Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Heat, Humidity and THE HAZE

After a few days in Singapore last week, we're back in Malaysia again. I was ready for the heat and humidity    and was prepared for that. Unfortunately, our visit also coincided with the annual haze season. The haze is what blows over from Indonesia's Riau province when they carry out their yearly forest clearing. Here is what the suffocating smog looked like as we were leaving Singapore.

Thankfully, it is raining in Penang, Malaysia right now. And hopefully, things will clear up over the next couple of days because we're heading to the beach on Friday.

The main purpose of our trip was to celebrate Richard's father's 75th birthday. Richard's brother is also back from the US and the kids are meeting their cousins for the first time. There is a four year old girl and one year old boy for Aaron and Adrian to play with and they have been been getting along NOISILY! Apart from countless meals with various uncles, we have been doing touristy things and trying to infuse a bit of Malaysia into these children.

There is no doubt that I am enjoying the food here. I don't miss the food when we're in Australia but when I see it here, I just have to eat, eat, eat. We barely have time to finish digesting one meal before we start stuffing ourselves with the next. And when I'm not eating, I'm thinking of what I want to eat next. For example, I think I'll have some fried carrot cake for dinner tonight. Its probably not the type of carrot cake you have in mind. I'll take a photo and put it up here another day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Accidental One Direction Styling

I'm the hair stylist in this house and I actually have a lot of fun with it. I use the clippers for Aaron but haven't tried them on Adrian yet. The scissors make me feel more.....professional.

OK. So, I am nowhere near professional but he's willing to let me practice as long as I let him watch some Thomas and Friends while I'm snipping away. 

I know who One Direction are but I have no idea what their music sounds like. I just remember them as the group of boys with funny haircuts. Take a look at the guy on the right....

And now take a look at Adrian today...with no styling mousse. We got this look through a combination of the way he slept last night and the dry windy weather we've had today. 

I must be getting trendier with my snipping too...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Permanent Home Pre-Schooler?

We're into June and Adrian is nearly three and a half years old. Most of his peers have started Cycle 1. By 'peers', I mean the toddlers that he went to the once a week,mother and child,  Montessori environment with. Cycle one is the first cycle at Aaron's school and its classes are for the 3-6 year olds. 

We chose not to start this year and have been targeting the beginning of next year. Thank goodness for that decision! As he grows older, I am often asked why he isn't in the school yet and very often, I find the other parent doesn't quite understand why I would hold my child back this way. They think I can't let go of him. (Some shake their heads and wag their fingers at me.)Whereas, I think I can give him a much richer and definitely more loving environment for the stage that he is at now, than the classroom can. Adrian is thriving at home. He doesn't miss out socially because he plays with the same kids that he would have been in class with, every day when we go pick Aaron up. And, we do get around to many similar activities as his class would have offered. 

He is cheeky but so funny to be around once I'm giving him 100% of my attention. Its always a worry if I am trying to get other things done and often, frustrating because he's making a mess at one end of the house while I'm cleaning up the other. He is playful but is also very willing to learn new things - he sees it as play.  

Lately, I've been wondering if I should start him when he turns 4. Why not when he is 4.5 years old? Thats when Aaron started and I thought that instead of a sudden burst in knowledge from being in an 'educational' environment, there might have even been a little bit of a slowdown in knowledge 'uptake' from the distraction of it all.

Why not skip the whole pre-school and kindergarten phase and just start in primary school? After all, we're not talking about a neglected child here. But no, I won't go as far as that. And its not because I think he needs to learn to socialize either. Its more for learning how to be self regulated and also carry out some independent work in an environment away from me.

So, I'd better take full advantage of the next 6-12 months because after that, he'll be off on the long (and increasingly questionable) road of 'formal education'.

p.s. I recently watched this very interesting talk by Sugata Mitra, an education researcher, about child driven education.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I've Got Some Of The Answers

I started reading Bilbo's wonderful Mothers' Day posts a few years ago but this particular part, which he includes each year, about how we think of our mothers often floats to the forefront of my thoughts. 

Age 4: Mommy can do anything!
Age 8: Mom knows a lot!
Age 12: Mother doesn't know everything.
Age 14: Mother doesn't know anything.
Age 16: Mother is so old-fashioned.
Age 18: Her? She's out of it.
Age 25: Mom might know something about that.
Age 35: Before we decide, let's ask Mom.
Age 45: What would Mom have thought about that?
Age 65: I wish I could talk that over with Mom.

