Monday, June 02, 2014

The dilemma of STUFF

I've always been someone who cares about the environment. When I was in year 11 my friend Erika and I started the "Environmental Club" at school with the view of raising awareness of what we can do to help the planet. We didn't do a whole lot but the ideology was what mattered more at the time.

And ever since, I've tried to do my bit. We donate money to Greenpeace and the Wilderness Society, and up until recently (when we got solar panels*) paid the extra money for 100% green power. We recycle nearly everything, compost food scraps, buy recycled loo paper (Who Gives a Crap - seriously worth it, check 'em out!), don't believe in air conditioning (which is horrid on those 40+°C days), and generally try to be good environmentally-friendly citizens.

However, there's a downside to all of this. I have a tendency to not throw stuff out. We have boxes of clothes which we've been storing to give to a good home. Atti mostly wears Dante's hand-me-downs, Elora wears (some of) Atti's hand-me-downs, and we have friends with a little girl and now a wonderful one year old nephew who will be the recipient of many items. But storing and sorting the clothes is a bit of an issue. We have boxes of the stuff cluttering up our upstairs hallway area.

And then there's furniture. After witnessing the old family lounge being crushed to smithereens in the council garbage truck one year (I thought the council would take it away for charity or something) I'm reluctant to put out anything useful or in fairly good nick in the Council Cleanup. In any case, our council has changed from a twice yearly "everyone put things out at the same time = local community scavenge weekend" to a "book your pickup" which means there's no opportunity for people to pick up second hand items, and possibly save a treasure from landfill. Instead it all just gets CRUSHED in the compacting garbage trucks. It makes me cry.

Hence we have a garage full of old furniture... Some of it ours, some of it my parents', some of it my brothers' (I think, but probably not as much any more). Dan refers to the garage as "the shed". There's no room for a car.

Anyway, the original point of this post was going to be this: I'm torn between my desire for nice things and a nice house with matching furniture and hand made items and beautiful artworks, and my in-built core belief of "don't throw it away if it's still good"... where "good" means still useful and doing its main task. For example, we now have three sofas in our lounge room. None of them match. One is the pair to my parents' leather lounge set - the other is at their place. Dan hates the leather, and it's a hideous very '90s peach colour, but it's comfortable to lie on (for me anyway, being shorter). I can't bear to throw it away. Our other lounges are Ikea ones, one a sofa-bed and the other a hand-me-down from a friend. They're comfy but ratty. Still doing their main task of being a place to put one's bum.

And so on. The kitchen, which was put in by my father in the '90s using recycled materials from a house he was renovating (so probably early '80s vintage cabinetry). The bathroom (what was it with the love of peach-coloured things?) has cracked tiles and shower screen. Get the idea?

I don't know what to do. How do I reconcile these two opposing feelings?

* More in another blog post

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Burns on two wheels (mostly)

My kids are addicted to screens. The boys especially. I think, perhaps, they may not be the only ones in the world who are affected by this problem.

So I try to make sure they have some screen-free time every day. Not just while they're sleeping, and especially during the holidays. Every afternoon from 2 o'clock they have electronics-free time for two hours or so. And Sundays are No Computer Sundays in our house.

Yesterday I took it a step further and took the family out for a bike ride. Elora got her own bike (with training wheels) for Christmas - she's been super eager to use it (more than just around the back yard) - and it means that we can now utilise the fantastic bike paths around our suburb as a family. The most surprising part was that even Atticus was willing to come. He is usually reluctant to do ANYTHING that involves leaving the house (except going to school, and if he can bring his iPod).

The park wasn't far - would usually take me about twenty five minutes to walk there - but it was sunny and hot and it was the middle of the day. We got there eventually, after many rest stops. These guys needs more exercise! After a pleasant lunch, some sitting around in the shade and playing on the flying fox, we rode home, almost perishing from the heat. Funny how the trip home always seems so much faster.

