Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'll Be Safe With My Mini Flash Alarm

Living in an English speaking country has really cut down on the number of funny typos or strangely phrased signs about the place. I miss those!

But look what I found today. No, I did not buy it, just for the packaging. A thoughtful older friend gave it to me some time ago and I kept it safely somewhere, without reading the fine (and not-so-fine) print. I dug it out today it really does sound like a super all-in-one, save-me-from anything-and-everything device. The device itself looks very similar to a yo-yo.

It didn't just have a single funny word or sentence. It has typos, funny phrases and funny ideas. Everything on the front and back of the packaging was chuckle worthy. Click on the images to make them big.

The pictures at the bottom of the second image caught my attention before the words and I did spend a serious moment or two trying to decipher them. Then, I realized that the words provided plenty of clues. The praying hands one still has me stumped though...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Holy Monster

Each Sunday, Aaron attends the children's liturgy for the first part of Mass. All the kids go to a separate room and supposedly have things explained in ways that they can better understand. They join the rest of the congregation during the Eucharistic Prayer. If the parish priest is on duty, he invites all the children to stand with him at the alter and tries to make things more interesting for them. Occasionally, he'll take a quick look at the worksheet that each child has with them.

Let me just give you a bit of background here - each week, Aaron has come back and proudly handed me a drawing of some dinosaur or other, on the back side of the worksheet. Some of their 'work' is also stuck up on the walls of the room where they have the children session and I see Aaron's dinosaurs there as well. This morning, I said that he had to earn his TV watching points and one of the ways was to complete the worksheet.

So, back to today. The priest welcomed the children up to the alter and he picked a worksheet to take a look at and hold up to the congregation.

He said "Ah...The holy spirit...with many arms..." He actually seemed a bit lost for words. Or maybe he was trying to decipher the writing in tongues. I was at the back of the church and couldn't read the name but I thought the style of that piece of artwork looked a familiar - I thought that another 4 year old boy/girl draws the same way Aaron does. It didn't occur to me that he had actually drawn something other than a dinosaur.

I had a confused sort of good laugh when I finally got a closer look at Aaron's worksheet. Anybody want to guess what he wrote?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thank Goodness For Muscle Memory

Fifteen years ago, I got my A.Mus.A - my Associate diploma in Music, Australia. It was a BIG deal to me and recently, I was reminded that an A.Mus.A is still a big deal. (Yay, I do have something worthwhile under my belt). Unfortunately, I don't feel at all like a musician. In fact, I get worried about admitting that I play the piano in case I'm asked to play something. EEK!

Its a horrible feeling. This used to be something I was good at. Playing sonatas by memory was an every day thing! Its easy to mentally categorize this as yet another part of my past (y'know, like work and anything engineering or marketing related). But, why be so lazy? This is something that I can work on from home, at a time that suits me.

So, I've started making time in my day for some piano practice. The aim is for short bursts of practice, focusing on short sections of whatever piece I have chosen. Small chunks - I'm no longer the student that had to put in the 2 hours every day.

The most surprising thing I have noticed is that even though some of my hand and finger muscles seem to have shrunk, muscle memory seems to have stuck around. I can't play any of the old pieces from memory but the strange thing is that I can still play them if I have the notes in front of me. I'm not exactly reading the notes because I tried sight reading new pieces of similar levels and I can't read fast enough. Through some of the faster passages, my fingers play automatically and as soon as I try to read the notes, things fall apart. I'm using my old books so they have all the familiar markings and notes that my teacher had put all over the place. My hands seem to know exactly when to reach and turn the page and I even stumble at the areas that I used to worry about fifteen years ago!

I am grateful for muscle memory because I don't think I would be able to persevere through learning these pieces note by note again. At least I can have some satisfaction from fudging my way through a piece, knowing its far from perfect but still getting to the end.

I'm very interested to know how long muscle memory lasts. Its been around these past 15 years so will it still be around when I'm 60 or 70? Some articles simplify it to be like how children learn to walk - well, most of us remember how to walk right up to the end!

So, just in case muscle memory fades, I'm going to hopefully, practice enough from now on to give it the boost it needs to last until I'm in a nursing home and need to entertain myself.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Failed Sunday

We usually have good Sundays but today, things just didn't go right. In fact, things started to go wrong at about 12.30am. Thats when Adrian woke up and instead of going straight back to sleep after a short cuddle, he decided to stay up. This isn't an unusual occurrence in our house but the rest of Sunday seemed to be just as unsatisfying.

We planned to go to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary because they're having a special entry price of only $5 for all Sundays in May. The normal price for adults is around $30 so it was a good deal. About a zillion other people thought so too. Finding a carpark was crazy and took forever. This was on top of the fact that Adrian screamed for half of the 90min journey there.

