Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One more

Oh yeah. One more resolution to add to the list:


I'm sorry that I've been neglecting this poor old online journal of late, and you, my readers, as well. I am determined that I will be a much more diligent writer in the new year. The writing is good for my brain, helps me to remember my days, motivates me to do more with my life. I like the writing.

So, I will be posting on a regular basis - weekly, definitely, and more if I'm organised enough :) Not sure what time I will set aside for it, but the point is that there WILL be a set time for me to write.

Just letting you know!

That was 2008

The year has finished already? I'm amazed, are you?

Elora started child care in January and I went back to work, full time at first but part-time eventually.

The kids grew and grew. Elora is a little chatterbox now, mimicking her closest brother constantly. Atti has come along really well except for a couple of convulsions in the middle of the year which means that he's back on his meds. He can now (mostly) write his name and numbers and starts preschool next year! Dante completed his Preliminary Piano Practical Exam (got a B+ - did I tell you about that?) and is going into Year Three next year - the "Primary" part of school, no longer "Infants" any more!

Not much else has really happened that I can think of. I took a sewing class in the latter part of the year. It was great fun and I learnt a lot. Still trying to decide if I'm going to go to the next level (which is during the day for four weeks in March). I've done a bit more sewing of clothing and started some more projects. Did some more knitting as well... Took a sock knitting class in April. Dan went to the USA in June (and finally got his American passport a little later). I moved into a new office at work after 9 years in the same place! Made some closer friendships there as a result. That was nice.

So now, time to consider the coming year. 2009. I don't generally make new year resolutions but I will make a few this time:
  • Cook more.
  • Continue my enthusiasm for keeping the kitchen clean and tidy.
  • Sew more. Sew more clothes and use up all that fabric I've been buying this year!
  • Knit more. Craft more in general, I think.
  • Exercise more. I've been going for jogs and going to the gym. I want to keep that up in the new year. (I can't believe that I've put on 2Kg in the last six weeks! Blasted festive season and all the eating it entails).
  • Shout less. That's going to be a hard one.

Well, that's far more than I expected to write. They are all pretty general - nothing too specific. But that's okay by me :)

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you are having an enjoyable break and that the New Year is a happy, productive and safe year for you all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fairy lights

One of the things I like best about Christmas is the excuse for fairy lights. Whilst I'm not a huge fan of the streets completely lit up (mainly because of the waste of electricity), I'm partial to a few little specks of light and colour here and there.

Last year I bought a bunch of fairy lights cheap at Ikea in the post-Xmas sales, and couldn't resist picking up a few more recently. I strung them up around the dining room on the weekend as we had our friends over for our annual celebration. It was a daytime thing so their effect was not as pronounced.

But then last night after I'd gotten the kids to bed (Dan was out) I went downstairs, turned them all on again, turned off all the lights and sat in the glow of the lights. It was just beautiful. I could have sat like that all night, except that I fell asleep for a little while. I tried to take a picture, but if didn't work out. Just use your imagination :)

Today at work I was inspired by last night's delight and found some lights that I'd had stashed on a shelf. Pinned them up on my (still sparse) notice board (need to finish settling in to my office one day!) turned off the office lights and smiled.

It's probably not the best light to work from... might be an OH&S issue. I'm thinking of bringing more lights in tomorrow. There's only three days of work left in the year. I think we can survive it :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Made me laugh!


[P&P*, Facebook style.]

*Link to Wikipedia. Don't read the Plot Summary if you don't want to know the story (in case you haven't read it) - it's full of spoilers.

Curse you, Father Time!

It really irks me. There are six working days left in the year (for us fortunate University employees, that is). SIX DAYS! It's December! Christmas is almost upon us!

I'm in a bit of a panic. I haven't even started the Christmas gift shopping. And I think I'll have to abandon my idea for handmade gifts for teachers. Six days!

Curse you, old man Time. You've made the last six months whizz by at too fast a rate and it's just too much. I can't bear it.

Know what I mean??

Thursday, November 27, 2008

500th post!

I've had a bit of a blog break - so much for NaBloPoMo!

I've been busy - work, craft, kids. Well, it seems just the usual life stuff, really. My trip to TI was wonderful. Warm (actually, hot and humid), relaxing (except that Elora wouldn't sleep much) and family-filled. But it was good to get home, too.

Now Christmas is less than a month away and things are starting to get quite busy - the social calendar is filling up quickly.

And I just realised that this is my 500th post! It's been almost four years since I started this blog - about 125 posts/year. That's an average of two posts/week. Not a bad, I reckon.

Lots of the craft blogs have giveaways for big events like this. I might do the same. I'm not sure exactly what yet. Perhaps some wool (I have a skein of Koigu KPPPM that I can part with), some fabric (some fat quarters) and something else yet to be determined.

