Monday, December 25, 2006

A very merry Christmas

What a busy, noisy, exhausting Christmas we've had.

It started off with Christmas Eve Eve with Dan's side of the family. Normally we do Christmas Eve, but his sister and her boyfriend had to go to the Mountains to be with his family this year so we made it a night earlier. They came over at about 2pm with a carload of pressies and food and then cooked a scrumptious roast for dinner, as well as babysitting the kids while Dan and I ducked off to do some last minute shopping! Yay!

The kids had a brilliant evening, especially Dante who played Santa once again. They were thoroughly spoilt, as usual! Atticus was given a tea set by his Auntie, and no other presents got opened that night by him as he was completely taken with his plates, knives, cups and forks. He has wanted to use them at every meal since then, too. The jug causes a bit of a problem... not for him - for us! He wants his milk in that, and then proceeds to pour it everywhere (trying to pour it into his little toy cups). It's very cute, but we quickly learnt our lesson!

Christmas day itself has been just as exhausting, with my side of the family over as well as Grandma and an elderly neighbour, Uncle Ted (who's just turned 93, I believe!)... 7 grandkids + 4 kids + 4 spouses + 3 grandparents + 1 Japanese visitor + Uncle Ted = 20 people!

We hosted it our place - the eating and pressies side of things. The food preparation was done next door at my folks' place, which worked out brilliantly. It's a great excuse to clean the house and it is still in quite a reasonable state, even after the hoardes have left.

The Japanese visitor is my friend Fukuyo, who arrived yesterday morning for a short last-minute trip to Oz. I used to be pen-friends with her from when I was 14 and stayed with her and her family when I was 15 on a school exchange for four weeks. We have kept in touch (but not as often as I should have, on my part) the whole time. She came to visit back in '92 but we haven't seen her since. She is staying next door and will be flying up to visit some other friends in Brisbane on Friday.

Anyway, we are heading off to the South coast tomorrow (Kiama) so I need to pack and other stuff. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dante's last day as a Kindergarten kid!

Our son is no longer in Kindy! Today was the last day of school for the year. After these holidays he'll be in Year 1 and no longer one of the babies of the school.

He's done so well this year. He even won an "Academic Achievement" award at school for his progress. Everything in "Reading" and "Maths" in his end-of-year report was well above average. Looking through his writing/drawing books was interesting seeing how much he progressed from the beginning of the year until now.

We're so proud! It took quite a few months for him to settle into the new structure of school, but it's amazing how he soaked up all the teaching after that. Yay :)

I'll scan in some samples of his work eventually.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

That "new car" smell

The first thing we did this morning was to go to the bank and get a whopping big bank cheque. Ack! We had to scrounge bits of money from all our accounts, but managed to get enough together. The bank had promised to give us some more money a couple of weeks ago, but it still hasn't come through. Typical.

The second thing I did was get insurance quotes. I was so shocked to find out that our suburb seems to have a "high risk" category - my colleague's suburb was $350 cheaper. It does certainly pay to shop around for car insurance - I ended up paying just less than $1000, whereas the highest quote I got was for $1800 (this is the annual premium for comprehensive insurance). Lawks a lawdy!

Then, at 3 o'clock I picked up Dante from school, picked up Atticus and drove home. Dropped off the small boy with my folks, picked up Dan (who was at home after a work Christmas party) and drove to the car dealership to collect our brand new car.

Dante was super-excited. When we got there, the salesman took us out to have a look at it - D exclaimed, "This is the best car ever!" over and over again. And climbed all over it, exploring all the nooks and crannies. Martin, the salesman, was a bit nervous at that, telling Dante, "Don't put your shoes on the seats! Don't scratch the car!" It was all pretty amusing.

I drove it home with Dante in the back while poor Dan was relegated to driving home the old car. It was a little nerve-wracking. We drove home in peak hour traffic, and I wasn't used to the brakes on the car. But we made it without a single incident.

Now Dan's taken it out for a spin, having not had a chance before. I think he used the excuse "We need more milk", but I can't really be sure.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Water, ahoy!

I went and booked the kids into swimming lessons this morning. Our local pool gets filled up so incredibly quickly - it's ridiculous! I remember last year they told me that on the day of enrolments you need to get in at 9am to book, otherwise you'll miss out. So, I sent the boys in to school with Dan and got my mother to drop me at the pool. I got there at 9:30am (running a little behind schedule) and there was a queue of six people in front of me. I was so annoyed!

I did manage to arrange it so the kids will have their lessons at the same time, however Dan's going to kill me - the lessons are for 8:30am on Saturday mornings (during Term 1). I had no choice - all the "frogs" lessons (for Atticus) were full except for that one. After I'd booked I found out that "tadpoles" were pretty much the same as "frogs" and they'd put us down in a "tadpoles" class anyway. Ack - that means we could have gone to a Sunday 9am class instead... a little more civilised. Oh well, it's done now. At least we can sleep in on Sundays instead (as much as one can sleep in with young kids, that is!).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas with the gang

Today we had our "Hive" Christmas party. "The Hive" is a nickname we have for our bunch of friends - coined by another friend several years ago. There were about 20 of us in all, with Dante and Atti the only kids (so far!!). It got a bit crazy and expensive in terms of pressies a number of years ago and since then we do a "kris kringle" thing which has been working wonderfully. The kids don't take part, though... they're entitled to more than one present, right? As well as presents we had an abundance of food (and meat! We had an esky full of meat!) and ate until we couldn't move.

Originally uploaded by becstarr.
Then Dante played Santa, handing out the presents to each person in turn - it's so great that he can read now! The boys were really excited... Atti knows about presents now.

After presents were distributed, the boys happily hung around in the lounge room playing with whomever was there while we cleaned up and ate dessert. Dante has always been very comfortable with our friends, having known them for 5¾ years, and being a very outgoing boy. I was so pleased with Atticus today. Just in the last week or so he has become so much more outgoing and less shy. It was wonderful to see. He happily sat down on the couch with his godparents, cuddling up with them, and then was just as eager to play with all the adults as his big brother. It was lovely to see. Everyone remarked on it, too. Yay!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Neurologist visit

We took Atticus to see the Paediatric Neurologist today for his convulsions. It was a really good experience for us (and him). Everything she told us was consistent with everything that we've heard from our paediatrician(s), which was a huge relief!

She also said that he was a bright little boy. I was actually really surprised when she did some tests on him, and he actually co-operated and followed her instructions quite happily. She had a little torch: "Touch your nose, touch the light, touch your nose, touch the light..." So cute! He's growing up, all right!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Child Care End-of-Year celebration

A busy day today - start to a busy season, I guess. The silly season!

We had the end of year celebration at Child Care this evening. Instead of the usual "bring a plate" deal, we actually organised to have food provided and charged parents for tickets instead. It worked out really well! There was the usual madness and chaos that always surrounds 30 or more kids under 5 plus parents and siblings. Atticus had a ball at the food table, as he always does, and Dante got to play with his friends from the centre who also have siblings there. It was grand. I organised the desserts (yummy chocolate cake slabs) and we gave a big hamper of baby stuff to the Georgina, the teacher who has just started maternity leave (for whom I was making the quilt).

The funniest part of the evening is always when Santa arrives. Each child receives a book of their parents' choosing. I couldn't believe how well behaved they all were when it came time for the present distribution. They sat down on the mats and most waited very patiently for their name to be called. Of course, some kids started getting anxious as the boxes started emptying... Atticus was incredibly excited - I didn't think he'd understand what was going on! Oh, but how wrong I was. He watched each kid get handed a present, open it and exclaim with delight when they saw the contents. One girl next to him got a "Wiggles" book. He was jumping up and down with anticipation. When Santa finally handed him his present he rushed to me and we quickly opened it. He loved the book that he received. The Director of the Centre knows Dante very well and sneakily kept his present till last - it was so funny watching his reaction! He was pleased with his book, too, and exclaimed that he'd seen this in his school library before. :)

One of the things I loved about Santa was his suit - a groovy inflatable number that has a little fan built-in at the back and fits virtually anyone. Usually he is played by one of the dads and this year was no exception. I always wonder if the kids can pick that it's their father in the costume, but so far the deception has been maintained! Neat.

P.S. Almost forgot to mention that I put a deposit down on the car today. Woot!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Second quilt almost done!

I worked and worked to try and get this quilt made so that I could present it to the intended recipient. Unfortunately, I ran out of time. The party is tomorrow, and I've only made the quilt top. Oh well - I'll have to give it to her another day.

However, I am so pleased with what I have accomplished to this point! I love the bright colours and fabrics. I thought that it might be a bit too busy, but the more I look at the picture above, the happier I am with the overall colour scheme. What do you think?

