Monday, December 31, 2007

Noisy damn things

Third post for the day, I know.

When I was a kid, backyard fireworks were the norm. I remember sitting on the back steps of my auntie's house watching my uncles/cousins/brothers setting off fireworks in the back yard. I also remember the pair of socks still on the washing line catching fire. Heh. One of the reasons I guess that they were banned not long after.

Now suddenly it seems that the ban has been lifted. I'm sitting here at home and there has been non-stop "boom! ka-pow!" since about half past eight this evening. Elora was terrified of them but was so tired that she fell asleep anyway. The other night our neighbour even let some off in his back courtyard, directly under Elora's window (and we were just putting her to bed).

Anyway, I shouldn't complain. I love fireworks. Weird considering I was terrified of them when I was little. More specifically, the red fire crackers that accompany lion dances during Chinese New Year. Ever heard them? They are incredibly loud. But I really like the "crash ka-boom" of fireworks and the bright flashing lights and colours. And the smell of them. That smokey chemical smell.

I'm a bit sad that we haven't gone to see the fireworks here in Sydney for the second year in a row. We're just watching it on TV. Last year we were down in Kiama but this year the logistics of it all are just too difficult with two young kids (and one a little older). We let the kids stay up to watch the "family" fireworks at 9pm. Always so lame compared to the midnight ones! We promised Dante that we'd go out next year instead. It will be easier with an almost four-year-old and almost two-year-old. I think! I hope!

I've spent most of the evening feeling reflective about the past year. Didn't get as much done as I'd hoped... except for the MAJOR thing of having Elora. This was definitely the highlight of my year! I'm astonished that another year of our lives has gone by in the blink of an eye and I worry about the year to come. We are that much older, and my parents are that much older. The kids just grow so fast. What will the new year bring?


Forgot to add:

Have a Happy New Year, y'all! May 2008 bring you joy, prosperity and all that. We are looking forward to good times in Oz with our excellent new Prime Minister.

December run-down

Unbelievably, the month of December has finished already and there are a million things I wanted to write and post about! This day is usually reserved for a run-down of the year that's passed, but I thought I'd better write about the month that just flew by first. Just a warning - this is a long post!

Papa's 75th

I mentioned earlier that we had a big party here/next door for my father's 75th birthday. It went incredibly well. I was sick the two days leading up to it, which was most annoying since I wasn't much help to my parents... thankfully I put Atti in for an extra day of child care so that he wouldn't be in the way.

My folks hired a massive marquee for the backyard. 7.5m x 9m. The weather leading up to the party was disastrous. Hot, humid and stormy in the afternoons. The day the marquee was installed it bucketed down all morning and the backyard flooded in one section. My brother quickly went out and bought fake grass carpet to put over the muddy parts. It also poured the night before the party. We were very worried. However, Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny. There were a few clouds but they were the white fluffy kind, not the dark ominous ones. And then 3pm suddenly arrived. The weather held up. The guests arrived. I eventually got ready and joined the party. The food was plentiful. (It wouldn't be one of our parties if we didn't over-cater). My father was in his element. The children were boisterous, but happily stayed away from the other guests (mostly) in our backyard and driveway.

So many of my cousins were there. It was wonderful to see them and their children! I wish we could get together more often, and perhaps next year we will make more of an effort, especially since so many of us have children. Time for some picnics and such. Email makes contact so much easier (and facebook, too)! My father was so grateful to my mother and us kids for organising the party. Yay! It made it all worthwhile.

Family dinner

The following Tuesday night we went out to dinner with my Uncle Johnny, Auntie Robyn and Jacob and Tameka, their two eldest grandchildren (my mother's brother down from Thursday Island). Went to a restaurant in Chinatown and had food that was too fancy. The kids were surprisingly subdued, even as they ran amok. I think the absence of Dante and Alexandra (at his Auntie's and her grandparents' places that night) made a big difference. We only lost Atticus once - he'd run outside (into the shopping mall that the restaurant was part of) and we found him watching the dancing game at the Arcade. So cute - he was stomping along, having fun joining in.

Dante's school Musical

The following day Dante's school put on a Musical - each class put on a short performance. I managed to get to the matinee show and was so glad I did! The school has an excellent music program and teacher. The production was seamless. The Year 6 MCs were confident and well spoken. It was terrific.

"Hive" Christmas Party

Saturday (15th Dec) we had our friends over for our annual Christmas gathering. Thankfully the house and backyard were still relatively tidy from the previous weekend so it was an easy party to host. Barbecued some meat, prepared some salads, put the beer on ice. It was a nice easy-going afternoon and I was reminded of what brilliant friends we have. I don't see them very often these days, but when I do it's like I was never gone. They are always happy to see me and the kids. It's so nice. I did miss those of us who are overseas, though. They were certainly there in spirit and not forgotten!! Hi guys!

One nice thing this year - we usually do a kris kringle present thing but this year we decided to put our money together and donate it to charity instead. A really nice gesture. We had enough money that we were able to buy a bridge from Oxfam. How cool is that??

Abi's third birthday

The following day, Sunday 16th, my niece Abigail turned 3 and had a bit of a party at her grandparents' place. The weather didn't hold up so well with it raining a little, but that didn't stop the kids having a grand time. My chocolate crackles were a huge hit!


Then we hit a bit of a downhill slide. Elora had a fever that weekend, which Atticus and I duly caught later in the week. Thankfully Atti failed to have any convulsions, even with 39+° temps, and reduced medication (he is slowly coming off it - should be done by the end of this week). I was a complete wreck. Muscle aches and shivers. Panadol and Nurofen flowed freely this week. And we missed the child care Christmas party on Wednesday :( I made some lovely aprons as gifts for the teachers (will post pictures another day).


And then suddenly school was over for the year and Christmas just around the corner. To add to my sickly month I came down with a killer migraine on Sunday evening, so lay in bed moaning and waiting for the painkillers to kick in instead of wrapping presents or cleaning up. (Housework had built up due to the week's fever induced lethargy). The in-laws came over for Christmas Eve dinner and presents (yay! My mother-in-law and sister-in-law's boyfriend took over the kitchen). The kids had a grand time. Atti really knows about presents this year! Even Elora had a marvellous time. I made her a new Christmas dress and she looked gorgeous. (Will post pics of this that day, too). Of course the kids were incredibly spoiled by their grandmother, but I was, too, so I can't complain!

Christmas Day with my side of the family next door. Predictably noisy and over-catered as usual. My sister-in-law's best friend made the most incredible ginger bread house which was eventually demolished (extremely well constructed and required a hammer to deconstruct). The kids gorged themselves on the lollies, so much that they all voluntarily ceased eating soon after. I was amazed. They barely touched the ice-cream cake.


We've been lounging around the house ever since. Dan's on holidays for another week, and then Atticus starts back at child care four days a week. I'll miss him, I think, but sometimes I just can't wait for the day to arrive. Elora will start in three weeks, and then it's back to work for me. I'm so dreading it! She's not ready to start. I don't know what to do. I'm still breastfeeding her. And then there's the whole issue of getting her to sleep! Not looking forward to it. Dante's on school holidays now for four more weeks. It will be hard to keep him occupied. Our rule of "No piano practice = No playstation" is working really well. He's practised almost every day so far!

I did manage to get out post-Boxing Day to the Spotlight (chain fabric store) sale and got some nice Japanese fabrics and some background fabric so I can start taking part in this quilt-along (six weeks late). Hopefully. Also made Elora a pair of bloomers/pants to match her Christmas dress. Pics will come soon.

Guy and Joe's picnic

Saturday we went to a picnic/bbq thingy in the park at Newtown for our friends Joe and Guy's birthdays. Atti was so excited to be going out for a "picnic park party". Again, a relaxing time was had... so nice to have the kids looked after and played with by others! We won't be going to the NYE picnic/party tonight, methinks. Dan and Dante have gone out with my bro and his family to see The Golden Compass (which I really want to see, too). I've had to stay home with the tykes... who have been napping wonderfully (but are just starting to wake up).

Anyway, this essay of a post must come to an end. I haven't even sent out my Christmas cards yet. Will do so today, though. I really hoped I'd manage to get them sent early this year. I was thinking and planning to do it. All the illness took its toll. Next month, next year, I will be more attentive and diligent. Promise!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What lots of people need to learn

Yes, things have been busy here as usual. We had a get-together here on Saturday for our friends' annual Xmas shindig. 'Twas most civilised and delightful. I do enjoy hosting these things! Sunday, my niece Abigail turned 3 and had a kids' party at her other grandparents' place. Jumping castle, tonnes of toys, chocolate crackles, cocktail frankfurts. Atti had a brilliant time!

I've been busy trying to finish the presents for Atti's carers at child care. Almost half way there. The Xmas party is tomorrow afternoon so I'd better get cracking...

