Thursday, December 22, 2011

Are we on holidays yet?

This week has been managed to be simultaneously slow and hectic. Slow because everyone is in the holiday mood and mode but the real holidays aren't quite here yet. There is this feeling of prolonged anticipation around us. And amidst all that, I seem to have had a constant stream of things to do to get ready for our trip back to Ipoh, Malaysia tomorrow.  Multiple trips to the shops, packing and unpacking, planning what food to bring and of course how to keep the two boys entertained for nearly 12 hours.

I think I've got everything. We leave at 5.30am tomorrow and that means that there won't be any time for last minute re-packing. I used to think that as long as I had my passport, tickets and a credit card with me, all the rest won't matter. Obviously, thats not the case anymore.

My next post will probably be sometime in the new year. And, I'll have to work much harder to make my blogging more frequent otherwise there won't be a blog (or readers!) to talk about by the end of 2012.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

He Rides!

It has been awhile since Aaron has hit any major milestones. When he was still a teeny baby, I did start off tracking baby milestones in a notebook but that practice was abandoned soon after he rolled over for the first time. And after he started doing the basic things like walking, talking and going to the bathroom by himself, I not only didn't write them down, I probably also stopped thinking in terms of 'milestones' for him. I'm a little ashamed to say that much of my record of his life is right here on this blog. 


Anyway, its time for another 'milestone' to be recorded here. Aaron is finally riding a bike! This has taken longer than I expected. I started teaching him in September 2009. Thats over two years ago! Perhaps its another one of those things that they'll do when they're ready. Previously, he insisted on leaving the trainer wheels on all the time. He finally outgrew that first bike I got him and when we got him a flashy new Lightning McQueen bike, I said it didn't come with any trainer wheels. 


I think this accomplishment deserves more than just a photo. Here's a video instead...


video


Richard and I got our exercise by taking turns jogging next to him around that oval. Maybe next time we'll be able to sit back and relax. Oh wait.... there's still Adrian. 


Here is a final photo. Is it just me or do you also see a proud look of satisfaction on his face?



I wonder if this blog will still be around when he starts driving...





Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Definitely Feeling Like Christmas

Saturday to Tuesday was a blur to me. I met up with four different sets of people and attended two Christmas parties. I dragged Aaron and Adrian from an hour south of Brisbane to an hour north of Brisbane and they were very patient with it all. We're all definitely in the Christmas mood now. I almost want to put up a Christmas tree. 'Almost' being the key word there. It might seem a bit lazy of me but I just don't think its worth it since we won't actually be here for Christmas and no presents are going to be put under it. 

To make up for the lack of a Christmas tree, we have all day long Christmas carols instead. Don't groan. Its a good thing! I love them and this year, I've even learnt a couple of new ones. Aaron and Adrian will be well prepared to impress the grandparents with their singing - if they can control the dinosaur roars that they like to throw in every once in awhile. 

Aaron has had me secretly laughing each time we go to a shopping mall because he gets very excited about all the decoration. He walks around looking and admiring it all while loudly exclaiming "Wow!" and "Look at that Mama. Isn't it beautiful?". I love the innocence and awe that he has. I've grown cynical and the decorations sometimes look very tacky to me (plus, its the same ones that they put up each year)  but to him they appear magical.  

Strangely, he does not get excited at the prospect of sitting on Santa's knee. He said to me "That can't be the real Santa. The real one is in the North Pole." At least I know that he thinks Santa is real but there are fake ones about to trick little kids in shopping malls. Real or fake, he still went up to have a chat with one of them.


And here is Adrian, trying out to be a reindeer. He just goes along with whatever Aaron is finding exciting. I don't think Christmas has any special meaning to him yet. 



So from reindeer, lets move on to penguins. I had never heard this Christmas song until about a week ago and its become my latest favourite. Its called "Penguin, James Penguin" - very cute! I couldn't find an original clip of  Brad Paisley singing it but if you search on YouTube, there are a couple of other cute versions like this.
...

But I've got another story
That I bet you haven't heard
Did you know that Santa
Has a secret agent bird

He's Penguin, James Penguin
That dapper little guy
Like a well dressed duck in a three piece tux
He's Santa's secret spy

From an undisclosed location
He's watching me and you
He's got satellite uplinks in his cufflinks
Yeah he sees everything you do

Not so very long ago
Santa didn't need much help
But with more and more kids every year
He soon got overwhelmed
He told the elves one Christmas
We can't do this anymore
Then a knight in shining polyester
Waddled through his door

And it was Penguin, James Penguin
He was there to save the day
He had wireless
And GPS outfitted on the sleigh

And Santa said Penguin
Won't you be my ears and eyes
How'd you like to help me run
My SCFBI

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All I Want For Christmas

Honestly, right now, all I want for Christmas is to have my Christmas shopping done! I started looking around for gifts nearly two weeks ago. I had my list but I probably only checked it once because since then, I've bought at least seven gifts but only two names on my original list have been crossed off! We'll be heading back to Malaysia for a big extended family Christmas. Everyone will be there and I don't want anybody to miss out on a gift. It is absolutely true that the joy at Christmas comes from giving a gift - I love that part of it. Its the acquisition of the gift that is giving me a headache right now. 


On top of Christmas, we've got Adrian's birthday two days later and then Richard's birthday eight days after that! Those dates only occurred to me as I started this post. MORE GIFTS REQUIRED!


So, as I go off to do some virtual window shopping in preparation from some actual leg work this afternoon, let me leave you with some Christmas jokes for kids. Aaron is at the stage of telling some very bad kids jokes so maybe I can add these to his repertoire. And maybe some of you can go impress a little kid with a joke they can appreciate.




1. Which of Santas reindeer has bad manners? - Rude-alph


2. What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? - Tinselitus


3. What is the best Christmas present in the world? - A broken drum - you cant beat it


4. What did the cow say on Christmas morning? - Moo-ry Christmas


5. What do monkeys sing at Christmas? Jungle bells, jungle bells! 


Yes, I know these jokes are a little sad, but trust me, the kids will love them!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Latest In My Sewing Adventures

I mentioned in the last post that I have been quite distracted recently. Well, here are two of the reasons why...






