiction section first. Twenty years later I now try to limit myself to just one book of fiction a week so that my already scarce reading time can be used for other types of books. So last week, I went for the very mainstream with "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown. I enjoyed it but I think I might have built up too much expectation for it after having waiting so long to get my hands on a copy.

I've made it a goal each week to borrow a book on a topic that I wouldn't usually pick. It doesn't matter if I don't end up enjoying it, at least it helps open my mind. This week I picked up PaintShop Pro for Dummies. I wonder how far I'll get with that...

The library is the most wonderful place on earth with books on every topic imaginable. Here's a cute little poem on it.

I've traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I've been where no-one's been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books.
~ Anonymous ~

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


As a mother of two boys, the question I'm asked most is "Are you going to try for a girl?" All my friends, and plenty of new people I meet, have the idea that firstly, girls are preferable to boys because they're easier to look after (and shop for) and secondly, if you don't have a daughter yet, you have to try to get one.

I often feel like telling people that its rude to disregard Adrian in that way but I don't. I'm not that kind of person. In my mind, I've sometimes thought that if I was the wife or even the mistress of a king somewhere, two boys would certainly make me one of the favorites. I would be celebrated for having not one but TWO sons. Etc, etc, etc...Its no big deal. I love my boys and actually have no yearning to have a girl.

Over the weekend, I read about the reverse preference in some developing countries (countries where I would be envied). "The Weekend Australian Magazine" described a practice in India where the bill for an ultrasound is delivered in either a pink or blue envelope. This is the workaround to finding out gender because it is illegal to do so. In many cases, a pink envelope leads to a trip to an abortion clinic where the operation will be justified as a "feotal abnormality". Supposedly there are already 24 million more boys than girls in India because of the notion that sons will maintain the family line and can support their parents in old age. Well, that isn't going to happen if these boys can't eventually find a girl to marry!

Of course, a similar situation is happening in China. Its estimated that by 2020, up to 25 million men of marrying age could find themselves without a partner.

I haven't done the math so I don't know if the impact of these millions would make a dent to a population of one billion. But, having a cute three month old to play with everyday, I can't help thinking how sad this all is.

I'll be honest and admit that there was a split second of disappointment when I found out we were having another boy. I couldn't help it, there was just so much talk of a girl by family and friends. There certainly are no regrets now and I doubt anybody gives a thought to whether the child is a girl or boy when they hold their baby for the first time in the delivery room. They are just cute little (androgynous looking) babies! Its impossible to wish they were anything else.

I know life is different for people of various cultures but babies are babies. No matter how you look at it, its just wrong to abort because of gender.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

We Need Immunity !!

Its not even winter yet and we've already had 9 colds in this household. I'm not proud of these statistics.

The first round started with Aaron who passed it to Richard, who then passed it back to Aaron who passed it to Richard AGAIN. By then, my army of antibodies must have gotten tired of fighting all those germs because I finally got it and eventually, so did the baby. That round robin lasted about 3 weeks.

We've been clear for 2 weeks but it has started again.

The culprit is Aaron again, who then passed it to Richard. This time, I only lasted two days and now I think I'm getting it and so is the baby. *sigh*

What is it with all of us? We're a family who eats healthy, doesn't go out to the crowds all that often and who spends a huge chunk of the monthly budget on supplements. What are we doing wrong?

Maybe we're not strict enough with Aaron's hand washing. He's the one that has bringing the bugs home. And Richard and I .... well ... I don't know. Maybe we aren't getting enough sleep. Maybe we need to wash our hands more. Adrian doesn't stand a chance does he? At least he'll be building his immunity with all the germs floating around here.

So from now on there will be a lot of hand washing. I'm adding more garlic into our cooking. I think I'll change the supplements we're currently taking. Then its complete isolation for whoever sneezes. That person definitely will not be riding in cars with anybody else. Something needs to be done about these crazy colds!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Gray Hair Facts

Richard has this awful, awful habit:

We'll be out shopping or something and he'll announce loudly "Hey I see a gray hair! Want me to get it?". He will then proceed to fiddle with my hair, trying to isolate the offending strand and then yanks it out, feeling very pleased with himself. To my dismay, and great embarrassment, this has happened several times while we're on escalators. I usually try to tell him not to do it but he never gets the idea fast enough and I don't want to create too much of a scene and draw even more attention to myself!

The other day, Richard says "Hey! I see a gray hair! No, two. Three. Four. FIVE!!!" Before he could do anything, I walked away. Last night, I finally decided to try to see just where those five strands were. I found MORE than five (and of course yanked them all out). Things are looking 'normal' again but it got me thinking that 'normal' will soon be white and gray strands standing out against my black hair. Supposedly, the average age that men start turning gray 30 and women, 35. I only have another year to the official average age.

So here's what I found out about gray hair:

- Hair is originally white.

- Melanocytes are cells in our hair follicles that generate pigments called melanin. This gives our hair its colour. The more melanin the darker the hair color.

- As we age, the melanocytes produce less melanin making the hair transparent. It is this transparency against the healthier, darker hair that gives the appearance of 'gray' hair. (Does this mean that light haired people will go gray later since their hair colour requires less melanin? That isn't fair!)

- Its false that if you pluck one gray hair, two more will grow back.

- Gray hair can also be the result of a medical condition. If you are deficient in B12 or suffer from a thyroid imbalance it can also cause your hair to go Gray.

- Smokers are 4 times more likely to have gray hair than nonsmokers and smoking has been conclusively linked to accelerated hair loss.

Supposedly, the way you go gray is hereditary. I think my grandmother had almost all gray hair by the time she was forty. I also remember my mother coloring her hair at home from around forty so I guess it won't be long now. At least gray hair is better than no hair.