Saturday, June 30, 2012

Retail Therapy With The Family

Did you know that there is an explanation of "Retail Therapy" on Wikipedia?

Retail therapy is shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer's mood or disposition. Often seen in people during periods of depression or transition, it is normally a short-lived habit. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as "comfort buys".

I wasn't in need of a boost in my mood today, I just wanted to see if I could pick up a few bargains at the stocktake sales. And I did! Those who know me know that I'm usually a terrible shopper. I don't like browsing through the racks and usually only look at things from outside the store - if something is good enough, it'll catch my eye. Today was different, I was a champion shopper. And, I'm in a fantastic mood right now. 

The whole family went along because I had things in mind for everybody. And I succeeded in not only getting these items but getting them at fabulously discounted prices. And yet, they were not overjoyed. 

I shared the parenting duties with Richard. I made sure that they got food, drinks and frequent breaks. And of course, we had the usual time at the toy section - we always go look but never, ever, buy. Don't feel bad for my boys, this is one area that I have been extremely consistent so they don't expect to take anything away from the toy section and there is never any fuss as long as they can browse for as long as they like. 

Maybe guys of all ages are immune to the positive effects of Retail Therapy. Not one of the three of them seemed to leave the mall as happy as I did. We were there for a total of 4 hours so it wasn't extremely long. 

I knew that it would end up that way so I rewarded them all with some time at the park in the afternoon. That cheered everyone up and Richard and I had a relaxing time sitting back. There was even some Brisbane City Council sponsored event for the kids.

Guess what? I've had time to think about what I didn't get time to take a closer look at today and I think there are a few more bargains I should go back for tomorrow.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brussel Sprouts - A New Obsession

We never had brussel sprouts at our house when I was growing up. In fact, I don't think I tried one until I was twenty two. They were overcooked and didn't leave much of an impression on me. I've had them off and on since then but didn't develop a strong liking for it.

Over the past few weeks, they have come into season and I decided to try them again. Now, I'm obsessed. I keep thinking of that unique taste - sometimes I think it tastes like medicine or some chemical, but other times its sort of sweet. So strange. I've had them three times in the past ten days and I'll be going to get more tomorrow. I wouldn't mind having some as a snack right now.

I never looked them up before and I only had a vague idea that they were a healthy food. In my mind, I thought they grew as tiny little individuals and I imagined rows and rows of them. Imagine my surprise when I went to look for some photos of them.

In this house of four, we have two lovers and two haters of this vegetable. Of course, the kids are the haters but thats too bad, we're having it again tomorrow. Richard likes it but keeps hinting that I should overcook them a little.

So where do you stand? Lover or hater?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Serious Toilet Training

We're on day 4 of serious toilet training. The success rate is a big fat ZERO at the moment.

I have been half heartedly trying to train Adrian for nearly six months now. During the school term, I'm just not brave enough to attempt a nappy free fifteen minute drive to school, fifteen minutes of mucking around while Aaron makes his way to the classroom and then and then fifteen minute drive home. And also, Adrian has his activities on at least two mornings and I usually have to go shopping on one of the other days. Hence, half hearted toilet training where he is only nappy free when we're home. Obviously, it hasn't worked at all, especially since some days, there are really only 3 or 4 training hours.

So, its the holidays now and my plan was for Adrian to be absolutely nappy free except for sleep time. I have caught every pee so far but I'm not counting that as success because he hasn't told me when he needs to go. As for the other stuff, I have caught nothing and it has been everywhere. I spend ages in the bathroom with him reading, singing, telling stories and whatever else but nothing happens. And as soon as we leave the bathroom, EVERYTHING happens. Why? Why? Why?

To relieve the frustration, I've gone in search of some toilet training humour. Here's a funny story...

A young couple was expecting a visit from the pastor of their church. 

They wanted everything to go smoothly, but their two year old son was just getting the hang of potty training.

He was at the stage where he would announce at the top of his voice, "I gotta pee," when he had to go to the bathroom.