But the main thing I wanted to write about today is this post from Breed 'Em And Weep which is delightful and insightful. I wish everyone in the world would learn the lesson that her two girls did. Things would be a lot calmer if they did. I will definitely try to explain religion to Dante this way, although he does have a vague understanding of these things. It's just so nicely written. Read it!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Facebook addiction

A little while ago I was coerced, persuaded, convinced to join Facebook and it's been a downward spiral since then.

Well, no, it's not that bad. There's so much going on and I wouldn't have a clue as to what half of those applications mean or do. Like, the Vampire one. What happens when I bite someone?? I can understand the gift giving ones - they're a nice gesture.

One of the neatest things about it, and I guess why it's so popular, is that I'm finding lots of friends, old and present, and I like the idea of being able to contact them again one day and see what they've been up to. I've found a few cousins and old school friends, too. I meant to go to bed about an hour and a half ago, but I started browsing through people's lists of friends and now here I am instead.

Oh well, it's interesting to see how things will go on. I'm sure one day Dante will be up there, certainly sooner than I will expect. All this is really making me feel my age. Thirties, huh? How did it happen so fast?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tickets, yay!

Oh, I forgot to mention the happy exciting news, for me at least!

My all-time favourite musician, Billy Bragg, is coming to Oz next year and I bought tickets yesterday to go and see him! Boy howdy, the prices are exorbitant these days. It cost me nearly $150 for two tickets. But, I've booked baby sitting with my mother already - hopefully I'll be able to offload the boys to various aunties to lighten the workload.


Bit of a blog break

After the daily posting of November I needed a bit of a break from this 'ere blog. Things have been hectic (and not) so far this month. My niece's 5th birthday party on the 1st of the month, the tennis Xmas break-up party on the 2nd. Preparing for my father's birthday party all last week, until I got food poisoning on Wednesday night which put me out of action, mostly, for two days (that's the "not hectic" part).

On Saturday we had about 100 people over for my father's 75th! It went splendidly and a grand time was had by all. I will write more about it soon. One of my uncles from Thursday Island came down for the party (with my Auntie and two of his grandchildren). I was feeling a lot better, too. On Sunday we took them to yum cha. I think I overdid it with the rich food that day. I couldn't resist. We had tonnes of leftovers, including yummy trifle (which I made!) so I had to have some since I avoided it on Saturday.

Yesterday I was sorry for the overindulgence. I'm back to being sick again with stomach pains and the like. Back to eating plain biscuits, toast with vegemite (no butter!) and gastrolyte. Back to feeling weak and lethargic. Argh!

Hopefully I will be better in a few days. Work Xmas party on Friday. Friends coming over for our seasonal get-together on Saturday. Another niece's birthday party on Sunday. Childcare Xmas party the following week...

'Tis the season, as they say.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Preparing for the inevitable

I have just sent off The Email to my work to inform them of my Return To Work date. The reality of the impending time is really hitting home and I sit here feeling sad and unenthused.

It's not the place that I dread. My workmates are all very congenial and pleasant and I very much enjoy their company. I love the child care centre that we use and the carers that are there. It is a wonderful place with high quality care, plus next year I will have four nieces there as well!

No, what I dread is leaving my daughter, and missing out on all her marvellous developments. I'll miss her gorgeous smile whenever she looks at me, and even her cries when she's upset. I guess I won't miss changing dirty nappies, or the really horrendous screams when she won't go to sleep. But I don't look forward to the guilt of leaving her, and the worry that she'll be okay at child care.


I don't even want to think about all the new things I'll have to get my head around actually at work, and being overwhelmed by it all.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our tenants want a dog

Before we moved to our current house in the 'burbs we lived in the inner-city in a small terrace house 5 minutes' walk away from work and child care. It was cramped but convenient, in a not-so-good area.

It was a big decision to move out here, 20 minutes' drive away, but in the end the lure of a BIG house (we have seven bedrooms!!) and the help of grandparents next door was too great.

So we did some minor renovations to the old house - paint, new carpet, fixed up the downstairs shower/toilet area - and now it is being rented out to students. We've been quite happy about the tenants, and the income helps immensely with the mortgage payments!

And now they've asked permission to get a dog! Of course I'm happy for them to have it, but the backyard is only 3m² and I'm worried about the creature's well being. Oh well, that is not for me to say anything about. I'm sure they will take care of it and give it lots of walks.

I'm waiting for the day our boys ask to get a dog. I wonder if they ever will? We have, after all, three cats so perhaps will stay a cat family. But Dan and I both had family dogs growing up (well, we got ours when I was 14 when my uncle gave her to us while my father was overseas). They are a lot of work, but fun to train and have around. I think I wouldn't mind it too much... although the cats certainly would.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A talented bunch

This afternoon was the Grand Final of Dante's school's Talent Quest. It's not a big school - less than 200 students - and yet there were 23 acts on show, after several heats and semi-finals.

When Elora and I first arrived, half way through (we had to catch a train in), there were a couple of kids singing... like 8 year old generally sing. I expected the rest of the show to be the same. However, some of the acts just blew me away! One of the girls singing reminded me of the young chick from Love Actually, so wonderful! There were a couple of other kids who were pretty good as well. The most spectacular act, and the winner of the day, was a boy called Ash who put on an amazing break dancing display. Head spins, an amazing moon walk, that body flipping thing. The cheers were phenomenal. He was just incredible.

Afterwards there was a sausage sizzle (to raise money for Unicef) and a disco for the kids. Atticus was in his element. Big kids' playground, dancing, sausages. Elora loves the big brother of one of Dante's friends.

The only down point of the evening was when we lost Atticus. I was with Elora, Dan had come to get the change mat from the pram and when he went back to the playground, Atti was gone. I was slightly concerned as the back gate (onto the street) was open and he could have run out there. We searched the disco, searched the grounds but he was nowhere to be found... until finally I found him! He was in the girls' toilets trying to get his nappy off! What a brilliant young thing! I was so impressed. He'd dirtied himself, but was happy to let me clean him up. Then off to the dancing he went. Trying out his break-dancing style.

I wonder if next year Dante will be interested in entering the comp. We'll see!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lunch success!

I missed yet another post yesterday. Not doing too well here. I guess I could have backdated something, but I'm too tired to do even that (plus it's cheating).

But, I have a very good reason. I had my school friends and their children over for lunch yesterday (as I have previously mentioned.) It went really, really well. The house was clean due to me actually being organised enough to do some tidying on the weekend (with terrific help from Dan, of course). Lucky I did that, because...

I spent the first two hours of the day at the hospital with Elora.

We don't know what was wrong with her but she sure gave us a scare. She woke up crying and didn't settle when Dan went in to get her (I was downstairs vacuuming). When he brought her to me she looked positively green, pale and limp. I offered her a breastfeed and she showed no interest whatsoever. This is really unusual for her. She has always been a good drinker. She just closed her eyes and fell asleep in my arms instead. I quickly took her to my parents to ask their advice. She seemed cold and clammy and we were all quite worried. A quick phone call to my GP brother and off to the hospital we went.

Of course, as kids do, she started perking up in the car and by the time we got to the Emergency Department (five minutes later) she was much, much better. Had a feed, started getting mobile and active again. What a relief! Two hours later we were able to go home, without a diagnosis but orders to keep an eye on her because of Atti's history of convulsions.

The rest of the day alternated between worrying about her (she slept for a good couple of hours once we got home) and trying to be a good host to my guests. Thank goodness they were all completely understanding, and we had a wonderful lunch and visit. I was so glad for their company on a day that would have otherwise been miserable.

You should also know that I didn't complete the quilts which I was making for the baby boys. We had such a busy weekend that I knew I'd have no hope of getting them done. I was hoping to have at least quilted one to show them what it would be like, but my plans were thwarted. Anyway, I showed them the quilt tops and they were suitably impressed. Yay!

So anyway today I was utterly exhausted. Just spent the day lazing around with the kids as much as possible. Elora's been a pain in the neck, not sleeping much at all, and Atti has been getting up to mischief a little bit. Cheeky little thing that he is. He just smiles and laughs and one can't help but smile and laugh along with him, it is so contagious. Now it's after 11pm and the baby girl is still screaming her head off. We've been trying to get her to sleep for the last two and a half hours and she has not been cooperative. I've given up and am just going to let her cry now. It's all we can do.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fruit salad, yummy yummy

Today we celebrated our belated Aussie thanksgiving. Much like last year except with TWO enormous turkeys this time! Yummo.

We brought our huge fruit salad, as per usual. Instead of going to the local fruit shop I went to Sydney's biggest produce market with my mother early yesterday morning.

Oh how I love the markets! I have fond memories of accompanying my mother when I was little - with the enticement of having a doner kebab for breakfast/early lunch. And it was just as terrific now as then. Aisles and aisles of stalls filled with vast amounts of fruit and vegetables. Plus the fish market down at one end as well as a deli section and the odd kebab van, still there after all these years. I wish I had brought my camera with me. So many colours! And the smells! Delicious.

