Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Can Wait To Grow Up

I don't think I ever wanted to grow up. In fact, I'm still trying not to but circumstances aren't helping.

Aaron, on the other hand, can't wait. "I can't wait to grow up so that I can do what I like." Thats what he thinks!

I have no way of knowing if its true or not but sometimes, I look at him and I think I see him thinking that his "job" is to grow. And, in order to do that, he has to listen to everything I say because my job is to make him grow. It must be because I say things like "If you don't sleep, you won't grow." or "You have to eat all your food so you can grow."

So, I've asked him when he thinks he'll be fully grown. I've done this several times and the answers change. Or maybe, he's trying to figure out when the growing will be done because one day he says "When I get a job" and another, "When I get a wife". He has even said "When I have a son".

The strange thing is that he hasn't said anything physical like "When I'm taller than you." If you look at those answers, you could just lump it all under "When I have responsibilities!" Did I spoil it for him by telling him the truth? Nah.

Growing up means that you don't get to do what you want to do. Its the opposite of what he's thinking. Alright, its not as bad as that but its pretty close. Speaking from my own experience, the only time in my life when I got to do most of the things I wanted was when I got a job. Before I got the husband and sons. Maybe people get to do the things they like again when they're 60. My parents look pretty contented although they complain that they're not only doing things for their children now but their grandchildren as well.

Isn't it ironic that Aaron can't see the beauty of the situation he's in and wants to be in my shoes instead? We've all been there and in hindsight, I think a lot of us enjoyed our carefree years. But thats in hindsight. Back then, we weren't aware enough to know what a good thing we had going. How do we tell children that? The only way is probably to just let them have an easy going childhood for as long as possible. Reminder: No more of that flip flop competitiveness for me. Its school holidays now so I'm planning on spending the whole time playing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Capturing Joy

I need need NEED to take more photos. And, they need to be good ones too. There is too much growing up happening around here and I am not capturing enough of it. Of course, I have no good excuses for this but I have some explanations.

For example, I took plenty of photos of Aaron but while I did that, I always felt that the camera was getting in the way of enjoying the moment. Oh quick, where's the camera? He's so cute. I hope he keeps doing that for 5 seconds longer. So, I end up with the photo but I didn't get to fully enjoy whatever the moment was. With Adrian, there is the added hurdle of him wanting to be photographed, but only posing for 0.5seconds and then running over to take a look at the result. I think I need some sort of spy cam to capture anything!

Recently, I attended a 30 minute talk by a photographer on capturing joy. It was the teaser to his three hour course. I'd love to attend but as usual, I'll be talking myself out of it. There are probably plenty of ideas floating around the internet on how to take better photos.

Since listening to that teaser, I have been trying to put the two points I remember into practice. The first is to go in as close as possible and the second is to have people's heads touching if possible.

So, I looked through some of our photos and did some cropping. Even looking through weeks and weeks of photos, I only came up with a handful of decent shots.

Aaron and I had a great time when this photo was taken but I couldn't crop it any more because his tongue kept throwing the balance off if I went too close.

I think this one worked much better.

I also tried making them put their heads together today.

I want to get good at this but right now, the thing that is jumping out at me is that cropping makes snotty noses more obvious!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Flip Flop Competitiveness

Here's the dichotomy.

On the one hand, I really think its a sad situation when pre-schoolers need to go for tuition classes so that they can get straight 'As' in their report cards. They have their whole lives to set goals, compete and feel the pressure. They don't need to know about it when they're five years old.

On the other hand, I am secretly carrying all the goals, competitiveness and pressure around for my nearly five year old. I'm like all other mothers - my son is intelligent, he has potential, blah blah blah.

So, recently, I had my very first parent/teacher interview where they gave me a copy of his report card. It was broken down into sections for social, life, language and numeracy skills. There were wonderful comments about him in all the sections. On top of that, the language and numeracy sections were graded.