The final size is around 3 by 4 feet, so it is a cot or lap quilt. I've got a groovy backing fabric - white with coloured dots - and the binding will be a turquoise colour. I can't wait to finish it!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Three little pigs

We had a really busy day yesterday.

First there was Dante's piano lesson (rescheduled to 10am instead of 11am - the teacher forgot, but managed to fit him in anyway).

Then my niece Lorien's christening. It's a little later than normal - she's almost 15 months old. She and Atticus wouldn't sit still during the church ceremony and ran around all over the place. Thankfully Father David was very understanding and patient - when her parents held her and she started complaining, he said that it was alright to let her down for the moment. Although now we all have a fair understanding of why people get their kids christened at an early age!!

Afterwards we spent the afternoon at my brother's place feasting on the piles of scrumptious food that were presented. Yum. Poor Atti missed out on his midday nap and was completely exhausted by the end of the day.

While we were there Dan and I wandered off to the local car dealership to check out a car that we're keen to buy. I even got to test drive it! How exciting! I've never done that before. I was very nervous about it - the waiver I had to sign said that if any damage was done we'd have to pay $2500 excess, and that's only if it wasn't my fault! But in the end it was okay, and I was very happy with the feel of the car (a Toyota Avensis, 7-seat people mover). The salesman wouldn't give us a definite price, though, so we'll have to shop around.

Anyway, the biggest news of the day was the announcement my brother made... they are keen to buy the same car - because they're expecting their third child as well!! As you know, our number three is due late Feb/early March and my other brother is expecting their second in early April. Now there will be another cousin, due early June! My father was so happy - he exclaimed to me, "10! Uncle Paul can't beat me now. I'm going to ring him tonight." (Uncle Paul, his brother) currently has 8 grandkids).

So that means that next year there will be three little pigs born, unless our little girl comes early (but I'm hoping that she comes on the 17th Feb, my mother's birthday - then she'll be a dog).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dante's theory of forbidden drinks

I guess this will be a good story for his 21st birthday party...

Dante was sitting on the toilet this morning after doing a "number two". I could hear him talking to himself as he sat there. Or maybe he was trying to talk to me through the door.

"I know where Coke comes from - it's squashed up POO juice. Kids can't drink it because poo has alcohol in it but grown ups like it."

EEyou! I don't know if I'll be drinking cola again for a while now.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My next project

I like starting projects... I don't often finish them, but I do enjoy planning and starting them!

My next project is a cot quilt for one of the carers at child care. She has been at our centre for five years and we love her to bits. Last week she left to go on maternity leave and I want to make something for her before we see her again at the Christmas party next Wednesday!

Can I finish it in time? We've got a crazy-busy weekend ahead of us. I've cut out a bunch of squares and just have some borders to cut out before I can piece it together. I hope I can do it!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Back to the slog

Flew home on Monday. Took this picture of the cloud layers from the plane. Neat, huh?

We got to spend a few hours in Cairns where my Aunties took us out to yum cha for lunch. yum! I searched for Atti's backup dawg since that was where he originally came from, but alas, it was in vain.

The plane got in 15 minutes early and so we were able to get home in time for me to say g'night to the boys. Atti was reading a book when he looked up and saw me, exclaimed "Mama!" and then went back to looking at the pictures. Dante gave me a "knock-down" hug and presented me with a couple of "notes" that he'd written me. It was lovely to see them after a week of being away!

I did wonder how long it would take to get back into the swing of things back in Sydney... it took one evening! I got up at 6am yesterday and settled back into the work/school/childcare routine straight away. I'm still quite tired, especially getting used to daylight savings again, but that'll happen soon enough.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Six months! Three to go!

Wow, the time has flown by. Today I am officially six months pregnant, with only three more to go before our family size increases by one!

Today was a day of wallowing. This morning we drove out to King Point (or is it King's Point??) for a swim at the beach. A gorgeous secluded spot with a view out to Hammond and Wednesday Islands. The water was warm and calm. It's only about 2 feet deep and stays that way until about 50m out where there is a bit of a reef or rocks, or so I'm told. We had the place to ourselves until a couple of other families turned up. A great place for the kids - as long as you don't let them go too close to the mangroves on either side, and keep to the open water (crocodiles!). I could imagine my boys having a grand time splashing about and playing in the sand.

Afterwards we drove down to Cable Bay at the back of the island, facing south. Looked at some ruins from WWII and then came back for lunch. Found out that the pool filter is broken! But after going for a walk around the "town" here (just a couple of blocks, really) I was completely zonked and went in for a swim anyway. Ahh... so nice. It was like taking a tepid bath - again, the kids would have loved it. {sigh}

How I miss them.

The only down side to all the lovely floating around in water is coming out! It was like I'd put on a lead suit - I could really feel the weight of this bubba. She'd better not get too big!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

A family-filled sad day

It was a glorious, sunny, hot day today. Beautiful blue sky. Bit of a sea breeze.

We buried my uncle today following mass in the Catholic Church. He was placed on the hill next to my grandparents in the cemetary here on Thursday Island. The island ladies sang the most beautiful island hymns during and after the ceremony and afterwards the procession to the cemetary snaked down the entire main street.

One of the traditions up here is to fill in the grave once the coffin has been lowered. Down South everyone usually leaves at this point, but here all the men gather around and take turns shovelling the dirt back into the hole. It is very hot and dusty work, especially when they are wearing their good long sleeve shirts and slacks for the funeral. Huge clouds of the fine dry dust billowed around coating everyone who was nearby. Once the hole is filled, they top the grave with loads of shell grit (broken up bits of shells) and then the women come and put flowers over the entire site (usually plastic flowers as these last longer in the heat!). In the end it looks so colourful and complete. Then a year or two later they have an official tombstone opening. A really nice custom, in my opinion. Better than just walking away.

Afterwards we retired to the church hall for sandwiches, cakes and afternoon tea. The mood was solemn but cheerful as everyone chatted and the kids played. It was wonderful to catch up with so many of my cousins.

We had missed the last ferry but the operators had generously organised to put on a special one to take us back across to Horn Island (those of us that were staying there). The ride across (about 20 minutes) was a fitting end to such a day. The moon, almost full, shone down incredibly brightly and a few stars peeped through the clouds. The air was still, the water calm. It was a serene and settling journey after an emotionally draining day.

We have two more days here before our long journey home, and back to work.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In the tropics

Who would have thunk it? They have ADSL up here in the Torres Strait now!

It's such a sad occasion to be coming up for, but it is so good to finally be here. Earlier this year I wrote about my yearnings to come back and now I've made it. It took us about 6 hours to get here (plane from Sydney-Cairns and then Cairns-Horn Island). When we reached the tip of Australia, the pilot (a female captain! How great, and rare, is that?) flew over the Inner Island group (Horn Island, Thursday Island etc.). When we came in to land I felt the greatest rush of excitement, sadness and relief, all at once. I've always been so attached to this place since coming here with Mama all the time as a child.

We are staying on Horn Island but today my mother and I caught the ferry across to Thursday Island (the "main" township) to visit her brothers and other relatives. While we've been busy helping to organise the funeral, it has also been really good to catch up with the hordes of cousins and their children. Everyone has grown up so much, unsurprisingly!

I took this photo of the sunset as we got off the last ferry back to Horn Is. this evening. The sky was such an amazing colour! It has been hot but up at the wharf the sea breeze is wonderfully refreshing, making for a very pleasant stroll back to the hotel.

Anyway, I'm being called away to dinner now. My cousin's wife's sister (her mother and sister flew up from Sydney with us yesterday) caught an esky-load of fish today so we've got a yummy meal waiting for us. Can't wait.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Away for a week

I'm flying up to Far North Queensland tomorrow morning with my mother - my Uncle Richard passed away last night unexpectedly. I'll be back on Monday. See you then.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A belly full of Turkey

Ahhh... Thanksgiving. We celebrate this American tradition every year with Dan's family and some family friends at a house in Balmain. Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger. This was my ninth Thanksgiving with the Burns!

Each guest-group brings a dish. We have always brought fruit. The first year we just made a platter but by now we have our fruit salad routine down pat. It's a great time of year to make it - the summer fruits are just starting to come in to season and it's so yummy, yummy, yummy. Dan did a particularly fine job scouting out the world's juiciest and sweetest pineapple (and he says that pineapple ruins a good fruit salad! bah! He still lets me put it in, though), as well as the hugest watermelon. We're going to have it coming out of our ears all week.

We have a lot of the traditional Thanksgiving fair, or so I'm told. Roast turkey with stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. Mashed sweet potato with toasted marshmallows on top. Zucchini with fetta. Ann's wild rice salad. Corn bread. Roast potatoes. Beans and beetroot salad. Pumpkin pie. But we add a bit of Aussie to it with pavlovas and of course our fruit salad.