So, we're there, we're parked and the slight drizzle that was around had cleared up. The muddy ground wasn't all that bad. Unfortunately, the million people I mentioned earlier....well, they were all inside too. $5 sounds like a great deal but surely the animals no longer thought of that place as a Sanctuary.

Aaron wanted to watch the reptile show so we squashed in with about 50,000 of the other people. It was crazy! They had people sitting in the aisle ways and on the steps. What if there was an emergency? I was not having a good time.

Then, it started drizzling again. No problem, lets just make a beeline for the crocodile, walk through the Kangaroo area and then go home. I think there were about 20 humans for every kangaroo in the enclosure. No wonder there were so many of them trying to hop away.

The light rain then got heavier. We stopped to go to the bathrooms before the long ride home and when we got out, it was pouring! The exit from the park was through their gift show, their very medium sized gift shop. Oh my...people, umbrellas, wet ponchos, huge prams, screaming babies, kids...

*sigh* And that was my day. The main reason for going was the lorikeet feeding that I wanted to show the boys and guess what?! It was raining too hard. I remember saying to Aaron in the morning that I was feeling a bit tired and that maybe we wouldn't go today. I should have listened to myself!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I went to a parent's session at Aaron's school yesterday called Parentopoly. They run these sessions several times each term to give parents the opportunity to have discussions on how to best deal with various parenting aspects and to perhaps open our minds to how other people might approach common situations. The principal usually conducts them and while there are of course no right, or wrong answers, he provides some guidance on what a Montessori approach to the various situations would be.

Parentopoly is a game that the principal invented where we put out some numbered cards on the floor in a random path around the room, roll a couple of dice and each person moves themselves along as a token. We had to turn over the number card where we landed, read out the situation and then say how we would respond to each of those situations.

The rule was that we couldn't PRAISE, THREATEN, BRIBE, REWARD, or PUNISH.

From memory, here are some of the scenarios that came up.

...Your child does the dishes without being asked.
...Your child bites another child.
...Your child is not invited to a birthday party.
...Your child brings a drawing to you and asks if its beautiful.
...Your child draws a picture of some very lifelike animals.

I got the biting one and I am thankful for that. All it needed was an explanation. The other ones, especially the ones that we might automatically shower praise for, were quite tricky when the discussions started going.

For example, saying 'WOW' to the lifelike animal drawings was ultimately deemed not the best response. Neither was saying it was 'good' or that you were proud of the child or that you were impressed. My automatic responses were all triggered by the theories of timely recognition and positive reinforcements. What do I do if I'm not supposed to do that? Why don't we do that?

I could see that some of the newer parents were also confused but the parents with older children (and who also had been with the Montessori environment for some time) gave the impression that all this was natural and that it works out best and that they ALL implemented it on a daily basis.

By the time I left, I was confused, intrigued, and maybe feeling a little guilty. I gathered that the rationale is that you don't want to rob the child of the satisfaction by deciding for them that something is fantastic. You don't want to teach them to need approval. They should be self reliant and also derive their own sense of approval for a job well done. (Several week's ago, there was actually a program on TV on how all the praises heaped on children, whether deserving or not, was contributing to a generation of narcissists.)

I liked what I was hearing but I was barely understanding it and I absolutely couldn't see myself not using praise in those praiseworthy situations. What do I say? So I went online when I got home and it was very interesting reading. I found this article on the 5 Reasons To Stop Saying 'Good Job'. There was also another link that offered some insight as to how else a parent can deal with such situations. The simplest one being "You did it!"

There are merits to the Montessori philosophy and I do agree with many of their points but I still believe that there can be some place for praise in a child's (or an adult's) day. I don't believe in pouring it on all the time but surely it is possible to keep in mind all the points about nurturing a child's own self satisfaction while giving them realistic pats on the back every once in a while. I'll definitely be more careful with my choice of words and not use anything too over-the-top like "you're the best artist I know of".

How would you handle some of these situations?

p.s. There was mention of grandparents at the Parentopoly session and supposedly they are allowed to say whatever they like because children know that different rules apply to them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Hands up who knows what Whizzpoppers are?


Well, its the result of the downward bubbles that are created when giants drink Frobscottle. Thats the Coke equivalent with the one big difference of having the bubbles fizz downwards instead of up. So, the effect of those downward bubbles is er....not a burp.

Aaron and I have been reading The BFG by Roald Dahl these past few nights and this word has stuck. We were on the way to mass and he proudly proclaims "Whizzpopper!" In the middle of playing and again, he yells out "Whizzpopper!"

