Back from the garden

R went to school this morning after saying that she did not want to go to school because she wanted to have lunch here and that she did not want to play with one of the boys. Well, we will see how it went when she comes back.

M went to give his parents a hand which is fine but sometimes when I look around it is getting into my nerves. Whenever I hear comments about how he helps his parents or talks to them puts me in a very bad mood which makes me think of all the time he spends there away from  the house which is unfinished, the garden which needs more attention and the shed, back garden and more. He could have spent all those time there in the house to improve our lives every single day.

I spent two hours transplanting, watering, tying up plants to have flowers and vegetables in the summer and autumn. It was hot by 11 today and so it was time to clear the rooms with clutter and then iron.

Endless housework, endless comments from relatives. If people could just stop troubleshooting all the time and give feedback instead to encourage other people to do more or carry on with what has been started then all is well. Gardening takes the mind off unwanted thoughts sometimes. Off to hang the washing and time to plug the iron in.

After 3 and a half years

R turned three and a half this month and she has grown a lot. She has started nursery or is that preschool here? The school is 4 miles away meaning we have to drive there three times a week. For now she spends two and a half days away from us. She comes back tired but happy. She finishes her packed lunch and her stories about what happened and what she did in school are either endless or she tells us that she would tell us later on.

It is half term and she keeps herself busy playing with her toys. She chats away, dances, jumps around, occasionally helps in the kitchen especially when she likes what I am about to cook or bake. Three days ago I introduced her to Science experiments. Some might think that it is late to start but it is fine here as I avoid her having too much praise when she blurt out something that she has done or knows. We did chemical reaction experiment with baking soda and vinegar on the first day. On our second day we mixed milk, food color and dish soap. It was not what I expected to happen, it was a flop. The colours did not dance around in short it ended up brown. She was still happy to see how the colours changed. After that she was interested to have another experiment so we took five glasses out, filled three with water, added primary colours in each glasses. TIme for capillary action.  We had two glasses in between the glasses with paint in them. We folded table napkins and dipped one end to a coloured water then the other to the empty glass. We spent around five minutes watching the water walk from one glass to another. She spotted the tv after a few minutes of watching the process so we have decided that we will do it again some other time.  Yesterday we inflated a balloon with baking soda and vinegar with her two friends who came over and we did it to inflate a balloon. They were excited about it and the two children, K and A brought them home. Today we did a few things with whatever else we had in the kitchen. We wrote with milk and lemon juice, played with the salad spinner with paint and paper inside it. R was more interested in the process of squeezing the juice out of the lemon and using cotton swabs as medium to write. With the centrifugal force introduction, the basket turning after she pushed it a number of times and then pushed a button to stop was more interesting than the idea she was told about. We finished our morning today with finger and hand painting with leftover paint from the activity with the salad spinner. Bottom line for having activities with a three year old, keep things simple with few words to introduce them and let the child work with the materials.

We are going to Asia in two weeks. Asia? Again? Yes. It might not only be Thailand but might also be Laos or Vietnam. We will be away for three months and we will enjoy every minute of it this time. At least R and I will. I plan to go to more temples, malls, boat, train and bus rides, floating market tours and shopping. My sister might go over to see us which I hope she would do so we could catch up and she would meet R too. I will not miss the disputes around here which people put onto themselves. But I dread the fact that they will be here and have done something again to provoke us after being away like early this year.

Well, life for now is this way who knows what tomorrow will have for us. Cycnical as it may seem my thoughts are it is something that I will not miss after this phase past or will it ever go away.

Long silence again

In May, I had intensive driving lessons to gain confidence for my driving test. Finally, I passed the test in June. Early July after I received my licence I drove my daughter to the indoor play area 15 minutes away. It was liberating after those arduous weeks of practice and nearly two years of tears behind the wheel as a learner with a child in the backseat I did it. I would never want to go through it again especially that part when my child listens to me and M have an emotional breakdown.

In July our kitchen was finally 90 percent finished and the wobbly parts were already fixed. The washing machine works well without shaking the counter top leaning on it. We have a dishwasher which works and the cooker is still in great condition. The first week of construction was unpleasant because I did not have a sink and a washing machine. And that week R decided to get sick one night and it was heartbreaking to have all the physical disorganisation in the house. In the end, it was finished to a point. There will be a few things to do in the near future like adjustments to the hinges and attaching a panel but it is fully functional. M up to now is decorating the room. It is never ending which drives me mad most of the time but I need to remind myself that it is way better than before.

