Monday, July 31, 2006

Poor sick kid

Yesterday's antics in the sun and wind must have been too much for my poor little five-year-old. He had a terrible fever and headache when we got home and pretty much went to bed straight away. He's been home from school today and spent the entire morning lying in bed looking flushed and feeling ill.

I, on the other hand, have had a lovely morning back-dating blog posts (look down the page!!) and uploading photos to flickr. It's frightfully windy outside and I am freezing (why is our house so cold?) but otherwise feeling well.

It's now 2pm and Dante has had some warm chicken soup and is feeling much better, judging by the way he's been talking my head off. He has even ventured downstairs and is currently sitting at his craft table drawing pictures of robots, and waiting for ABC Kids to come on TV. I've been told that when kids are at home sick you need to make sure they have a really boring day in bed so they won't enjoy themselves too much and start feigning illness just to stay at home. I figure a little bit of television won't be too bad, since he is actually sick. But we'll see how things go.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Heartbreak Hill

As I've mentioned before, we're going to enter the City to Surf fun run which is only two weeks away!

My brother decided that it would be a good idea to have a look at the steepest section of the race, fondly referred to as "Heartbreak Hill", so that we would have an idea of what we were getting ourselves into (now I'm not so sure that it was a good idea!!). So we drove to Rose Bay and walked up that part of the course, along New South Head Road. It was fairly steep, but not too gruelling... today anyway. On actual race day, one has to run/walk 7km (with some smaller hills along the way) before you get to this point. Ack! Well, at least the view near the top is breathtaking (boom boom).

Since we'd driven out all that way, we thought we might as well grab some lunch while we were there. So we picked up a barbecue chook, some bread rolls and salad and found a small park/beach near Woollahra Sailing Club and had a nice little picnic. What a view of the enormous houses along the waterfront, and in the background of the picture here with Dante in it, you can see the huge campuses of Kambala and Kincoppal-Rose Bay Schools. (Two private girls' schools, one Anglican, one Catholic, at the top of the hill with magnificent views and regal sandstone buildings).

The kids had a wonderful time playing in the sand and getting their feet wet a little bit. There was a sea-plane which came in to land and take off a couple of times, and a small wooden boat ramp which the boys enjoyed running up and down. Atticus tried to copy every thing that Dante did, following him around wherever he ran. Abigail was fearless and her father did everything he could to stop her running straight into the water. Eventually her parents lost out, and she got just a little bit drenched (at least they'd managed to take off her shoes before she went for her dunk)! Some more photos are on my flickr account.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sounds of a Saturday morning

Did 5 loads of washing this morning (and last night). Wow - we are a dirty bunch. The wet and cold weather over the last two weeks hadn't helped much either. It was such a relief to see the empty laundry baskets.

As I was hanging up all those clothes, I was taken aback by the wonderful sounds of a sunny Saturday morning in the suburbs.

I could hear the whistles, shouts and cheers of the parents and kids playing soccer in the park (including Dante, whose team won yet again).

The myriad of bird calls all around... Rainbow lorikeets flying overhead. A willy wagtail in the neighbour's tree calling out and shaking his tail. Two black crows cawing in the distance. A very persistant magpie sitting on the TV antenna of a house, singing so sweetly.

The muted roar of planes flying overhead, far away.

The cats greeting me and growling at each other.

It was a really pleasant morning.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Dan and I took the afternoon off work today and sneaked out to see Pirates of the Caribbean II. Weehee! What a fun movie. Johnny Depp is such a brilliant fellow.

The only thing that annoyed me was the obvious setups for the next film. And the fact that I can't wait to find out what happens. :)

P.S. Atticus turned 18 months today. Hurrah!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Our first Parent-Teacher interview

We had our first official formal Parent-Teacher interview today! I was so excited about it, and have been all week.

As we expected, our son is an absolute GENIUS. heheh...

He is doing very well in the Maths and Reading departments. The teacher said that he is still happy to be doing the Kindergarten workbook but he finishes the tasks very quickly and gets extra worksheets while the other kids catch up. I have to brag, don't I? His Maths skills blow me away. He first started adding numbers before he even turned three. I couldn't believe it. He just grasped the concept immediately and was using his fingers to do simple sums. Now he can do addition, subtraction, simple multiplication and division by 2 (halving numbers). And he's only half way through Kindy!! His reading has really come along in the last four weeks, too. So much that we cannnot read to him at night these days - he must read to us. What a champion.

