Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Growing Up

As I finished posting about the first day of school, I couldn't help but look back at the old photos of the girl's first day. My, how they've grown...

The Boy's First Day of School

And the day has come. The little boy was very excited, of course and more so his big sister. We got everything ready the night before so we wouldn't be in too much of a hurry in the morning. I got their lunches ready and the wife had their uniforms all laid out. We got them to bed early and we even called it an early night ourselves.

We were all up relatively early and after breakfast and getting them dressed, we actually were all set before 8:00AM. As we drove off, our girl asked who was going to be dropped off first, forgetting that both of them were off to school that day.

At any rate, we arrived to the hustle and bustle of the school's first day. Parents were dropping the kids off and lingering around. The school even had a nice coffee stall for the parents, maybe to relieve the first time jitters. We found the boy and girl's classrooms right next to each other which was great. Easy enough to pick them up at the same time.

Soon the teachers arrived and everyone swarmed into their classrooms. It was a good thing that the boy already had a friend in the class and he was pretty settled. It wasn't long before he was already playing with the activities the teacher had laid out on the table. As for the girl, she settled right in and was pretty excited as well to act as the big sister for his little brother.

Anyway, both of them are now in school. Quite a change for us and I guess we can't help but feel a tiny bit emotional as he takes his first big independent steps.

For most parents, though, having both kids school means something else entirely, and I can totally understand. Because we went off to work, we couldn't stop and have coffee at the school table. As we begged off on the invitation, the lady at the table laughed and said, "Yes, Go! By all means, enjoy your freedom!" We couldn't help but laugh as well. I guess it is a well earned break for many mum's and dad's.

Now, what to do with this spare time... hehehe. :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Guess Who's Going To School...

Yup, the little boy is all set. The wife picked up his new school uniforms last week and he was excited to try them on. Can't believe he's all ready to go to reception. We were a bit concerned that he might have been too small for his uniforms but right now it looks that it fits him perfectly.

Anyway, school starts next week. It will be back to early morning starts for all of us. Now, the wife and I are racking our brains as to what to put in their lunch boxes!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kids Art

Our house is often a constant mess of pencils, crayons, paints and paper most days. The kids have a little bit of an artistic bent to them and all we can do is provide encouragement cause we parents don't really have an artistic bone in our bodies. Lately the kids have been coming up with portraits and here's a couple they actually made of me. I can see the resemblance.

Here's something the girl did after our trip to the Monarto Zoo.

Here's a couple of pieces the girl did on a recent excursion to an art class.

More Allergy Tests

After our last allergy tests, the doctor recommended that we make an appointment again for a challenge test. That meant we had to go back to the clinic so the boy can start eating some of the foods he is allergic to in a controlled environment. So, yesterday, we went back to the doctor's offices. We brought our own hazelnut spread sandwich and hard boiled eggs, the two foods that he had a low enough reaction to the first time which would be safe enough to eat. How the test works, the doctor explained, was that we would progressively give the boy larger amounts of both foods until there is a reaction. If there was, at least we were already at the doctor's so there would be no problem with treating him if it came down to that.

The good news is that he did not have any allergic reactions to the hazelnut and eggs. But it did take us over a couple of hours to get through the food so we basically stayed at the doctor's offices the whole afternoon. So from here on out, the doctor suggests that we actually give him hazelnut or Nutella sandwiches and well cooked eggs at least once a week to keep on desensitizing him to the food.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Grown-Up Funnies Part 2

Well, it was funny at the time. Anyway, we visited the beach over the weekend. Our good friends invited us to the beach because they went crabbing earlier and had a good haul of over 20 crabs. It was quite a coincidence actually because we were on our way to the same beach anyway because it was turning out to be a great day. At any rate, we arrived just in time for them to start cooking the crabs they caught just off the jetty ( pier ). They started early in the morning but because they weren't too sure they were going to catch so many crabs, they held off calling us until they got enough to go around.