His father, worried that this might be embarrassing when the minister came to call, instructed the child, "Don't shout that you've got to pee. Whisper!"

That evening the pastor makes his visit. He's there a very long time while the parents are in the kitchen preparing the meal. The two year old is leaning on one foot and the other.

Finally, the minister asks him, "What's the matter, son?"

The child looks at him and says, "I've gotta whisper!"

The pastor says, "It's all right, child. Whisper in my ear."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Finally, School Holidays!

Hooray! Hooray! Its a Holi-Holi-day!

We've started it off by spending the day at a couple of parks. Unfortunately, the wind was very cold and I didn't find it as relaxing as I was hoping it would be. It was still a great day. We weren't in a rush, didn't need to be anywhere by a specific time and just let the kids do whatever they wanted to while we sat and watched. 

You can't imagine how happy I feel knowing that tomorrow is not a school day. The 10 week term is about as long as I can go without getting some time off from that daily routine of getting people dressed, fed, belted into the car, taken out of the car, in and out, in and out, in and out...

I almost didn't make it to the finish line last week - and I'm the mom! By Wednesday, Aaron came up to me before bedtime and said "Ma, could you please wake up a little earlier tomorrow?" Oops! Yes, I did oversleep two days in a row and then rushed through the whole morning routine. Breakfasts and packed lunches weren't as yummy as they could have been I suppose. And of course, I was grouchy because we were running so late on those days. There was also a day that I uhmm.....resorted to a McDonalds breakfast for Adrian after dropping Aaron at school. 

So you can see that this two week break is very much needed. I don't plan on being lazy and just lounging around all day but I do plan on everybody having breakfast in their pyjamas and taking as long as they like. There will be no rush. I have made a long list of activities that we can choose from each day so that I don't need to waste any of the holiday time thinking of what we should do. A lot of my ideas are centered around the home but , we'll also be making trips to the libraries and maybe having picnic lunches out at a park somewhere. I'm looking forward to be a fun mom again instead of the mom with the imaginary whip.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Slang By Decade

The inevitable has happened. Aaron is starting to speak like his peers. "Like, y'know, like, one of the other doods (?)." I wasn't sure if I should put a question mark at the end of the sentence because he would definitely have spoken it with an upward inflection, but it doesn't necessarily mean he was asking a question. Alright, 'dood' (which by the way is the superior way of spelling 'dude' according to  is not the latest slang term but the peers we're referring to here are 6-9 year olds. However, it did get me thinking of the time that he will probably start using words that I don't know about. Or perhaps words that I know, but have different meanings by then.

I was curious about the words I would need to pepper my conversations with if I wanted to appear a little more hmmmm....sweet. My search led me to HowStuffWorks and so for today, I am sharing with you the slang terms from the 1920s to now.


  1. 23 skiddoo -- to get going; move along; leave; or scram
  2. The cat's pajamas -- the best; the height of excellence
  3. Gams -- legs
  4. The real McCoy -- sincere; genuine; the real thing
  5. Hotsy-totsy -- perfect
  6. Moll -- a female companion of a gangster
  7. Speakeasy -- a place where alcohol was illegally sold and drunk during Prohibition
  8. The bee's knees -- excellent; outstanding


  1. I'll be a monkey's uncle -- sign of disbelief; I don't believe it!
  2. Gig -- a job
  3. Girl Friday -- a secretary or female assistant
  4. Juke joint -- a casual and inexpensive establishment with drinking, dancing, and blues music, typically in the southeastern United States
  5. Skivvies -- men's underwear


  1. Blockbuster -- a huge success
  2. Keeping up with the Joneses -- competing to have a lifestyle or socioeconomic status comparable to one's neighbors
  3. Cool -- excellent; clever; sophisticated; fashionable; or enjoyable
  4. Sitting in the hot seat -- in a highly uncomfortable or embarrassing situation
  5. Smooch -- kiss