Leave a comment on this post and I'll pick a winner in a few days.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunshine, here I come

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go.

I'm off to Thursday Island, folks. Gone for five days - not sure about 'net access, although last time I was there I was able to blog. So, I may or may not see you!

Monday, November 10, 2008

My latest craft infatuation

I've taken an interest in yet another type of craft lately... because I have SO much time to do it all!

This time it's origami. But not just the animal shape making that you usually see. I like making geometric shapes, out of lots of little modules. I like the portability of this craft - nothing needed but squares of paper and a flat surface to work on. And even the latter is optional!

It's actually not that hard - so I upped the difficulty by doing it in miniature. My paper is 50mmx50mm and I've just bought some smaller stuff - 40mmx40mm.

These two linked cubes are about 2½cm along the edges. Joining them up was a little tricky but fun! I can't wait to do more - I may even make a chain of them, perhaps...

(This last picture of the cubes with the iPod touch is just to give you an idea of size).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday: follow-up

Ha! Turns out that these darn kids had discussed and planned their birthday pool party activities because nearly every single kid there who had access to a Nintendo DS wanted to bring it to the party. And nearly every single set of parents refused such a silly idea. Boy did I feel vindicated.

I say nearly every single set of parents because two kids did actually bring theirs, and would you believe it? Half the party was spent hovering around watching them play.

Kids! Ha!


Today I am the worst mother in the world because I won't let Dante take the Nintendo DS to a POOL party.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The US election

There's but one thing to say...


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Crafty inspiration

Can I do it? Quick quilts for babies in two weeks?

I decided on the idea after my coffee nap on Thursday morning. Something basic - squares simply pieced. Bought some fabrics this afternoon (and some bamboo yarn - so soft!) for them.

Inspired by JC handmade (who is incidentally having a giveaway... my colours are dark raspberry red, duck-egg blue and chocolate). I think the tops will come together quickly - I'll see about the quilting.

Two weeks, eh?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday afternoon

Ah, the blissful quiet of nap time.

I never know what to do with this precious couple of hours. Have a rest myself? Knit? Sew? Work? Chores? Skip out of the house for a little while??

Today I think I'll rest. I just couldn't get up this morning, but I couldn't stay in bed. I hate it when I sleep in and miss my chance to have a peaceful shower and breakfast before everyone else stirs. So I got up, had my shower, breakfast and a cup of coffee (which is extremely rare for me - I'm not a big coffee drinker at all) and then went back to bed for half an hour.

It worked a treat. When I woke I was invigorated. I had an idea of what pressies to make for the quadruple christening (it was going to be a quintuple one but now one of my cousins can't make it) in a couple of weeks' time. We'll see if I can actually do it, though!

Ideas, ideas, ideas.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sydney in Miniature

Saw some incredible scenes of Sydney linked from the Sydney Morning Herald: videos made from time lapse photography - real photos but processed in such a way that they look un-real, like miniatures. Makes me think of the Thomas the Tank Engine TV show!

Keith Loutit

This is my favourite!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My friend Gina died last night. I found out this morning when I got to work. She'd been sick for a while - had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 18 months ago and had been fighting it ever since. Not a bad innings for that particular disease but devastating news nonetheless.

She was only 33 - my age. Her daughter just turned two. She was the most beautiful, bubbly, friendly person you could ever know. We got on the instant we met.

I last saw her a couple of weeks ago after she was sent home from the hospital. The cancer had spread to her stomach and she couldn't eat any more. But she seemed like she wasn't too bad that day. I know she made a great effort for our visit. I sort of got my hopes up that things may miraculously resolve, but I think we all knew deep down that she didn't have much time left. We just didn't want to say it.

Two weeks later and she has gone. A wonderful part of this world has been taken away too soon and I can't help but feel that it is ridiculously unfair. I wish I'd been able to do more for her - been to see her more often. But, well, I don't know what there is to say now. I just hope she knew how much she meant to me.

I'll miss you, Gina.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Word cloud

Just found this cute online application. It takes a bunch of text (or your blog feed) and turns it into a nifty word cloud (with the more frequent words being bigger).

"Incredible heart" by Jen

I used this post for my words. Click on the image for more clarity.

Early starts

A month and a half ago I voluntarily got up and went to work early. It was a liberating experience.

Because now I'm addicted.

I've been going in early to work early once a week almost every week since. Mondays, mainly, cause then Dan doesn't have to worry about getting the two younger kids ready (they stay at home with my folks).

I don't know what I like best about it... the grin on my father's face when he takes me to the train station (for some perverse reason he loves that I get up so early now); the relaxed, quiet time when I'm getting ready to go; the stillness of the morning (although the traffic really picks up after 6:30am); or the chance to sit in the dark in my office for an hour or two before phone calls start and my colleague arrives.