Anyway, so there we were enjoying the sun and sea as well as the freshly caught seafood. Our friends' kids also brought a wakeboard with them. As I saw them try their hand at wakeboarding, falling off half the time, I thought it looked like fun and I joined in. The first time I stepped on the moving board, as expected, I immediately got unbalanced and rolled my ankle something fierce and fell flat on the beach. It seemed funny then but the pain was starting to come from my ankle.

After finishing up lunch and limping back to the car, my ankle swelled up. So, to make a long story short, here I am a doctor's visit and an x-ray later. Still nursing a painful foot... I don't get the x-ray result until tomorrow so I'll have to go see a doctor again but we don't think anything is broken ( I hope ).

That's the first and last time I go wakeboarding. It was a nice day though. ;)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Semaphore Beach

Visited the beach first time this year.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Grown-up Funnies Part 1

Ok, it was definitely something that was going to happen sometime. I've been obsessing about a leaky toilet cistern that we had these past few days. Tonight, I attempted to do something about it. As I loosened the cap on the cistern assembly, I forgot to do one simple thing: I forgot to turn off the water at the tap!

The water gushed out like a strong fountain and as I struggled to turn off the water the kids just wondered at the sudden downpour inside the toilet. My wife certainly didn't think it was funny at the time but as I was mopping up the mess she chuckled as the girl admonished me, "Next time Daddy, get a professional to do it!"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Kid Funnies Part 24

Hamming it up for the camera...


The new Apple ultraportable : Macbook Air.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Visiting Monarto Zoo

This weekend we went to the Monarto Zoological park. Monarto is an open-range animal sanctuary which is really like a zoo without any cages. All of the animals are in open fields as they would in their natural habitat and zoo visitors are taken around on buses to each enclosure or they can also go on walking trails. It's a bit like going on safari, I suppose.

Monarto is about 45 minutes out of the city via the freeway, not too far away. We haven't visited before so it was a bit exciting for all of us. We didn't really plan this particular visit, being the spontaneous bunch that we are. Just to illustrate how spontaneous the trip was, 5 minutes on the road and we had to turn back because we forgot the camera! Good thing too, because the kids didn't go to the toilet before we left so we had them go otherwise we would have had to make a pit stop off the freeway.

We got to the zoo about noon and about time to eat our picnic lunch. It was a good day to go as it wasn't too hot and after lunch We took the next scheduled bus tour. As the bus went in and out of the different animal enclosures through electronic gates, it sort of reminded of Jurassic park where double gates have to be opened and closed individually. Good thing that there weren't too many dangerous animals in this particular Zoo. Monarto Zoo was first created as a breeding zoo for endangered species so we got to see interesting animals like Przewalksi's Horse; a sort of forerunner of modern horses originally found in Mongolia. We got to see some Oryx, Addax and bison and conventional animals like rhinos, giraffes, lions and cheetahs up close. Or at least as close as the tour bus could get to them.

There were quite a few things that struck interesting not just about the zoo itself but the animals they had. Like, for example, I never knew that bison shed their winter coats or that they had winter coats at all. They shed them by rubbing against hard objects like logs and even the fences around their enclosures. We saw quite a few baby animals, like a baby rhino, a baby giraffe and baby lion cubs. Testament to the zoo's successful breeding programs. Oh, and zebras in the "wild" didn't look black and white at all, more brown than black stripes really.. :)

The girl was really interested throughout the tour and had a hand at using the camera. The boy, however, got bored halfway through and spent the rest of the tour with his head on my lap, pretending to sleep.

After the hour or so long tour, we went back to the visitor's center where we got to see some bilbies and meerkats. Near the end of the visit we found ourselves at the gift shop. The girl was so insistent on buying a souvenir of our trip to the zoo so we gave them a set budget. The little boy didn't take long to find something he wanted within the budget. The girl, however, was getting a bit frustrated that the little items she wanted was more than what what we allotted. In the end, I convinced her to choose a little finger puppet even if she didn't want to in the first place. But, as she was choosing which puppet to get, she found one that she really liked and was feeling good about it. She felt even better when the cashier remarked that our girl choose the cutest of the lot!

Anyway, it was an uneventful ride home. To keep the kids occupied for the short trip, we had a little sing-a-long to some of the kids favourite music from The Sound of Music and the Beatles courtesy of our in-car DJ ( the wife ). An eclectic selection if I ever heard one!

