31 December 2008

Holiday Mode

Hope you are all having happy holidays!

Here's a vintage post (circa 2005) for some holiday reading.

I'm gonna lie down and rest...

24 December 2008

Meri christmas!

Dear lovely readers (all 4 of you)!

We'll, we're in a flurry of packing - we decided to fly to be with family (with carbon offset) quite recently. We'll be chasing santa on his present run on an early flight tomorrow morning (yes - that's xmas day), and having a brief trip to our home town. We opened some of our presents to each other today, so we don't have to cart them with us, so the excitement of it all is building. E-chan is getting old enough (2 1/2) to understand all the fuss of christmas this year!!

We've had what seems to have been a tiring year, and we're actually looking forward to just putting our feet up and not doing much!! I've been a bit sick recently, C-chan has had some hours from hell at work (the sort of thing you hear about lawyers doing - 2 am finishes etc), and we've all run out of puff!

Time to rejuvenate the batteries, and come back to focus on installing ceiling fans and fly screens early in the new year. Hope you all have lovely christmases, and I look forward to reading your blogs next year!!

xx

22 November 2008

Lighters out! (the album that taste forgot)

Here's a compilation we put together to amuse ourselves for a long car trip. A compulsion to air-drum is almost a pre-requisite for this list. Unfortunately, you end up skipping through most of the tracks after the first chorus. Still amusing, though. Here goes:

1) Livin' on a Prayer / Bon Jovi (Karaoke favourite of the 90's)
2) I'm not in love / 10cc (Just a silly phase i'm going through)
3) I want it that way / Backstreet Boys (perplexing - which way exactly?)
4) Total eclipse of the heart / Bonnie Tyler (nothing I can say...)
5) More than a feeling / Boston (power ballad meets catchy, toe tappin' riff, but you wish it didn't...)
6) I've never been to me / Charlene (she's been to paradise, but she's never been to songwriting school... *the* worst song of all time)
7) All by myself / Jamie O'Neil (immortalised by the opening air guitar and drums sequence at the start of the first Bridget Jones movie)
8) Stonehenge / Spinal Tap (deliberatly silly, unlike the others in this list, but still funny)
9) I want to know what love is / Foreigner (Can't stop now, I've travelled so far..... I wanna know what love is.... I *know* you can show me....)
10) I should have known better / Jim Diamond (I remember this being number one and being shown at the end of Countdown for many weeks.... aay ay ay aay aay, ay ay ay ay ay I looooove yooooooou....)
11) If you like Pina Coladas / Rupert Holmes (cheesey, dodgey, and so wrong it's almost right. Thank god you don't hear this playing in the supermarkets any more)
12) Paradise by the dashboard lights / Meatloaf (I can't stand Meatloaf, but by all accounts, this is a bit of a teenage boy all time favourite)
13) Africa / Toto (they've bless the rains down for years, but to no effect except for tears of boredom)

Coming soon - song list with blatant use of children's choirs

Kind... what?!

Ever noticed how the "t" and the "g" keys are right next to each other on the keyboard?
Me neither. That was, until at a busy patch at work recently, involving lots of letters and emails where I DEFINITELY would not want to offend anyone, I kept noticing that I was accidentally typing "Kind retards," at the end of each email. Luckily I would notice and correct my mistake before sending, but I dreaded the time when I would forget to do this.

09 November 2008

Nice little exhibition

We went to a print exhibition yesterday - I can thoroughly recommend it for a few reasons: one of my neighbours is exhibiting there; there are some really good, locally produced prints - we actually bought one by Patricia Mado; and the exhibition is downstairs at an Antique store. After viewing the exhibit, we wandered around the antique store, and yes - most of what I'd really like is way out of my price range - but it's inspiring none the less. Ms J and I spent a fair bit of time admiring bakelite jewellry afterwards...
It goes until early December, and there is a bus stop nearby on Sydneys new #10 metrobus!

06 November 2008

Secret truth: toddlers are cool!

I think I have to say that the age my son is currently (nearly 2 ½) has to be my favourite age so far.

Sure, toddlers have tantrums, whine, push boundaries, and dart off unexpectedly causing your heart to rise up into your throat as you take off after them, hoping you can reach them before they throw themselves in the path of danger (ie an oncoming car, something to slip or trip on, another kid who isn’t looking where they are going… etc etc). Toddlers break their routines regularly and encroach into your evening quiet time by trying to stay up late. Sometimes it’s really hard to explain things to them – the gulf between your understanding of say, basic immunology, and the language you can use to explain it to them is massive, as I found the other day when I had to take Ethan away from where he wanted to play because a child nearby had just been diagnosed with a really infectious virus that I could do without him getting quite frankly after the run of illnesses we seem to have had this year.

But there are lots of up sides to toddlers:
- They want to stay up late to hang out with you!
- They have cute little conversations now – recapping the days events with as many words as they can, plus gestures, pausing from time to time to think about how to say what they want to say
- They can use simple sentences to tell you things or ask for things
- When you are happy, they are usually happy too, making you even happier!
- They start to choose what they want to wear
- They walk well, so you don’t have to carry them often or use the pram (in fact, with my son it's mostly running or standing still)
- They have little friends, and are starting to play cooperatively. Play usually involves running around copying each other and giggling.
- They can remember the names of family and friends you see or talk to often
- They can get out of bed themselves, and come in and visit you in the morning
- They ask you to kiss their sore finger/leg/head better! And once you've done this, they ARE better!!

30 October 2008

Word for the day

Chick-mate: n. female friend.
As in: "My chick-mate has a little boy around his age".

A guy came to fix our windows today - nice bloke, friendly but not too nosey as some tradies can be, and he arrived on time and worked efficiently. And I learned a new word from him...

11 October 2008

Sub prime

This news clip was a bit shocking - I thought it was a joke my brother sent me at first, but it's for real.

I can't get over the image of a large house packed with goods, furniture, toys, but the family being bankrupt. Can people not go without these days? Can they not save up until they can afford something, the old fashioned way? (clearly not - don't bother answering).

Sad, though, innit?

Must have needed that

Last night I put E-chan to sleep and emerged from his room at 8pm, with REALLY tired eyes. I thought "I'll just lie down for a bit and rest them", slipped into something more comfortable, and lay down on my bed.

Next thing I knew it was after 9pm, my Mr was in the room asking what I'd been doing (poor thing was downstairs waiting for me complete with a glass of wine, as we'd literally seen each other for a few minutes since he got home from work), and I was in one of those weird half-awake states where I could see and hear, but just couldn't manage to get any coherent words our of my mouth (or even assemble an answer in my head).

That was the earliest night I've had in ages, and boy did I need it.

That night I also had weird and wacky dreams. One bit I can remember is in my dream, I was walking around the University where I studied with some of my (real life) uni mates, and we were heading from the pub to buy a falafel somewhere. I was talking to one of my male friends about his divorce (in real life, this has happened in the past year or so), but I just couldn't seem to say anything wise or tactful, and everything came out wrong. I think I know what this dream is about - let's just say it's about gender architypes and roles and letting go of some bits and embracing others....

09 October 2008

Blaargh!

Breathing a sigh of relief today, as life has somewhat returned to normal.

We are all recovered, E-chan is back at kindy today, and we are trying to make up our lost hours. Nanna has left and taken all of her lack-of-personal-boundaries issues with her, which of course came to a head again as it always does when she stays with us for more than a couple of days, and always when C-chan isn’t around. I mean seriously matriarchs of the world – drop your “need to be needed” approach to everything once your kids have grown up, and leave the issue alone if your offer for help is turned down on occasion. It’s not the end of the world, and independence is healthy for your adult kids. My own mother would have been like this too, had I not given her grief as a teenager with my fierce independence. And she has at least worked out that it’s best for everyone if you organise the odd activity on your own and away from the house when staying somewhere for extended periods. But I sound ungrateful. As well as looking after E-chan for a week, she helped out with the dishes, vacuumed and a few other helpful odd tasks!

Other issues and thoughts:
– perhaps we will get a cleaner mostly to clean the bathroom and maybe do some ironing??
– Toilet cleaner commercials ridiculously overstate the dirtiness of your average toilet, as well as implying that a good old toilet brush and a bit of elbow grease won’t do the trick most of the time.
– We have some ferals over the back fence! What would life be without some weird neighbours to scrutinise?
– Must clean up my language. NOW. Picked up E-chan to carry him to his pram when it was time to leave this morning, and he objected and struggled out of my arms, causing me to lose me balance and almost fall to the ground. Uttered “S—t, Ethan!”, to which he called out “S—t Mummy!” as if it is the appropriate response, whilst continuing to squirm out of my arms. Attempt 2 involved coaxing to the pram with favourite toy in hand, which worked much better and involved no expletives.
- Radio going on about the economy, whilst I can hear "tractor tractor tractor tractor...." to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!

What is happening in everyone else’s world? Betty Sue, do you still exist? B Sharp, are you still frantically busy? Seagreen, read and loved your zine which arrived on Tuesday. Angel, how are you now? We are free of gastro now and there is no risk of contamination. Who else is reading this thing?

