Monday, February 28, 2011

I Don't Judge - My Baby Has Chipped Teeth

I'm not a first time mom, I know that toddlers will have accidents. I'm not talking about the potty kind of accident, but real falls and bumps along the way. They're unsteady on their feet, they go to fast and don't have brakes that work all the time and they sometimes just run into things because they are too excited and don't see things.

So, I've been through it all once before and I have to say I did well the first time. Aaron had very few falls and never had a cut or any scrapes that bled until he was well over two years old.

I'm pretty sure I'm the same type of mother (in fact, a more experience one) yet I'm starting to see a different story with the other little guy. You may recall that at six months old, he already managed to cut his finger and need three stitches.

And since he's started walking, he spends a lot of his time chasing after Aaron. Its natural that he'd want to do everything that Aaron does. Unfortunately, this has led to many accidents - falling this way and that, tripping on a toy or maybe his own feet and just bumping into things. Once, he tripped and bit is tongue

The other day, I discovered something that really made me feel like I need to have my eyes on him even more than I do now. His two front teeth are chipped! The dentist has assured me that its no big deal and as long as the teeth don't get dark colored, everything will be fine. The problem is that I have no idea when or how this happened?

Shortly after I made that discovery, I noticed that his toenail was about to drop off. *sigh* What has this baby been doing?? I've been there for all the falls haven't I?

Today, a friend generously helped to watch Adrian in the playground while I attended a parent/child session in Aaron's classroom. When we met up, she showed me that Adrian had tripped and grazed his forehead on the footpath. I know she felt bad about it but I said "Hey, I'm a mother whose baby has chipped teeth. I don't judge..."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Aaron in Action

The 'I Dig Dinos' school holiday program was cut short in January because of the floods but last weekend, Jurassic Joe came back for a few shows. Aaron went to several of them and I couldn't work hard enough trying to stop him from volunteering for everything. Who wants to sing? ME!! Who wants to dance? ME!!

He really had a good time and I did feel a little bad holding him back. He had this fantastic solo but at that time, my camera battery decided to go flat so you'll have to take my word on it. IT WAS PERFECT! He knew all the words and sang it in the same key the whole way. You have to believe me :)

We went back on the second day but there were no more solos, just lots of dancing. Here's a short clip of him with Jurassic Joe.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just Chatting

Aaron officially started at a Montessori kindergarten this year. I was very excited for him and imagined all the brilliant concepts he would be picking up in the classroom filled with stimulating activities. I liked the idea that there was a mix of practical life lessons such as banana cutting and the more academic stuff, like addition up to thousands with the 'golden beads'.

For five weeks now, I ask him "How was your day? What did you do?". The answer is always the same, "Just chatting with my friends."

Today, I went in for a class observation to confirm my worst fears. Of the one hour I was there, he spent 45 mins at the snack table, chatting. I made a mental note to myself not to pack so much food! And the remaining 15 mins I was there, he demonstrated to me how to clean a table top. At least, he did a very thorough job.

Naturally, a part of me has been trying to get concerned. We're paying good money for him to chat?? The other part is telling me to give him time to adjust to socializing. The teacher has eased my mind a little by letting me know that he has been getting some of the other lessons as well but I can't help it, I imagined more.

The teachers send out a short weekly report on whats going on in the classroom and recently, they had this to say :

When asked what are they have chosen to do the response is “just chatting.”

While the children are engaging in conversations with each other they are practicing the skills needed to express themselves as well as to listen to the thoughts of others.

The act of listening to the thoughts and needs of others is a small step towards building a cohesive group of individuals.

Large scale social reform and world peace (Montessori's Philosophy and Education Aim) can only be achieved when listening to the thoughts and needs of others and therefore, “Just chatting” is recognised as a valuable piece of work in the Montessori Childrens' House.

Alright! He's learning how to negotiate world peace!

Obviously, I'm not the only new parent wondering if the freedom of the Montessori system works seeing as the kids just chat all day long. I did visit a class sometime last year and I saw kids engaged in individual work and exploration, I'm clinging on to that hope.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lego at GOMA

We have had a BIG weekend. It was completely child centric and we enjoyed it immensely. One of the most refreshing things about watching children is witnessing the excitement that they have for simple things and the genuine awe that they demonstrate when presented with something new. As we "grow up", we're often enslaved by appearances and what we think other people might think of us. Also, as children, there are more 'first experiences' where you don't try to compare something with something else from the past.

Well, these past two days, I really felt that we had immersed ourselves completely in enjoying the same things that Aaron and Adrian do. The weekend seemed particularly carefree...

The Museum, State Library and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) re-opened this weekend after being closed since the January floods. The three places are next to each other and we went to all three. Jurassic Joe played four concerts a day at the Museum, Aaron's Saturday sing-along at the library resumed with a special band playing and GOMA's exhibition was 21st Century: Art in the first decade.