Anyway, it makes for a nice start to the week.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today's lesson

The lesson for today:

Don't eat month-old "fresh" pasta sauce, especially with meat in it.

Did I say a month old? I meant a month past it's Use By date.

After a day in bed with stomach cramps and rushed visits to the bathroom, I think I have learned this one the hard way!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Driving home this afternoon, we got stuck behind a cyclist pulling one of those double kiddie bike trailer thingies. He was going fairly slowly and a little erratically but eventually got off the road and we moved on.

Further down the road we caught up with him again (heavy traffic + red lights). His bike was laying across the kerb on the wrong side of the road and he was several steps away from his bike running after a plastic bag.

At first we thought he might have had an accident or something. We were quite concerned about the child he was towing. His stumbled a bit as he walked and then did the strangest thing. He put the plastic bag up to his mouth and inhaled. Then hopped on his bike and slowly started pedaling off.

It took a minute to register. Dan recognised it first.

He was chroming.

Our first worry was the contents of the trailer. Thankfully we got a good view inside and it was child-free - just some plastic bags (probably filled with cans of inhalant). And, quite frankly, I was shocked. It wasn't really uncommon to see that sort of thing in the really dodgy part of the city near where we used to live, but a little further out (still in the inner-west)?? Whilst riding a push bike in peak hour traffic??

I guess that's Sydney for you.

At least he was wearing a helmet.

*reference to Lily Allen's song LDN.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gettin' fit (or trying to)

About six weeks or so ago, I started going to the gym every Tuesday lunch time. It's a big thing for me... I first joined the gym about ten or more years ago and went twice, I believe. And then again about three or four years ago. I went to about three classes and then stopped.

This is the first time in my life that I've actually regularly worked out (not counting my dragonboat racing days). I'm so impressed with my persistence! I think it helps that I don't go alone. Dan and a friend from work come along as well, and it's great. We encourage each other, egg each other on, compete with each other :) We spend some time on each of the different fitness machines - treadmill, stepper-thing, rowing, cycling.

The best thing is that I think it's actually working. I think I'm getting fitter. I've been trying to work on my running. And rowing. I set some small goals and am bettering them each week. I won't embarrass myself by writing them here, but just know that they are reasonable and achievable while not being too easy! I'm definitely feeling today's effects tonight... my poor aching legs!

I've been thinking about trying to go more than once a week but time is short these days... I'll keep you posted!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A strange flower!

Our carnivorous tube plant has sprouted a flower. What an unusual looking thing!

But I love the colour.

Cup of tea, anyone?

Ooh. Just saw Monica's mug and I am in mug envy.

Thankfully I was able to find its source.

Edited at 22:33: Ack! Too bad about the price! £8.45 + £12.95 shipping = a phenomenal amount in AUD. Too much for just a mug :(

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm going away!

Yay! I've bought my tickets and organised my accomodation. I'm going up to T.I. in November. Yay, again!

I have previously written about that lovely place, Thursday Island in the Torres Strait at the very tip of Australia (between the mainland, Cape York, and Papua New Guinea) and in Nov. '06 I went there with my mother for a very sad occasion.

This time, though, will be nothing but joy. My cousins are getting their children baptised and in true huge family style, it will be a quintuple christening (and they're working on no. 6). That's right. Since February last year there have been 9 great-grandchildren born to the clan, three in Sydney and the rest up in Far North Queensland.

I'm so excited! Yesterday when the plan was initially considered I was completely shocked by how cheap the tickets were! Usually it costs well over $1,000 to fly up there but I managed to get one for $570. I couldn't believe it! (Actually, yesterday the price was $520 but I hesitated and missed out.)

I'll only be going for 5 days, two of which will be spent travelling... 6 hours up, 9 hours back (with a three hour wait in Cairns). To save Dan's sanity I'll take Elora with me since she's free anyway.

I can't wait! I love going up there and seeing all my family. I love seeing the racial mix of my cousins and the next generation. I love the smell of the sea air and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. I love being on boats. I love the peace and quiet of a small town in the tropics.

But... I'd better get sewing. I've got presents to make for six babies!

Oh yeah, and I was playing around with the camera on my MacBook again. Here's me, grinning like a fool because I'm so excited. Believe me, it's the best of a lot of photos I just took. Plus, you get to see my cosy, cosy dressing gown which I've mentioned just a few times.

Food for the future

By the way, we're going to the Food For The Future fair at Chippendale today. Dante's school choir is performing at 10:35am and 12:00pm. Should be interesting!

Will tell you more about it later.

Secret guilty pleasure

I have a secret guilty pleasure.

Dan found out about it the other day and was horrified and amused. I'm a little horrified and amused by it as well.

It's not as bad as you think. Maybe.

It's just that... I can't resist.

Okay, well, I guess you want to know. Here it is.