The flat front shorts for Aaron were completed a little while ago but I never got around to putting a photo here. I thought the print of the material would immediately draw Aaron to the shorts but he's complaining that they are too light. Whats that supposed to mean? Its summer! I told him to wear thicker underwear then he wouldn't notice the shorts as much. 


I copied the pattern of the little overalls from one of Adrian's existing outfits and just made it bigger. Adrian likes his outfit and wants to put it on each time he happens to see it. He even says "Mama made it!".


I'm proud of both of these sewing accomplishments. Both have been finished very neatly on the inside and everything is precise. 


I have several other unfinished projects just waiting to be completed before Christmas. Big ideas, big plans but poor time management so far has seen only two of them get done. There is a Spinosaurus still waiting to be 'embroidered', a pirate ship that is still in the conceptual stage and then there are the clothes that I want to make for myself. Some of the things I had planned were with Christmas type material so they HAVE to get done in the next couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Driven To Distraction

Yes, I have been very distracted over the past couple of weeks and haven't settled down long enough to blog. But then something happened last night and I got a super dose of distraction that has bumped me right back into the blogging zone.

You see this...



...this is not a cute face. Geckos are not cute. They, and frogs/toads, are what make me scream and jump sky high. Anyway, this was the closest image I could find of the view I had of a gecko last night. Also, it wasn't green but the creepier looking colorless variety. See here...


Oh AND, it didn't have a tail.

So, last night, after clogging, I went to my car, sat down and started the engine. As I started to drive, I see something flip flopping around my windscreen. Thought it was some dead leaves. But no....the thing kept flipping over and eventually, it got a good grip of the area right at my eye level - where I need to look out at the road. EEK! No, I didn't say that but I made some other noises that I just can't spell here. Sounded like a cross between a scream, a squirmy sound and a gasp.

This gecko held on there with its sticky feet and stared at me. I could see its black eyes and its stumpy fallen off tail area. Every so often, it would get flipped over but it always managed to right itself and get back to looking me in the eyes. Its eyes were huge and it looked like it was trying to communicate with me - "Please stop the car!" How was I supposed to concentrate on driving?

I didn't stop the car. I tried to speed up whenever I could but it stayed for almost the whole way home. Then it got flipped to the roof area and I thought I saw it fall down again to that area at the bottom of the windscreen with the holes that lead to the engine.

I couldn't be sure of where it was. If it was on the roof, how would I get out of the car? It might fall on me when I opened the door. If it went into those holes, it might work its way into the A/C ducting and then crawl in to the interior of the car some day. What can I do? I have spent today exiting the car quickly and looking around carefully before getting in.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Personal Petting Zoo

On the weekend, we went to visit one of our clogging friends, John. He moved here from Yorkshire, England in the 1960s but still has a very strong accent. He is an extremely funny man once you figure out what he's saying. My father doesn't have an overly strong Malaysian accent when he is in Australia but sometimes, John can't understand him. They often end up asking each other to speak English! 

Each week, John brings fresh, free range, organic eggs to clogging class to sell and we always get some. He told us that he's got chickens, ducks, geese and 'a few other animals'. And, he has often invited us to take Aaron and Adrian there to look at the animals. 


When we got there, we were amazed at the variety of pets he had. When I asked him how he started this huge collection of animals, he explained that he grew up on a farm and its just part of him. Some of these animals were purchased by him but others were given to him by other people that just couldn't look after them anymore. 


The first 'wow' moment came when we drove through the gates and saw that he had several alpaca lazing around in the shade. Supposedly, they are the least affectionate of all his animals and actually spit at people. One of them did try doing that but thankfully, it only managed a sort of dry spitting noise. Phew! I thought they looked a little strange because their necks appeared to be the same length as their legs.This baby one was the cutest.




As he brought out the food to feed the animals, several little ponies trotted up. They were Aaron's favourite. 




As if the ponies weren't enough of a surprise, eighteen deer suddenly come out from behind a shed. They were very nervous to see us and stayed away most of the time but they were beautiful, my favorite. This isn't a great photo of the deer but it shows you part of John's property. I like all the space and all the old farm equipment that he has used to 'decorate' the place with. 




Apart from these, he also had peacocks, goats and turkeys. All the animals were well cared for and, as he puts it 'half human'. He had a sort of 'best buddies' relationship with them all, including one particular chicken that would obey his commands. The goat couldn't get enough of his petting and just stayed by him the whole time we were there. 


It was wonderful to be as delighted as my children were to see all these animals. Its not that I haven't seen them before but I did not expect to see them here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

'IM' in My Life

Does anybody else remember IRC-ing with cyan font on a black screen? The black screen in front of a huge, bulky monitor? 


I know my first taste of IRC was in the computer lab in my first year of university. My nick was 'Forever' and I somehow found myself an IRC friend called 'Endlessly'. I had no idea at all who this person was and of course no way of knowing if whatever he/she said was true but we IRC-ed every single day, for hours. This person was a buddy! Eventually, I started chatting with my real life friends as well. And now, much older, I definitely don't chat with anybody that I don't know in the real world. 


I don't know about other stay-at-home moms but Instant Messaging is my best friend. Some days, its the only form of adult conversation I have. I don't do Facebook or Twitter and blogging is for other reasons so IM is where I go to virtually hang out with my friends. There are a few that I chat with on a daily basis and then a range of them that I check in on every once in awhile when I feel like having the 'Its been awhile, what have you been up to' type of conversation. 


My 'Daily Friends' are all overseas but its as if they are in the house with me. Its easy to have an easy conversation about nothing or a more meaningful one about the stresses of the day. I like to be able to provide some sort of support and a 'listening ear' (or at least a responsive IM screen) to my friends as well. And its also nice when they give me a little encouragement for my day.


Just the other day, I had Aaron and Adrian making a mess of the place while I was trying to get dinner ready. An old friend was online and telling me jokes that I would go read in between cutting up the carrots and celery. It was as if he was right there in the kitchen with me, lightening up a stressful, end of day, situation. 


