16 December 2010

Holiday Dreaming...

Months of one thing after another – sickness, coughs, colds, gastro, CHICKEN POX, sore backs, runny noses, returning coughs, MORE GASTRO – and a summer holiday seems particularly well deserved. I've finished work for the year, and while I only have about 1 week of leave accumulated, my employer shuts down between xmas and new year and gives us bonus leave for non-public-holidays during that time, so I'll get 2 weeks off! Gotta love it! Job going well so far too!

Daydreaming about:
  • We’re all going on a summer holiday! 3 nights in a holiday cabin by the beach. Sandcastles. Hunting for shells. Lying down under a beach tent reading holiday novels. Fish & chips and lemonade. Beer on the veranda. I realise actually doing this with a toddler and 4 year old may not be smooth sailing, but I’m still smiling with anticipation.
  • One lunch date plus a night away from both kids while they are looked after by grandparents. It’s the big 10 years for our marriage! Where did this time go? Yet look at all that has happened in this time! We look so young in the wedding photos. There isn’t really anything I’d do differently.
  • Little girl walking around, pleased with her new skill that allows her to get around and carry things at the same time – something that is very difficult when you are crawling! Now she wanders from room to room, she greets me at the door when I come home, she moves little chairs and foot stools around, she can wear little skirts and dresses (do we ever grow out of playing dress-ups? Got myself a cryin’ walking’ sleepin’ talkin’ living doll!)
  • Could I possibly incorporate Cliff Richard into this post one more time?
  • The possibility that one day soon, my four-year-old will learn manners. This is something you have to prompt CONSTANTLY. “What do you say, E-chan?” “I didn’t hear a magic word…”. Occasionally, you yield results, and spontaneous thankyous, pleases and hellos and goodbyes spring from their dear little lips. I can still remember my own mother prompting me. Did it take me soooooo long to learn?

 Other random happenings in da street and out and about:

  •  A man doing that funny little dance we do when we drop a piece of paper and it blows away in the breeze. Stomp! Missed! Run after it, swipe, miss! Stomp! Got it!
  • The suburbs are alive with the sound of jack-hammering. Excavation and building works galore! One site being excavated with building starting in the new year, another being converted from warehouse to boarding house, another site will start demolition any day now. Population in our area set to grow, which is not a bad thing, really - it might yield some useful shops and restaurants closer to our house.
  • For a short period of time, we are having to drive the kids to child care, as my partner has been seconded to an office in a public transport black hole, and gets parking paid for in the car park of a casino. I think I mentioned before I lack the gambling gene. First time I went to get the car and pick up the kids, I got lost in the casino. I can think of almost nothing worse than being lost in a casino. No one looks happy - everyone looks nervous. Why why why waste your money? The only thing casinos are good for are late night cocktails when everything else is closed...

09 November 2010


Not just one, but two (ie both) of my nephews have been diagnosed with Austism Spectrum Disorder – one has is more mildly than the other. I think I might have mentioned this in a previous post. When you’re a long way from your family and they're coping with a big thing like this you feel kind of useless. I have no idea what life is like for them on a day to day basis, I have no idea whether this brings my brother and his partner to tears on occasion, and when I talk to him, the kids are around (his and mine), so it’s not appropriate to dwell on things like that.
I’ve been meaning to read up more on the topic for a while. I did a few web searches a while ago, but much of what is on the internet is either very basic introductions to the topic, or forums for parents of autistic kids (who would already have a lot of knowledge). I chatted to my brother over the internet the other weekend, and saw him interacting with his son, and could see that he was learning how to manage certain behaviours. It was so good to see. And given their first 2 children are the ones with ASD’s, they compare notes with me and my children, as they are realising they don’t really know what normal is.

So I went and found myself a book on the weekend. I’m really glad I did, although it has sent me on a mini emotional rollercoaster. Nothing compared to what my brother has gone through, I’m sure, but it still upsetting.

Autism and related disorders like Aspergers are relatively new to the world of Psychology and Psychiatry. It was first described, with a few misconceptions, in the 1940’s, with big leaps in understanding made in the 1970’s & 80’s, but there is still much to be learned. Verbal communication is a big challenge for kids with ASD – they don’t read faces well, often don’t pick up social cues and can’t really see when they’ve upset someone. At first I heard that someone with autism can lead an almost normal life, but I am beginning to understand that there may not be a great chance of that for my nephews. We’ll have to see how things develop as they grow older, of course. See how they manage school and life outside school.

There is still a lot to be learned, especially about what causes ASD’s. There seems to be some level of heritability with the condition – that is, siblings have a higher chance of getting it where there is already a diagnosed case in the family. This has led me to think about my family – has this sprung up before? And me? For a fleeting moment I dwelt upon times when I’ve missed critical social cues. But I know I don’t have this problem, nor does anyone else in my immediate family. Extended family? Not sure. Sister-in-law’s family? Even less sure. And then, is there any point in knowing this? Anyway, one of the theories is that people who develop ASD may be of the personality type that is prone to social difficulties, but ASD is brought on due to difficulties in early life, possibly even in utero. This fits with what we know about my nephews somewhat.

So, I am yet to read the chapters in my book about treatments, interventions, management, and more in depth descriptions of how someone with autism functions. This is far more practical to know about as a family member… Hoping to become a fount of knowledge, enough to bore my next dinner party with!

Over the hill, and test patch, honey!

Went to a friend’s 40th on Saturday night – my first one for someone other than my parents.

Got lost on the way there. Something must be off with my usually excellent, homing pigeon sense of direction. That, or critical street signs were missing.

Went sans husband, as he wasn’t feeling up to it. Realised at the last minute that I hadn’t shaved my armpits, and was wearing a short-sleeved dress. Husband’s response “Oh well, go French!”. One of the many reasons I love this man!

Saw a lady on my way there with bright orange legs. She really should have done a test patch with that fake tan!

And Sleazebags. How I haven’t missed thee! Right down to the shoving their head in your personal space to make themselves heard over the music, even when you aren't really interested in what they have to say.

28 October 2010

At what point do you stop being referred to as a "girl"?