The part I love best is the "exotic" section. Well, not so exotic to some, but new and interesting to me. That's the Fijian/Indian section with their baby eggplants and fresh okra and I don't know what else! This time of year is great because all the summer fruits are coming in (hmm... cherries, white nectarines) so the variety is huge. I loved the stalls selling just mushrooms, too. So many types! All fresh and undoubtedly yummy.

I tried not to go too overboard, but wasn't overly successful. Who can resist strawberries at $1/punnet? Trouble is, you need to buy an entire tray to get them at that price. I think we're doing well - we only have 7 left (out of 15).

So, yeah, now we're swamped with fruit. Our fridges (yes, we have two) are full and that's after Thanksgiving. The challenge to eat it all before it goes bad is on. I'd say we're doing all right. My boys (and the girl now) lurrv their fruit. They're going to be getting heaps of it this week. Yay!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Big day for Australia - first female deputy PM!

I failed NaBloPoMo - missed a post yesterday. I can't believe I did that! Yesterday was a busy day for me. Had a bad night on Thursday night, not getting to sleep until 3am because Elora woke up as I was going to bed and it took ages to get her back to sleep. Installed (with my father's help) insulation in the roof space adjoining Elora's room, but of course the weather has taken a turn again and I can't find out how much of a difference it makes! Then spent as much of the day as I could making these:

I'm pretty pleased with how they've turned out. The borders make a big difference. They're not big quilts (3' x 4') so now I've just got to quilt them and attach the binding. By Monday. I'm running behind schedule a bit, but we'll see if I can get them done. There's a third one that's underway as well, but they can't make it so I've got a little bit of extra time. Phew!.

Anyway, the most exciting thing right now is that we Aussies more than likely have a new Prime Minister tonight as today was our Federal Election. And even more excitingly it looks like the outgoing PM, John Howard, will actually lose his seat and hence his job! Unbelievable! All I can hear on the television are cheers.

This is the happiest election coverage I've watched for a long time. Our soon-to-be Deputy PM, Julia Gillard, is sitting at the anchor desk along with an MP from the outgoing government. I love watching the body language of the two opposing politicians. As the night progresses Julia's grin gets bigger and bigger and she sits upright and perky. The Liberal guy has been trying to keep his spirits up, pouncing on every positive Liberal point he can ("The postal votes still need to be counted...") but as he gets more and more bad news he slouches more and more, supporting his head with his hand and trying not to look too dejected. He's not doing too bad a job actually.

So things are looking up for this country. Hopefully some big changes will be made (I'm looking at you, WorkChoices). Funding for education, troops out of Iraq. Greens in the balance of power in the Senate. Yay!

Now to finish those quilts off.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Alphabet stamps, found at last!

How about that. I found the alphabet stamps that I was looking for! Well, they're not exactly what I was thinking of - waiting for Nov. 30 when Leslie from good-ness will update her shop. Hopefully I can also get those lovely Japanese ones.

However, these were AUD$2.99 from the scrapbooking section of our local Kmart and just the right size. How could I not get them? They will do the trick for these boys' quilts. I don't have a fabric stamp pad but I've discovered that painting them carefully with a brush doesn't do too bad a job.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thursday-like Wednesday

I had a productive day, craftwise, today. Sewed together some blocks. Cut them up into quarters. Sewed them up again into more blocks. Sewed these blocks together into strips. I haven't finished piecing the quilt tops together yet but hopefully will be able to do it tomorrow!

The reason for all this sewing? More precisely, the reason why I was able to get so much done was because Dante didn't have his piano lesson today. His teacher cancelled last week so he went to after care and I didn't have to pick him up from school, which gave me an extra four hours (big) kid free. Yippee! And tomorrow's Thursday! I've mentioned before that Thursdays are my best day of the week.

Hopefully after tomorrow I'll have three of these (but sewn together), maybe even with borders attached, quilt sandwiched and ready to be quilted. We'll see. I've got a nice man coming to tell me about air-conditioning in the morning.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Girls vs. boys

I think I've mentioned a few times that on Monday afternoons I pick up Dante and a couple of his friends from school and take them to gymnastics (at a gym near our house, luckily enough). It's a great gym (one of the sons of the family that runs it is an Australian Olympian!) - well equipped, large, friendly. I remember going there for sport when I was in primary school. My mother said that it used to be a cinema, a long time ago.

Anyway, the main thing that exhausts me about this is the drive from school to gym. Those two boys (Dante and his friend) drive me bonkers! They are loud, silly, exuberant, boisterous. D's friend always brings rice crackers for afternoon tea which they eat in the car... should I say "eat"? More like inhale. The container is usually empty in not less than five minutes. The only quiet-ish time during the journey.

They cannot sit still. Sometimes I have to yell at them to "Stop yelling!". They eat like... like 6 year old boys. When we get to the gym they run around giggling, carrying on and making silly noises. I feel sorry for their teachers. When we get home they fight over the playstation (I want to be green. No, I want to be green! Mama, he hit me! Give that back! Heheh... that was funny. Do it again... Blah blah blah <insert silly noises and perhaps some jumping up and down>). Yesterday while I was getting the car ready (putting Elora in her seat, moving booster seats around), they thought it would be fun to lick the brick wall of the school. I don't know why. They are weird little creatures.


everything they do is on show. It's all obvious, out there for all to see. There's no subterfuge. I guess they're too busy DOING to think about being sly.

The other six year old friend whom I take to gym is female. I never really appreciated what different creatures boys and girls of this age are until she started coming along, even though I see the same behaviours in my 8 year old niece sometimes, and probably in the 5 year old one (especially once she starts school).

The first week Dan picked up the three kids, he remarked that the girl actually brought negative noise to the car. The three kids were quieter than the two boys alone. Probably mostly because he'd separated the boys. It's lovely having a girl around. She's so much quieter, neater and polite. She doesn't scream and yell. She's not afraid to ask for what she wants. She does get the raw end of the deal when it comes to those rice crackers.

However, now that she knows us better (even though we've known her since she was 11 months old!) she's starting to get a little comfortable and... sneaky. A couple of weeks ago we had an incident with her gym money ("We were in a rush this morning and I don't think my dad gave me all of the money") being mysteriously short by the same amount as a chocolate milk from school. Her parents were quick to rectify the situation!

Yesterday when her dad arrived to pick her up I found her in the pantry (and heard the fridge door being quickly closed). She said to me, "You have lots of nice food," and we carried on. I didn't think anything of it, until I found a chocolate wrapper on the floor near the fridge today! Tricky little thing had helped herself to the box of choccies in there. Oh well, I'm not going to tell her father - I would have happily given it to her if she'd asked (white chocolate - I've gone off it and Dan doesn't eat it).

But I've learned my lesson. Girls are quiet, but in the end they are still up to mischief like the boys, and a lot sneakier about how they do it. While the boys are being riotous and disruptive, girls use the distraction to get their own way or do their own thing. Not knowing how to handle girls, I sometimes become anxious and acquiescent. They get away with a lot more than the boys do.

What I've got to look forward to with Elora. I'd better start learning how to handle things before she gets to that stage!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Travellin' the world

I always wanted to travel - see the world. I had grand plans. I wanted to live and work in London, New York, maybe even West Coast USA. Anywhere, as long as it was somewhere different, new and exciting.

Well, I went to Uni straight from school, and then spent the next several years hanging around there. Spent some time in the Torres Strait one summer. Travelled around Oz with my folks the summer of 95/96 using my brother's frequent flyer points.

I did go to Japan when I was 15 for a school exchange. It was a nice trip, especially the home stays, but my travelling companions could have been better. Oh well. One day I'll get to go back and take the family. And there was the trip to SE Asia when I was 8 of which I have three memories - I lost my favourite shirt/jumper in Bangkok, watched "Big Bird in China" on the tele in Hong Kong, and ate bread fresh from the oven at the family's bakery in Singapore.

Anyway, Dan and I have managed to take a couple of trips overseas since we've been together. The first was a neat trip from Bangkok to Singapore, over land through the Malay peninsula. We spent Christmas day at the Thai Royal Palace, and New Years Eve on a beach/eco "resort" called "Dawn of Happiness". (And I got really bad food poisoning.)

The next trip we took was even more of an adventure, for me. Egypt. Three weeks. Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor. The most amazing place. Full of history. Also full of sand. And heat. I highly recommend it. Just don't get duped by dodgy papyrus sellers.

We had plans after that trip. We were going to go and live in the USA and work in Silicon Valley for a while, then move on to London and see Europe. We'd even set a rough date to be gone by. Of course, it never happened. I fell pregnant with Dante a month after we got home. And that was the end of that.

Maybe one day we'll still get our chance to try living in a different city or country. When the kids are older. But I can't bear the thought of them being so far away from their grandparents. And I would sorely miss my family (and the help they give)! So, for now the dream remains just that.