06 October 2008

Mathematical genius!

Did anyone else spot the mathematical error in my post before last? The bit about if every american got a million dollars, it would cost less than a billion?

Of course, 300,000,000 x 1,000,000 = 300,000,000,000,000 or 300 Trillion.
Ooops. Notably more than 700 Billion. I realised this a day or so after thinking it, but didn't have a moment to correct myself.

Seems I'm not the only one who had this big idea - that's right, I can count myself as in the same intellectual class as Russell Crowe.

Back on track

We've had a bit of an eventful week. Last Sunday, our little boy woke up early from his nap, screaming. This had happened a few times while he had gastro, but his sore tummy would subside and eventually we could distract him from his discomfort. This time, the screaming went on for an hour or so. This, coupled with the fact his gastro didn't seem to be going away, convinced us to take him to hospital.

He screamed the whole way there, didn't stop to look at the ambulance (a sure sign things weren't right), and screamed in the waiting room. Luckily they took us in right away - the paediatrics ward seemed to be quite empty, or was it they wanted to stop the screaming?! Anyhow, they had to give him painkillers and put him on a drip, and he was poked and prodded in his belly by the doctors on the ward followed by the paediatric sugeon on call. A decision was made to tranfer him to one of the city's children's hospital, so that he could have an ultrasound that evening and they could check that his bowels were OK.

We went for a ride in an ambulance (they had a little kiddy-car seat strapped to a stretcher to transport him!), then once at the children's hospital, they had little mobile DVD-players, so at least we could watch some things while we waited. The nurses and doctors were much better at handling kids. After a couple more doctors poking and prodding and an ultrasound, we were finally transferred to a ward at about 1am. The ultrasound didn't pick up anything unusual. What a long day!

That night was hard - they had a difficult time keeping him still while they tried to tap his vein, and at some stage he had a tube down his nose, which he kept trying to rip out (they decided later it wasn't necessary, and took it out, thank goodness). I slept on a fold out bed just next to him, so at least he wasn't alone.

He didn't really seem better the next day. More poking and prodding from the doctors on the ward and the paediatric surgeon doing his rounds. Finally at the end of the day, after a minor dummy spit from us* trying to find out from the doctor what was causing this prolonged gastro and how long he'd have to stay in there, there was a breakthrough of sorts. E-chan had been to the doctor the previous week, and they'd taken a sample, and we told the ward doctor this (we'd thought we'd told them already, but maybe we'd only remembered to tell the previous 6 doctors we'd seen...). He'd had other pathology samples taken in hospital, but it would take a day or two to get thes results back. She went away, and came back buzzing 30 minutes later - apparently the results were back and they'd identified a parasite (a unicellular thing). The parasite was treatable with antibiotics, and he was started on a course that evening.

The next day thank goodness, he was notably better. He told the Doctor to "Go away!" when he came by to check up on him (hmmm). He was drinking and eating well, taken off the drip, and we were discharged after lunch. He's recovered completely now. Never been so happy to see a normal, solid poo in my entire life!! Sorry for giving too much information there, but that's how it is. I'm hoping we never have to take him to hospital again!

His Nanna (my M-i-L) came over to look after him last week fortunately, so we were able to go back to work and catch up on things, and know he was being well looked after. She'll be here until tomorrow night.

* We had forgotten this is sometimes what you have to do to get answers in hospital

27 September 2008

Sleep torture

Lots of topics have come to the fore of my brain this week – it’s been another stress filled week, where my son has come down with gastro a second time, really badly, after having it last week and being temporarily sick with it, then having it move through the family, one by one, gradually recovering. This time, as if a cruel cosmic prank has been played on us, he has a night time cough, so that by day, we are changing nappies all the time, and at night, our sleep is interrupted by coughing at the least, and at other times a very upset little boy, working himself up into an inconsolable frenzy of coughing, crying, frustration at not being able to say what he wants to, and on 2 occasions, being sick all over me, so that we both have to have a midnight shower while Dad frantically cleans up around the place. Situations around you can seem worse than they actually are, in these conditions...

- To work or not to work?
That is not really the question. I kind of need to for now. But I'm beginning to see the attraction of being a full time mother. Especially when illnesses strike repeatedly. Cold after flu after gastro and back again at the beginning. It's wearing down our defenses. No matter how understanding your boss, or how family friendly your work-place's policies are, it's one of the downsides of being a working parent. Your private life is always thrust out there for all to see... "my son is sick, I have to work a half day today"... or "my son is sick, and my partner can't take today off". No matter whether you have enough leave, or if you make the time up later, you always feel as if you are on the back foot, in a poorer negotiating position.
I chat to my Mum about how they made do with less and she stayed home until I was three, then worked night shift at a nursing home so that she could be home for us. She was in the same boat as us, with all her family interstate as we grew up, but then airfares were more expensive and child care rare. But I also know for much of my childhood, my mother was unfulfilled on many levels. C-chan and I also think it would be preferable for us both to maybe work 3 or 4 days, or something like that. We'll aim for that in the long run. However on some levels I do think that E-chan benefits from his days in care - he's learning to share, care and befriend.

-Sick with worry...
E-chan has been sick so much this year, I'm beginning to worry about him. All anecdotal evidence suggests that in a few years, his immune system will strengthen, and he'll start fighting off more bugs than he comes down with. The Doctor has a sample in for analysis, says only time will mend things, and for him to rest, eat what he can and try to avoid lactose in case gastro-induced intolerance has set in. He's not dehydrated, and much of the day he seems happy and quite active. His height and weight are average, not below. He's delightful to be around most of the time (except when having the requisite 2 year old tantrum). But I hate to see him suffering - coughing and spluttering in the middle of the night, with a "tummy sore! tummy sore!", and NOT A THING I CAN DO ABOUT IT but give him cuddles, kisses, water, and maybe get him interested in a book to distract him from his aches, pains and coughing spasms.

- Career crisis #46
What area should I work in? Will I ever get to work in a field again that I really believe in? When and what might I study in the future? Is my career going backwards? Yawn.

- Why have my last 2 bosses been the same type of personality??
Having realised in the the last month that my current and last boss have both been of a similar personality, I this week almost wanted to give up. Too hard. (see below). Is dealing with these kinds of people a lesson the cosmos has decided I must learn? Do my bosses pick me because they think I'm a pushover and can boss me around? Why does it bug me that a Boss can boss me around - isn't that what bosses do? I know how to deal with them, so why don't I just do that? Why am I so bloody willful at times? Is it that hard to change as a just-over-30-year-old?

- I really need more than 3 hours sleep to function properly...
The actual source of most of my problems, insecurities, neuroses, tears and feelings of unempowerment this week, is sleep deprivation I realise, when I get out into the sunshine and talk to some friends.

- I am supermum!!
While Ethan was not fully recovered, he demanded to go to playgroup on his usual day. Climbed in the pram and waited for me to get ready, but insisting all the while we go to playgroup. So we got there late and left early, so he could have his fix of sandpits, toy kitchens, and trikes (I was careful to avoid contaminating others, and he mostly played on his own). I was on dishwashing duty and my phone rang, and it was a work related matter. I managed to hold an intelligent, 5 minute long conversation with someone whilst doing the dishes and keeping an eye on my 2-year-old. There wasn't even a moment later where I realised I omitted to say something, or said something wrong. I pulled off some multi-tasking there, and it felt fabulous! All is not quite that bad perhaps.

- Don Bradman's bloody cricket bat up for auction (again), a.k.a. "I can't believe the news today"
Is it just me, or does some Don Bradman memorabilia seem to be up for auction just about every week? I've yet to find a person who cares. So why does it keep turning up on the news and in papers? And in other news, greedy, large banking corporations are failing and going bankrupt and getting bailed out with hundreds of billions of dollars, while millions of middle to low income earners are being evicted, seeing their property's value plummet, or at the best, just managing to scrape together their mortgage payments, with no such help from their government. Even if every American citizen was given a million dollars, it would cost less than a billion dollars. Where is the equity in that?

- my friends are lovely
I'm inspired by my friends this week, they do all sorts of amazing things. They publish their own zines; they live overseas and work freelance; they suffer miscarriages and burst into tears telling us about it, but still see it from a philosophical perspective; they stick to their dreams, they say things like "they almost had us by the tits" instead of the masculine "they had us by the balls" in meetings and don't care that more conventional people sitting around the table are mouths agape (how I miss working with her!); they read books comparing Orwell and Evelyn Waugh and in her mummy-brain moment, mentions it to her mum-friends, apparently unaware that most of our company haven't read books by either of these authors (and even I, the next most well read in the group, could not get past the first page of Brideshead Revisited, despite having read a few Orwells). But what a mummy-brain moment to have?
And best of all, some of these new friends I've made since having E-chan are beginning to feel like old friends, like family.

24 September 2008

Quote of the week...

Australia's Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce says:
I've been saying to young women, you can have it all but not all at the same time, and how important it is to take very good care of yourself, of your mental and physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Cheers to that!

