Monday, July 30, 2007

Birthday party for a seven year old

Yesterday we went to the birthday party of Dante's school friend, Ewan. It was held at one of those playgym places in enormous industrial warehouses, teeming with children and absolutely deafening. I don't know how the staff survive it. My ears were certainly ringing afterwards.

Anyway, we had a great time. A brilliant idea for a party - the food and drink is organised by the place, who take the kids into a room for lunch and cake. No need to worry about cleaning up afterwards, or entertaining the kids.

Even though the party was for Dante's friend, Atticus was included and had a terrific time! Ewan asked him to sit next to him, and he was well looked after by Ewan's older sister (aged 8) and another of Dante's friends, Luke. Ewan's mother remarked that he was the best behaved child there! He just sat down, happily watching all the other kids and eating everything on his plate (fairy bread, mini hot dogs, chips, chicken nuggets and three jugs of cordial).

Afterwards, they spent who knows how long playing in the giant play gym, ball room, jumping castle and slide. It was fun. Atti is such a great climber! We had to climb in and drag him out at the end of the day, poor kid.

The picture above is of Atti coming down the slide with Luke. Oh what fun they had!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


In other news, Dante scored his very first goal (and the first of the match) in soccer this morning! How proud are we?

A million bucks

Last night I was up every two hours with one kid or the other. Makes for a very tired Jen right now.

But anyway when I'm half asleep, rocking the child back to sleep, I like to take the time to think. Sometimes I plan on how I'd like to renovate the house, or what quilts I want to make, or where I'd like to go on holiday. But last night a different train of thought stuck with me. It's a pretty common one. What would I do if I was given (or won) a million dollars?

Of course there's the usual Pay Off All Debts. That goes without saying. Sometimes I think about buying another house (what? more debt??) or doing a major renovation of this one. But last night a new idea came into my head. I wish I could have my very own fabric shop. I was planning the types of fabrics, the suburb it would be located in, the layout of the store. I had a lot of time to dream about it and work out the details.

Sigh. If only we could win that money. A bit difficult, though, since we don't actually buy lottery tickets or enter those TV quiz shows.

What would you do with a million bucks?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Immersed in others' lives

I've been reading lots of blogs of creative crafty people* lately, as I've mentioned a couple of times before... Something I like to do when I find one that I like is to go into their archives and start from the very beginning. Sometimes that's easy as they only go back a year or so, but other times they go back several years and it takes me a lot longer to get through it all.

What I like about it, though, is that I become immersed in the author's life, reading post after post. I don't have to wait in suspense to find out "what happens next". What I don't like is that once I'm completely up to date I then have to wait in suspense.

Heh. But then I go and find someone else's life to peer into and the immersion begins again. Thank goodness for Google Reader so that I can keep up to date with all these blogs!

* So many of these creative crafty people are stay-at-home mothers, it seems. I wonder why? Mothering, crafting (quilting) and blogging go together well, apparently!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I made it myself - part two

Look what I made, Ma! Ever since I saw Melly and Me's monsters I've been itching to make some of my own. I've been trying to think up designs similar to theirs but I don't want to copy them exactly. My niece Alexandra drew some lovely designs for me, too, (she's such a talented illustrator, and only seven years old) but I'll write more about those later. In the meantime, I decided to make a seahorse, inspired by the visit to the aquarium and those incredible softies.

I did it all by myself! I designed it, cut it, embroidered it (the eyes), sewed it, stuffed it, and finished it completely on my own. I never thought I'd be able to do it. I did most of it last night (Dan had a late meeting and then the car broke down and he and Dante didn't get home until 11:15pm... poor guys. I, on the other hand, had a wonderful productive sewing evening), and completed it tonight. I'm so proud!

It's amazing what some inspiration from the wonderful crafty people out there on the interweb can do. I can't wait to do some more... having the time to do it is another matter, of course.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My two favourite females

This is my current "favourite photo of all time". My daughter and my mother. There's not that many girls in my family (except for the buckets of nieces)... My mother is the only girl out of eight children, I'm the only girl out of five, and Elora is the only out of three.