And now, some pics:
Me at Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand.
December, 1998

Dan and I at the Great Pyramids of Giza, Cairo, Egypt.
I had the world's worst haircut at the time.
June, 2000

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kids at play

Today was our typical fortnightly family tennis Sunday. Not that we actually went. Dan slept in until after 11am and Elora napped half the morning. But at least Dante went down to the tennis courts with my mother and his cousins.

After some time (longer than it felt) the troops descended upon us, bored of the park, hungry and hot. They swarmed through our house and finally settled in the lounge room where the older two boys (my 13 year old nephew and his friend) were playing Guitar Hero III (they'd come back earlier). Atti upended the two big buckets of Duplo and they got stuck into it.

What a delight it was to watch these kids aging from 2 to 8 years playing together and separately. Even Elora got in on the action. I couldn't resist taking a picture to save the moment.

It's so great to see them all together, happy and not fighting (the latter didn't last too long). If only the other three grandkids had been around! We would have had the full complement.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Is this a post?

If I write a post to say that I won't be writing a post, does that count as a post?

I've been doing very well with my NaBloPoMo posts... haven't cheated once! But tonight I cannot write. I've been sniffly and hayfevery all day and it has cumulated in me being totally wrecked tonight. So I'm going to bed (after sleeping on the couch for the past hour or so). Sorry, readers!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weight lost

Well, I'm proud to be able to say that I am finally back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Yippee! It took a lot longer to get here this time around. Third time around.

The weight came off but the figure will never be the same. I've got this little tummy that hasn't gone away. Soft, squishy with stretch marks along it... Atticus has taken to slapping it gleefully whenever he gets the chance. Elora grabs little handfuls of skin and pinches my belly button. I know I need to do more sit-ups (or crunches... whatever) but the thought repels me. Too bloody lazy!

And anyway, I'm not feeling too upset about this little pot belly of mine lately. I think of it as a badge of honour. I've had three children and I'm proud of it.


Let's see how long I stay feeling like this. Perhaps the next time I put on my bikini?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quilts for the three boys

I mentioned that I was having some old friends over for lunch. It was meant to be this coming Monday but I've postponed by a week since one of the girls can't make it (but unfortunately another one can't make it the following week) and mainly because the new oven hasn't been installed yet (but at least we have it now).

Well, I've actually managed to start on some small quilts for the three baby boys (even though one won't be coming now). They'll be blue-green-white cot/lap size quilts, all three basically the same but I'll try and vary the layout of the blocks. Hoping to personalise them somewhat as well, depending on how I go for time. Not sure how to go about labelling them - I'd hoped to have some small alphabet stamps and fabric ink pads by now! (I've been looking for them - does anyone know of anywhere in Sydney that has such things?)

In the past few days I've managed to cut out all the pieces (not including the borders - always do that afterwards to get accurate sizing) and sew some of them together. I love chain piecing - looks like lovely bunting!

Anyway, here's a pic of my new sewing workspace - not incredibly large or very tidy, but that's me to a tee. Sorry about the poor quality photo... it's terribly late and I should be in bed. Dan's off at a conference today and tomorrow so I've been doing the drop offs and pick ups. So much driving. Ack!

(That big white thing on the right is my sewing machine with its cover on, for those that may have been wondering!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Developing fast

These kids are getting smarter every time I blink. I'm constantly amazed by what they are capable of.

Tonight when Atti got home from child care, he was hungry. He saw the box of Weetbix on the bench, grabbed himself a bowl and a spoon, carried them all over to the table, sat down and requested help. So I obligingly got out the milk, opened the box and gave him one biscuit. He happily sat down and started eating.

In the meantime, our new oven arrived so I went out the front to thank my father's friend (who ordered it for us and delivered it). When I came back to the kitchen, there was Atti, gobbling down his second Weetbix biscuit with milk splashed all over the table. He'd opened the box, got out another one, unscrewed the lid of the milk and poured it into his bowl. All by himself. With hardly any mess (there wasn't much milk left in the bottle).

I am completely blown away by his display of initiative and independence. And so proud! He can be such a delight! (He can also be a little rascal at times.)

And Elora. As Captain Feathersword would say, "Well, blow me down!". She said "cat" this morning. I'm certain of it. We were finishing breakfast and she was looking at our moggy sleeping in the morning sun.

"That's the cat," I said. "Cat."
"Ca-" she repeated.
"Cat!" I said again.

I quickly grabbed her and ran next door, astonishment on my face. On the door mat was one of the other cats.

"Look, Elora. There's Grey. Cat. Cat."
"Ca-" she said again.

Unbelievable. Can you believe it? I certainly cannot. She hasn't done it again... yet. Could it be an insane coincidence? Probably. But still, it's pretty amazing.

Oh, and she's still trying hard to get that walking happening. And the gap in her teeth has filled. She's got four up top and two down bottom now.

Time is whizzing past. They are developing so quickly. I'm even more reluctant to return to work when I think of all these little moments and milestones that I'm going to miss. I just don't know what to do about it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Weird hair

Something weird has happened to my hair... I look like the character Lovelace from the film "Happy Feet":

Sort of.

It's because of something that happens during pregnancy. My hairdresser told me about it. Your body is so busy growing a baby that it doesn't have time to kill off hair follicles, so your hair gets really thick because hardly any is falling out. Then, about three or four months after you give birth (or thereabouts), all that excess hair falls out. Almost in clumps! It's quite incredible the amount of hair that came out of my head. Keep in mind that my hair is waist length! And thick anyway!

Now, almost nine months after having Elora, all that hair that fell out is growing back, so I have fuzz that is now about 2" long on my head. And around my temples it sticks straight out from the scalp. The curse of Asian hair. So I look like Lovelace.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Jazzy!

My niece, Jasmine, turns 5 years old today. Unbelievable that it's come up so fast. Next year she starts school and I can't wait to see her in her little school uniform. So cute!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Reddened knees

Took the kids to Toddler Proms this morning - they all had a wonderful time listening to the teenage Peter Seymour Orchestra (part of the Sydney Youth Orchestra) playing classical music, with the conductor talking about each type of instrument. Dante made his presence known, of course, by answering questions very enthusiastically (compared to his extreme reluctance to go in the first place, perhaps because of the word "Toddler" in the title?).

After a quick lunch with my brother Chris and his family, we came home and Dan took Dante to a 7th birthday party - tenpin bowling! Apparently it was fun. When I asked Dante afterwards if he had a good time at the party, his response was "Yes." and that was it! This from a boy who usually talks incessantly about everything and anything, including describing his current actions, then repeating what he said... ("Look, I drew Four Arms. See? I said, I just drew Four Arms, Mama. Did you hear me? Can you see him? I drew him...") Well, he was watching the last episode of Ben 10 at the time, so his mind was elsewhere.

Anyway, feeling tired and unwell for some reason tonight so I'll leave you with this picture of Elora's legs, crossed so daintily while she's sitting in her high chair. Look at those poor knees, so red from all her crawling exploits.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Did I mention before? Elora's got two consonants now.

The first was B. bub-bub-bub

And now she's got M. mum-mum-ma-mum

And she knows what the latter sounds mean, alright. When she's tired or upset or hungry she just looks at me (if I'm not holding her) and sings out "Ma-mum-ma-mm". If she's on the floor she crawls over to me and grabs at my legs, pulling herself up on my pants. Sometimes I'm mean and step away (especially when I'm busy, in the middle of something), and she calls out "Ma-mum-ma-mmm" again and chases me (in a slow, crawling kind of way).

Gorgeous little thing!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Must stop spending

I've been reading numerous craft blogs and getting lots of ideas for quilts to make... and so many of the crafters out there talk very proudly about only using their "stash" to make things.

In the past I've tried designing stuff using just what I have but I always felt like I needed something more - a bit more green, some plain colours, something else to match... well, lately things have been getting a bit out of hand. I've been spending too much. The dangers of online shopping, and the absolute delight at receiving parcels in the mail. Today I received a big parcel (half of it my mother's) that I bought online and managed to pop out for a short while to get a few more bits and pieces.

But the good news is that finally, I think my stash is stocked well enough! I've got about half a dozen quilts planned, ready to be cut up and sewn together. My sewing table is pretty much set up (just need to clean off residual mess) so that I'll be able to do something when I have a spare ten minutes... I may actually get some projects completed!

And so I decree, publicly, no less, that I shall not buy any more fabrics until I have executed all the plans in my head. Hmm... I wonder how long I will last.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Friends for lunch

Well, I've committed myself now! I've invited some of my school friends over for lunch in a week and a half. We get together every so often, usually out to a restaurant for dinner. But in the first five months of this year four babies were born so our get-togethers are now daytime ones while we're on maternity leave (and the other two gals work part-time).

So now I need to work out what I'm going to feed them - I'm sure they won't be fussy but I feel like I need to make something nice! Plus the house has really gotten out of hand these last few months and is going to need a really good going over. A good excuse to clean up, I guess!