22 September 2008

Blog stalker!

I've checked out some new Blogger features, and tried to add a Blog roll, but it makes me look like a blog stalker! All I want is to be notified when certain blogs update, so I don't have have to check all the time.

this'n'that

I'm watching vintage (80's) play school videos - well someone else is and I can't help but see the odd snippet. Leggings and big baggy t-shirts were a really bad look, I reckon. I have been guilty of wearing this combination, but only to the gym or to bed, so I think I can be forgiven - anyone would look at me and say "oh, she's going to the gym...". I hope.


(That's E-chan in the blue t-shirt, by the way...)

We had a housewarming party on the weekend! House is warm now! The place was full of toddlers - literally kids climbing the stairs, driving trucks and trains along, transporting ice from the grog trough to the pot plant and back again, pinching cheese from the table and going off into the corner to eat it! Somewhere in the past year or two, our balance of friends has shifted to mostly include families with young kids, while our single/child-free friends avoid our parties like a plague... or so it seems. And an absolute champion and her Auntie stayed late and helped tidy up! Thank you!

The grand plan was to have video footage of the house, and put it up on a Schmacebook virtual party website, so folks from out of town could have a tour of the new house. But alas, the cord linking the video to the computer is still at large (put it down to things not yet finding their proper spot since we moved house...). So they had to make do with fancy real estate agent shots and random party snapshots.

12 September 2008

Lessons in giving titles to modern ladies

(AKA Part 2 of the below post)
(AKA stop me if you've heard this one before...)

Contrary to popular belief, changing your surname upon getting married is not easy, and along with having to provide your marriage certificate to the Births Deaths and Marriages Dept along with filling out forms, there are UMPTEEN places you then have to change your name (all those bank accounts, assets, utilities etc etc). This added up to TOO MUCH WORK for me, along with the fact that I'm quite fond of my family name and who it connects me to, no matter how often it is misspelt or misheard.

BUT. Being married does not automatically make me a Mrs!

Lets say for example, Miss Green marries Mr Brown, but doesn't change her surname. Why would you then start to call Miss Green "Mrs Green"? She is not married to someone with the same surname as her (hopefully not a cousin...?), and she is not a married woman living in sin with a Mr Brown! Nor would it be really appropriate to continue to be known as Miss Green (if she ever did). This seems to be a huge problem for people out there. "oh no! She's married, but has a different name to her spouse!! What do we do?!!".

The answer is simple, people.

Ms.

I know it's not everyone's favourite, but like using the title "Mr", your marital status doesn't matter, nor does your age.

Please move with the times people.

----

That being said, I don't take offence if people address letters to "Mr and Mrs Brown" (using the above example) or "The Brown Family". I know who they mean.

Does that make me conflicted?

06 September 2008

How long has it been since the feminist movement now?

We just had people over - mums I know from our antenatal class plus their toddlers. We catch up every few months or so.

C-chan was up at the crack of dawn* making mini-cupcakes, then decorating them with simple letters of the alphabet. Pretty darn tasty, if you ask me! He also cut up fruit on a platter, while I put ham and cheese in small croissants, did the dishes and swanned about in my ugg boots. Team effort, really, as is usual in our household when we're both there.

Result: "Oh, Meririsa! wonderful cupcakes! Wow, you've put on all this food."

I didn't hear this therefore couldn't correct them, and C-chan smiled gracefully and was too modest to say he'd made a majority of the food. I think in future I'm going to make the assumption (when visiting a household with a heterosexual couple) that the male did the cooking - "oh Bob!? did you cook this? No? Oh I thought I heard someone say you did!". I may make myself (even more) unpopular, though...


* OK slight exaggeration - it's a weekend and we didn't get up until 7:30...

28 August 2008

Playgroup

Going to playgroup is becoming a highlight of our day off. I know half the families there from my mother's group, but am getting to know some others too, which is nice. What's probably coolest is that E-chan is allowing other mums to help him if he needs it, and some of the little boys (mostly boys at our playgroup for some reason) ask me to help them get their gumboots back on, or read a book to them while their mum is busy in the kitchen. It's nice to be needed or even recognised by other people's kids. Your own kids need you and love you, and that's just part of the package (but no less lovely), but when another young child singles you out for help or company, or calls you by your name, it's a nice thing! I suppose I am making new friends, just a lot younger than most of the friends I've made up until now.

Our numbers at playgroup were dwindling earlier in the winter, and we had to do some promotion recently - there are 2 other playgroups in the area on the same day, but we want to keep ours going because we like it best. It's volunteer run (ie by parents and carers), with mostly unstructured play with fruit and sandwiches, and the occasional party or event or excursion. One little boy comes dressed in a spiderman suit most weeks! Anyhow, I set up a website linked to a generic email address, and we put ads in the local papers. Now we are getting more new people come by and try it out.

Trying out a playgroup is hard to do - I remember. You are coming to meet people and hopefully become friends, and so that your little one might also learn a thing or two about making friends, co-operating, sharing, taking turns, and imaginative play. It can take 6 or 7 visits until you find you click with other people, given most of the time you are trying to make sure your child isn't pouring sand in someone's hair or falling off their trike. And while we go every week, I'm not entirely sure E-chan always loves it, but he is beginning to learn some social skills and engage in co-operative play that is appropriate for his age. At the moment he doesn't really get the idea of group activities though, and he hangs back and does what he wants to instead. That reminds me of someone else I know...

I like to be all-inclusive most of the time, and get, well... embarrassed I suppose, when people I know have exclusive conversations that no one else can follow, leaving most of the rest of us not knowing whether to try and enter into the conversation, or just go find something else to do. I would hate it if someone came along and never came back because we didn't talk to them enough. There are a few ladies who are like that (they've become really good friends and talk mostly to each other and I don't think they think about how they come across to new people...). I know, we are all guilty of this from time to time, especially around old friends, but a non-private playgroup is not the time or place. I try to compensate by doing some introducing, showing around and asking casual questions when a new family pops by. Today we had 4 new families, including 2 Dads, come along with their kids! Nice to meet men who have just as much trouble finishing their sentences as I do, due to the antics of their little sub-2-year-old in their care!

Ahh that's better

Towards contentedness
The unsettledness I felt a few weeks ago has dissipated somewhat. A few days off, frolicking in the sunshine has been good for me. I suppose going from one job to another without a break caught up with me. And me plus no holidays for over half a year can mean one grumpy chicken. Anyway, working is busy but going well, life is going well, and I'm making more time for some things I like to do when I can.

Babies
I cuddled a newborn on the weekend, who is just beginning to lose that almost generic newborn look, and start to look like his mother, father, and big sister, and of course his own person. It felt like such a privilege, especially as it’s my 3rd cuddle now. “Remember me?”. His 5-weeks-from-the-womb eyes are beginning to fix on things, including my face, when I pull faces, smile and talk to him. What tiny, tiny little feet, with a fragile, delicate little body! My friend (the mother) is gradually working out how to manage both of them, with their different eating, sleeping, playing and toilet habits, but she, the perfectionist, is disheartened at her lack of progress... I've always wanted 2 children, and I think I could still manage that, but I do understand now why some families stop at one.

Singing
Our little boy loves to sing. Sometimes what he sings is recognisable, but much of the time, it’s a bubbly, babbly little voice, that accompanies our pram journeys or his solitary play with toys. I think it’s just lovely! I wish I had a recorder handy to record the sound. I’m aware that parents can be biased about such things… fast forward a few years to the school play or choir, parents beaming with pride in the audience, discussing amongst themselves “ooh! I think he’s talented – more so than the other kids, don’t you reckon?”, and signing him up for music classes or whatever. So I’ll stop short of saying I think he’s talented, but say instead that he seems to love singing, and being sung to, so I’m going to encourage it whenever I can.

21 August 2008

duh!

After having a pot plant for over 2 years now in a plastic pot, I just re-potted into a nice ceramic pot. White glaze with nice blue botanic design on the side. And I am wondering "why the hell didn't I do this sooner?". The difference between looking at a plant in a black plastic pot and one in a ceramic pot is like the difference between looking at a milk crate and a nice arm chair!

Anyhow, needless to say, I am pleased with the result!

16 August 2008

finding his own style...

Ethan is demanding that he wear t-shirts with planes, trains, cars and things that go. Day, and night. Even if that means putting them under his PJ's. Gets tricky when they're all in the wash. I have been able to convince him to wear his t-shirt with bugs and spiders on it instead, but it's not easy.

I was telling my Dad about this last weekend while he stayed with us, and he told me that my own (older) brother went for a year or so when he wouldn't leave the house without his cowboy gear! Yeee har! didn't know that! A rare tid bit I can store and save for a moment when he deserves to be teased!!

07 August 2008

new dwellings

Over a month has gone by in our new house and it feels properly like home now. I’m remembering where I put things, where Ethan is likely to put things, working out what we can live with and what perhaps could be fixed, and learning the lie of the neighbourhood. I’m getting much more exercise by walking to work most days (to the point where I might ditch the gym membership when it expires). But I’m also driving more – this is because there is no bus that will take me within a 15 minute walk to Ethan’s child care centre, which means it doesn’t really help to catch a bus in rainy weather. But again the drive is only a few Km.