This is where the 'two hands' I mention above come in. Hand 1 - Yay! They don't actually give ABCs. Its just 'Introduced', 'Supported' and 'Mastered'. So for language, Aaron got a 'Mastered'. GREAT! But for numeracy, 'Supported'. *gasp* OK...I want those ABCs back. Where does 'Supported' put him? A-? B+? Hand 2 - Gimme back the old style grades. Do they do Bell curves in pre-school?

Yes, I was a bit crazy and went a bit overboard thinking all that but I've since calmed down. The point I want to make here is that the teacher was very encouraging and had such lovely things to say about Aaron, yet, I was so hung up on why he didn't get a 'Mastered' for numbers. (He's great with them!) I kept wanting to go back to the specifics of what he needed to master. I still can't figure it out because its the non abstract part of numbers that he needs help with which is completely confusing me because I obviously taught him all he needed to know about the abstract part. It looks like I haven't mastered non-abstract either - whatever that is.

Yes, I will be doing more number work with him. No, I have not read Amy Chua's book about Tiger Moms and have no intention of doing so. Its a competitive world. I'm a naturally competitive person. I will try to disguise my competitiveness when I ramp up my play with numbers and Aaron.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I came across an article today about how yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. This article was specifically about Australian children taking things like their own bedrooms and a personal TV for granted. A couple of weeks ago, I read a very similar article about Australian households in general having a new norm of large LCD/Plasma TVs, several computers, dining out and overseas holidays. Both articles were basically talking about the same thing - Affluenza (the word was used in the article on children). The definition of it would be something like "succumbing to the inability to distinguish between what you want and what you need by buying extra of everything".

I like the sound of that word. AFFLUENZA. For example you could say "Oh, I'll have another iPad thanks. I'm down with a bad case of affluenza."

I don't think that I grew up with full blown affluenza but I definitely had everything I needed and a little more. Thankfully, I haven't developed affluenza during my adult years. Ask my friends and family and they'll tell you that one of the things I do best is talk myself out of buying anything. There isn't even a relationship between my spending habits and the amount of money I have in the bank. Its just chronic Savingitis.

Saving, re-using, hoarding and make-doing with everything. Its just how my mother taught me - not that she lived through the depression era or anything like that. Her mother did though..so, I guess I have watered down, third generation, depression era tendencies. I do have moments of frivolousness and splurging which are almost always followed by bouts of depression and more stringent budgetary measures.

Anyway, back to affluenza. I definitely don't think its great but at the same time, its not all bad if there are only one or two adults involved. Once children come into the picture, I feel that its important to create an environment that keeps their needs and wants simple. They are born with simple needs but very often, we, as parents, teach them to want more of the luxuries in life.

I have tried to do this by never buying anything (other than food) for Aaron or Adrian when they are around. Books and toys have just magically appeared over the years. This has helped to curb all "I want that toy" tantrum situation in the toy section. Those books and toys also only appear on very special occasions. As Aaron has grown older and knows more about money and its function, things are a little harder. Recently, he yelled out to a neighbor that we had to plant our own food because we didn't have enough money. Oops! I guess that came from me talking too much about how we can save heaps on grocery bills if we grew enough food. I don't want him to grow up feeling deprived but I want him to know that even if a person has money, they don't need to spend it on everything they like.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Funny Signs

I get a lot of forwarded mail from my mother, father, aunts, uncles and even my friend's father. There is so much of this that whenever I see the 'Fwd.' in the subject title, I ignore, because it seems rude to delete immediately, and then delete a few weeks later. Every so often, I decide to open one up just to see what they want me to see.

There was a really funny one today so its my turn to post some funny signs.

I really can't figure out how this sign would have come about.

This sounds like something that my grandmother says in Cantonese.

Its obvious what makes the sign funny but it was the molokhia that had me Googling. Its actually something that is similar in texture to okra, but bitter when boiled.

At least this sign is very polite.