Not an overly exciting excursion now that I look back at this post, but the start, I hope, of more adventures on two wheels (plus a couple).

Sunday, January 05, 2014

First finished sewn item

In line with my new-found productivity (having tidied the sewing room somewhat during the Christmas break) I present my first finished item: an Everyday Skirt (pattern by Liesl+co)

I cut out the pieces when I went away with friends in October. That weekend I made a skirt using size M which was a trifle big so cut out a size S for my next try. Unfortunately we ran out of time and then the end of the year happened and it didn't get done. Until yesterday!

The pattern is simple and instructions easy to follow. It didn't take me long to sew it together, even with the unpicking when I accidentally sewed the back piece on backwards.

The fabric is a cotton/spandex print I picked up from Spotlight. The pattern makes me think of windows in an abandoned warehouse. I went to a little bit of trouble to make sure the pockets matched up. Pretty happy with that minor detail. 

Also, I have to say I love that this skirt had pockets and an elastic waist band. No zippers!

I wear my first skirt to work on a regular basis and can't wait to add this one to the rotation. I've got a few more of these skirts planned as well. A great addition to the wardrobe. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

To do: 2014

It appears 2013 went by and not even a whisper came from me to this place of writing. I'll try to post some more about it if I can, but in short:

- I started (another) new job in January
- It's permanent
- I've really enjoyed the year learning the ropes and getting to know the team
- It was four days/week but I'll be full time from 2014 onwards
- Dante started high school in 2013
- It was a challenge at the start - no one from his primary school went to his new high school - but he'd settled by the end of the year
- He grew over six inches in height over the course of the year
- He's doing well there academically too
- Atticus has seriously come out of his shell now that he's out of his brother's shadow at school
- It's such a relief
- Elora is a star in her class, loved by all
- It was the year for her birthday party
- She won the Citizenship Award at the end of year Assembly
- Her school report said "future SRC material"
- I went away to Craft Camp twice this year
- Did some sewing and knitting and crocheting
- Made plans for many more craft projects
- Enrolled in a Certificate IV TAFE course (online delivery)
- Blinked and the year was over

So now I'm putting myself on the road to hell, as the saying goes, as I am full of good intentions for 2014. Resolutions, even. And once again in point form, in no particular order:

- Sew more clothes for myself. I've been pretty happy with the few things I've made and can't wait to make more.
- Sew more in general
- Run. I did the City2Surf a few years ago and loved it. Then I hurt my knee and can't run much any more. Gonna try and get that sorted out.
- Start/finish my TAFE course. I enrolled but I haven't started!
- Read more
- Write more

Umm. I'm sure I had a lot more in my head when I started writing this but of course now they've gone. Or maybe they just don't seem as important now as they did at the time. I think I've listed plenty to keep me busy!

Monday, August 13, 2012


The kids and I have been bitten by the ice skating bug in recent times, if such a thing exists. D was invited to go with some friends during the July school holidays and I decided to go along seeing as the last time I went was about 24 years ago!

Oh boy were we bad. The boy stuck to the sides like glue, except for when his friend's parents took pity and helped him round several times. I was able to move from the edge eventually. Only fell the once (but boy did it hurt. That ice is harder than I remembered! And as someone commented, I surely DO have more padding than I used to.)

So after the holidays I looked up lessons and we've been going Saturday mornings ever since, and often on Thursday nights too.

The best thing is that it is not only D and me but the other two have joined in as well. Atti especially. He flails about and constantly falls (you should see his knees - almost completely purple) but he perseveres. I have never seen him try so hard at something. It's a joy to see!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 and the Year of the Dragon

Since I didn't pop in and say hello at the start of the calendar year like 'most everyone else, I thought I'd get a few words in today, at the end of the lunar new year. Tomorrow is Chinese New Year, the Dragon year.