  1. Big brother is watching you -- someone of authority is monitoring your actions
  2. Boo-boo -- a mistake; a wound
  3. Hi-fi -- high fidelity; a record player or turntable
  4. Hipster -- an innovative and trendy person


  1. Daddy-o -- a man; used to address a hipster or beatnik
  2. Groovy -- cool; hip; excellent
  3. Hippie -- derived from hipster; a young adult who rebelled against established institutions, criticized middle-class values, opposed the Vietnam War, and promoted sexual freedom
  4. The Man -- a person of authority; a group in power


  1. Catch you on the flip side -- see you later
  2. Dig it -- to like or understand something
  3. Get down/Boogie -- dance
  4. Mind-blowing -- unbelievable; originally an expression for the effects of hallucinogenic drugs
  5. Pump iron -- lift weights
  6. Workaholic -- a person who works too much or is addicted to his or her job


  1. Bodacious -- beautiful
  2. Chillin' -- relaxing
  3. Dweeb -- a nerd; someone who is not cool
  4. Fly -- cool; very hip
  5. Gag me with a spoon -- disgusting
  6. Gnarly -- exceptional; very cool
  7. Preppy -- one who dresses in designer clothing and has a neat, clean-cut appearance
  8. Wicked -- excellent; great
  9. Yuppie -- Young Urban Professional; a college-educated person with a well-paying job who lives near a big city; often associated with a materialistic and superficial personality

1990s Slang Terms

  1. Diss -- show disrespect
  2. Get jiggy -- dance; flirt
  3. Homey/Homeboy -- a friend or buddy
  4. My bad -- my mistake
  5. Phat -- cool or hip; highly attractive; hot
  6. Wassup? -- What's up?; How are you?
  7. Word -- yes; I agree


  1. Barney Bag -- a gigantic purse
  2. Newbie -- a newcomer; someone who is inexperienced
  3. Peeps -- friends; people
  4. Rents -- parents
  5. Sweet -- beyond cool

After looking through the list, I think my favourites are from the 1920 - the cat's pyjamas and the bee's knees. Hey! I hear vintage is cool too. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Foggy Day

We had an interesting drive to school this morning. It was foggy for most of the 15 minute drive. Oh, some of you might feel that this is not blog worthy but it is. Why? Because our usual drive is under a blue sky and blinding sunshine. This strange day even had the boys speaking in soft voices for the entire drive. 

Fog = soft spoken boys! Who would have thought....

I even turned off the radio to make it seem foggier. Here's a photo I took from the car park at around 8.50am (yes, we were late again.)

 This was taken from outside Aaron's classroom.

And this is what it looks like almost every other day of the year!

I'm loving winter! Its around 10 degrees Celsius in the mornings and reaches the low 20s by midday. I wish it would get colder than this in Brisbane.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sticky Maze

This crazy sticky maze was awesome experience. I don't like the word 'awesome' because its so overused by Aaron but I think its appropriate here because I think I had the same experience that he did. These days, it is rare to have a new and fresh experience that I can fully enjoy - grinning from ear to ear and rubbing my hands with glee type of enjoyment. I honestly felt taken back to the carefree days of my younger years for the thirty minutes we were in there.

The maze was made up of strips of sturdy sticky tape making the backbone of the walls and torn up strips of newspapers stuck on by people going through it. To set the mood, there was some lively gypsy sounding music played by a one man band at the center of the maze. It was crazy sounding!

This sign is a little hard to make out so here's the translation: "Sticky Maze. Walls are walls you can't go through them. Watch out for little children. If it gets too crowded find a quiet corner and wait." Click on the photo to make it bigger -  it just seemed to make the maze more inviting because it looked like work done by a child.

There weren't any high spots that I could get to to take a photo of the entire maze. What a pity! (Yes, there is the ferris wheel in the background but that would cost something like $15 per person)

Here's Aaron looking for empty spots to stick his strips on. If you're wondering how there would be any, the answer lies with kids like Adrian. He walked through pulling strips off instead and many other children were doing that too. 