In April my mother in law had a fall and she had been in the hospital 4 times. M had to stay with them a number of nights alone with his father and then both of them while mother in law was in the hospital and aftercare. He complained all the time about being exhausted going to the hospital then to the house and then back again. We are the only ones close to the elderly parents of his which is I hope is helpful for them but it is not for us most of the time. We lost our temper some days for the moaning. If only coordination and proper organisation between the children only their parents in mind is at the top of the list but no. I felt and still feel that I cannot complain because that is what is expected of me although I am fed up of listening to them bicker about who can and helps them best. Just do what is right and do not complain. What guts would someone say that their other half is considerate about them coming down here to help the parents when all we do bearing in mind with a 3 year old in tow is to go there nearly everyday to see to it that they are recuperating.

August came and we still assisted the parents. I am grateful that R sees them and she interacts with them which I am sure form her being. The input from the grandparents although they are aging is positive. They talk to her normally, reads to her and tries to play with her whenever they see her. That I consider is a gift we will not be able to take away from her and will stay with her forever.

Thank goodness we were able to go to the seaside three times this summer. That is incredible given how busy our days were. It was all fun for R to go to the beach. To watch her play in the sand, jump in the water, draw tanaka (a monster that she and daddy talks about based on a Japanese story they heard about), she even found a little girl to play with on the second time we were there. Summer this year was not bad at all. We had plenty of days in the garden to pick vegetables and sweet peas. R and I played tennis in the garden until she got tired of not winning. Winning meant hitting the ball and declaring victory. Her slide is still big enough for her which is useful. She sometimes took her toys for a slide or sheltered under it when it drizzled. The garden was our refuge on the days that we needed peace and calm. R is big on climbing trees. Every tree she sees she climbs now it makes my heart jump out of my chest sometimes but she enjoys it. Luckily we only have one tree in the garden that she likes to climb, the pear tree and it is only half a metre high. R eats raw vegetables thanks to daddy. She picks runner beans and eats them lovingly. That is another plus of summer here and the vegetables grown in the garden. We all devoured the six cauliflower that were left by the cabbage white butterflies for us. We are waiting for the sprouting broccoli as the butterflies endlessly fly in and out of the netting I put over them.

In August R swam on the surface. Those were her own words to describe how she first swam without assistance. She does kanga jumps and turns, glides on her own, jumps in and out of the pool. She is still tiny compared to other children which surprises other people sometimes when she jumps in the pool on her own or speaks like a grown up. That’s just the way it is. It is fun for us all the time. August is a big month for the developing child that we have in the house. She declared that she was to sleep in her own bedroom one afternoon and she has not looked back since. She calls me to lie with her on her bed three or four times in the night which makes me feel groggy most days but she is learning how to be brave every night.

Before the schools got back this month nearly everyone asked me if R is going to school. I am reluctant up to now to send her off to “school” because I know that she is capable of learning to be independent in the home. We meet friends occasionally for her to learn how to play with other children. I am not in a hurry to take her out of the house. She can feed herself, goes to the bathroom on her own, washes her hands, she has good eye-hand coordination, dresses and undresses herself, expresses her needs through words and satisfies her desires by her own efforts. I am not against going to preschool that was how I fend for myself for years anyway so I am not a grump about education. I am apprehensive about schools because of the connotation people has about it. The mixture of people around, the “quality” of staff I have no idea where these things would go when proper schooling would start. R will start preschool next week. It will be 15 hours free so I had to give in only to stop this constant debate about whether she has to be in another setting to socialise. There will be good things she will pick up and new useful inputs but, there is always a but, I will have to give her more of what I supposedly learnt from my training back in the days.

Fortunately, R started to sound out letters now. She still likes to scan and “read” books a lot.R can read phonetic words now. Some puzzle words she can manage to decode depending on her mood. With counting, she can count shells and sticks according to the quantity asked. Basic arithmetic which daddy tries to help her she is still puzzled about. Personally, I plan to do that when she has concentration in place and when she shows more interest in numbers. She has found her love for jigsaw puzzles again and so the puzzles are out only this time a few sets at a time. Stickle bricks, tinker toys, building blocks, role playing with dolls, dancing, making up songs and rhymes and lots and lots of storytelling keep her busy in addition to reading and solving puzzles. We are going to work more with hand preparation for writing. R likes to draw with pens, chalk and colour with jumbo crayons. Yesterday she took her tracing book out and quietly traced lines on it. In time we will be able to write more letters other than the letter o, l, x, v, t, i, m, and s.