What I don't do is a video chat. That would just put the stress straight back into my life. I would have to look good. The background would need to be presentable. And, I can't be shoving the kids away when I want those few extra minutes of chatting. Come to think of it, I don't like using the voice function either. I just like the flexibility that typing my words gives me. 


So, thank you to whoever it is that invented IM-ing. It supposedly pre-dates the internet but I don't have time to do thorough research for that name now. What I can tell you is that, according to Wikipedia, a man named Alexander 'Sandy' Trevor created the first dedicated online chat service in 1980. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shipards Herb Farm

For those of you that have been faithfully following my increasingly sporadic blogging here, you'll know that Aaron has been having a lot of ulcers on his tongue. After many visits to the pediatricians and multiple blood tests, they still have no 'answer' for me. In fact, they are giving me the "some people are just that way" line. 


Well, we're not going to give up so easily. According to the 'schedule' that his ulcers seem to follow, Aaron should be getting them anytime this week. So last week, we took a drive to Nambour to visit Shipards Herb Farm. It looks messy but there were hundreds of herbs there. This photo shows the area for visiters to walk around. 




Here's a photo of the rest of the farm that was off limits to visitors. 



Isabell Shipard is supposedly Australia's most knowledgeable person on herbs and has been researching and working with herbs for the past 30 years. She certainly was very helpful and offered many suggestions for how we could try to help Aaron. 


I bought some Herb Robert tea and some Licorice. We also bought the Licorice plant and I've also gotten some seeds for the Herb Robert from my aunt so we've started growing them in our garden as well. 


The information on Herb Robert (and the other herbs on the website) was very interesting. Briefly, when used regularly, it enhances the immune system. The germanium it contains provides an "antibiotic, antiviral, antioxidant arsenal". Sounds good doesn't it?? If you have the time, have a browse through here 


We got the Licorice to help make the Herb Robert more palatable for Aaron but it also has many medicinal properties. I've heard about Licorice before in Chinese herbal remedies  but I never bothered to read about it until now. There is a long, looong list of ailments that it is supposedly good for coughs, colds, wheezing, lung complaints, hoarseness, mucus congestion, tonsillitis, abdominal pain, nausea, poor appetite, fatigue, food poisoning, fevers, fluid retention, edema......and the list goes on and on. Check out the full details here


I'm not a total believer yet and I don't have high hopes that this will help Aaron avoid his ulcers this month but I think I believe that there will be long term benefits to taking these herbs regularly. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When Did I Become A Referee?

I don't like barking like a dog or stomping around like the irate mother that I sometimes am. Despite the age difference I have seen them play extremely well together. So, its not like I'm asking for the impossible. But these two boys! Why don't they just do that the whole time? Why do they need to provoke each other? Isn't it more fun when you have a happy playmate? And then, why change a calm and peaceful game into some risky, jump off the side of the house, super hero game? (No need for anybody to answer these questions...)


Anyway, I often find myself suddenly jumping up and yelling out commands. Or stomping up to them and taking something away. Its not a nice feeling and I'm sure it doesn't look pretty. Yes, there is always the option of calmly voicing my opinion but I'm not good at that yet. There is good news though...


I had a brilliant idea this afternoon. And I think that they (or at least Aaron), might think its a fun game to play for awhile. 


Firstly, I realized that I have a new role. Take a look at this definition from Wikipedia...


referee is the person of authority, in a variety of sports, who is responsible for presiding over the game from a neutral point of view and making on the fly decisions that enforce the rules of the sport. 


Supposedly I am the person in charge here and the antics that these two boys get up to each day can well be classified as some sort of sport. I try to be neutral and the decisions are definitely on the fly. The rules are probably not as clear cut as professional sports but everybody knows there are rules. 


Now back to my latest parenting idea. Its a small step and is extremely simple but I think that with the right introduction to it and a few fun rounds, it might help me out. I'm introducing the Yellow and Red card system. 



You don't think a whistle would be too much like Captain von Trapp do you? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Email Sign Offs

Has anybody else got stuck at the end of an email because they didn't know what to put on that line above their name? I just did. It took me a minute to write the email and nearly half and hour to end it.

I must have so much time on my hands tonight that I'm pondering the various meanings of email sign offs. My usual is 'regards'. If it want it to sound a tad warmer, I use 'take care'. If its just meaningless emails on Facebook then I probably put a 'cheers' on the end or just not have anything before my name.

But when I really think of it, they sound a little fake. I would genuinely like to say 'Have a nice day!' but I always think that the other person would just assume that I don't really mean it. So, I leave that off. For my own fun, I would like to just stick a 'Live Long and Prosper' permanently before my name but that would make people think I'm odd.

It turns out that there are plenty of articles on this topic. The funniest site I stumbled across was this list of email signatures :


1. Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they appear.

3. Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

4. I.R.S.: We've got what it takes to take what you've got!

5. We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse.

6. Make it idiot proof and someone will make a better idiot.
He who laughs last thinks slowest!

7. Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.

8. Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

9. Artificial Intelligence usually beats real stupidity.

10. Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off now.

11. "Very funny, Scotty. Now beam down my clothes."

12. Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.

13. Consciousness: that annoying time between naps.

14. I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.

15. Better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.

16. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

17. Okay, who put a "stop payment" on my reality check?

18. We have enough youth, how about a fountain of SMART?

19. All generalizations are false.

20. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

21. C program run. C program crash. C programmer quit.

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Photos From Our Garden

I can't help it. Adrian was doing such a good job at watering the plants this morning that I just have to share it here. Both Aaron and Adrian seem to be growing up with gardening as a very normal, every day part of life. They enjoy it out there and even ask to do weeding! For example, Aaron might say "Can we watch TV?", I'll say "No". He'll think awhile and then jump up and down asking "Can we do weeding instead?? Please!" And Adrian, well, he just gets excited about whatever Aaron is getting excited about.

Definitely very different to how I was when I was a kid. In fact, up until two years ago, I detested having to do anything in the garden.

These photos were taken right after we came home from dropping Aaron off at school so there wasn't even the older brother influence around to make him do all this work while I walked around with my camera.