Of course, he still has a lot to learn in some areas. His "listening skills" still need work... his communication skills are excellent in that (as his teacher said) "he can talk to anyone about anything", but he's not so good at stopping and listening to what other people have to say. Hmm... too busy thinking of what to say next!

Plus he's still having trouble with the whole idea of doing what the teacher says, when the teacher says it. He tends to have a bit of a tantrum (although she said he hasn't had any recently) and argues with the teacher if he doesn't want to do a particular task right now. Oh well, we all know what it feels like, and hopefully he'll work out how to get on with things quickly and quietly so there'll be more time to do the things he likes afterwards. It's what life's all about, really, isn't it?

But then again, he is still young. Not even five and a half yet. It's hard to remember that sometimes, especially when he comes out with some pretty complex ideas. The teacher was very pleased with his progress and not at all worried about his behaviour - "he'll just learn it as he gets older," she told us. I was so pleased with the interview. It's a relief to hear that your kid is doing fairly well and settling in!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Life plods on

I've been a bit slack in my posting recently, I know! Things haven't been overly exciting. Just work, work, work. Being late for school 3 out of 4 days last week. Getting home exhausted in the afternoons. Going to bed early. Taking naps whenever I get a chance.

This weekend was a bit more interesting - my sister-in-law went to Ayre's Rock for a company "retreat" for four days and my brother was left to look after their two girls by himself. So he spent most of the weekend over at our and my folks' places! The three (almost four) year old had a sleep over in Dante's room on Saturday (while her dad and sister stayed next door) which was very exciting for both of them! We cooked dinner both nights of the weekend and had an enjoyable time with our visitors.

Particularly cute is the interaction between Atticus and his 10 month old cousin, Lorien. They know each other fairly well because they go to child care together three days/week. When Atti saw Lori for the first time on the weekend, he clearly called out "Lori! Lori!", ran over to her and sat down next to her. It was so cute! He's at such a lovely age at the moment.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Two weeks until we spill the beans

Dan and I had a good long talk last night - I've been feeling a bit down... sick of feeling sick, and unhappy about the weight I've been putting on (I know, I know - it's not a terrible lot of kg, but I don't like it nonetheless). Scared about looking after three kids. Sad that my poor little Atti won't be "the baby" anymore.

Dan said that he was happy if I wanted to tell people about the baby now, instead of waiting like we'd planned... so that I can get a bit more sympathy for my tiredness! I thought about it, but decided against telling my folks right away. I'd prefer to make a big announcement with all our family around, rather than just leak it out to whoever's around.

So I spoke to my mother. "Hey, Mama," I said. "Why don't we get all the brothers and their families over next Sunday fortnight (next tennis day) for lunch? We haven't had a big family get-together in a while."
"Hmm.. okay. Yeh, that's a good idea," she replied.
"What's the occasion? Who's birthday is it?" My father wanted to know.
"She just wants to see her brothers," my ma told him.

And that's that! We'll invite Dan's mother and sister over, too. And let everyone know over an informal family lunch. I'm looking forward to it. I'm wondering how many "I thought so"s I'll get!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Scarily clean

I was reading an article on Kiddley about getting kids to do their chores/tasks, and it linked to this woman in America who is called "Technomom" online.

At first I was quite interested in reading her method of organising her family (two stepsons and a daughter, plus her partner and herself) - it seemed pretty well done. They have cards - one card for each task, and each card has the details on what needs doing. e.g. "Clean kitchen - wipe down benches, put away clean dishes, stack dirty dishes into dishwasher" etc. The cards are colour-coded by frequency (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly), and each task is worth a number of tokens which are collected once the task is completed satisfactorily. Sounds fairly reasonable, don't you think? I was quite in awe.

But then, I continued to read her site. Specifically, the pages about her homemaking, and ideas on grime, etiquette, the token system and so on. The more I read, the more disturbed I became! She very helpfully made available a copy of her task cards, and some of them were quite alarming. Every day (or is it twice a day? I can't remember) she requires that all the bathroom surfaces are wiped down with some sort of antibacterial wipe (I presume it's antibacterial)... She prefers not to go out to other people's places because she is uncomfortable with their levels of cleanliness. She complains that she and her daughter suffer from terrible allergies. Well, duh! If you're going to live in a sterile environment like that, how are you going to build up any resistance to the most common bugs and things?

