Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

We've had a very enjoyable with friends and family. In fact, we had such a good time that I completely forgot to take photos. Facebook is currently full of beautiful family photos and I do wish that we took one too. Never mind, we have the next 12 days in scenic New Zealand to capture more than a few good family photos. Thats the hope but I just checked the weather forecast and it looks like it may be a little wet for the rest of the week. Fingers crossed that it'll clear up by the weekend.

So, I'm off to make sure that we have packed for every possible situation. I did toy with the idea of pretending I was some travel blogger but it was a fleeting thought so I'll only be back blogging after we come home and I've had that mini-holiday after a holiday.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Quiet Christmas Eve

Its been a very ordinary Christmas Eve. I went to return some library books in the morning and then did some last minute grocery shopping. The time at home was filled with easy cooking and cleaning as we'll be having some people over for lunch tomorrow. Aaron and Adrian had a relatively calm and restful time at home and even the presence of presents under the Christmas tree didn't seem to get them excited.

In the evening, we went for an early Christmas mass that was packed with a million children. This is one of the only times in the year that I dress them in shirts instead of t-shirts and look how grumpy Aaron is about it.  We'll have to work on this in 2013.

For the first time, we had some children sitting behind us that were even more restless than Adrian. I didn't gloat but I did feel a teeny bit happy when I heard the mother use Aaron and Adrian as the examples of 'good' children. It was a mass for families with children so the homily was very short. And yet, I seem to have forgotten most of it already - oops!

The one message that I have retained is that God will not be found in calm or peacefulness but instead, God will be present in noise, stress and disorderliness. Those weren't the precise words that the priest used but that was the general message and he was definitely speaking to his audience.  The immediate thought I had was "YES! Good one to use on my parents". We all live in the same house but while I have accepted that my daily life is going to filled with often annoying levels of noise, I can see that it sometimes drives my parents into hiding. They are understanding about it and, I'm sure they'll be good sports too when I tease them with this.

Aaron and Adrian are in bed and I'm about to put out Santa's gifts for them - identical notebooks with pens. I've stuck with the semi boring presents from Santa from the start and saved all the cool presents for Richard and I to give them.

Friday, December 21, 2012

To Hug, or Not To Hug.

The Christmas season is a very confusing time for me because there are always many get togethers to attend and, inevitably, a lot of wishing of 'Merry Christmas'. I like hugs as much as the next person but I can never tell when I'm supposed to give a hug, or just stick my hand out, or when its meant to be a no contact 'Merry Christmas'. For people that I don't know very well, I usually move to shake hands and let them decide if they want to convert it to a hug or not. For the people I do know, and who I know are huggers, I usually give them a hug straight away. Sometimes, there are kisses thrown in to confuse me even further! Am I supposed to give them a kiss too? Is it meant to be an air kiss or a real peck on the cheek? And lets not forget the confusion of one, two or more kisses.

Obviously, I've consulted the internet on what should be done. It hasn't been extremely helpful but I came across a few interesting articles.

Pocket Cultures has a short article entitled Kiss, Hug or Shake Hands? It summarizes the types of greetings that are commonplace in Argentina, Brazil, Great Britain, Romania, Singapore and India. Its not just about the hugs and kisses, there is also a guide on what the usual response should be to the simple question of 'How are you?'

This article from the BBC is lengthy but offers a quick guide on the number of kisses:

Four: Paris
Three: Brittany, Netherlands, Belgium (if other person 10 years older), Egypt, Russia, Switzerland
Two: Spain, Austria, Hungary, Greece, some parts of France
One: Belgium
Close friends and family only: Germany, Italy, Middle East (except between male friends)
Don't try it: Japan (bow)

And finally, there was this funny article from The Australian. Its written from a man's perspective on the confusing air kiss. This isn't the only article that mentions it, but it looks like social kissing in Australia is a fairly recent, 'fashionable', behavior.

Anyway, there are three days left to Christmas so I'll be putting my hugs into practice. I don't think I'm advancing to the social kissing level yet but who knows, maybe next year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cheeky Monkey!

Look at this face. Isn't he cute? 

I thought that this was going to be my 'easy' son. He was cheaper (public hospitals and all immunizations were free). He slept really well, up until he was 3 months. He was always happy. Rarely gets angry. No tantrums. Responded in a sweet voice even when I was mad at him. 


Lately, he has increased the cheekiness level by 200%. He gets into everything. One evening, I found a big hole in the middle of the backyard, a deep one! And just now, he unraveled the entire spool of thread that was on my sewing machine. He still uses that sweet voice when he tells me that he can't do whatever it is that I'm asking him to. This little guy needs a lot more training than Aaron did. He's finally good at tidying up but thats only after I manage to presss the 'ON' button  on him to get things going. 

He's in bed now and looking as sweet as ever. In the evenings, I always think that I've been too hard on him but in the morning and should try to enjoy all this cuteness more. But in the mornings, usually around breakfast time, I'm bound to be less sweet than he is. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - One Of A Kind Christmas Cards

Aaron has been hard at work making these cards for some of the friends he has made in my clogging classes.

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Remembering Conversations

I have thousands of photos to remember how cute my children are and what they got up to. However, they also say thousands of funny and sweet things. They are chatterboxes that speak non-stop from the moment they wake up every morning. How do I keep a record of those moments?

This is what I heard at bedtime tonight. Aaron was in his room and I was in mine with Adrian.