We all ate very well. Atticus ate about a cubic metre of fruit salad and chased the dog around (a very gorgeous border collie called "Dodger"). Dante ate about a cubic metre of potatoes and watched "Cars" with the other almost-5 year old boy there. Dan and I sat around chatting to everyone and feeling bloated. A good Sunday afternoon's activities all round.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A second day of rest

Heh. Atticus got up super early and extra grumpily this morning. He was still really tired but demanded to go downstairs and have breakfast. By 8 o'clock this morning he and I were both incredibly ratty and cranky, so I sent Dan and Dante off to work & school, and put Atti and myself back to bed.

We slept for a little over two hours, and both woke up happy and refreshed. Hooray! And now I'm off to work for the rest of the day. One of the best ideas I've had for quite a while, I do say.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A day off to rest

I took a day off work today. The intention was to rest and recover from the busy couple of weeks we've had. But last night I woke up at 2:30am and couldn't get back to sleep! My mind was abuzz with ideas and thoughts about all the things to do - work is crazy, the house is a mess, Christmas is coming, the baby is coming! So I fretted and tossed and turned, and decided that I'd make a quilt for one of the teachers at child care who has been there for 6 years and who's going on maternity leave at the end of next week!

I finally got back to sleep after about an hour and this morning as soon as I sent the boys off to school/work/childcare I got out my fabrics and looked through my patterns. Surprisingly I worked out something that will be quick and easy, and hopefully will look nice and bright. I'll post a picture when it's done.

The morning went in a flash and I desperately needed to go grocery shopping - it's been a while. We had no milk, no bread (not even in the freezer!), no fruit, and hardly any other food around the place. I talked my mother into accompanying me, and we went to Spotlight (fabric shop) on the way. I bought some backing material for my quilt, and then filled up a trolley with tasty food stuffs for the family at the supermarket. My plans to cut and piece the quilt top in the afternoon went out the window as I was totally exhausted when I got home.

Oh well, the weekend's coming up - perhaps I'll get some rest then!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Swim, swim, swim

It was a 38°C day today. 36°C yesterday. Summer is definitely on its way. I took the kids to the pool this afternoon - Dante's been having lessons and it was hot enough that I couldn't resist a dip as well.

Atti wouldn't leave child care when we went to pick him up, until I asked him "Want to go for a swim?". He ran out of the door as quickly as he could, but complained heartily when I put him into the car - I think he expected the pool to be just outside the child care centre! He whinged all the way to the pool and only when he actually saw the water did his spirits rise... a bit of an understatement there. He was beside himself with excitement!

We sent Dante off to his lesson, and then spent the rest of the time splashing around in the kiddy area of the pool. I must remember to bring pool toys next time, as he spent a fair chunk of the next while chasing after other kids' balls, pool noodles and floaties. Dan joined us a bit over an hour later, and we took the kids into the big pool. Atti squealed with delight to be taken there, and Dante was excited too, except for when the panic from not being able to touch the bottom set in.

In the end we spent about two hours in the water. We were seriously water-logged. I don't know how much water the kids ingested. It was such a lovely refreshing afternoon.

Now at home we are struggling to get the kids to sleep - over-excited, over-tired and hot, hot, hot. I am definitely going to get some air conditioning installed, even though it's against every green bone in my body. But it's not even December and the weather's this hot!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Today's lesson

This morning I discovered that giving a piggy back to a 22 month old boy while being 25 weeks pregnant and carrying a mobile phone, a set of keys, bed sheets, a pillow, a toy dog and small kid's backpack while trying to open doors and child-proof security gates is not a good idea.

'Nuff said.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

We're going to the zoo. How about you?

Our friend Alistair organised a trip to the zoo yesterday in lieu of a birthday party this year. We met at Circular Quay and caught the ferry across the harbour, had a gloriously civilised picnic lunch and spent the afternoon wandering around inspecting the animal displays. It was great!

A couple of years ago we had a Zoo Friends membership so tried to visit the zoo several times in order to get our money's worth. But we haven't been there for a while, and the construction work which was going on previously was finally finished. In fact, I was looking forward to seeing the new elephants which only arrived earlier this month!

The zoo was fairly crowded, it being a Saturday, and a splendid sunny day (but not too hot!). We missed the seal show - couldn't get a look-in because of all the people and prams! But we had a good look at the African and Asian animals. The giraffes got themselves into a tangle at feeding time, heheh. Dan took lots of pictures, and a selection are on flickr again.

One of the highlights of the day for Atticus was the late afternoon ice-cream snack. At first Dan just bought three, one for himself, me and Dante. But Atti got quite upset when he saw us eating ours, so we got him a small cone. He knew just what to do, shoving it into his gob and making a sweet, sticky mess. The cameras were focussed on him while he ate, instead of at the animals!

It was a long, exhausting day for all of us. I need to do some more exercise, I think, as all the walking did me in! My legs were ach

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sculpture by the Sea, finally.

I managed to drag Dan away from work early this afternoon, and we finally managed to take the kids to Bondi Beach to see the sculpture exhibition which I've been looking forward to.

It was a great idea, I have to say. There were gale force wind weather warnings for the afternoon, so the beach was closed to swimmers (dangerous surf) and the temperature wasn't too high. We actually drove all the way there and managed to park at the beach itself! There were quite a few people about - I guess other people had the same idea as us!

The walk was 2km, from Bondi beach to Tamarama beach. It's a very nice coastal track - we've walked it to Bronte beach (a little further south) before. One thing that I forgot was that there are a lot of steps involved! Having Atticus in the pram made things a bit difficult. I wish we'd bought one of the guide books - I don't know how many entries there were, and it would have been good to read what some of them were meant to represent, but a lot were pretty self explanatory. And they all had spectacular scenery around them! There are more photos in my flickr account. Some of the photos were quite spectacular, with a gorgeous dark storm brewing off the coast. The view in real life was even more spectacular!

The melted ice-cream van was one of my favourite sculptures, right at the end on Tamarama beach itself. I'd seen it on TV before, but it was neat to be able to see it up close. It even played a warped version of "Greensleeves", the traditional ice-cream van music (which my friend Anna was told was played only when the van was OUT of ice-cream!). The kids loved running around and playing in the sand. Dante crawled commando-style through it, and did "sand fairies" (like "snow angels" but in the sand). They both got sand everywhere.

We walked back to the car via the streets (rather than back along the coastline) and got home for a very late dinner. The poor kids were exhausted, but happy. As was I!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

No beach, but lots of chocolate cake

The temperature hit 32°C yesterday... and we didn't get around to going to Bondi Beach to see the sculptures :( We did go to the shops to buy nappies, though. Fun, fun, fun.

Today is my niece Jasmine's 4th birthday. The entire family came over after tennis for a yummy lunch and even yummier desserts (fruit salad, ice cream, and chocolate cake). The kids ran riot and made a racket (not the tennis kind, either), even though it was stinking hot again today. It's nice that they are all of an age where they can get along and play together, though. The eldest (and only) nephew had a friend with him (since they are a fair bit older than the other kids, being almost 13), and then the next three (7, 5½ (Dante), and 4 (birthday girl)), then the next three (23m, 21½m, 12m). The next two (due 5 weeks apart) will hopefully be good friends, too! Yay! I really like that the cousins are all so close. I hope it stays that way .

The thing that made my day, though, just happened! Dan was doing some cleaning up this afternoon and came upon a box of size 00 clothes that I've been trying to find for ages. It had all my favourite clothes of Dante's, including the beanie that the nurses at the hospital put on him when he was first born. We haven't really finished unpacking probably since we moved into this house (three years ago), so we still had piles of boxes around the place. I thought I'd looked into that box before, but obviously I hadn't. What a relief!

Unfortunately Atticus is too big for any of them now, but I'm super-pleased that they are not lost, and I'll definitely use them for the next bubba, even though some of the clothes are "boy" colours.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The weekend comes at last!

I think I had the busiest day in ages at work today. Everything was non-stop. Ack! There's so much to do, and it all has to be done by "tomorrow". I'm so glad that it is Friday and we have the weekend ahead of us... although if it's anything like last weekend, I'll need another couple of days off by Monday morning.

We're going to go see Sculpture by the Sea tomorrow with my brother and his family. Every year I've wanted to go (and it's been going for ten years now) but never get around to it. I know it will be crowded, and the forecast is hot, hot, hot, but I'm determined to go this year.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Back at work for a year!

Today it was one year since I returned to work after having Atticus! I celebrated the occasion by organising lunch with all our friends who work nearby - there were 12 of us in all. I had a steak. Yum. Good for my iron levels :)

Only three more months before I'm off work again for another 11 months or so. Wow.

Monday, November 06, 2006

All partied out

Yesterday was a day of 6-year-old-boy birthday parties. Well, we had two, the second right after the first one.

