Monday, August 30, 2010

Families Only

I came across an interesting article today about airline travel. It didn't surprise me to read that the majority (68%) of the people who were for this proposal were non parents. The article makes a good suggestion of having people who preferred to sit in the non-family section pay a little extra for that perk.

Personally, I'm undecided on whether I would like a family only section. On the one hand, a section like that would definitely reduce the pressure of traveling with young children. Kids are kids, and rather than saying they misbehave on planes (or other confined spaces), I like to think of them as behaving in a non-conforming way. They're kids and sometimes, its understandable that long, tiring journeys make it hard for them to control themselves. Even adults get grumpy but the difference is that they just know that its not socially acceptable for them to start a screaming tantrum. So, a separate section would have the benefit of having to deal with a child's tantrum without feeling the additional pressure of evil dagger stares from fellow passengers.

However, on the other hand, Aaron and Adrian have so far been very good on planes. Somebody even came up to me at the end of our recent flight from Malaysia to let me know how well behaved they were. So, if we were to be put in the family only section, we might have to put up with other kids that are having a hard time and sometimes, that sort of behavior is contagious amongst kids!

Costs aside, what I think I would like is an entire flight that was modified to be family friendly. I'm talking about a children's movie section, a baby/toddler exploration area, arts and crafts section for older kids, maybe a reading corner and then of course a quiet section for nap time. Oh, and lets not forget a naughty corner for time-outs! Some creativity will be needed to take care of all the safety issues with children not having their seat belts on and running about mid-flight. I don't have the solution yet but its worth pondering upon.

For now, until I have my own airline with the family friendly flights, I guess I'll be sticking to night flights where there is a higher chance of the children being asleep for most of the flight.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gardener's Assistant

Aaron is no stranger to gardening. For those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile, you'll remember me blogging about him helping out in the garden in Palembang. He helped me with the planting and harvesting as well as the weeding and sweeping. The garden in Palembang was about his only playground.

Over here in Brisbane, my father is head gardener of the family and Aaron is his assistant. Its a much bigger area than our tiny strip in Palembang and there is much more to do. Our aim is to be able to eat our own vegetables for most of our meals. Its fun, healthy and somehow, food from the garden seems so much tastier.

Here's Aaron in action, fooling around with the hose that my father was trying to fix. He looks silly but I always make him wear one of my mother's old hats when they're outside. It provides a lot more shade then his little caps. As compensation, I got him those "work boots".

Friday, August 27, 2010

Distractions For An Itchy Nose

Its hayfever time for me here in Brisbane. If memory serves me correctly, August is one of the more windy months of the year and since we're moving in to spring, those winds are sending the pollen everywhere, especially up my nose.

I had forgotten all about how irritating this time of the year can be. All I can think about right now is how itchy my nose is and how I must not touch it anymore or I'll have a peeling, itchy nose tomorrow. That would be irritating AND ugly!

So, to help with the distraction, here's a list of things, from my experience, to do to distract yourself from an itchy nose:

1. Breath slowly, evenly and not too deeply.

2. Eat something. Crunchy things work best.

3. Have a steaming hot shower.

4. Bite on the collar of your T-shirt. (Unsightly but if you're at home, nobody will see you anyway.)

5. Leave your house and go somewhere else indoors. Walking in the mall is good as a distraction and also helps with the blood circulation which in turn seems to help with the itchy nose (and all the other hayfever symptoms in general.) Note: Don't go to a library. Those places make itchy noses itchier.

Alright, so I did all those things today. I also took one of those little hayfever pills but its not working yet. I think its time for me to go rummage for something to chew on. Let me know what you do when hayfever strikes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We'll Just Get Another One

Adrian loves standing. Each time we put him down, he crawls to the nearest support point and pulls himself up. So today, I casually mentioned to Aaron that he'll soon be walking and soon after that, we won't have a cute baby in the house anymore.

His response : "We'll just get another one. A girl one."

He said it in such a matter-of-fact way too. Just imagine the tone that a person would use to say something like "We'll just get more batteries. Energizer ones.". He said it like that! He wasn't kidding or anything. He had his normal face on and may have even returned to his toys after making his statement.

I didn't want to burst his bubble so I didn't say much. I did want to know why he wanted a girl one though. According to him, they are quiet and gentle so they must be nicer to play with. I think he's been listening in on my conversations too much. Oops!

He's such a little cutie. He loves Adrian and I'm sure he would love being big brother to a bunch of other siblings. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I'll survive it. Even with his help :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Curse Of The Bad Sleepers

Yes, it feels like a curse right now. Aaron was a horrible sleeper as a baby and while Adrian scored 100% for sleeping as a newborn, he has gradually dropped to the very bottom of the class. I've come to dread the evenings and nights.