Sprinkled around the maze were these funny looking people. They must have known that some kids would be be collectors of the strips because this guy's job was to  help sticky tape the newspapers around the little bodies so that their hands could be free to collect more. Unfortunately, Adrian would have none of that tape on him.

The most enjoyable part of this maze experience was the fact that I didn't need to keep an eye on Aaron and Adrian. Aaron led the way with Adrian following him everywhere. I didn't even bother to keep that close an eye on them because they weren't going to be going anywhere.

Too bad this was just a temporary setup and has been taken down already. But then again, the second time through it probably wouldn't be as much crazy fun.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Interesting Sights At The Zoo

Our day at the zoo didn't turn out as super as I hoped it would. I thought it would be a fun day for the kids but not long after we got there, Aaron started to say he didn't feel well and was dizzy. A little later on, I noticed that he had a slight fever. (Maybe it was caused by his tooth. Who knows?!) It was only a small zoo so we had a walk to see all the animals but we didn't get to linger as long as I would have liked to.

The whole zoo was interesting and pleasant but there were two specific things that I saw that I found extra interesting. The first was this albino wallaby. According to this article, it may have sunscreen on it!

Next up, we have these seemingly toilet trained alpaca. I don't know how they're mom did it but she's gotten further with them than I have with Adrian at the moment. 

I left the photos uncropped so you can see that there is only one patch of evidence. All the alpaca went to that same patch and the rest of the enclosure was clean except for what the sheep left around the place. 

By the way, they're not only smart in how they go to the toilet, they are also really good at snatching the feed bags away from unsuspecting children. Adrian's bad was pinched out of his little hand but the alpaca tried to eat it all immediately instead of running away with it so I managed to get the bag back - slimy, soggy bag. 

Adrian had a very good time looking at all the animals and feeding many of them but Aaron was mostly uncomfortable. Maybe we'll go back again some other day.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Drama Week

We've had a bit of drama go through this household in the past week. It has been stressful, hectic and plain confusing at times. In a nutshell, the fillings that Aaron got in February did not get rid of all the decay and has this week culminated in visits to three separate dentists and a final verdict that he will need to have one tooth extracted and a pulpotomy (baby root canal) done on another two. Let me repeat that : One tooth pulled out and two root canals !!! Oh, and there was a missed cavity that now needs to be filled. I got all this when I took him to a paediatric dentist (aka, super expensive dentist) for another opinion. The original place told us to give him panadol and wait and see. We found out this week that Aaron actually has an abscessed tooth with inflamed gums, pus and the lot. Panadol was not going to cut it!

Can you imagine my devastation when told that my six year old has to lose a tooth? It may sound like no big deal and compared with all the seriously ill children in the world, this is nothing. However, to me, it was a blow. Like this Batman styled one :

I felt devastated because that tooth was under my care. I am supposed to care for every part of Aaron - look after him, nurture him, make sure he stays healthy and definitely make sure that he does not lose a tooth to decay (or have two others half rotted away). I can always blame the sugary pain numbing solutions that he needed for his ulcers last year but then, I should have thought to take extra precautions for his teeth.

Along with the devastation came the reflex action of wanting some sort of 'justice'. Once again, if my life were a cartoon you'd see me shaking my fists at the dentist and yelling "YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS" No such luck in real life because, he's on holidays! I've approached the clinic and a colleague of his has taken a look at Aaron and of course defended the work - she was very convincing too. I was so confused because she had a different and more positive assessment of the situation. I'm not a dentist, I have no inkling of whether the information I am receiving is sound or not. To put my mind at ease and have more ammunition for finger pointing in the near future, we went to yet another dentist. This one basically agreed with the paediatric dentist.

There is plenty more but I'll spare you the details. I just needed to vent a little. Not too much because the issue isn't closed yet. I wish I could take some sort of legal action but we've been told the legal fees will far outweigh the compensation. That doesn't mean I'm going to put it down because there is still the Queensland Health Commission who will notify the Dental Board of Australia as soon as I put in my complaint.

