Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Late night supermarket shopping part II

Went grocery shopping again tonight... this is becoming a regular thing, I think. Go and get petrol and do the shopping while I'm out. Except, I could not believe the price of petrol tonight! This morning it was only 132.9c/L (only! I can't believe it's even that expensive) but then tonight it had gone up by 13c. Yep, that's right. 145.9c/L. Is there anywhere else in the world where they pay as much as we do for fuel?

Anyway, as I was saying, I went to the supermarket. Just your pretty average evening... but with entertainment! In the form of a couple of men who obviously have never shopped without their wives/girlfriends before. They had a list. One looked like he was wearing his pyjama pants. And they seemed to going down the aisles at almost the same pace as I was - we just kept bumping into each other. They were having a fair amount of trouble. Kept asking all the staff where things were, WHAT things were...

First man: "Noodles? Where are the noodles?"
Staff: "The next aisle."
Second man: "Oh right, over here. Hey, man, what kind did she want?"
1: "What do you mean, what kind? Just noodles, man." Gets out his mobile phone and dials a number. "Hey, what kind of noodles do you want? There's all different types here.... Hokkan? Hokain? Hokkien? What's that?"
2: "What the...? Here, man. Found 'em."

And so on. Every time I passed them they were either begging a staff member to stay and do their shopping for them, or talking on the phone. I think they must have done all right by the end, though. Well, at least their trolley was full!

The next group that came in to amuse me were a bunch of young guys, talking and laughing loudly. They had baskets full of snacks (chips, biscuits, lollies) and thought the frozen peas were the funniest things around. Methinks they might have been just a wee bit stoned.

And so my opinion of late night shopping has risen again after my last bad experience,. I did end up spending way more than I meant to, but I think that was because I was distracted by watching the funny people. Will try again in a week or two and let you know how it goes!

Monday, May 29, 2006

At home with The Simpsons

There's an episode of The Simpsons where Marge and Homer have a day off housework and work and have a relaxing day at a day spa, leaving the baby with Grandpa Simpson (a not so competent baby sitter) and the other kids at school. During the day Bart is discovered to have head lice and Lisa loses a tooth and her shoes. The school notify the authorities and the kids get taken to a foster home (which happens to be just next door at the Flanders' place), and of course much hilarity ensues (and everything is righted by the end of the episode).

Well, I really felt like I was in a part of that episode this weekend! Not the fostering part, but definitely the lost tooth and head lice part. Yes, that's right. Our eldest son finally succumbed to the dreaded nits. I felt terrible about it - are we really so unclean?? But then I realised that he'd been wearing the school "spare" hats since he keeps losing his own hat, and so many people I've talked to about it have had to deal with their kids getting nits, so I didn't feel quite so much the bad parent.

We don't have a "Lisa" in our family like the Simpsons, so our lost tooth belonged to Dante. The tooth wasn't actually lost as such - the dentist pulled it out on Friday because it was loose (someone had bumped him at school). He was very brave at the dentist and that night he received a visit from the Tooth Fairy. I was told afterwards that $2 was a bit much and I'll be out of pocket if I keep that up. So then I explained to Dante that the going rate is $1 and he got extra because this was his very first time. He seemed to be okay with that. Talk about inflation, though... I remember getting 20c for my teeth!

As for the "relaxing day" part of the episode - Dan and I went out to a party with some of my workmates on Saturday night, sans kiddies (Thank god for the wonderful baby sitting skills of my most excellent mother). Dan was the designated driver and I happily drank too much wine and danced with the guys from work. It was a fun, silly evening, which went by all too quickly. The next morning was not so happy, but Dan and I took shifts (he slept in till 10am and I took over sleeping duties until 2pm!).

Anyway, it was back to the slog today, still feeling under the weather. I just can't shake off this illness that has been plaguing me for at least a week now. I took a day part of the day/night cold and flu medication at lunch time today and it really knocked me around - I had to get Dan to drive us home after school because I was feeling so woozy. Bit of a worry.

And as things go in TV world, things will have righted themselves by the end of the episode. The half an hour's not quite up, but the end is in sight (just as soon as we get rid of all these nits and finish cleaning up the house...).

Friday, May 26, 2006

Lazy day at home

I didn't go to work today... spent half the night with a splitting headache and trying to stop a runny nose. blargh.

