Saturday, October 30, 2010

6 Don'ts For Wives

Several days ago, I mentioned that the little book I bought, "Don'ts for Wives", was broken down into twelve chapters. I thought I'd share "Don'ts" from the first six chapters today. I have picked those that I think will have some relevance to wives now.

1. Personalities
Don't despise sound common sense because he doesn't indulge in brilliant inspirations.
Somehow this reminds me of the Tortoise and the Hare story. Not everybody can be flash.

2. How to avoid discord
Don't nag your husband. If he won't carry out your wishes for love of you then he surely won't if you nag him.
This is something I remember from before we were married - I never wanted to be a nag. After 10 years, I do find myself nagging occasionally but I don't think I'm all that bad.

3. Habits
Don't open the door for yourself when your husband is present. He would open it for a lady guest, let him open it for you. Besides, your boys will not learn the little courtesies that count nearly as well by precept as by example.
I'm going to have to get this started in our house. ALL the boys in this house need to learn it.

4. Financial Matters
Don't spend all the best years of your life pinching and saving unnecessarily, until you are too old to get any pleasure out of your money.
Ah, I like this one a lot but its definitely something that I have problems with. I thought people from a hundred years ago would be more into saving all the time.

5. Evenings At Home
Don't let him search the house for you, Listen for his latch-key and meet him at the threshold.
Fiona left a comment mentioning something similar from her religion. Looks like this is one of those universal truths.

6. Jealousy
Don't be jealous of your husband's acquaintance with other women. You don't want him to think you are the nicest woman in the world because he never sees any others, but because he sees plenty, and still feels that you are the only one in the world for him. Have nice girls around the house pretty frequently.
I found it hardest to pick something from this chapter. They all seemed so old fashioned. Even with this one, I'm not so sure about that last sentence.

And there you have it. I've already put #4 into practice today. Better get cracking on the other ones...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lets Be Punctual

Punctuality definitely means a lot to me. I'm proud to say that I am the most punctual person I know. Unfortunately, I seem to have friends and family that are on the other end of the scale. And guess what? It is my No. 1 peeve! It drives me absolutely crazy. The only people I make excuses for are parents with young children - genuinely unexpected happen to them that often require immediate attention.

There are two things worse than a person being late. The first is not letting the other party know they are going to be late. And second, only letting the other party know they will be late at the time that they were supposed to have arrived. That drives me even crazier. Surely, they would have known earlier that they couldn't make it on time.

I think some people are habitually late. And in some places, it is expected that people will be late. In Malaysia, people operate on Malaysian time. Its a sad fact that wedding invitations will always print the start time half an hour before the time they hope to start the celebrations. This is stupid because everybody knows it and only start arriving after that half hour and by the time everybody dribbles in, its an hour after the printed start time. And for people like me who even more stupidly hold to the principle of being punctual, its an annoying one hour of drinking chinese tea and eating peanuts.

In Indonesia, the official term is 'jam karet'. This translates to elastic time. You can just imagine how much of a priority punctuality over there is.

I know I can't change the way people are. All I can do is live by what I believe in and then grumble on the inside when I have to wait. But people, its not that hard to be on time.

First, find out what time you have to be somewhere. Then, list down all the things you need to do before hand and how long they take. Don't forget to include travel time. Once you've added all the time up, add on ten minutes to be on the safe side and work backwards from the time of your appointment. If you get delayed for longer than ten minutes, call to say you're running late. Its simple!

*Sorry for the rant but I was left waiting a little too long today.*

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

He's Growing Too Fast

Adrian has been doing a lot of growing up since the last time I blogged about him.

* Third and fourth teeth cut through last week.

* Pulls up to standing and sometimes forgets to hold on for a few seconds before he lands on his bum again.

* Uses all the chairs in the house as his walker.

* Climbs up on everything he can. He once pushed a footstool to the edge of a low set of drawers, climbed up, grabbed my moisturizer and had a good time taste testing.

* Makes his version of a car noise when he plays with a toy car.

* Starting to really enjoy books but he's gotten a little too excited with some and now they need repairing :(.

* He likes exploring the place with his index finger. He makes the pointing gesture and then creeps it along to feel out things - food scraps, dirt in the sliding door rail, gaps under doors, light switches, the radio tuner, the CD player buttons.....