I'm more than a little scared by it all. There's no way she'd ever set foot in my house - not because I wouldn't invite her, but even if I tried my hardest to get the place up to scratch for her visit, it wouldn't be good enough. We don't vacuum daily. We wash the dishes every few days on average, we only empty the internal bins when they're full, and we certainly don't change towels every day! (Man, think of the washing!! And we're having a serious water shortage at the moment... perhaps not where she is, though).

I don't know - I'm sure that she's not as obsessive or intimidating in real life as she sounds on her web pages... they are a very limited view of her life, and she does profess to ranting a bit. But in any case, I'm glad I'm slightly more relaxed about our way of life. Although I do have to admit that she has inspired me a little to do a bit more cleaning every once in a while.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Soaking wet!

It was pouring rain today. Bucketing down. And Dante's soccer match was still on!

I called up the coach this morning to find out if it was on - he told me it was. It wasn't raining really hard at that stage, and we thought that perhaps it wasn't raining over the park we were going to. But as we drove closer and closer, the rain didn't stop. In fact, it got heavier and heavier! We passed another field on the way, and were shocked to see some under-6s matches (or young kids, anyway) underway. The poor kids were soaked.

We got to our destination, and there was our coach, looking relieved to see us. By that stage it was bucketing down. Dan got out and talked to him - Yes! the match was still on! So he took Dante out to the change rooms (with Dante exclaiming "But I don't want to get rained on!"). And the match went ahead. Dante was goalie - at least he had a long sleeve shirt to wear. Only five kids on our team turned up for the match. That's four on the field plus Dante, the goalie. The other team had the full complement of six plus goal keeper (plus reserves).

By the end of the match, all the kids, the coaches and the referee were drenched. And even with a limited team, we still managed to kick their asses! 7-nil! Dante managed to stop one goal.

By the way, Atticus and I stayed snug and warm in the car the entire time. Gosh we have a lot of junk in there - I managed to give it a bit of a clean out, but there was enough stuff left to keep our little boy busy and happy for the entire hour. What a champion!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cacophony at the station

Dan stayed home home with the boys today while I went to work, it being the last Friday of the school holidays. I caught the train in and home so that he could have the car.

When I walked out of the train station on my way home, I was hit by a wall of sound coming from the trees above and around the Square. It was deafening! When I called up for my lift home, Dan could barely hear me on the phone.

I looked up and couldn't believe my eyes. There were hundreds and hundreds of rainbow lorikeets roosting in the trees, flying around and making a racket! What a din! I've never seen, or heard, so many birds in my life. I just stopped in my tracks and stared. A few other people did so, too, but most people just ignored it - I'm guessing it must happen on a regular basis.

I wish I'd had my camera to take some pictures of them, but the light was quite dim so they probably wouldn't have turned out anyway. And a picture doesn't capture the intense noise that they created. It was simply amazing, and fantastic, too!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Best spam ever

For once I've received some interesting spam! I don't know what the text said - it was all in Russian, but this has got to be the cutest spam I've ever got.

Wish I knew what they were selling.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Erk. Sick

Damn this early-stage-pregnancy-related illness... There's got to be a better term for it than "morning sickness". I don't know anyone who felt sick just in the morning. Luckily I haven't been so bad that I'm vomiting, but the near-constant nausea is exhausting.

The guys at work want to go out for lunch today, but I'm not sure if I'm up to it. But I also don't want them asking questions, as I haven't told them (or anyone) about the pregnancy yet! Well, I'm sure I'll feel better after some fresh air, a walk and maybe even after eating something. It often works. The yummy Thai food is sure to make me feel better!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sad news

I just found out that a friend of ours (Evelyn's sister) just lost her second baby, at a little before 12 weeks. The foetus had the same problem as last time, a neural tube defect called anencephaly.