Enough of the drama, we'll deal with the rest of this stuff next week. The weekend is going to be sunny and cool so we'll be off to the zoo tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Let Me In!

I'd like to escape down a rabbit hole too! In the mean time, visiting some other Wordless Wednesdays at My Little Drummer Boys will definitely offer some distraction from the worries of my day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Good Day To Make A Mess

This was Aaron four years ago at around two years old. I often let him make a mess of the place and himself with the one and only bottle of purple paint that I bought. Lots of fun for him but the clean up was no fun for me.

Its a public holiday today and Richard is at home to help out. What a great opportunity for me to let Adrian have a go at making a mess! Although, it appears that Aaron is still the one who makes the biggest mess.

It was inevitable that when the time came to clean up, the paint did get on things that it shouldn't have but we have that sorted out now.

Its a pity that parents spend so much time either telling children not to make a mess or asking them to clean up a mess. I could see Aaron feel the sudden freedom of being allowed to mess all the colours up with his hands and not be told to be careful about the paint getting on the floor or on his clothes. He carried on that freedom a little too much by leaving a handprint on the wall but that was cleaned up quite easily. We were prepared for that so there was only laughter about it all.

Unfortunately, not every day can be like today.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I Never Thought I Would...

The inspiration for this post comes from the song that I've had in my head for the past couple of days - not the lyrics or melody of the song but the fact that it is a country song. I don't have anything against country music but its not the type of music that I actively search out. To me (and I have to admit to being very ignorant about country music), it sounds like a very 'country' sounding country song. If you must have a listen, go Google 'Ready to Roll' by Blake Shelton.

So this strange new favourite song got me thinking of some of the other things that I never thought I would do/like/eat, etc. I'm picking 21 as my baseline - my final year in university.

I never thought I would ...

... enjoy crafts. I never had any interest in working with my hands on small fiddly things. I might have actually secretly thought it was too old fashioned for me to get into that sort of thing. Since then, I've had an intense period of beading but that had to give way to something a little more useful to my every day life - sewing. There is so much satisfaction to be derived from making something instead of buying it.

... eat celery. Absolutely hated this vegetable back then and now, my fridge is never without a big bunch of it. I started liking just the stems but now I like the leaves too.

... enjoy taking public transport. I found it a chore when I was in school and university. I didn't enjoy rushing for the next available train. The other thing I hated was pushing my way to the doors to get out. My stop was one that very few people got out at so the exits always remained clogged. These days, I look for opportunities to take either the train, bus (my favourite) or ferry. I do this here in Brisbane and try to do it in any place I visit. When we were in Palembang and had a driver, I used to get him to be our guide on the public buses instead of driving the car. From the everyday ferries, buses and trains to tuk tuks, jeepneys, angkots, rickshaws, monorails, bullet trains and trams, I enjoy the sights and smells that they all bring!

... choose not to be sociable. I don't understand this one at all. At 21, I was rarely seen without a group of at least five people and regularly organised large get togethers. At work, I also had many friends and action packed weekends. These days, I seem to avoid contacting friends (the few that I have left) and arranging to meet up. I'm awkward in all social situations and I prefer to hang out with my family instead.

... be a wife and mother. Yes, its not just the 'mother' bit that I never thought of. I also never really wanted to be a wife. I remember thinking that I wanted to 'live in sin'. Ironically, I got married at 24, just 3 years later. As for children, I definitely did not want to have any of my own. I thought that even if I came around to the idea of being a parent, I wasn't going to let the child come out of my body - I would adopt. I love my two boys to bits but I should have stuck to that adoption plan because their exits from my body were not exactly the most beautiful moments in my life. And to think I did it twice! Well, I've learned now.

