Friday, April 29, 2011

Its Official!

Today, I'm officially in my mid-thirties. When I was around twenty, I thought the ideal age to be was somewhere in my mid-thirties. There would be no exams, no boyfriend problems, life would be in order. Well, I'm finally there. Or should I say, here.

I know forty is just around the corner and I'm pretty sure that I'll not be as happy when that birthday creeps up but today is all good. I am happy with the life I have and I think the only regret I have so far is that I didn't start doing the whole baby thing when I was twenty eight.

The whole disparity between chronological age and how old I actually feel is really starting to be apparent. In my mind, I think I still see myself as twenty eight. Hopefully it doesn't mean that I have somehow been stagnant for the past seven years.

So of course, this is a very significant day for some other people in the world. In fact, I'm very distracted as I type this - the fairytale wedding is on TV. With all the hype around the Royal Wedding, I couldn't help thinking of the vast difference between what Kate Middleton and I would be thinking on the night of the 28th April.

For her, its probably along the lines of "Woohoo! Me! Princess!"

For me, "ME! Mid-Thirties!!!!".

Anyway, I need to go plonk myself down in front of the TV. I haven't paid much attention to this wedding previously but the coverage is doing a good job at sucking me into the whole fairytale mood. Real life princes and princesses......

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Two Boys

I'm counting my blessings. They do have little fights each day but most of the time, things are friendly between them.

Here they are, at their favorite spot. They like sitting here for snacks or just to watch the lizards and turkeys walk past.

All I wanted was a good photo of the both of them sitting together. Instead, I got this heartwarming sequence.

Hmmm....maybe Adrian was just after that piece of cheese toast...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter - New Beginnings

In the past, I've always dreaded going to mass during the Easter weekend. They're always extra long and I always wonder what I get out of it since I spend most of the time trying to keep little ones from misbehaving.

We have belonged to this Jesuit parish for the past 20 years and I have to say that when we first arrived (in 1988) and started going here, they were snobby, condescending, stuffy and dusty. Slow and sustained organ music, high pitched old lady voices singing and narcissistic priests. It was so horrible that we eventually drove further away to attend mass at a different parish.

Since my return to Brisbane, we've been going to our 'home' parish again. It was unexpected but they have changed. And this year's Easter masses were surprisingly meaningful for us.

On Good Friday, Aaron and I sat in the front of the church so he could get a better view. This year, they had a group of men drag a heavy wooden cross down the center aisle. Later on in the mass, that same cross was passed through the congregation, over our heads. Each person passed it on and was only in contact with it for several seconds but its weight was immediately apparent. This particular mass was not monotonous in the first place but that bit of hands on participation added to the realism of the points that are repeated at each Good Friday mass - pain, suffering, desperation etc. I expected a long homily but instead, the priest spoke very briefly about the part of the Passion of Christ which was most meaningful to him and then asked the congregation to share their views.

That wasn't the only time the priest asked for congregation participation either. It happened again today at the Easter Mass. You'd think that the priest was some young fellow fresh out of the seminary with radical new ideas, but he isn't. He's over 80 years old! This is the priest that also invites all the children up to the alter with him during the Eucharistic Prayers.

Amongst many other things, Easter is about new beginnings. And, this Easter must have worked some sort of magic on me because I'm feeling a sort of motivation to teach Aaron and Adrian about the religion. And I feel supported by the parish that they can grow up with this religion without it having to be snobby, condescending, stuffy and dusty.

Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Weird Websites

I finally got the chance to sit down with Saturday's paper today. Yes, each Saturday, I buy it and hope that I will somehow get through the whole newspaper before the next Saturday arrives. Anyway, in amongst horrible news about nail bombs and confusing news about the carbon tax, I came across a readers poll of the 20 Weirdest Websites. Ironically, I buy the real newspaper so that I don't only read the short online versions of the news but the snippet about the weird websites provided a link for me to get the full details online.

It was a little disappointing to find that some of the links didn't work but of those that worked, there were several amusing ones. Here are my favorite:

The Gallery Of "Misused" Quotation Marks
This one was my favorite. I'm no expert at the English language but I'm always on the look out for incorrect uses of words or typos. (By the way, I missed the photo op in Sydney but we were at a restaurant and they had a seafood dish, 'Fillet of God', on their menu).

At One Million Giraffes one person bet another person that they could collect pictures of one million giraffes. Initially, I didn't think very much of this site but upon closer inspection, there are many interesting giraffe photos here. I think I'd describe this site as amusing rather than weird.