So I've had a nice relaxing day at home, doing nothing much at all. Well, I did put on a couple of loads of washing (man, that was a lot of socks). Thought about attacking the dishes, but haven't summed up the energy for that one yet. Watched some tele. Not actual tele. Computer tele. Programs that we've downloaded. It's much better this way - no ads. I discovered that there was a new episode of Grey's Anatomy, so quickly downloaded it, expecting it to take several hours to come down. One hour later it was here! And I watched it! It's very naughty of me - I should have waited for Dan... but I couldn't resist. The last few episodes have been very suspenseful. People shouldn't be allowed to make TV programs like that - making you desperate to watch the next episode (or read the next book, either).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

At the moment...

Currently reading:
  • Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) - Wish I'd read it years ago. Started reading it because of "The Eyre Affair". It's really rather good (I haven't been able to put it down).

  • The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fforde) - paused a quarter of the way through (-ish) while I finish "Jane Eyre".

  • The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy) - Started this just before I went to China and then my brother started reading it while we were there - he finished it in three days. I am about a third of the way through. Slow going.

  • Renegades of Pern (Anne McCaffrey) - Every now and then I need some easy-to-read Fantasy (as opposed to really-hard-to-read Fantasy (like Stephen Donaldson)).

  • Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) - Saw the film on the plane from Hong Kong.

  • Nerds FC - Very funny, and all the more so because we can relate really well to the guys on the team (plus know a bunch of them indirectly).

  • Grey's Anatomy - Can't get enough of Patrick Dempsey.

  • Scrubs (season 1) - Actually, we finished the Season last night. On to Season 2, I guess!

Listening to:
  • The Juliana Hatfield Three

  • William Orbit

  • Gladiator soundtrack

Hmm... I really ought to finish one book before I start the next one. There are at least three more unfinished books in my bedside table. And isn't the interweb a wonderful thing - we rarely watch actual TV anymore... it's much better downloading them and watching them at our own leisure (read "after the kids have gone to bed"). Plus we get to watch stuff that hasn't been shown in Australia).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Happy cat and cupcakes

Tancred and Evelyn came over for dinner last night. They're going overseas at the end of the week so we had them over for one last farewell. Dante was so excited when I told him they were coming... "They're my favourite guests!", he said. All afternoon he get bugging me, "Are they here yet?", "When are they coming?". So, when they did arrive at 6pm, knocking on the back door, he yelled and screamed and carried on like it was 1999. Atticus, on the other hand, was absolutely terrified by the commotion and the strange people walking in our door and cried and cried and cried. I was in the kitchen where he couldn't see me, and when he finally found me he clawed at my legs calling out "bo bo" (Chinese for "carry", I think). Poor kid - he's been a little out of sorts the last few days.

Anyway, we had a fine dinner of Dan's speciality dish - "Chicken Wings in Tar" (a concoction of hoisin sauce, honey and soy), and T&E brought the most delicious cupcakes bought from a place called Cupcakes on Pitt. I wish I'd taken a photo of them before we carved them up, but I found this one on flickr instead which is a pretty good substitute. They bought 6 cakes - Jaffa, Dark Chocolate, Tiramisu, Lemon Meringue, White Chocolate and Honeycomb. Hmm-mmm. Delicious. We were a bit mean and waited until Dante was in the bath before we got them out, so when he came out to say "Goodnight" his eyes nearly popped out of his head. I promised him that we'd save some for him for tomorrow. He reluctantly shuffled off to bed. And we scoffed the yummy sweets (but don't worry, we left some for Dante).

The guys used to live with us for a couple of months when they first came back from living in the UK. That was before Atticus came along (although they were the first non-family people to know that we were having him). And our cat got to know them very well, especially since their room was the only Dante-free room in the house, and had a comfy blanket and a good heater. She loved having them here. We were (and still are) too busy to pay a whole lot of attention to her, and they always had a pat for our poor old moggy. Anyway, I didn't think cats really remembered people, but she certainly seemed to remember Evelyn! So much so that she demanded a spot on her lap, and forced her head into Evelyn's hand for patting. Even gave her a couple of bites when the patting wasn't as forthcoming. She was a very happy cat. This was a very nice picture of them both together.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I love my Mac, but...