Now, is that alright? I don't know. We had a big laugh when we were reading about it and I did say that it could almost be like a secret word that we could use and not many peoploe would know what we were talking about (until I blog about it).

Whizzpoppers are such a source of laughter in this house. Even Adrian finds it funny. All kids do! So, should they really be a source of embarrassment to parents when they're out and about? I didn't know whether to laugh or pretend not to notice when Adrian one day did a downward dog (the yoga pose) and then made a whizzpopper noise. No prizes for guessing who taught him that!

Just like everything else in life's balancing act, we all have to learn to balance what we genuinely find funny in the home and what we can only secretly find funny when we're out. The problem is that people like Adrian don't know that difference and let all our secrets out to the outside world!

My final thoughts on this is that I don't think its entirely right of me to tell them its wrong to laugh at something that :

1) they 'discovered' to be funny by themselves.
2) makes them laugh spontaneously (and also makes me laugh to see the fun on their faces).
3) is really a natural phenomena that average humans encounter about 14 times a day.

Right...now all I have to figure out is how to explain 'home jokes' and 'outside jokes'.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Free Music at Gregory Park

No matter what impact the latest Federal Budget has on spending (or spending cuts), I hope the Brisbane City Council will still have these free bands in the parks on Sunday afternoons. Its fantastic to spend a lazy one hour, sitting on the grass, enjoying some music.

There was a kid's theme to this afternoon's performance with the band playing many TV show tunes, including the Thomas the Tank Engine. That was a huge hit with the crowds - parents and children alike!

The afternoon wasn't entirely lazy, although it was easy work to play with Aaron and Adrian.

You can see the band in the background of this photo. I thought the boys might have needed some incentive to stay in the once place for a little while.

They last for about half the duration and then we decided that we could listen to the music while playing around.

I don't think I have anything to worry about in terms of Adrian being too cautious (the way the Aaron is). The second after this photo was taken, he was struggling to get free from me and walk that plank alone!

Here he is again, trying his best to keep up with Aaron.

Thankfully, Aaron is still very enthusiastic about 'taking care' of Adrian.

And thats the end of another weekend...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Replica of HMB Endeavour

As mentioned in my last post, the HMB Endeavour was in town and we took Aaron. We actually went with Aaron's friend, Toby, and his father. Aaron and Toby are of course, dinosaur crazy. But, on the sidelines, they also want to be pirates. So, what we got on Sunday were two pirate dinosaur boys going crazy.

I don't know what causes it because I believe that both of these boys are quite well behaved individually. Its a whole different story when they get together. The energy level, craziness, 'rude' word competitions (y'know, things like wee and poo), EVERYTHING, is multiplied ten times. They run everywhere, roar at each other, switch from dinosaur characters over to pirate characters without stopping by at being boys. Its a little unfair to say that they misbehaved or were being naughty but that kind of excitement level was really tiring for us parents to keep reigned in. Ironically, the only time that these two get together (apart from the occasional outing like this) is during Sunday mass and for a short time afterwards.

Anyhow, I didn't get to go on the ship but I thought I'd still share some of the photos they shared with me. I do wish I could have gone on as well.

I always thought these types of ships were all 'HMS' but now I know that in the 18th Century, ships were classified according to the shape of their hull. So, the 'B' here is for Bark - a ship with a flat bow and square stern. This isn't the REAL HMB Endeavour that Captain Cook used on his discovery voyage to Terra Australia of course, just a very good replica.

I guessed that it would have been low below deck but I never knew that at some parts, Aaron was the only one that could stay standing upright. And look at this photo with the little door.

Now, one of the interesting little tidbits that they relayed to me was that the toilet was right at the front of the ship. St the pointy part of the bow was a platform with a hole in it, of course. There is more to the trivia but I don't think I'd like to share that on my blog.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What I Owe My Mother

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers. I had the usual sort of Sunday, filled with outdoor time with the family. We took Aaron to see the HMB Endeavor but they didn't allow anyone shorter than 90cm on board so I had to stay on land with Adrian. I'll put some pictures up in my next post. For today, lets have something about 'Mothers'.

I got this in an email that my father forwarded to both my mother and me. Now, is he trying to give me a lesson on all the lessons I can give my children. OR, is he just reminding me of the strife that I might have caused my mother and that I am getting payback for now.

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION
"You better pray that this will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC .
"Because I said so, that's why."

5.My mother taught me MORE LOGIC
"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me IRONY
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
"Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM
"Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA
"You'll sit there until all that SOUP is gone."

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER
"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY
"If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION
"Stop acting like your father!"

15. My mother taught me about ENVY
"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION
"Just wait until we get home."

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING
"You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way."

19. My mother taught me ESP
"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me HUMOUR
"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT
"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. My mother taught me GENETICS
"You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS
"Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a tent?"