And there you have it, five 'never though I would have-s' from my life. What about you?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Question of Sleepovers

As a teenager, I can remember begging my parents to let me go on sleepovers. This was in high school and my friends were constantly over at each others houses. I rarely got to join in the fun and was often resentful of my parents about this. The strange thing was that on the rare occasions that they did allow me to spend the night at a friend's place, I didn't really enjoy it. I was uncomfortable being in another family's home. Maybe this was all because my parents didn't let me have enough practice at sleepovers.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm starting to think of sleepovers again. More specifically, how I'm probably not going to be allowing Aaron or Adrian to go to too many of them. Aaron is barely six years old and already the kids are talking about it at school. Even the teachers are touting it as an essential part of growing up. I can't agree with it - especially not for children as young as Aaron.

I'm ok with the idea of an occasional playdate and I think that maybe in the future, if there are groups of children that are having sleepovers, I might suggest that my children will stay to 8pm (depending on how old they are) and then come home to sleep in their own homes.

With the constant headlines of  the many types of horrible and crazy people out there, many of whom appear 'normal', how can I let my children spend the night in the home of somebody that I don't know? Even if I have a chat with them each day during school pick up, I don't know anything about these people. And then, even if they were 'good parents', how do I know that they don't have other people who visit their homes? I'm also very strict about the types of movies or tv shows that my children watch - other people may not be. There are so many of these questions that I don't have comfortable answers to. And, I don't think I need to go out of my way to become comfortable with this idea.

While I'm on this topic, I remember reading an article some years ago about teaching children how to speak up if they feel uncomfortable about a situation. The situation could be something a person says or does or even a tv program that they do not feel comfortable watching. I need to start talking to Aaron about these things....

So what do you think? How comfortable are you with your children sleeping over at a friend's place? And grandparents, do you have the same views on sleepovers for your grandchildren as you did when your children were little?

Now, don't anybody mention 'Tiger Moms' because firstly, I've always thought that was a ridiculous term, and secondly, I'm not one and don't aspire to be one either. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Journey and Discovery Weekend

This weekend, I spent some time as a student at Aaron's school. Twice a year, a "Journey and Discovery" weekend is organised where parents can experience the classroom environment that the children are in every day.

It wasn't intentional but I was about 5 minutes late to class - unfortunately, Aaron is also very often late to class in the morning. All 24 other parents were already at work. In the Montessori environment, lessons for a particular activity are presented to children as individuals or in small groups. For this weekend, the teachers left instruction sheets next to most activities and only provided the lesson if we couldn't figure it out. The material presented was for children aged 3 to 12 years old but guess what, almost all of us had to have a lesson at some. The work on multiplication, division and square roots was definitely tricky to figure out.

Needless to say, the experience was refreshing and I now have a little first hand knowledge of the methods and rationale behind the Montessori method of teaching. I like that it is hands on and fosters a child's engagement in learning without being obvious about it. It is exciting to me that Aaron will be learning multiplication and division without the pain of memorising the times tables - that was my most hated thing to do at his age. Hopefully, he'll be able to grasp these concepts in a more concrete way and find meaning in the things he has to learn.

I didn't need convincing about the school or its methods. This weekend was just for me to gain a little more knowledge about the nuts and bolts of the classroom. The most meaningful idea that I took away was from the debriefing session at the end.

During a discussion on the place of computers/technology in the classroom a teacher explained that while being tech savvy is critical for these children, the use of technology also needs to be age appropriate and focused. Also, it is important that the children learn about delayed gratification. The example that she provided was about doing research for projects. It is tempting to conveniently get on the internet and Google all the information - quick and easy. (This is definitely something that I do with Aaron very frequently.) She explained that at this age (6-9 year olds), it may be a better idea to first go to books or even to talk to an expert before using the internet. To make a search of the internet more focused, a child may use it for a specific point that they could not find out by other means. This removes the temptation to 'wander' aimlessly around websites.

I think I like that idea. It may take a little longer but the process is just as important as the end result. Aaron and I are working on a timeline of the dinosaur age and he naturally brought out his books to find dates and details. We started on this a week and a half ago, but at the time, I thought he looked so focused surrounded by his books that I didn't want to spoil it by turning to the internet. I'm glad I didn't.