Except instead of getting to it, all I can think about is what cute crafty thing I can make for the babies. There are three boys, Evan (born Jan), Max (beg. March) and Christian (May), and Liam just turned four! Don't forget to add Atti to the mix. Poor Elora is going to be completely out-numbered, but I guess will get her pick when they get older :)

Hmm.. don't want to be too ambitious, but want to hand-make something delightful. Shrug. We'll see. Thinking of some small simple quilts. Nothing fancy. In blues and greens. And a book bag for Liam with his name appliqued onto it? What do you think?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Poor sick baby

Elora's got the miseries at the moment. She woke up every 3-4 hours last night and I was completely zonked today. Managed to have a nap in the middle of the day... which caused me to get behind schedule for everything else!

At least I finally managed to choose a new oven. My old one died, oh, in August... and I've been making do since (read: using next door's oven) but it's about time we replaced the thing. The only problem, I discovered, is that they just don't make them like they used to. Have you seen inside these things lately? They are tiny! How is one meant to cook a huge roast plus vegetables in one of these modern ovens? My old oven is 60cm wide externally, but inside is 50cm! New ones are 60cm outside but only 43cm inside (at best). My big dishes won't fit.

So my mother and I searched and searched. Found a couple that were almost big enough but not quite. In the end we decided to get a 70cm wide Miele one which is 53cm wide inside. Yay for compromise!

Now off to bed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Collecting water

So more on the weather.

Raining again today. And supposedly for the rest of the week.

Did I mention that we got a water tank two weeks ago? Actually my father purchased it (two - one for our yard and one for his). 2,250L tank. It's pretty darn big but actually frees more space in the yard because there used to be collections of buckets at that spot. My father's improvised and inefficient version of a water tank.

So, anyway, it arrived on the Tuesday. On the Thursday night we had a moderate amount of rain and were completely astonished on Friday morning to discover that the new tank (in our yard) was not only full, but overflowing. In one night! It's terrific! My father spent the next few days emptying it as much as possible "so that the water doesn't get wasted when it rains again". And we've finally had a drainer come in to properly set up the gutters and stuff (so now my parents' tank is getting water into it, but it's still not full), so instead of flooding the immediate area, the overflow outlet pipes to the drain. That's a relief.

Here's a nifty fact - the drainer/gutter guy told me it. If every household in Sydney were to get a 2,000L water tank, the storage capacity would be roughly equivalent to the Lake Burrajong (Warragamba Dam), Sydney's main water source. A bit ridiculous to build a desalination plant, don't you think?

Well, I'm falling asleep while I type. Day six of this post-daily-challenge and I'm well and truly running out of ideas for posts. Not doing it when I'm half asleep would probably be a good idea. Apologies for typos and incomprehensibility. Zzzz.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Crazy weather

I know I talk about the weather a lot on this blog. It's a bit of an obsession. I always have to know what the current temperature is. I have a nifty utility on my computer (a Dashboard widget) called Degrees Down Under which gets current updates from the Bureau of Meterology and tells me not only the temperature, but the apparent temperature (so I've got two of these widgets). Then there's TheBom which does basically the same thing, and the built-in Weather widget that comes with MacOSX. I also have a thermometer in Elora's room, and would have more around the house if I had them! I don't know why I simply must know what the temperature is, right now. Weird, huh?

Anyway, the weather at the moment is absolutely crazy. In the last couple of weeks we have had 30+ degree days, huge thunderstorms, beautiful sunny days and we were all rejoicing that summer was on its way. Then today it was cool, even cold! I think it was about 18°C today! Brr. I was just about to wash and put away all the blankets and jumpers. And ring up a guy about air conditioning.

Which brings me to another point. Everyone knows that we are having a wee problem with climate change and energy use, right? I want an air conditioner but I have no intention of using it constantly - only on days when the temp is right up there, like mid-high 30's. And it's mainly for the kids' rooms. We've had our febrile convulsion frights and definitely do not want any more of those. But our next door neighbours (the other side, not my folks!) recently installed fully ducted aircon in their badly designed townhouse/duplex. The big outside unit sits in their backyard just under our bedroom window (thanks!) and is noisy as hell. I know this because they use it all the time. Case in point: yesterday was a beautiful balmy 26°C. We revelled in the gloriousness of it. Did four loads of washing. Locked the kids outside all day. Had dinner on the back porch. And then in the evening the cool change came. We opened up the house to cool it down. Lovely.

Next door had their house closed up and that bloody A/C whirring. I couldn't believe it! I would have knocked on their door and told them to open their windows except for the facts that:
- they have no door bell, only a big huge fence around the perimeter of the property;
- they don't have any windows on this side of the house (so presumedly no air flow); and
- the wife is due to give birth any minute now and I know what it's like to be big and huge and hot. Not nice. Especially since she grew up in Europe where they don't have hot weather, apparently.

Oh, and they don't have insulation, either. Well, they do, but it's in big plastic bags in their backyard waiting to be installed. I don't know how they got away with that! Build a house dodgily, rent it out for years and only fix it up properly when you finally move in yourself? Ack. Well, at least they concreted over their entire lawn so they won't waste water by watering it. Unlike the other neighbours next to them who water their garden every day. And they don't have a water tank. But I'll get onto that another day.

Well, I'll stop my complaining now. The neighbours are actually quite friendly, when we do see them. They know my dad better since he was here when they first built the place, and always ask after him. I just wish people would do a bit more to combat these environmental problems, myself included. I guess sometimes laziness wins out, huh?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sewing setup

Yay! Today Dan (at my request) made some space on the desk in our study (by removing the 20" CRT monitor) so that I can have my sewing machine set up permanently. Yesterday I had about an hour when Elora and Atti were both asleep, Dante was busy with the playstation and Dan was out at his mother's place. I wanted to do some sewing, but to do that I would have had to clean off the dining table (which I should do anyway), set up the sewing machine, collect everything I may need... and then the kids would probably wake up. So instead I just did some ironing. :(

I'm looking forward to getting something done next week during the afternoons when the kids are sleeping. Want to start working on Xmas pressies for Atti's carers at child care. I'm going to give them something hand-made this year instead of the usual chocolate or plants!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Oops. Bad wife.

It was a busy and tiring week for us... the weather played havoc with my memory... the children use up all my energy... the growing piles of housework (dishes, laundry, ironing) are getting me down... new crafting ideas are filling my head...

Excuses, excuses. Last night I got an SMS from my brother:

Happy Anniversary Auntie Jenny!

Oops. I forgot our fourth wedding anniversary! But it's okay, because Dan did too.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Picking a child care centre

After last night's rage against For-Profit Child Care Corporations, I thought I should write a quick post with some advice for parents looking for a child care centre for the first time.

When I first fell pregnant with Dante, someone very wise gave me advice to put my name down for care straight away. I duly did as advised, choosing the centres closest to my work and then promptly forgot about it, being distracted by pregnancy and then looking after a newborn. However, as the time to go back to work loomed closer, I realised that I probably wouldn't get a spot in that very busy child care centre and I started looking around for other places. In the end I put my name down at seven centres. Only one was able to provide me with two days a week from when Dante was seven months old.

I was so happy to get a spot in a child care centre at all that I didn't really think too much about the QUALITY of the place. It was hard enough leaving my first born son to strangers, let alone think of government regulations and cost.

However, over the time I was there I became more and more uneasy about the place. They weren't very friendly to me, just knowing me as "Dante's mum". I didn't get much feedback from the carers. Whenever I was in the centre I felt like I was being rushed out and felt unwelcome. There were always kids crying, kids with dirty faces, kids with runny, dirty noses. Once when I was dropping Dante off, I heard a child screaming in the cot room for the entire twenty minutes without anyone going in to check on him, and I heard the carers remark, "That kid needs to go to Tresillian", as if that was some excuse for their slackness. I also believe that they had way too many kids compared to the number of carers in the room.

At the time I really didn't think about these incidences too much. I did, however, feel unhappy about these two things:

1. They gave Dante a dummy (someone elses!) to keep him quiet (which we didn't finally do away with until he was almost four); and

2. They gave Dante infant formula (I was breastfeeding him), even though I had provided them with expressed breastmilk.

Both of these were without my permission. They didn't call me beforehand or anything. Just did it and told me about it when I went to pick him up.

This was a commercially run centre. Probably why they were so eager to get my business when I rang. I didn't realise how dodgy they were until I finally got a spot in my preferred centre when Dante was eleven months old.

The difference was remarkable!

I felt welcomed. The carers made the effort to learn my name straight away. They wanted me to stay with Dante as long as possible to help settle him in. The kids were always happy and clean-faced. It seemed like there were a billion carers there for the children (it just happened that some kids were away, so the room actually had about a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio that first week. Wonderful!).

I could not believe how different the two centres were run. The first was for-profit. The second was run by a not-for-profit organisation. The fees were comparable, but the quality of the care was vastly different.

And so, I say to you,


I know it's a difficult time, when you have to return to work (I'm feeling the jitters even now), but it makes a huge difference to your child's ability to settle in if you are at a place where you, the parent, feel comfortable.

