Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The woes of Dante

Dante: "Mama, can you stop my brain?"
Me: "What? No, Dante, I can't. Why do you want to stop your brain?"
D: "It's full of things."
Me: "Well, that's a good thing. It means that you're learning."
D: "I don't like it! Can't you get the mummies* out of my head?"
Me: "Just try and think of something else, like Star Wars."
D: "Okay, Mama, I'll try."

*He has been learning about Ancient Egypt from somewhere - I'm guessing school. He came home one day asking about embalmers and mummies. And decided that he did not want to become a mummy when he dies.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Atticus is finally walking properly. Hooray! He spent the entire weekend plodding along, a joyous grin on his face. He's pretty good at it now. We'll have to get him some shoes (who knows where I put Dante's first pair of shoes).

He's also been spending a lot of time on the staircase. Up and down, up and down. He's been able to climb them for a while) but now he's getting better and better, and much faster. Has even worked out turning around to climb down. It's so cool!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"I am", "He is"

Dante got his first lot of homework on Wednesday - some "look" words which he has to learn to read and write ("I", "am", "is") and an activity sheet. We've had such a busy few days (parent committee meeting on Tuesday night at childcare, the book launch on Wednesday, and then a welcome evening at childcare again on Thursday. The poor kids, they are exhausted. As are the poor parents :)
Anwyay, because we've been so busy we haven't touched the homework at all, but this morning we sat down and went through it. He knew exactly what to do, and knew he words pretty well. Thank goodness for that!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In bed with no dinner!

I feel like the world's most terrible mum. While I sit here typing and eating ice cream my eldest son, worn out from learning and playing all day, is fast asleep in his bed having had no dinner! How bad am I?

Well, it wasn't all my fault. We went out this evening straight after work/childcare/aftercare to the Art Gallery attending the launch of a book about Dan's dad (who was an artist). It was a special event. The author is a close friend of Dan's family and this is the first biography of him that's ever been written. Lots and lots of people were there and we had to go and see everyone. Dante was great, except that his idea of being "quiet" during the speeches was to talk in a whisper. Atticus was good too. No crying, but a lot of clinging on to Mama (i.e. me) and being shy. Actually I got a number of comments on how good the kids were being. I guess they were both tired from long days, mid week. There were bread sticks and crackers with dip, and abundant champagne. I really should have fed the kids before we went but we were in a mad rush and only just got there on time.

So, of course they fell asleep in the car on the way home (arrived about half past 8!). I carried Dante upstairs and put him to bed, still in his school uniform and with an empty tummy. I hope he'll sleep alright tonight, and I'll make sure he has a big breakfast in the morning. Anyyway, he actually ate the entire contents of his lunchbox (for once!) so he should be right. Atticus had some baby food (from a jar - but he didn't mind it) at the event and went to bed without too much of a fight.

Dan's still out - he's having dinner with all the important people from the book launch. Lucky man!

In other, more pleasant news, I put in my letter to the Head of School (at work) asking if I can work part-time! Wow, I feel so much better now that it's done, as well as the news that he has already said an unofficial "yes". Hooray!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Great tunes!

A couple of friends at work brought the music of Maxence Cyrin to my attention on Friday last week.

From AmbientMusicGuide.com:
The test, perhaps, of a club track's ultimate musical worth is to take
it off the dancefloor and play it in other environments. Or in the case
of Frenchman and electronica aficionado Maxence Cyrin, try playing it on
the piano. Yes, the piano.

Modern Rhapsodies is a wild idea brilliantly executed. Cyrin's musical
instincts are razor sharp, having being honed during his time as a
player and/or composer of forms as diverse as techno, classical music
and easy listening pop-jazz. He hasn't attempted coverage of all the
major electronica and dance music styles; rather he plays solo piano
interpretations of some of the tunes that have most moved and inspired

I've always loved the piano. No, wait. I haven't always loved it. I hated it when I was a kid having to practise. Actually, no. I didn't hate the piano. It was the practising I hated. I actually like the piano. I even got a personal loan and bought one when I was 22 even though I was only renting and it was a major pain to move (and we moved six times in six years). Anyway, I have an exceptional preference for music with strong piano melodies and riffs. Like Ben Lee - Cigarettes Will Kill You and Coldplay - Clocks and (meep! embarassingly) Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles (there goes my street cred).