Monday, October 17, 2011

Aaron's Carrots

Around six months ago, Aaron said that he would like to plant carrots in our garden. So, out we went to get some seedlings. I should have bought some seeds but the little punnets of seedlings looked very cute and I thought it would save us a teeny bit of time.

Over the past month, I've been trying to check on the carrots by digging around the sides. I always picked the one at the corner but that must have been the only dud one because there was no carrot there, just a little ball of pale orange.

Today, my father checked on a different one and look what we found!





We ended up pulling three out of the ground for dinner tonight. They aren't perfect looking and they didn't taste extra sweet but they were grown by Aaron.



By the way, this is the dud that I kept checking on over the past month.



I hope this was the only dud because we only had a total of 12 plants.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Plus Side of a Kids Only Environment

I've been in a very positive mood this week. To continue with that, I'm going to list as many positives as I can about not interacting much with other adults.

The lack of interaction with other adults has long been one of the major complaints of stay at home moms. I've definitely felt that way too but as I "listened" to the few friends I do stay in touch with through instant messaging, it occurred to me that there are a few benefits to hanging out with kids and only kids.


1) For most of the day, I am treated to genuine smiles and laughter.

2) When they are unhappy about something, they let me know clearly and its easily fixed with a cuddle or some food. And then, they forget all about the issue without holding a grudge.

3) Except for my own, I don't need to deal with other people's stupidity or inefficiency.

4) There is only awe and admiration for the things in our world with children around.

5) We live and experience the present. Little children don't plot, have no hindsight, and don't try to manoeuvre themselves ahead of the competition.

6) I don't have to feel anxious that I'm going to miss a deadline and even if I do, nobody berates or belittles me.

7) I am only surrounded by people who love me. They might throw a ball in my face every now and then or wet my clothes but there aren't any knives in my back.

8) I never need to feel self conscious about the way I look, the ideas that I have or the actions I carry out.

9) New ideas are readily tried out.


There are probably many more than this but I'll stop now. I think many of these only exist when children are very young and I feel lucky to be enjoying every day of it.

Crazy Pasta Making

I've been meaning to put up these pictures for several days now but I've had a sudden burst of inspiration and have started on several craft projects at once. Anyway, the whole family had so much fun making our own pasta for the first time that I just had to share these silly photos.

But first, a serious one of Aaron trying his hand at kneading the dough. It wasn't only his first time kneading anything, it was also mine. I've never even made play dough let alone any other type of food that needs dough. It was messy work! Our eggs went everywhere before I got things under control for Aaron to try out.



Finally, we got to try out the new pasta maker. The instructions just said to keep putting the dough through at each of the settings from one through to nine. So thats what we did...



Yes, I realise now that I should use smaller balls of dough. I also know now that I've got to have something setup to hang the cut pasta up before we cook them. This time, we grabbed some chopsticks but it wasn't practical. He eventually ended up with three chopsticks in each hand.



Dinner was a lot later than usual but we loved it. It wasn't really very hard to make and now that I know what to expect, I think we will be a lot quicker the next time. In fact, that time is going to be tomorrow but instead of making pasta, we're making 'pan mee'. This is a Hokkien style noodle - same ingredients as pasta but in different proportions.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Not Yet A Smooth Talker


We all know that when a child gives his opinion about something, its usually a very honest one. Of course, I have been treated to several less flattering remarks like "I think your bum looks a bit big in that." but I think Aaron is just repeating what I say.

As we were leaving to go to Mass this morning, Aaron noticed my new shoes and was quick to announce how good they looked, and how they looked nice on me. I thanked him and thought to myself that perhaps, he will grow up to be one of those people that genuinely compliment others.

Two seconds later, I thought I had confirmation that he was definitely going to be one of those people. Either that or a real ladies man. He was gushing about how he thought I looked very pretty today. "What did you do?" and "Did you do something different?" and "You are so pretty!" He went on and on, completely unprompted. He didn't follow on from there by asking for something and neither was he 'naughty' in the minutes before. He was just very sweet.

Yes, I got a real buzz from it and he was completely well behaved for the entire time we were at mass. Unfortunately, right at the end, as he sat there looking at me, he said "Hey Ma, I can see all the little holes on your face. They're like freckles but not. Why are they there?"

EEK! They are my pores. My ENLARGED pores! I suppose they would seem large if you look at them from 10cm away. And y'know, the light wasn't exactly very flattering either. Whatever the case, that was enough motivation for me to instantly commit to a stricter daily face cleansing/toning/moisturizing regimen. Whatever it takes!

So, he's not a smooth talker yet. Thats ok. He just needs a few lessons in tactfulness. I'd rather he was an honest person instead of one of those that are full of compliments that you're not sure if you should believe.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Adrian's 'New' Playhouse

When Aaron was just over two years old, we happened to be in Brisbane on holiday. One day, we came across a used playhouse and promptly brought it home with us. You can read all about it here and check out a photo of the two year old Aaron.

Fast forward nearly three full years and the playhouse is back in action. I put it away when Adrian was born so that it could be a 'new' toy when he was old enough to appreciate it. Its very appreciated now!



And as you can see, I have added a new kitchen.



I really enjoy watching the both of them playing in that house. Actually, not a 'house' but the restaurant that Aaron said it was two years ago. They cook me dino burgers and other delicacies and deliver it to me while I sit and surf the web.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Weekend To Myself

I have had an awful lot of fun this weekend. Not only did I spend almost the whole time clogging, but I was completely free of my parenting responsibilities. It was unbelievable. I didn't have to deal with any whining, get people to the toilet on time, clean up messes, make any meals, pick up toys, think up the next interesting activity. Nothing!

This was the Aussie Clog weekend - a clogging camp. Its actually a stay over affair starting from Friday night and ending after lunch on Sunday but I think I'll have to wait until next year to leave them for that long a stretch. I stayed for the day sessions this year and it was good enough for me.

My brain and body have had an incredible workout. I think what I like best about clogging is that it not only pushes my brain to remember new steps but it also forces it to tell my feet to move in those ways. The harder a dance, the more I like it.