Adrian falls asleep very easily. Its staying asleep that he doesn't know how to do. He doesn't wake to play or feed. He just wakes. For all I know, he could be waking for a cuddle! From the time he goes to bed at around 7.30pm, I attend to him every 30-45 mins until around midnight where he sleeps 2 hour stretches. And, each "attend" can be anything from a 1 minute pat on the back to a 60 minute sobbing session as he tries to go back to sleep. The worst part of it all is that I am the only person that can go in to him. If Richard goes in, he falls apart and its even harder for me to get him to sleep again.

I have seriously been considering "Ferberizing" him. Y'know, the cry-it-out method. I gave a go a couple of months ago but it seemed to halt all of Adrian's development and interaction with us so I stopped. This method just doesn't sit right with me but I am getting desperate.

So far, I have been trying the methods from Elizabeth Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution". There has been minimal crying but no sleep either. *sigh*

Why me? Why me? Why me?

The only consolation I have is that things were like this with Aaron but at this very moment, he is asleep in his bed and will stay that way until 6am tomorrow. He started getting good at around three years of age so I only have another two and a half years to go with Adrian (!!!).

I'm here to remind myself that things felt a lot easier with Aaron once I accepted his sleep patterns. I will still try my best to fix this tiring situation but all I can do is my best. If it remains this way, I'll just have to live through it.

I'll get to sleep day....

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Dichotomy of Mothering Babies

Motherhood is definitely a strange journey. And, those cute little bundles of joy sure know how to drag a mother around on an emotional leash. One minute I'm tearing my hair out and on the verge of tears and the next, I'm laughing hysterically at something either Aaron or Adrian is doing.

I think it is the mothering of a baby that more distinctly brings out the dichotomy of motherhood. Sure, I had the swings of emotions from one end of the spectrum to the opposite with the three year old Aaron last year but nothing as contrasting as now. I guess its the lack of sleep that exaggerates the whole effect.

A thought that has been replaying itself many times over the past month is "Oh no, this is going to be the last time we have a cute little baby in the house." I really think I'm done. No more kids coming out of me. This makes Adrian and all his baby time extremely cherished.


What often happens is that two seconds after I have the above thought, I have the exact opposite. "I can't wait for this baby to grow up so that I don't have to be putting him to sleep/changing his nappy/entertaining him/cleaning up his mess etc".

So, I want them to be babies but I don't.

I started this post in the morning and am only finishing it up now at 8pm. Since the morning, I have been thinking about this dichotomy. I wondered if the awareness of those intense, negatively charged episodes would lesson them or somehow soften them. Yes and No. Maybe a little.

Adrian was incredibly over stimulated and started crying each time I tried to put him to bed. I started getting frustrated each time and just gave up and allowed him to stay up instead. Yes, bad parenting but I was just too lazy to do the work and feel all frustrated and negative. Finally, when I did resolve to put him to sleep, I found that there wasn't all that much frustration. And when he was asleep, I stood there and looked at him, enjoying all the positive emotions instead.

I know that he's going to be up again soon and I'll probably get a little frustrated again but it will pass and then we'll swing to the happy side again.

Back and forth. Up and down. Over and over again.

I'm sure the see-saw effect will lesson as it did with Aaron. After that, I suppose its going to be the teenage years that drive me nuts. those years come with loss of sleep as well?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Typos on Signs

I've never really been a collector of anything but since living in Palembang, I've started taking photos of all the odd signs I come across. I even had all the Indonesian ones printed and put in a photo album just so I can look back and remember the good times we had there.

Anyway, here are three that I came across in Malaysia.

This is a very common mispronunciation in Malaysia. Many people have problems differentiating between the 'L' and the 'R' sounds and the two are often swapped around. Sometimes a "Lorry" is called a "Lolly" and here, you can see that the "Towel" has become a "Tower".

I always wonder if it was the printers who made the typos or the customer ordering the printing that wrote things down incorrectly. So, I guess these people only lend money out on Mondeys.

This one is my favorite from the trip. The top line is in Malay and is correct. I can't read the Chinese but I'm guessing that its correct too. The English line is almost a word-to-word translation of the Malay line. To know exactly where these people are moving to, you'd need to read all three lines since the number is on the Chinese line but the road name is on the English line.

I need to keep my eyes open for some Australian signs to collect...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Milestones For The Boys

Firstly, Aaron Turned Four!

Four years old isn't all that old at all but since the baby arrived, I find myself treating Aaron more and more like a grown up. In a way, I feel like I'm missing all his cuteness as a little boy because I've put all this responsibility of being quiet, helpful and independent on him. I need to cut back on that.