We have now been with the same centre for six years and the association will continue for at least another three years. We are truly happy there and even though there have been a few times when things haven't been 100% (we had a bit of a staff turnover issue) we still love the centre and all their staff. I always recommend it to everyone I know and next year 60% of my parents' grandchildren will be attending this centre!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

In the neck!

I was just watching the TV debate show Difference of Opinion on ABC and had to turn it off because I was getting so incensed by it. Tonight's show is titled "Handle with Care" and is about the very important and relevant issue of child care. I fully believe that the current ratio for under-2s of 1:5 is too high, and there is a tonne of research and experts calling for it to be lowered.

The reason it hasn't been lowered here in NSW is, I just found out, because the private sector wouldn't stand for it! They'd lose profits! Ack! I am so cranky. Eddy Groves was on the panel representing the private sector. He is so full of it and I just want to punch him. In the neck.


November, already!

Well, we are well and truly into the tail end of the year. Unbelievable. I'm sorry I've been a bit slack with the blog posting lately, but the panic has started to set in. There are only two and a bit more months before I have to go back to work. I can't bear the thought.

The good news is that we definitely have a spot waiting for us at child care for Elora. That's a huge relief, especially considering the huge demand for care in inner-city/inner-west Sydney. I just have to decide on a date for her to start and to start back at work. Still trying to decide if I should wait until school goes back but that's not until the end of January. Hmm.

Anyway, I've decided to join up for NaBloPoMo - 30 posts in 30 days of November. This is a good start :) I've got to get my act together before my maternity leave ends and I've done absolutely nothing with my time.

Ack, ack. Panic, panic.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Crawling is old school

Right, so, Elora has just started crawling, right? Not satisfied with this new method of locomotion, she has begun working on the next stage... Standing, and then eventually, walking.

It's unbelievable how quickly she is developing. She's pulling herself up to stand now. She's a bit wobbly on her feet still, but she's definitely getting there. The look of pure delight and pride on her face when she does it is hilarious! Kids! Amazing creatures!

P.S. Did I mention this before? She has three new teeth up the top now, bringing the total to five. And she's making more "talking" sounds, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bye, bye car

We have two cars. The big new car and the small car which I bought 9 years ago - the first car I ever bought with my own money (instead of inheriting my brothers' cast offs). It's been good to us, but too small for three child seats (hence the big car). And it has been very handy this year having the two cars since I've been at home on maternity leave.

A couple of months ago I noticed that our small car had a dent on the front side of it. Neither Dan nor I knows how it got there - some <insert expletive here> must have hit it while it was parked. Anyway, I wasn't sure if the damage was worth claiming on insurance (because of the excess) so I took it to a smash repair to get a quick quote. Hmm.. he reckons it was worth claiming. Fair enough.

Then I asked about the few small dents from hail that the car got many many years ago in one of Sydney's huge thunderstorms. He inspected the car more closely and delivered the bad news. Those dents were actually quite deep and all over the car. It would cost thousands to repair!

"Oh bugger!" I thought to myself. I wondered aloud if it was too late to claim on insurance. The man reckoned that it would probably be okay. I sincerely hoped so.

I put off calling for a few weeks, dreading the possibility of a negative response. Last week the rego papers arrived (due in two weeks) and I finally made myself ring the insurance company.

What wonders! They were really nice. I couldn't remember the date of the incident but I did remember that I was out seeing a Billy Bragg concert because of the sound of the hail on the tin roof of the theatre, and I remember that my sister-in-law came and babysat Dante for the very first time so I could go to the concert. So I looked up his tour dates online and picked a date. The lady on the phone didn't seem to mind too much that I wasn't 100% sure. We are talking about six years ago! The car was insured in my mother's name back then but that didn't seem to pose a problem to them at all. I was so pleased.

Yesterday Dan took the car to the assessment centre after we cleared it out entirely. And today we received the news that we were half expecting. The car is being written off. And they will pay us the sum it was insured for... but because the incident was so long ago, it seems they are going to pay us what the car was valued back then, which is roughly double what it is worth now. I'm astounded and astonished.

And bloody happy!

So, we are back to being a one car family. It will make for interesting times when it comes to picking up the kids on Wednesdays (I usually pick on D from school early because of his piano lesson and Dan picks up Atti later in the day from child care), and I'm not looking forward to being stuck at home when Dan takes the car to work. We are trying to decide if it's worth getting another car. Dan thinks it is. Just a small cheap second-hand one.

Anyway, I am a bit sad that the old car has gone. I guess the main thing that annoys me is that it is still in good-ish condition. I just put new tyres on it (not even retreads). It drives well enough. Not too big. We were both very comfortable with it. Our mechanic knew it well. Now that they've written it off what will happen to it? I don't think they're allowed to fix it and sell it second-hand any more. Will it just go into landfill? What a terrible waste of resources :(

Oh well, there's no point worrying about it now. I'll just wait for that cheque to arrive.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

To market, to market

We needed to get out of the house this weekend, so we bundled the kids into the car and went to visit Grandma and the second-hand markets at her local school.

We got off to a bad start. Elora had an extra long nap so we left later than planned... getting into Atti's nap time. Dante got into a silly, unhelpful mood and then had a tantrum because he'd forgotten to bring his wallet. Then, the traffic was appalling. A ten minute trip was doubled but at least Atti had a bit of a nap.

The markets were a little quiet (there was a fete and another market down the road) but that actually made things a little easier for us, pushing the big double pram around. The kids were very good after we had a bite to eat and a cup cake each. Didn't buy much - just a couple of books, a dress for Ellie, some roasted almonds for my folks. I think Grandma bought more for us than we did for ourselves!

The strangest thing, though, was that Atticus was absolutely terrified of the dogs that were there. Strange because he hasn't really been that frightened of animals before. In fact, I thought he liked them. His favourite toy is a dog! It didn't matter what size the dog was, either. I didn't blame him for getting freaked out by the Irish Wolfhound but there was a gorgeous little puppy that he ran away from! Poor kid. I guess it's just the age he's at?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Washing fabrics

I've been in a laundering frenzy. I haven't really been in the habit of washing my quilting fabrics prior to use, but was inspired to do it after reading Jade's blog and with the terrific weather lately. So, I sorted them into colour groups and washed and washed and washed. It's amazing how much fabric I've collected and not used!

And it was terrific seeing the clothes line hanging with red, or blue, or green with each load of washing. So pretty! I couldn't resist taking a picture.

Now to the ironing. And then, the sewing!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Super Dante and Action Atti

It was amazing. The two boys actually played together nicely the other morning. I was astonished. It was delightful.

They played superheroes. Got stuck into the dressup box and caped it up. The toys also got capes. Dante gave them superhero names.

At first they ran around the house killing the bad guys.

"Kill, kill, kill!"
"Hey, Dante, super heroes don't go around killing people."
"But it's just the bad guys."
"No, they just arrest them and put them in gaol. It's not nice to kill people or things. You know, super heroes do other things, too. They help people. Rescue animals. That sort of thing. Please don't teach Atti to kill things."
"Okay, Mama... Hey, Atti! There's a cat stuck up in that tree! We need to fly there and rescue it!"

So then they ran around the house rescuing cats from trees. Much better.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Forward movement

For the past two weeks or so, Elora has been getting mobile, by rolling, wriggling and pushing herself around with her hands (generally backwards). I first mentioned it earlier this month. Well, yesterday she finally worked it all out and crawled forwards! The whole proper hands and legs moving in sync!

It's very exciting for all of us, especially Elora who can now get to her brothers' toys left lying everywhere. Won't be long before she's cruising (walking holding on to furniture) and then walking. Scary thought.

P.S. Last night Dan, Elora and I went out to dinner to celebrate our friend Yen Li's 29+ birthday (love that idea!) and we discovered that she has another two teeth! One is still just coming out. Two at the top (next to the middle teeth, which haven't come out yet). Explains why she's been waking at night recently and has been generally out of sorts.

Friday, October 19, 2007

She's a tough one

It's funny, the differences between the kids. I can't remember if I've talked about this before, but it's so interesting, watching the different personalities emerge.

Dante is very sensitive when it comes to injury. The slightest brush will cause him to howl in agony. He played soccer like he was on the Italian World Cup team. He is able to turn on the tears in an instant over virtually nothing. It's quite annoying, actually. Perhaps it's an eldest child thing? I noticed yesterday when I was babysitting my nieces that the eldest one was similar (and at other times).

Atticus, on the other hand, is as tough as nails. He will climb and jump off things, fall and hit his head hard on the wooden floor, sit up and shake his head and then continue with his game. I've noticed countless bruises on his legs (and at one point he had constant bruises on his forehead) but hardly any complaints. It's quite astonishing and amazing to watch, especially compared to poor old Dante.