More photos on our flickr page. Click here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Christmas Season Over

At least at our house anyway. We took down our Christmas decorations today. They're all kept and labeled now in storage until Christmas comes around again. How time just flies.

Anyway, the wife told me about what they did today and how impressed she was with the girl. Earlier, the boy was complaining about a tummy ache and because my wife was busy with the house work, the girl took it upon herself to take care of him. She told him to rest on the sofa and she took care of putting a DVD on for him to watch while he rested. She was very attentive to him and made sure that he was comfortable all the time until he was feeling better. Taking care of her brother comes so naturally for her. It's so nice to see that. I think we wont have any trouble when the boy starts school this term with his sister watching over him.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Bowling Birthday Party

We celeberated the girl's birthday with a bowling party. It was a good thing too as it was another Adelaide scorcher but it was quite cool and nice inside the air-conditioned bowling centre. The wife and kids actually prepared for this party a while back. Over the past week they've busied themselves filling up the party bags and baking and decorating cupcakes. Cupcakes are a good idea as we don't have to do any cake slicing and serving up, the kids just had to help themselves.

We arrived early at the bowling center but it didn't take too long for her friends to arrive. The girl so good at taking care of her guests, welcoming them and showing them to the party table. The kids had some snacks first before they went bowling. Some of the parents even had a go at bowling as well when they saw how much fun the kids were having.

In the end, the girl had fun and what touched us most was as we were having post-party smoothies, totally unprompted at all, she said, "Thanks Mom and Dad for the great party!". She's so appreciative and that makes up for all the little stresses of party planning...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Allergy Tests

We had the boy's annual allergy tests and no surprise he's still allergic to tuna, eggs and peanuts. But it seems that he's reactions are getting weaker so we're trying for a "challenge" test in the next couple of weeks. This is where we'd feed him some hazelnut and egg to see if he can take it. Challenge tests are done in the doctor's clinic just in case he needs to be treated.

Anyway, while waiting at the doctor's offices, we got to talking to another family of a teenage boy who were there for their own annual allergy tests. They remarked that they started coming to the allergy specialist when their own boy was as old as ours was. It struck me how this is really a lifelong sort of thing but we were both glad that the boys' allergies weren't really life threatening. Unfortunately for some, a peanut allergy is a deadly allergy.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Lucky Road

My wife knows as much as anyone how hard it is to keep kids occupied during the summer holidays. With the hot weather these past few days, it's been doubly difficult to keep them entertained indoors. The late afternoons are the only times we can have the kids outside and play without getting too much of the hot Aussie sun.

The other day they went to work on creating chalk drawings on the pavers outside the house. They were very creative in building a theme the girl called "The Lucky Road". They used the chalk to decorate a make believe street with lucky charms like four leaf clovers, hearts, horseshoes and butterflies. They also drew an envelope on the ground and when I asked the girl why an envelope is a lucky thing she explained that "sometimes envelopes contain special letters just for you."

It didn't matter anyway as I thought what is lucky for us parents is the fact that the two kids still have great fun playing together. They come up with the most amusing games and although they make a mess sometimes ( or always ) it's good to know that they get along so well. Most of the time anyway... :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Birthday Today

Another year rolls by and it's already the little girl's birthday again. She has turned seven and we can't believe she's growing up so fast. This morning she woke up and, as is our tradition, got her gifts from us and from some of our relatives. She was so happy as she tore open the wrapping and quite grateful to receive the gifts. It's not easy to think of gifts for her because she'd usually get the gifts she was hoping to get on Christmas. This time we actually took her shopping first last weekend and she knew the kind of gifts that she was getting from us. That didn't stop her though from asking her mom to still wrap it so she had something to open up this morning.

At any rate, I had to go to work and the kids spent their day with their mother baking a birthday cake among other things. We didn't plan anything today because we already had a birthday party planned for her on the weekend. But, I actually was able to bring home another gift for her as well as some balloons. To at least celebrate the day we asked her where she wanted to eat out for dinner. She had to think about it for a bit and, like any kid, she decided she wanted to eat at McDonalds.