I can't express how sad I feel upon hearing this news. Christina is one of the nicest, friendliest, sweetest people we know, and for something this tragic to happen to her just doesn't seem fair. I guess what made it worse was that she was so happy and excited to be pregnant. She wrote a lot about it on her blog and it was clear that they really really wanted to be parents. I feel especially sorry since I am lucky enough to know how wonderful it is to be a mother, and I couldn't bear the thought of losing my two boys.

There are so many people who become parents unwillingly - it really is unjust when people who DO want children can't have them. I hope that they find out the cause of Christina's problems and can fix them - she will be a wonderful mother some day.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Training up

My brother, Chris, and his wife, Pris, have decided to join in the City to Surf fun run which is held every year in Sydney. It is a 14km route, from the city to Bondi Beach, and has a particularly gruelling steep section, affectionately known as "Heartbreak Hill". About 60,000 people participate and it is the "largest timed fun run in the World" (from the History page of its website).

Well, Chris and Pris invited the rest of their siblings to come along and since they are taking their daughter Abi in the jogger pram I decided that I'll enter, too, and take Atti! I spoke to Dan about it and he thought it sounded like an interesting idea and said that he would like to come. I'm not sure if my other brothers are going to come, too, but it could turn out to be a big family thing.

It's not an easy walk - 14km is quite a distance. I think the average time is about two or three hours - the winners do it in 40 (male) - 45 (female) minutes. I was keen to bring Dante, too, but we're still thinking about that one.

To train up, we've started going for long walks to our local shops on the weekends. There's a lovely bike path along the Cooks River here in Sydney and we take that for most of the way. It takes us about 45 min. walking at a slow-medium pace with Dante. We've done it twice now, and it has been fun (except for Dante complaining that he's tired/hungry/thirsty all the time, hence our deliberation on whether to bring him on the Big Race). Atticus loves going out in the pram. He is so happy when he sees us bringing it out and often tries climbing into it himself because he's in such a hurry. We're lucky that the weather has been very kind to us - not hot but not too cold, and lovely and sunny.

I have also stopped using the lift at work (unless I have a trolley or something heavy to carry)! It hasn't been that hard to adjust - I know I should have done this a long time ago. There are lots of nutritionists and nutrition-related people in my building and one of the professors actually requested once in a Board Meeting that
people stop using the lifts and walk more! I was feeling very proud of myself all last week, except for one afternoon when I wasn't feeling well and caught the lift to level 8 (the top floor). I did walk back downstairs, though!

And this morning, to keep with the fitness training, I went to dragon boat training! I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I used to participate in this sport quite a lot, with my brother, Tim, and his wife, Janet. I stopped when I was pregnant with Atticus, and have only been back once or twice for a paddle. I would love to get back into it and train more seriously, but it's a bit hard on Dan, having to mind the kids all the time. Training once a week on a Sunday morning would be okay, though, I think... It's a great sport - you sit down! No running involved! It's wonderful being out on the water, with views of the city and the Glebe Island Bridge behind (or in front) of us. I know my shoulders will probably hurt tomorrow, but it was great to be back in the boat for a little while.

So now we have about 5 weeks to prepare (and enter) the race. I'll keep you posted with how it goes!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cakes on a stick

My friend Anna told me about this. What an absolutely brilliant idea! Great for school birthdays (teachers prefer cupcakes to actual cakes that are messy to cut up and distribute). I'm seriously thinking of getting one of these trays.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I finally finished one!

Hooray! Last night I stitched the final bit of binding onto my first ever patchwork quilt.

I started it about two years ago, after I went to my first Craft and Quilt Fair. My mother-in-law has been quilting for years and I've always been in awe of her skill and proliferation. Previous to this my only sewing experience was in Year 8 at school when I made a pencil case for my brother with his name appliqued onto it (which, I'm proud to say, he really liked! And used for years, even when it started falling apart and was held together with staples and gaffer tape)... I think I put his name on it "TIM" because it was the shortest and easiest to do!

At that first Craft Fair I saw a quilt made out of flannelette (or "flannel" as the quilters say) which was really soft and cosy. The kit (pattern plus appropriate amounts of fabric) was about $120. "What the...?!", I thought. And promptly went to Spotlight and bought the funky flannel that I used for this quilt for less than a quarter of the price. Heh :)

Daniel helped me develop a design. I wanted something a bit more interesting than the usual zigzag type of thing, and had already decided to use a pattern called "Rail fence" which is just straight strips joined together to form a square. One of the easiest quilting squares around! We agreed on the final one after making about a dozen designs. (Like these ones). Designing the quilt is the part which I love best. It's so much fun playing with the colours and seeing how they fit together.