It was such a beautiful morning today. The sun, the clouds, the gorgeous camellias.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Daily chores - spot the baby

Huh. Did I say "daily" chores? This is a week's worth of washing (maybe more... I can't remember anymore) that has been building up and waiting to be folded. Things have been so crazy around here (and I've been so lazy) that this is what it has come to. Ack.

Anyway, we did an unclutterer thing today. Apple hosted a computer recycling day and so we filled up our car and my brother's station wagon with old machines, printers and monitors that were collecting dust around the house and got rid of them! It was such a great feeling to clear out the mess, but sad to be throwing out our old friends... including an LC which Dan remembers he bought for a real bargain at $500 a long time ago. The people at the drop off point were delighted to see us pull up in our convoy of three cars (my sister-in-law was in the third car with their two girls).

Afterwards we had lunch together at the food court of the shopping centre (the drop off was in the car park) and I couldn't help notice the "Aren't they cute" looks we got from random people while we sat and ate. I think it was mostly directed at Atticus and Abigail, the two two-and-a-half year olds sitting across from each other at the table. Awww...

Friday, July 20, 2007

From the Aquarium

Dan and I can't resist cute and unusual soft toys and we found these guys the other day when we went to the Aquarium with the kids. The hermit crab is called "Herman", and the purple splotch in the background is a jellyfish with pink ribbony tentacles. The favourite, though, is the guy in the middle. He doesn't have a name yet, but he is a bat ray and has the nicest little face. The details on these guys are a wonderful touch - the ray even has a little barb on his tail! Elora loves to chew on Herman's claws.

Aren't they wonderful?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Negative money

Wow, Dan and I just worked out that next year when I go back to work full time, with two kids in long day care full time, I will actually be earning negative money*. That's right. I'll be working seven hours and twenty-two minutes a day, five days a week, and it will be costing us more than I earn! Ridiculous!

We will have to work out what to do about this. Hopefully my folks will be able to help. Plus with a combination of leave and RDOs we should be able to cover looking after the kids. Why do we do it?? Is it worth it? Of course not! But we have no choice. Atticus will hopefully go to pre-school the year after next so it is only for one year. My work demanded that I return full-time but maybe I'll be able to negotiate something after a few months back. And then there's the career change idea which I am still thinking about, and getting keener on each week.

* Well, that's after taking out the home loan repayments... so technically not actually negative...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


It was mighty cold last night and this morning! I was so cosy and warm in bed that it was one mean task getting up, but there were piles of washing waiting to be hung out (I put them on last night) and I had to get them up before the kids woke up.

I quickly ran outside and then stopped. The grass looked wierd. Blue-y coloured. On closer inspection I discovered that it was covered in frost. I was so excited! I've never seen frost like this in our own backyard before.

Then I noticed my parents' "ponds" of water (they save rain water for the garden in buckets and those big green plastic shells that are usually used for sand or as kiddie pools). They had a thin layer of ice over them. Thick enough that I could knock on them. Perhaps 3 or 4mm thick? A couple of other buckets had ice in them, too.

So instead of hanging up the washing in as short a time as possible, I took pictures... Am I insane? Those of you who live in colder climates probably think I am. But it's Sydney, folks! This is the closest to snow we get!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Quilt pictures on Flickr

In the last week or so I have discovered that there are a billion blogs out there of crafty women at home with kids... I've just spent most of last week reading about the life of AmandaJean in America who is amazingly prolific with her sewing and has three kids (two boys and a baby girl) to boot! I adore the things she has made... wish I was as organised and creative as she is. I've also found countless other crafty-type blogs and can't wait to catch up on them. I'll soon make a list and link to them on the right there...

Anyway, I found out about her through a flickr photo pool which I have been trawling through. Wow, there are some incredible things out there. I've got a tonne of new favourites - so I can use them for inspiration one day when I have more time to sew! Here is a selection... Aren't they terrific?