He's a lot of fun to watch. The one thing that isn't getting any better is his behaving like a puppy. I think I've mentioned before that he puts anything and everything in his mouth. He still has those amber beads on but I'm not sure they're working. Things like this isn't so bad since the shoe hasn't been worn out yet....

But this morning, he really sunk to new lows. I saw him splayed out on the floor, licking it. Initially, I thought he was exploring the grouting between the tiles but when I picked him up, it was (be prepared for grossness here) his own spit up!

Babies must be the masters of balance. How else can someone come across as cute and adorable while at the same time have lots of the eww factor as well?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don'ts For Wives

On a whim, I bought this little pocket sized book after being attracted by that title and reading the preface. It was written by Blanche Ebbutt and published nearly a century ago, in 1913. While there are points in the book that seem a little dated, many of the 'don'ts' are still useful for wives today.

The book is broken down into twelve chapters :

1. Personalities
2. How to avoid discord
3. Habits
4. Financial Matters
5. Evenings At Home
6. Jealousy
7. Recreation
8. Food
9. Dress
10. Entertaining
11. Household Management
12. Children

Sometimes the wordings and the ideas presented do seem old fashioned but when you think about the principles and intentions behind them, they don't need to be labeled with expiry dates at all.

For this post, I'm going to pick a random "Don't". I think I'll organize some of the others over a few other posts in the future.

Don't think its beneath you to put your husband slippers ready for him. On a cold evening, especially, it makes all the difference to his comfort if his soles are warmed through.

When I first stopped working, I sarcastically told a friend that I was staying home to bring my husband his slippers when he got home from work. Of course, I said it with the very thought of it being beneath me and absolutely no intention of doing anything like it. Now, even though I've still not done it (and will need to psych myself up a lot for it), I think it would be a very thoughtful gesture. Richard would be so surprised that he'll probably faint! But you can see how it may seem old fashioned (and maybe some people may argue sexist) but at the same time, its a very sweet and loving thing to do right?

Look out for more "Don'ts for Wives" in the future. There is also a companion book, "Don'ts for Husbands" that I'm planning to get my hands on.

Crash Course in Haute Couture

Anybody who knows me probably knows that I'm not a fashionista and never have been. I've never been a tomboy but at the same time, I've never been into make-up or keeping up with the latest trends for the season. Its not that I don't love beautiful clothes or dressing up. I just never hung out with the kind of crowd that was into those things.

Its never too late to start knowing a little more about fashion though. I do love sewing and haute couture is all about 'high sewing'.

I took my mother to the Valentino Retrospective: Past/Present/Future for her birthday. She's no fashionista either but she has always loved designing and admiring beautiful creations. We got there early, spent about thirty minutes oo-ing and ah-ing at the unimaginably beautiful dresses and then joined the guided tour.

Thats where my crash course in 'Haute Couture' started. First and foremost, I finally learnt how to pronounce those two words correctly. Also, I never would have guessed that an Englishman, Charles Frederick Worth, was the first couturier (another new word) to start the whole haute couture movement in Paris. His fashion house was called the House of Worth. Supposedly, to be genuinely haute couture, the atelier (new word again) needs to be in Paris. However, Valentino is somehow except from this and has his atelier in Rome.

The most awe inspiring piece of information was that to be 'haute couture', the entire dress must be hand made. All those intricate and elaborate gowns - HAND MADE! And, all the accessories have to come from designated haute couture places. For example, all feathers used must be ostrich feathers and have to come from Moulin Rouge.

But, back to the hand made. HAND MADE! Every stitch on those dresses! My mother had to go round all the dresses again after the tour to re-admire them from the hand made perspective. Sequins, beads, flowers, shirring, whatever it was, it had to be done by hand. Take a look at this one - pierced by hand and then pleated by hand. It looked stunning when the model was walking.

My two favorite dresses were from 1969, a black one and a red one. Neither of them were the over the top, super dressy sort. Unfortunately, its really hard to find images of those dresses so, I can't put anything up here. All I know is that the black one was worn by Monica Vitti in a movie called La Notte. The movie was in black and white so, the detail of the dress wasn't coming out anyway. Just trust me, they were simple, elegant and feminine.