So, I'm in an open plan office, and the 3 ladies who sit near me are 8-10 years younger than me. One of the older men who works near by walks past every morning and says "morning girls"!! I find this amusing. I often wonder if people can tell I'm a mother of 2 in her mid-thirties? (Exactly in my mid-thirties, I might add). I am such a bad judge of age, but can others guess where I fit? 

I should add that I don't feel old, and I love being the age I am. But I am beginning to feel that sense that certain opportunities are going to get hard for me from now... It may be more a circumstance thing (ie 2 young kids) than age. I hope so - I hope I'll always be open to new challenges, expanding my mind, meeting new people. But I recently saw this website about words from other languages that can't be translated into an equivalent english word, and "Torschlusspanik" (from German) kind of made sense. (I also like the word "Jayus" from Indonesian!!).

But I digress. As I was saying, I sit near 3 twenty-somethings. I don't want to sound condescending - they are amazing young women. One of them came up with this website, has marketed it to law schools around the country, and earns a supplementary income from it. But I am feeling a definite generation gap here. Some of them still live at home with parents, saving money. I had to expain to them what YUP-pies stood for, and DINKs. And they still care about concepts such as being cool, and having their personality quirks (that we all have, don't we?) understood.  I suppose I am accustomed to being one of the younger ones, like the little sister in the office, and it is a suprise to find this is no longer the case. I suppose it gives me an idea of how my older friends and colleagues have viewed me up until now...


Oh the joys of commuting on public transport! I haven't done this since 2004, when I last worked in the city... between then and this job, it's been walking or car.

My commute is short and sharp - takes 15 minutes on the bus. I can walk if I like - it takes 50 or so minutes (I may need to work on finding a better route) - but I find I'm usually in too much of a hurry, and would rather spend time with the family than be walking a long time.

So what do you do on a bus for 15 minutes? I don't always get a seat, so rarely get a book out, or knitting. That leaves: thinking, and people watching.

Inner city bus routes always have such a mix of people! Parents with young kids on their way to child care, school kids, people in suits, Uni students, old folks, funky haircuts, experimental fashion that is actually ill-suited to a particular body type... the list goes on and on! Many people have white headphones in these days* and have their heads down while their fingers fiddle and scroll through phone and pod menus.

And the conversations. A personal favourite form of on-bus entertainment is the deeply personal phone call that everyone can hear.

So I am getting used to commuting again. I don't like waiting long for buses, and often run to catch buses that I would otherwise miss. The other day, I sprinted to the bus, got on, shoved my ticket in the slot whilst catching my breath, then looked up to catch a youngish lad in a suit with a fauxhawk staring at me with a furrowed, concerned brow. I'm not entirely sure what it was about me that didn't meet his approval!

*do I sound old or what?

15 September 2010

Social compatability

I went out for a friend's birthday at a restaurant on Friday night. An adult party for a change! My better half was sick so he stayed home with the kids.

I (re) met someone I'd usually met before on a more - well - family setting (ie usually at kids parties or at playgroupy things), and he too was there without his partner.

He was the sort of person I don't usually warm to, and I have to say, I feel the lack of warmth coming straight back at me. I don't really know how to describe this sort of person, and these are of course just superficial observations, but they're usually blokey (but saying that, there are many blokey men I do like), are not very interested in talking about anything vaguely intellectual (or to me, interesting), conform mostly to more traditional male stereotypes, homophobic, and behave differently depending on whether their girlfriend/spouse is about. The last one is the one that sets of the biggest alarm bells for me - if they can't be themselves around their partners or their friends, how can you trust them? (Note to friends: this is not the bit where you tell me I have exactly described how my own partner is when I am not around! ...anyway, I wouldn't believe you, he's too into books and hates talking about sport).

So who did I end up talking to? Well there were a few other people I already know socially and I chatted to them, but the new person I introduced myself to was a Tim Minchen look-alike (but with proper dreads), with grungey clothing, who is a stay-at-home Dad to a 1-year-old and his older step daughter, and has read widely on child psychology and development. Cool.

13 September 2010

Letting hair down, the importance of being earnest, and getting employed again...

Since I wrote last, my luck has turned somewhat, and a 3-day-per-week job came up that I felt I could apply for. Got an interview and the job, as it turns out! Hip hooray! My interview success rate seems to be good - there are only 2 interviews I have done that haven't lead to me getting a job, and both of those were quite informal, and the companies didn't really have a finalised idea of what they wanted a position to do, or even how many days a week, as it turns out. A friend once described me as "earnest" to my then new boyfriend (who then went on to marry me and have 2 children with me, so I don't think this description was a disservice). This earnestness can serve me well when meeting people professionally for the first time, I think.

One of the good things about this job is that I have 2 friends who already work for the same organisation (although in different buildings), and another who is nearby. Lunch dates anyone?! Oh, and Chinatown. How I have missed thee. Dumplings, noodles, more dumplings, and steamed buns!! Another good thing is that it is a longer term contract. The longest contract I've had since around 2004 was for 12 months, and I even had a few 6 month contracts, so I do look forward to being able to be in a place for a few years with stability, and feel like I'm getting good at the job I do.

I should be able to get there by walking or a short bus trip. So life is about to get busy again very soon. C-chan is going to start doing the child care drop off, and I the pick up. It's quite a walk, and rainy days will be a problem, but we'll just have to muddle through, either by taking good wet weather gear, or going home to get the car first then driving to pick them up. We've got both kids down to start at a new centre that's nearer to our house, but have no idea if and when when both places will come up. And we may get used to everything, and keep them on at their current centre, as we do love it there.

Oh, and on to more materialistic matters... I can now financially justify updating my ancient mobile phone, that while not doing very much (text, talk and very low res photos), manages to confuse me no end (even after 3 years) - nothing is intuitive, and the dictionary in its word prediction mode is just plain weird. Common English words that should be in there, aren't, and the words it predicts for me sometimes I swear must be Indonesian. Or something. And the other thing: I will get me a Cleaner. I just know that we will barely get through the loads of washing we need to each week, plus cooking and dishes. Someone else will need to do the vacuuming, floor cleaning, and bathrooms. Life is too short to be trying to cram all that in, along with 2 small children and part-time work.

