Tuesday, August 14, 2007

a scatalogical report (at 18.5 months)

it's been nearly 10 months of consistently putting the bean on the potty first thing in the morning, and i think she is definitely "potty-trained" in terms of #2s ("poo" rhymes with "two")!

we have yet to fully start catching #1s but the cold weather is our excuse at the moment.

we did have a couple of accidents during these past 10 months:
- she pood in her bath once (this was early on in our 'programme' though)
- she didn't tell me about her wanting to go till midway through and when i was getting her out of her nappy to put her on the potty a little "present" fell out. this actually happened twice in oz: once in the serviced apartment and the other in our new place.
- she's weed in the bath i think 3 times now

but we are making huge progress as she now very clearly tells me when she wants to poo. usually she utters an "uh oh", clutches her nappy area and gives me a stricken look. lately, when i ask her if she wants to sit on her potty her face lights up and she often smiles and nods enthusiastically.

it has often been the case that she won't nap (daytime) or sleep (nighttime) until she has gone on the potty too. i guess it's like any adult really - we can't go to sleep unless we are comfortable and relieved.

just before we moved to australia, we visited my parents in singapore. we had gone out one day and on the way back to my parents' in the car she started to indicate that she wanted to go. we asked if she could hold on till we got home. she was unhappy and tense but she did hold off till we could put her on the potty. this was a few months' ago and it certainly shows that young children CAN control their motions if trained/habituated.

a couple of weeks ago while we were at the beach, we met 2 other mommies with daughters the same age as the bean (a real coincidence). all 3 girls were about the same size too. and all 3 got really wet and sandy and had to be changed at the beach. when the other women saw that i use cloth nappies they asked if it was easier and how did i cope with poos. i told them that with these nappies i just used to 'roll' the poos off into the toilet and flush! and that besides, my daughter had already stopped pooing in her nappies. at the last comment they both looked shocked and asked how did i know when she wants to poo. "she tells me", was my rather surprised reply.

it horrifies me to think of the number of disgusting nappies i'd have to wash if i had NOT started potty training early. EEEWWWW! anyhow, one of the enrolment conditions of the bean's (potential) preschool is that the child be potty-trained. i read somewhere that schools need a special licence or something to admit children who aren't potty-trained. maybe it is to prevent child abuse or it could be a hygiene issue (or both?). so i am hoping that now we are catching #2s, we will get progress to #1s soon...as soon as the weather warms up!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

the start of the down under chronicles...

hmmm...it's been quite a few months since i updated this blog. (hide face in shame)

we've done many things since the last entry. but the key things are:

1. relocating from malaysia to australia!
2. moving into our 'permanent' home from the serviced apartment
3. enrolling the bean in an under-3s montessori playgroup

the relocation & settling-in
the settling-in period didn't take too long as both hub-unit and i are rather familiar with oz. me having done my uni studies here yonks ago, while hub-unit has been coming here for work and holidays for quite a few years. the weather the first month was also pretty welcoming. instead of the onset of winter chill, it was lovely hot sunny days and crisp nights. but i have to admit that hub-unit's company had also provided us with a relocation agent who drove us round to see properties we could rent and who had also given us a bag full of maps and other useful settling-in information. that was helpful. plus, after 2 weeks of relying on taxis (expensive!) we hired a car and that made life easier, as i could drive around to orientate myself while the bean napped.

the bean loved being here from the very first day. she loved that we took her out on walks everyday - it was very convenient to have a good playground near us. in fact, she would go stir-crazy if kept indoors for too long (okay, so the serviced apartment was pretty dinky and claustrophobic) and would bring me her shoes or mine to indicate that she wanted to go out.

we also have a few friends here and it was very good to meet up with them. there's one girl with 2 young children - one older and one younger than the bean - and we share similar parenting philosophies it's been really comforting!

moving house
after the house hunt, our next big issue was to get all our barang-barang from the international movers and to move into our permanent rental home. some people have said that 'permanent rental' sounds oxymoronic. but all it means is that it's a rental property and it's our permanent base in oz until such time we get evicted or hub-unit's company transfers him.

unfortunately, by the time of our move (early june), the weather didn't hold any longer and the rains came with a vengeance. (for a short time it was good for the farmers on the whole although quite a lot of places were badly flooded.) it was a bad week to move but we had to do it - there was no point paying for both the serviced apartment and the new place!

kudos has to go to hub-unit who had been travelling on business. he came back and did nearly all the unpacking and moving of furniture, while i looked after the bean. by the way, my limited exposure here seems to suggest that nearly all the more menial jobs are done by large pacific islanders. e.g. the movers - all burly men, and the cleaners for the serviced apartment - 2 friendly fijian ladies.

i don't recall all the details of how we survived the dust, the boxes, the paper stuffing and the general chaos, but we did. we spent the first week or 2 in the guestroom, as we only had one bed. then we bought one for the master bedroom - a shorter one without any platform edges, so that the bean can clamber up and down it with ease. (yes, she still co-sleeps! that's another story though...)

we did have my parents over the 2nd week of our move and it was fantastic. firstly, the bean was over the moon to see them. at the airport she clung onto her popo like a barnacle and wouldn't let go much to her gonggong's disgruntlement as he wanted to have cuddles too. and secondly, my parents could babysit her while i did some things on my own. thirdly, it meant that all 3 of us got to eat very well.

schooling
this is possibly a bit controversial. we, alright, i decided that something a bit more structured than the playgroup the bean went to at the neighbourhood centre was required. that playgroup was essentially just free-play for the kids while the parents yarned and had coffees. i felt that the bean was a bit out of place there, being younger than most of the other kids and not yet able to share or play with anyone. in fact, the other children would come over and take away her toys. there was quite a bit of bad behaviour that i didn't want her to pick up either.

so after some research, i found a playgroup using the montessori educational philosophy and decided to enrol her. this is actually more like a school than a playgroup: there are fees, waitlists and a teacher (but they call teachers 'directors'). parents/carers are required to attend with the children and in fact, to guide/watch over them, but the director who is montessori-trained helps to direct the children in their individual work/activity. i know that there will be folks who object to such young children 'working' but it's all stuff that they like to do anyway, such as puzzles, fitting keys into locks, reading, singing songs, etc. but it just does not have the boisterous, noisy environments that one finds in other playgroups. the environment here is a 'prepared' one i.e. there are set areas for play and work - all with child-sized furniture and implements which the bean finds endlessly fascinating.

we're into our 3rd week of our first term. it's just a once a week programme. the children learn to do a lot of things for themselves and some of the things the bean has been exposed to are: how to wash hands properly, how to pour water from a jug into a glass, how to spread butter onto a biscuit.

there is something i find very japanese about the montessori system that i will try to describe later. right now my brain is a little fried...alright, it's been fried since i became pregnant!

i guess the key things each child is taught are that there are steps to doing everything and while they don't have to get every step done right, they should follow through and learn how to start and end each task/activity.

the children in this playgroup are aged from 18 months to just under 3 years. at 3 quite a lot of aussie children start preschool (not mandatory), then kindergarten (at 5-6 years) which is compulsory. and there are waitlists for EVERYTHING. currently, the bean is on the waitlist for a montessori preschool (i.e. for 3-6 year olds), and on the waitlist for a long daycare centre for the start of next year. i am reconsidering whether she should go into long daycare (i'd go for the minimum of 2 days a week only), as it is for nearly a full day each visit and i would fret about being away from her for such a long time.

so...i will be looking for some alternatives. maybe hire a babysitter for once a week so that i can do other things next year. as this has not been broached to hub-unit, we shall see how it goes.