Needless to say, the singing at the museum and library were lots of fun but the "WOW" moment came for me at GOMA.

I have come to love Lego. Didn't like them much as a child but since I started playing with Aaron....I love 'em. So, when I saw the white area with elegant looking mini-buildings, I thought "Thats interesting". But then, I realized they were made of Lego and the table was FULL of Lego brings for anyone to go build.


Seriously, I was suddenly a child again and I was excited, exhilarated and feeling so happy because it was the first time I had access to so much Lego.

Aaron and I were not there for long enough and we're planning to go back. Richard and Adrian looked through the rest of the exhibition but it was too close to nap time so we had to tear ourselves away. (And I haven't even seen the rest of the exhibition yet!)

What I liked best was that all the bricks were white and I didn't need to do any matching or look for a particular color. There were plenty of bricks of all sizes right there in front of us. No running out of anything! The whole white bricks look just made me think of it even more as heaven....

OK. For all my raving about how much I loved it and how much I like Lego, this is all I had time to make today. Not the amazing structures in the background, the oval building with the double helix is mine....

I need to go back. I would love to try to build something HUGE.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Don't 'Friend' You Anymore!

I have no idea how the kids here in Australia say it but back when I was in kindergarten and primary school in Malaysia, there was a lot of "I don't friend you anymore!" thrown about.

Some days, Aaron comes back from school and says things like "Amber was my friend today" or "Ben wasn't my friend today". Today, it was "It looks like Freddy and Hudson are starting not to be my friends anymore." I know these are his words and I do wonder what they say or do to him that makes him tell me this. When asked, he shrugged his shoulders and said "I just feel it." Thankfully, he doesn't seem hurt or disappointed.

I'm not worried about him (yet). I know that this is a natural part of growing up and he'll figure it out. After all, I was one of those mean girls that had a first best friend (and a backup second best friend) and would frequently use friendships to my advantage yet I think I've grown up to be a decent person in terms of being a friend.

Nevertheless, its strange how human beings start off being completely alone and not needing any friends (except mom). And then, maturing to having a curiosity for other people of a similar size. Finally, they actively search for someone, anyone, to become 'friends' with only to then pick and choose which ones to share a friendship with and turn that status on and off depending on benefits.

The scary thing when I observe the children in the playground is that they are brutally honest with each other and have not yet developed any tact or sensitivities in dealing with people they no longer want to be friends with. On the practical side, it does make things a whole lot easier - none of that tip toeing around or avoiding people you don't want to hang out with. Still, as a mother, I had to give Aaron the whole speech about treating everybody politely and equally and not worry too much about whether or not somebody wants to be your friend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weird and Wacky Gadgets I'd Like

There was an entertaining news article today entitled "Weird, wacky and useful travel gadgets". It cites the example of wheels on suitcases as a once wacky gadget that people didn't expect to take off. Now, they've become a must have in almost all situations. Amongst the new-ish gadgets listed are the scanner proof underwear, Doberman luggage protector, hanging tents, banana guards and caffeine impregnated soap. You can read the full article here.

As I think through the day I've just had, there are a few gadgets that would make my life that little bit easier:

1) A tiny GPS system that I can pin to the back of Adrian's shirt (so that he won't pull it off) that will announce aloud the areas of the house that he is approaching. This should be able to be configured to only call out areas of concern. For example "2 meters to stairs" or "1 meter from rubbish bin".

2) An integrated remote control key that gives me the option of unlocking the front door and car doors at the same time. And then of course, lock the front door as soon as I start the car engine. Maybe it could unlock the front door as soon as the car drives into the driveway. For security purposes, the front door and car locks will need to be matched together somehow. You may wonder why I would need help with such a simple task but when you're carrying a big nappy bag and wrestling a little guy that tries to snatch your keys - this will help A LOT.

3) Following on from gadget #2, an additional button that will actually open the doors for me. Maybe this gadget exists already....

4) A "magnetic" toy box that can be turned on to attract all the toys back into the box. The special magnet will need to be able to attract plastics as well. And it has to somehow weave through any children standing in the way. I believe in training children to pick up their toys but this feature would come in very handy now when Adrian isn't quite there yet.

5) Umbrellas that can close by just pushing a button instead of struggling to push a button and pull down to collapse it. It would be even better if it collapsed into an enclosed, quick drying case. And to make it worth the premium price, it should be able to balance somewhere on an open car door so that I can strap Adrian into the car seat without getting all wet.

Its been a long day and I'm off to dream of more ways to help make my days easier. Is there a gadget that you could do with today?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Where have all the cousins gone?

In total, counting both sides of the family, I have 16 cousins. To me, this is a pretty pathetic number given that there are 4 siblings on my father's side and 6 on my mother's.

Both my parents have told us fun stories of their childhoods, inter-twined with their cousins. Even today, they often meet up and I can see how much they enjoy each others company and how close they all are.