And the other bit of my title - letting my hair down. I have been in a strange mood lately, that I attribute this to having only a few weeks left before starting work again. That and "having my body back" now that I've finished with breastfeeding. I have found this extremely liberating - even more so than last time. On Saturday I drank 2 glasses of wine before dinner. I played the piano for our neighbours who popped by to get their pot plant, but ended up staying a while. This is not very typically introverted behaviour. My kids thought I was hilarious when I was putting them to bed. The only thing I could think was that I should do this more often!!

09 August 2010

My career still goes bung, boo hoo, what's that dear?

Attempts to find work have not been successful so far. Meanwhile, Astro girl has had 2 days of child care per week for 2 weeks now at the same centre as her big brother - we were offered the place and felt it would be silly to turn it down as places are rare, but unfortunately, finding a job hasn't followed yet... I was far luckier last time I came back from maternity leave - there were positions to apply for, and they went my way. This time, I've applied for a few and not been successful, or not been eligible. And had some weird interview situations. I seem to be lacking the boldness I had last time I was in this situation... becoming more wary of my own limitations, less willing to try anything. I suppose it's a case of being more experienced and wiser, but I don't think it's working in my favour.

Finding quality part-time work is a real challenge. For starters, I'm only available on 3 certain days a week, and I can't change those days easily - it would mean waiting for BOTH my kids to get child care days on different days of the week. Most part-time jobs have lower levels of responsibility, and hence also lower pay rates and are more mundane. So I've had a few moments of devastation - that I have no career; that I'm not likely to "get back in" to areas of work I'd like to be in any time soon (or maybe never); that while my hubby establishes his career in his particular field (since 2007) and works atrocious hours, I can't really do the same, or our life will be mayhem; that I've had a few unsuccessful interviews; that I'm still worried that I'm losing what skills I have; that I have no useful "trade"; that when I get to interviews and they ask the inevitable "what would you call your biggest strength?" I go COMPLETELY blank.

Then on the other hand, I have the kids. They are lovely, and I wouldn't swap being the mum of this family for the world.

Astro girl is crawling, cruising, climbing. She's cheeky, wants to join in on everything that everyone else does, and I'm sure she's bright, curious, talkative (for her age), and beautiful. She's a year old now, by the way. Time just flies.

E-chan is equally gorgeous. He bought me flowers yesterday (OK, with his dad's help, but it was his idea). He's interested in learning to read, has started drawing a lot, is creative (he can tell a good yarn too), sweet, and funny. And he's FOUR.

So life has its mixed blessings, I know. At least I have time to go to the gym once a week, and tend the pot plants. But I will need a job before too long, to bring some income into the house. Or else we will go backwards. And if you hear of a decent 2-3 day a week part time job going in Inner Sydney...

16 July 2010

Graffiti by omission

I wish I knew if there is a proper term for this... it's something I noticed a lot when I first moved to Sydney, especially on trains: people deface signs by scratching out or subtly changing letters to make them humorous.

E.g. on trains: "at night time, rave with the guards under the blue light" (where "rave" used to be "travel")

The other month I saw a cracker on the side of a van - I keep seeking it parked near my home, and I'm surprised it hasn't been fixed...

Originally, it would have been:
"Decrease your home loan costs. The broker with nothing to hide!"
Now, it reads:
"Decrease your melon costs. Broke with nothing to hide!"
Made me chuckle!
Have you seen any graffiti by omission lately?

02 July 2010

Week 5 (?) of bad sleep and our conversational ability is degraded somewhat...

After what seems like many weeks now of bad sleep - due to Astro-girl finally getting colds after a dream run of not, and the rest of us catching them too and feeling generally like cr*p - we are exhausted! 
Sick babies have trouble breathing through their noses, and there isn't much you can do but get up to them and give them a hug when they cry, wipe their little noses, give them a drink, or give them something for their fever if they have one. E-chan has been sleeping through his sister's wakings, despite sharing a room with her, and waking us up on separate occasions most nights. So despite a only being woken once last Saturday night, lately it's been more like 3 times a night. On average. Leaves you running on reserve most days, scatty, feeling like you have mountains of stuff you should be doing, but just can't.

This is coupled with end of financial year mahem at C-chan's work, resulting in long hours, with variable coming-home times. We're lucky if he's home for dinner with us one weeknight a week, and even then we're usually more than half way through our dinner before he gets home. I'm pretty fed up with it all.

The other morning C-chan left for work, and said good bye. I replied:

"Right, see you later tonight, when at least one of the kids will probably be in bed already, the house will be a mess because I won't have managed to clean up dinner or the toys yet, your dinner will be cold, and you can complain about having to do housework after such a long day at work, countered by my complaint that I haven't managed to even get to half the housework so don't you start, before Astro girl wakes up and screams for 2 hours straight".

We both had to agree that this pretty much sums things up lately. Things go in phases with kids, and usually there are many good weeks that go by without much reflection that they are indeed good. But gee, would be nice for this phase to pass by soon.*

*PS last night we only had one waking, yay!

Repeated mistakes...

  • Tissues in pockets going through the wash; little fluffy bits of white all over out clothes. Not just once, but 3 times in a week!
  • A lack of accumulated accessories to wear - particularly belts, shoes. This is purely because I don't have the time on my own to shop for them,.
  • Managing my son's egg and sesame allergies at parties. Oh man, we have been spoilt by having a group of friends who are allergy-aware, because about 3 of the little boys have egg allergies, and a few of them have multible allergies. I find cashews are easy to avoid. But the suprise hommus sandwiches on the kiddy tray, next to the cheese and ham sandwiches? Didna notice! And while E-chan is fine with eating some cooked egg, say in cake, without much ill effect, I forget to ask about the likelihood of raw egg being somewhere in the mix. Raw egg white is a no-no. Result? Mess requiring buckets and mops. When are we gonna learn? C-chan and I clearly need a pre-party battle plan, but are so scatterbrained of late we just don't get around to it. At least he is all better after a dose of antihistamine, and we managed to take that along with us.