So when Ben told me about this guy doing a cover of Massive's Unfinished Sympathy, I had to hear it. He found out the name of the artist and we got a copy of his album as soon as we could. I've been listening to it ALL WEEKEND (and all day today). I've passed it to my brother Tim who loves piano music even more than I do (and can actually play stuff - I never said that I could play the piano... well, I can play a little bit. I got up to seventh grade in the AMEB system but never got around to completing it and getting grade eight. I've always been meaning to get back to it, but time is too scarce these days. Besides, I'm still not fond of practising!), and anyone else who will listen, including you. If you like piano stuff and modern music, I highly recommend Maxence Cyrin. I hope he releases some more of the same one day!

P.S. If you know of some piano-y artists that I might like, please let me know! I'm always looking for new music to listen to.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Something good

Guess what? I'm going to China!

My father has been organising a trip to Hainan Island for months now - originally he was just going to take my no.2 brother, but a few weeks ago I found out that he's taking Mama, as well as my other two brothers. I wasn't too happy about that - I felt very left out. He was taking all his kids but me! When I told him, he said "You can't come - who's going to look after your kids?". Of course, I DO have a husband that is perfectly capable of taking care of his OWN children, but my father didn't see that... he's a bit old fashioned in that way. My mother did everything when we were little. "Times are different now, and anyway, that's a decision that Dan and I need to make ourselves," I told him.

So, anyway, after some discussion Dan and I decided that it would be okay for me to go, too! Once the possibility of me going had been broached, I started getting more and more enthusiastic about the idea. And I really wanted to go. I don't know if I'll ever get the opportunity again to go to China with my parents and brothers, especially to the village where my dad was born and grew up.

We'll be going for 10 days. It will be hard for Dan with the two boys, especially since it will be Easter/School holidays the entire time, but he will manage. He's mother and sister are around and I'm sure they'll help him out.

So, yay! Some excitement for me. I have never been away from Atticus, even overnight. It will be hard leaving him (as well as the other two) but good for us all to have the break.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Argh - The Screaming

The title of this post sounds like it should be a Role Playing book... like the World of Darkness series.

But that's what it felt like this evening. Like I'd driven home and my two children who were (thankfully, in Atti's case) fast asleep suddenly turned into screaming demons from the furthest dungeons of hell, as soon as we got home. Dan, lucky man, was out having dinner with some overseas work visitors (crocodile and kangaroo satay sticks...) but my parents were here to help. Unfortunately they couldn't do much when both boys where clamouring for my attention, one demanding "nai-nai" (milk) and the other wailing incomprehensibly (and very annoyingly). The technique for dealing with the second one is to just ignore anything that isn't sensible (as in, makes sense). After offers of hugs, drinks, fruit ("peach?" "no" "nectarine?" "no..." "okay" "no, I want a nectarine!"... Peaches and nectarines are brought in... "no, I wanted a plum! wah wah ahhhh"), my parents finally realised that I was right when I said to leave him alone. They went home and things calmed down after I got some food into the boys.

Now they are both asleep, thankfully, and I am utterly exhausted.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

This is permanent?

I went to work today and my folks looked after Atti. I was a bit reluctant to leave him - it's tiring looking after him when he's running a fever. The worry of another convulsion is exhausting. But the stress of thinking about my ever increasing piles of work was also making me weary, so I went to work. I dropped Dante off at school in the morning and, he cried. He's been going for two weeks, each day full of enthusiasm and joy. For some reason this morning he just wouldn't let me go and wailed and whimpered. It was a little puzzling that this would happen so far into the term. But then someone at work suggested that the tiredness is finally catching up with him, as well as the fact that this new "school" thing is actually permanent and he won't be going back to child care.