With Aaron and Adrian, I think they still think I know a lot, if not everything, and can do anything, and everything at once.

The funniest question this week is from Aaron :  "How do you know who to marry?"
*sigh* Perfectly simple question isn't it? My quick-as-a-flash response was "You ask me and I'll let you know". He almost looked like he was willing to accept that as a valid answer but then I felt bad and tried to give him a reasonable one. It was long. I rambled a bit too much and as I carried on, I said things like "You have to make sure that the other person will love your parents and want to live with them when they're old"

The question I did not have a quick answer for was from Adrian : "Who is God?"
Thats a question full of traps isn't it? Jesus' father? The person who created everything? The person who looks after you? All lame answers if you ask me. I can't remember what I really said but it couldn't have been very satisfying.

And then we had this question "Why is the sky blue?"
I used to ask my mother to ask me this question! I remember it as something that I took time to learn and understand in high school. I know the answer well. Light has colours, various wavelengths, the molecules in the atmosphere scatter the light blah blah blah. Unfortunately, the entire explanation was lost on the two of them. I'll have to make it into some little project to see if I can show them what I mean and how the sky ends up blue. 

I also get questions like "Is Indiana Jones a super hero?" The answer to this one didn't seem to be well accepted at first. I said "Yes, definitely" but they said that he couldn't fly or shoot out spider webs. The rebuttal to that is that Batman can't do either of those things. That got them thinking....

Questions, questions, questions. I found this recent article with some smartypants answers I may need soon. It also had some statistics claiming that the average mother gets asked 105,000 questions a year (almost 300 a day) - more than any politician or teacher!

I know that irregular blogging has meant that I also have very few (but very loyal) readers, so posing a question may not result in many responses but I am going to do it anyway : What was the strangest question you can remember being asked and how did you answer it?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


You know what I'd like? Well, I think I would like a life that didn't swing from super packed weeks of highs to weeks of never ending lows. Yes, when I had a very routine and predictable life where one week was the same as the next and one month identical to all others, I complained about that too. We're constantly in search of perfection, right?

After a week of feeling generally disinterested in everything around me, irritable, impatient and just 'bleagh' about life, I think I've worked it out. I'm pointing my finger at endorphin addiction. Or rather, withdrawal symptoms from my mild endorphin addiction. 

My mother has been around for the past couple of months so even when Richard wasn't here, I still got to the gym and of course, clogging. Most importantly, clogging. I go for 3 hours, twice or three times a week.  I enjoy the company there, music and the challenge of it. And I thought that was what I missed when I couldn't get there. The endorphins from gym related exercise was at most 1 hour, twice a week.

My mother has left and Richard isn't around. So, there was a sudden stop in all forms exercise. I told myself that this was the time that I should focus on doing things with the kids (not that I wasn't before)....and of course keep on top of the various chores in the house.

I made my plans for Aaron and Adrian, all educational while being fun. So for the past week, we have been mostly at home, apart from school drop off/pick up but I have been trying, and failing to get anything done. Things around the house get done because there is a small sense of accomplishment when I cross chores off the list. Everything else got started but mostly ended in frustration. I would do one activity with Adrian and let him play around for the half hour by himself. I did not enjoy it and worse, I did not want to be there. 

Today, I didn't even bother trying. Instead, I spent the morning clogging at home. The cardio was addictive and I feel great now! Endorphins! Our own private narcotic stash. Why didn't I think to do this earlier?

I've had time with Adrian, done the housework and, I'm blogging! Simple as that - I just needed to do something energetic and enjoyable. It made me think of running around with Aaron and Adrian in the backyard but there is a difference - that is enjoyable in a different way. I feel I have achieved something for myself. 

Googling 'endorphins' led me to some interesting articles, mainly about "runner's high" and how "exercise, like drugs of abuse, leads to the release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine, which are involved with a sense of reward." That particular article talks about a study that proved intense running and drug abuse produced similar withdrawal symptoms. There are people out there who run so much that they hurt themselves, all because of this feeling of invincibility. 

I'm not that much of an addict. I just know that clogging alone is no fun but it does help in lifting my mood significantly....