The effect on Ethan was quite profound, as forewarned by our mother-of-two friend and veteran of 3 interstate moves. He still wants to go towards our old house sometimes on the way home. It took a few weeks for him to be OK with his new room, and he pulled all our strings to get us to come to him at night time, and even developed a new habit of wanting to come into our bed. We can’t get him to sleep in his bedroom during the day, and have to resort to pushing him to sleep in the pram (which we can’t really do in Summer, so we’ll have to work towards something else…). The whole move was a stressful nightmare. So many decisions to be made in rapid time, all the while life carries on, bills come in, we go to work, we plan and cook dinners, and try to find moments where we can enjoy ourselves. And for a while, everything seemed difficult and there was no relief in sight! AM NOT IN A HURRY TO MOVE AGAIN ANY TIME SOON!

Lately I’ve been, well, on the slightly more depressed end of my normal range (I know – I can feel your eyes wandering off into the distance, or focussing on the more interesting brightly coloured thing to the right of your screen…). To put things in perspective, I’m not often prone to getting very depressed and have never sought medical help for it (perhaps my life has been fortunate enough that nothing has ever sent me that low?). But there are patches – like most of us have, I assume – where there doesn’t seem to be much to look forward to, where certain aspects of your life seems irretrievably stuck and off track (e.g. “career”), where you feel unconnected, where you’re not sure what your strengths are anymore, where you are a stress ball and keep reacting to things you don’t usually react to, and you dwell on things, and assume the worst. And let’s not even cover what an impatient, un-fun mother I’ve been during this time (Ethan still loves me, bless him, but lately I haven’t felt like I’ve deserved it).

And I’ve decided I don’t like myself much when I’m stressed (does anyone actually like themselves when they are stressed?), and I haven’t yet learned how to manage that, or even think about how I might be able to change. I sometimes wonder if it is possible to change certain fundamental parts of your personality - I don’t think it’s easy to when you have little time and energy to devote to it.

So now we’re trying to take a breather – well as much as regular life allows. And life is looking up now - back on the up-cycle again. We even had friends over for dinner on Saturday night! Made ripper chocolate puds and caramelised onion (not eaten together, mind). And Ms J babysat for a few hours last night while I had to go somewhere! And my Dad is visiting this weekend. And another friend came back from overseas. And 2 friends have newborns! And another is recently pregnant!! And another is about to have twins! Ooh! AND I may have another niece or nephew early next year too - babies babies!

19 July 2008

Good morning, Grumplestiltskin! And other conversations with our toddler...

Grumpy 2 y.o. was whining when we got him up from his cot this morning...

Daddy: do you want a nappy change?
G2yo: NO! No nappy change!!
Daddy: do you want a hug?
G2yo: NO! NO HUG!
Daddy: do you want to be grumpy then?
G2yo: NO! No be grumpy!! (said most grumpily)
we're around the corner trying not to laugh out loud.

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We're making dinner last night, and having cheese on crackers to stave off the hunger until the soup is ready. We offer E-chan cheddar on a cracker, but he sees us having camembert...

E-chan: more, more cheese?!
Mummy: oh, you want posh cheese do you?
E-chan: posh cheese! posh cheese!!

(by the way, he can also say "parmesan cheese")

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The vocab is increasing at an explosive rate now! It's amazing. Almost everything we say gets parroted, as if he's just testing the words out, trying them on for size, finding out how they sound coming from his own lips. Sometimes we are bowled over, sometimes it's hilarious, sometimes, we realise we need to be careful what we say... (e.g. shouldn't say "big stinky poo", "oh crap", or "bugger")

16 July 2008

themes...

Isolation... Of not having a working phone or internet for a while (not just us it seems…) and not being able to talk to our dearest and not-so-nearest. Of being too busy doing stuff for our new house and missing some regular activities. Of not knowing if it will be affordable to visit my sibling in Japan in coming years due to rising airfares. Of not knowing who we can ask for help at very short notice when our child is sick, without interrupting people at work, or infecting other kids. Of getting used a new neighbourhood and not knowing where is the closest place to buy milk, when there used to be a shop downstairs from your old place. Of not having the equivalent of the friendly lady from the Lebanese takeaway shop – who is now a 20 minute walk away, during which your felafel would get cold on the way home. Of noticing the neighbours from over the hallway came out to chat to the removal guys the day we moved, but haven’t come over to introduce themselves to us even though we moved in over 3 weeks ago. Of wondering why people seem to fear the simple politeness of introducing themselves to their neighbours, as if it will lead to countless requests to borrow some sugar (as if that would be so terrible).

Worry... that civilisation is downhill from here, that we seem to be grasping for an idea of how life is headed. That parts of our society that have been commonplace for 50 years may be on their way out, and wishing I’d talked to my grandparents more about how life was during the depression, so that I might be better prepared. Worrying that I might not have enough practical skills, that I’m not resourceful enough. Worrying that certain parts of our current life would be irrelevant in a society less affluent than today's. Worrying that my last apostrophe is in the wrong place. Worrying that I don't make enough effort to buy second-hand furniture. Wondering how we can change our stupid halogen downlights in our new place into something more energy efficient. Because we all keep getting sick, and that I am using up all my sick leave too quickly. That I need a holiday but don't know when I can do it.

Hope... because we are showing signs of adapting to our new surroundings, and our son is adapting too, despite having been moved from the only home he’s known. That the (slightly older) kids in our neighbourhood play cricket in the closed off bit of laneway near our house while one of the mums looks on. That friends and family make contact – eventually! That other owner-occupiers in our unit complex do strike up conversations, even tell you their first names and where they live, and are as concerned about the management of the place as you are. Of babies just born and babies just about to be...

09 July 2008

economic cycles

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/counterpoint/stories/2008/2296549.htm

I caught the end of this interview on Radio National - recommended listening. No transcript as yet, but you can listen to the recording at the above link.

my frankly vulgar green pullover (part 10?)

Things are getting a bit dire in the wardrobe stakes if the best you can muster to wear to work on a COLD COLD day is too-long denim jeans that you haven’t managed to take up yet, brown, ankle-high boots, and a green roll-neck jumper. A jumper that you later realise has a small hole in the back and that’s right – I’d forgotten - a bit of wool has caught and won’t go back in place from when you borrowed your brothers jacket and it had inward facing rough Velcro on it, silly. Oh and a shapeless dark grey coat to wear outside.

I sometimes like to think that it is good not to be obsessed with appearance. My scale of things I make time for during leisure time:

High – seeing friends and talking to family, eating nice food (including shopping for it), thinking and talking about stimulating and important issues (!)
Medium – watching a few certain television programs (even if recorded and watched later), exercise, reading, listening to music, bitching and moaning
Low – waxing, haircutting, applying makeup, shopping for clothes*, styling hair
Virtually never – colour hair, paint nails, drawing#*, painting* and sewing*

* I have to say I enjoy doing, but OPPORTUNITIES ARE RARE WHEN YOU HAVE A TODDLER WITH YOU MUCH OF THE TIME!!
# excluding texta scribbles in scrapbooks, which I’m doing lots of at present

So you see, even exercise ranks higher than grooming. But all this is hardly virtuous if you start each day struggling to put together a look you are happy with from your wardrobe, want to get rid of half of it but then you’d only have half a wardrobe, or be wearing the same thing over and over… hardly proves you are not preoccupied with appearance, does it?

So Monday, I planned to spend a clothing voucher, but ran out of time. The other week, I got a wax for the first time in god knows how long (I was getting horrified glances at my middle regions from young girls in the showers at the swimming pool! I could almost see them alarmed at the thought that they might end up like this at the onset of puberty!!) Now I just need to take care of my legs; but then, it’s winter, right? Tomorrow night, I’m having my first hair cut in over 6 months (things got a bit awkward with my regular hairdresser once they messed up an appointment and I couldn’t reschedule due to flying out interstate the next day, so I’m trying a new one…)

I noticed a groovy little 2nd hand clothes store not 5 minutes from my new home. Maybe that will help? And Angel finally gave me a solution to my longstanding problem in finding knee high boots that fit my what apparently are MASSIVE calves (if average boots are anything to go by) – a friend of hers just gave up looking and had some tailor made!! What an idea! Get a brown and black pair done at the same time!! Worth it, I think because I’ve shopped around for a pair every year for the past 5 years or so, and they keep coming back in fashion.

