Friday, September 28, 2012

I Think I've Recovered

We have been back from the clogging convention a full five days now and I think I've recovered. Actually, 'recovered' is not the right word, its more like 'normalized'.

We started the trip at 4.30am on Thursday and arrived in Adelaide at around 9am. I couldn't believe how fresh and energized I felt. All my plane trips for the past six years has been with one or two children in tow and I was so used to arriving at my destination, completely drained before even starting my holiday that I had incorrectly started to think that it was the norm.  We checked into a crappy motel and then we were off to the beautiful Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills for some lunch and shopping. O.M.G. Food never tasted so good nor retail therapy felt as satisfying. Don't get me wrong, the food and wine was definitely first class and the shops in this picturesque little village were full of beautiful things but it was the fact that I could take it all in, in peace, that really made the difference.

Here's a photo from Hahdorf - Australia's oldest German settlement. German Lutheran immigrated here in 1838 when they were persecuted by the King of Prussia.

The convention officially started on Friday night and we were clogging for the rest of the weekend. I think it was the combination of the boosted levels of endorphins and the sudden freedom from parental responsibility that had me on a high all weekend. I hardly ate or slept and yet I had all the energy in the world! All the workshops, from basics to advanced, were fun. I love it when I have to stress my brain and body in an advanced class only to find that its too wired up after that and gets confused in a basic class afterwards. Keeps things interesting!

Needless to say, the clogging convention was fantastic fun and I am already looking forward to the one in Canberra next year. I'm still not good enough to be putting videos up but here's a photo of my parents and I.

So what happened when we arrived back in Brisbane? We got home after midnight and I was up again at 6am because Richard had to leave for work. 6am was no earlier than I was waking up over the weekend but all of a sudden, there was no clogging to look forward to and only two kids that needed breakfast to be made. It was hard to go from the extreme high of the weekend back to the day to day life of a stay at home mom. I thought of the kids over the weekend but I didn't miss them at all - they were in good hands and I knew that Richard was giving them a fun weekend. The day to day things made time fly but it is only now that I feel 'normal' again in my routine. No more super highs and that sudden feeling of a crash landing. I'm back in the rhythm of the stay-at-home mom life but I am more motivated than ever to become a better and faster clogger.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Little Rooms With Views

There was a funny article in the news yesterday about the toilets on the 18th floor of a hotel. The cubicles had a full pane of glass that looked out and supposedly, the people using the toilets thought that the glass was reflective on the other side. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case and some people found onlookers waving at them while they were in there. Here's the accompanying photo. I can't quite figure out why there are two people in that cubicle, second from the left.

Toilets hotel Standard

I love toilet stories and while it wasn't amusing at the times I needed to use certain toilets, they are funny memories to have. Here is my list of most 'interesting' toilets.

The most difficult decision I've had to make about toilet cubicles was in Lijiang, China. It was a choice between the cubicle with no door, or the cubicle that had a big window one side, looking out onto a car park. I chose the window because there was nobody outside at that moment and I thought I could be quick enough. Plus, when I was seated, only my upper body was visible.

The cleanest outdoor toilet was one on the border of Cambodia and Vietnam. There were only four low walls and no roof so the sun dried up the inside of the cubicles and vaporised all smells. The only problem was that the walls were only as tall as a person so it was possible the peep over.

The most confronting toilet I've visited was another one somewhere en-route from Dali to Lijiang in China. This was an outdoor, public restroom that was very 'basic'. I walked in and there were two ladies, squatting side by side having a chat. I couldn't even make myself try to go so I just left and prayed there would be another toilet stop soon. There was another similar one in Chengdu except it was in a government building and fully tiled - I went there because there was nobody else around.

The scariest toilet was the one on my father's farm. I was seven or eight years old when he had his farm so my memory might have exaggerated things. It was a big hole dug in the ground, with two planks thrown over for a person to squat over. There were walls, a roof and a door but those planks were wobbly and it was a long fall down to you-know-what.

I think its time I did more travelling to get some new stories. I'll be going to Adelaide at the end of this week but I doubt there are any interesting loos there.

Friday, September 14, 2012

More On Kids And Imagination

When we were in Palembang, we lived opposite a family that had a son that was around 7 years old at the time. Aaron and I went over one day and they generously offered Aaron some toys to play with. That 7 year old's entire collection of toys fitted in one standard sized drawer. As we left their house to go home, I noticed that they could see right into our house and probably at the end of each day, all of Aaron's toys strewn over the floors.I don't think that boy missed out on anything because he had a fantastic time with his friends outdoors. I did still feel a little uncomfortable about the amount of toys our 2 year old had - were we really so greedy and materialistic? 

While Aaron had a lot in comparison to that little boy, I would classify his stash of toys as small to medium sized. And I've always tried to keep toys to a minimum in our house. I'll admit that the number of books has gone a little out of control but the toy level is acceptable. Recently, I was asked how I kept them occupied without topping up the toys throughout the year. 