When we have a fresh new loaf of soft bread, I have to butter a piece and sprinkle hundreds and thousands on it. Then I fold it in half and gobble it down. All the while hiding it from the kids.

Yes, that's right. I eat fairy bread as a snack... and I don't share it with my children.


What's your guilty pleasure?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Popular pub

As I mentioned earlier, our dear friends Tancred and Evelyn have been home for three weeks and are going back to Edinburgh tomorrow. They asked everyone to come to the pub after work today as a "final farewell".

So, we went, of course. How could we not?

It was great going to the pub - it's been ages since we were last there. And how popular did I feel?? :) Not only were there the twenty or so of us, but another two separate groups of people I knew - a few parents from child care and a group from work!

The pub (the Duck and Swan - isn't it a great name?) has a great beer garden and restaurant and kids are welcome. They have great kids' meals for $5 (anything on the menu in a smaller size!) and happy hour from 5:30 - 7pm each weekday.

We had a nice time. It was so cute watching Atti and Elora share their meal. Atti was so good at making sure that Elora had a constant supply of chips :) I even had a beer. We couldn't stay too long as the kids started turning into pumpkins but it was a great early evening out.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Atti at the park

D: Atti, what are you playing?
A: I'm playing "Cross and Knockers".

Dan took this video a couple of weeks ago while he was at the park with the kids. It was so cute that I couldn't not share it!

We had a quiet day at home today, the kids and I. We did pop out for lunch - my parents took us to the RSL club for lunch (which was a good and bad idea...). Naps after lunch (including me and excepting Dante who played on the PS2 instead). Made a cake to take to work tomorrow - the same Blueberry Butter cake I made for Atti's birthday this year, and also attempted a couple of months ago which really bombed... I didn't blog about it at the time but I should have. It looked terrible, the texture was thick and chewy, but it tasted okay! (We all had a great laugh about it... especially me, utterly embarrassed about it all.) This is the third time around. Still not as happy with the look of it but we'll see what happens when we cut it open tomorrow. Hopefully I will redeem myself.

P.S. Does anyone else adore Ewan McGregor as much as I do? Currently listening to him on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. What a voice!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My cards

On Saturday I went to a card-making party with my ma which my mother-in-law organised.

It was like a Tupperware party - a nice lady called Angela came and demonstrated how to make them, provided pre-cut pieces, stamps, ink, glue etc. and 10 of us sat down and made them (adding our own touches if we liked). It was fairly entertaining... actually, I rather enjoyed doing it. The cards weren't perfect and the hardware was quite expensive (she sells the paraphernalia for it afterwards, which is where she makes the money), but it was good doing something creative... as you probably know by now, I do enjoy my craft stuff!

As I mentioned the other day, I tried very hard not to look too closely at the catalogues with their pretty pictures and inspiring ideas. But in the end I did have a quick look and ended up getting a set of alphabet stamps. Me and my alphabet stamps. I'm getting quite a collection these days!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dante, Wall-e and star charts

Just before the school holidays began last week, Dante had a massive tantrum at tennis class which involved the teacher coming to get me from Atti's swimming lessons... I was horrified, mortified and extremely cross. (We joke that he did a "John McEnroe").

I was so cross that I told him he WON'T be doing any fun things these holidays - he should have remembered that school was about to finish. He wasn't very happy with this outcome (that's putting it lightly!)

A few days later, when the holidays actually began, he started to pester to go and see some movies etc. "Aha!" we told him. "Remember what happened on Wednesday? When you screamed at your teacher at tennis? Remember what we said?" More crying, whinging and complaining ensued. Until we decided that he could earn the privilege of seeing the film instead.

So Dante sat down and created a star chart for himself:

25 stamps per movie. It was his idea to divide up the page and add the index for ease of use. I thought it was really nicely done. He has been incredibly well behaved since this came into action, with only the occasional lapse. It's quite amazing to see how good he can be when he wants to!

Yesterday we finally got to see Wall-E, the latest delightful offering from Pixar. (Trailer can be seen here).

What can I say? I'm glad Dante earned his stamps so quickly. This was the most entertaining film I have seen in a long time. I don't often laugh out loud but I found myself doing it several times during this movie! I loved Wall-E's collection of human "artifacts" (including the singing fish!) and the unstoppable pet cockroach. The titular character was incredibly charming and cute.

Of course, as is typical with kids' films, the "message" was jammed down our throats but I didn't mind as it's one I've always cared about... "Save the environment!"

Anyway, I highly recommend it to all, not just those with kids. Don't be late or you'll miss the short film beforehand. 4 and a half stars!

Saturday, October 04, 2008


The day started off unhappily with the 19 month old howling blue murder at 4:30 in the morning (I got back to bed 45 minutes later - too tired to stay up, unlike the previous day). Then just an hour later the 3.75 year old came into our room needing help with his pants. Time to get up, and I was so very tired.