He was fine in the afternoon when I picked him up, though. And Atticus was much better, too. Things are looking up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

So disheartened

I'm home again for the second day in a row, due to the sick second child. He's been such a poor miserable little boy - it's such a sad thing. On Friday I found out that my application to reduce my working hours hasn't been approved. Actually, hasn't even been passed on to the Head of the Department by my supervisor and the whole thing is looking to be much harder than I'd been led to believe. I'm feeling very unhappy about it all. Dante has been at school for over two weeks now and starting to get a bit worn out, I think. I really want to be able to pick him up and bring him home early, but when will it ever happen?? Meanwhile the jobs pile up at work and just thinking about it makes me more stressed. I'm working full time at the moment but haven't worked a full week yet this year!
Anyway, enough whinging for now. I should be happy that today is not too hot and Atticus is finally sleeping. I might even go and do some house work for a change (and take advantage of the time at home).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Illness galore, and a party

So, the peach thing was fun, for a while. Until Atticus broke out in hives all over his body! Not as bad as the New Year thing, thankfully. Teach me to let him eat unwashed fruit!

Yesterday the dragon boat races were held at Darling Harbour. I really wanted to go and support my team but Atticus developed a fever, and everyone knows what happens when he gets fevers (well, the last two times). So we just went to Grandma's place for the afternoon. There's an amazing children's bookshop in Rozelle called Reading Matters which is, unfortunately, closing down. They're currently got 25% off all stock. I wish I'd discovered it earlier and given them more custom. We bought a few things from there, including the most delightful ABC book: Alphabet: A child's first ABC by Alison Jay. It's such a fantastic shop. If something like that existed when I was a kid I think I would have definitely spent all my pocket money instead of storing it away in a tin. It's a bit like the book shop in the Meg Ryan film with Tom Hanks about the book shops... umm... that's not very helpful. I think it's called "You've Got Mail" but I'm not entirely certain about that. I could look it up on IMDb but that involves effort.

In the evening we went to my brother's place for dinner (I figured that if Atti was going to be sick, the best place for it would be at the home of a GP). My nephew turns 12 on Tuesday (Happy Birthday Ben!) and wanted a nice family gathering. It was a little crazy, as it always is when the kids get together. It's amazing to think that he's so big already. Just started high school. Will probably be as tall as, if not taller than, me by his next birthday. Wow. He's growing up so fast! I think I've been feeling a lot of that lately... the whole "time flies" phenomenon. I guess it's just because of all the milestones we've passed recently! Ah, age. It has certainly creeps up on you.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Peach Boy

Atticus and I are at home today - conjunctivitis (him, not me)! Ahh... I'd forgotten about the first six months of child care. Constant illness.

Anyway, we've been hanging around at my parents' place and Atti has been exploring EVERYTHING. As he does. And he discovered that he can reach the fruit bowl on the side table. So, he grabbed a peach, sat down and really got stuck into it. He ate half the peach in less than five minutes! Boy, he loved it. Juice was running down his chin and arms and collecting in a pool on the floor. He was even getting peach up his nose. But he just kept on shoving it into his face, shaking his head from side to side to make sure his face was entirely covered in peach juice. What a funny kid!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

After Care's not that bad!

Dante started after school care yesterday. As you know, I've been reluctant to send him there but work has forced me enroll him since nothing has happened about my application to permanently reduce my hours. However, now that he's been there for two days, I'm feeling quite okay about it all.