Now Elora seems to be up there with Atticus in the toughness department. She hasn't had many occasions for injury yet and on the few times she's fallen over (and off the couch twice), the shock of it has been more distressing than anything else. Lately she's suffering a little more brutality from her brother (got a ball kicked right in the face at the paediatrican's surgery on Wednesday and an elbow in the forehead this morning, both accidental) but has taken it all in her stride. I guess she's got to get used to it - many more years of this to come!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wearing her new cardigan at last

I said that I would post a pic of Elora in her new wrap cardigan. (Pattern from six and a half stitches.) So without further ado, here 'tis!

Ain't she cute? (She's scrunching up her face 'cause it was pretty windy outside today). I'm pretty happy with how it came out. My very first attempt at knitting a garment (scarves don't count as garments, do they?). I used cheap-ish wool cause I thought I'd stuff it up, but now that it's done I don't mind the look of it. Used Amy Butler Lotus fabric for the flap.

Also, check out her gorgeous socks that were a gift from some friends. So cute!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rescuing a baby bird

Dan took Dante out for a walk this afternoon and came back telling us to come to the park.

What for?

He found this at the bottom of a tree!

It's a baby Australian Noisy Miner bird, obviously fallen out of its nest. Its parents swooped down upon Dan as he tried to rescue it. We couldn't get it back into the nest but at least it was off the ground in the fork of the tree, safe from dogs (but perhaps not cats).

I hope it survives. Such a cutie!

Ahh, that's better

Phew! Just finished cleaning the kitchen. What a relief! The dirty dishes certainly do pile up quickly with everybody at home and me cooking up a storm. Well, not really a storm, just dinner! I'm not the best housekeeper - don't wash the dishes on a daily basis. Saving water, I say. There's lots of other things I don't do regularly that I should, too... but who really wants to hear about that?

Instead, I'll talk about my growing obsession with craft and sewing. I'm not actually doing much sewing, due to time constraints and general laziness. But I have tonnes of plans in my head. And now I've discovered that Japanese craft books are fabulous and can't wait to head into Kinokuniya to try and find some! Or pondering upon whether I could bother my Japanese friend Fukuyo to get me some? Of course there's that eternal problem of paying for all this lovely stuff... but we'll deal with that later.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sending kids away

We're nearing the end of the school holidays. I don't know whether to feel happy or sad about it. I think it's more the latter... It's been lovely having Dan at home almost every day. Dante and I, however, are driving each other crazy. The other day my sister-in-law (recipient of the pin cushion) offered to take him for a sleepover. I was a bit concerned about how he would behave for them (she's got three girls (4 months, 2 and almost 5) to look after as well) but Dan said it would be good for him to get out, and for us to spend some time away from each other! Oh well. So Dante is off and we had a nice quiet evening (and will have a quiet day tomorrow, probably).

Atti went to child care today (and tomorrow, as per usual). I feel a bit bad that we send him to child care when the rest of the family stays at home... I always feel like we're abandoning him, leaving him out. You'd think I'd be used to this by now since we sometimes leave him behind when he's napping, provided grandparents are available to keep an ear out! The thing is, we are so much more productive when we shop without him. Dante can get annoying, asking for things constantly, but can also be very helpful depending on his mood. Atti will sit in the pram for a short while but after that time expires he needs entertaining (i.e. chasing after or feeding snacks)... cuts into valuable shopping time.

Today we went out to Ikea in the afternoon. Went a little crazy. Bought a wodge of stuff, none of it really that expensive... but it certainly does add up! I bought a bunch of fabrics. It's getting to be a bit of an addiction these days. A yard here, a metre there. The new fabric section of Ikea is so nifty! The usual piles of fabric, but you get to measure and cut it yourself (and then the staff put the price on it afterwards). They didn't even check to make sure it was right! Anyway, I'm pleased as punch and can't wait to plan out new sewing projects.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pyramid pin cushions

On Sunday morning my sister-in-law happened to see me hand some pins over to my mother and was reminded that she'd lost her pin cushion. She asked if I had a spare but unfortunately I didn't. So told her I'd make her one!

I decided to go with a pyramid shape, perhaps because it was easier? Dan and I used our Pure Maths degrees to figure out the dimensions (I wanted it to stand roughly as high as the base was wide)... 2.5" square, 2.5" x 3" x 3" triangles. (Yes, I know I'm using silly imperial measurement instead of proper metric, but that's what the quilting world uses and all my tools are measured in inches).

Once I cut out my template, it didn't take long to put the thing together. I even chose the fabrics in a flash. I was enthusiastic about this new, simple, fast project and wanted to get it done before they left in the late afternoon. It came out beautifully and I proudly presented it to appropriate awe and delight.

Anyway, I was so happy with how easily and simply the project went (and how much Elora enjoyed chewing on it) that I decided to make myself a couple more. Cut the pieces out on Sunday night, sewed them together yesterday afternoon, stuffed and finished them off tonight.

And, wha-lah! (How does one spell that?) Here they are.

Yay! It feels so good to complete something, especially when I've got so many projects planned, or in progress... Things have been getting away from me lately and I've been feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. It feels good to make things with my own hands. Speaking of which, Elora's cardigan is pretty much done. I've just got to find some ribbon to sew on (instead of button holes) and that's it. The fabric flap is on, the buttons sewn. I'll take a picture of her in it soon.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The kids - update


  • 6 and a half and nearing the end of Year 1.
  • Has lost three "baby" teeth - one almost a year and a half ago (and it has come out twisted), and the two bottom front ones (one is starting to come through).
  • Current obsession (for it does not come in small doses): Ben 10
  • Has almost finished his first two piano books. Still has trouble remembering notes but can play simple pieces with both hands fairly satisfactorily.
  • Hopefully is nit-free at last.
  • Is currently reading "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" on his own after demolishing the first one in four weeks.
  • Talks incessantly.
  • Likes music (of any kind, really).


  • 2 years and 8 months.
  • Not really obsessed with anything, unlike Dante.
  • Pretty good at kicking a ball around. Can throw and catch okay, too.
  • Still has his anti-convulsant medication twice a day.
  • Talks fairly well, still having trouble with is L's. e.g. "Baby Law-a" = "Baby Elora".
  • Has the most delightful, infectious laugh and isn't afraid to use it.
  • Knows how to manoeuvre furniture to get to things, whether it be chairs or tables!
  • Adores his sister and is starting to get better at not squashing her.
  • Looks up to his big brother and copies everything (good and bad) he does.
  • In the process of toilet training, and doing very well.
  • Naps once a day, usually around 2pm for two hours (or more) at home.
  • Loves his toy doggy.


(Picture taken from a video, hence the poor quality. Will try to get a better one soon).

  • 7 and a half months.
  • Has two bottom teeth, very quickly getting bigger and bigger.
  • Sleeps through the night most of the time. Sometimes had trouble getting to sleep by herself and screams the house down (until I give in).
  • Can get around on the floor pretty well, by rolling and pushing herself backwards (the toys get further and further away).
  • Likes to stand up a lot (being supported).
  • Can sit for small periods of time unsupported.
  • Is currently doing that hands-and-knees-rocking-back-and-forth thing. (Precursor to crawling)... so funny to watch!
  • Loves eating cruskits and bread, and pretty much anything else. Tried ricotta cheese for the first time today. Loved it.
  • Has the most incredible ear-piercing shriek/squeal thing which is not limited to when she's upset. Sometimes she does it for fun (judging by the cheeky grin she gives).
  • Is the cutest girl on the planet :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cardigan update - almost complete!

I didn't mention last week that I finally finished the knitted portion of the wrap cardigan I began a little while ago. Tonight I got around to stitching it up (instead of folding washing... priorities!) and I'm so happy. It looks like a garment! All I need to do now is sew the fabric flap and some buttons and she'll be done.

Just in time for summer, eh?
(Apparently the forecast for tomorrow is 34°C... yikes!)

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's going to be a hot summer

30°C today, and we're half way through Spring. Doesn't bode well for the coming summer... It was a reminder of how much I hate the upstairs of this house on hot days. I think we have what's called a gable roof, with three dormers. The front faces north and the roof tiles act like heat sinks. The air inside the roof space heats up incredibly, and half the upstairs walls are adjacent to this area. We have some access doors and when you open them, it is like opening an oven door. Means that the temperature upstairs is always higher than downstairs and sometimes hotter than outside! It can be utterly unbearable. A real problem.

Anyway, today was a kick up the bottom to get my act together and do something about it! I've got some ideas of how we can cool the place down without air conditioning, but I think A/C is inevitable, much to my dismay. Since Atti had his convulsions, I'm extra cautious about the kids overheating.

However, having said all that, it was lovely to spend some time outside in the warmth (and get the washing dry even though I didn't hang it out until after lunch). Dante has gone to a friend's place for a sleepover tonight so we had an unusually quiet evening (although Atticus tried very hard to make up for it). Tomorrow we'll take him and his cousins to a movie.

School holidays starting

School holidays are suddenly upon us yet again. Ack. That means we're in the last quarter of the year. I'll be back at work before we know it. Not really too keen on that idea.