If you recall from my last post, tired Jen = cranky Jen. Not a good start with a seven year old who is whingey, sullen and argumentative when he is tired (and he was this morning).

After some time (10 o'clock!) I decided a nap was very much in order. I kicked Dan out of bed (Elora, amazingly, slept in until 11:30am today!) and was virtually asleep by the time my head hit the pillow.

A good hour and a half later, it was like a different person emerged from my bed. Cheery, energised (but still in need of a cup of tea) and calm. I'm worse than a toddler, it seems! Or perhaps I've just absorbed the trait from hanging around them so much. (The trait of being terribly moody depending on whether I'm tired or not.)

Gave Elora her Rice Bubbles just before midday (which she immediately followed with lunch) and then my mother and I went to a card-making party hosted by my mother-in-law... something like a tupperware party but a bit more interactive. It was pleasant enough - I refrained from looking too closely at the catalogue for fear of getting spendy, but succumbed in the end and got a set of mini alphabet stamps. I'll show you when I get them!

The evening wasn't too bad when I got home - after dinner we (all five of us) played Hide and Seek around the house... the kids had a grand time. Atti and Elora haven't quite got the concept of "being found" - rather they jump out with a "Boo!" when you finish counting - but the house rang with laughter, running and squealing and it was nice.

A quick cat nap while waiting for Elora to stop protesting about being put to bed, and I suddenly had enough energy to start building some Lego! I bought the set for Dan yesterday at lunch time but liked the look of it so much I cracked it open. He didn't mind that I was taking over his Christmas present. I guess it's mine now! I'll take a progress shot tomorrow. (I didn't finish - it's a big set!)

Well, this is a mighty boring, narrative post. No pictures. No interesting tales. It will be better next time, okay?

Friday, October 03, 2008

To be friendlier

I was up at the crack of dawn again this morning. 5:40am. That's even after a late night last night*! I don't know why I can't stay in bed any longer these days. My body knows that daylight savings is coming.

Dante was also awake around that time. I heard him use the bathroom and then go back to bed. I popped my head into his room to close his blinds and tell him to go back to sleep.

He said to me, "Mama, can you go back to bed, too, so you will be friendlier later?"

Huh. I guess I do get pretty cranky when I'm tired. Bit of a wake-up call coming from one's seven year old!

* We went to dinner and the theatre - more on that soon.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My first Japanese craft book

A spontaneous lunch-time trip into town in search of origami paper yesterday ended up with me finally purchasing a much-coveted Japanese craft book.

"Little Girl's Dress Book" ISBN 978-4-579-11091-9

I've been eyeing this one for a couple of years, ever since I saw this delightful picture on 6.5st's photostream. But the price put me off a bit and I didn't get it. I considered buying it through Japanese Amazon but never got around to it and couldn't justify the cost especially as I would have bought a few books at once to save on shipping!

But yesterday, I had to have a quick browse through the Japanese language sewing section and the little girl on the cover just called out to me. "I'm cranky because you haven't bought me yet!"

I figured I'd contemplated it long enough, so I splurged and bought it :)

I love how the models aren't all smiles like a Kmart catalog.

I love the simple designs - there are four basic dress patterns, embellished differently (sleeves, ruffles etc.)

I can't wait to get sewing for Elora, after I work out what size to make and how to interpret the patterns.

One more exciting thing to share with you this day - I enrolled myself in a community college sewing course! I wanted to do the Dressmaking course, but you had to know all the basics and finishing techniques from their other two courses first. I've enrolled in the not-so-basic one. I figure that I do have a general idea of the theory and basics of sewing. I'm very excited about this. It doesn't start for another 6 weeks so in the mean time I'm going to try and do some more sewing to get my basic skills up. Yay!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September: over

Two nights in a row of falling asleep before 9pm have meant that I've missed two days in this Month of Blogging... but I don't mind. It's been fantastic writing every day and reminded me of my childhood ambition to be an author (which earned a "Good choice, Mama" from Dante this morning when we were discussing what we want to be when we grow up... which somehow led to a discussion about reincarnation. But I digress. )

Thanks for hanging around and listening to me blathering on this month. It's been fun. I'm going to try and continue the more frequent posting. I think it's good to keep at it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Good and busy

A tiring day today.

A working bee at child care (lots of people came - the work was done so quickly. Yay!) A visit to the shops afterwards to meet Dan and the kids. Bought a bunch of clothes for Elora. Home for naps (me included!). A quick dinner and then off to a party for our friends Tancred and Evelyn who are back home from Edinburgh for a few weeks.

Tiring, but fun.

And the best news - American TV has come back online. Grey's Anatomy for all!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stuck in my head

A friend from work introduced me to this song and it has been stuck in my head ever since. The film clip is equally groovy, cute and quirky. I recommend following the link and watching it (unfortunately I couldn't embed the video).