Cutting and sewing the pieces together was pretty exciting, watching the quilt grow before my very own eyes! I slowed down when the weather became warmer, and as my belly grew. Then the arrival of Atticus slowed down the process even further! I finally finished putting it all together in winter last year, and it was nearly done... except for the actual quilting and hand stitching the binding. My wonderful mother-in-law bought me a "walking foot" for the sewing machine which she'd given me at Christmas the year before. And so I machine-quilted the quilt "in-the-ditch" (along the seams) and added the border. Summer came again and I stopped, and finally finished sewing the binding last night.

What a sense of pride and achievement I feel! I've started several projects now, and am so glad that I've finished one! It wasn't so difficult after all the delaying. I can't wait to put it on Atticus' bed and listen to him pointing at all the stars (and saying "'tar" each time) as he drifts off to sleep.

You can see a better picture of the quilt top here at my flickr account.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Mandarins for all

We have a mandarin tree in our back yard. I'm not sure how old it is, but it has been there for quite a long time. We have never really gotten much out of it. A friend from work has a mandarin tree and every winter he brings in bags and bags of big, sweet, juicy, seed-free delicious fruits and we all gorge ourselves and thank him profusely (well, I do, at least!!). Our fruit, on the other hand, is not so tasty. A little tart, some might say. "Bloody sour!" I say. One year we woke up one morning to the sound of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos on our roof and the roofs of the surrounding houses, and all over our tree, having a wonderful feast on our mandarins. There must have been about 50 or 60 of them. It was pretty cool, and at least someone was enjoying the fruit!

Yesterday after I hung the washing out, I looked over at our poor old tree. It was covered in orange fruit, and looked great. My work friend told me that I should pick all the fruit off and cut back the tree so that next year we'll have a better crop. So I grabbed a chair and the washing basket and started picking all the mandarins I could. I quickly found that there is quite a technique to it. You can't just pull them - the skin rips off. You have to twist-and-pull. I think I mastered it by the end. The cats were very curious about what I was doing, but after getting hit in the face by swinging branches one too many time they quickly learned to stay away.

Anyway, as you can see, I managed to harvest a fair amount. The look on Atticus' face when I brought it inside was priceless! He started bouncing up and down with joy (he can't quite jump yet) and exclaiming "'rin! 'rin!" and almost fell into the basket trying to get his hands full. My mother found the nicest looking one and peeled it for him... His poor little mouth puckered up and he gave me a very surprised look. But quickly swallowed it down and clamoured for more. He's a sucker for punishment, that kid.

Actually, I tasted one - it wasn't too bad!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Stars in his eyes

Atticus is 17 months old now. He can say several words, but the one that he's best at, and the things he loves most in all the world are stars. Or "tar", according to him.

I don't know how this fascination with the stars came about. But he definitely knows what they are. He loves being outside anyway, but if we are outside at night, his eyes are constantly trained on the skies, and he points to the white dots and calls out "tar!". He loves the moon, too - "Moo" - but not as much as the stars.

He also loves and can pick out drawings of stars anywhere. His brother loves drawing pictures of spaceships and space scenes, and there are multitudes of stars to be found on them. He also loves to draw, and will grab the texta and call out to me "tar". He is so happy when I take his hand and we draw stars everywhere! Occasionally I will draw stars on the backs of his hands. The first time I did it he was beside himself with joy! He just held up his hands, exclaiming "tar! tar!", and showed them to anyone that would look. Then he tried to lick them.

Last weekend I made a bit of an error in judgement and changed the sheets on his bed in the morning. When I tried to put him down for his midday nap, he wouldn't sleep, instead looking at the sheets and pointing at them. Yes, they were star-patterned sheets. If I'd done it before his night-time sleep, it would have been dark and he would have had a nice surprise in the morning. As it is he generally wakes up happy and pointing at all the stars anyway!

I can't wait until he has the dexterity to draw his own stars... I can't imagine that it will take long. Maybe he will become an astrophysicist one day.