To do list:
- Out with the daggy, saggy, one size too big (I’ve lost weight in the past year or so, it seems) dull coloured clothes!
- Make an effort to get those suit pants taken in so they aren’t constantly being hoiked up!
- get some boots made that FIT MY CALVES

Who wants to make a clothes shopping date? I need both work and casual clothes…

02 July 2008

Gruesome title for my adoptive state

For years, other South Australians and I have had to put up with South Australia being labelled as the state where weird serial murders happen. Kids going missing from the beach on sunny days, never to be seen again… bodies in barrels (not in Adelaide, I’d like to point out, but an hour north in a small country town)... the guy who took an axe to his ex-girlfriends’ new boyfriend, which rocked my working community – I actually knew the killer’s father. I’m sure there are more gruesome murders attributed to SA, but I just haven’t elected to retain this information in my brain over more important matters I need to remember.

But anyway, ever protective towards the place where I grew up, a while back I was trying to come up with a ready-made and witty comeback to throw at any New South Welshman who threw an insult at my home state by labelling it as the Serial Killer State. This used to happen quite a lot, as there is a particular breed of New South Welsh-people who think that Sydney is the only city in Australia, and everything else is too boring to mention or should be made fun of. They usually haven’t lived anywhere but Sydney, or can’t work out how to occupy themselves outside a dense urban environment. At that particular time, Sydney seemed to be having a drive-by-killing every other week. “Here’s my chance”, I thought! But Sydney just doesn’t cut it in the drive-by-killing stakes, when you compare it to LA, or perhaps less stable countries in the world.

But finally, NSW has done it. I think NSW can be safely labelled as the “Family Murder-Suicide State”. Every week at the moment there is a case of someone either killing their entire family, or killing most of their family followed by themselves.

But that's not very funny, is it?

30 June 2008

Movin' keep on movin'

Well we are now safely ensconced in our new “big tall house” as my son calls it, probably because there are stairs in it. E-chan has been OK with it so far – involving him in the move and the clean up of the old place seems to have helped him to understand what is happening. The removalists (apparently that isn’t a word but I keep using it anyway) came 2 hours late on Tuesday (over a week ago now), and they didn’t finish up until 7pm. They weren’t bad, and they talked almost their own language – referring to “peaks” and “rises” when describing to each other where a certain piece of furniture would fit in the truck. I bet their 3D puzzle-solving skills are superior.

As if moving isn’t enough – E-chan went and caught a timely cough and runny nose. Now we could really do with a few beers and a good night sleep, and some time to just wander around our new neck of the woods and lie down and rest in our new house. Oh, and for our new couches to arrive.

Highlights:
- more space!
- Winter sun through the bedroom windows (our old place had NO direct winter sun and full summer evening sun)
- Finding those miscellaneous things that go missing (including things last seen in E-chan’s chubby little hands), under and behind things.
- Getting rid of stuff you don’t need/wear
- E-chan handling the stairs like a champ, and even though we haven’t installed the safety gate yet, he waits for me to accompany him up or down when I ask him to
- A friendlier block of apartments and Units, with more owner occupiers who care about stuff that goes on/doesn’t work, and say “hello”

I’d cry, but I just don’t have the time:
- Leaving our home of 5 ½ years – oh the memories! From our DINKy days to pregnancy, having a newborn and now toddler.
- Having our poor sick child stumble about our old digs as we frantically tried to clean up on Wednesday (why oh why didn’t we get a cleaner in?? I think we just ran out of time to arrange one…)
- Being vomited on for the second time in as many weeks (luckily the carpet cleaner guy was due an hour later)
- Sitting in fold up chairs in lieu of lounges in the living room (all this and Dr Who is back on telly again)
- Not being able to remember which thing went into which box
- Unexpected things that don’t work or need fixing
- And now it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to get it fixed (actually – move that comment to the Highlights section… no more relying on real estate agents to get maintenance done!)
- 5 day delay on phone connection and still waiting on internet. Felt really cut off!

Much of the stuff we use daily is unpacked, and now we are down to the stuff we don’t use as often, that you have to think harder when deciding where to give it a home. I suspect that some stuff is never going to make it out of boxes. I mean really - why do I keep this sample moisturiser or hand cream even though I know it doesn’t suit my skin? Am I EVER going to wear that slightly discoloured shirt again? Some stuff I probably should have put in the Vinnies bin, but just ran out of time to try them on and I packed it anyway. (And who says Vinnies wants it anyway?!)

And now we have to use our own 3D puzzle solving skills to do the last bit of furniture configuration in the lounge room and in the bedrooms. And buy a step ladder so we can put some things away high up in the “big tall” cupboards in our bedrooms…

21 June 2008

Secret boy's club!

E-chan is supposed to be going to sleep around now. However, C-chan is still in his bedroom with him, and I can hear lots of giggling!

I wonder what's going on in there....

20 June 2008

Got a bit of a shock yesterday. I saw one of E-chan’s little friends and his Mum and big brother – they live on the same street and go to same Child care centre. C-chan and I noticed we hadn’t seen their father around for a while, and thought he might have gone away for work or maybe they’d separated. Anyway, thought I should mention it just so I didn’t seem to be an uncaring neighbour and to see if they needed a hand. No one wants to be a busybody, but I also don’t want to be one of those people who notice something is wrong but pretend everything is normal.

Anyway, the mother said her husband had passed away a few months ago. This was not the answer I was expecting. She was OK with me asking and would rather it be out in the open. She said they are all right, which I assume means they are dealing with the grief, doing OK financially and have enough support around them. It was a real jolt to imagine what it would be like to be a single mother of 2 with the youngest less than 2 years old. But then, single parents have raised children on their own before, and it will happen again in the future. All through the conversation, 20-month-old was beaming at me and E-chan most charmingly, oblivious to the conversation that we adults were having. The father had been a pretty cool, friendly fellow, with no obvious signs of illness when I saw him last, which couldn't have been long before his death.

I gave C-chan a big hug when he got home last night.

Oil, energy decline - all that sort of stuff

Further to Seagreen’s interesting post on Monday 16 June 2008 and link to permaculture dude’s energy descent/climate change scenarios….

Does anyone else get the feeling the general view on oil availability is shifting? Many have been saying that we will run out of oil, but the message has been dismissed as alarmist, quashed, or ignored. Suddenly the past 6 months, all of the issues some of us have been concerned about for years (suburbs with no adequate public transport, building houses on prime market garden land on the fringes of the city, reliance on the motor car, lack of rail infrastructure, etc etc) are gradually becoming regularly discussed in mainstream media and by politicians, without counterpoints from the oil industry saying "we have plenty of oil there is nothing to worry about".

Last night there was an interesting interview on the 7:30 Report (ABC) with Richard Heinberg.
http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s2280200.htm (hopefully transcript is posted, but you might have to just click on the podcast on the RHS of the screen and watch it). Basically, he says get used to petrol costing what it does now, a lot of restructuring of industry, and expenditure on non-car/truck transport infrastructure.
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/business/items/200806/s2280264.htm Also on Lateline Business last night, Virgin Blue chief discussing the implications for the airline industry.

Definitely time to invest in a bike.

Whirlwind of a month!

Things have progressed with the home purchase - there has been lots to do of course, including making sure all the finances were ready to go for 3.30pm TODAY when we settle (eeek! had a few hiccups, but we got there in the end), and making sure the utilities and moving logistics are all in place. It's funny - an acquaintance said "don't you feel more grown up now you're buying a home?". My answer would have to be a firm "no, not really". Finances are only one part of life, of course - a tool. Owning a house gives you some sort of stability in where you will live if that's important to you, so long as you aren't over-stretched on your mortgage (which we aren't). Wanting to stay in the same area has only become important to us in the past year or so, but we have also rented in the same area in a few different places since 2000. It's only now that the rents are going crazy that we decided to think about buying seriously.


E-chan is sensing something is up, of course. We've told him we are moving, and he's seen the new place a few times plus photos, and the boxes with stuff in them are gradually accumulating in the house. But I'm not sure how much of the concept of moving house he understands. And to add to this, we decided recently on an impromptu and short trip to Canberra to see Turner-to-Monet, catch up with friends, and pick up my folks who visited there on the way up to see us. First night in our lovely friend's house, E-chan wakes up at 11:00, cries loudly, and when I picked him up to hug and pat his back, he vomited all over me, himself, and the carpet! The Horreur! Shower, full outfit change, buckets of soapy water, screaming and washing machines running in the middle of the cold Canberra night! E-chan was Mr Popular in the morning. Luckily, our hosts (said they) didn't hear the screaming marathon as we were up the other end of the house. The rest of the trip was fine - lovely company, sunny days (with chilly nights), interesting art exhibition (but strangely cluttered - they could have put in half the number of paintings). The picture is of E-chan running around the reconciliation walk.


E-chan was spoilt for attention when we got back to Sydney. Along with Grandma and Grandad, his Uncle and Nanna came over for his 2nd birthday celebrations (this was the family party - we'll have a party in our new place in a month or so). He got some really cool presents, including a play tea set and some bits for his train set. I think family withdrawal symptoms set in the day after everyone left, and we had a repeat middle of night screaming session the following night.


On top of all this, I've had two days off with with gastro - I usually kick these things within 24 hours, but this went for 4 days. They were days when I am usually at work, so at least E-chan could go to day-care. I was absolutely exhausted, and my feet ached!