I saw this article in the newspaper about Apple's new store in New York, and the above picture was with it. I have to say, there are some people out there who have to get a life. I mean, I am a devotee of Macs and encourage people to get them (I'm especially able to influence people at work, due to my role as IT person). They're nifty machines, designed well and easy to support. We only keep a Windoze PC at home for playing particular games, and it doesn't get used very often by me at all, whereas the other machines get used daily (but I confess the main machine at home is the Linux box in the lounge room).

Anyway, as I was saying, I like Macs. But not enough to get an Apple symbol carved into the back of my head! I wonder if he was paid to do that. And how much??

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Music for kiddies

We took the boys to see the Toddler's Proms this morning. It featured the Symphonic Wind Orchestra (part of the Sydney Youth Orchestra) and went for about an hour.

It was pretty fun! They played some well known pieces: Sesame Street theme, The Muppet Show theme, songs from The Sound of Music, and some other stuff. The kids (and some parents) sat on mats on the floor and some bopped, some cried and some chatted away. As kids do. The show was designed for 2-7 year olds and quite interactive. The Orchestra was made up of kids, too, but bigger kids - teenagers, I think. I thought it was great that they used the Youth Orchestra - makes the music more accessible to the littlies.

Dante enjoyed it, although lost concentration and attention throughout the show (but all the kids were like that). The conductor/presenter handled the interruptions exceptionally and everyone had lots of fun. At the end they allowed us to wander up close to the instruments - some kids got to hit the big drums. Dante was won over by the saxophonist playing the theme tune of The Simpsons, and a trumpeter who played the Star Wars theme. heheh. Atticus was won over by his box of sultanas.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Soccer champions

We are about 7 or 8 weeks into the soccer season now and our team is doing really well. We lost that first match but since then we've won everything, with a minimum margin of 5 points (only once has the other team scored against us, and the greatest margin was 8-nil last week). We have a few kids on the team who really know what they're doing, and what the game is about... some great soccer names, too: Emilio, Antoine, Dante. (plus other more mundane names - Alex, Luke, Annie, Nathan etc.) I should note that Dante is NOT one of the kids that knows what he's doing. He's one of the kids who DOESN'T know what he is doing. But at least he tries, every now and then! We're having a few problems with his enthusiasm for the sport, but we'll keep persevering and see how things pan out.

We just got home from a match (which we won, but I'm not sure by how many - their goalie was pretty good!) - Dante spent more time on the field and we only had to yell at him to "Stand up!" once during that time. Not too bad, I guess. Atticus had a great time running around in the park - he always does! He's a real "outdoors" boy, that one. Hates coming back inside.

Anyway, I saw the cutest thing. A goth couple with their two pale blonde little girls. The elder one (who was about to play goalie) was wearing all black but then changed into her yellow and blue uniform. The younger daughter was dressed very prettily and distinctively non-gothy in pink, pink, pink. I've always wondered what would happen when goths bred - and there you go. Pale blonde kids also dressed in black (except for the pink)... heh!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Soccer cereal!

I forgot to mention what I found at the supermarket last night - I think I was too freaked out by the cockroach. Anyway, I was amazed to find Official FIFA World Cup Breakfast Cereal! It even had a holographic logo and everything. Since our friend Tancred is a huge football fan, and he and Evelyn are going overseas (specifically to Germany, for some big thing) I decided to buy a packet as a going away gift. Unfortunately, Dante discovered it and begged to have it for breakfast this morning, "to help me play soccer this afternoon", so I relented and opened the packet... anything to get him more enthusiastic about the sport!

The cereal is made up of little balls, some of which reveal soccer ball markings when you add milk... oooh! I think they are sickly sweet, though, being made by Nestle (ack - I hate buying their products). Anyway, did a search of the wonderful interweb and found this blog entry which really does away with any need for me to take my own pictures!

Sorry for eating your present, Tancred.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Late night supermarket shopping

I like doing my grocery shopping late at night. There are plenty of car spaces to park in. There are lots of trolleys, some of which actually work! There are no crowds, and no crowds equals no queues (although there are less registers open). It was all going so well tonight... I was there with my mother, the men were at home, the trolley was full, the list was checked off.

