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.