Although I was looking forward to this weekend for months, I was seriously considering not going because I was worried that I wouldn't know how to fit in with the crowd. This stay-at-home-mothering gig has really eaten into my socializing skills!

My children have become the avenue that I use to meet new people. Its not really by choice but just the way things are. They are also my excuse to leave an event early, or get out of making small talk - well, not so much an 'excuse' but very often a genuine reason. Without them hanging around me and distracting me, I felt a bit exposed and unsure of how to approach a group, sit down and just have a chat.

The crowd at the weekend weren't even strangers. I see half of them on a weekly basis but in the class setting, its easier. There is only a few minutes of chatting time in between dances. This weekend, there was morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea to negotiate. Eek!

In the end, everything worked out and I'm glad that my insecurities didn't stop me from enjoying some great clogging. I did feel uncomfortable and awkward for a lot of the time but I think I put in a good effort at learning to stand by myself again, without the shield of my children.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Things You See and Hear In The Supermarket Line

Waiting in line at the supermarket is usually a mundane situation. If I don't have to keep either Aaron or Adrian in line, I'm usually looking at what the person in front of me has picked up. I don't think I'm judging the person in any way, I'm just looking at them and looking at what their diet appears to be like based on what I can see in their trolley. Sometimes I see an early twenties person and they have packets of chips and Coke. I think "Yummy! I wish I was young and oblivious enough to shop that way."

Well, today was a bit of a special day in the supermarket line. It wasn't so much what I saw but what I heard.

There was a lady and her two daughters behind me. The mother was going on about how she had to rush back to get ready the guest bedrooms. It sounded ordinary enough but then she said "Oh, don't forget to wash the guest toothbrushes. Have to make sure they're clean and dry before I put them out."

WHAT??!?!? EEW!

First of all, don't people usually bring their own tooth brushes?

Secondly, if somebody did forget, wouldn't you offer them a new and packaged one?

And thirdly, it sounds like this is a normal practice with the lady. Just like how hotels offer you a toothbrush, she offers her guests one. A used one.

That lady and her hospitality has been popping in and out of my thoughts since going shopping this morning. This isn't a normal practice right? People don't provide house guests with toothbrushes do they?

Maybe I misheard what the lady was saying....but I don't think so...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Change of Season

Yes, I've been lazy again. Its been a whole week since my last post. I don't think I've done all that much out of the usual routine but it feels as if a lot has happened. We've definitely move into Spring (maybe even Summer) and life feels quite different.

Mother nature must have been working overtime to bring the hot weather. Last week I was still wearing a jacket on most days but I've since had to dig out my sleeveless tops and shorts. Its nearly 30 degrees Celsius these days! (By the way, one of the scariest moments in every year must be the first time I pull on my shorts after winter. Will they still fit?)

Also, seven days ago, Adrian was in a nappy 24 hours a day but as the weather warmed during the week, we have now moved to being nappy free whenever we're in the house. Its a LOT of extra work for me with all the false alarms and the real alarms that are missed but we've had a few successes. I feel a tiny bit sad about toilet training because its such a significant step away from babyhood.

Anyway, here are a few photos from our day at Southbank.

Giant Modified Disco Ball



You'll see from this next photo that I made up the name above for that ball of mirrors.



I was actually a little disappointed with that big ball because I thought the advertised photos showed children up close to it and touching the mirrors. But, this sign still had me spending longer than I would have in the sun. Firstly, it was the official name - Golden Casket Light Sphere. Somehow, that name makes me think of the afterlife with Casket, Light and Sphere. And then, there is the designers name...that had me laughing to myself for awhile. (click to make the photo bigger.)

This next display was more fun. It was an interactive light tunnel. The displays changed with movement within the tunnel. This photo shows Aaron's outline in red.



And here, the solid colored panels seemed to move with Aaron.



The school holidays are here and hopefully, we'll have a fun filled two weeks with some new experiences for me to share here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Aussie Slang


I picked up this hilarious book today - The Little Book of Great Aussie Slang. We were at the organic markets at Northey Street and this book was lying on a table with the sign 'Free Books', so, I picked it up, looked it through and took it home with me.

There are plenty in this book that I have never heard before and I thought I'd share a few here today.


1. Bend the elbow - to drink excessively.

2. Brick short of a wall - simple person.

3. Full as a fat woman's underwear - drunk.

4. Going to see a man about a dog - to urinate; to go somewhere without revealing exactly where.

5. If it was raining custard I'd only have a fork - to be very unlucky.

6. Lickety spit - a quick wash.

And look at these....

7. Call Ralph - to vomit.

8. Pavement Pizza - vomit

9. Chunder - vomit.

10. Yodel - vomit.


I wonder if there are people out there that really say these things.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

No Wonder He's The Favourite

There is no doubt about it. Favoritism is very much practiced in this household. Not by the adults of course, but by the two little ones.

The focus of all their love and attention is definitely on my father. They never refuse when he asks to share their food. He is the first one that they say 'Good Morning' to. For a long time, my father was also the only person that Adrian would give a kiss to. From the minute they realize he's awake until their bedtimes, they try their best to hang around him.

It really is no mystery why this is so. My father is like a big kid and is constantly thinking up new ways for them to have fun. Very often, it doesn't even need to be something new and exciting - just an everyday job will become fun.

He took them for an afternoon of watching the comings and goings at a huge construction site.



Here's a 'trapeze'...



And here's my poor father trying his best to get his garden in order.



And there you have it, the favorite adult in our family.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Curry Night

Its been a long week for us. Aaron has had another attack-of-the-ulcers on his tongue. Thankfully, he was a little better today and I'm finally getting more than 5 minutes of uninterrupted time to myself.

Tonight, I think I'll relax in front of the TV. Before I do that, my aunt sent me this funny YouTube clip that some of you may be able to relate to.



I should go search for something like this on Belacan. For those who are unfamiliar with this extremely important ingredient in many Malaysian/Indonesian dishes, it sort of smells like something has hidden in one of the kitchen cupboards and died. Funny how something that smells that way can be so delicious.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back Talk

As far as I can remember, the thing that I got in trouble for most as a child was back talk. Or, as my mother would call it, "Answering back".