But ech! We're there now! I'm excited about moving this weekend! We haven't moved house in 5 1/2 years, which is amazing! Am so looking forward to having more space....

12 June 2008

OMG!!!

You'll never guess who I just saw on Playschool!!

Alex Papps!

Henderson Kids bad boy spunk, now co-hosting Playschool! (I might add that Justine Clark is now also a regular on Playschool, has her own album and DVD which most kiddies love, and is also touring with gigs at the Enmore!! The songs are durn catchy, I must say...)

What is the world coming to?

11 May 2008

"Thankyou for your pleasant time and manner"

... is how a real estate agent we've been dealing with lately has started off each of her emails. I giggled every time and was tempted to write back "You mean 'Thank you for your time and pleasant manner'?" or "what do you mean by writing 'thankyou for your pleasant time...' to MY husband?!'". I shouldn't make fun as she was actually quite nice, with no other signs of mental incapacity. But then, I'm sure real estate agents are much nicer to you when you're thinking of buying a place rather than the standard scum treatment you get when renting.

Anyway, the big news is that we've bought a home. Our very first. Well, about half of it. Apart from the occasional open inspection over the past few years plus many internet searches, this was the first place we looked at. Rationale for buying was that we want to move to a larger place some time in the next 3 months, but rents in our area are skyrocketing. We expected to have to move out a few suburbs, but we will be roughly in the same neighbourhood - yay! We didn't expect it to happen so soon, nor have our offer accepted, so the past week and a half has been busy with engaging solicitors, getting approval for finance, and fretting about whether or not our offers were realistic, too low, or too high.

In the end, we managed to settle a day before it was due to auction, at a price that is affordable for us. We are close to a couple of parks, and within 10-15 mins walk from 3 cafe strip/shopping areas and a major arterial road with lots of buses. We'll have quite a lot more space, including a spare bedroom for folks from interstate or overseas :) and a store room and good built-ins, and maybe room for the piano at Mum and Dad's house, which they don't play and want to send over! Room to store bicycles also! Hooray! Drawbacks are the legacy of a purple "feature wall" left by the current owners, a wierd ad-hoc bath, hard-to-keep-warm open plan living area, and view of some golden arches from one of our windows.

But anyway, how exciting! Looking forward to having more space - a room to get away by myself, keep the sewing machine out for a few days at a time, potter about the kitchen without waking the whole house up, and store away the clutter.

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01 May 2008

Yummy steamed date pudding


3/4 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup sugar
4 Oz marg/butter
1 tspn cinnamon
1 cup milk/water (1/2 and 1/2 or all milk)
1 cup plain flour
1 tspn bicarb soda

Mix all dry ingredients and fruit together, then gradually add milk/water, melted marg and soda. Makes a fairly moist dough.

Pour into a greased 1L capacity pudding basin, cover with baking paper loosened with a pleat and cover with calico tied around the rim. Place into a saucepan of boiling water so that water comes 3/4 of the way up the basin. Close lid, and weigh it down with an up-side-down bowl. Steam for around 2 hours. Serve with custard or icecream.
Serves 8

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This is an oldy but goody from the Woman's Weekly cookbook via my Auntie. It was so moist that we ate it plain (ie no custard etc). We had a double helping first time!

I'm beginning to think old fashioned english food might suit my constitution best. Just about every node of my family tree searched back several centuries (by my Dad) is Anglo Saxon, besides one Tasmanian aboriginal ancestor. Plain old English food is what I'm adapted for, and what I don't seem to have any bad reactions against*. Food like this pudding makes me not mind so much!

* but sadly this won't stop me eating thai, chinese, turkish, italian, japanese, vietnamese, indian from time to time...

20 April 2008

Eco patent commons

Thought I'd share this site with you - the Eco Patent Commons was set up on January 2008, and is hosted on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) website.

Interesting idea - the rationale is to create a way for companies (or IP owners) to share patents for usage to enable energy efficient and environmentally sustainable processes to be adopted widely and quickly. Also, companies in similar industries can share and improve on each other's processes.

Why not publish the invention and make it public domain and free for all? I suppose this is a way of allowing the company to still exploit their monopoly on the IP for other uses or if it starts to have large commercial potential in the future, yet still get the environmentally friendly applications out there and used quickly.

The legal side of this is a bit difficult to understand in parts - especially the idea of when the non assert clause can be revoked should a company sue you for something else unrelated to the usage of the eco-patent. I would have thought an easier way of doing this would be to give a royalty free license to other companies to use the patent for the stated purpose only, but there may be legal implications to this I just don't understand. I assume this also is based on the Creative Commons, which I know even less about - maybe the Eco Patent Commons is based on some tried and tested legal systems used there.

Anyway, have a surf around the site to see examples of which patents have been pledged to the commons so far (31, mostly from IBM) - the Q&A section is quite good at clarifying some bits.

15 April 2008

(explanation of previous post title...)

So it seems you can get chicken pox even if you are immunised. Had to ask the Dr if she was sure E-chan had them, as the tiny red dots didn't seem like the pox I had as a kid, but she was sure. And sure enough, more appeared over the next few days. If you are immunised, and are one of the 20-30% who still gets chicken pox, the virus could be mistaken for a cold with a cough, as the pox symptoms are much milder....

But regardless, a week at home in quarantine is required. This of course coincided with C's Nanna dying, which requires him to take tomorrow off. So I'm off work first half of the week, and E should be clear to go back to childcare on Friday. It's hard explaining to him when he'll see his little friends again. It's also a bit of a challenge coming up with ideas to entertain when it's rainy outside, and hanging out with other kid is verboten, given we're trying to do the responsible thing and not give the pox to others. Oh and of course it's raining this week.

Anyone - who's had chicken pox - keen to come over for take away and knitting (or whatever) session this Wednesday night? I'll be on my own until C gets back from funeral, at about 9:30.

Contagion and cabin-fever

Stimulating conversation at a play dinner party...

Me: would you like some dinner?
E: !(nods enthusiastically)
Me: here you go then... (ladles out imaginary food into bowl for each of us, and pretends to eat)
E: Hot?
Me: Yes it might be a bit. (Blows on food) That's better!
E: Hot?
Me: No, warm now. (Keeps pretending to eat)
E: Hot?
Me: no, not any more - are you going to have some?
E: !(nods enthusiastically, pretends to eat)
Me: (makes pouring noise and pretends to pour drink in tea cups)
E: (Copies, smiles) Mummy!

10 April 2008

Mixed metaphor of the month

"Like pulling hen's teeth".

I came up with this one yesterday - perhaps not deliberately - but insist it is valid: it is for usage when a) something is rare as hen's teeth AND b) is as unpleasant as having to pull teeth.

Highlights and thoughts from the past week

Hope the boring title hasn't put you off already. It really was the best I could come up with. Work is ticking along OK, life is manageable, E-chan is scarily approaching his 2nd birthday, sleeping beautifully and alternating weeks where he eats like a horse and picks like a sparrow. Right now he is practicing blowing his nose (I just had to confiscate the tissues for fear of the whole box being emptied)!

  • Had a few days of angst, where I worried that I was insignificant to everyone except to my immediate family. But a beautifully social weekend cured me of that – chats with family, swimming with a friend, visiting a mum-friend who I never see because she works on days I don’t and vice-versa and seeing her little 22-month girl dazzle with special little dance routines and an amazing grasp of the alphabet, and a friend who I thought had dropped me from her xmas card list found me and “befriended” me on Facebook.
  • BABYSITTING, people! We’ve seen the light! Had our first evening out together, going out to dinner with friends, while a work colleague of C-chan’s baby sat E-chan. E-chan didn’t wake up and was fine with someone else being there. Dinner was fun, and entrĂ©e and dessert were lovely.
  • I had a video cam session with my nephew (and my brother and the rest of his family), where he wanted to talk trains with E-chan, but unfortunately he was napping, so I talked planes, trains and helicopters instead. After we had “hung up”, he rang me back on his own for no particular reason than to tell me that he was being cheeky!
  • Finished sewing something! (a quilt cover for E-chan)
  • The above was accomplished on a day I had all by myself when my boys went on a journey to visit C-chan’s Nanna, who is very sick. She had never met E-chan, and he is her only great-grandchild, so we thought it was time they went to visit. E-chan was a model child by all accounts – he greeted his great-grandparents by calling them “nanna” and “poppa” (without coaching), was friendly after a short period of shyness, and blew kisses goodbye. We are so proud of him – he seems to be a thoughtful child, who has some level of intuitiveness, as we certainly aren’t able to instruct his behaviour very much yet due to communication constraints. Apparently his grand-Nanna and grand-Poppa were happier than they have been seen in ages.
  • While at the child care centre yesterday, I heard a father telling a story about how his youngest child calls his older brother “weetbix”.... (!)
  • Discovered that “reasons you will hate me” is actually written by Marieke Hardy, whose book reviews I love to hear on First Tuesday Book Club
  • Have gone for a lunch time swim two weeks in a row! Feeling very virtuous!
  • And a final parting thought - it really has been too long since we’ve seen David Tennant on the television… must be months?