17 June 2010

Venting the little annoyances of life

You know your life is privileged when your list of life's little irritations cover such trivial issues in the big scheme of things. However, if we don't vent them from time to time, we risk going bonkers. Here's a list of things that drive me up the wall... how about you?
  1. People who stand still on the escalators and block your way past - the escalator is a means to speed your way up a level, not a sideshow ride!!
  2. Shop assistants, when giving you your change, putting the coins ON TOP OF THE NOTES! Really, how hard is it to put the coins in your hand first, followed by the notes? Maybe I'm just unco, but I find the coins slip off our plastic note currency if placed on top, and have dropped them countless times.
  3. Drunks/teenagers breaking empty bottles of alcohol on the footpath. OK, I know they're drunk, but are they so disconnected from people who ride bikes and push prams that they don't realise they are creating a danger to young kids and pneumatic tyres?
  4. Girls like colours other than pink too! Do you hear that, department stores? And I don't just mean purple...
  5. LED down light sellers - do I really need to get an electrician to change over my high energy usage halogen down lights to an LED alternative, or can someone somewhere just tell us how to do it ourselves and which globes to buy?
  6. Those voice-overs the commercial TV networks do over their Drama promos. You know - they put on this creepy (yet ocker) voice, almost a whisper... "And in this weeks' episode of _____ Bill has his work cut out for him.... but you'll never guess what Nancy has planned next!". I want to know WHO DECIDED THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA? Why can't they talk normally?
  7. SATC II: am I the only female not getting a posse of my girlfriends together to see this movie? Yeah - power to them for covering topics supposedly of interest to and from the perspective of females, vacuous and superficial as they are... Am I the only female who's watched a few episodes of this show and decided it's not really that interesting? I'd rather watch "Anne of Green Gables". (Love me, don't judge me!)

09 June 2010

Neighbours (becoming friends, and freaky noises in the night, part 5)

We had a nice little kiddy corner thing going on in our end of our apartment complex. Next door, there were twin boys (now 16 months), and across the corridor, a family of 5 with kids between 6 and 11. The other two mums were home most days, and we could poke our heads out the door and say "hello", chat when we needed adult company, or lend obscure cooking ingredients or appliances. It was nice to have people living nearby who you know are sympathetic when kids cry/chuck tantrums/are being sent to the naughty corner.

But last month, the family with twins moved to the next suburb, and now the other family have bought another unit in the complex - not so far away, but not across the corridor any more. The nice thing is we have become friends with these families, and will keep seeing them.

So what are the new neighbours like? Hard to tell so far, but relatively quiet. They are a couple, and seem nice enough. The fella's work takes him away from home for weeks at a time, so his partner has friends/relatives come to stay with her. She is a sports psychologist and dance instructor!

Last night I we were getting ready for bed, and heard a weird thumping. We thought "oh no, late Sunday night renovations?" I went out into the corridor to try to work out what the noise was, and thought it sounded a bit too rhythmically perfect for a hammer.... then the noise stopped and was finished off with a round of applause from a few people! It was TAP DANCING!

Now I know what it was, it won't bother me again!

05 June 2010

Back atcher, babe!

Things my son has said to us recently (and his tone and choice of words sound eerily familiar...):
  1.  "Sometimes you just have to let me have some biscuits/watch one more show/stay up later!"
  2.   Us:  Why do you have to talk ALL the time?
      Him:  Because I do!
  3.  "Astrid, you have to let Mummy cut your fingernails, otherwise they will grow in and hurt!!"
  4.  "Mummy, if I leave the light on in the toilet, you have to leave it on for me for next time!"
I have to confess that the unsatisfactory answers to his questions, along the lines of "Because we said so!" are creeping into our repertoire, just because of the sheer volume of questions asked about everything under the sun and beyond!

No human being is capable of devoting all their childs' waking hours to giving entirely satisfactory, age appropriate answers to every question... especially when you have a son such as ours who talks constantly, and half of that time is asking questions, even when he knows the answer.

This is tough, because I really do want my son to learn and feel important, and when I can, I give careful, considered answers to his questions. But the rest of the time, I have other stuff going on in my head (you know, minor stuff like keeping the household going, looking after a baby and all that it entails), and for short pockets of time, I might actually be having a thought that doesn't involve anyone else's life or ideas but my own!

Oh the compromises you have to make!

26 May 2010

When it rains, it pours...

Life has little fits of hectic-ness (bad English, I know), and I'm in the middle of one right now...
In summary:
  1. Friend/former colleage kindly recommends me to her boss for a 12 month part-time contract, which both interests me and would suit me just fine (both in hours and contract length)
  2. I send in my CV and hear nothing for ages
  3. I'm casually asking about child care for Astro-girl and am hopeful that she can go to the same centre as her big brother (I like the centre, it would only be one drop off etc etc, but it isn't the most convenient really since we moved house a couple of years ago...). Also need to look into Pre-school for E-chan next year. This rainy weather is not conducive to walking around the suburb applying for day-care!!
  4. Astro-girl gets sick for really the first time in her 10-month life, and has had night time screaming marathons, resulting in us all playing musical beds (her dad and I taking it in shifts to carry her around, while her brother is shifted into our bed so he doesn't have to put up with screaming).
  5. The place is a mess - dotted with toys that 2 kids have spread around, now that Astro-girl is mobile.
  6. E-chan decides now is a good time for experimental play resulting in dramas (e.g. plays in bathroom sink for a while, comes out saying "my tongue feels funny!!". After a few moments consideration, it seems getting soap on his tongue is the most likely explanation!! Immediate mouth rise operation initiated...)
  7. You-beaut event I arranged for Playgroup tomorrow cancels due to the flu!
  8. E-chan's child care centre confirmed there are currently no places for Astro-girl, and 2 other families with equal priority to me are also trying to get a place!
  9. Potential new employer (see 1 above) contacts me this morning asking if I want to meet this week (and yes, it's Wednesday!!). Which I do, but C-chan will have to take a few hours off to mind the kids.
I need sleep - more than the 5 hours I've had in the past 2 nights, anyway...

12 May 2010

Update on diet...

As I mentioned in the post before last, I have been trying a high-fibre breakfast so see if it has any effect on the eczema that has been troubling me more than usual lately.

Some result so far - the eczema around my eyes and throat has cleared for the first time in months! I'm impressed. My hands are wrist are another story, but probably caused by other things (contact with dust mites and detergents when cleaning for e.g.). But promising so far.

Mum's Day the Fourth...

And so I have survived until my 4th Mothers' Day*, and now have 2 children under my belt. Except one will be higher than my belt before too long! That's it for me and child bearing. I've never wanted more than two kids, so should we find we have room for more, it will be fostering or something like that. I would like to be able to help out someone less fortunate than myself. Not yet though.