I found this to be the funniest - I Hate Tom Cruise. You have to go visit here and read through all the entries.

Anyway, for the full listing, click here. Some of the sites are just bizarre and useless (like this one) and others are a little sick. You be the judge.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Unexpected Difference Between Baby #1 and Baby #2

Baby #1 gets all new things, 100% attention and documentation of all achievements across a variety of mediums.

So with Aaron, I have plenty of photos, blog posts, monthly letters (although they were lost when the hard disk crashed) and even hand written accounts of what he was up to. I had a list of all the new words he understood and said. I thought about everything he did and everything he didn't do. I worried about whether he was keeping up with his peers. Needless to say, he was the only one around and I dedicated all my time and thoughts to him.

Then comes Baby #2 - hand me downs, 50% attention and the occasional mention of a major milestone here and there.

I think a lot of friends and family will agree with me when I say that I have not been as diligent in documenting Adrian's progress through babyhood as I was with Aaron. I have no excuses and from this day forward, I am going to work harder.

So, the above is sort of old news. Everybody knows that and in many ways, expects it. But you know what the strange thing is? The unexpected difference between Baby #1 and #2 is that with #2, I am living in the moment so much more. I did not anticipate this.

For example, I find that trying to get that perfect photo of a baby doing something cute takes away from actually enjoying the moment. So, very often, I just sit, watch and count my blessings. The live images are beautiful but I know they'll probably fade. I think the emotions from these moments are probably etched a little deeper into my memory. Now all I need is to some how have the visual memory as well. 24 surveillance cameras on us??

Even when I play with or read to Adrian, I'm a lot more immersed in the shared experience than I was with Aaron. I'm somehow enjoying it more without being stressed out by everything else a first child is throwing at me. I'm not thinking about what else I need to do or what I should be doing. Yet, its more than just being a more relaxed mom the second time around. Its also hanging on to these innocent times.

I've been through it once so I know whats to come - it ends! The wonder and amazement he shows at everything now. The way he proudly lets me know that he can identify the cows and trucks. His cute mis-pronunciation of words. I'm going to miss it all one day. Or worse, I'm going to forget how cute it all was and not even miss it!

Does this mean that I dote on him and spoil him more? Not really. I think I've been fair. And sometimes, I find I have even more patience to teach him (whether its to take turns or put his toys away or whatever) than I did with Aaron.

Finally, before I sign off today, here are a few photos of Adrian (to be fair)...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I've Made My First Shirt

Its time for me to be a bit of a show off :D.

This is the first time I've made a proper shirt with collars, buttons and sleeves! I'm definitely proud of it and he's going to be wearing it every week from now on.

The fabric was bought way back in October 2009 and was intended for his then, 3 years 2 months size. He's now 4 years and 8 months and I can say that there were only the tiniest little pieces of scrap material left after I was done.

I didn't have a pattern for the shirt but instead, used a shirt from when he was 2 years old. I traced out the various pieces, put them on a photocopier and enlarged. Strangely, it worked for every part except the sleeves. Making this shirt was relatively simple but with all the interruptions through my days and nights, and of course the need to laze around watching TV, it took me nearly a month to complete!

Sewing gives me a real sense of accomplishment but it is so time consuming because I'm such a beginner at it. I guess the only way is to get more practice in.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fun in Sydney

Hey! Where did my two weeks go? I wish I could say that we were in Sydney the whole time but we actually got back on Sunday. The time in Brisbane seems to have been swallowed up by children with fevers!

The main reason we were in Sydney was to visit my brother and his wife. They both had to work so we used the mornings and afternoons to do all the touristy things. Here are some of the photos from our trip.

I never imagined that my first meal in Sydney would be a huge plate of Nasi Goreng Spesial (Special Fried Rice). We were in a food court in Chinatown that had too many things to pick from. The Indonesian stall caught my eye and I jumped for my old favorite. It was oiliness of it definitely reminded me of the fried rice we used to get in Palembang - TASTY STUFF!

The Sydney Tower

Up in the tower, Aaron couldn't see anything through the correct end of the binoculars and insisted that this bigger end was the way to go.

It wasn't our first trip to Sydney and is obvious as I look through the photos - No good ones of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Opera House!

It was the Queen Victoria Building that provided us with a couple of good laughs. Here is a photo of the men's bathrooms:

And the ladies bathroom with the biggest bathroom mirror I've ever seen!