And then I got the strangest feeling on my right leg. It felt like I had a safety pin on the inside of my pants - something poking me but not sharp like a needle. I stopped and pulled up the leg of my pants... and was horrified to see a massive 3cm long cockroach on my leg! Yeeuck! I tried to brush it off, but it just crawled higher and got caught up in the fabric bunched up around my knee. I tried very hard not to panic and calmly and quickly scratched around until I finally managed to flick it off onto the floor.

The lady in the aisle with us let out a bit of a shriek and my most wonderful mother took firm action and squashed it straight away. It's dark green guts splattered all over the place and we quickly cleared out of there. Paid our bill and left. What an end to the evening! I still feel icky.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Two parties in one weekend

Hooray! It's Mother's Day today, and Dan's birthday tomorrow. So we had busy weekend of partying.

Our friend Bec, who lives with Dan's sister, Bec, turns 30 today so she and Dan had a party last night at her place. I made a big plate of chocolate crackles (since I just happened to have the ingredients) including a giant one for the birthday girl (about 15cm diameter). We put Atticus down for his afternoon nap a bit late so that he'd be okay to stay up for the party, and ended up actually having to wake him - I suspect that he might have slept through if we'd let him. Poor Dante fell asleep in the car about 5 minutes before we got there but thankfully woke up when we brought him inside, and cheered up with some "buzzy" drink. Atticus was terribly shy and wouldn't leave my side at all (and I couldn't put him down for the first hour) but slowly warmed up. He enjoyed dancing with his father and even played peek-a-boo with one of our friends, Vee. Dante, of course, spent the entire party out in the backyard chatting up the pretty young ladies who were Auntie Bec's friends from Uni (who are doing a Bachelor of Early Childhood Teaching and like kids... that was lucky!).

I brought the kids home around 10pm and Dan stayed to party on. I just managed to get home, suffering a nasty asthma attack (I think it was the smoke from the backyard woodfire heater) and fell asleep as soon as the kids were in bed. Phew! And I only had one drink (a "Cowboy" - butterscotch schnapps and Baileys. Yum.) over two hours, at that!

Dan made it home some time in the early morning - he had a fun time with the gang! Not such a fun time in the morning, though, the poor man. Lucky for us the late night meant that the kids slept in, too. When Dante woke up he came running in to our room and called out to me: "Mama, don't wake up yet. You stay in bed." then ran downstairs and brought up my presents... a fan that he made in school, "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte (which I've been meaning to read) and the Cat Bus ("Nekobasu") from My Neighbour Totoro - a plush version!

The boys and I had a nice quiet morning while we let Daddy have a sleep-in and then Grandma came over. My mother had organised a big family lunch next door with all her children and grandkids. It was crowded and noisy, but that's what happens when you get so many people together, and 5 kids aged under 6 (Atticus slept through pretty much all of it!). The food was, of course, amazingly delicious, especially my mother-in-law's beetroot salad. Yum. I couldn't get enough of it.

Anyway, we are now, as one would expect, utterly exhausted. And it's back to work/school tomorrow. But I'm happy - I've got a cat bus :)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A brilliant stupid idea

Okay, this is very silly... We were walking past the homewares section of Kmart tonight and I noticed some Buddha statues, red and brown, about 20cm tall. Just as I was looking at them, Dan said "We could get my mum some sauce bottles" (jokingly, of course) and I thought he meant the Buddha statues! That is, I thought that the Buddha statues were sauce bottles. They weren't though. I just thought they were. But then, you know, it would be a great seller! "Oriental" is in, isn't it? I can see it right now, being recommended on Better Homes and Gardens and in Target catalogues.

But possibly a little disrespectful, don't you think?...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sweet success!

A few parents of our Child Care Centre and I ran a cake stall today as a fundraiser. We started at 8:30am and held it just outside the Centre to catch the morning crowds of students and staff (who happen to walk past on their way in from the train station). We had two sessions, morning (till 10am) and afternoon (3pm until sold out!). And I am proud to say that we did really well with it! Not quite as well as we did a couple of years ago, but still pretty amazingly considering the last minute organisation (we were meant to do it the week before and then forgot to organise it, and postponed it for a week).

I made cupcakes, chocolate crackles and toffees. My mother helped out and made a delicious apple teacake (I know it was delicious because a workmate bought it and shared it... heheh), and helped me ice the cakes. We were up until midnight! And I'm definitely "caked out" now. Too many sweets for one day.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Icy times ahead

Man, it was freezing this morning - apparently there was 30cm of snow at Thredbo last night.