The first was for one of Dante's school friends, at McDonald's! We've never taken Dante to McDonald's (although I do believe that my mother took him there once, before she knew any better), so it was going to be an interesting experience. I was a little worried that he would fall in love with the place and demand to eat there every day for the rest of his life.

The kids spent most of the time playing on the play equipment, and having their faces painted. When they did go inside to the party room, there was a bit of a wait and then they were given lemonade, chips and burgers. Dante, the poor boy, dropped his chips all over the floor and didn't make any fuss over his burger. The ice-cream cake was guzzled down quickly, too. I think they were all just too hyped up to pay much attention to the food, which I am eternally grateful for.

Atticus was given a cheese burger which he duly pulled apart and smeared all over his clothing, as one does. He then spent the rest of the time shoving his chips into his orange juice cup through the slot that the straw is meant to go in. Heheh... he was quite upset and puzzled when he tried to have a drink afterwards - the chips had absorbed all the liquid!

I can understand why the birthday boy's mother chose to have the party there, though. I think it probably turned out quite inexpensive, and there was no worry about cleaning up the mess afterwards! Five and six year old boys make a LOT of mess.

The parents of the next party were braver and held it at their own place. They did get in some organised entertainment so that their house wouldn't be completely trashed... a cool jumping castle, a small trampoline (tra-mam-pa-line!) and wonderful animal show called "Feature Creatures". They had a stick insect, some spiders, lizards, a small crocodile and snakes... The kdis were transfixed, especially the birthday boy!

There were about thirty boys and girls at the second party (compared to about 10 at the first one), most of the birthday boy's class at school. Dante didn't know anyone else, but was happy enough to just play with whoever was around. I was very proud of him. The food was splendid, and much healthier... I was so proud of Dante for getting stuck into the fruit, although had to restrain him from polishing off the fresh raspberries and blueberries (yum!).

And I have to say, the cake was fantastic! So simple - just a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, but so niftily decorated with green coconut for grass and a chocolate "cave". And plastic animals to match the "animal" theme of the party. Although, as the mother reminded me, not quite as grand a masterpiece as last year's Tracy Island from Thunderbirds which had all the ships and the pool as well. I wish I had a photo of that one! It was so cool but a little difficult to cut up and serve.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Music lessons have begun

On Thursday evening I finally got around to calling up a piano teacher whose number I got from my sister-in-law over a year ago! Yesterday morning Dante had his very first official piano lesson. I was so excited. On Friday I went into town and bought the two books she asked me to get - I showed one to my work colleague and he exclaimed that it was the same book that he used as a kid (John Thompson's "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" first published 1936. The second book is Leila Fletcher's "Music Lessons Have Begun", first published 1947. I guess the piano hasn't really changed in all this time either).

We hurried over to her house, which is quite conveniently located in a neighbouring suburb. Dante was so excited, jumping up and down and ready to go. When we actually got inside, he calmed down a bit (perhaps too much?) - I guess a five and a half year old can only concentrate on one thing for a certain amount of time... was half an hour too much to ask? I was a little upset that he couldn't sit still and straight for the entire time, but the teacher was much more experienced with giving lessons to kids his age and was extremely patient and skilled in getting him to do things. He was eager to try what she showed him, and a little impatient to get on to the next activity - and frustrated that he had to keep repeating everything.

After the lesson the next pupil arrived and immediately sat down at the piano and started playing scales. Dante's ears popped up, and I told him that he'd be able to play like her one day, with practice. He certainly liked the sound of that.

At first I was a little disappointed by the whole thing. Not that the teacher wasn't good, or anything like that. I think that perhaps I'd played up the scene in my head and was amazed that Dante acted like a five year old boy (like he knows any better!!)... d'oh! I think I also just had a really bad day yesterday. I woke up on the wrong side of bed and things just went downhill from there until Dan forced me to have a nap after lunch. Thinking back to it today, Dante did terrifically well. He tried everything the teacher asked him to do. He was ABLE to do everything she asked him to do. He listened, most of the time. He remembered what she said. And most importantly, he came away happy and looking forward to his next lesson.

And so, the piano lesson journey begins... I know that it is going to be a terribly difficult one, especially knowing how difficult it was getting me to practice when I was a kid! But now that I'm all growed up, I really appreciate the effort my parents went to to send me to piano lessons and I want my kids to have the same experience. I really believe that learning an instrument is an essential skill (as well as reading music) and I want Dante to nurture his natural musical talents as much as possible. (The teacher was impressed with his ability to sing in pitch and clap rhythms!)

Hopefully, though, this will encourage me to play more, which in turn will encourage the kids... and so the cycle goes.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bureaucracy at work

Earlier this year there was a tonne of activity at Uni as they demolished a couple of buildings (including my favourite little lecture theatre where I spent the majority of second year) and dug an immense hole in the ground. There were even webcams put up so you could watch the live action from the comfort of your own office.

In the last two months or so, all activity has ceased. There is now just a big hole, and that's it. We reckon they should turn it into a swimming pool, or better, a reservoir - there is a water crisis after all.

No, well, actually it's all about the bureaucracy. Apparently, rumour has it, there were some problems with the council approval for the new building. That is, the D.A. was put in for the demolition and excavation but not the construction! So, now the poor people in the Law School will have to wait an extra six months or so before they get their new building. Perhaps they should sue someone!!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I'm about five months into this pregnancy now, I think. I keep losing track of the exact number of weeks, but I know that I'm just over half way. And I've really got quite a belly now - there's no hiding this baby! The bump seems to grow or shrink at times, depending on what clothes I'm wearing... and how much I've eaten at the most recent meal! But I'm feeling quite good - not uncomfortably large yet, but big enough that I'm obviously expecting and not just "putting on weight".

Also, tonight, Dan finally was able to feel the little one kicking. I've been able to feel her for a few weeks, but I hadn't yet grabbed Dan's hand and put it on my belly. Tonight while we were watching The Glasshouse (can you believe that it has been axed? After five years and great ratings! Tonight's show was great - they were really letting loose.) I felt the baby moving about so I quickly put Dan's hand on my tum. She kicked heartily three times, and we grinned at each other happily.

Something nice after the stress of the last few days.

just to add: Atti had another convulsion on Monday night. After my last post!! Things have been worrisome since then, knowing that his medication isn't working. Will keep you updated.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sick again

Dan and I stupidly congratulated ourselves on Saturday for going a whole week without any ills (well, the kids, anyway).

Darn it.

We went out to a party on Saturday night - my work colleague's 40th birthday party. The kids had a great time. Dante ate chips and played with Stephen's 8 year old son (or is he 9 now?) and Atticus pretty much spent the entire evening inside on the dance floor, boogying away with a gorgeous smile on his face. The kids were happy, sociable and cute. We didn't even stay too late - we were home by 9:30pm! It was a really nice evening.

But, as it turns out, the flashing lights and loud music combined with the cold weather and over excitement must have just been too much for our poor second-born. He had another convulsion at 2:10am (or was it 3:10am? Damn daylight savings!). We checked his temperature and it was a little high (38.1°C) so I guess that makes this another febrile convulsion. Oh dear. At least I didn't panic quite so much this time. The fit was self-limiting which means that it ended by itself, so I didn't need to call an ambulance and we even managed to avoid having to go to hospital! Atti just went to sleep afterwards and I got my doctor brother to check him out the next day.

The only worry now is that the medication is not the right stuff, or the right dose. We've had some advice regarding our previous paediatrician (that being "Go see someone else!") so we've got an appointment with a paediatric neurologist in a month. But that was made last week, before this latest convulsion. It's a bit of a worry. Thank goodness our regular GP was able to give me the name of another doctor today, and after some fiddling of the appointments, the receptionist was able to fit us in next week. Still not as early as I'd like it but initially she was only able to give us one in five weeks' time! Blargh. Well, I think of it as a good sign that the doctor is busy - means lots of people are happy with her.

So hopefully something good will come out of all these appointments in the next short while. Atti's been sick so much in the last three months. I've used up all my "carer's leave" at work and am cutting into my annual leave now, which I've been saving up for next year to append to my maternity leave! I don't even want to think about the number of days of child care which we've paid for and not been able to use. Sob!

Well, enough complaining. I really should be grateful that I have such a wonderful support team around me (what would I do without them?), and work in a place that is flexible and understanding (oh so understanding!). And of course that generally both kids are really quite well - Atti spent the day playing and eating, and had a good nap in the middle of it. Now they are both asleep, after going to bed without any complaints and after eating a good dinner and having a lovely bath together. Dan and I are happily geeking out on our respective computers, and we're thinking about buying a new car. Things aren't really that bad at all. I'll stop the whinging now :)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Nine grandkids!