Well, these photos will explain what they get up to when left alone with their toys and other things. Not long ago, I had this post on their crazy imagination. And now, we have some examples of medieval weapons. 

The Spade Catapult - you can see the shadow of the projectile in the second photo. 

The Hanger Bow with clothes peg and sandal arrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Do You Look Forward To?

During the morning drive to school, I asked Aaron what he was looking forward to today. Without hesitation, he said "Coming home and doing some gardening." I was a little bit disappointed that he didn't show more enthusiasm for school but perhaps its because he feels he's missing out something fun that Adrian and I might get up to at home.  He doesn't dislike school and unless he's sick, he never asks to stay home. I'm also pretty sure that he does enjoys the time in school and the interaction he has with his friends. He usually doesn't want to go home when I pick him up in the afternoons.

On my drive home, I thought about what I looked forward to in each of my very routine days spent chauffeuring Aaron to and from school and fitting in housework and cooking in between. Each night, before I fall asleep, I am full of enthusiasm for the next day. Full of good intentions, I often plan out all the educational and fun activities that I can do with the both of them the next day. Things are very different in the morning and I often find my patience running out before we even leave for school. 

This is about the time that I look forward to drive that we will have - fifteen minutes of the two of them strapped into their car seats. Its great if things go well and we have some funny conversation but its also OK with me if they decide to fight the whole way to school. I just turn up the radio and forget about them for awhile. Either way, driving is break time. I get optimistic again on the drive home and start to look forward to some productive time with Adrian. 

I try to spend the morning reading or doing some activity related to numbers with Adrian in the morning. Its exhausting and by 11am, I look forward to his nap time at noon. And during his nap, I'm recharged again and look forward to more time with him when he wakes up. 

There is a disturbing pattern here. I keep looking forward to time doing things with Aaron and Adrian but then when that time is the present, I look forward to the time that I get a break. I wonder if I ever fully enjoy the time that I am spending with them. Or is it meant to be that way? Fun, precious but exhausting times that can only be sustained in short bursts. 

So, those were the short term things that I look forward to. On the medium term horizon, and by medium, I'm talking about the week, I probably look forward to Thursdays. Its my favourite day because I get a night off and get to go dancing. And on the long term horizon, I definitely look forward to school holidays. Once again, I am full of grand plans for them. 

What do you look forward to?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Refreshed After A Wedding

I attended a beautiful wedding yesterday. The bride was a close high school friend but we have only met up a handful of times since then. I felt very honored that she invited me and although I was worried that I wouldn't know anybody else, I looked forward to it.

We arrived 15 mins early but there was already a crowd of people gathered outside the church. Of course, we didn't know anyone and stood awkwardly to the side for a short while before deciding to go inside. There were a few other people sitting by themselves inside - they probably didn't know anybody else either. As I walked past one lady, we immediately went "Hey! I know you....". She was another high school friend and the only other person I know at the wedding. Needless to say, it was wonderful catching up with her.

This was actually the first time that I was attending a wedding in Australia and I had no idea what to expect. As it turned out, the wedding yesterday was not very different to the many other weddings I have attended in Malaysia. The church ceremony was similar and the reception was long, full of speeches and extremely noisy. Even the food was presented in a similar way on what they called a 'Rolling Menu'. It reminded me of the 'Chinese style' because the food was served on a center dish and you could take as much or as little as you liked. I have to say that, the food was much more interesting that the traditional Chinese wedding dinner ones. Thats probably because I've been to so many of those and they all serve exactly the same food. While we're on the topic of food, the many forks and knives had Richard a little confused. In Malaysia, its just the one pair of chopsticks. Luckily he was there with me.

The noise levels too were very similar to those at weddings in Malaysia. I suppose the happiness and joy that comes from a wedding is the same no matter which part of the world you're in. Unfortunately, we were seated at a part of the room that was no getting enough of the A/C and after a couple of hours, it was stuffy and warm. I thought I was dehydrated but I think I just wasn't getting enough air to breathe. I started to get a headache and was starting to feel quite sleepy - until I went out for a toilet break and felt the sudden rush of fresh air when I left the room.

We didn't join the crowd to party on into the night but left at about 10.30pm instead - I was exhausted and all I could think of was crashing onto my bed! I went to sleep feeling happy to see my friend so in love and so loved. And, I felt somewhat refreshed (in a tired sort of way) after a day of looking nice, being around adults and generally having a good time. I am ready to start my week as a mother again - motivated, determined and with patience topped up a little.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Construction Worker

I mentioned in an earlier post that Adrian loves everything to do with construction. Here he is with one of his favourite t-shirts featuring a construction worker. He found these goggles in my father's workshop and reacted as if he had found treasure. I did try to put the goggles on the correct way for him but he insists that this is the way its meant to be. Must be because he looks at that picture upside down....

Please visit My Little Drummer Boys for many more 'wordless' Wednesdays.