Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Funny Faces

Aaron and Adrian having a strong influence on one of my friends.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The 20 Year Reunion

I had a good time. It was the strangest feeling at the beginning but after awhile, things settled down. As I mentioned in the previous post, a friend picked me up so that we wouldn't need to go there alone. Thank goodness for that last minute security-blanket type of arrangement! While walking into the school grounds, we saw little clusters of people who waved at us, and we waved back while saying we had no idea who we were. Out of approximately 200 girls from our year, 70 attended yesterday's reunion. Only very few from my 'inner circle' of friends attended but there were many others that I was friends with that were there. So here's the nutshell...

The Expected...
- We started the reunion with a mass. I remember the last thing we did at school 20 years ago was to attend mass. Afterall, the school is called 'All Hallows' School'.

- There are no more nuns living in the convent and only one nun on the school staff. I was a little sad to find out that my old piano teacher only passed away earlier this year. I should have made the time to visit her.

- Everyone was in the same boat in terms of not being able to remember other people's names. Sometimes there were awkward moments when I found myself having a brief staring competition with somebody else while we tried to figure out names or even if we knew the other person.

- There was gossip, just like there was 20 years ago. In fact, there was even continuation of 20 year old gossip....I'd better not mention it here.

The Unexpected...

The chapel was smaller but prettier than I remembered it. Actually, the whole school was prettier! I'm sure it looked the same 20 years ago but I couldn't appreciate it then.

- We can all still sing in Latin! BUT, we still don't sing the hymns during mass and we even had a few wrong responses (hey...they're new) - the priest jokingly told us off and then proceeded to give us a pop quiz on the church.

- The remaining nun saw me and yelled out my full name. Then she gave me a BIG HUG! We weren't exactly buddies back in the day. I had a nice long chat with her and she gave me many ideas about how to make piano lessons interesting for Aaron. Funny how she knew of all these techniques but never used them. In the end, I took her number and I am going to visit her with Christmas presents one of these days.

- Two girls passed away the year after we left school - one from anorexia and another commited suicide. One other girl was murdered on a holiday to South America. Sad, sad news to hear.

- The gregarious girls had all become quieter and the quiet girls had all become much more confident. I'm putting this under 'unexpected' because it wasn't how I remembered them.

- I enjoyed the whole reunion more than I thought I would. In fact, I didn't plan to go out for drinks with them afterwards but I did and I almost didn't want to go home because they were such good company.

I wonder if there will be a 30 year reunion, and I wonder if I'll go. I'll probably chicken by then again and need my friend to come pick me up....better go let her know now.

Friday, November 23, 2012

20 Year Reunion Jitters

I've known for most of this year that my 20 year High School Reunion would be in November. And, for most of the year, I had it in my mind that I would not go. I liked the idea of going and thought it might be nice to meet up with some old friends but I still felt that I was not prepared to go. With my significantly compromised social skills, its hard enough work to mingle with people that I see regularly so the prospect of meeting up with a big group of strangers (which is basically what a group of people you haven't seen in 20 years is) was too daunting and I wasn't going to attempt it. And of course, there would be that inevitable question "What have you been up to?". Exactly. What have I been up to?

Twice during the year, I met up with the one of the two high school friends that I have kept in contact with. This girl has been excited about the reunion from the first mention of it. That made me feel all the more insecure because I was being such a wuss about the whole thing. Two days before the registration closing date, this same friend sends me an email, asking if I had my ticket. She still sounded very excited about it all.

I wasn't going to be that pathetic person and immediately signed up and got myself a ticket. I also sent her an email saying I had my ticket but I was feeling very apprehensive about it all. Guess what?! She wrote back saying that she was too. She was excited initially but now she almost didn't want to go but felt that she had to because its been 20 years. Phew! This is from the most accomplished person I know so maybe I'm not so pathetic after all. As a reminder of our past, she rang up this evening with a question that I haven't heard since high school "What are you wearing?"

A group of mothers I was talking to today also made me feel a little more normal. They too use their kids as an excuse to get out of awkward mingling situations. They also wonder if they talk too much, or too little. Going anywhere solo is a big deal when you spend all day, every day, communicating with little ones who may or may not fully communicate yet. 

So tomorrow is the day. I can't back out now so I'll just have to make sure that I enjoy myself and hopefully find some new 'old' friends. Any tips?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Storms and Broken Hearts

This past weekend saw a lot of destruction across Brisbane as five supercell storms raged through Southeast Queensland. I think this was one of the images of Brisbane during the day time while one of the storms struck. I've copied this photo from one of the newspapers.

Even with the threat of storms, my weekend started in an awesome way with the Tap Dogs concert. I took Aaron and Adrian and they sat still, and mesmerized, for 90 minutes. It was a fantastic!