Well....you never know.

I've never seen a grenade before and I've never pulled the pin on an extinguisher either. I doubt many people have either. So, in a way, this sign would immediately give a person the mental image of how to at least get the fire extinguisher going but then its all going to go downhill when they try to throw it at the fire.

So thats what shop keepers are secretly thinking huh?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Knitting Isn't Only For Grandmothers

Everybody knows that life with little children is full of surprises. I've come to expect them to say and do amusing things. That expectations sometimes cuts down a little on the effect.

Yesterday, I had a genuine surprise. I did not see it coming at all. I wanted to go to the Textile Art Festival, and I wanted to go alone. Its everything to do with fibre, yarn and fabric. Unfortunately, I had to take Aaron with me because Richard was helping with Adrian and it was nap time. I prepped myself for lots of complaints and whinging.

Aaron sort of dragged himself around, not verbally complaining but definitely showing that he was not interested. And then, he saw a lady flicking two sticks around a piece of string. She was knitting but he had never seen that before and it fascinated him. The lady was more than happy to talk to him about it and he was completely engrossed with it. After that, he went around looking out for more people knitting and started identifying pieces of knitting clothing and pointing to all the yarns that were used. He thought that the knitting needles might have been sharp because they were called "needles" so a lady let him touch hers. He wanted to know all about it.

From there, the whole exhibition seemed to open up to him and he wanted to see everything. The weaving was another intriguing exercise that he was fixated with. Co-incidentally, he had recently been asking me how material was made so this was a perfect way for me to explain. We also saw ladies spinning some wool (almost straight off a sheep) into yarn. It was amazing to watch Aaron be fascinated with all this information that he previously had no idea even existed.

I bought him these kid's knitting needles.

He wanted to get started as soon as we got home. I don't know much about knitting so, this first ball of yarn I bought was a little hard for him to learn with. We eventually changed to an easier type. His aim is to make a scarf for Hector, the dog in the background.

I went for a shower and I came out to find Aaron trying to work at his scarf but dropping all the stitches. He had to knit before bed again and the first thing he did this morning was grab his knitting needles.

He was at it again after lunch!

I'm just showing him off here with all the photos because firstly, I never expected him to be interested. Secondly, and maybe this is what I am most proud of, I never expected him to persevere with it. It is something really tricky to get the hang of.

All the ladies we met yesterday went out of their way to tell him that knitting was not only something for women. I wish they hadn't because he didn't know what type of people did it. He's so into it he wants to tell all his friends about it. I just hope that they don't laugh and tell him its for grandmothers. One lady did tell him that in the past, knitting was a man's job. Women spun the yarn and men knitted. I don't know if its true but he has taken her word for it.

So, are there any knitting men out there?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Doctors (and their receptionists) Need To Be Humbled!

We have been to the doctor's four times in the past seven days. We've had appointments in the late afternoon, early afternoon and early morning. Yet, each time, we have had to wait thirty minutes or more. (Yes, its nothing like the waiting times in Asia that run past 60 minutes but .....)

I've tried to be understanding. I know that they are dealing with unpredictable, human, situations here. The doctors are usually very friendly and caring when you finally get to see them and that often diffuses my anger. But does that make it all right? No. They shouldn't be excused. Not for long waits every single time!

Our appointments last week were all after lunch and I have given them the benefit of the doubt that small delays build up to big delays by the afternoon. So, today, I managed to get the second appointment of the day - 8.45am. I was told that the first appointment was a long one and started at 8.15am. We arrived five minutes early so that we would be on time and guess what? We didn't get to see the doctor until 9.20am. I had Aaron, moaning in pain the whole time and after 9am, I asked him to moan as loud and as long as he liked.