Mothers' Day was hectic, as is the norm these days. My own Mum was staying at our place (and Dad), and we attempted to go out for a nice cafe lunch. Astro-girl has decided to start being difficult about sleep in the past few weeks (ie waking up more, won't always sleep in the pram, sometimes won't go to sleep in the morning, etc), but she actually fell asleep in the pram, after much complaining, just as we arrived for lunch. Our lunch order was stuffed up, and they waived the fee of one of our dishes, but my Dad didn't realise and gave the cafe staff a serve at the counter when he was paying! Embarrassing!!

My little boy decided to head butt his father on two occasions that day, too. On one of these, I came down the stairs to find him looking all sheepish in the Naughty Corner, and raised my eyebrows at him. He also put his hands on his hips and stared me down about something when we were arguing the other night. Not sure if this is the dreaded 4-year testosterone surge that little boys get... If so, am wondering if this is as bad as things will get with him, or can we look forward to worse from him? We've heard some horror stories about our friends sons recently. So far he's a gentle-natured little boy - he's smart, caring and sensitive, yet masculine. Much like most of the men that are close to me, and my preferred kind of male. At his worst he usually is just plain argumentative.

I am looking forward to seeing how his character develops. And my daughter's too, of course, but her character at 9 months of age is less apparent. I think she may be a bit cheeky! And determined. She's getting more vocal, too - I am destined to have no peace in my household!!

But I love my kids so very, very much, and I can't help but be a bit chuffed every year when Mothers' Day comes around, just because I am the mother of these two.

*hope I got the apostrophe in the right spot...

18 April 2010

Back to those diet issues...

So I mentioned some time last year that my family has a history of bowel cancer, and that I want to reduce my meat consumption (particularly red meat) for environmental reasons, as well as for health.

Vegetarian meals are a challenge, because my little boy is a fussy eater and prefers the meat and 3 veg style of meal. I think fussiness can be common with little kids with food allergies and intolerances, and sometimes they don't like complex flavours. And then there's the fact that he can't eat egg or sesame, and I don't tolerate spicy food or too much tomato. So for the past year or two make do with vegetable soups as our vegetarian meal most weeks (using beans, chick peas or lentils) - blended so E-chan can't complain about the individual ingredients in it, and occasionally we do something like risotto (when we can be bothered bribing our son into eating it). I might try to make some lentil patties soon, see if he likes them.

The other thing we've been doing gradually over time is reducing the size of the meat portions we do eat. We found when we visited our parents recently that we normally eat much less meat than they were serving to us. We craved vegetables and salad.

Next thing for me to tackle was breakfast. I've been eating either yoghurt and wholemeal toast, porridge, baked beans on (wholemeal toast), or a commercial wheat biscuit with milk with banana. I used to eat muesli, but dropped it when I had to avoid nuts during prenancy and breastfeeding - it's too hard to find pre-made mueslis without nuts. Last week I became aware of research that shows a link between high fibre diets and reduced inflammatory and auto-immune conditions - arthritis, asthma, type 1 diabetes etc. Eczema is also an autoimmune condition, and there is arthritis on both sides of my family (but not me so far - fingers crossed).

This was a trigger for me to look at how much fibre I'm eating. While my diet is low in processed food, there are days when my fibre intake is probably on the low side. Breakfast is somewhere I can make a huge difference. So we started making our own muesli - oats, coconut, linseeds, sunflower seeds, psyllium, bran, and assorted dried fruit. First day of eating this was today. I hope to think up more legumey meals (I usually add them to casseroles anyway), and start using brown rice also. I'm hoping I'll notice a difference in a couple of months. Now all I need to do is find some sulphur-free dried fruit - very hard to do!!

However the instant effect has been FEELING GREAT! Gone is that horrible feeling in the back of my mind that I should be doing something about my diet. This is combined with the fact that I've been exercising more - both pushing the kiddies in the double pram, and going to the gym again. Going swimming is temporarily just a bit too hard. I opted for a gym that is 2 minutes away by foot, and bought 10 sessions that I have 3 months to use - should be easy to do even if the whole household gets a bug. Start with something achievable, I says! I'm sure I can bear the bizarre dancey remixes of Guru Josh vs (some new artist I just can't remember), and film clips of attractive young ladies in their underwear for no apparent reason on ten occasions, and by then I may have finally made my own gym playlist for my MP3 player, and can ignore the music more...

So who knows - maybe soon I'll be eczema-free and fitting into all my normal clothes again??? Can't wait to get into my favourite jeans again...

11 April 2010

Me kids done me proud, and other adventures...

Easter took us off on another trip to our home town, Adelaide. Except it was Astro-girl's first plane trip ever. And she was a little trooper! She travels really well, sometimes just needing a cuddle when she's tired. She fell asleep on my lap on both flights. There were mishaps on the way home: well and truly in her "grabbing phase", she grabbed a breakfast bowl half filled with milk and tipped it over - it landed on the seat between C-chan and me, so we both had our pants covered with milk. We laughed it off.  E-chan was good also, playing with toys in his seat, and only getting a bit restless from time to time. This is a stark contrast to our last trip, the xmas before last, when I had morning sickness, and a 2 1/2 year old E-chan screamed for half an hour straight (on a 6am flight) out of fear we would crash. Parenting does get easier, people!

Our kids adjusted to a lot of things apart from the journey: strange beds, strange houses, strange prams, with no bedwettings, and not too many tantrums. E-chan even spontaneously said "this is the nicest lunch I ever had!" when we went to my parent's house! I had been coaching him to say "thanks for the dinner/lunch" and "thanks for having us", but not what he said!! Manners are slowly sinking in! We went to Henley beach on Good Friday, to the city and the SA Museum on Saturday, the Zoo on Sunday (saw the new pandas, but they were sleepy that afternoon), and to the hills on Monday. A lovely, but brief trip - no time to do much but see family, which was kind of the point.


We look at Adelaide with different eyes these days - gone is the sentimentality with which we used to look at our flat, blue-skied city. In the years immediately after moving to Sydney, we used to wax lyrical about the ease of getting around Adelaide, the Central Markets, the affordability, the quiet.

