Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Halloween

I'm not sure when Australians started celebrating Halloween but its definitely been gaining momentum over the past five years. On a whim, we decided to join a group of children from the school who were having a Halloween picnic followed by some trick or treating around the suburb near the school. 

It was the first time I've ever had anything to do with Halloween. Aaron and Adrian enjoyed dressing up and walking the streets with all the other little kids. They were excited about going up to the houses but didn't seem to care for all the candy. They had such a good time that by the time we got home, they had become super tired and super negative children that just cried and whined until their heads hit their pillows. 

For more Wordless Wednesdays, please visit My Little Drummer Boys.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How was your weekend?

The inevitable question that everybody asks and gets asked on a Monday is "How was your weekend?" And, the automatic response that most people have is "Good". I know I do that and my "Good" can mean anything from 'fantastic' to 'nothing special'.

This was one of those weekends that I didn't do anything special. In fact, apart from taking Aaron to gymnastics and going to church on Sunday morning, we didn't even leave the house. So, it was a normal weekend - and it was good.

I got around to mending a lot of clothes that Aaron and I had piled up. None of the clothes needed major repair work but little tears here and there, or a loose button still takes up a bit of time to get done. While I was getting some sewing done, I also made Adrian a new pair of shorts.

The hardest job we had on the weekend was sorting the legos. Aaron and I like to have the various sizes sorted out so that its easy to find parts when we're building things.  So, I got that done while Aaron kept Adrian occupied.

Adrian definitely knows what to do with lego bricks but he is always dismembering the lego people. 

I managed to put most of them back together but there are still a few body parts missing. And I think a few people missing too.

So that was my weekend, it was fairly productive and mostly restful. What did you do?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Its Music Time

TGIF! is no longer something I yell out on Friday mornings. My weekend mornings are exactly the same as my weekday mornings. On Saturdays Aaron has to be at gymnastics by 9am and on Sundays we go to mass at 8.30am. There are no slack mornings for me. No roaming around in my PJs and taking my time to get breakfast ready. No lounging around doing nothing. No letting the children get away with not eating breakfast. I've got to do something about this next term.

There is no point in whinging so my remedy for the energy sapping effects of my daily grind is this album by Caro Emerald that I've only recently discovered - Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor was released in 2010. She's a dutch jazz singer that has been popular in Holland since 2010. I like all the songs on the album but I think my favorite is That Man. I don't particularly like this video but I'm definitely hooked on the song.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Mini Gardener

I'm going to take this opportunity to brag while I can. Adrian prefers gardening to TV. Even if he's already watching something, if offered the opportunity to go out into the garden, he ditches the idiot box. I know the inevitable cross over to the dark side will happen sooner or later but I must be doing something right at the moment.

For more Wordless Wednesdays, please visit My Little Drummer Boys. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hot Day Out

Today was a scorching day! I was reluctant to venture out in the heat but we had made arrangements with some other people to check out the first Malaysian Festival in Brisbane. So, we covered ourselves in sunscreen, got out our hats and made our way there.

When I had initially heard of this festival, I envisioned it to be filled with stalls selling Char Koay Teow, Roti Canai, Laksa and many more of the delicious foods that Malaysia definitely has to offer. After all, eating, is every Malaysian's favourite past time. And for the cultural aspect of the festival, I thought they would showcase the traditional dances from Malays, Chinese and Indians as well as some of those from the native tribes.

I was sorely disappointed. I felt that it was a bit of a sham of a festival. Yes, harsh words but its how I feel.

It was held right in the middle of the city at King George Square. A very prominent position so they would have had a lot of traffic. I think I felt a little embarrassed on behalf of the organizers.

During the drought, King George Square was converted from a pleasant place with grass and a small fountain into a vast expanse of concrete in front of the city hall. You can imagine how much hotter all that concrete made the day. There was hardly any shade so it was incredibly silly of the organizers to expect anybody to sit on the chairs they had put out in front of the stage. They were lucky that there were people risking skin cancer to line up at the handful of food stalls they had there. After the long wait in the sun, the food was not up to standard. There are many good Malaysian restaurants in Brisbane - Why didn't they invite them to come help out?

Here's the one and only photo I took. We managed to squeeze onto one of the few shaded benches and Aaron is trying to pull of a bit of chewy chicken satay. Thats my mother in her I'm-too-hot-to-eat pose next to him.

I understand that many of the participants in this festival were students but surely they could have been more professional. I saw that the QUT Malaysian Students Association was represented and was quite excited because 20 years ago, that was my brainchild! I'm talking about hand made signs that were poorly laminated, unattractive stalls and even a messy cluster of large garbage bins left in the middle of the main area.