Anyway, I'm super happy because Dan has decided to take the entire two weeks off from work so we can have nice family time at home! Yay! I might have time to catch up on the billion little tasks I've been meaning to do since I went on maternity leave! And do some sewing, too!

The past weekend has been nice. On Friday my two nieces Jasmine and Lorien came over for the day. Atti was a little out of sorts, tired from two days at child care, I think. He absolutely refused to go to the toilet (even though he had NO accidents at all on Thursday) but I didn't force the issue. My mother cooked a lamb roast for dinner. Yum! I made a zucchini slice and the kids devoured it! I was so happy - a great way to get veges into Atti.

Lorien's second birthday party was on Saturday (two weeks delayed). My brother brought over a wonderful jumping castle and the kids pretty much spent all day on it, except for lunch and dessert time. Everybody had a wonderful time, and we probably ate way too much, as usual.

While this was happening, my brothers and I anxiously worked on getting together family photos (including scanning in old ones) to put together a photo book for my parents. There was a freebie in a magazine that we wanted to take advantage of and stupidly (but not unpredictably) left it to the last day to finish off. We had photo albums everywhere and were using my parents' scanner and computer all day, coming in and out of their study. And we were trying to keep it a secret from them!! Well, we got it done, after a bit of stress. I can't wait to see it. Dan and I made one for his mother as well. I was desperately trying to put one together for ourselves, too, but ran out of time (I assume the offer expired at midnight). Oh well. It was fun looking through the old pictures. In fact, here's one of Dan and I a long, long time ago. Back in our previous lives (pre-kids)!

Now, off to bed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Concert in the Sydney Town Hall

Tonight Dante performed with his school's Junior Choir on stage at the Sydney Town Hall. The concert was the Dept of Education's Primary Proms and consisted mainly of a huge choir made up of kids from Yrs 3-6 from various schools. However, interspersed between their songs were performances from particular schools... I think about 5 of these special acts.

Amazingly, our little Junior Choir won one of these places. Judging from the wording (and the number of exclamation marks) on the note from school I think even the choir teacher was surprised! I didn't realise what a feat this was until we were actually there tonight.

When we first arrived, there were hundreds of children milling about outside, lining up and all dressed alike. These were the "Primary Proms Combined Choir" kids. And then I spotted our little group, in their bright red school uniform shirts. There were only about a dozen or so of them and they were clearly a lot younger than everyone else.

The concert began and most of the groups were from late primary school. Then they announced our guys. Our Year 1 and 2 kids trooped onto stage in their costumes. Some looked confident. Some looked terrified. Some looked shell shocked. Dante was in the last group. Their teacher sat at the piano and started playing. And they sang! And performed their actions! And (in my totally unbiased opinion) they stole the show. They received the loudest cheers of the night (but maybe that was because I was surrounded by our parents). We laughed and were so proud.

You know, it was weird to see Dante looking small. He's so BIG in our house! It's good to have reminders that he is still just a little boy, really, once in a while.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Toilet training begins!

We've been a bit lax about toilet training, but last week Atti's teacher at child care told me that he's been sitting on the toilet there, so the time has come for us to toilet train him. You'd think I'd know what to do since I have an older son. Heh. You're wrong! Dante was toilet trained pretty much entirely at child care - we didn't really need to do anything! One day I went to pick him up and they said, just as an aside, "Oh, by the way, he's wearing undies." I was flabbergasted! And that was that.

So, now that we've recovered from our short excursion, I figured we'd better get to it. Today was our first day. Atti was actually very cooperative and happy to sit on the loo. I was very nervous about accidents on the carpet so we spent most of the day outside or in the back dining area (wooden floors). He had three accidents, one of them when I was putting Elora to bed. Not too bad, I reckon. We'll see how things go.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Canberra fun

I've spent the week hiding from the online world - my RSS feed items numbered in the hundreds and email piled up. The trip to Canberra completely exhausted me and I've only just recovered. But now that I've caught up with it all I can finally regale you with the tale of our trip. WARNING: this is a long post.

After an extremely busy day last Thursday (incidentally my niece's 2nd birthday), taking the kids to school, visiting work colleagues for morning tea, having lunch with a friend in the city, walking all the way back to Uni to take Elora for her immunisations, picking up the kids, driving home, feeding and bathing them, and packing, we finally left home at 9pm. My mother decided to come with me for the drive as she was worried about me doing the 3 hours by myself. It was about two hours later than I'd planned, but that was due to my immense procrastination the night before, not packing or preparing!

At first the drive wasn't too bad - D fell asleep fairly quickly and so did the little girl. Atti didn't fall asleep until about 10:15pm! He was so overexcited. About two hours in, at Goulburn, I decided to stop for a quick break. Big mistake. The lights in the car woke up Elora, who started screaming her head off and woke up A. Dante was wonderful - he just put his pillow over his head and slept through it. She screamed almost the entire rest of the way to Canberra... and we finally arrived a little after midnight. The boys shared a room and were so excited that they didn't fall asleep until well after 1am. Ack. Total disaster. I was completely zonked.

The next day Atti woke up at 6am! Of course he woke up Dante as they were in the same room but thankfully there were televisions in all three rooms in our apartment so I put on ABC Kids and went back to sleep. Eventually we rose - Dan rushed off to his conference and the rest of us had a leisurely breakfast and prepared for the day. My mother had to catch the train back to Sydney at midday (the last one for the day) as she had a function on Saturday. What a pity! She didn't see anything of Canberra at all. I felt really sorry for making so much trouble for her.

After dropping her off at the station we went to Kingston for lunch - it is a suburb that I know a little as my brother lived there for six months in the mid-90's and I stayed with him for a week. It has some nice cafes and restaurants. Of course, the boys saw the Pizza Hut and demanded pizza for lunch, so that's what we had. It was a terribly cold, windy, rainy day so my plan picnicking in a park by the lake was dashed. Instead we parked behind the High Court and sat in the back of the car! The rest of the day we spent napping in the hotel room and watching cable TV.

Saturday we met up with my cousin Cecelia and her son Seth (almost 2) and we spent the day at the Questacon. Oh what fun it was! I highly recommend it to one and all. The "MiniQ" section is particularly great for under 6's. It has a climbing gym, home corner, dark cave section, construction area, space-themed room, water play as well as a baby section. The water areas were terrific fun and they even provide apron/paint shirt thingies so your kids don't get completely drenched. The boys loved it, although Dante couldn't wait to see the "Big Kids" sections of the museum (he had to wait for Dan to join us at lunch time). Even Elora enjoyed watching the lights and playing with the water. At lunch we bumped into a distant cousin whom I'd only met in April at an extended family picnic!

We ended up staying there until 3:30pm when I finally took the two youngest home for their naps. Dan stayed on with D and we went over to my cousin's place for dinner. They live in a "new" suburb, right on the edge of the city. It was quite spooky driving out there. On one side of the road were houses and lights and on the other side it was pitch black. "That's the 'Limit of Maps'," Dan told me.

On our final day we decided that we'd brave the crowds and visit Floriade on the grounds of Commonwealth Park, beside Lake Burley Griffin. For once the kids slept in a bit and we took our time packing up the room, only to be grumbled at by the house maids who wanted us out right away! Dan had already cleared a late check-out with the hotel but it was annoying to be rushed like that.

We parked across the lake, near the National Library and walked across the big bridge to get to the flower show. The big fountain (apparently called the Captain James Cook Memorial) was in full force, much to Atti's delight. The wind blew the water spray quite a distance. Cool!

Floriade was, as one would expect on opening weekend, crowded with people and flowers! We walked around, Atti pointing out all the colours and the rest of us just enjoying the show. The hyacinths were especially fragrant. Dante had fun with the "living statue", who produced lollipops from his pocket when money was given. The boys were entranced by the Victorian-era dancers while we queued up for lunch. Elora wanted to eat everything (flowers, hats, you name it)!

We popped in to the Art Gallery on the way home, but unfortunately Dan's favourite artwork, the Fog Sculpture, had been turned off by the time we got there. So he hung around in the gift shop instead while the kids and I found a kids drawing exhibit which kept them busy. Also bumped into a family friend from Sydney who was visiting the town. What a small world!

Well, we eventually left Canberra at 4pm with our two cars in convoy. I had all the kids and Dan was in the small car. It was okay until we got to Goulburn again (what is it about that place?) when we stopped for a walk around. Thereafter Elora screamed and screamed, and Atti screamed back (especially when she would drift off to sleep) for about another hour while I fumed and tried to get in touch with Dan to pull over. I had stopped but he drove straight past, not seeing us, so then the rest of the time was spent trying to catch up and find him on the highway. I sped way too much for my liking. At least I was in no danger of dozing off, the adrenalin was pumping so hard.

Finally I managed to call him and we met up an hour out of Sydney. Elora was beside herself. Everyone had a good stretch and I transferred Atti to Dan's car. The rest of the drive home was wonderfully peaceful and relaxed.

And we were so glad to be home.