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. 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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 1 of Exercise Habit Forming

Richard started his new job on Monday and I've been adjusting to life as a full time stay at home mother again. So far so good. I'm enjoying the one on one time that I get with Adrian now even more than I did before. The only downside is that I had forgotten how exhausting it is. Trying to keep things upbeat, keep everybody satisfied and being efficient/productive is hard work when you do it alone from 7-6pm.

Its 10.30am now and for the past two days I was exhausted by this time. I just sat around surfing the net aimlessly. Today is different. Instead of taking the extra 30 minutes of sleep that Richard gives me each day, I dragged myself to the gym by 6pm, stumbled into a class that was way too high impact for an out-of-shape person like me and now I am feeling GOOD!

I think we all know in our minds that the more active we are, the more energy we have. I had forgotten that it really is true. Plus, I feel a lot happier too from having already accomplished something for the day. I hadn't been to the gym in a couple of weeks and "fat", "waste of money" and "diet" were words that were coming out of me - and I felt grouchy.

Its definitely a love hate relationship between me and exercise. I was an every day exerciser up until moving back to Brisbane but I definitely was a chore on many days. I think the easiest way exercise is to make it a habit, something that I'd better get back into now. Supposedly, it takes 21 days to form a habit so make sure I do a post on August 10 about it.

To keep with my good humour for today, here are some one liners on exercise - not exactly motivational but fun anyway.

1. Being part of the human race does not count as exercise.

2. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

3. I'm on a strict running program. I started yesterday. I've only missed one day so far.

4. I get a lot of mental exercise by thinking up weird ways to avoid physical exercise.

5. I've just spent an hour in a stationary car and am working my way up to a stationary bike.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sometimes, Its OK To Be Noisy

Ah, another quiet Sunday lazing in front of the TV.

Oops, that wasn't us. It was our neighbour's Sunday. Except, they didn't exactly have it quiet either. The back of our house looks onto a block of apartments and right into one particular living room. I'm guessing that the noise from our side floats straight in there because they have their doors wide open all the time. What I've started doing is keeping our doors closed in the evenings when we're the noisiest.

Aaron had a friend over today. The other little boy is about half a year older, blond, blue eyes and nearly head and shoulders taller than Aaron. So physically, they look very very different. But they are amazingly in sync in all other ways. The way they talk about dinosaurs, their drawing styles and even the non-dinosaur interests that they have are similar.

Back to the story about the neighbours. Well, Aaron and his friend eventually made their way outdoors to play dinosaurs. They were having a fantastic time roaring and stomping around in their make belief world. Unfortunately, they both have the same shrill scream when they're caught and being devoured.

Personally, I didn't think they were all that noisy. It wasn't really all that annoying a noise. But, after 10 minutes, I hear this shrill "SHUT UP!" coming from their living room. I did feel slightly embarrassed and tried to keep the boys a little more quiet but they just couldn't control themselves and I moved them indoors.

Thinking about it now, I think I should have left them out there. Our house is surrounded on all sides by 3 and 4 storey apartment blocks. They are mostly inhabited by singles or couples without kids. And guess what? They sometimes have parties that last late into the night when little boys are trying to sleeping. They had noisy barbecues when Adrian was a newborn and needing 3 naps a day. I understood and never yelled over to them. They were noisy but not excessive so I dealt with it because I acknowledge that they are at that stage in their lives.

So, today, we were noisy but not excessively and I have been very conscious about the noise level everyday so I know it hasn't been disturbing on other days. I think they should acknowledge that kids being happy and playing without restraint for a little while is valid because that is the stage they are at in life.

Its probably one of those things they won't know until they have some noisy children of their own.

Friday, July 15, 2011

First And Last Crochet Project

I started this project almost exactly a month ago on June 12. I saw a made up cardigan at the Textile Art Festival and thought "Yeah, I can do that. Shouldn't take too long."

RIGHT! The last time I did any crochet was when I was in Grade 8. We didn't even make anything real back then, just a few sample stitches for a little rectangle. The pattern that I bought only cost $3 but the recommended balls of wool was something like $15 per ball and it needed 4 balls. I felt confident that I could get something done but I didn't think I should be spending $60 on wool just in case it didn't work out. So, I bought $2 balls of wool. On hindsight, after all the work I went through, I do wish I got some $5 balls instead.

I was very excited about getting started. It quickly became apparent that I only knew the most basic stitch and that one isn't even used very much. The first step was for me to decipher the pattern.

Crochet patterns come in a language as foreign to me as programming languages. Look at this :

2ch, 2htrtog twice, 1htr in each st to end.

With the help of the Google and YouTube, I finally figured everything out and got started. I swear, I worked on this every day since June 12. It has been tedious, tiring, frustrating and not as much fun as I thought it would be. Its no like sewing something where I can see the results within a few days. This one month delay in gratification had me quite discouraged. I even forgot to follow the instructions for the buttonholes because I was in such a hurry to see the end results.

When I got to the sleeves, I started thinking that I'll make them extra long because all this hard work means that Adrian MUST wear the cardigan in winter 2011 AND 2012.

I finally got everything finished at about 1am last night. I got long buttons that fit through the gaps in the stitches.

It looks pretty cute on him but now I'm worried that he's going to get it dirty or hook it on something while he's climbing around everywhere. I don't even know how to wash woolen stuff!

I enjoyed the initial stages of this project when I felt that I was learning something almost completely new. And now, I do feel a sense of accomplishment that I've completed the cardigan but I definitely will not be jumping into another crochet project anytime soon. I'm grateful that Aaron has felt the need to ask me to make him one as well. Phew!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kids and The Things They Say

Here's another two to go in my virtual memory box of unexpected things that children say.