Now things are different:
- the endless sky is slightly overwhelming, now that we are used to Sydney's many hills.
- the city looks like a little toy town
- in the quiet, I can hear my ears ringing (was that something to do with the aeroplane trip, or do I need to go to an Ear specialist again??)
- we stay on sofa beds at our parents places
- the vegetation looks dry - many lawns (public and private) have just been left to fend for themselves, as long term water restrictions and below average rain takes its toll. My Dad has installed not one but 3 rain water tanks for his 1/4 acre garden
- our activities are driven by the needs and desires of our children
- public transport really isn't as frequent
- Crows, Crows, Port Power, Crows...
- unfavourable family traits are these days overlooked as family becomes more important - more on this below.

Many of these things are not bad things - Adelaide is a very good place to live. It's just we don't have so many friends there any more. And career prospects will never be as good there. But what is becoming more important is family. Kids can tell the difference between those who love them unconditionally (such as grandparents, uncles) and those who are just fond of them or good friends with us.

But as well has the support we would get from having our kids' grandparents in the same city, there is another issue looming - the ageing of our parents... While my parents are in excellent health at present, and in their early sixties, things can go downhill fast in the 70's. My father commented that travel will probably get hard from him from then on. That is less than a decade away! I watched my own parents rather helplessly liase with their sibilings as their own parents descended into alzheimers or old age, frequently having to prepare for sudden trips interstate as their parents' health teetered. I was the only one home the night my Grandma's nursing home called to say Dad's mother had died, and had to call my Dad on a work trip to tell him the news.

So I understand the difficulties involved with ageing parents living interstate. At least my own grandparents had other children and grandchildren nearby to check up on them. My parents have no relatives but each other in Adelaide, and my in-laws have one son, who has a recurring illness himself - the rest of their relatives are ageing themselves or not very close. This is something for us to ponder over the next few years.

Quest for most compatible hairdresser may be at a close...

Over the years, I have suffered from dreadful incompatibility with my hairdressers. While everyone likes to look nice, I do find my hair cut can be one of the things that gets shoved down the "to do" list when busy - I just grow my hair longer for a while. This is partly because I dread the hairdresser experience...

Don't get me wrong, I love having my hair played with, washed, the smells, the coffee/wine and a tim tam. Many times, I have nearly fallen asleep, semi-reclined at the back of the salon as the warm water washes out my shampoo.

But I do find that hairdresser conversation can be a tad on the mind-numbing side. From the high pitched "So what are you up to tonight?!?" conversation from past young hip, female hairdressers, who struggle to continue conversations I start due to vastly different interests, through to Very Serious male hairdressers who take their business Very Seriously, and give you a 5 minute run-down at the end of the styling process about how they cut down that line to give me more body etc etc blah blah blah, I do find I wish I didn't have to nod and put on a smile all the time.

So a year or so ago I found a salon that was an improvement somewhat. I never managed to have the same hairdresser, but their music was plucked from my own collection, and the conversation wasn't too bad.
Then someone gave me Carmelo's number....

Carmelo operates out of his own house around the block from me. I expected a gay guy in his 40's or 50's, daggy decor, and I don't know what else - shirts tucked into tight ish jeans, fluffy white pooches... Apart from being gay, I got most of this wrong. Carmelo is youngish, of Italian extraction with stunning blue eyes and glasses. He has a dog, but medium sized and black. His house was done in 40's-50's retro style, but humbly so. Immaculate, but then you have to keep things tidy if people use your living room as waiting room.
Sure, I was handed the standard hairdresser array of style magazines, which left me annoyed at myself for forgetting a book.

But then I noticed his book collection. "Succulent Plant Dictionary", and a book about the stereotyping of men, then finally as my hair got washed, cut and styled, I found the time flew, as we had many interests in common. Or perhaps he's just a really good people person. Or it's something to do with the fact that people are coming into his home to have their hair cut, and you can't really pretent to be something you're not. Whatever: I had pleasant, interesting and rambling chats, spanning many of my common conversational topics. My friend says she often comes home with mascara streams down her cheeks from laughter... I may actually find myself going to get a hair cut a bit more often for a while!

27 March 2010

Talk to the hand...

... 'cause the face don't wanna hear it!

This view is somewhat depressing.
But isn't it true that advertising campaigns have effects without people needing evidence? Or is that only when you can be easily convinced that you need something, or something is in your best interest?

20 March 2010

quick question...

Has anyone tried a Diva Cup?

Do you recommend it?

11 March 2010

Rich imaginary lives

I have been coming down hard on E-chan's TV watching - both as a punishment for bad behaviour if necessary, and in an effort personnally to be less lazy when I'm tired and it's just too easy to let him watch another show or two instead of getting pestered as dinner is getting made.

The result has been - not suprisingly, but happily - play rich in imagination. Soft toy dogs (spot, clifford and snoopy) have been REAL dogs, complete with play dough* dog food. Lego has become spaceships. Play dough has been made into caterpillars and a very convincing snail.

And do you know, as I've found in the past, this tough love stuff - you know, being firm but fair - really has its rewards. A couple of whining interludes to endure, and then your kid understands that you mean what you say when you say it's time to turn the TV off, and instead of complaining, his little eyes start wandering around the room, looking for something else to play with....


In a parallel adult world, C-chan and I had to do some imagining of our own. C was asked if he (we) would like to go to Hong Kong for 3 months for work, if it could be arranged. We spent a good week thinking through the implications, the pros and cons, and whether we'd like to go. The answer was "yes", because you don't get opportunities like this very often. Only, a few days later we were told it wasn't going to happen after all. Interesting exercise to go through, however!

* I've made a few batches of play dough recently too - very fun! recipe can be found on the side of the Cream of Tartar tin.

17 February 2010

Whirlwind weeks. Again.

Introducing solids to babies is a drag at first. They push food out, grab the spoon off you, fling food, grimace at new textures and flavours, take ages to eat a tablespoon of mush. That, and until they're eating well and they have less frequent milk feeds, you seem to be feeding them constantly. And cleaning up constantly. And washing bibs and clothes constantly. This can leave little time for anything else, some days.