"The Show" by Lenka.

Lenka is from Sydney originally, the singer from Decoder Ring. I couldn't pick where I'd seen her before, but I looked her up on IMDB - she played the daughter of the Mayor in the film The Dish.

Anyway, had a busy day at work followed by dinner at my brother's place catching up with my sister-in-law's cousin whom I've not seen in many years (they are from the US). 'Twas a lovely evening, if not late and tiring. I would write more but instead I will sleep!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Me and my bro

Time for a flashback.

My eldest brother, Arthur, and me. I think I was about a year or so old. He was 12 years older than me.

This was taken out the front of our house. The funny thing is that it still looks basically the same. Even that succulent on the left of my brother is still there and alive.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The ever-expanding organ

I'm talking about the heart here, folks.

Isn't it just the most amazing thing?

There you are, completely in love with your partner. Your heart is full of him. Your life is complete.

Then, out of the blue, a kid happens. He pops out and as soon as your belly deflates and you see your little bundle of squealing joy you are completely smitten. Your heart, which you previously thought was full, suddenly expands and is full yet again. Amazing.

A few years pass, and another kid appears. You look at his little red squashed up face, tiny hands and feet and once again that heart of yours swells. You don't love your partner or other kids any less. There's suddenly just more love to go around. Perhaps you love your partner and kid even more with the appearance of this new face. Incredible!

And then the girl arrives. A squeaky little thing who grows into a squealing little toddler. And that heart of yours gets bigger again. How does it fit in your chest, it's so big?

And now, every time you see those three children play nicely together, watch the girl admire and copy her brothers, watch the boys laugh and co-operate, that little old heart expands again and again. Every time one of them says "I love you, Mama" it happens. Every spontaneous hug. Every proud moment.

It just amazes me so much, that ol' heart. Will it never stop expanding?

Pilgrim's plague

That's what they're calling this bunch of nasty viruses that are going around at the moment, and what has knocked us around for the last few weeks. Apparently when Sydney was descended upon for World Youth Day, the visitors not only brought their rosary beads with them. Lots of new germs came, too.

I write this because Elora is sick yet again. She only just went back to child care and she's home again ill. Ack! Perhaps she never fully recovered in the first place and I took her back to child care too soon. But the poor little thing has gunky eyes (but not conjunctivitis according to my parents' doctor) and a raging fever. Last night after her bath she got a serious case of the shivers (with almost 40°C temp) and I had to just hug her tight until she stopped. Oh, so sad.

Well, they say that it's good for her - building up her immune system! Got to look at the bright side of all this :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Getting ready for Daylight Savings

Something has happened to my sleep patterns lately. I've been getting up early every morning, sans alarm, and falling asleep earlier than usual at night.

I'm not complaining, though. It's nice getting up at 6am (or earlier some days)! I lie in bed listening to the birds calling each other. The rest of the house is oh so peaceful. And I'll be all set for when Daylight Savings begins in a couple of weeks!

The main downside to going to bed almost straight after the children is that I don't have "me time" in the evening. I don't sit down with Dan and knit/sew while we watch our favourite television shows. Not much crafting has been going on around here. And I think Dan's getting a bit lonely.

Of course, he could always come to bed earlier (instead of 1am!) and wake up earlier, too... heh. Anyone that knows him would ROFL at the idea of Dan getting up early without a serious reason. This is the man who will sleep in till midday if he could!

Oh well, can't win them all.

Monday, September 22, 2008

iPod love

I've had my iPod Touch for just over two months now, and I have to say, I love the damn thing.

I haven't installed a tonne of apps like my dear husband, but the essentials are all I need to make me happy. Mail, Safari and Weather are my most frequently used programs. Music gets used a bit as well, but I'm yet to put my own stuff on it - it's still full of Dan's music from when he went to the US in June.

At home I carry my iPod with me everywhere! I love being able to read my RSS feeds (using Google Reader: Mobile) while I'm watching the kids in the bath, or anywhere in the house (using our wireless network). Dan and I use an app called "Zenbe Lists" for our shopping list now - the list is stored online and our iPod/iPhones sync with the server so we can both access it. So useful and handy!

A couple of months ago I won a blog giveaway and I used the wonderful sock wool that I won to knit myself an iSock, copying the design of Rose Red Shoes, a Sydney craft blogger. I love my iSock. Proud of it, I am! My brother was so impressed that he asked me to knit one for his mp3 player, too :)

Fleece Artist sea wool sock yarn in Blackberry, 2.5mm circular needle
Cast on 44 stitches using Magic Cast-on.