It is a beautiful building that was completely in 1898. As we were walking around, admiring it, we noticed something interesting on this clock.

Here's a close up. It didn't come out clearly in the photo but printed on the clock is 'Ipoh Limited, Sydney'. Wikipedia says that the QVB was restored from 1984-1986 by Ipoh Limited at a cost of $86Million.

The few days in Sydney went past too quickly. I do wish that we had more time there but I'm definitely glad that we live here in Brisbane instead. It may be smaller but its also much cleaner and more organised.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Birthday Party Paranoia

So far, I've organised three birthday parties for my children. We invited quite a few people to the ones in Palembang but I would still classify them as simple, traditional, kids birthday parties. I didn't spend an exorbitant amount of money on them and we played games like pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs - games I remember from my early birthdays. The party we had for Adrian last year was also a simple one with home cooked food and a few family friends.

Since Aaron started making new friends this year, I have been getting a little paranoid about birthday parties. Both the possibility of him being invited to one and also the expectation that he might develop to have one when his birthday comes round. My irrational fear was spawned from reading several articles about how elaborate kids birthday parties have become - themes, invited entertainers, rented playground equipment etc etc etc. I know not all are like this but it still made me partially hope that Aaron wouldn't get invited to any - yes, mean and selfish of me. What if he did get invited to some super duper, fancy schmancy, party and then expect that all parties, including his own, are that way?

Well, the day has come - he received an invite last week. I guess its good in a way so that I'll know what the reality is like instead of letting my imagination carry me away.

The invitation has opened up a new challenge for me though. I told Aaron that when you go to somebody's birthday party, you have to bring a gift. He said "Of course I know that! Maybe I can buy him a little car."

The background to the little car is this : Several months ago, Aaron used some of his own money, $2, to buy a little plastic police car. The money he has is from coins that he sometimes finds around the house. I haven't started the whole pocket money thing yet.

Anyway, the point is that he very honestly and generously intends to use his own money to buy something that he, as a four year old, can afford. He didn't even have any expectation that I would buy a present for his friend.

I like that. And I haven't said anything to him about it yet.

The problem is, I'm not sure how much his friend or his friends parents are going to like it when they unwrap a $2 plastic car present.

If only all the other kids would do the same thing. Just take a look at this list of lessons that can be taught from it :

1) Children learn the value of money.
2) Children learn to save.
3) Children may learn to give a hand made gift instead of a store bought one.
4) Children learn the joy of giving - I don't think it has the same effect if mom bought the present.
4) Birthday child stays grounded because the gifts are probably going to be simpler.
5) Birthday child may learn that the fun of the birthday party is more in the shared time with friends.

I'm going to go ahead and let Aaron buy a gift with his own money but I definitely feel the (peer parent) pressure to top it up with a second gift just so we don't look cheap. But really, why do I need to? The party is a month away and if I come up with something that will be appreciated that can also be made by Aaron (and me), I might go with that.

*sigh* Mountain out of a mole hill here!

p.s. My next post will probably not be until next week sometime. We're all going to Sydney for the week. Holiday!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Failure

I forgot what today was and didn't play any tricks on anyone. Must be a sign that I'm getting older. I've always played at least one lame trick on a family member each year. So, I don't have anything to report from today but I thought I'd share the least 'successful' trick that I've been a part of in the past.

This least successful attempt at a good time was actually one of the most elaborate ones that I remember being a part of. It involved nearly 60 people!

Back in high school, senior physics, chemistry and biology shared two science labs that faced each other. Occasionally, two classes will be scheduled at the same time. One April Fool's day, we had the bright idea for the students in the two classes to swap over. So, we did. And to add more to the trick, we all put our heads down on the bench tops and closed our eyes.

I got swapped over to Mr Cornish's classroom. In my memory, he was a huge giant with red hair and a red beard. I'm not sure if he was really all that big but he definitely had red hair. Anyway, he could not take a joke.

He dropped a big pile of books onto the front bench. BANG! It was LOUD. I'm sure those girls would have gotten a little deaf from it. Then, he went on and on about how we were wasting time. By this time, nobody was laughing and we were all waiting for him to realize that we weren't even his students. Boy did he explode when he realized that!

Till this day, I can't understand why he made such a big fuss. Why was he such a spoilsport? Couldn't he have just laughed and had a good time with all of us? The other teacher wasn't impressed either but definitely wasn't angry about the whole thing.