I've been thinking about whether I'd like to own any of these dresses and my final answer is 'No'. They're beautiful and I like looking at them but I think that if I somehow got in the league of the 3000 or so women in the world who could actually afford some of these dresses, I still wouldn't want one. I'd be a nervous wreck just putting it on, let alone walking out in it. What if I snagged it on the heel of my shoe? Or accidentally closed the car door on one of those huge skirts? OR, what if I had to go to the bathroom?! Or, for that matter, eat? OR sit? I'd ruin the artwork. No, I think I could handle trying one on, under supervision, in a cleanroom, but I wouldn't want to spend the equivalent of a car on one of them.

Would I like the experience of being part of the creation of one of them? YES. I'm blown away by the beauty of all the dresses but I am even more moved by the work that goes into them.

My mother had a fantastic day and as we were leaving, she said "My eyes are too old to be doing any of that work so I'd be happy just sweeping the floors while these people worked."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Have You Got A Soroban?

We have a new toy in the house. I bought it for Aaron but like so many other things, I think I'm the one that is having all the fun.

Check out our new Soroban ...

A Soroban is actually the Japanese derivation of the Chinese abacus, the Suanpan. I bought the abacus on ebay and actually thought it was a Taiwanese type until I turned to trusty Google to learn how to use one. So, official information now is that the one we own is the Japanese type, referred to as the Soroban. It has one top bead and one bottom bead less than the Chinese one.

I think I got my information mixed up. They do a lot of abacus training in Taiwan but don't actually have their own type of abacus. Where did I hear this from? An eleven year old boy who can do addition, subtraction, division OR multiplication in his head as fast as I can with the calculator.

Five years ago, I taught piano to the most serious eleven year old boy you can imagine. He was the perfect piano student. And then, I found out that he was super with his mental sums. His skills fascinated me and I spent a lot of time competing with him - my calculator against his brain. It was truly amazing. We're not talking about simple two digit operations here. I could give him numbers in the tens of thousands to work with and he would still match my calculator. Can't remember if we went to hundreds of thousands or not. It turns out that he got that good by first training with the abacus. After a few years, he must have developed an abacus in his head that he could manipulate.

I'm not trying to turn Aaron into a math whiz. I just thought this would be a fun way for us to play around with numbers. We've been using cards, and dice and now, the Soroban will be another visual aid for numbers.

I've been playing around a lot with the one that we've got and even though I'm slow, I can see how its use can match a calculator. You can play around with this virtual Soroban to see how the numbers will look like. The first rod on the right is the unit rod, the next is tens, then hundreds, thousands, etc. Go have a look by keying in the digits. Make sure you look at what 5 is because its the pivot point for counting to 10.

If you've taken a look at how to count and if you've got the spare time and are interested, this is how simple addition can be.

112 + 232 = 344

To make 112, start with the third rod from the right. Push 1 bead up. Then, push 1 bead up on the next rod and 2 on the last rod.

Then, starting with the third rod from the right (the one where you should have one bead):
- push 2 beads up
- move to the next rod, push 3 beads up
- move to the next (and last) rod, push 2 beads up.

Now, when you look at the last three rods of the Soroban, you'll have 3, 4 and 4 beads. And thats the answer.

Have I confused you all? Can you see how it can be fun? Imagine the speed that you could get on this thing once you've practiced. (Yes, I know we have calculators these days but I believe this will train your brain to eventually do the math without the actual Soroban) Go get a real one and play around with it. Makes a nice clicking sound when you can go fast.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I'm doing an easy post today.

For the benefit of some of my friends and family that have been asking what clogging is about, here's a video from America's Got Talent. I never watched these guys before until today when I went around looking for some funky clogging clips.

Thats what I'm aiming for. (No, not America's Got Talent!) I want to clog like that! I think I'll give myself three years. I don't think that teacher in her seventies will take me there but there is another teacher that I go to thats much younger. His class is always a bit too advanced for me though. I'm sort of in between at the moment.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pet Tiger

Weeks and weeks ago, we went to an organic market that has sort of exploded into a sort of weekend hangout place for families. You can see that many of these families are the cloth diaper, baby wearing and not necessarily shoe wearing variety. We too are cloth diaper and baby wearing people but I don't agree with not wearing shoes outside.