These days, I am hearing the words "Stop answering back" come out of my mouth more than I would like. To add more answering back to the answering back, Aaron asks "What do you mean by 'answering back'? I'm just answering you!"

Thats actually a tough question to answer. When you think about it, 'answering back' is what people do when somebody else speaks to them? No wonder he was confused when I told him not to. After a bit of Googling, it looks like the correct term is actually 'Backtalk'. (Thank goodness I didn't know this as a child or I might have been tempted to answer back my mother with "Its not answering back, its backtalk." I can just imagine the split ends of the rattan cane that she used. SCARY!)

So back to Aaron's backtalk. So far, its not usually rude. The most common responses I hear from him are 'Why?' and 'Why not?'.

Of course, out of irritation and exasperation, I do tell him to be quiet and not be rude but I know I'm not always fair. I don't like playing the "because-I-said-so" card but I have when I just had to get going or get something done. Supposedly one of the ways is to give them an opportunity to explain themselves first, and then, the parent explains the situation and what needs to be done. That would take ages!

I guess this is just another aspect of motherhood that I'm going to have to deal with. These boys won't stay sweet and innocent forever. I'd better come up with a better strategy that the "because-I-said-so" one. Maybe modify that you-explain-I-explain strategy into a bullet point format.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Science of a Smile

Mornings are an extremely busy time. I don't find it stressful but it is definitely hectic. On Friday morning, we were stopped at the lights and I smiled to myself. All of a sudden, I felt my whole face relax. I didn't even realize how much tension I was carrying around on my forehead, cheeks and scalp. In fact, I thought I felt that relaxation move down my spine. It felt really good. The lights, changed and I drove off.

At the next lights, I smiled again and once again, I felt some sort of release emanate from my mouth, across my face and scalp and down my spine. After that, I tried a few consecutive smiles and I thought felt the change each time although it diminished with each subsequent smile.

This got me thinking about the simple smile. We like being smiled at - genuinely smiled at and not a leering or crazy looking kind of course. And, I believe most people like smiling - and having the reasons to smile. Its such a powerful little gesture. And probably more powerful than I initially thought after my little experiment last week.

I came across two interesting articles about smiles. Both of them discuss the why and how we smile and its impact on other people. They also talk about fake smiles and how we intuitively recognize them. Unfortunately, neither one really goes in depth about the benefits of a smile to the person doing the smiling - that'll be my experiment. They are longish articles but worth a read through.

The first article, More To A Smile Than Lips And Teeth, is about a team that has tried to build a new scientific model of the smile. This supposedly accounts not only for the source of smiles but also how people perceive them.

Interestingly, the second one was published just 10 days ago and has almost the same title as what I have put on my blog here. Our Social Nature : The Surprising Science of A Smile is an interview with Marianne LaFrance who is the author of "Lip Service: Smiles in Life, Death, Trust, Lies, Work, Memory, Sex and Politics". I learnt something new from here. There is a single muscle that determines the sincerity of a smile - the obicularis occuli. This encircles the eye socket and is what causes crows feet wrinkles. Supposedly, most people can't deliberately cause a contraction of this muscle. It only happens if you smile from your heart!

Even if you don't read the two articles, try summoning a genuine smile the next time you're caught in traffic or waiting at a check out. You might feel a little silly smiling at nobody but then it might make you laugh and help you make a more genuine smile. See if you feel that release of tension.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Flash Back To 1988

During the drive to Aaron's school this morning, I heard a familiar name come over the radio - "Roxette". Roxette!!! Two seconds later, I hear "1927". Does anybody else remember these two bands? There will be a Roxette concert, featuring 1927, next February 14. Will I be there? That is the question.

This takes me back to Grade 8. I was 12 and they were my absolute favorites (before, New Kids On The Block). I think I still remember the words to "The Look". And the 1927 album "...ish" is still one of my all time favorites. Oh wait, I should put my favorite song here so you can all listen while reading.



I know I only had tapes of Roxette and 1927. Did they even release the albums on CDs back then? It was just yesterday that I was telling a friend that I never really feel older. This doesn't exactly make me feel old, it just makes me think that some of my memories were from a long, long time ago.

It was fun to be reminded of the music that used to be part of my younger life. I've gone through several clips on YouTube, and it looks like I like the songs as much as I did 23 years ago. To show that I do keep with the times, I also looked through some Usher stuff.

Apart from nursery rhymes and other kiddy music, what was your first favorite song?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Off To The Doctor's Again

Aaron has had four major breakouts of ulcers in his mouth these past two months. I'm sure we all know how much pain a single ulcer can cause and this poor boy has had to endure three or four ulcers at the same time during each of those breakouts. We were initially told that it was 'normal' in some people or it could be a food intolerance but finally, a younger GP flagged it as strange enough to refer us to a pediatrician. While she explained the need to see a specialist, she casually rang all sorts of alarm bells in my head by mentioning words like 'sinister' and 'auto-immune diseases'. Thank you very much for the gray hairs, doctor!

So, off we went yesterday. Surprisingly, we didn't have the usual 30 minute wait for an appointment at a doctors clinic. We only waited 10 minutes and the doctor was very apologetic about that wasted time. Maybe thats what the higher doctor's fees buys you.

As expected, we don't have any answers yet but at least an x-ray of his lymph glands has minimized the chances of it being any auto-immune disease. Phew! I hope those chances stay slim. To try to find out whats causing these outbreaks, we had to take Aaron for his very first blood tests. I was prepared for a traumatic time (for both him and me) but apart from a little nervousness, he was very brave. He just watched as they stuck the needle into him and sucked his blood out, something I can never do. We'll get those results next Wednesday.

I hope that bravery and all the bragging he did afterwards boosts his confidence because I have another order for blood tests in my bag. If he has another outbreak of ulcers, we're supposed to get some tests done during the painful period. I can't even get him to play during those times.