So cold that Dan told Dante to keep an eye out for polar bears this morning. We didn't find any, but maybe that's because we're in the Southern Hemisphere. Should have been looking for penguins instead!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A house with three levels

We had a very quiet Anzac Day last week - didn't go out, didn't go to any parades... just sat around the house recovering from my trip away.

Dante decided that he wanted to build "a house with three levels".
"What?" I said, "How are you going to do that?"
"With cardboard and sticky-tape," he replied.

And at that he ran into the kitchen to the Craft Supplies box and came back with just those things. And proceeded to cut shapes for walls and roofs, which wasn't too easy with his blunt little scissors vs fairly strong cardboard. He requested assistance with taping them together, which I happily gave. I was so impressed at his continued enthusiasm, persistence and creativity! He also decorated each section as we went, writing his name and the names of his friends on the back walls.

Once the main structure was built, he quickly ran off and came back with empty yoghurt containers "to be the people". He knew that ordinary textas would rub off them so put together faces from tape and cardboard. Then he realised that there were no stairs, so he rigged up a lift (with help from us for the string).

The final creation is very "Dr Seuss" in my opinion, and also very cool. I'm so very proud of Dante for making this, completely using his own initiative.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Autumn colours

It's starting to get a bit chilly these days now that we're TWO THIRDS through Autumn! It was certainly a shock coming back from tropical Hainan to 9°C temperatures (at 6am), but I'm starting to get used to it now.

Anyway, I'd forgotten the nice thing about Autumn - watching the leaves change colour. There's an avenue of trees outside my building (at work) which I love looking at and watching the effect of the seasons. They're doing some major construction work at the moment (they've just completed the demolition phase) so it's not as pretty as it once was... but at least they saved the trees that would have otherwise been demolished. They pulled them out with a big chunk of dirt and they're now sitting on the lawn outside my building (hence the lack of trees on the left hand side of the above picture).

In Winter the trees are so bare, and then they start budding in Spring and the street is awash with white blossoms before the leaves appear for Summer. It's really quite lovely!

added 6 May 2006

I managed to take a picture of the trees in boxes. The weirdest thing was that they had green leaves when they were first taken out of the ground. Within a few days the leaves had all turned red, then fell off. And now if you look closely, they have buds on them! How bizarre!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Spot on, Ross Gittins

I just read this article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Ross Gittins about the effect of the rising price of petrol. Ross Gittins is the economics editor and has a regular Wednesday column in the paper. I used to have to read him when I was studying Economics at school.

Anyway, this article really struck a cord with me. It's something I've been thinking (and sometimes saying) for quite a while now. Every now and then I'd receive one of those forwarded emails telling me to boycott a particular petrol station or not to buy any petrol on a particular day to send a message to the petrol company that "It's not on!" for them to put prices up so high. I used to get incensed (and still do) by those emails and usually responded (to everyone on the list) that it was a useless, pointless thing to do. Higher fuel prices means that more money will be spent on researching alternative fuel sources, and alternative transport methods, and would (hopefully) encourage people to use more public transport... It's so great to hear someone so well respected as Ross Gittins espousing the same opinions.

Well, that's enough about this for now. I still feel terrible for driving in to work every day (but with a full car - Dan and the kids) but when the kids get older we'll be able to use public transport again... and hopefully by then the Sydney system won't be as expensive and unreliable (it's cheaper for us to drive). In the mean time I'll stop complaining about the fuel prices ('cause I still do, even though I know it's not really such a bad thing) and increase my contributions to The Wilderness Society and Greenpeace.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Bananas = gold

Atticus loves bananas. While I was overseas he apparently ate at least two a day. And he can say "nana" very clearly, and very often.

Anyway, we ran out of them on Friday, and on Saturday we had to go and buy some. Normally the fruit shop we go to (which has a great name, by the way: "Smashing Pumpkins"... which is partly why we go there, I think!) is quite cheap.

But not this weekend. Bananas were so expensive! People cashing in on the recent cyclones in Queensland. I bought the smallest bunch I could find - five bananas. They cost $6. That's $10/kg. I couldn't believe it. I also couldn't believe that I actually bought them. Oh well, that's how much I love my kids... right?

And they are SO being rationed out. No more than one per day.