We're busy today tidying up the homestead. I think it's actually a Japanese tradition but I got it into my head one year that I must have a clean house for the start of the new year. It's always too difficult to do it for the calendar year, what with Christmas only just being over and the house full of new toys and the body recovering from the over-indulgence. Chinese New Year (CNY) seems a better time to start. And when I was growing up my father always took the day off work on CNY, with the idea that you shouldn't do any work that day or you'll be working your butt off for the rest of the year... And what you do on CNY you'll be doing for the rest of the year. So no fighting or arguing or boring housework!

However this year I'm not as stressed out by it all, unlike other years. I think the main reason is that I've finally bitten the bullet and HIRED A CLEANER! And they're coming tomorrow! For years I've thought about it but could never justify the expense - paying for someone to do something I can do myself. But I've come to a point where I'm fed up with the mess. I am working full time and I don't want to spend the weekend cleaning. I don't want to be embarrassed and stressed if I'm having guests over. Of course there's still a fair amount of tidying involved with cleaners - more than I initially imagined...but I'm paying them to CLEAN, not pick up after the kids. They're certainly old enough to pack away after themselves.

Speaking of which, it's ridiculous how quickly those three munchkins have grown up. I'm way behind on posting photos (on flickr). You wouldn't recognize them. I'll see what I can do.

For the record... Dante is nearly 11 and about to start year 6! We are in full swing preparing for the Selective High Schools Entrance Exam... So frigging competitive these days. He's got the smarts, just needs the exam technique and to put in a bit more hard work. It's rough going, to say the least. It will be an interesting year for him - his closest friends in the last couple of years have always been in the year above him and that means this year they're moving on to High School. Hopefully they'll manage to keep in touch - it would be sad if they lost contact, although with the way they email each other I don't think there's too much danger in that! At least it's cheaper than the billion phone calls I used to make when I was a teenager!

Atticus will be 7 next week! He's such a different personality to his big brother. Much more easy going and has an in-built coolness about him. In a trendy way, not a standoffish way. Minecraft is his poison. Utterly addicted. Will play for hours if he's allowed, and then will happily watch his brother play for hours, if he's allowed. That computer game has caused much woe in this family, what with my efforts to and limit how much they play, through to fights over each others' constructions. But as Dan says, at least it's a constructive game. You don't go around shooting creatures or blowing up stuff. The basic premise of the game is to BUILD. Very much a plus in this Lego-obsessed family.

And the little miss is going to 5 in a few weeks. Starting Kindergarten in one week. Very quickly catching up to her next brother in height! Always singing, eager to help, especially my mother with the cooking. She's certainly very ready for school - and we have no doubts that she will be completely fine and settle in easily. Last year at pre-school was a huge plus. Nearly half of the 60 kids (3 classes) will be staying on at the school this year. And she is not lacking for friends!

And now I'll leave you with a photo of all the grand kids, taken last week at our pre-CNY Eve dinner (as one of my brothers won't be coming for dinner tonight). Look at these larrikins, aged 4½-nearly 18!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Something something

Some miscellaneous ramblings. In point form because that's how my brain is working these days.

- There are only two months of the year left. How on earth did that happen?

- Today I start my new job. Got here nice and early and am waiting for my colleague/boss to arrive to show me the ropes. Too eager!

- It helped that there is a stop work meeting at school today. The kids don't start until 11am.

- Speaking of school, we had our biannual fete on Saturday. A great effort and wonderful but tiring day. Lots of money counting since I'm the treasurer of the P&C.

- I'm still going to TAFE one day a week. There are only about 4 or 5 weeks left and then I'll get my Certificate. Joy!

- Yesterday we learnt about impedance and the effect frequency has on it in RCL circuits.

- We still haven't done enough soldering though, in my opinion.

- During the last school holidays we went on a family trip to Hong Kong! It was awesome. Kids were great (mostly) and loved it.

- We did an awful amount of shopping there! Lego, soft toys, clothes. Had to buy a bag to bring it home again.

- In August I ran the City2Surf for the second time ever. I was pretty pleased with my result! 84 minutes, down from 103 last year. Or something like that.