Anyway, I forgot all about these wonderful photos we took of Aaron.

These were taken just a few weeks ago but as I look at him now, he already looks older. He's aging right before my eyes!

A Multicultural Weekend

We had a huge weekend! Way too busy for my liking but it was packed with things we had to do.

We had to go for a picnic with Richard's classmates on Saturday morning. Although, I did leave early from that because it was a crazy, windy day. Adrian kept burrowing into my chest, trying to find shelter so I decided to go home.

At the picnic, I met people from Africa, Europe, South America and China. With so many interesting people, its no wonder Richard enjoys his classes so much! Whats even more interesting is that many of these people, from parts of the world I may never get to visit, are going to go on from this Masters course in Brisbane, to other countries (not their own) that I'll also probably not visit.

After the picnic, we dropped Aaron to his Chinese class in the afternoon and I had to go for a clogging 'party'. Yes, yes, the 2pm party was attended mainly by seniors but I had a good time. I've come to know many of the other cloggers and they are a fun bunch. I know this one particular lady that is in her mid seventies and still teaching a weekly class. She also choreographs many dances and very often, she uses music of today. For example, one of her latest ones is to Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. How does a lady her age even come to know of Lady Gaga?? And the dance? Well, it is hard and fast! I am full of admiration for that lady. (Another side interesting note about her is that her husband is a Russian that came from China. Imagine that!)

Yesterday, we had to go to the annual Multicultural Festival. We took Aaron there last year and he liked it so much that I'm not kidding you when I say he has been asking us on a monthly basis if it was time for the Multicultural Festival again. So, it was his day yesterday. We watched Japanese Taiko drums, an Indonesian traditional orchestra, Chinese Lion dance, dancing from South America and many other interesting performances. My favorite for the day was at the end when we were watching a Brazilian band. Initially, we were 'watching'. After awhile, Aaron got this strange, sort of shy look about him. He started dancing where he stood. Then he got me to sway a little with him and after awhile, he insisted that I take him to the dance floor. How could I resist? He really went wild there with the Brazilian beat and he isn't usually a dancer. The last time I remember him dancing willingly was when he was about 18 months and watching the Wiggles DVD. He usually prefers to be the drummer or guitarist.

I found the weekend exhausting but at the same time, this is what I live in Brisbane for!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Who is this boy?

I don't know if I should be laughing or crying. Initially, when this happened, I couldn't control myself and laughed. Even when I was giggling, I was thinking "What did I do wrong? Surely this is a 'C' in parenting."

This morning, I insisted that Aaron drink a full glass of water. He doesn't like water. I get that. But everyone needs to learn that there are things that need to be done even if we don't like it. So, I've been making a conscious effort to get him to drink.

Anyway, I was in the kitchen and I saw him walk out onto the deck. He goes to the edge and starts to tip his glass over but stops suddenly. He looks into the house and must have thought that he would be seen too easily. So then, I see him walk carefully down the stairs without spilling the water. I quickly tip toe out and was just in time to see him pour the water out onto the grass. He had such a guilty look on his face and I just couldn't help myself. I laughed.

And then I kinda cried inside. My baby tried to deceive me. My sneaky four year old went behind my back to do something he knew wasn't right.

If he was an adult, sneaky deception like this might translate to fraud! Things like identity theft come to mind. Criminal offenses!!

What did I do? Am I too strict? Have I shown him some example of deception? I actually didn't punish him because I was worried that punishing him might just send the message that he needs to sneak around BETTER in the future so he doesn't get caught.

On some levels, deception is 'ok'. Like, telling somebody they cooked something really nice when it was awful. I think we all do some sort of deception in our lives. Unfortunately, how do you teach a child when it is 'ok' and when it is not? The easiest way is to teach that one person should never deceive another. At least until they strengthen their own moral compass. Yes? No? Maybe?

I'll definitely be paying more attention to what I do (and of course what he does).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Male Brain

I'm reading a very interesting book entitled "The Wonder of Boys" by Michael Gurian. You can probably guess that its a parenting book to give me more insight into how I should treat the two boys. The very first chapter is dedicated to describing the differences in the male and female brain and how this affects behavior and so parenting styles for sons and daughters.