The staff there are lovely, especially the person in charge. The kids are happy and relaxed. They get fed afternoon tea and there's lots for them to do. It's all playing - no school work. I've found that it's actually good for Dante's social life, too. He's starting to make friends with some of the other kindergarten kids who are also at after care. I think it's good for them to see each other in a "play" situation instead of the "learning" situation that is the classroom. Yay! Something for me to feel a little less guilty about.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Splashy splashy

We had swimming lessons this morning. Dante with the "seahorses" class and Atticus with the "tadpoles". Dante was an old hand, having attended for two weeks at the beginning of the year. I didn't get to see exactly how well he did, however, because I was in the water with Atti!

Oh, what fun we had! Atticus is quite happy in the water - he loves splashing around in the bath with his brother. And boy do I mean splashing. The water even reaches past the doorway of our bathroom! Anyway, this morning, as soon as I put him down to get ready to swim, he made a beeline for the edge of the pool. Dang, he's quick now! He was so excited to be there. The water in the pool was delightfully warm, somewhat like the bath. I guess that's why he behaved exactly like when he's in the bath - splashing with great gusto. We were both totally soaked before the teacher even finished singing the first song. I was laughing my head off. The other mothers were pretty amused as well. And he was fantastic for the rest of the lesson.

I don't think we'll have any problems with this boy getting his face wet!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A week of firsts

What an exhausting week. I'm glad it's come to an end. Time to rest and recover!

Where do I start?

It was, of course, Dante's first week of Kindergarten. He seems to have settled in fairly well. On Thursday morning he complained about not having enough friends but then ran off to play with the other kids as soon as we got there. Friday morning he was pretty tired but was quite happy when Dan picked him up. We've decided that we're going to enrol him in the After School Care, reluctantly, until my work decides if they'll let me go part-time. I hope they do!

Atti returned to childcare after a week off. It was amazing - he didn't have any problems. I thought that it would be hard to get him settled but he was fine. Perhaps it was because he was still recovering from being sick and so went to sleep really easily. He even went to the carer when she put her arms out. Complained straight away when he realised that he'd been duped, but stopped pretty quickly. I even saw him laugh when I peeked around the corner to check that he was okay.

One of the reasons we're (i.e. Dan and I) so exhausted is the waking up early thing. We've actually made it on time to school every day this week, which is amazing. And a first. I don't know if Dan or I have ever made it to work on time. We didn't this week either but that was because we were dropping off the kids. Luckily for us our workplaces are flexible with hours! It was definitely a first for me seeing Dan wake up at 6:30am TWO MORNINGS IN A ROW.

Another major "first" in our life: Atti's first steps!! On Wednesday night Dan said that he tricked him into taking a step or two. I managed to get him to do it again a couple of times later, and then he did it again on Thursday morning. He hasn't done it again since, but I'm sure he will.

Something else which he discovered how to do this week is to CLIMB THE STAIRS. Ack! Danger danger! He climbed all the way to the top of the stairs, with Dan getting ready to catch him from behind. The problem is that our stairs are the "open" kind (no risers) and I'm worried that he'll be able to fall through. We're not going to test the theory, though. Especially since he hasn't worked out how to get back down (But he gave it a good try - I was sweaty and shaking by the time we stopped him!). We're buying barricades today.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Luke. Luke Skywalker

Picking up Dante from school yesterday was an interesting experience. I walked through the gates and the playgrounds was teeming with children in red hats and red shirts. Try finding your own kid amongst all that. Impossible! Well, not really impossible as I did manage to find him eventually. The teacher told me that he had a good day and he was very happy to put on his backpack and get going.

I asked him what he did that day and all the usual questions. He didn't have much to say (should I be surprised?) but I did manage to find out that they sat outside to eat their lunch and the sandpit has a big monster inside it. And his teacher is Natalie and he's in the Echidna class.

This morning we discovered that one of the other boys is a Star Wars fan. It started because I spotted his Star Wars school bag. It had his name on it, "Luke". I asked him if he liked Star Wars and he exclaimed positively. We talked about the subject while Dante listened on. I introduced the boys to each other and they ran off, discussing light sabre tactics and singing the Star Wars theme tunes. I think his mother was just as happy as I was to see the boys making friends.