My dad is happy as larry today. We just found out that next year he will have nine grandchildren! That beats his brother (so far, anyway). My mother also has the most grandkids out of all her brothers (so far), too.

My brother Chris and sister-in-law Priscilla are expecting their second child! She is sporting a fine little bump and is sixteen weeks through already. They went overseas about seven weeks ago for a nice long holiday in Hong Kong and Singapore, and we saw them for the first time today. We all rushed to pay attention to their daughter Abi and didn't notice Pris' bump until Chris said "Hey Priscilla, stand up!"... The grins on all our faces said it all.

The best thing about this is that her bub is due five weeks after mine! Our current babies, Abi and Atti, are just six weeks apart (Abi being the elder). It's great that these two kiddies will also have a cousin the same age.

Yay! Congrats to you both!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Backup "Dawk"

Atticus has a favourite toy, his "dawk" (which is Atti-speak for "dog"). Dan took this picture this morning of the boy, prepared for action on his bike, with his dog and a frisbee.

The dog is great. At bed time if we are having trouble settling Atti, we just present him with the dog. He laughs (that relieved and overjoyed laugh when he gets what he wants) and he happily lies down quietly. He didn't used to need his dog. It all started in August when he first got sick (ear infection -> febrile convulsion -> night in hospital -> caught a nasty gastro rotavirus -> sick with vomiting and diarrhoea for a week)... My mother gave it to him one day when she was minding him and he liked it. Ever since then it has been his absolute favourite!

The only problem, and we experienced this last week when Atti picked up another tummy bug on Wednesday (hence my lack of posts last week - blargh) is that if dog gets dirty (such as being vomited on - eeyuck!) and Atti is sick, it makes for difficult sleeping time.

So, we need to get a "backup" dog. We've known about this for a long time - Dante's favourite toy is a cute bear "Brown Bear" which was given to him by some friends who'd bought it in America. We searched far and wide in Australia for another one, but failed. Our friends finally managed to source another one from the same shop in America but by that time Brown Bear was so ratty and old that Dante could tell the difference immediately. Brown Bear now has a "brother" called "Barry Bear". I'll post some pictures some time soon.

One problem with "Dawk" is that he was given to us by my Auntie from Cairns. It will be quite a while since we next get up that way so we did a search on the web. Thankfully he has a tag with the company name "Teddy and Friends, Sydney Australia" and we were able to find the manufacturers! Thank goodness for good websites and terrific customer service. They only sell to wholesalers, but we sent them an email and they sent me a list of local suppliers this morning. How cool! I'm so happy... if I can get a dog, though. He's a 34cm "Smooch" in beige, I believe. You should have a look at some of the animals they have, though - they are so cute! Especially the jungle animals!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dan, your son is a nong.

Dante demonstrated great skill tonight. He was sitting on the toilet, and somehow... we don't really know how... managed to fall off onto the top of his HEAD.

There were great many tears afterwards. At first from Dante, then from Atticus because he was upset at hearing D crying (that's so cute!) and then from us when we sat down and thought about what had happened (laughing, that is).

I'm sure he must get it from his father. I'd never do anything like that, right?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Second big purchase in a fortnight

A couple of weeks ago we bought a new mattress. It cost us an arm and a leg, but it was worth it! I mentioned at the time that Dan and I have a list of things that we'd like to eventually buy... our "big things wish list" so to speak.

Today we crossed another thing off it! What amazing purchasers we are.

We went to IKEA this afternoon - out of the need to take my dad's ute for a drive (did I mention that my folks have gone overseas again?). A late start again - we got there at 4pm. (This morning was spent at Dante's friend Marco's 6th birthday party.)

We bought a bunch of small things, as we usually do - a stuffed hippo (he's so cute), a shoe rack for the back door, a laptop table for the lounge room (called "Dave"! heheh). And then Dan went to the bargain area - the "as is" section of the store for damaged/ex-display items. And there was our dining table. One we'd had an eye for a while. It had a few small dents and scratches but otherwise was in good nick.

I ummed and ahhed about buying it - it was damaged, and I wanted a shiny new one! But Dan was quite keen, and the price was just too good to pass up - 62% off! So we bought it. And now that it is in our kitchen/dining area, I'm so glad that we did. The scratches are barely noticeable. Same with the dents. It would have got dents and scratches soon enough with the kids, anyway. It sits 8 people without being extended (when it can sit 10 or 12 people). It looks nice. And I don't have to worry about it getting damaged (too much) since it came like that!

Friday, October 13, 2006

And the holidays are gone in a flash

Today was the last day of the school holidays. Already! These holidays have gone by incredibly quickly. Such a contrast to the other two holidays we've had so far. Well, I was in China for most of the first one and had to work for most of the second one.

Dante has spent the last three days at a Multi-Sport Camp at Uni - from 9am - 3pm each day they play a variety of sports (the usual basketball, soccer, tennis as well as more interesting sports like judo, lacrosse, tae kwon do, wrestling and fencing)! It goes for five days but we booked him in for three days instead so he missed out on lacrosse and judo... but he had a great time over all! His school friend Ewan went, too, so they were in the same group. I think having someone he knows there made a big difference.

We'll make a jock out of him yet :)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sleepy time bliss

Dan and I have a list of "big" things which we want to buy eventually... ≥19" LCD monitors, a nice dining table, new blinds for parts of the house (instead of large bits of cardboard in some windows)... you get the idea. We occasionally allow ourselves to purchase these items depending on how our bank balance is doing.

So, to celebrate baby no. 3's gender discovery, we decided to get one of the most important items on our list... it was added to the list last time I was pregnant, and moved to the top of the list this time. A new mattress! As long as Dan and I have been together we've had futon mattresses. We like the firm bed, but it is hard on hips when you've got a lot of extra weight on your body and can't sleep on your back, like in the second half of pregnancy.

We quickly looked up some bed shops nearby, found out the addresses and called one up to check their closing time. We needed to do that since it was 3:30pm and we still had to pile the kids into the car and drive to the shops. We drove down Parramatta Rd looking for that particular shop but ended up pulling into a different one - it was on our side of the road (no u-turns or right-hand turns necessary! Yay!). By that time Dante was fast asleep and it was after 4pm. We weren't sure that we were going to actually buy something. I thought it would be better to shop around first and see what we liked.

Dan asked if I wanted to take the first "shift" - what we usually do when one kid is asleep in the car. I responded "Nah. It's a bed shop! We'll just take him inside and plonk him on a bed!". Which is exactly what we did. Thankfully the sales person we had was lovely and didn't mind one bit. She showed us a bunch of beds, happily keeping an eye on Atti (who was climbing all over them) while we lay down to try the mattresses out. Of course we ended up buying one that we like - Dan and I are good at the impulse buying :) We were in the store for about an hour, and Dante did not stir the entire time we were there. They actually reminded us to take him with us when we had completed our transaction! Talk about good service! And even better, rather than waiting 10 days for it to come in, they had one in stock that we could come and collect today!

So this morning I sent Dan and my father off to the shop in the ute and they collected our most glorious new viscose-elastin queen size mattress that took a much bigger bite out of our wallets than we were planning on. At least it will last us many years to come.

After I put Atti down for his midday nap, I lay down on the new bed to see how it felt. Hmm... If you have watched Australian TV you might remember an advertisement recently where there is a kid jumping on one of two beds in his room - then he jumps over to the other bed and instantly falls asleep. It's meant to show you how comfortable their brand of mattress is. Well, I felt like I was in that ad. Not the jumping up and down bit, but definitely the falling alsleep instantly bit. I was asleep within minutes, and slept for about as long as Atti did - almost two hours. Talk about a long nap!

And now I am looking forward to many years of blissful, comfortable sleep on my most wonderful new bed.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pink, pink, pink!

Today's my brother's birthday. 40 years old! Happy birthday Mark!

It certainly has been a day of celebration. I had my 18 week fetal anomaly ultrasound scan today. It went extremely well - everything is fine with bub. The sonographer checked the brain, the heart, a bunch of organs, we saw the legs stretched out, the hands and fingers, the face (the baby looks like the Terminator!!). Most importantly (besides the health of the child, I mean), we found out the gender of the baby. Stop reading now if you don't want to know!


As you can probably tell from the title of this post, we are having a girl! I've been desperately hoping that this baby would be a girl, and gearing myself up for lifelong disappointment if I ended up with three boys (since this is our last child). Everyone I've spoken to has said, "I guess you'll want a girl" when I talk to them. Same with the sonographer. She asked "What have you got already?". When I replied, "Two boys!", she answered "So, you'll be wanting a pink one, then?". And then proceeded to make us extremely happy by affirming that this one was indeed "pink". I've never felt so elated in my life. Well, that's not entirely true. Seeing the boys after they were born was pretty special. But this time, I cried tears of joy, and squeezed Daniel's hand so tight! The grin didn't leave my face for the rest of the day.