Its ridiculous! How can they treat sick people like this? When I asked the receptionist if we really did have an 8.45am appointment she was extremely off-handed about things and gave some lame answer about how they have no idea what goes on inside. What really got me angry was that when the patient finally came out, she was obviously one of those ladies that talked non-stop because she carried on with the receptionist for a long time. It sounded like she worked at another doctor's and was trying to share all her knowledge with this practice.

Do you think a doctor apologizes for keeping a patient waiting? Nope. Why not? I don't care if their first words to each and every patient is "Sorry" since its in a way their own fault anyway. This kind of waiting time seems to be accepted as the norm. And it leads me to my next question. IF they know that all their appointment slots are too short, why not just adjust the timing?

Yes, productivity is important but c'mon doctors! You all make way above the national average anyway.

Guess whats worse than the waiting? The self loathing that I feel when I have to debate with myself about whether or not I should say something about the long waits? Why do I need to feel that they might take offence and not be as caring towards us? Many people treat doctors like gods. I certainly don't but at the same time, I worry about treating them like ordinary humans in case they act like ordinary humans and take out their anger on my sick child! UGH!

Is there such a job as a 'Waiting Time Minimization Engineer'? I'll want that job. Give me the challenge of cutting those waiting times. I am sure there is a way to schedule more efficiently.

Ah...there is nothing like a good rant. I haven't done that here in awhile.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Different Sort Of Weekend

We stayed home the entire time.

It was relatively quiet.

And, Richard did most of the cooking.

It actually sounds like the weekends that Richard and I used to have when we were first married. Unfortunately, it wasn't anything as blissful as that.

Aaron caught some mysterious virus that initially made the tip of his tongue swell and then later, ulcers all over. His tonsils were so inflamed that they nearly touched each other. The doctor's first thought thought was hand foot and mouth disease but he didn't have anything on his hands or feet and, he's already had that before, so she ruled it out. She had never seen a tongue like that before. GREAT! She recommended antibiotics and Panadol.

The little guy was in unbelievable pain and nothing helped him. At one stage, nothing, not even ice cream or TV, could convince him to leave his bed. He didn't even read when he was there. He just curled up and stared at the walls. The only words he said were "Ow...My tongue". Even in his sleep, he'd suddenly say that. Thats why I mentioned that it was relatively quiet.

The only thing I could do was offer him all of my attention and lots of cuddles. Thats why Richard did most of the cooking. He was also in charge of Adrian all weekend.

Aaron started talking again this afternoon so something must be getting better. If I were to find a positive in all this, it would be that this wasn't a serious illness and that we got to spend some uninterrupted time together. He hasn't had many opportunities to have my undivided attention since Adrian came along. I could see that he really appreciated it.

Now, lets hope that Adrian doesn't get the same thing otherwise Aaron will be going from 100% to 0% in no time at all.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trainee Gardeners

We've been spending a lot of time in the garden this week. The weather has been getting colder and during the day time, our house always feels like its a few degrees colder than the outside. We have one experienced trainee gardener and one new one this year. They've been working hard on the weeds and sweeping up after Richard mowed the lawn.

Our garden is also starting to feel as if its going to be bare soon. The colder weather has ended the okra's season and some of the other leafy plants are starting to look a bit crinkly. Some over enthusiastic fertilizing has killed off our eggplant and a couple of the tomato plants. The kale was eaten up by caterpillars some time ago. Thankfully, all the gingers and lemon grass are still good and there is still plenty sweet potato leaves, chilli, bazillion spinach and sweet leaf. We're waiting on the papaya and tahitian lime trees to give us some fruit.

With my parents away, I'm now head gardener. So, the first assistant and I went out and got some seeds for broad beans and kale and some carrot and spinach seedlings. I also bought an organic garlic to plant. Although on hindsight that one doesn't really seem worth it. It takes 6 months for the garlic to form from each clove and we only got 4 cloves out of that garlic I bought. We go through garlic like crazy in this house.

In any case, everything in the ground now and hopefully, if the turkeys don't go digging them up, we'll have some new vegetables to eat in August.