The weekend sort of went flat after that because of the threat of storms. We just stayed home. I have surge protectors for the computers but the storms were so fierce that I didn't want to risk being online during the storms. I've had two previous modems/routers fried by storms before.

We were at home for four of the storms but I didn't notice the fifth one coming and we were out on the roads when day turned to night in five minutes and it started hailing on us. Thankfully, we managed to squeeze in with a bunch of other cars under an overpass. We were on the roads because I was on my way clogging but obviously, I didn't make it there and went sulking home.

It was at home that the big drop of the weekend came. When I finally got on the computer again, I thought I'd go do a backup of my photos. This is something I do regularly because my most precious possessions are these photos of my children. Guess what? I made the horrible discovery that all, ALL, the photos from 2011 were missing. I tried to contain my panic as I looked through the 4 external hard drives that I own. I initially thought that all photos prior to 2012 were gone. I managed to find some photos from 2010 but the last few months of 2010 were missing. So in total, I'm missing 16 months of photos. Don't ask me how this happened - I have no idea. I can't say it wasn't me but I can't be sure about that either.

You can't (or maybe you can) imagine the heartbreak this caused. Visualise a heart with cracks all through it because I was trying to contain the panic and then when I double and triple confirmed that the photos were nowhere to be found, just imagine that heart crumbling to bits. I couldn't get to sleep that night.

Eventually, I found some consolation in my phone. The same phone that I berated Richard for giving me for my birthday. The same phone that I said I would never need. Well, one day, several months ago, I accidentally did some sync with all my Google accounts and it has all the photos that I've ever posted Picasa web albums, including those missing ones. I always thought those photos were somehow from my PC and it wasn't until this disaster that I worked out they were from Picasa. I also remember wanting to delete it from the web albums because I'm running out of space but I hadn't gotten around to it yet. So, I have some photos - not a lot, but enough for me to remember what Adrian looked like during these adorable toddler months.

I've been spending my time, saving these photos back onto my unreliable PC hard disk and will then be carefully copying them onto one or more of my external hard disks and eventually, I will be making a photo book out of them so that I have a hard copy. All the copying and pasting has been a healing process and I am no longer depressed and grumpy now.

So the moral of the story is not just to backup but to check your backups.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Bigfoot

We're still on the footwear theme this week. Aaron could hardly lift his feet to walk in Richard's steel capped work boots.

Please visit My Little Drummer Boys for more Wordless Wednesdays.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Faith and Trust in Teachers

Last week, Aaron's class had a breakfast where parents were invited into the classroom to work with the children and then have a bit to eat before the normal school day started. Here are a couple of photos:

Playing around with molecules:

Clay tablet writing as part of their study of Mesopotamia:

Initially, I was very excited to see that he's exposed to such a variety of work in his classroom but I ended up in a bit of a panic before the end of the breakfast. Yes, ungrateful me. And, shameful me. I looked in his 'completed work' folder and I saw mainly short stories and drawings and only a little bit of work on numeracy skills. The traditional school system mindset in me just leaped out and started questioning Aaron about what work he did with numbers. This has been a fear I've had for nearly a term because Aaron is all about reading and writing at the moment.

I spoke to the teachers about this last term but they assured me that we needed to follow his lead and allow him this burst of writing. They also gave me the impression that they would make sure he got around to other areas of the classroom. Admittedly, working with the molecules or the clay tablets wouldn't end up in his folder but I think I know my son well enough to see from his 'completed folder' that he spends almost no time on numbers, or other types of work.

One of the challenges when sending your child to a Montessori school is the letting go of the expectation that a child is going to be working on all aspects of early childhood education at the same time. I think it involves a huge level of faith and trust in the teachers - more than in a traditional school because its easier for the parent in that traditional environment to get a snapshot of how a child is performing in class. In Aaron's class there isn't a traditional syllabus (or homework or any form of assessment) and therefore, it is impossible to know what a child is learning in the classroom because they all learn at their own pace. They also don't all study the same things. The 'completed folder' is only taken home at the end of a term and for a control freak like me, it means that I had no influence over what just happened in the term.

Since the breakfast, I've met with Aaron's teachers and I feel much better. They do agree that it is time to introduce more activities in numeracy and they will also try to introduce writing book reports to broaden his writing skills. I have faith and trust in them but doubt frequently creeps in. It wasn't my plan to be one of those parents that constantly bugged teachers, and I haven't so far, however, I think I'm going to try to check in with them a little more frequently (monthly?). They need their space but I need my peace of mind!

P.S. No, I haven't forgotten that Aaron is six and a half. I also haven't forgotten that the Montessori principle of following the child doesn't only apply to allowing a child to follow their interests but also means that the work they are introduced to is not restricted by their age. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

What Table Manners?