02 April 2008

New job starts with no hitches...

...apart from some of the usual administrative work & behind the scenes signing of forms lagging behind my actual new job commencement date.

So far so good. I even organised a meeting - set agenda and all that other related stuff - for my second day on the job. It feels more challenging in more of the right ways than my last job, without the menial tasks I used to have to do, but not so "in the deep end" with a far-too-broad-job-description challenging as per a job I once did. Most of the challenges I actually know how to go about, I just need to work out the whos, whens and whys. The boffins I work with seem to work on interesting stuff, so it should keep me stimulated.

Some good points:
- my new office is closer to that of some of my friends
- increase in incidental exercise due to increased number of flights of stairs I have to climb several times daily
- closer to a pub
- closer to E-chan's day care
- closer to gym and pool (handy for lunch time swims and pre-work gym sessions)
- only share office with one other person
- exposure to cutting edge research
- view from desk includes ferny rock garden and can also see sky

Some bad points:
- increased number of flights of stairs I have to climb several times daily (4 flights to get to lunch and coffee room!)
- office near a workshop with engine noises and oily smells
- moderate spider population in my office (but have only seen Daddy Long Legs so far)
- old brown carpet on floor
- nearest green space is being landscaped and will take probably 6 months to be finished
- evil vending machine nearby with double mini toblerone packets selling for only $2.20...

21 March 2008

Cool things about 21-month-olds


- They understand much of what you say to them, can say "please"

- will help out around the house willingly if you ask (and sometimes just to copy what you are doing).

- can communicate their basic needs

- hilarious misunderstandings as you try to understand what they are saying - at times these are long babble sentences said with inflections, accompanied by a furrowed brow, pointing and a question mark at the end of it, to which you can only answer "uh huh?"

- big koala round-the-neck snuggles

- stumbly but enthusiastic running in the park

- the challenge of working out their logic

- love being chased around and giggles maniacally

- have a favourite bed time song (currently Morningtown Ride) and yawn and rub their eyes as you get part way through

- obsessions with planes, trains, cars and buses
- they start to make friends, and mention them at home when they see something that reminds them

- loves cheesy classics such as: La Cucaracha, Popcorn, the Chipmunks, Baby Elephant Walk, and Puff the Magic Dragon, and dances like a lunatic!!

- they call out "Mama!" when you've been in the other room for a while, when they're ready to get up in the morning, or sometimes when they're just happy!

13 March 2008

A week in the life...

Last Wednesday
Had meeting with boss & was told my position would be full time once my contract ends. It isn't working for her part time. Was told I was welcome to apply. Told her I wasn't interested in working more time per week than currently. Fine, she didn't either when she had young kids. No - job sharing was too confusing for her, and she'd really prefer one dedicated person full time. Fair enough, and damn. Was asked to organise the recruitment of my replacement to start at the end of my contract in May.


Thursday
Found out I was in the top 3 for a job I interviewed for (you may remember my shit week from January - this was the result of that. Thanks for your advice Betty Sue - I never thanked you at the time). The recruitment person told me "up straight" what my strengths and weaknesses were, and that they were seeking references. This job probably would go to someone else, I felt. Oh well, must keep looking, I suppose...

Went trainspotting with E-chan at Erskineville bridge. "More choo chooo?" he asked after each train had gone by, as if I could press "play" again and make one appear! Bless him!

Friday
Nothing notable. Put on my professional & smiley face and got through it like most other work days.


Saturday
Happy Women's day!! I seem to remember being in exactly the same boat (job-wise) this time last year. My rational self-confidence eluded me for a bit as I complained on the crap range of part-time jobs around but did absolutely nothing about it. Then my Mother-in-law came to stay and we were all distracted.

Sunday
Cut my fingernail with a knife while making lunch! Dang! Didn't draw blood, but it must have scared me because I went into slight shock. How bizarre.

New neighbours over the corridor actually seem to have manners and introduced themselves by first name, yet don't seem afraid that we will throw ourselves at them as a result of their friendliness! That's a first for us in Sydney.

We drop E-chan's Nanna off at airport and he bursts into tears when he realises she is going. He loves his Nanna! He's beginning to realise who loves him how that is special. Poor lil' thing!

Monday

Some shopping to do. Overhear the following at the checkout (Mother to her two sons): "Now you've done it! Now you've upset Nanna!!". Nanna expresses regret at having come along shopping today, given their fighting. The two mulleted boys appear to be a mixture of sullen, bored, and angry at each other, they open their mouths to start complaining a few times but realise there is no point in arguing with Mum or Nanna, and follow reluctantly.


Tuesday
Assume as I haven't heard about job that it is being offered to someone else. But of course, my phone runs out of charge unexpectedly, today of all days, and I can't check messages until I get home. A quick scan of job vacancies at lunch time shows heartening supply of good quality part time jobs I could apply for, and I resolve to get cracking on some job applications tonight...


Wednesday
My phone messages, which I checked the night before, included job offer! Phew! Hello 3-day-a-week position with flexible "as long as I get the work done" attitude, more autonomy and more interesting challenges to sink my teeth into! Maybe I'm being a bit too optimistic, but plenty of time to complain later. Quietly put aside my jobs to apply for pile and ring to thank my referees...

10 March 2008

off target t-shirt presents from parents

I hope you won't think me ungrateful and mean-spirited for writing this post - my parents-in-law and my own parents are dear things, but the generational gap sometimes gives rise to some amusing misses with presents:

1) after coming back from Japan a year or two ago, they found me some groovy tops - my surprise was great - they fitted and they were wearable in public! They then turned to C-chan "and for YOU!...":
- a very large white t-shirt that said "the last supper" and had a picture of all the sesame street characters sitting around a table with a big roasted bird on a plate, with big-bird's legs...
- some groovy looking cartoon printed y-fronts. "but we got the largest size we could...I hope they're big enough" they said. On closer inspection, the label said "Hip-star girls under wear". Lucky me!

2) another gem from my folks - an over-sized black t-shirt, saying "CountDown" in the style of the old tv show logo. Our eyebrows raised up when they said "we almost got you a Led Zeppelin t-shirt then decided to get this one...." What a shame, C-chan is actually a LZ fan and probably could have worn that t-shirt in public...

3) and from my in laws, the first of what I hope won't be many... t-shirt sets. A litte white t-shirt for E-chan saying "like father" and another over-sized white t-shirt for C-chan saying "like son". Haw haw! My M-I-L apologised that there were no such sets for mothers and sons. I assured her it was fine.

We have no idea how C-chan is ever going to wear out these three oversized t-shirts as pyjamas, but are trying. But sadly, these t-shirts stay in our drawers in almost pristine condition, and all his favourite t-shirts keep getting holes, stains, and warping out of shape....

28 February 2008

Whatever happened to the Coorong?


For those of you with East-coast-centric school geography behind them, the Coorong is the massive lagoon at the end of the Murray River, just south of the where the river exits the sea, and the setting of "Storm Boy" - the novel and film written by Colin Thiele in the 70's.

But I digress. The Coorong is a national park, and is rich with bird and aquatic life. You know, an important breeding ground for birds and all that. I've been there several times, once on a Summer Holiday bird survey trip, and some other times for short camping trips.
Sure it has always dried up from time to time in summer, but it's been dry for quite a while. The picture above is the Coorong taken two weeks ago. The recent flooding and rains in the Darling/Murray River catchments has all flown into relatively empty dams (ie some of Adelaide's drinking water is sourced from a large dam downstream) and has been taken up by irrigation allocations that Qld, NSW and Victoria aren't really reducing as much as they should.

In fact, the river has stopped flowing for a while now (again, drought plus irrigation overuse), which has lead to sand banking up at the Murray mouth, and Lake Alexandrina (below left, with dust storm), a deeper lake to the North of The Coorong, is drier than anyone remembers.

Someone I know is doing sampling and surveying down this way and has made many trips to the region recently. On one trip, there were lots of dead, stinky fish lying on the dried up ground.
Very depressing, and I'm hoping that our climate change and water Minister - who is South Australian - will do the right thing by our poor, backward-flowing river system. Let's wait and see, shall we?








23 February 2008

Update from the ranch...

It seems we are not to have the quiet life anymore.

We've just emerged from a few weeks of lurgy-ville - a cough that E-chan had that got progressively worse, until I got food poisoning (and E-chan did a bit but not as badly as he only had a few bites of my lunch that day), and wham bam! all 3 of us came down with the full blown cough-and-phlegm fest all at once. [Haven't I written this 3 or 4 times before!?]. As usual when you're a bit down, you worry about everything - job, rental and housing prices, the way the world is going.

Thankfully, after a week or two of what felt like swimming in mud, things are more or less normal. Still need more sleep, but even work seems tolerable. Am ready to get back into the pool for laps tomorrow!