Instead of a birthday party this year, we went to the park for a birthday picnic.

Poor little guy, he's had a post all to himself in previous years but now he has to share. Thankfully he has, so far, been more than willing to share with Adrian. I love it that they love each other so much right now.

Aaron knows very well it was his fourth birthday but he's picked up that silly habit from school of putting two fingers up when taking photos.

Secondly, Tooth Number 1 for Adrian popped up about two weeks ago. Once again, here is a photo that I would have liked to have shown you all while we were still in Ipoh. :

It looks like he's a 'single teether' as opposed to Aaron who had all his teeth erupt in pairs. The not so funny thing is that Adrian seems to have a much harder time teething. He gets the full range of symptoms from fevers to runny noses as well as runny poo. And since he only gets them one at a time its going to last twice as long!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pinang Peranakan Mansion in Penang

We visited the Pinang Peranakan Mansion in Penang back in early July but I never had time to post any of the pictures here. This was definitely a highlight of our trip to Malaysia. It was also during the time that Richard was also visiting so my workload was a lot less!

"Peranakan" is a term used to describe the descendants of Chinese immigrants who married the local women in South East Asia. The immigrants were often rich businessmen who already had wives back in China so, many houses, like the one we visited, were for their second and subsequent wives. In Malaysia, these wives were often Malay so the children usually spoke Malay. However, their immigrant fathers held tight to many of the Chinese customs and they lived by many of the traditional Chinese ways. They had a fascinating culture but it was inherently too chauvinistic to last. Today, Peranakan food and clothing is popular but little of the other characteristics survive. I am of Peranakan descent and enjoy the whole fairytale of that era but am thankful not to be a female confined to the home and forced to do embroidery and cooking all day long. You can read more about the Peranakan culture here.

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion we visited had none of the original furniture remaining but the current owner has decorated it with his own set of antiques. I think the only original items mentioned by the tour guide were the tiles, from somewhere in the UK and the iron poles around the center courtyard, from Glasgow.

This center courtyard originally didn't have a roof over it so that rainwater could be collected. As a tourist attraction, this house has the area covered to protect the furniture that is now in the house. The door you see is the side entrance that is used only by family members. Guests enter from another door that fronts onto the road.

This is the women's room where wives and daughters would chat and play card games while the men sat in a different room. I think the West had this practice too with the women going to the drawing room while the men went to the parlor...or something like that.

The Nyonya women did not have bound feet but this display of shoes (for tiny bound feet) from China was still interesting!

The wooden carvings, painted gold, were shipped from China.

These Peranakan families ate from a different set of plates and bowls each night of the week! And there were special sets for special occasions too.

Opium smoking bed.

I think this was the wedding bed.

And finally, here is the kitchen where the wives supposedly toiled in their beautiful kebayas.

And thats all from the Peranakan Mansion. We spent nearly three hours wondering around this house, trying to feel what it was like if it was our home.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We're finally back in Brisbane. You can't imagine how happy I was to finally step into this house again. Don't get me wrong, I love Ipoh but by the end of the eight week 'break' there, I was completely exhausted. Between the sick children and the terribly un-child friendly house, I felt as if I was operating entirely on will power alone.

Aaron had a wonderful time at the kindergarten and ended up making lots of friends and learning many social skills. Unfortunately, along with all the new songs and games that he brought home each day, he also brought back about a cold a week, a fever every couple of weeks and one round of Hand Foot and Mouth disease. All this was of course shared with Adrian. And you already know that the poor baby cut his finger and had three stitches earlier on in the trip. By the end of the trip, he also lost one toenail, from the HFMD, and right now, it looks as though one of his fingernails is also about to crack off.

Did any of that slow the two boys down? Not one bit! Aaron wasn't much of a problem but Adrian decided that he would start crawling and pulling himself to the standing position. Sometimes, he'd pull up onto a low stool and then push off walking while leaning on it. The Ipoh house was incredibly hard to keep him entertained in. The house has a mini open-air courtyard in the middle of it. Thats where we have the tortoises and some plants. It also happens to be where lazy Amanda keeps the mop and bucket. So, lots of interesting things there to attract a baby. The house is also full of low down hazards; power points, sharp and rusty computer table legs, telephone cables, etc. We did our best to child proof the place but there were still so many things that he had to be pulled back from. The hardest thing about looking after Adrian was keeping him entertained with his boring old toys while there was so much of the house to be explored.

So, after nearly two months of looking after sick but adventurous children, day and night, all that's left is this shell of a mom that needs some serious rest and relaxation. I'm getting some of that now that I have Richard to help out with some things. At least I get to sit here, blogging!

More blogging tomorrow...