1. For Jane, 2. May flowers top, 3. raspberry and sherbet quilt, 4. Emilia's quilt blowing in the wind, 5. plain spoken 6, 6. Handkerchief Corners Quilt, 7. cass front, 8. a pampered path, 9. Rufus Platypus, 10. Square Quilt, 11. Baby Quilt Finished!!, 12. finished!, 13. Buncha Squares Quilt - Front, 14. Wonky Quilt, 15. Peachy Keen, 16. baby square quilt, 17. quilt pics 017, 18. Baby blankie 2, 19. sun dappled work in progress, 20. mums quilt, 21. _MG_2298rawsave.jpg, 22. baby's 2nd quilt, 23. fresh cut quilt 002, 24. asian windows quilt top, 25. not plain spoken

P.S. It's the last day of school holidays today. Dante goes back to school tomorrow. Yay! Maybe I'll have a chance to get organised and start working on more things now. I'm definitely going to try, in any case.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My widdle girl is growing up

Tonight we moved Elora into her own room... (she's been sleeping in a bassinette in our room all this time)

It feels like the end of an era. As Dan said, this is the third and last time I'll have to raise the level of the cot.

PLUS she's now wearing 00 size clothing instead of 000.

The time is moving by so quickly!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Holy water and oil x 2

Elora's two younger cousins, Pascale and Charlotte were baptised this morning in a nice joint celebration.

Back row: My brother Chris, me, Dante (cheekily popping his head into the photo), and my brother Tim.
Front row: Pascale (my dress), Elora (my baby), Charlotte (my shoes).

All week my mother has been busy, busy, busy with my sister-in-laws helping to organise the event and the food for the lunch afterwards. One of the reasons we had a house full of kids yesterday. Did I mention that? We couldn't even fit all of us in our people mover. Dan and I were wrecked by the end of the day (compounded with Thursday's outing).

It was a crazy child-filled chaotic affair. The church part was solemn-ish - as solemn as you can get it with two crying babies (hey, wouldn't you cry if someone splashed cold water over your head when you are starving and/or trying to sleep?) and zillions of other kids being unsuccessfully shushed and restrained by their parents... There were so many kids there! I thought there were lots of kids at the last christening we went to. I couldn't even count the number of kids today. At least two dozen, I think.

My brothers were very proud of their achievements and Father David was very pleased to be able to baptise the daughters of two brothers at the same time. They even included Elora in the ceremony, giving her a special little blessing near the end. I was so pleased that they had thought of us in this way. Another nice touch, a link to me, was that Pascale was wearing my old christening dress and Charlotte was wearing my old shoes. So cute!

I was a little bit miffed and more than a little bit hurt by the choice of Charlotte's godparents. I was quite upset all week when I realised that the godparents of her two older sisters were my two other brothers and the two maternal aunties. I'm the only sibling that didn't get to share this special honour and I felt really left out and unwanted...

But then today I met Sarah and Phil, her godparents. And I understood a little better why they chose them. They are two of the loveliest people I've ever met. I mean, I've heard about them for a few years now - Sarah runs the child care centre that my niece Jasmine went to at first - but never actually met them before. I exclaimed to Sarah, "It's so nice to meet you after all this time. I've heard so much about you..." and she said she felt exactly the same way. Our two child care centres are related, run by the same group with one administrative officer for them both, but we just never had a reason to go to the other place. So, anyway, I still feel a little bit hurt and rejected, but I'll live. They're family... you can't stay mad for long when you love them so much. Maybe they'll have another kid (a boy, next time??) and I'll get my chance then :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fishy vego day

Today was utterly exhausting. Dan took the day off work (and tomorrow as well) and we decided to take Dante to the Sydney Aquarium, since I've never been there in all the time it has been open! Since my nephew and niece, Ben and Alexandra, were staying with my parents for a few days I decided to take them along as well to give my folks a day of peace. I felt really bad since we were sending Atticus to child care instead of bringing him, but the idea of dragging him through the crowds was not even remotely appealing. Afterwards we were going to meet up with Dan's family for dinner to celebrate his sister's birthday.

It took us a bit longer to leave the house in the morning than expected, so an hour later than planned we headed off. Poor Atticus was devastated to be dropped off at "school" even though we explained that Auntie Bec was going to pick him up. He thought the "party" was going to be right then and there, poor kid.

Then, we made the mistake of driving into the city to try and park at the recommended parking station ($12/day instead of $30) but it was full. Took another hour to find a parking spot in the end. Poor Elora was howling for a feed.