The first one is from Aaron.
"What is the most important job for a child?"

This came out of nowhere while I was making up a batch of food for Adrian and trying to get our dinner ready at the same time. I wasn't in the right frame of mind for this. Was it a loaded question? Was his cunning little mind trying to trap me into saying something I was going to regret at bedtime? Then I looked at his face and it looked pretty innocent. Perhaps he was genuinely wondering what his role in the family or in life was? So, then my mind starts racing about whether I should use this to my advantage somehow. Or give him the 'be happy and play' answer? I'm not entirely pleased with my answer. I know he wants a simple one but there could be a whole essay written on this for the serious mom. I gave a quick first job to learn to care and be respectful towards your family and environment. And second job was to play and by 'play' I mean learn new things from lego, his books and his numbers, and enjoy it.

So, almost all my readers are parents, what do you think? What IS the most important job for a child?

Now for Adrian. You may recognize these lyrics, "My Mama told me when I was your, That we were all born superstars", from "Born This way" by Lady Gaga. Aaron has mis-heard this on the radio and has been teaching it to Adrian as "My Mama told me when I was young, that I had a smelly bum!". Adrian is getting good with words and while out yesterday, we were seated on the same bench as a girl wearing low rise jeans and a midriff baring top. The girl had her back to us and guess what song Adrian chose to show off his singing??

Ah...these boys! They really crack me up sometimes.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Observations From My Clogging Class

I'm a very confused person sometimes. I grew up here but I also grew up in Malaysia. I can see how life works both here in Australia and Malaysia but I'm not an exact fit into the cogs of either country. Yet, I don't feel out of place either. If I want to fit in with a bunch of Malaysians, I just need to start talking about food.

Fitting in with the Australian's is what I'm blogging about today. This is definitely not how all Australians are and I don't want anybody out there getting offended or taking this as the absolute picture of what life with Australians is like. I'm going to limit this to the context of my clogging class.

Each Thursday, I meet a wonderful group of older ladies at both my clogging class. By older I mean waaaaaaay older than me but they are are all energetic, witty and positive. Positive is the key word here when you start chatting with them. Everything is wonderful, beautiful, fantastic, great - POSITIVE.

It reminds me of a satirical book that I bought for Richard when he first started living in Australia. The book was titled "How to be Normal in Australia" and there is a specific chapter on how no Australian will ever admit to life being in the dumps. Their house could have burnt down and they might have broken all the bones in their body but if you ask them "How are you?" the answer is inevitably going to be "GREAT!".

So back to those ladies. I don't know if it starts off as half-baked positive attitudes that infect each other and then work to generate genuine positive energy that feeds back in to the system or what but they are always upbeat. And, talking to them always seems to make me feel more upbeat too.

This is all good right?

Now here comes the strange bit. They are never that upbeat about their clogging. Even when they can do it! Maybe this is what makes them so likable. There is never any boasting or any remote showing off going on. If anything, there is effort put into projecting an image afterwards that the are unable to do the dance.

Most of the time, I just go with the flow and be one of the crowd.

Every so often, I just can't do it. Now comes the part about me not fitting in with the group. It happened last night. We were doing a hard dance, everyone was struggling but we were making progress. They were there complaining and whinging, being very negative. I didn't join in and was having a drink at the side but you can see that they really wanted to do it and its within their capabilities but there was all this "I can't do it.", "There is no way I'll every remember that." and "This is torture."

I wonder why all that upbeat and positive energy doesn't carry through in situations like this? Why isn't there a "Let make it happen" attitude? Wouldn't that be more fun?

I don't worry about being excluded because my age does that naturally for me. If I get a step and don't complain about it, they come up to me and say "I wish I was your age again." And then its my turn to become all upbeat for them!

So thats my observation of a small snippet of the Australian attitude.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

From the ER to the Seaside

We've had sort of sick kids in this house again. They've both had ear infections this past week. As usual, you couldn't tell that there was anything wrong with Adrian. And Aaron seemed to only feel uncomfortable whenever it was time to eat, pick up toys or go to bed. As I said "sort of sick" kids with a strange kind of infection!

Unfortunately, Aaron started complaining about his tongue being sore and was in a lot of pain as he was going to bed. He was really suffering. I came up with a brilliant plant to beat all the waiting times at the doctors. Seeing that it was a Sunday and our usual slow moving doctors practice was closed, we would go to the ER as soon as they woke up - which is usually 5 or 6am. Surely thats a quiet time.

This morning, we arrived at the ER at 7am and there was only one other person ahead of us. I know that they prioritized based on urgency and I also knew that we wouldn't be an urgent case. But how long could it be with just one other non-urgent case ahead of us? It took about forty five minutes for us to get seen. So, the wait time was the same as where we normally go! And guess what? The doctor couldn't tell what was wrong with him. He still had the pain but nothing was visible. We were told to monitor and go see the GP on Tuesday.

By then, I had my second brilliant plan. We were already halfway to Shornecliff and Aaron's tongue seemed to only be sore if he thought about it. A morning of distraction would be great for us all.

I made my plan indoors and didn't see that it wasn't a blue sky day. We still had a lot of fun.

Doesn't he look happy?

And look at this little champ! He walked up all those steps by himself.

I think we'll have another quiet week at home even though its the school holidays. Its probably best for me to shelve all my elaborate school holiday plans for ice skating, hiking and even Wiggle world. I'll be the good but boring mum and let them get well at home.