We did persevere in the heat awhile because I hoped that some of the performances they had would be 'educational' for my two son. The worst must have been the 'band' that entertained in between traditional dances with sappy karaoke songs from the 80s. Who wants to listen to Careless Whisper while baking in the hot sun? The dances were nothing to rave about either because they were all half hearted attempts and gave me the impression they thought that their intended audience wouldn't know any better about what they were doing.

I was hot, a little grumpy and definitely disappointed. Instead of showcasing the wonderful food, multiculturalism, and traditions, it reminded me of the many times in my Malaysian life that I have been frustrated by situations or services that were half heartedly thought out.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Must Read Parenting Test

This was too funny not to share. The original was on The Living Gorgeously Blog.

Except for Test 1 and Test 14, I have definitely lived each of these situations at one time or other. Some of them, like the sleepless nights, messy cars and children's TV shows, have come and gone, probably to return when I least expect it. Others, like Test 2 about knowing it all or grocery shopping still crop up every now and then just to remind me they are lurking in the shadows.

There are 14 Tests altogether but take the time to read it and have a chuckle. Obviously, its nothing that any parent doesn't already know but it works great as stress relief after a day of living some of these realities.

Test 1: Preparation
Women: To prepare for pregnancy 
1.Put on a dressing gown and stick a beanbag down the front.
2.Leave it there.
3.After 9 months remove 5% of the beans.

Men: To prepare for children
1.Go to a local chemist, tip the contents of your wallet onto the counter and tell the pharmacist to help himself
2.Go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3.Go home. Pick up the newspaper and read it for the last time.

Test 2: Knowledge
Find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels and how they have allowed their children to run wild. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behaviour.

Enjoy it. It will be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers.

Test 3: Nights
To discover how the nights will feel:
1. Walk around the living room from 5pm to 10pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 4 - 6kg, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly.
2. At 10pm, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 11pm and walk the bag around the living room until 1am.
4. Set the alarm for 3am.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2am and make a cup of tea.
6. Go to bed at 2.45am.
7. Get up again at 3am when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs in the dark until 4am.
9. Put the alarm on for 5am. Get up when it goes off.
10.Make breakfast.
Keep this up for 5 years. LOOK CHEERFUL.

Test 4: Dressing Small Children
1.Buy a live octopus and a string bag.
2.Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that no arms hangout.
Time Allowed: 5 minutes.

Test 5:Cars
1.Forget the BMW. Buy a practical 5-door wagon.
2.Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
3.Get a coin. Insert it into the CD player.
4.Take a box of chocolate biscuits; mash them into the back seat.
5.Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Test 6: Going For a Walk
a. Wait.
b. Go out the front door.
c. Come back in again.
d. Go out.
e. Come back in again.
f. Go out again.
g. Walk down the front path.
h. Walk back up it.
i. Walk down it again.
j. Walk very slowly down the road for five minutes.
k. Stop, inspect minutely and ask at least 6 questions about every piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue and dead insect along the way.
l. Retrace your steps.
m. Scream that you have had as much as you can stand until the neighbours come out and stare at you.
n. Give up and go back into the house.
You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

Test 7: Conversations with children
Repeat everything you say at least 5 times.

Test 8: Grocery Shopping
1. Go to the local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child - a fully grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat.
2. Buy your weekly groceries without letting the goat(s) out of your sight.
3. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys.
Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Test 9: Feeding a 1 year-old
1. Hollow out a melon
2. Make a small hole in the side
3. Suspend the melon from the ceiling and swing it side to side
4. Now get a bowl of soggy cornflakes and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon while pretending to be an aeroplane.
5. Continue until half the cornflakes are gone.
6. Tip the rest into your lap, making sure that a lot of it falls on the floor.

Test 10: TV
1. Learn the names of every character from the Wiggles, Barney, Teletubbies and Disney.
2. Watch nothing else on television for at least 5 years.

Test 11:  Mess
Can you stand the mess children make? To find out:
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains
2. Hide a fish behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flowerbeds and then rub them on clean walls. Cover the stains with crayon. How does that look?
4. Empty every drawer/cupboard/storage box in your house onto the floor and proceed with step 5.
5. Drag randomly items from one room to another room & leave them there.