Knit in 2x2 rib in the round (like a sock - I used the Magic Loop method) until desired length is reached.
Knit 37 more stitches in rib (not quite one round).
Back side: cast off 7st;
Front side: cast off 22st.
Back side again: cast off 7 st; (8 st remaining)

Knit in Moss stitch (k1, p1 first row; p1, k1 next row; repeat) or Garter stitch (knit all stitches) on the remaining 8 stitches until 2cm before desired length of flap.
Make button hole: K2 (in pattern), cast off 4st, K2 (in pattern). Next row: K2 (in pattern), cast on 4st, k2 (in pattern). (Cast off less stitches if your button is smaller, cast off more if it's bigger, but I wouldn't recommend anything too big).
Continue for another centimetre.
Cast off.

Sew on your button in the appropriate position, making sure that you test your iSock with your iPod in it. It's skinny and longer without the iPod in it.

Enjoy your newly protected (and warm and cosy) iPod!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Talk about domesticity!

I've just finished hanging out my sixth load of washing for the weekend. Three today, three yesterday. Phew! There's still dirty laundry to be washed, but that's enough for me for one weekend. They're just bed sheets anyway - nothing urgent.

I'm not the world's best housekeeper... I wouldn't even call myself a good housekeeper, but there's one thing that I do do. And that's laundry. There's something about it that I just like. Sorting and loading the clothes and detergent first thing in the morning, waiting for the machine to finish - it's a front-loader so takes ages. I often have two machines going at once, utilising the facilities of my friendly next door neighbours*, and have two clothes lines to hang out the washing on.

I enjoy hanging out the washing. I think it's because I get half an hour of peace (or more depending on how many loads I've got!) in the sunshine, listening to the morning sounds... birds, lawnmowers, shouts from the park during soccer season. It's a few moments I have to myself, but being productive at the same time!

But just so you don't think I'm the most perfect housewife, I should let you know that I'm terrible when it comes to folding and putting away all those clean clothes. They sit in their baskets for days before I get around to it. Oh well. Can't have everything, right?

* my parents, if you didn't know!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Lorien!

My niece turned 3 last week but since we had the big Memorial Mass, her birthday party was put off until today. Not a big affair, just the family and a few extra friends (so only about 40 people!).

My sister-in-law sent an email around asking everyone to pray for sunshine. Well, that's some praying power there, as it turned out to be 33°C today, sunny and windy.

But the party went on anyway. We set up the kiddie paddling pool. There was doughnuts-on-strings eating, a jumping castle, a pink pig pinata, pass the parcel, and food aplenty.

The kids had a brilliant time. Atti and Lori started partying from when he woke up at 7:30 this morning (we went next door for breakfast where the birthday girl and her family had slept over). He ate non-stop from when the party food was first brought out at 10:30am. Rice crackers, cheese, frankfurts, and especially the watermelon. He sat himself down at the table and got stuck into it.

Elora was terrified of the pool for some reason. Kept her legs held up in a very comical fashion when we tried to put her in it. But otherwise she happily spent half the party sitting on a chair with a cup of juice and a bowl of (at various times) doughnut, bread, sausage and cucumbers.

A very satisfactory party, conveniently held next door!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blargh day

I don't know what it was about today but nothing seemed to go right. I didn't get to move office (as I mentioned earlier today). Everything was pretty blargh at work.

And Atti had another convulsion - second in six weeks - at child care. So we picked up all the kids and came home. Quite a nice afternoon playing at home. A couple of nieces were here so Atti and Elora had playmates. The usual dinner/bed routine.

And then, just now, Atti had another convulsion. All of them without fever, all with a normal EEG. We need to start medicating him right away. I'm thinking of spending the night on the floor of his room.

Feeling oh so horrible right now. What a day.

Sorry about these non-posts lately, folks. :(

Wipe out!

Damn, missed another post yesterday. I don't know why, but I was a complete wreck last night. Took Elora to the doctor in the morning. We stopped in at a friend's cafe on the way home for some morning tea. Then after lunch I went in to work to pack up my office (supposedly moving today, Friday... huh. Rescheduled for Monday now!) Came home, fed and bathed the kids, and then I crashed out as soon as they were in bed!

Fast asleep. Out for the night. At 9pm! Poor Dan is leading a lonely life these days with me going to sleep so early. I don't know why I was so wrecked. And my crafting is going out the window, too! I've hardly done anything lately!

Grr. That virus sure has a lot to answer for.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Great singing, Dante! Apparently.

Tonight our school Junior Choir (of which Dante is a member) performed at a "Primary Proms" concert hosted by the Department of Education.

After a busy day at work (we are moving offices on Friday!) I had to pick up the other two kids, take them to Dan who was in a meeting from 5-6pm, get back to my parents' car which I drove in earlier with Dante, then drive out to woop woop for this concert in peak hour traffic. Ack. I didn't leave work until 6:30pm and it took a good hour or more to get to the venue (and the concert began at 7pm!).