So she's seven today, a great milestone. I think the Jesuits have a saying that goes, "Show me a boy at seven and I show you the man." If that applies to girls as well then I think we're such lucky parents. She's a sweet, caring and intelligent girl. We're looking forward to seeing her exactly as she is now when she's grown up. But, she can take her time getting there. We're not in any hurry.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Parties

It was such extreme heat yesterday that we were so lucky to have been invited to a New Year's Eve party to a friend's house with a pool. I was still working yesterday but after work, the family trooped right up to enjoy a respite from this summer's heat wave and spent the next few hours just enjoying the cool water.

It was a nice little get-together with families and kids just playing in the pool and the backyard, having a few drinks and dinner. The pool itself wasn't too large but it was the perfect antidote to a searing temperatures. Our friend told us it was a bit of a money pit, with so much they had to pay to improve that pool itself but on a hot day like yesterday, I guess it was all worth it as the kids and the families got a chance to escape the summer heat.

We stayed for a few hours but didn't stay up to midnight as the kids were getting sleepy already so we started back home. The wife and I tucked them into bed and we had just enough energy left to watch the New Year's Eve fireworks on TV before calling it a night.

Today we're off to a New Year's day lunch with another bunch of friends and we hope that the heat won't be too bad this time. It's supposed to be only mid 30's so I think we can call that bearable.

Happy New Year

The year that was 2007, just a quick recap of what we've been up to...

For myself .... I remember the year starting with a big change --- part-time IT work after 6 years of home duties! Initially, it was a temporary contract for 8 weeks just so that I could get my idle mind working again and some extra shopping money. And then 8 weeks turned into 6 months, and then turned into an offer for a permanent part-time position. After much consideration, I accepted the offer and life has never been the same for me and the rest of the family. Organizing family schedules around work, home duties and school activities was a task I had to learn quickly this year. It's not easy, but getting this work-life balance is just that .... a balancing act. But at the end of the day, as long as I see that all family members are happy and healthy, I guess we are doing really well.

For the little boy .. his weekdays revolved around learning, playing and socializing with other kids at childcare and kindy . In both places, teachers have noticed how smart he is for his age in terms of reading, writing and math skills. On weekends, he looks forward to the time he can play video games like Lego Star Wars, Madagascar, Eye Toy and most recently the Simpsons. This year he also made great progress in his swimming lessons. At first, he was quite hesitant to take the lessons because he developed this fear going under the water. It was so bad he would sometimes wake up crying and say he does not want his head under the water. But with time and perseverance, he's gotten over that fear and now that he's moved up a class and now that he can wear goggles, all that has changed. He enjoys the lessons so much that every chance he gets, he goes under the water to touch the floor and do somersaults!

For my hubby .... work has kept him busier than ever. This year, he was so busy he started getting calls in the middle of the night! Good thing that now I also work in the city, we can find time to have lunch and have a decent conversation without the kids joining in. Nevertheless, all that hard work has rewarded has provided us with a couple holidays this year , one in the Gold Coast and another to our homeland. The trip back home was really special since we got to see his family from the US. Finally they got the chance to spend time with the kids. We also got celebrate Christmas a bit earlier with my side of the family.

For the little girl ... school has been very much a part of her year. She was Year 1, and did very very well as we've seen from her school report. As I look at the workbooks she took home, I've seen great improvements in her handwriting and drawings. She now appreciates art, not only the visual kind but also music. She's developed a taste in music she now has her own playlist on the Ipod. I've also noticed she's got a good sense of rhythm, especially when she dances. And if you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up: her answer is " a singer". She's also taken an interest in math, thanks in part to her wonderful teacher and an online teaching tool even I enjoyed doing with her. Wish those things were around when I was in school! Its also been a year now since we started both kids on swimming lessons. This year she has progressed a few levels up, can now do freestyle and backstroke, and is now slowly introduced to deep waters.

The year 2007 has been a very good year to us. I hope 2008 brings more blessings and adventures to us here and to you and your family. Happy New Year!