Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Maria Von Trapp's No.1 Fan ?

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this. I love "The Sound of Music" and I thought a lot of the dresses in the movie were sweet but this guy obviously loves it a lot more than me. Either that or he has a governess that also couldn't find suitable material for clothes. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013


We have been having some fun with dominoes this weekend. Just between us, I thought that buying 100 dominoes was going to be heaps but it turned out to be a really small pack. I think we'll need 1000 to do anything remotely impressive. When I presented it to Aaron and Adrian, I really played up ONE HUNDRED. Thats a huge number when you're six.

I'll need to get more because I didn't get to build anything.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mothers Have Sons On Their Mind

Sure, all parents have their children on their minds. Right? You think about them a lot. Thoughts of their mis-deeds haunt you. Memories of something funny they said make you smile all of a sudden. Up until now, 'on their minds' was very much a figure of speech.

The University of Washington has conducted research showing that 63% of mothers have DNA from their sons, in their brains! Imagine that, we're stuck with them forever. The oldest mother with her son's DNA in her brain was 94 years old. So, its not just a temporary thing hanging around from pregnancy.

The research published in  PLOS One doesn't mention about the DNA from daughters or what sort of effect this has on the mother. It did show that mothers suffering from Alzheimers were more likely not to have the DNA in their brains. However, I don't know if I should be interpreting that to mean that the opposite will be true, that mothers with sons that live with them forever will be less likely to get Alzheimers.

It was just a short article in the news but if you would to read it, go here.

So, it may be official that boys bug moms more. Boys bug mothers physically when out (like at birthday parties) and they bug them at night,  even while asleep in their beds.

I bravely went, as a single parent, to a birthday party on the weekend. It was a friend's daughter's 1st birthday. Aaron and Adrian were the only boys there and the colouring and craft teepee (pink, of course) was nearly demolished by them. I wouldn't say they were 'naughty'. They were just more creative in their play and didn't want to be confined to just pushing pencils around. Misbehaving or not, my point here is that I had to keep my eye on them all the time, just in case. They were on my mind for the whole 2 hours we were at this party.

I have never actually looked after any little girls for extended periods of time but from the outside looking in, it seems that mothers of little girls are having an easier time than mothers of little boys. So, it was nice to read of this special bond that may only exist between mothers and sons.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

An A+ Week

I don't think its a good idea to be rating each week but if I did, the past week would definitely be an A+. I know its not sustainable and I'm not expecting straight As but I'm giving myself a pat on the back for now.

There were multiple surprises in the mail because several items I bought over the past few weeks on eBay all arrived in the same week. Amidst the items that I knew I would eventually receive, there was also a surprise Valentine's day gift from Richard. After 14 years together, he's smart enough to know that flowers are not the way to go and a simple gift like this is going to be appreciated a whole lot more.

I also give it an A+ because I have been incredibly efficient and the house is cleaner than ever. Now that I have to do it all on my own, I've streamlined all the chores and gotten into a very effective multitasking routine. 

Strangely, the additional workload has worked some magic on my time and I seem to have more of it. Adrian is benefiting from it because we spend each morning playing around with words and numbers, drawing and just mucking around. I feel productive because I can see him making progress in his reading. 

Even after using up all that time with Adrian, I still had some left to do some serious study each night on my stocks. Its crazy isn't it? I used to think that I never had any time to do anything - and that was when I had other people helping me out around the house. 

And to top it off, I have had some good laughs this week. Sadly, I've forgotten most of them but at least I remember these three.

The first was easy to remember because Adrian has been practicing it all week. He says "Look Ma, my tongue is as long as the Maori people's tongue." He does it several times a day but it still makes me laugh. Here he is with one of the parcels I received in the mail - a photobook that I made of our trip to New Zealand. 

The second memorable conversation I had with Adrian was about the cemetary. We drive past one every day but he has never said anything before. Out of the blue, he asks "Why do we need to live in the cemetary when we die?" You can imagine how the conversation went on and on about the topic. Amongst the many logical but hard to answer questions he also asked "Do we have to close our eyes when we die?"

And, the final gem from my week was a statement from Aaron. He said "My smell buds tell me that dinner is going to be yummy."

Life has been good. A+.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thoughts on Grade 1

Aaron is in Grade 1 this year. Or rather, he is of Grade 1 age this year. His school doesn't go by 'grades' and it confuses everybody. He's in what they call 'Cycle 2', a class of 6-9 year olds, but I tell him to say Grade 1 whenever people ask otherwise there will be too much explaining to do.

There have been some changes to the parent landscape this year. Several of the other moms that I had become friends with have moved their children to traditional schools. I also heard of other families that I didn't know, moving out. Good thing or bad thing, this has caused a lot of discussion and scrutiny amongst the remaining families.

I'll admit that I'm part of that crowd. Talk about peer pressure! Aaron is actually doing very decently and is *ahem* ahead of his peers for many things. Yet, I have found myself questioning the effectiveness of the Montessori system, teacher-student ratios, Aaron's inclination to talking all the time and everything else. Its almost as if I am trying to convince myself that his classroom will not work for him. I want him to stay ahead of his peers. He may need that edge when he transitions to a traditional school in a few years and takes time to adjust. Once again, thats my paranoia coming in because if I were rational, I'd say that there shouldn't be much of an issue assimilating with a traditional classroom because of how I do things at home.

Now this is where I think the Montessori system (or maybe its this particular school's system) is lacking. There is no feedback loop to the parents. There is no homework, so we don't know what the children are working on. There is no assessment, just a report card twice a year with cryptic 'grades' of 'mastered', 'supported' and 'introduced'. There is no syllabus or textbook that a parent can get hold of. The children learn through hands on materials in the classroom. At the end of each term, the children bring home their 'finished work' folder. It requires a lot of trust from parents. The end of the term is too late to do anything about whatever the child is lacking in. I have to trust that the teacher has enough time and dedication to nurture my child to his full potential.

Maybe its asking too much for a teacher to aim for 'full potential'. Thats why I am more than willing to do my part at home. I want to contribute but I need a little more information here. Its going to be my aim for the next two weeks to see if I can find a way to get this information without becoming the teacher's most dreaded parent.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Year of the Snake

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

No, I'm not late in the greeting because Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days. Some people refer to the event as the Lunar New Year but I'm accustomed to saying and wishing other people a Happy Chinese New Year. Interestingly, I just noticed that the Chinese greeting doesn't mean the same thing. The literal translation of Gong Xi Fa Cai is 'Congratulations on getting more wealthy'. I like it better!

Historically, these are some of the noisiest and busiest days in my year. Its a time for the family to get together and then move as a group to visit extended family. These visits are then reciprocated by the same extended families that we would have originally visited. There is always a lot of loud talking and louder laughing going on. It wasn't the case for us this year.

Richard was away at work and it was just the three of us at home. We were invited over to another Malaysian family's home for dinner on Saturday night and even though it lacked the usual crazy atmosphere of the season, it was good to be there. I did get a glimpse of what the festivities were like at home in Ipoh - my father carried his laptop around the house while we had Skype on so that, for a short while, we could be part of what was happening there.

So, we've now moved from the most auspicious Year of the Dragon to the Year of the Snake. Plenty of parents would have tried to plan for a Dragon baby and there will also be plenty who try their best to avoid having a baby in the year of the Snake. Supposedly, the snake symbolizes fear and turbulence. The two previous snake years didn't turn out very well : 2001 was the year of the September 11 attacks and 1989 was the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Aaron is a puppy and Adrian is a calf so perhaps it was appropriate that we welcomed the year of the Snake quietly.