And this term* E-chan is doing 2 classes - Gymbaroo and swimming lessons. Every day except Sunday has something on. Poor little Astro Girl gets carted around everywhere. It's a wonder she gets any time to practice sitting, rolling, babbling, and eating. But she somehow manages it, and is progressing as she should. No teeth yet (nearly 7 months), but we expect them any day.

Last week was almost an nightmare week. It started with me being a little bit more down than usual: our neighbours, who have little twin boys, and who are great neighbours, and who I'm starting to do more with now that she is managing to get out and about and the boys are older, have put their place on the market. My first thought was "great, yet another person moving away". That, and the lack of job/career issue which bothers me from time to time. And the horrible horrible humid weather, which I hate and makes my skin break out in eczema, and my hands are a complete mess, and I have to wear cotton gloves a lot of the time to stop myself scratching. Then hubby came down with the flu (luckily it turned out to be mild). Then Astro-girl got a fever. Then I got a blocked milk duct (you don't want to know more). Throw in a few nights with less than my (infant-adjusted) average sleep due to all the above factors, and I am knackered.

My eyelids feel like they are lined with sandpaper. My brain is foggy and I keep forgetting things. I've been forgetting to do important things. Forgetting to even reply to invitations, let alone confirm I can't make it. Forgetting doctors appointments.

On the upside, my parents sent us "my" piano - after more than a decade of sitting in their living room as a glorified picture frame stand, they managed to send it over to me so we can play it. It is dreadfully out of tune, but I hope to have the fixed soon. Can't wait to play some more. I hope one, if not both of my kids will get some joy out of playing it, and that I might be able to practice enough to get to a stage where I can have fun with it - playing nursery rhymes for E-chan's kindy, playing sing along songs or christmas carols for example.

Another upside is that I'm starting to get out with friends on my own again. I managed 2 hours out last week after the kids were in bed out with my friend, and we talked for 2 hours straight. It was so nice to not be interrupted by things that needed doing, a babbling baby or a yabbering preschooler. Nice to think this sort of thing can become more frequent now, and that in probably around 6 months, my body will be mine again, mostly.

Another upside (in what must be a 4-sided pyramid?) is that we're a happy family, getting through life's "ups and downs" with plenty of laughter, chaos, yelling, cuddling, and love. All around. Each of us loves the other three. Even the youngest - Astro-girl - pouts when her daddy leaves in the morning, beams at me when I go to get her from her cot, and studies her big brother adoringly. This makes the hard weeks more than worthwhile.

* suddenly things are run in "terms". This is getting scarily close to school, if you ask me.

oh no, not another children's tv host?!

So I limit my 3y.o.'s tv to 3 shows most days - this gets exceeded when one of us is sick, or lessened if he's been naughty. I let him watch when I'm putting his baby sister to bed usually, to keep him out of the way/quiet. We mostly stick to the ABC stations, because there aren't any ads, and because there are so many kids shows on there you needn't go anywhere else, and most of them are age appropriate for him at the times he watches.
All of a sudden a few weeks ago, the ABC introduces a host for the children's shows...
Some twerp called Jimmy Giggle and his friend - an owl - called Hoot. Are you laughing yet? Me neither. My son's first reaction when it came on was "what's this? where's (insert favourite show title)?". Hoot has the kind of voice your creepy uncle puts on when he's pretending one of your dolls or teddies can talk. You know - that lame falsetto every male with a broken voice can do. Jimmy Giggle puts on this stupid overly-chipper pantomime voice, chats to his friend Hoot, and... what exactly?
They fill time. They apparently have kids write to them with proclamations of adoration, and send in pictures they've drawn. (I reckon they go down to the childcare centre underneath the ABC and get some of the older kids to do crayon pictures of owls then pretend a viewer sent it in - really - they're not that lovable). I can only think that the ABC is 1) trying to increase their Australian content, because there are actually minimums and many kids shows come from overseas, and 2) make up for the fact that they don't have ads and many shows are probably made to fit 30 minute time slots with ads, for example.

25 January 2010


Thought I'd follow B Sharp's lead here, in the spirit of sharing

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Have a Caesarian section; toilet train a toddler; made an old fashioned christmas pudding in a pudding basin.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next this year?
I resolved to get a cleaner (snap, BSharp!), and no - we didn't do it. Something to do with tight-assed-ness or not being able to justify it due to the uncertainty of incomes. My poor, chapped, dish-pan hands are red with anger - I could never be a domestic godess! One day we will do it!!

My New Year's resolutions, would be:
- to be less of a glutton and exercise more (but I always find that I do when I do or when I can, respectively).
- to find more things to keep my son entertained, and get him eating a wider range of healthy foods.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Population explosion!
My sister-in-law had her third (but my first niece), the day before Angel had her little boy.
Two of my Mummy friends - Katie and Anita - had second babies;
Friends Fiona, Sally and Hannah had little boys;
Colleague Yogi had her first;
and many many others seem to have been concieved, due this year!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. A friend is thankfully in remission from breast cancer.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Sigh! Good for my carbon footprint, though.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
An insulated roof; a career (or the inkling of one).

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
24 July - my daughter's birthday. Because she was born then!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
A year of lots of little things - nothing stands out.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Going on maternity leave without a certain job to return to in 2010. You can only do a few jobs for 2 years or less before you start to wonder if it's "me, not them". But I'm not sure I care that particular job much either, so does that make it a failure?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Only colds, the odd sore back, eczema and athsma.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Hmmm. A few things:
- some nice new shrubs (to go in the mega plant pots we inherited from a former neighbour) and a bench, for our courtyard. It's actually nice to sit out there now!
- ceiling fans for the bedrooms, and a bath for our bathroom.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage/house, grocery shopping, child care fees.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Meeting our daughter Astrid after carrying her for 9 months.
My son sleeping through the night without a nappy.
Getting my plant-growing mojo back.

14. What song will always remind you of 2009?
"Starman" by Bowie and "Rocket Man" by Elton John. Happy memories of the whole family singing along in the car.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?

Happier - because I don't have morning sickness, and puddles to clean up on the floor, and because I seem to have learned something as I am finding motherhood easier this time around.