It is the middle of the month and the end of the hullabaloo is near I hope. I can only hope for the best and hope for a good rest. We are still waiting for my visa extension result which will take another 4 weeks at the office. At the end of the year goodbye chaos hello malls and parks and temples. Fingers crossed always.

Third year

It was R’s third birthday yesterday. We started our day with R opening her presents from mummy and daddy at the breakfast table. She happily prepared her own breakfast which was spooned granola into her bowl, poured milk to mix with her chocolate drink and then onto her granola. R had muffin instead of her usual toast or fruit. She was very excited to share it to both daddy and me because she helped in mixing the batter for the muffins.

We went to her grandparents to help stack the logs for next winter. She was given presents which she was very happy to open and then played with afterwards. R liked the tea set she was given and had pre-lunch snack and crackers with her grandparents in the garden.

We all had lunch but because R ate a lot of dry biscuits before lunch she could not finish what was on her plate. It was decided that she has it for supper which of course she did.

I baked R a cake with chocolate glaze on which I know she likes. Anything sweet is a hit.We sang the happy birthday song, she blew her candles before the song was finished, cut the cake for all of us and we finished our parts. My daughter was very proud to be three even after she insisted first thing in the morning that she only wanted to be two. She was generally happy all day  which I am happy about because the day before her birthday we argued all day about swimming and literally everything that I am annoyed at myself about. I sometimes am not able to hold back and say hurtful things back to her. I am not proud of myself when I argue with R because I know that I need to be a mother to her.

Education at home wise we started to work with our alphabet and numbers puzzles. I showed R how to roll a mat which she picked up quite easily. She takes out jigsaw puzzles more than in the last six months. Role plays with dolls, she likes to play big sister with her, play dough with cutters, dances a lot, sings and makes up her own songs, reads a pile of books ( she suddenly goes quiet and I find her reading in her hiding place). She plays a lot on her own now and I feel that she is getting more independent and needs me less.

I thought that I will give her more reading, writing, counting and culture activities soon and I mean more formal than just to talk about it on the surface. It is an idea that I will have to do it otherwise all I know would be wasted. I want to stop every one from saying that I am only a Montessori trained person. I am a social worker before I ended up in the teaching field and will always have this other past life than only have done one thing. Bottom line: I had a life before all these and will think more before I act because at the end of the day I have a child and she will grow up in different cultures.

Failure and excitement

I failed my driving test on Thursday. Lane discipline was the problem. The Countess Wear roundabout did my head in. I went around it, I went on the right hand lane which was wrong. I should have stayed on the left hand lane. And then the next roundabout which was big that led me back to the Industrial estates I approached it wrongly again. In general I felt comfortable, the country lane was alright, the mini roundabouts were good and the reverse parking was fine because the car was in the bay.  There will be a next time and that will be on the 31 of March.

We will go to London tomorrow afternoon and stay there for the night to be near the airport and be sure that we are there. We are all looking forward to our break from the craziness of the decoration and the neighbor’s complete horrific behavior. I have been very stressed and been losing sleep over the disputes that they are claiming now that we started when after all this time they are unreasonably difficult. It is as if they made a promise to make our lives hell. I will not go in details about it but one day when all is over I might be able to write about it and hopefully bury the resentment.

Friday was an exciting day for R. She was able to play with snow at Princetown even though it was only for less than ten minutes. It was lovely to watch her play and enjoy winter before we go away. It has been mild and that was the only day this season to be able to touch and appreciate it. Perhaps next season will be white.

See you Bangkok.

Lucky week (I guess)

What a week that was and a wonderful start this week. If you can hear what I am saying thank you. If you do not it is a cry or a triumphant jump.

Last week R tried lacing and she had more patience to do it than a few months ago. She expressed the interest to do the activity about a couple of months ago but it did not work. We tried to lace her shiny shoes and then my old shoes which she gave more attention to. We will try it again and again until she is able to do it on her own. R tried zipping as well. She started with my coat. With 3 to 4 times of practice with mine she moved on to daddy’s and then tried her own coat. She did all this while we were at the shopping center. The next morning she was very happy to have done her boots all by herself. She still struggles sometimes but she tries her best and then asks for help if she cannot do it anymore.