We brought Dante along to the scan - he is old enough now to work out what is happening. He was able to see that the thing on the TV was a baby, even demonstrating to us how she was lying (by getting down on the floor and putting his arms and legs up). We saw her footprints and hands, and profile - I think she has the same profile as Atticus! For the rest of the afternoon he kept kissing my belly... "I'm saying hello/goodbye to my little sister!".

Now, pink's not exactly my favourite colour in the whole world, and I know that we'll be inundated by it after she's born, but I don't mind. I know that I won't have to buy any clothes - with four older female cousins there will be plenty of hand-me-downs, as well as her brothers' clothes. Thinking of girls' names is the next important task. We have one in mind but need to pick a middle name to suit it.

But anyway, I'm so happy with this news. The sonographer did remind us that they cannot give us 100% certainty with this, but she was pretty certain (and showed us - no extra bits between the legs, and we could see particular girly bits, too). Yay!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

School holidays are here

The time has passed by before I knew it, again, and it is school holiday time again! Last holiday we were twiddling our thumbs and having a hard time thinking of things for Dante to do. These holidays, I've got so much planned that we've run out of days to fit it all in! There are friends to visit or have over, movies to see, museums to go to, and I've booked Dante into a sport camp for the last three days (it's not a "sleeping over" type camp, as you'd expect from the name - just a day thing).

Last night one of Dante's school friends, Ewan, slept over. It's the first time we've ever had a kid stay over that's not a cousin. The boys were terrific, though. Ewan's had sleep overs at friends' places before, so he was accustomed to sleeping in a strange bed. Dante will be going to his place next week for a sleep over, too! I hope he'll be just as good, although he's familiar enough with Ewan and his family that it should be okay.

I can't believe the year's almost over, though, with only one more term to go. Next school holidays will be a challenge, I think, since they are longer and I will be extremely large and unwieldy (being heavily pregnant, in case you'd forgotten)!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kids are funny

Dante comes up with some real gems sometimes.

Sometimes it's just variations of common words. E.g. we call soft drink "buzzy drink", except for the short period of time when he started getting confused between "buzzy" and "fizzy" and ended up with "fuzzy drinks".

The other day in the car he asked Dan, "Have you ever looked inside a volcano?". It was just out of the blue - I don't know what he was thinking about. We certainly had not been discussing volcanoes at the time. Dan replied in the affirmative, and it was about 14 years ago. "Was that before you were a human?" Dante wanted to know!


Monday, October 02, 2006

Back from Ceylon

Yay! My mother came back from two weeks in Sri Lanka this morning. She went with a group organised by a friend from her cake decorator's group. There were a 18 of them in all, including just two men! My father didn't go - he was still recovering from an operation when it was all organised. He told me that this was the first time since all the kids left home that Mama had gone away without him (not including trips to visit family). He was a bit lonely this past fortnight and we tried very hard to make sure he ate and looked after himself. It was cool, though - he was so happy to see me and the kids in the afternoons when we got home. And I was very happy for him to look after them while I crashed out for a bit!

My mother had a lovely time. She was quite tired after the flight via Singapore but the relief was obvious on all our faces when we saw her this morning. (Atticus wouldn't let her out of his sight for at least half an hour!)

The group toured all around the island, from Colombo to Galle, Kandy and I'm not sure where else! They ate lots of yummy (but spicy) food, rode elephants and visited the Dilmah tea factory. She brought back a kilo of tea leaves - ooh, it's the nicest, freshest tea we've ever had. Yum! They did a lot of shopping... t-shirts, batik, cinnamon oil, curry powder. Mama said that she did half as much as a lot of the other ladies. They visited a Mother Teresa orphanage, and the tsunami-affected areas in the south. Best of all, though, in my opinion, she came back relaxed and happy, and safe!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dante's school project

Dante's very first homework project was due yesterday. The kids were given 10 days to make "a place they know". It could be a park, a house... anything, as long as it was somewhere they've been. At first Dante wanted to hand in a little playground he'd made a couple of weeks ago for his teddy bear (it was a little swing, made out of toilet paper rolls, boxes and string. He did a pretty good job, with only a tiny bit of help), but I thought that was cheating, since he'd just done it for fun before they were given the project. In the end he decided to make his bedroom. He drew the plan on a piece of paper and then proceeded to cut up a box and bits of cardboard and made this wonderful little room. I am so proud of him!

He made a little person which fitted into a slot he cut into the bottom of the box, and I helped him put a blanket on the bed. The person (which represents himself) is able to lie down in bed, too. The squiggles in the middle of the floor are his train tracks (which used to be downstairs but got moved up to his room). He has little picture frames on his dresser and a poster on the wall. He omitted the windows, and we ran out of time to put in his bookshelves, but I think it was a pretty top-notch job for a 5½ year old!

The other kids' projects were cool, too. Parents obviously put a lot of work into a couple of them but I was impressed by the others. There was a soccer field - Aust. vs. Brazil, a putt-putt golf course, quite a few bedrooms and a fish and chip shop. Neat!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What have I become?

On Saturday morning I did the usual breakfast-get-the-kids-dressed routine... got out some clothes for Dante to get changed into, then a little later dug up some clothes for Atticus.

About an hour, or maybe two, later, I looked at them and realised, to my great dismay, that I had dressed them THE SAME. Well, not exactly the same clothes, but the colour schemes were identical! Ack! I was shocked that this could have happened without me noticing. And then, of course, had to take a picture of the phenomenon. The worst part is that this is not the first time I've done this!

I wonder if I could put it down to the most splendid weather we had on the weekend. It obviously put me in the mood for some bright colours :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

This is just what I need

I just found out about a book called Speed Cleaning - A Spotless House In Just 15 Minutes A Day by the wonderful authors of Spotless.

This is exactly what I need! Rarely do I even dedicate 15 minutes to cleaning the house... except for cleaning up the dinner table after the kids have been at it. The state of the house does drive me crazy at times but never quite enough to get me up to attack it all in one go - little bits at a time work much better for me.

Hooray! I'm sure it will be extra useful when the "nesting" phase of my pregnancy sets in.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Weekend of Dante activities

Saturday afternoon: Gymnastics "Rewarding Day".

Did I ever mention that Dante has started doing gymnastics one afternoon a week? There's a gymnasium close to home - it used to be an old cinema (that's what my ma told me) but has been a gym for as long as I've known. In fact, I remember that we went there for sport when I was in primary school. I remember this because I still, to this day, remember falling into the gap between the two beams and hurting my side.

Anyway, Dante absolutely loves it. We were meaning to go for quite a while but it wasn't until the older sister (8 years old) of one of Dante's friends invited us along. "You should come along to gymnastics with us," she said to me one day. Then proceeded to tell me all the details... "It's just near your house". So we went along! It didn't take long for him to get used to it. He was a bit nervous at first, and scared of the beam. What an amazing change after only four weeks! At the "rewarding day" he scored 10/10 for the beam :) I don't think he got 10 points for any other apparatus, but then again he's only been doing it for a short time. His school friend has been going for almost three years!!

Sunday morning: Tennis lesson

The sports centre at Uni had a tennis "Come and Try Day" today, with a free lesson for kids. Dan took Dante this morning and he quite enjoyed it. We're thinking about enrolling him in regular after school lessons now.

Sunday afternoon: Visiting Dante's school friend

The mother of one of Dante's friends invited us over to their place for an afternoon "play date". It was a lovely afternoon, although hot and windy. Atticus was very much at ease and played with the younger sister, as well as eating up a storm (we'd brought snacks for him). The boys had a great time, too!

I am thoroughly exhausted now.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ballroom dancing for kids

Dan's gone to see Placebo with his sister tonight, so I'm having a quiet evening on my own at home (the kids are here, obviously, but asleep in bed, thank goodness!). Actually, I'm amazed that I'm still awake since this time last night I was fast asleep on the couch (and then I woke up and stumbled upstairs to bed... not an uncommon occurrence these days!).

I just watched a documentary on the ABC, called Ballroom Babies. It was the story of a bunch of kids who compete in ballroom dancing competitions at quite a serious level. The eldest was a 15 year old girl, who looked like she was twice that age when she was on the dance floor, all dressed up. The youngest was a 6 year old girl.

Oh, it was such a delightful show to watch! I spent the entire time grinning. The kids were absolutely gorgeous. They were enthusiastic and happy and cute. Of course there were the expected pushy parents, but not all the parents were pushy. All the parents were incredibly supportive, but you'd have to be when your kids are training several times a week and going to competitions all the time. The show culminated in the Australian Championships where some of them won or placed and some didn't. I thought it was quite well done. A good show to watch.