Sadder about a few things - a friend left for Canada permanently and she left a bigger hole in my life than I'd anticipated. Sad also that my nephew has been diagnosed with Autism, and it means a lot of life-long challenges for my brother's family.

b) thinner or fatter?
Fatter, due to not having morning sickness, and not managing to swim/gym very often.

c) richer or poorer?
About the same. We own slightly more of our house.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
- going on holidays
- reading
- sleeping
- swimming

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
- yelling: "NO!" "Stop (insert mischievous deed)!" "Right! In the naughty corner, and STAY there until I say!!"
- vomiting (see morning sickness comments, above).

18. How will you spend Christmas?
Waves of family visits to us this time.

19. Did you fall in love in 2009?
Yes - this time with my beautiful daughter.

20. What was your favorite TV program?
The Wire (snap again, BSharp!) - we joined the digital age when we got a hand-me-down set top box from Angel and DrJ, and strated watching it from the beginning on ABC2. However, we have just started renting it out on video, because you pick up more of the dialogue when you can put on subtitles!! That Baltimore accent can be challenging!!

21. What was the best book you read?
Probably "Maus" by Art Speigelman. Also enjoyed "The time traveller's wife" and "the lovely bones". None of these were very challenging to read, which reflects my brief windows of opportunity for reading in the past year.

22. What was your favorite film of this year?
No idea. Must have been a DVD I rented, but I can't remember. It certainly wasn't the lastest Harry Potter movie...

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
34. We celebrated my birthday on the Sunday before, due to hubby having a yucky breakfast meeting on the actual day. I remember getting to lie in bed reading unpestered for a few luxurious hours, and possibly even a bath....

24. What kept you sane?
Um... I think I may be less sane...

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I need a drop down list for this kind of stuff - no one comes to mind.

26. Who did you miss?
My brother (even though he's been on another island for a long time); I still miss being able to just drop by my parent's place and hang out; Annik who left with her little boy for Canada to be closer to her parents; BSharp (but she's back now!); and it's getting generally harder to meet up with many friends due to our vastly different lifestyles (e.g. us having kids and them not. But that will get easier as the kids get older).

27. Who was the best new person you met?
My neighbour up the corridor - Leili. Fantastic to meet a mother of 3 older children who's been through it all! So nice to have a neighbour who is friendly, and whom you can help and be helped.

Help needed with new-fangled internet anagrams!

I need some help with the following anagrams.  What on earth do the following mean?

- LMAO - little men all overwrought?
- LMFAO - same with "fricken" in there?

I can't, for the life of me, think what they are meant to mean. I DO know that "LOL" means "laugh out loud", but reckon it is way over-used, and could be written just as briefly as "ha ha!" much of the time.

I know admitting this makes me un-hip, but I'm a mother of two so that was going to happen sooner or later anyway. (That, and I was never considered cool anyway, except to my dear best-friend/husband.)

So folks? Any more tech savvy people able to enlighten me? While you're at it, are there any other anagrams I've missed?

14 January 2010

Random thoughts...

Dried up roses in vases...
... in my friend's kitchen. I noticed that since I'd seen her last her belly hadn't grown, and all flicker of humour was absent from her face today. A mutual friend confirmed what I'd feared. She's lost a(nother) baby.

Hubby is acting more chipper as if to compensate, but he briefly ruffles my baby's hair then escapes quickly to the bathroom. I can see that with each miscarriage and year past 40, this all just gets harder.

"My figure is hardly perfect but..."
...is it just me or do a grotesque number of the fellas I went to school with now have beer guts and fat necks? I'm not in contact with these people, but I inadvertently see their photos when I nose around in other people's facebook albums when my friends are tagged there. Serves me right to go snooping.

In other news experts can now confirm that TV watching is bad for you. Not because it gives you square eyes, but because you are sedentary for a long time. Come to think of it, you are too when you sit at the compture for a long time. I'm outa here!

Band on the Rug

Happy new year, folks!

Our christmas was good this year - we had family come stay with us in waves - C-chan's family for xmas, and my parents for the new year. I'm finding these days when family come to stay, it's a good thing mostly because I get a chance to hand over the kids to someone else and get some things done! C-chan and I enjoyed designing a christmas day menu, shopping for it, & making it, after 3 years in a row of visiting Radelaide for christmas. We got the odd opportunity to go out and see a movie or go out for dinner. Our baby is a pretty good sleeper, and sleeps for at least 6 hours in her first nightly stretch, and is usually down by 7pm, which has meant going out is possible. We had a full house, yet our house guests were pretty good - we had a nice mix of hanging around at home, getting out and about, and my parents went off by themselves once or twice to give us a little bit of space.

The Grandparents of course went gaga over the baby Astro Girl, whilst our little 3 1/2 year old  E-chan ensured he had attention by talking non-stop for a few weeks. This almost drove me nuts. I couldn't think clearly, and almost every conversation I tried to have was talked over the top of constantly. At times I just had to tune out so I could follow a thought through to it's logical conclusion, but often if we didn't acknowledge what he said, he would repeat the same thing over and over - broken record style - until he got a response. Nothing would stop him from talking - even though he was getting plenty of attention. Eventually we challenged him to see how long he could stay quiet. He lasted 53 seconds! Finally on New Year's Day, the constant chatter subsided a bit, and things have returned to normal now. He's still on the talkative side, but as he gets more and more articulate, we're starting to have some really fun and funny conversations.

For christmas, E-chan got a little CD player from his grandparents. This has come just at the right time, as despite having music pushed on him all his life particularly by his Dad who is a big music fan, he seems to finally be receptive to listening to pop music and getting to know songs. Strangely (I think) his first preference was for Paul McCartney and Wings. Not the Beatles, but that followed soon after. His first favourite song that he danced to and played over and over was "C Moon" which is hilarious. At night, when we're putting him to bed, we listen to a compilation we've made and he asks us lots of questions:
- Mummy what's this song?
- What's he singing here?
- Is Paul McCartney a Beatle? Didn't he want to be a Beatle any more?

Often he doesn't hear the lyrics properly (hey, who doesn't?), and sometimes we tell him what they are and he sings them properly, but sometimes he stubbornly decides his are better such as:
- Band on the Rug (aka "Band on the Run")
- Mibby om man (? aka "Maybe I'm Amazed")

So next he was made a Robot Music compilation, made of Daft Punk and Kraftwerk. "Daddy, this isn't a robot singing, it's a MAN!"


He doesn't quite get the concept of robot dancing yet, but I will persist...