The smart thing we did, however, was purchase our admission tickets online. I highly recommend doing this, people! Not only do you get 10% off, but you do not have to queue with the rest of the plebs to get in. And remember, it is school holidays. The queues when we got there were incredible! By then the kids were starving so we had lunch and finally got into the aquarium for the afternoon.

It was a fantastic place. I really quite enjoyed it, even with all the crowds and pushy tourists. I'm glad we didn't bring Atti - better on a day when it's not so full of bodies. The kids had a great time and weren't too overly rowdy (about a 6 on a scale from 1 to 10 in rowdiness). Having my 13 year old nephew around was good. He's a great help!

Afterwards we went to a Vietnamese Vegetarian restaurant where we ate Peking "Duck", Lemongrass "Chicken" and other assorted "meat" dishes. Ben was quite confused since the dishes had meat in their names but the restaurant was vego! Bec explained that the "meat" is actually gluten... it was all rather interesting, and pretty tasty.

I think we were all glad to get home in the end, though. It was a long day for everyone.

Dante and Alex with a seal.

Dan and Dante being silly near the entrance to the Oceanarium.

The three kids "inside" the giant Oceanarium tank.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I made it myself!

Can you believe it? I actually made something! I've been thinking about making some little girl dresses like this for a while... even before Elora came along. They are so simple and I love them.

I finished this one last night. Cut it out last week. Sewed it together the other night and then took two evenings to do the blanket stitch edging by hand (don't get much time to do things that require two hands). It looks wonky in the picture, but that's just because I couldn't get the coathanger to sit straight. It's actually pretty symmetrical (except for the button holes). Gotta love polar fleece - no hemming required!

I love the buttons which I bought for this... unfortunately I made a mistake when I was cutting it and the buttons sit just to the rear of the shoulders (you can't see them from the front). I've adjusted the pattern so this won't happen again (that's what I get for ad-libbing instead of trying to plan it properly... thank goodness my mother-in-law told me to draw a pattern of it before I sewed it together).

Elora will wear it to my nieces' double christening this Saturday. I'll post of pic of her modeling it then!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Family lunch

As I mentioned yesterday, we had a family lunch today to celebrate Charli's one month.

The food was plentiful and thankfully not all of it was mouth-burningly spicy-hot. We brought along some textas and scrapbooks to keep our boys entertained - and all the other kids as well. Should have brought more paper!

My mother made a delicious olive oil cinnamon cake. Hmm.. yum.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Land of the Merlion

I noticed in the logs that I'm getting some visitors from Singapore (as well as lots of other countries around the world...) Hi, all of you!

Singapore is the country overseas that I have visited the most in my life. My father comes from there and two of his brothers stayed there (three siblings moved here to Sydney). Every time we go overseas we try to make sure we have a stopover in Singapore. I love going there. Dan loves the shopping - specifically, the Lego. We were there once for the Great Singapore Sale and he "saved" a lot of money... but we had to buy another bag to fit all our stuff!

My folks are planning another trip there soon. I wish we could go, too. I'm hoping that we can save up and go next year instead, although it may be difficult since we'll have two kids in childcare, eating up almost all of my wage.

I can't think of what my favourite part of Singapore is. I like the touristy stuff, like Jurong Bird Park and the Night Safari at the Zoo (if you've never been, I heartily recommend the latter - it was fantastic!) But I think, being half-Singaporean, I have to say that I cannot go past the food. Specifically, the Hainanese Chicken Rice (so much better in S'pore than in Hainan itself). My favourite place to go was on East Coast Road in Katong around the corner from my Uncle's place. Yum. And don't get me started on Satay Club...

Tomorrow is my niece Charlotte's "Man Yue" (Mandarin equivalent of "Mun Yit" - one month old celebration) and my brother and sister-in-law are taking us out to dinner at one of the best Singaporean restaurants in Sydney, or so it's said, Temasek in Parramatta. Should be good!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Cold, soapy and wet

This morning Dante called out to me, "Mama, the tap's not working!" and we duly noted that indeed, there was something wrong with it - the water was coming out very slowly.

Nevertheless, we continued getting ready to go out for an early lunch (Dan had taken the day off work). I quickly hopped into the shower. The water here was also not coming out as strongly as usual, but it was hot so I carried on lathering myself with soap.