Aaron : Good night, Mama
Me : Good night, Aaron
Adrian : Koko (thats what Adrian calls Aaron), Good night.
Aaron : Good night, Adrian
Adrian : See you tomorrow

There was silence for a long time and I thought Aaron was asleep until...

Aaron : Love you a lot, Mama
Me : I love you too Aaron
There was a bit of a pause here. 
Adrian : I love you, Koko
Aaron : I love you too, Adrian

Now isn't that sweet? It was such a simple conversation but was so endearing to listen to. I wish I could have recordings of these little exchanges to go along with the thousands of photos.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I Want Shy Children

We've just come back from another clogging Christmas party. Once again, I took Aaron and Adrian along. They were relatively well behaved - didn't get up to any mischief, no tantrums and no disgusting behavior  However, they have become very familiar with many of my clogging friends and have no qualms about going up to any of them. Aaron spent a lot of time talking to one particular lady. When I asked him to give her a break, he'd find somebody else and go sit on their lap. And, Adrian would run up to random people, pull a funny face, and run away. They were lapping up the attention!

I don't think they're particularly annoying yet but another Christmas party or two and they would have definitely reached that level. Many of the other cloggers are grandmothers and lovely with the two of them but I'm sure you can imagine how these kids will eventually abuse that situation. Thats why I'm thinking that shy children would be really handy in situations like this. Not 'sticky' children (the type that won't leave your side), just the type that only reluctantly interact with other adults.

Obviously, I'd prefer to keep clogging a place I go to for some time away from being a mother but these days, with Richard away, I have no choice but to bring them along. Thankfully, its only the Christmas parties that I've had to take them a long to but when my parents are back in Malaysia next year, I'll need to take Adrian to a morning class with me.

How do you get these kids to stop bugging people? They're hardwired to bug. Aaron is easy, all I'd need to do is hand him some fresh reading material and he'll sit motionless. Its Adrian thats the distraction because he doesn't read yet. I do have the perfect solution but I've been strong and haven't used it yet - a screen. Last Wednesday, I bought a new $99 tablet for situations like this. All I'd need to do would be to put Angry Birds or maybe The Lorax in front of them and they'd be oblivious to everything else. I've been complimented in the past for NOT doing this but it would make life so much easier. Maybe it could be something that came out only at clogging Christmas parties?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Successful Day

After being around for the past week, Richard left to go back to the middle of nowhere this morning. We're good at these transitions and fell back into our routine immediately. In fact, the day he leaves is usually my best day because I'm refreshed after a week of having some extra help around the house.

Today was especially 'good'. Just take a look at what these two got up to after dinner. They were there for close to 30 mins and afterwards, we played Snakes and Ladders before having another 30 minutes of quiet reading before bed. Well, Aaron and I were quietly reading a book each while Adrian noisily talked himself through five or six before going off to shoot down the ornaments on the Christmas tree.

I'm not counting on tomorrow to be the same. In fact, by the time Richard comes back again, I'll probably be sitting in front of the TV with them after dinner. I'm just enjoying today for what it was - a success for me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Mothering

Before I start writing about what I've been thinking about today, here is a photo from a very enjoyable time that we all had at the beach yesterday.

It was an extremely windy day but the two boys were more than content to dig holes in the sand, run for some water, fill it up only to see it disappear and then start all over again. I took the time to read a book while Richard did a bit of playing and then took the long walk to go get some lunch for us.

So that was an no fuss, happy and relaxed Sunday. The rest of my week is usually enjoyable too and Aaron and Adrian provide numerous reasons for me to laugh. BUT. They also push me to my limit, drive me insane with their numerous whiny requests and generally give me that tense jaw look a zillion times a day. By about 7pm, I am ready for some time without them. I can't wait for them to go to bed so that I can have some peace.

Surely I can't be the only mother that feels this way. (Or maybe I am. Oops!) Today, I was talking to someone about going to the gym and that person asked why I needed to go. I should have just said that I needed to do stay healthy or something like that but in the spur of the moment, honesty was blurted out and I said "Because I need to get away from Aaron and Adrian." Doesn't that sound terrible?

The truth is that when I'm attending a class at the gym, be it Zumba or Body Combat, I don't have any other thoughts in my head except co-ordinating my arms and legs and keeping up with the instructor. Its the same when I go clogging, I don't think of anything else. Even if one of them was sick (minor illness of course) at home, I don't worry about them and just enjoy being free of people needing me.

My honest response about going to the gym has been swirling around my mind. That person must think that I'm a horrible mother! And I feel horrible too for wanting to get away from them but its a necessity. I'm a much better mother after I've had that time to forget about them and just sweat away the day's frustrations. It just irked me a little that somebody might have this horrible, negative impression of me when I'm just trying to be a more pleasant mother.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

We Love Libraries

Aaron is definitely a book worm. The first thing he does every morning is read and he'll read all day if he could. I want this for Adrian too but I admit that I have read to him far less than I read to Aaron at this age. The good thing is that sometimes, Aaron helps me to read to Adrian. 

One of our favourite places to go is the library. They both get so excited about it and really enjoy the time there. I think we have a limit of about 20 books that we can borrow on each of our cards so the boys can pick as many as they like. I usually need to find a shopping cart just to transport the books from the library to the car. Adrian sometimes has problems returning the books but once he's in the library, he gets right into picking out new ones. 

Aaron could spend hours in a library. Now I just need to get Adrian to that stage so that I too can spend hours in a library again.