And it reminds me of when I did ballet at the local RSL club, many many years ago. There was a ballroom dancing teacher and class, and I'll never forget the "star" couple of the class who were brother and sister, I think. Maybe they were twins - they looked very much alike, anyway. I was fascinated by them and they were always getting their pictures in the newsletters and in the local paper. I can't remember their names anymore. I also remember that the mood was very intense. I was just mucking around with a bit of ballet but these other people were so serious! Hey, I also just remembered that there was a girl who did rhythmic gymnastics in my ballet class. She went on to compete for Australia in the Commonwealth Games one year. I don't know how she went. She was an amazing contortionist.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why we haven't mown the lawn

One thing I love about Spring! Our front lawn turns into a wonderful field of freesias. They look delightful and smell heavenly.

I took this photo a few days ago. I have to say that it looks even nicer today now that a lot of the buds have bloomed. We got a new lawn mower last weekend and Dan is threatening to mow the lawn - I've given him stern instructions to do the backyard and driveway ONLY. No mowing these little beauties. Not while they're in flower, anyway!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Lunch boxes!

I really really want one of those Laptop Lunchboxes as seen on Kiddley the other day. I've seen them before somewhere, I can't remember when or where, though. Oh yes, that's right - at the Vegan Lunchbox (which up until about June this year was just photos of the wonderful lunches this person made for her child... I think this part has stopped because it is summer holiday time in the US).

I had a look at the Australian retailer of these products. They are great, but the cost is prohibitive. The lunch boxes are $40 each! Considering I baulked at the idea of paying $12 for Dante's lunch box at the end of last year, you can imagine my response to this. (By the way, I'm really hoping that his lunch box survives until the end of the year - the lid is cracked significantly and one of the hinges has been snapped off...)

But then, I look at the different sites (you can see them linked off Kiddley (see above)) with wonderful photos of people's lunches (not just for kids) and I can't help but drool and be inspired by the healthy fare on display. Last weekend after looking at them all, I went shopping and went crazy buying lovely green veges and others to feed my flock. Yum. So, now I'm considering buying a lunch box, not for D (I just can't bare the thought of him losing bits or putting cracks in a $40 lunch box), but for myself. And having nice healthy vege-filled lunches every day.

I think I'll have to wait a while, though. Remember, I just spent all my allowance on maternity clothes?? Plus, next year I'll be mostly at home so I won't need a lunch box until maybe the year after that. Perhaps they'll be cheaper then!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Lori!

My delightful little niece turns 1 today. The time sure has gone by quickly. She is a cute little girl with chubby cheeks and an ear-piercing squeal. Atticus adores her and is always so happy to see her. Thankfully she feels the same way as he does!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Clothes shopping

I've been trying to avoid having to buy maternity clothes, but I am just getting too big too quickly. It's so funny how much sooner one starts to show with each successive pregnancy. The first time, I managed to make do with big t-shirts and bigger sized shirts until about 7 months when I bought a couple of items. The second time, I survived until about 5 months and then bought some maternity clothes.

Now, I'm only 15 weeks in - 3 and a half months - and I'm already digging around for my maternity clothes. The only problem is that I can't find a bunch of them... I think I must have lent them to my sister-in-law. I hope I did! I don't know where I would have put them otherwise!

Anyway, I really didn't want to spend too much money on clothes, since this is the last time I'll be using them. But it seems there's such a greater range of stuff available these days! I remember desperately searching for a maternity clothing store somewhere close, five and a half years ago. Now, they are everywhere I look, including some great cheap stuff in Target and Kmart.

I found this great accessory - the Belly Tube. It is basically something you wear under your regular shirts to extend the length a bit - it looks like you're wearing an extra layer underneath (but you're not). And the other thing I've ordered is a Twist 3/4 sleeve T-shirt which can be worn during pregnancy and then afterwards during breastfeeding! There's also a short sleeved t-shirt and a dress in the same style... I'll see how much I like the top before I consider getting more. They're not really that cheap.

I can't wait for my packages to arrive!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What did I say about Spring?

I can't believe it. My last post was about the glorious weather we were having... Last night it all turned on its head. It rained, no, bucketed down last night. There was almost 100mm of rainfall on Sydney from 9pm to 5am this morning. The September average is only 68mm! We broke the record in only 8 hours!

And today is freezing cold (well, not quite - but it's only 16°C which is close enough for me). It's such a contrast. I'm flabbergasted (but obviously not lost for words).

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Spring is sprung!

Ah, what a glorious start to the month, and the season of flowers, sunshine and hayfever! We've had magnificent weather - sunny and warm. A far cry from the "snow" we had a couple of weeks ago. Dan is always reminded of this ditty that his mother taught him.

Spring is sprung,
The grass is riz.
I wonder where the birdies is?

The birdies is upon the wing
But that's absurd!
The wing is on the bird!

We've had a delightful weekend. Went to dinner on Friday night at a Mongolian BBQ restaurant. Have you ever been to one of these? You put your chosen raw meat and vegetables into a bowl, coat them in a variety of sauces of your choice and then the guys inside the fume hood cook them on a big round metal hot plate with giant chopsticks, right in front of you. It's nifty - and you can eat as much as you like!

Dante had another sleep over with his Auntie Bec (so we could go out), and didn't get home till lunchtime on Saturday, so we had a lovely leisurely morning. My brother Tim and his family came over - they are going on a big bike ride in Queensland this week and have been coming over as a stop off point to use the numerous bike tracks in our area (getting in some training). It's great that they've been spending so much time over here. The kids get along so well, except for the fighting and screaming. Atticus adores his younger cousin, "Lori" and is so gentle with her. I'm glad that he is comfortable with my brother and his wife, too. It's sweet!

Today the rest of my family got together for Father's Day, and we also visited my brother's grave. The cemetary is less than ten minutes away from home, but it took us nearly half an hour to get there today - the traffic was appalling, and it was all around the cemetary. The place was packed out. I've never seen it so crowded with cars. We had a huge lunch (cooked by my superhero mother) and the kids had lots of fun running around in the yard of my parents' place.

Dan and I also got the spring-cleaning bug this weekend. I did seven, yes, SEVEN loads of washing. (And it all dried! Yippee!) We vacuumed the entire house (which is not often done and not a small job). We cleaned up the kids' craft table (which is usually a disaster of paper and textas and other miscellaneous bits and pieces, caused by Atticus - a.k.a. "Messicus"). And even more importantly, we did the dishes. Wow, there is actually a kitchen underneath all those cups and bowls. heheh...

And I've uploaded some photos to Flickr, and backdated some posts on this blog :)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Symphony amongst the sandstone

Last night my brother and I went to see The University of Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform a "space" themed concert at The Great Hall at the Uni. They played the fanfare from Also sprach Zarathustra by Strauss, followed by a composition by an Australian composer whose name I can't remember now (so sorry! It was very good!), and then after the intermission was Mars, Venus, Uranus and Jupiter from Holst's The Planets.

It was a great evening. My brother picked me up from work (and Dan took the kids home) and we had a leisurely, child-free dinner before wandering over to the Main Quadrangle to see the concert. The music was great. The violin soloist for the Australian piece was incredible. The thing that struck me most about the members of the orchestra was their age, including the soloist. They all looked so young! I really felt my age. The orchestra is a student club, self funded and run by students trying to complete their degrees at the same. How do they have the time, I wonder?

I really enjoyed watching the musicians play their instruments. I wish I could play the violin - was almost inspired to take it up. I did learn the viola for a year in high school, but it was a mistake. The instrument was just too big for me - I couldn't even hold it with my chin. But I was attracted to its portability (since I learned piano for years and years) and deeper sound (than a violin). The highlight, though, was watching the conductor. This one was quite energetic and bounced up and down and waved his arms everywhere. Cool. My brother was taken with the percussionists up the back. The pieces chosen all used a fair amount of percussion... he loved watching them run around and beat those drums!

At the end of the concert, they performed an arrangement of The Church's "Under the Milky Way", in keeping with the theme. I was looking forward to it very much but unfortunately was a little disappointed - it just had a little too much "high school band" sound to it and I reckon could have been done in a much more interesting way. But then, I couldn't have done anything half as good so I shouldn't complain!

Yay for a bit of culture.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Soccer Final, and Happy Birthday Alex!

Dante had his last soccer match for the year this morning. His Auntie Bec was kind enough to take him for a sleep over the night before so we met them at the park, with a happy Atti in tow (he loves being outdoors, and loves parks, and loves kicking balls - soccer matches are right down his alley!).

The match was underway when we got there a little late. It was surprising that the score was 1-1. Rare that our opponents are able to score against us!! The other parents kept screaming out at the ref - some of our kids kept running onto the field when they were meant to be "resting" and they were complaining about the uneven numbers. I was a bit shocked by their behaviour - they are only 5 and 6 year olds after all. We even had a goal declared void because there was an extra kid... Not really fair considering Dante kept sitting down and not paying attention during the match!