The subject of 'table manners' is interesting because behavior that is considered rude in one culture may actually be the polite thing to do in another. Burping is the perfect example and one that comes to mind because I had a conversation about it today. In most Western cultures, this is rude and definitely regarded as disgusting. I'm usually OK with it but I did find it a little gross when we were surrounded by it during meals out in Indonesia. Although, after awhile, I hardly noticed it. A quick check through Google seems to show that some Eskimo tribes and South Sea Island tribes burp as a sign of politeness at the end of a meal.

I also came across this fun site for kids. Its in the form of a quiz about the table manners from different countries. Give it a go here.

And if you want to do even more reading on this, here are a few from

Dinner guests are treated like royalty: they’re seated farthest from the door, they’re offered food first and expected to eat the most, and they’re always given the prime portion from each dish.
If you drop bread on the floor while dining at a table, pick it up, kiss it, and touch it to your forehead before putting it somewhere other than the floor.
Never wave chopsticks at another person, bang them like drumsticks, use them to move plates or bowls, or stab them vertically into a bowl of rice. This last gesture indicates that the food is meant for the dead.
To serve a guest, use the blunt ends of your own chopsticks to transfer food from a communal dish to the guest’s plate.
When chopsticks are not in use, place them neatly on the table, side by side, with the ends even.
When picking food out of a communal dish, select only food that is on the top of the pile and the closest distance to your plate. Do not rummage through the serving dish to select specific food items for yourself.
Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after eating.
In general, eat with your right hand and use your left hand to pass communal dishes.
You must finish everything on your plate.
Do not leave the table until all guests have finished eating or your host asks for your help.
Before you commence a meal, wait for your host to tell you three times to begin eating.
The youngest person at the table should pour alcohol for the other diners, beginning with the most senior person. A senior should then pour the server’s beverage.
Never transfer food from one pair of chopsticks to another. When women transfer food with chopsticks from a serving dish to their mouth, they should cup their hand beneath the food; men should not.
Rubbing chopsticks together to remove splinters is a sign of disrespect to the restaurant or host.
When eating hot noodles, you are encouraged to make a slurping noise; the Japanese believe that this inhalation of air enhances the noodles’ flavor.
Pieces of sushi should be eaten in a single bite whenever possible; if you must eat a piece in more than one bite, never place it back down on your plate between bites.
Before each meal, Muslim Pakistanis always recite this phrase: “Bismillah Ar-Rahman al-Rahim.” (“In the name of Allah, who is most beneficial and merciful.”) Afterward, they say, “Al-Hamdu-lillah.” (“Thanks be to God.”)
Do not begin eating until the eldest member of the family is seated at the table.
Always chew quietly enough that no one else can hear you.
Always tear bread into pieces before eating it, and use only your right hand.
Before you enter a dining room, select a seat at a table, or serve yourself food, always wait for an invitation from the host.
Never refuse a sample of food from the host; always clean your plate.
When you have finished eating, place your fork and spoon side by side on your plate, facing up.
Always help your host clear the table.
Never stare at another person’s plate or saucer.
It is polite to leave a little bit of food on your plate at the end of a meal, as a tribute to the host’s abundant hospitality.
Always cultivate a vivacious, relaxed dining atmosphere.
Upon leaving the table, always compliment the person who cooked your food.
There you have it. Make sure you remember correctly which country you should OR shouldn't finish all the food on your plate. And practice burping in case you need to have dinner in a community where it is necessary. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Shoe Phone!

Adrian has no idea who Maxwell Smart is but they seem to have the same idea about shoes!

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I'm a late adopter in almost everything so it comes as no surprise that it has taken me until now to try out a Zumba class. My sister-in-law first told me about it several years ago but I never made it to any of the classes - until Monday. Richard has been back for his rostered week off and since last Wednesday, I have been trying to get to the gym as often as possible. Every time he comes back, we cram so many things into the one week that I never have time to blog.

So yesterday, I went for my first Zumba class. And, I was disappointed. The instructor did not have a motivating way about her. Firstly, she looked like she has had a few too many McDonalds dinners and secondly, she didn't use a microphone. Maybe thats how Zumba classes are, I don't know. She just wasn't good at communicated what she wanted us to do. Trying to yell over the music or use weird hand signs just didn't work. I didn't even break a sweat in that class and left wondering how the Zumba craze even got started.

It was disappointing but I thought I should give it another go because these classes are so dependent on a good instructor. Off I went again today and it was much better. The choreography was different and I did finish the class feeling like I've had a workout. It wasn't as much of a cardio workout as I had imagined it would be (clogging seems to work me harder) but its a fun class to go to that you don't need to feel any pain in. If I needed extra laughs, all I needed to do was look at myself in the mirror.

Will I go for more Zumba classes? Yes, but I won't go out of my way to make it there. I think I like it for the music and also for the training in hand and feet co-ordination. Oh, and of course, hip wiggling - I can't do that either.