As children, my brother and I rarely got together with the cousins all at once. We were in Australia and they were scattered in Europe, England and different parts of Malaysia. As kids, we all got along and did have lots of fun. But now, as adults, there is always a period of awkwardness. Its as if we remember that we used to have fun together but we're now grown up and if we weren't related, are practically strangers to each other. Thankfully, I think we all feel that while we may not know each other well, we would like to.

In recent years, the only time that we've all gotten together is when one of us got married. What happens when we're all married? What happens when all my grand parents pass away and there is no longer an anchor in Malaysia to keep us going back?

By watching my parents, their siblings and their cousins, I have seen what a big family can be like. And, even if I didn't exactly experience it first hand, I could see what it was like and appreciate it. Unfortunately, I don't think Aaron and Adrian will have the chance.

Firstly, there are only three people in their generation at the moment and it doesn't look like there will be any others for a long time. Both Richard and I have one younger brother each so there aren't going to be a whole lot of first cousins anyway. Secondly, I very rarely meet up with any of my cousins. So, even if second cousins come about later, they probably won't get the chance for any rowdy play as carefree kids. Imagine what that will do to grown up second cousins? Strangers.

Am I supposed to do anything about this? Is it also part of the all encompassing role of mother to ensure that my children will know what 'family' feels like in the future? I want to make the effort but what if I'm the only one that sees any value in this?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Its Awful!

Last night, I watched part of the movie, "The Backup Plan". It was extremely cheesy and halfway through, I switched over to what I thought would be a better movie, "No Country For Old Men" - winner of four Academy Awards!

I mustn't have been in the right frame of mind for that sort of movie because I went to bed thinking that I just wasted the previous two hours. I was confused and feeling grumpy that the movie was the kind that sort of had no ending.

Ultimately, it was the cheesy movie that had a lasting effect on me. I have been laughing about this scene ever since we watched it last night.


Isn't that so true??? Those people that gush about the wonder and beauty of parenthood are leaving out 75% of their day. LOL!

Its probably also true that these *awful* *awful* *awful* *magical* repetitions leaves me unable to dig deep to understand movies like "No Country for Old Men". I've already spent my day digging deep for patience I don't necessarily have.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

We Need To Be More Chinese

Guess what day today is? Chinese New Year!

What did we do about it? Absolutely nothing!

We didn't leave the light on for the God of Prosperity. We didn't wake up and immediately wish each other 'Gong Xi Fa Cai', which is a greeting that wishes the other person a prosperous year ahead. I didn't give Aaron his red packet until bedtime and didn't even give one to Adrian (I'll just bank in the money). We had Domino's pizza for dinner! What we did remember not to do was to NOT sweep the floors. At least we didn't sweep away whatever good luck we may have had there. And also, by chance, I wore a red shirt today, the traditional CNY colour.

I ought to be ashamed of myself but I'm not really beating myself up yet. There is still time for me to inculcate some Chinese culture into my boys. After all, its the first year that Aaron and Adrian have not had any Chinese New Year celebrations. We've made it a big deal in all the previous years. Maybe next year we can aim to be back in Malaysia and make a HUGE deal out of it by inviting the Lion Dance to our house. I used to love that as a child.

In the mean time, there are plenty of other ways to teach Aaron and Adrian about Chinese culture. I need to motivate myself otherwise I'm going to end up with imitation Chinese boys. Doesn't seem a little strange that I need to motivate myself to do this? Maybe its because we grew up with the culture around us and learned about it through osmosis rather than my parents consciously teaching us about Chinese ways. I don't even know where to start with the 'Chinese ways'. What exactly do I want to impart? Surely not all the obsession with prosperity (LOL!).

I think I'll need to think about what 'Chinese ways' actually means. In the mean time, there are still 14 days left to the Chinese New Year celebrations.

GONG XI FA CAI everybody!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yes, I've been slack

I have plenty of reasons for the past week of not blogging. We maxed out our download quota again and were kicked back to dial up speed. I have a friend staying with us for a couple of weeks. I officially started the school run part of my motherhood journey. Aaron and Adrian both have colds. And the list goes on.....but in the end, its because I got a little slack and just felt like sitting around and watching TV with my old friend. It felt good :)

Anyway, its a new month and I'm going to get over all that laziness. I'm easing myself into thing by posting photos today.

Last weekend, we went for a drive to Caloundra and Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. Here is a series of photos that my friend took.

Notice the grey skies in the background? It was not exactly an idyllic day by the beach. The winds were gusty and it was chilly. There were two cyclones somewhere out there in the sea. Cyclone Anthony had minimal impact but Cyclone Yasi is now expected to hit Cairns sometime tomorrow night and mandatory evacuations are taking place right now. Its a Category 4 cyclone and is 500km wide. Scary stuff!