Anyway, it turns out that apparently this was the Grand Final, although I'm not too sure that they really take score for Under 6's soccer. We won, of course, with our last goal just a minute before time ran out. The final score was 3-2. We doubled the number of points scored against us in the entire season, except for the first match when we lost 6-nil! The kids were all presented with nice little medals afterwards - both teams. They were pretty chuffed. Dante is very proud of his!

Afterwards we drove almost an hour to get to my niece's rock climbing 7th birthday party. The gym was full of kids climbing up the walls with their parents belaying them from below. There were two parties being held concurrently, plus the usual assortment of Saturday morning crowds. We had to wake up Dante to take him inside - he was pretty excited about climbing, but as he tried his first climb he was overtaken with fear and wouldn't go higher than adult head height. His cousin tried hard to encourage him and was very keen to "show him how it's done". And I'm proud to say, with his father's patient encouragement and praise (and the promise of chips in the party room upstairs), he managed to complete about two thirds of a climb, higher than his father could reach!

In the evening we went to my brothers place for dinner with all the family. The kids had a great time playing "Twister" (the present we gave her - glad she liked it!). The food, as usual, was delicious. The noise levels were deafening. And it was all topped off with a wonderful gelato cake, made of chocolate and mango. Yum! My boys got really stuck into it - Atticus would NOT let me help him eat it which resulted in large amounts of mess, of course, and much hilarity.

A busy busy day but much fun was had!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Atticus - update

As I sit here watching a wonderful documentary about the life of Mozart, I feel like I should update you on Atticus' escapades this week. Or rather "How Atticus got sick again and we went to the hospital twice in 24 hours".

(This also explains why we've been so tired lately).

On Monday this week, Atticus was finally well enough to go back to child care, and me to work after almost two weeks! He wasn't exactly himself, but that was to be expected as he was still recovering from his illness.

On Wednesday, just as I was about to meet Dan for lunch, I received a phone call from the child care centre. Atticus had had another convulsion and they had called an ambulance. Panic stations! I ran down to the centre, luckily only a couple of minutes away from my office, barely able to breathe by the time I got there (darn asthma!). The poor teachers were nervous wrecks and Atticus was lying asleep on the change mat, having come out of his convulsion and now in his post-ictal sleep. He looked pale and unwell. I was shaking with anxiety (plus asthma). The ambulance came very quickly after that and the paramedic bundled us into the ambulance and decided to take us to the Children's Hospital. The scariest thing about it all was that Atticus did not have an elevated temperature. The other convulsions he's had have always been febrile (with a fever).

We spent all afternoon at the hospital Emergency Department, and were well looked after by the most wonderful pediatric resident! Atticus slowly came back to his normal lively self and devoured a vegemite sandwich during our stay (but not neglecting to spread vegemite all over the bed sheet and my clothes!). At one point, when we were almost about to go home, one of the nurses remarked "Is that boy sick?" as he was happily playing and laughing and being generally adorable.

Atti will need to undergo more tests (including an MRI) to try and determine the cause of his convulsions, and in the mean time he has been prescribed an anti-convulsant medication. Having sorted this out, the doctor let us go home.

We fed the kids (boy was Atti hungry!) and put them to bed and I went to bed early, exhausted after the stressful day. But then Atti woke up again during the night... I settled him a bit and put him back to bed but he wasn't quite asleep. A short time later I heard him call out and then his breathing started sounding strange and raspy. I rushed to him and he was having yet another convulsion. I couldn't believe it.

The ambulance took us back to the Kids' Hospital where the rude and abrupt male nurse made me feel like it was all my fault because I hadn't filled the prescription right away (but I was under the impression that this wouldn't have made a huge difference in such a short time span). I was not very happy with him. He plonked us in the waiting room (at 4 o'clock in the morning! He could have at least given me a bed to put the sleeping child down) for two hours before the doctor saw us. She checked Atti over, gave him a dose of his medication and told us to go home. At least Atti was feeling a lot better and did manage to sleep for most of the time we were at the hospital.

Since Dan was at home with the car, and it was close enough to peak hour that I didn't want to ring for a lift (it's a good half an hour drive in off-peak time). So I ended up catching a bus to child care and waited for Dan to pick us up from there after he'd dropped Dante at school. The carers were very relieved to see that Atticus was okay. He was actually really happy to be there, and immediately started playing with all the toys, and when morning tea came out he was the first to the table and the last to leave (after eating four serves of baked beans!).

Since then Atticus has been fairly well. He has had some elevated temperatures, but no convulsions, thanks to the medication. I am still recovering from the long night in the hospital but am almost there! Hopefully Atti will be well enough to return to child care tomorrow. And boy am I grateful that my work has been so understanding and flexible.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Number Three. Coming soon to a theatre near you.

Breaking news! I can now happily announce that we are expecting our third child! Oh my goodness, I hear you say. It's terribly exciting, as well as stressful. The shock of it has started to wear off a little now, and the realisation that we will have another baby to look after is hitting. Mainly because Atticus has been so sick lately, and very clingy because of it. We are both exhausted, run down and unwell and not feeling too great in general. But happy to be finally completing our family!

I wrote a few posts from the time that we found out that I was pregnant, but obviously haven't been able to post them until now. You can see them here:

Third time lucky

Erk. Sick

Two weeks until we spill the beans

A successful family lunch

I think one of the causes of it finally hitting home and becoming less of a fantasy is the act of actually telling people. When we were keeping it a secret just between us it didn't seem completely real. But now that we've told people, we've started thinking about the hard work ahead... I know that on occasion I've thought "What am I getting myself into?". However most of those occasions have been when I'm completely exhausted and upset because we've had a bad day with Atti, and have not been terribly common!

This morning we had our ultrasound to check for Down's Syndrome. It was great to see the baby actually inside me, with a good heart beat and very active. She was moving around, kicking her arms and legs. It was so cool! We don't actually know the sex of the baby at this early stage, but forgive me if I refer to her as "her"... we are hoping for a girl, after all!

Anyway, that's all for now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Snow in the city!

Wow, yesterday afternoon the most amazing hail storm hit the inner west and city, and it looked like it had been snowing. The picture above was taken by an Honours Student in my building at work. A great view of the local area.

Dante and I went grocery shopping after school yesterday. When we entered the shopping centre, it was a little dark but certainly not storming - not even raining! A bit over an hour later as we walked through the car park pushing our trolley, we saw two cars that had thick layers of white "snow" on top of them and in the space between the windscreen and the bonnet. I was astonished! We looked outside and it was pouring with rain. When we drove out of the car park, the streets were icy and had piles of white along the edges of the road. The big park nearby looked like snow fields, it was that white! Dante and I were quite amazed and excited by it all. I've never seen a sight like it before in my life!

Read more about it in the Sydney Morning Herald. The photo galleries at that site are wonderful, too! Here's one and another. Note the latter link has a photo submitted by my brother.

Some more great photos can be found on Flickr.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A successful family lunch

We had the family over last weekend for lunch, but I haven't had a chance to write about it. I'd organised it with my mother a couple of weeks ago and we managed to pull off the surprise quite well! Unfortunately Dan's mother and sister couldn't make it but we told them the news before and afterwards.

The lunch went well - we ate lots of food and everyone was suitably rowdy and happy. Atticus threw up all over me at the dinner table, but aside from that things were seamless... until we brought out the delicious gelato cake which I'd ordered previously (hmm.. yummy. Chocolate and passionfruit. Divine!).

My sister-in-law, Irene, immediately caught on.
"Hey, you've got a cake," she exclaimed. "There must be an occasion for this. Do you have an announcement to make?"
She looked questioningly into my eyes. I looked at Dan and we both couldn't help but smirk. A huge grin spread across her face. Suddenly she called out to everyone.
"Hey, everyone! Come on, come over here. There's a cake, and an announcement!" and she wrangled the troops over. Everyone quietened down and looked expectantly at me.

I had had several weeks to prepare for this moment, but still couldn't think of what to say. So I said, "Irene's got an announcement to make!" and sat down, grinning. Proud of diverting the attention for a moment. She laughed and said that she and my brother had decided not to have any more children (but we all knew this already) and then handed the reigns back to me.
"Okay," I said. "And I'm twelve weeks' pregnant!" I shouted out.

Everyone was astonished, and happy. They congratulated Dan and I and the kids wanted to know where the baby was.

Dante was the cutest of all. We hadn't told him beforehand, thinking that he'd probably spill the beans before we got a chance. When Dan explained to him what was happening, he exclaimed, "That means Atticus will be a big brother - and I will be a MASSIVE brother!".