In the meantime, we now have another referral from the pediatrician to an E.N.T. specialist. The pediatrician took one look into Aaron's mouth and seemed blown away by how massive his tonsils were. I believe his exact words were that "they need their own postcodes". Great! Something else to help the production of gray hairs.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Working Together With Aaron

My favorite day in each of Aaron's school terms is the day that we get to work with the child. For one whole hour every term, I get to see what he gets up to in his classroom. I wish they would make it a full day.

In the past, I've left it up to him to choose our activities but I've grown a little wiser and suggested we did one activity from each of the four areas (Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Numbers) in the classroom today.

Remember that post about Flip Flop Competitiveness? Well, since then I've probably been a little too keen to find out from Aaron what he's been up to every day. I'll admit that I've been pushing him a little and getting frustrated because I was getting the impression that he isn't interested to learn new things. Thankfully, my mind is at peace again.

The one hour was incredibly enjoyable and was over too soon. With about 20 minutes left, I noticed that I did bring my camera and couldn't resist taking just a few photos.

He didn't initially show me his work with the South American map. It was lying, neatly, to one side of the class when we walked past and I asked him what sort of game it was. Then, he told me that he had been making labels for the South American countries today. Ah....I felt proud. We sat down at it awhile and then put it aside again for him to continue tomorrow.


After the map, we went to check the laundry that some other children had hung out to dry.


Aaron showed me his newly acquired ironing skills.


I wish I could have spent more time with him there. Better yet, I wish that our home was setup that way and I could be his teacher! Its so much fun.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grossness With Grace

Sometimes, I have to be gross. So if you're eating or don't feel like going 'EEWWWW!', you'd better come back another day.

Its a dirty, dirty job but someone's got to do it. Yes, of course I'm talking about motherhood. Everybody knows that along with the baby comes dirty nappies and spit up. But nobody can really imagine the type of gross situations that these little ones can put a parent in. So, this post may be gross but its also part of every day life in many households.

So far, I've had 'EEWWWW' situations like finding a smear of you-know-what next to Aaron's lips.

And, I've also had totally gross panic-turned-to-sheer-horror situations like when I thought Adrian was bleeding in bed next to me only to have my hand quickly covered in squishy you-know-what as I tried to check for where he was bleeding from.

After 5 years of work experience now,I think I've graduated from the Grossness Class. I may still think 'EEWWW!' to myself but those gross situations are handled as easily as wiping a snotty nose. There is no more apprehension, gagging and general squeamishness.

Last week, we had a nappy that wasn't fastened properly. This was only discovered when I noticed little brown gobs polka dotting the floor. It was a Modern Cloth Nappy which actually ups the grossness factor when it come to cleaning up. And don't forget that its winter here and Adrian had track pants with the tight ankles on. But, I didn't feel any stress about it at all. Lots and lots of wet wipes got Adrian and the floor cleaned up in no time. High powered spray of the clothes got that mess sorted.

And today, Adrian cried so hard that he vomited all over my lap. That cheeky little guy managed to keep himself completely clean. Immediately, Richard tried to take him away so I could clean up but I said "No no, he's too upset. Let him get happy first." I had him on my hip for a good 10 minutes after that, cuddling and playing with him. The smell was awful and it looked disgusting against my black pants. In the end, it was Adrian that pulled away and I think it was because the smell was getting to him.

I honestly, did not feel even the tiniest bit disgusted with all of that smelly stuff on me. That realization felt incredibly strange and I felt a strange sense of pride. I'm one of those experienced mothers. The disclaimer here is that I think my new powers only works if the situations were created by my own children.

C'mon parents, leave me a comment about your most disgusting situation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

He's FIVE

Aaron had his 5th Birthday on Sunday. We had planned for a quiet day with the family but it ended up being a fun, and somewhat more noisy day, playing with sand. It was all put into action at the last minute. I baked the cake at 6am and then we all went to Mass at 8.30am. After Mass, I asked one of our Sunday hang-out friends if they were free to join us for a bit of play. They were, and an hour later, we were all by the beach. We had the cake for morning tea and continued with more sand castle building. The kids were still having fun at lunch time so we bought some fish and chips for lunch.

It was a simple, no fuss birthday 'party'. There is always a lot of hype around birthdays and its even more intense since Aaron started going to kindergarten. I want Aaron to feel that birthdays are special but aren't only about birthday parties, presents and being the center of attention. While he's little and his family are still the most wonderful people in the world to him, I'd like to make birthdays an extra special family day.

As I looked through the photos from the day, I was reminded of the birthdays he had in Palembang. (We did organised the whole party thing but that was because the rest of the days were so mundane.) More specifically, it occurred to me that the older he got, the smaller his cakes were. Of course, this last one had the added ingredients of all my love and best wishes for him.

2nd Birthday:


3rd Birthday:


5th Birthday:


At this rate, it won't be long before he has a birthday cupcake!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Breaking All The Rules

WOW! Since putting up my last post, I've more or less been asleep for the past three days. And when I wasn't asleep, I was breaking almost every rule I set for my parenting self.

It all started on Tuesday morning when I just couldn't get myself warm. I stood in the sun with two jumpers on and still, I was freezing. After that, I couldn't keep awake! I had no choice then but to put a DVD on so that I could snooze while the TV babysat. And, on top of not being able to stay awake, I also couldn't keep any food in me. I was miserable!

Aaron and Adrian were the ones that 'benefited' from it all. I don't think they've ever watched so much TV and not needed to pick up any toys, brush their teeth or finish their meals. Its all a bit of a blur to me and I'm not sure what else they got up to.

I do remember vaguely that Aaron saw a clip of Julia Gillard on the "7pm Project" (30 minute talk show on whatever is in the news). After that, they had Dani, one of the Masterchef contestants on and he asked the question "Why is Dani on the government?

He was so confused. He knows who Julia Gillard is and must have thought that the 7pm Project setting she was in was 'the government'. My poor son. I haven't had the energy to clear that mess up yet.

I think I need another nap now, just in case. Aaron will be turning 5 this weekend and I have plans that I need to be fit to carry out.

Monday, August 1, 2011

If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again

I don't look for poems to read but every now and then, I come across one that really speaks to me.

This poem by Diana Loomans was in the second chapter of the book "The no-cry discipline solution" by Elizabeth Pantley.