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

25. And my favourite:
My mother taught me about JUSTICE
"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you"

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Home Made Dragon

Its Saturday morning and I'm feeling very lazy. Wouldn't it be great to have a lazy day at home doing nothing? Unfortunately, there wouldn't be much chance of 'doing nothing' in this house so instead, I've negotiated for a few minutes to myself now and then we're going to head off for our usual couple of hours at the state library.

We go there for the sing-a-longs as well as the low craft tables and ample amounts of kid friendly craft supplies they have laid out. This term, they have have the area setup as a kitchen table with a giant walk-in saucepan, kitchen table and chef dress-up area.

Here is Aaron's and my creation from out more recent trip. I wonder what we'll make today.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Music In Our House

One of the most common things that mothers of young children will say is that they're singing Nursery Rhymes all the time. They no longer know what the latest releases are but they know all the variations of "The Wheels On The Bus".

I'm like that too but I also try to share the music that I loved as a child, with Aaron and Adrian. When I was around Aaron's age, four and a half, all the music came from a records that my parents had. The record player was an extremely precious possession so we weren't allowed near it but my parents were more than happy to oblige us with whichever record we wanted to listen to.

Amongst the many records, I remember three favorites: 1) A Harry Belafonte album (but we only wanted to listen to the Banana Boat Song), 2) A Boney M Album (entire thing) and finally, 3) A children's one that had "She'll Be Coming 'Round The Mountain" as the first song. My mother must have been trying to share her old favorites with us because we know all the Elvis songs too.

With Aaron, I made a lot of CDs of all my favorite songs, including those from my childhood. So, he's very familiar with the Banana Boat Song, Elvis was an early favorite of his and he was singing "If You Want To Be Happy (For The Rest Of Your Life)" when he was two and a half. He was like a little old men and a source of great entertainment for all his grand aunts and uncles when it came to singing them a song.

I haven't been able to do the same for Adrian because Aaron has been monopolizing the CD Player and we listen to Jurassic Joe and his dinosaur songs most of the time. So, Adrian is good at those. Or so I thought.....

"Tik Tok" by Ke$ha came on the radio and all of a sudden, both Aaron and Adrian are bopping to it. Aaron can sing along! I don't even really know it. So, I eventually find out that not only do they know KeSha, they know Usher! Specifically, "DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again". Just imagine a baby voice, with baby pronunciation singing "Eyes eyes eyes..."

Guess what Richard has been doing whenever it was his turn to watch them??

I don't have a problem with it although, now that I think of it, I haven't exactly listened or examined the lyrics yet. Who knows what they could be singing about! Kids don't go into details anyway, they just look cute singing.

Meanwhile, I've been going through a Muppets phase - something I missed during my own childhood. Those guys were cool! And look, here they are with Harry Belafonte:

I want to balance their exposure to music to include more classical pieces, and I have tried (even with Adrian), but they just don't take to it as willingly or as rapidly. *sigh* Well, I suppose I can't have them liking everything that I like....

Monday, May 2, 2011

Urban Country Music Festival

We had such a big day out yesterday that I went to bed shortly after tucking Aaron in! Ten years ago, or even five years ago, I wouldn't have thought that I would go, very much out of my way, to an Urban Country Music Festival like this. It was all because of clogging that we went and we all had a great time.

All my regular readers know that I enjoy clogging. So yesterday, I tried to get Richard interested too. We set off on the one hour drive to Caboolture at 8am so that he could participate in the Introductory Clogging class. He did alright for a first timer and seemed to enjoy it but I didn't get the feeling that he's going to be as enthusiastic about it as I am. I did my clogging in the afternoon at the Social.

The clogging was only a small part of this huge festival. I honestly didn't expect it to be such a big deal but it was. Its not just for country music lovers, the festival had many live bands dotted throughout the areas playing both country and 'urban' music. We didn't have time to explore all the grounds and stayed only at the historical village.

I think there is usually an entry fee for the historical village but on festival days, it was free entry (the festival was free too!). The place was fascinating with an assortment of historical buildings from various parts of Caboolture that were brought too this site, positioned as a village would have been and then setup inside as they would have been in the old days.

Here are a few of the photos:

I do have one suggestion for the organizers - Give those rubbish bins a bit more of a historical look or disguise them better. They're ruining my photos :)

Aaron had a great day too. His friend from the state library was performing at the Children's area. Here they both are trying to get some 'customers'.

This bushranger had Aaron very worried. He was cracking his whip and firing his pistol and then he told Aaron he was going to rob the pub. And Aaron believed it all.

It was so much fun that I'm already looking forward to next year. There was so much more of the festival that we didn't get too!