The kitchen is a mess for four days now. Daddy is laying tiles a few at a time. It takes time to do even half of the room as the materials need to be worked with quickly otherwise the adhesive will set and then after he has laid them with certain precision he cleans all the buckets and trowels. R works and plays in the bedrooms or the sitting room which are big enough for her but she get to watch tv even in the morning which I dislike the most. I am hoping that the place would be in order soon but I might not be able to see it that way.

The driving lessons have been unenjoyable. Driving everyday rain or shine bad mood or not all contribute to the experience. I have not been recommended to take the practical test but D said that I have to take it. I think it is a complete waste of time and money but we will have to push through. It might be a waste but hey am I not?

Shall we add more drama into this someone’s close relative said to someone that R causes stress to some. No parent would ever want to hear that ever. Not now not ever. It is painful. Another drama, the neighbor sent another letter. When do all these stop? I guess when I am gone. Gone where? Nowhere close here.

H and her children knocked on the door before 5pm on Saturday. The last thing that I wanted was to have guests in this messy place. Noise makes it worse. How do I ask people not to turn up, stay and or be loud? I hope for sensitivity.

Back to some lighthearted instances if there are any. We will go away for 6 weeks from the 19th. R has been talking about it and looking forward to it now. That is something.

R recently talks to the ‘didi’ and it talks to her. Lovely to hear her have a “conversation” with it. The didi has an alterego. It speaks in a very squeaky voice.

R: Nasan ka didi? Please, please. (Where are you __?)

Didi: Dito natakpan ng stripy dress. (Here hidden under the stripy dress.)

R: Labas didi. (Come out__.)

Didi: Oo. (Yes)

We have not been for a swim for nearly two weeks now but whenever R gets in the bath she tries to swim and float. She will learn one day.

Time to go to bed. Be back in a week or so.

New year, new you? Perhaps but who can tell.

We had a quiet first day of the year. We were in bed before 11 as usual and then got up about the 8 the next morning which is normal. Play with R in the morning, early lunch and drove to the in-laws for early tea. The roads to theirs from us were all nearly flooded. From the previous night’s heavy downpour to all morning’s rain it made the journey slower.

No, I did not write any resolutions. It is not a practice and I always change my mind so it is useless. Before Christmas I told myself to try to lose two inches on my waistline and probably snack less. That might do for the time being. I might do more writing and reading activities with R as soon as we come back from our holiday which will start soon.

Before the new year I had a two hour driving lesson which was disheartening. For all the faults that could be made I did them all, from not checking my mirrors all the time, slowing down too much before the roundabouts or going to first gear instead of staying on second jolted the car, stalled the car, needed lots of help to parallel park and swerving. It was torrential rain from start to finish of the lesson. I have driven in fog, gusty weather, heavy rain, deafening arguments and lots more of blow my head off reasons to not be here anymore what else can I say.

These things might just be things of the past soon. My only wish is that R is not in the car every time there is a melt down or yelling.

As for R, she plays with her Octonauts day in day out. She happily shouts out Barnacles or Kwazii’s lines which is sweet. She entertains herself more now which is helpful and she exercises creativity this way. I ask her to color or help me in the kitchen which she still does while talking. She narrates whatever is in her mind. She speaks like daddy most of the time. Yesterday at lunch she chewed on a piece of bone which I obviously missed, she said “I didn’t realize I was chewing a bone” then put it gently on the side of her plate. Tonight after having a bath and supper she decided to play. R packed her suitcase, looked for her bag, found the binoculars and a bag full of gloves and declared that she was going on a holiday. She walked from the sitting room to the kitchen then to and fro to invite us to go on holiday with her. After a while she put on her swimsuit, swam on dry land and slept. After having a rest she found a ladle from under a chair looked for her soft ball and played cricket with daddy. Daddy then got tired because he moved furniture for future tiling in the kitchen. She was tired enough to go upstairs and get ready for bed.

Pre-bedtime we clean her teeth with chosen toothbrush then I read books and finally snooze. Tonight and last night we convinced her to have daddy read her books which gives me time to close my eyes for minutes.

More heart wrenching driving lessons before the fourteenth and more rainy days then time to go to Bangkok for a short break from this new place.