Test 12: Long Trips with Toddlers
1. Make a recording of someone shouting 'Mummy' repeatedly. Important Notes: No more than a 4 second delay between each Mummy. Include occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet.
2. Play this tape in your car, everywhere you go for the next 4 years.
You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Test 13: Conversations
1.Start talking to an adult of your choice.
2.Have someone else continually tug on your shirt hem or shirt sleeve while playing the Mummy tape listed above.
You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

Test 14: Getting ready for work
1. Pick a day on which you have an important meeting.
2. Put on your finest work attire.
3. Take a cup of cream and put 1 cup of lemon juice in it
4. Stir
5. Dump half of it on your nice silk shirt
6. Saturate a towel with the other half of the mixture
7. Attempt to clean your shirt with the same saturated towel
8. Do not change (you have no time).
9. Go directly to work

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Chopsticks

He's getting the hang of it...

For more Wordless Wednesdays, visit My Little Drummer Boys.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Toy Cleanup Training

Aaron is fantastic at cleaning up his toys. He mastered this 'skill' very early on and has accepted it as part of his day. In fact, he used to operate on the rule that he could have no more than three toys out at any one time.

Unfortunately, I have failed with Adrian. Its not that I didn't try but I think I didn't spend as much time following through with what needs to be done. And also, Aaron has always helped to clean up the mess that Adrian made. The result now is that Adrian plays with everything in the toy cupboard at the same. And when the time comes to clean up, he does nothing. 

Obviously, I needed to do something about this and over the past couple of weeks, I have started and adhered to a strict toy cleanup routine at the end of each day. When its time, I let them know, then I turn the timer on for 15 minutes. Once the timer rings, I walk around with the laundry basket and pick up any toys that are still out and keep them. Most of the time I forget to return the toys and only return them when the store room is full. Adrian did look like he got the idea and I was initially encouraged with his behavior. Then, the smarty pants worked out that he could sit back and do the bare minimum because Aaron would always pick up the slack. Aargh!! I definitely felt sorry for Aaron. 

So a few days ago, I started waiting for an opportunity to step up the repercussions. Finally, I saw Adrian carelessly discard a toy that he likes in the middle of the kitchen. Aha! In I swooped, picked it up, made a big show of it and then threw it in the rubbish bin. He was horrified and understandably upset. The good and bad to this little incident was that Aaron ended up feeling sorry for Adrian and helped him get the toy out of the bin and even washed it for him. 

The drastic move of throwing his toys in the bin actually backfired on me. The next time I kept his toys away in the store room, he came to clarify that I wasn't putting them in the bin and then was completely fine with them being taken away. 

Frustrating right? Why was it so hard to get him to pack up the toys. He has a perfectly good example in Aaron to follow. 

I had to step it up once more. Yesterday, I not only picked up the few toys that he didn't get around to. I also, took out all three drawers full of toys because he left the cupboard doors open. He wasn't paying attention when I did my rounds so he had no idea.

The look on his face was priceless when he opened up the cupboards this morning and saw them completely empty. These are toys that he mostly plays with so he definitely felt the pain. And for now, he's showing some sign that he is getting the idea of picking up his share of the toys. 

How long will it last?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Excuses, excuses, excuses

Why haven't I been blogging? One friend tried to be funny and said that I was so busy clogging that I forgot about blogging. Thats not the case, I think about it every day. Some days I get a good blog topic idea but by the time 9pm comes, I'm too drained to do anything about it. Other days are so packed that coherent thoughts do not get a chance to enter my head and at 9pm, I keep it that way by watching TV. I always feel a little guilty because this is the only place that I get to write in full sentences.

Unfortunately, Richard has started a working roster that has him away from home for three weeks at a time before getting a week off. I wouldn't say that life is 'harder' now but it is definitely more hectic. It isn't harder because I think I was already doing all the hard bits in dealing with the children all day. The extra work I do now is more to do with the chores that need to get done in the house. Thankfully, my parents are here at the moment but my days definitely start earlier and end later now.

Also, I'm constantly feeling like I'm playing catch up to how quickly Aaron and Adrian are developing. They are so receptive to anything that I want to teach them but I am not getting around to it. I have grand plans but in the end, poor Aaron has to work on things by himself and Adrian is often left to get himself into trouble.

Finally, just as this blog is supposedly where I remind myself to write in complete sentences, stock trading is where I remind myself that I have a use other than parenting. Even making a couple of hundred dollars each week provides me with a huge sense of accomplishment. So every day, when I finally get to sit down at around 9pm, I go to my stocks first before blogging. All I really want to do at that time of the day is watch TV but its too easy to fall into that trap. Surprisingly, it is my mother, the same woman who at one time limited me to an hour of TV during school weeks, who is tempting me each night.

And there you have it - all of my excuses for not blogging since we got back from Adelaide. I think the only way to get back into the blogging routine is to do it daily. This is something I haven't done for several years but I will be attempting to do that, even if its just a few complete sentences.