I've read the whole chapter. Its full of interesting facts and I now have more 'excuses' for the way my sons behave. BUT. The one point that stands out the most from this chapter is related to the grown male in my life and not the baby ones.

"Overall, brain research has shown how the female brain is at work in more sections than the male just about all the time.....To use an analogy: the male brain turns on, like a machine, to do its task, then turns off; the female brain is always on."

The male brain has an On/Off switch and I guess sometimes its a little sticky and stays on the 'Off'. Well that answers a lot of questions for me!

This On/Off mechanism is also supposedly the reason why males are not as good at multitasking. Males are very task-oriented, but its one task at a time.

Richard is definitely a one-task-at-a-time man. On the other hand, I am very pedantic about efficiency and I almost think of the various tasks in my days in the form of a Gantt chart.

Something else that will answer many people's questions is this little paragraph:

"Boys and men take in less sensory or "proximal" data than girls and women. They smell less, taste less, get less soothing and input from tactile information, hear less and see less."

Hear less AND see less !!

So that's why he can't find things in the pantry and doesn't respond when I tell him where it is! I keep talking to Richard about what I've been calling "peripheral hearing" and it looks like he has had a valid reason all along for not having any!

At least now I have an answer to my question "Why can't you do like I do?". The next step is accepting it :) I should just think more like a male and just look for the end result. After all, its not my aim to parent my husband.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Parent's Prayer

Ah...after a long day, this prayer seems so apt. I came across it at

A Parent's Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my sanity to keep.
For if some peace I do not find,
I'm pretty sure I'll lose my mind.

I pray I find a little quiet
Far from the daily family riot
May I lie back - not have to think
about what they're stuffing down the sink,
or who they're with, or where they're at
and what they're doing to the cat.

I pray for time all to myself
(did something just fall off a shelf?)

To cuddle in my nice, soft bed
(Oh no, another goldfish - dead!)

Some silent moments for goodness sake
(Did I just hear a window break?)

And that I need not cook or clean -
(well heck, I've got the right to dream)

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my wits about me keep,
But as I look around I know -
I must have lost them long ago!

Somewhere else on that site there was a comment that if you can't get your child's attention, just sit down and look comfortable.

True isn't it. Alternatively, sit in front of the computer. It makes them drop everything and come.

Still, those tiring little energy balls are cute and right now, both of mine are peaceful angels in bed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Time Paper Mache

Aaron and I have been working on our first big-gish crafts project. We've always done little things that took 30 mins but this mask took us three days. So there was a lesson in patience in it as well.

Initially, he was very keen and wanted to do everything. That lasted for about three rounds of the sticking the newspaper on. So, we stopped and then picked it up again later in the day - thats why it took us two days to complete.

Here we are getting our fingers sticky with the tapioca starch glue. When we were kids in Malaysia, I remember calling this 'gum'.

I fully expected him to paint the mask in some dinosaur color but he insisted on pink - because thats the color of humans (according to him).

We used a balloon as our oval mask mould so here he is popping it with a needle. I was a split second too late with the camera.

His intention was to make a scary face mask but I'm not a very good artist and he doesn't have a very steady paint brush yet...Just imagine fierce bushy eyebrows and a big curly mustache.

I think we'll try doing this again and get Richard to help us when it comes to the painting. He's good that all that arty stuff...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Toys and Us

Guess what? Today, for the first time, I walked into Toys 'R' Us here in Brisbane. I've also been to the huge chain a couple of times in Penang, Malaysia but we've never bought anything from there. Today was no different. We went in and Aaron had a good time looking at everything. I did too! I love looking at toys, and can see that there are plenty that I would enjoy playing with. Still, no matter how much I want to grab those toys and rush home, I don't.

One of the most habits we've cultivated since Aaron was born is to never buy any toys for him while he is around. The rationale was that if he was never given the choice of toys or given the experience of going into a store, picking out what he wanted and going home with it, he would never turn into one of those kids that threw tantrums in toy stores when they didn't get what they wanted. It may make us sound like incredibly controlling parents or that we're depriving him of some joy but so far, it has worked. He has never asked, begged, whined or threw a tantrum about buying a toy. He will ask beg and whine about going to a store to look at toys but so far, he just says things like "I wish I could have such-and-such." And, he leaves peacefully once we've looked through everything. If there is something that I think we really want to have in our house, I'll just go back to the store some other time, without him, to get it. At least it gives me the opportunity to decide.