E-chan is going great guns after a few weeks of adjusting to going back to child-care (whilst having above cold). One thing I didn't realise is that carer:child ratios are really small at the start of the year - the 2-2.5 year olds go off to pre-school (more like kindy) from January each year, and those who have birthdays later in the year get to enjoy one carer to 2 children instead of 3-4. After a few weeks of wondering where some of his little classmates have gone, then watching them through the fence in the bigger kid's playground, E-chan seems to have decided he likes going to care again. He's made friends with a little girl called Ruby, and they read books together and shared teddies. He's enjoying being more mobile and articulate than some of the newer, younger babies.

His vocabulary is ever expanding, and sometimes we can have little conversations that, while a tad one-sided, I feel he understands. He's sleeping really well too. We now read to him a bit (after putting on PJ's and brushing teeth - or is that chewing toothbrush and sucking off paste?), then cuddles and into bed with a night night. He complains for a few minutes, but goes off to sleep and we rarely hear from him again until morning.

We get lovely frontal koala hugs - legs clining around our middle, arms curled around our neck, and he even says "please" when prompted. Must keep up the manners training - who knows? one day it might even come unprompted. When we can we try to have dinner as a family at around 6pm - he loves it when I serve up his food in front of him at the table then serve the same for myself. Has resulted in him eating steamed green vegetables where before he wouldn't touch them, probably because he sees us eat them.

Ciao and hope you are all well, and sorry for the "update" style post. Will try to write something more interesting when I think of it...

07 February 2008

Detachment

Does anyone else from time to time find themselves in their regular social settings - work, hobbies, mothers groups, whatever, and feel a bit detatched from it all? I'm not talking about when I'm with good, old friends. Just those further out on your inner circle.

Every now and again, I find myself thinking "what am I doing here with these people?". Thinking: it's time I got out and tried making friends elsewhere, because I've known these people superficially for a couple of years now, and we're not getting any closer as friends.

Anyhow, that's happening to me a bit lately. I'm not saying I'm about to chop a whole lot of superficial friends and associates out of my life, just because we're not best buds. But I am feeling a bit detatched from it all. I think it's something to do with thinking (just inklings really) about changing jobs, house, size of family, things like that. All these things at once, nothing fixed, but lots of permutations and combinations to think through, and not everyone can fit through with you to the next stage of your life. But I've found at times that you end up staying friends with the people you least expect...

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By the way, got a job application in on Tues. Not sure I'd take it if I got it, but anyway...

24 January 2008

Vacuous activities...

A bit of my time lately has been spent admiring amazonian tennis players slog it out at the Australian open, wondering why nikee gave Venus a short suit that she constantly had to de-wedgify from her muscular buttocks (I mean if you're going to sponsor an athlete, shouldn't you at least ensure you have an outfit that covers her 6ft warrior-woman frame properly?), and new-ish Serbian players who nearly beat Roger Federer wearing funky horn-rimmed wrap around glasses! That sporty-librarian look is a killer!!

On top of that we've had ever expanding vocabularies, cheekiness and bossiness from E-chan, and week-long visits from grandparents who have simultaneously been welcome and making our house seem a bit too full. And we've had to restrain them from going in to give E-chan cuddles when he calls out repeatedly at bed-time, which is instinctively what you want to do but counterproductive to establishing long-term routines. But who can really complain when they help with the washing up, book reading, shopping and cooking?

But we are looking forward to getting back into our own routine. In case you haven't picked this up, parenting has quite a bit to do with routines. Which is fine so long as you know which routines you can break and how frequently to break them without creating different expectations.

Gah!

Might go read my book, and keep and eye on the tennis!

16 January 2008

Karma?

Some days are just shitty I think because the universe, after a bit of gentle nudging that you have ignored, decides it’s high time that you are propelled in a new direction. Lots of minor things happen, until finally the last straw shocks you into action kind of like one of those heart starty (defribulation sp?) machines.

Last week I had:
- Boss leaving someone else’s resume for a position startlingly similar to mine on her desk right next to where she knew I would deposit her mail (turns out she is looking for someone to job share with me, but she never told me about that, so I assumed the worst).
- shitty boss emails that made me feel an inch high, making me rather unprofessionally burst into tears in front of the only other person cohabiting my office that day, (who happens to be a retired septuagenarian)
- locked toilet cubicle doors that have opened themselves on me mid-stream!!!
- my premenstrual-ness abruptly conclude with menstrual-ness which I was only partially prepared for due to shorter than usual cycles and recently bad documentation of when it should be due (but really - I should be better at this by now!!)
- Son almost ignoring me in favour of visiting doting grandparents!!
- Son potentially developing yet another allergy if his development of a rash after eating fish is anything to go by (damn!).
- Stinky hot humid nights

What’s been brought into sharp focus is fact that I don’t love my job nor the topic of research that is going on around me. Boss is picky about relatively small things and you get told off (as if you are in school) for every little thing that might go wrong - usually by email - no matter how much you couldn’t know because you don’t habitually mind-read. And of course nothing is ever her fault, and I've been dreading opening my emails each day for quite a while.

Perhaps it’s best that I make a graceful exit from what was rather openly a stop-gap job that I took because I needed to? And perhaps soon before my self esteem gets ground down too much from being told off for my mistakenly not having mind-read properly or crossed my t’s with a nearly 85 degree angle rather than a 90 degree angle.

So the other night, I got fed up, and looked for vacant positions, and found one I could apply for that is exactly 3 days a week. Was worried for a while about moving on after such a short time, but then shitty thing # 2 above happened and I thought "screw that!". Am attempting to focus energy on positive smooth job transition vibes.

07 January 2008

Year of the Rat

Happy New Year! What an eventful few weeks it has been?!

Firstly came our trip to Grandparentville – aka Adelaide – I called it Grandparentville because that is where all of E-chan’s grandparents live, not because it’s full of old people… This was rather hectic and not at all relaxing (as traveling with an 18 month old often can be), but fun. It was great to have some family support nearby, to meet the younger of my 2 nephews for the first time, to watch E-chan, Tomo-chan and Yu-chan running around together trying to escape from the house and steal each other’s toys. Also, E-chan was spoilt by not only xmas presents but also attention! There was never a moment when someone wasn’t willing to play with him, carry him or sit him on their knee for a story. We also managed to catch up with a few – but not all – of our friends in Adelaide.

Perhaps not surprisingly, E-chan has developed quite strong separation anxiety upon return home. The first few days, he constantly recited “where Nanna/papa/doggy?” and also “Mummy there!”, “Daddy there!” as if to reassure himself that we were still there despite being wrenched away from his loving grandparents. Sleep issues (ie screaming when we leave the room) resurfaced for a bit and we had to do what we could to reassure him that we’ll always be here for him. C-chan was back at work this week, I’m back next week, and a succession of grandparent visits (although welcome) over the coming month makes us think his anxiety won’t ease quickly.
E-chan developed rapidly when we were away, and now regularly puts together two or three words and his vocabulary is now heading up the exponential curve. He now runs much of the time, as if he can’t get places quickly enough.

We had in part a rather civilized (eccentric?) new year this year, reading James Joyce (or the first few pages of Finnegan’s wake anyway) around the table, after one of our guests announced one of her goals for the year was to read Ulysses this year. A new years eve book club - who would have thunk it?!

Since C-chan went back to work on Wednesday, I’ve been ringing my neighbourhood mum friends to find things to do with our littleys, as they are all around 18-19 months and needing to be kept entertained and excercised, and the weather is hot and humid. This has resulted in many trips to the park and the pool, a visit to an indoor padded 3-D mazey playland, and to Balmoral beach.

04 January 2008

Holy Jumping Jehosephat Batman!

Last night we had a 1am unsettled period that unfortunately included screaming from our nearly 19-month old (see post to follow in the next day or two). This was potentially caused by a visit from a cricket. We’d watched a bit of Pan’s Labyrinth (which involves a cricket), then strangely we heard a loud chirp around bed time – it must have been just outside our open window. Then it poured with rain for a bit, and it must have decided to come inside (damn Sydney and it’s lack of flyscreens!). At 1am, when I got up to E-chan, I heard a rather loud chirp coming from our kitchen. Poor Little E-chan’s arms tightened around my neck in fear. We turned on the light and sure enough, there was a massive (7cm long) cricket on out kitchen ceiling.

As C-chan reminded me as he went about resettling E-chan, I did a science degree, so why on earth was I afraid of the thing? (this of course was just to cover up his own fear!) I managed to muster the thing down the wall and into the paper recycling bag we have slung over the door handle using a cunning switch of different household lights. I didn’t want any of the following to happen: a) insecticide use (how can we be sure E-chan wouldn’t absorb the chemicals?); b) to have a faster than lightening large insect flitting around our lounge room causing a flap as our difficult-to-settle son was nearly asleep in the next room; c) to have a squashed cricket on our wall; d) to have to touch the damn thing as it was making my half-asleep hair stand on end.

In then end it seemed to settle in our recycling bag, and was carried out this morning we assume, as we haven’t seen it since. Such a cowardly and anticlimactic end to my story - lacking in bravery or even university-educated rationality. But at 2am this giant bug was frightening, I assure you!!