- I've not done any real running or training since then though! So lazy.

- And I went down to Melbourne to Craft Camp at the end of that month. It was absolutely wonderful. Inspiring people and sewing.

- I was so inspired I bought an overlocker. My birthday present from two years ago. (I never got around to choosing one at the time).

- I miss writing on this blog. These days you can find me hanging around Twitter more than anywhere else.

- I miss having a computer to sit at that's all my own and easy to access. My iPhone has become a (limited) substitute.

- Hmm. Hungry now. That will be all for the time being. Maybe I'll see you again another day soon.

- I might even post some pictures :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A fresh start

Today is my first (week) day being unemployed. Yep. In the blink of an eye my 12 weeks' redeployment period has ended and my employment has ceased.

I have to admit that I was a bit of a mess last week. Especially my last day, Friday. I hadn't told many people that I was leaving - you'd think my boss would have kept track but he came to see me at 10am asking what was happening. Competence in action, huh? (A colleague told me that I should be careful not to "burn my bridges" but if I can't be frank on this here blog then where can I?) I was in a state of constantly being on the edge of tears - and all too often slipped off that edge, mostly at inopportune moments unfortunately. My closest colleagues brought in cake and we had a small afternoon tea. I went around and said 'bye to a few of the nicer people in the building and sent an email to the rest around 3pm.

I was exhausted by the end of the day - the stress of the last several months, weeks and days was draining. I got home and Dan mentioned an email that one of our best friends had sent to a mailing list of IT folk in the Uni. It was so incredibly sweet - I'd already cried when I read it that afternoon but just having it brought up again when I was trying so hard to be composed in front of the kids and my parents caused me to break down and I had to go to another room for a good hard sob.

After that, the weekend seemed to improve. Saturday I did NO housework. Just sat around crocheting. And the usual running around with the kids for their Saturday activities. Sunday was Dan's birthday. I bought him a new computer (27" iMac - yay for spending my redundancy money before it arrives) and we went out to yum cha with his mum and sister and her husband. The afternoon was spent chatting and eating cake with my brothers and co. who were at my parents' place for the usual fortnightly tennis day. It was all very pleasant. To top it off I dragged my mother-in-law (twisted her arm, I did) to Spotlight and bought a bunch of threads (floss) for this cross-stitch pattern which I am excited about starting.

And there it is... Excited. I realised after that craft supply top-up that I wasn't sad any more. Well, still a little sad but not crying and moaning and upset any more. I am starting to get excited. I'm making plans, to do lists, thinking about the future. Thinking about craft projects that I may actually complete in a timely fashion. Thinking about cleaning up the house, sorting and de-cluttering. Spending time with the kids. More time with the kids. Reading books. Writing! I feel like a weight has finally lifted.

Of course I will probably have to go back to work at some point in time, even if it's just to satisfy the lego habit, but for now I'm happy to be a stay-at-home-most-of-the-time (still going to TAFE one day a week) mum. Happy. It's a nice feeling.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Extreme knitting

I spent a good chunk of the weekend knitting, trying to finish a cardigan for Elora. And then this morning I was sent the following... All I can say is "Wow!".

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The end of Easter

Our incredibly long Long Weekend has drawn to a close and it's back to work for me tomorrow - Dan and the kids still have another day off.

The holiday has been almost epic in its length, or apparent length! The kids have been on school holidays for nearly three weeks. And we've done so much. A trip to the Australian Museum, the Royal Easter Show, birthday parties, play dates... Jam packed, I tells ya!

I hope I'll get a chance to write more about it in the next short while. There are certainly a lot of photos to be processed and uploaded.

But today I think I'll just leave with a thought from a friend. A bit of a philosophy of life, and a good one I might add. Especially now that I'm a little bit out of my "job funk"... I actually finished my resume last week. At long last.

And thus I write:

Don't judge your success by what you haven't achieved.

I need to practise this quite a bit more!

Photo of the sunrise over our local park, earlier this month.