I know, one day he might get wise and just cut to the chase and throw a tantrum for something he wants. Fingers crossed that it won't happen.

So of course, we're going to try to do the same with Adrian. In fact, after having some experience with Aaron and watching Adrian play so far, I haven't even gotten him any toys. I did get quite a few teething toys but that was a mistake.

I believe that babies play with everything in their environment. And from what I've seen, they're going to treat a Fisher Price toy the same way as they treat and old ice cream container with a few little bottles inside. Everything is about exploration - pick it up, turn it over, give it a lick, shake it, repeat several times and move on to the next item. I am tempted to buy him things but I think I'll hold off for a few months. He has all of Aaron's early days collection to play with for now.

Having said all that, Christmas is barely two months away and I have my eye on a few items that I can't wait to get. I really do enjoy playing with the new toys as much as Aaron does.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How did I become this mother?

I visited three schools and rang up another one today because I've recently added a new worry to my list - Which school to go to? BIG QUESTION for me at the moment even though Aaron is still a little guy.

I don't know what it is. Maybe its because I'm Chinese. I understand that play and socializing is important but at the same time, I want him to also do the serious learning. Y'know, stuff like reading, writing and arithmetic. (Yes, now, when he's four years old.) One of the great things about having nowhere to go in Palembang was that I got to spend a lot of time doing stuff with Aaron. We played a lot but we also read a lot and did a lot of pencil and paper work. I want a school that will do that with him - Play and Learn.

Of the four schools I checked on today, two were Catholic primary schools, one a state school and another a Montessori school. None of them were bad, but none of them stood out either. In fact, they were so 'bland' that I came home and looked up 'homeschooling'.

I'm chiding myself now. It shouldn't be such a big deal. He's only going into Prep in 2012. Thats a preparatory year for Grade one in 2013. But then again, I would feel a lot better knowing that somebody will be paying attention to his particular needs. I don't want to find out that they're trying to teach him his ABCs a year from now when he's already reading at the moment.

Anyway, I don't have any answers yet. They don't even tell you if you have a place at these schools until sometime next year. They're going to keep me in suspense...keep me browsing the homeschooling website.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Domestic Duties Made Easier

Last month, I mentioned not liking being called a housewife or a homemaker. Bilbo suggested I just call myself a domestic engineer. Well, in true engineering fashion, I do try to do things like improve efficiency and cut down time.

I came across this book, "1001 Little Housekeeping Miracles" and borrowed it for a few laughs. It turned out to be a very helpful book. I knew of a few of the tips but there are probably another 990 that I didn't know about. Here are a few random ones for today's post:

The Kitchen
- Vinegar Descaler: Cover the element of your kettle with a solution of half cold water, half distilled vinegar. Leave for a couple of hours then rinse.

- Stain Free Tupperware: Tupperware stains can be bleached out by strong sunlight. Put containers in the garden and leave for several hours.

The Bathroom
- Cola Cleaner: Toilet bowls come up shiny when cleaned with old flat cola. Pour a can into the bowl then leave at least an hour and flush - lime-scale dissolves easily.

- Mirror miracle: Make up a solution of equal parts of vinegar and water. Wearing rubber gloves use old newspapers to wipe the surface of the mirror with the mix. Add extra shine by rubbing with a clean blackboard eraser.

Children's Rooms
- Bread Line: Although it sounds obvious, most pencil marks can be removed with a white eraser. Alternatively, press a piece of fresh bread into a wall stain to extract it.

- Pristine Prams: Clean buggies and prams with a sprinkling of baking soda on a damp paper towel. Wipe down and rinse with warm water. More persistent marks can be removed with the suds (not water) from a solution of washing up liquid.

Try them out and let me know. The only one I have tried is the Vinegar descaler and the mirror miracle and they worked.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Free Range Kids!