And then suddenly there was no more water. I turned the taps both fully open but nothing came out. "Bugger!" I cried. Then, more urgently, "DAN! THERE'S NO WATER!"

He came running and I sent him to get the jug which hopefully was full. It was, but I hadn't boiled it yet today and it was cold. He was grinning like a fool as he helped me rinse off, shivering and cranky.

Turns out that I should have paid more attention to the big digger truck on the street out front, as well as the crunching, digging noises. The water board decided to finally fix the leak that my father reported two months ago!

Grrr. I was SO mad. They could have least told us that they were about to turn off the water. It ended up being off for five hours! It was lucky that we'd planned to go out otherwise it would have been an interesting day with all of us at home and no toilets or handwashing facilities... something you desperately need with young kids.

Notes to self: Keep spare bottles of water for occasions such as this. Don't shower when there are workmen digging up the road.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I just posted nine, yes, NINE backdated posts! Check them out!

Sorry for the recent slackness. Times have been trying. And tiring. In good news, I've gone through all the unread messages in my Inbox (over 200) although I haven't actually acted on them all. Slowly, slowly.

Also, check out the Unclutterer site. Wow, it has been excellent reading for someone like me. Inspiration to clean up this place. Not a lot has been done yet, but as I said before, "Slowly, slowly".

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Two weeks of entertaining Dante

I forgot to mention before that it is now school holiday time! Two weeks of having Dante at home...

Actually, no, I'm not that stupid. With a combination of Grandma, Auntie Bec, Vacation Care and Dan taking time off work, I've only got him at home alone for two days! Woot! Genius!

Today was one of those days. I have to say it went really well. I was so pleased with him. He's getting better as he gets older. He entertained himself most of the morning with books and the playstation (while I caught up on sleep). Then we went out for the afternoon to run some errands - took Elora to the doctor (just an upper respiratory thing. Her chest is clear, thank goodness. But what a nasty cough she has!), got petrol, bought groceries. Dante was helpful the entire time. He got a little restless, but who doesn't when your mother won't let you buy EVERYTHING that you've seen advertised on TV or looks vaguely interesting... Actually, I was absolutely delighted in the breakfast cereal aisle when he walked past the Coco-Pops, saying "No, we can't have those. They're bad for you."

Then he had a piano lesson (last Saturday's one clashed with soccer) which he did really well in (but still needs to practise more! Who doesn't?) and then straight to soccer training. Have I said this before? He's doing so much better this year with a smaller team (six players only), more patient coaches and being a little bit older. He really gets in there and gives it a good try. They haven't won many of their matches, but they do their best each week and that's so important at this age.

Anyway, the next time I've got him at home, Atticus will be here too. Should make for interesting times. Hopefully my folks will be able to help me. They're planning another overseas trip soon - argh!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Two things that make me happy

It's hard to think of these when they're crying and/or clawing at your legs asking for cheese, but the two best things in the world for me, at the moment, are:

* Atticus' laugh. He has a gorgeous happy laugh that can't help but make you smile. And tickle him some more just to hear it.

* Elora's smile. Her eyes crinkle, her mouth opens, her dimple shows and her whole face lights up. My heart turns into a gooey mess.


It's good to think of the nice things so you don't lock yourself in the toilet to get away from it all.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The crying, it never ends.

Oh, man, what a day. The two younger kids have both been sick with some respiratory virus - Atti's been out of sorts of over a week and Elora has a nasty cough and runny nose. And, of course, when a child is sick they want their mother! Not their grandmother! Not their grandfather! Not their brother! Not their father! Ack! All that times two!

I think the worst thing about parenting is when your child is ill. Atti woke up one night last week with a roaring fever and the shakes and I'm sure he would have had another convulsion if he wasn't on the medication. I had a very anxious night that night. Another night Elora just would NOT go down to sleep in her bed. She was happy to sleep in my arms but every time I lay her down she'd start coughing and crying until I picked her up and rocked her back to sleep (which took quite a while each time). In the end I just gave up trying and spent the entire night sitting upright in bed, somewhat sleeping. Argh. So I was exhausted AND anxious AND stressed. Hooray!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Atti at the park

All rugged up for Sunday morning tennis.