If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again
by Diana Loomans

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I'd do less correcting, and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less, and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging, and less tugging.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd teach less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.

I don't need a grown child to realize that I want to enjoy and absorb every second of Aaron's and Adrian's childhood. Just thinking of Aaron turning five in a few short days is enough for me to miss his early years.

At the same time, I can't leave it up to Adrian to smack himself and need to get better at my disciplining skills.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

No Need For Me To Smack

Adrian is at that stage where he is really experimenting, exploring and really testing his boundaries. Let me rephrase that, he's pushing his boundaries, with an invisible bulldozer.

Seriously, I don't remember it being this hard to establish boundaries. Maybe it was and I've just forgotten the numerous times I had to yell out "Stop", "Looking Only" and "Out!". Am I supposed to look as this as fun and enjoy it because it will be over and forgotten soon enough?

With Aaron, I did try smacking but I did not find it effective. Yes, it may stop the undesirable behavior in a toddler instantly but it also teaches them to smack back. That was enough reason for me not to smack. I found other ways and Aaron and I both survived his toddler years.

Now with Adrian, I did not intend to do any smacking because in my mind, it doesn't work. BUT, I have. And guess what? Its sort of working in a really funny way.

Whenever he does something he knows he shouldn't be doing, he looks to see where I am. When he thinks its 'safe', he does it. As soon as he sees that I've seen him, he stops it and quickly starts to smacking his own hands. I get to say "It wasn't me!"

So, at least I can safely assume that he knows what he should and shouldn't be doing. All I need to figure out is how to get him to stop doing it when he thinks I'm not looking (or when I'm really not looking).

To conclude, I still do not believe in smacking as a form of discipline but I do admit that it seems to have communicated a lasting message.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Its A No Brainer - Wash Your Hands

Aaron and Adrian constantly have their fingers (and sometimes their toes) in their mouths. It really makes me so angry because life is horrible for them and, more importantly, for me, when they get sick.

Trying to keep them healthy has made me more conscious of germs that I come in contact with as well. Door handles, elevator buttons, money, ATM machine, the equipment in the gym - EVERYTHING! Supposedly, the steering wheel is another extremely germy place because we touch all those other areas and then wipe the germs onto the wheel as we drive.

I've often wondered how long bacteria can live on surfaces but never took the time to try to find the answer, until now.

According to this website, the safest surface you can touch, if you had to touch one outside, is a hard, non-porous one like a countertop or glass surface. And if that hard surface happens to be in the sun, you're even safer because the ultra violet rays would have killed off any bacteria almost instantly. Hey...so maybe the steering wheel isn't so bad after all.

And as for how long they live on surfaces. Well, if its a wet/damp surface, like a kitchen sponge, then it could stay alive for days. Money is another horrible surface. Coins may be hard and non-porous but the notes can house bacteria for weeks! And of course, since they get touched by so many hands, they are perpetual bacteria colonies. Think about that the next time you pay for a snack and then immediately start eating it without washing your hands first. YUCK!

Well, enough of all that. Go wash your hands and don't touch your face. Imagine the germs on your keyboard and mouse.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My New Helper

I may live in a house full of boys but I'm making sure that they're getting trained right. Richard makes my breakfast of course, gets me a hot drink on these cold winter nights, cleans up after dinner every night and lots of other things. I've been working on him for nearly 11 years now. Aaron is getting good at little jobs like getting me nappies and wet wipes in an emergency, occasionally bringing in the laundry and lately, helping me cut up the vegetables for dinner. So now, its time to start training Adrian.

*sigh* We've had a few hiccups in the training today. I have to remind myself to never turn my back on him, not even for one second.

Each morning, Adrian helps me with watering the plants. He's getting better at it but doesn't understand that its the roots that need the water. This isn't a new job for him but today, when I bent down to do a little weeding, he decided to drink out of the hose. Neither one of us thought that was very funny.

In the afternoons, Aaron and Adrian take a little plastic table and two plastic chairs out to the deck and have afternoon tea there. Aaron has been the one helping to put everything back in its place when they're done. I tried to get Adrian to help today by bringing in the two plates they used. Its a simple task that he already does when he's inside the house. So, I waited by the sink for him but he didn't come. He was outside playing with his little trains while the two plates appeared to have been thrown out, maybe frisbee style, onto the grass.

And finally, shower time. Without being asked Adrian volunteered to help Aaron take his PJs into the bathroom. Initiative! Sort of. He took them into the bathroom but by the time I go there, he was dipping them in and out of the toilet. What gave him that idea? Toilet paper I can understand but PJs??

He's cute, cheeky and makes me laugh but this little helper is making a lot of extra work.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Its Adrian's Time Now

I can't believe its Friday already. With Aaron full days at kindergarten and Richard at work everyday, it was the first week in a long time that I spent most of my time alone with Adrian. I've been looking forward to this and it did not disappoint. Obviously he's full of energy but he's also ready and willing to learn anything new - better go look back at what I was doing with Aaron at this stage. The only think I don't need a reminder of is all things Thomas.

And, it looks like we're starting the whole Thomas & Friends phase again. Adrian probably has it better than Aaron did since there is a small collection of Thomas trains readily available for him to play with.

Its good for me too and this time around, I am an expert at train play and I know all the stories that go along with it.

Adrian hasn't been watching much of the Thomas DVDs yet so he's got things a bit mixed up at the moment. No matter what I tell him, he insists on putting the engine behind all the carriages and pushing the train along.



He'll figure it out soon enough. I'm guessing that we'll have another two years of train play.

Something else that he has started doing this week is "going off the beaten track". Literally. We have quite a long walk from the car park to Aaron's classroom twice a day. And now, its even longer because Adrian has made it into his daily hike across the bulging tree roots, the rocks, the fallen leaves and bark and a couple of zig-zag benches. Its back breaking work for me going after him because he doesn't realize what he can or can't do and just does everything. He tried to slide down the fireman's pole in the playground today. AAH!

Anyway, its all good and its all fun. I'm looking forward to an action packed weekend at some parks. Yes, more back breaking work but its all worth it.