I'm sure you've all heard of free range chickens and eggs. But, for the first time a few nights ago, I heard the term 'Free Range Kids'. This is actually the title of a book by Lenore Skenazy. She also has a blog and you can visit it here. The term 'Free Range' is used in the context of common sense parenting in a world that is often overprotective. I haven't read the book yet but it does sound very interesting. The author was in Australia last week and I watched an interview with her. Supposedly, she was called America's worst mom last year for allowing her 9 year old son to catch the subway on his own.

'Free Range' probably also mean being raised the way my parents were raised. I must admit that the stories my mother tells of her childhood sound a little harsh at times but more often, it sounded like she had lots of fun and all the freedom in the world as long as she was home by dinner time. So, there was freedom, hence independence, with boundaries.

My own childhood seemed to have a little freedom but more boundaries. The youngest I remember going about by myself was when I was about 9 years old. I remember walking to my piano lessons which were a ten minute walk away. It wasn't far but there was a very busy road to cross and I remember always being nervous about it. When I was eleven, we moved to Brisbane and I caught the train to school each day. However, there was no stopping by anywhere else. Just straight to school and back again. This was the case until I finished high school. I remember that it was also very hard to convince my mother to let me spend the night at any of my friend's houses.

I can't remember if we were ever very interested in what went on in the kitchen but I don't think we were allowed to do any cooking until I was about twelve! My parents did put my brother and I on a plane by ourselves when I was twelve and he was nine. No big deal as the flight attendants look after us the whole way.

Obviously, I don't have all that must experience in the free range style of parenting yet. Or maybe I've automatically moved into the helicopter parenting mode. I do think that I allow Aaron a certain about of freedom for his age. Since he was three, he's been allowed to be out in the garden by himself. I don't hover over him but I am constantly watching him from inside. Since Adrian was born, I've had no choice but to let him spend a lot more time by himself and he's free to go in and out of the house. However, he's not allowed to play in the front of the house.

During my parent's childhoods, they had no TV, no internet and no constant stream of news about the bad bad people out there. During her interview on TV here, Lenore Skenazy said something like crime rates were actually dropping or the world being more dangerous in the past except that there wasn't a constant stream of news back then. That may be true, but its also true that we are so much more aware of the gruesome things that have happened to a few unfortunate kids today. In her website, she says parents today are swimming in 'fear soup' and she's right. I know I am. I want to allow Aaron and Adrian some freedom but at the same time, I have things like the image of a map of Queensland dotted with all the locations of known pedophiles in my mind.

I like the sound of this 'Free Range Movement' and I'm going to try to get my hands on that book but I think I'm still going to be a little on the protective side. Having said that, while Aaron and Adrian are still within the boundaries of this house, I can at least feel that I'm giving them some freedom by not putting either of them in a play pen or putting up any safety gates so far. Don't worry, they're still safe, I just allow them to explore the entire house.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Workshops Rail Museum

We went to a very very cool museum yesterday, The Workshops Rail Museum. The museum is in Ipswich, a city about 40 minutes from Brisbane. The site was originally the Queensland Rail's workshops and has been there since the 1880s. Now, a portion of the place is part of the Queensland Museum and houses all the different trains that have been in Queensland. The remaining areas are still used by Queensland Rail to overhaul the old steam trains. They also still manufacture some of the tools that are used by the railways today.

This school holidays, the museum setup some activities based on "The Great Train Robbery". During one of the shows, Aaron stuck his hand up when volunteers were asked for and he ended up being the robber.

They were both very ineffective and dazed looking robbers!

I liked this display a lot. Maybe its because it has the old sign from 'our' station here.

For me, the most interesting part of the day was the tour of the blacksmith's shop.

The shop has been there since the 1880s but I'm sure they didn't have women working there back then. The person holding on to the red hot steel is a very tough looking woman.

For those of you familiar with the Thomas and Friends characters, here are a few photos of the trains I think they were modeled after.

Thomas himself. Unfortunately, we couldn't step over the yellow line to take a photo from the other side.


These two aren't trains, but here are Trevor and George. Aren't they cute?

The visit to this museum was so enjoyable because it was catered to children yet still had plenty to keep the parents interested. Its a perfect place for families to spend the day. We enjoyed it so much that by the end of our visit, we upgraded our tickets to an annual membership. They have Thomas and his friends coming during the Christmas so we'll definitely be back.