I managed to get there without any dramas (due to intense map study and lots of advice from work colleagues) but when I went inside I found out that I had missed Dante's performance! (Sorry, kiddo - I'm guessing you'll read this one day and find out that I fibbed about it!) I was so annoyed. All that money and trouble so I could sit there and watch other people's kids.

Afterwards I got a quick run down from another parent and then gushed to Dante about how well he did. All was good until he started quizzing me in the car. "Where were you sitting? I couldn't see you. Did you think <insert part of performance> was funny? What about <insert another part of performance>? I was looking for you in the audience, Mama." I really thought I was going to get caught out but managed to divert the interrogation, pleading driving concentration.

The rest of the concert that I saw was all right. A few really talented kids doing solo acts. A teenage flautist, a 10 year old cellist and a 17 year old singer singing her own composition - very rock. She'll be one to keep an eye out for. Her name is Meriana Gyory. Very quirky and Australian. I loved the lyrics to her song.

I can't get you out of my head.
You're a telepathic stalker.

Anyway, that's me done for the day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Miso soup for lunch

When I spent six weeks in Japan back in 1989/90, I had miso soup for breakfast every morning, along with dried seaweed and rice. I hated it. I couldn't wait to get home and have plain old toast!

And now how my tastes have changed! My favourite lunch of late is a cup of instant miso soup from the sushi place. $2. Warms me up and fills my tummy. Beauty.

P.S. That's my messy office in the background. We are in the process of getting a shiny new office but first comes the horrid packing up and moving part. But the good news is that we might be moved in a week! Sure beats the scheduled date of the 24th.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Overheard whisper between two boys (aged 7 & 8)

Boy 1: Do you know what the "D" word is?
Boy 2: Yeah.
1: Oh, really? What is it?
2: Dick.
1 (laughing): No, silly! That's the "D I" word.
2: So what's the "D" word then?
1 (in hushed, awed tones): "Dang".
2 (suitably impressed): Ohhhh.

More of a taste of summer

Ah, this is a sign of things to come. Another glorious summery day showed its face today. Too bad we had to work! I even did another early start - I'm getting used to these mornings. I woke up well before my alarm (which was set to 5:45am by the way). Lovely way to start the week.

Last night the most incredible light permeated the sky at sunset. I rushed outside with the camera but my poor little point-and-shoot couldn't quite capture the essence of it, unfortunately. Here's a picture anyway.

One day I'll get my DSLR... along with the countless other things on our wish list!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Flowers for Sunday

The bouquet of flowers which Elora carried up the aisle during yesterday's church service. She was so cute - we were incredibly proud of her and all the other kids.

If you look closely you might see a little monkey in the background!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Family gathering success!

Had the Memorial Mass and lunch afterwards for my eldest brother today. What a huge success! My mother did such a fabulous job of organising it all. My sister-in-laws outdid themselves helping with the food. The children were gorgeous, amazingly well behaved during the long church service, and very cute during the offertory procession walking down the aisle with my mother. Wish I'd taken a picture of Elora with her bouquet of flowers. So cute!

The turnout was terrific. So many of my brother's work colleagues and a couple of school friends. Just lovely.

And the weather today could be described as "summer-like". 28°C apparently!

We got home and I was wrecked. Elora napped in my arms so she wouldn't go to bed but Atticus and I did. Ah, even after falling asleep at 9pm last night I was still tired this afternoon.

And the worst part? Or perhaps the best part... it's only Saturday! I am so exhausted and there's still one more day of the weekend to go! Will definitely take myself to the doctor on Monday.

Friday, September 12, 2008

That's more Spring-like

Sydney put on a glorious day today, much more worthy of Spring. Made better by not going to work, due to a sick little girl. I ended up taking her to the doctor (antibiotics for an ear infection) and then we had a sit in the park for a little while before coming home. It was just lovely.

Today would have been my eldest brother's 45th birthday. My mother said it was him that brought the nice weather to us. Tomorrow we are having a Memorial Mass (full Catholic ceremony) for him as it will be the 10th anniversary of his passing on the 18th. We're expecting several dozen people - catering for 70+ for a light lunch afterwards. It's been busy here lately. Hopefully I will be recovered enough to give the first reading.

I hope you've all had as delightful a day as I have!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Heh. I was doing so well, wasn't I? Posting every day this month, sometimes more than once. And then I decided I was doing well enough to tell you of my ambition... which somehow caused my blogging mojo to disappear and I immediately missed two days in a row!

I could have back-dated a couple of posts but that would be cheating, and not in the spirit of the thing.

Anyway, I don't really have a lot to report right now. Still recovering. Elora's sick now - with added conjunctivitis! I went in to work early again yesterday (7am!) and came home for the afternoon. I was a complete wreck for the rest of the day. But at least Atti managed to get in a day of child care yesterday and had a wonderful time apparently.

So that's all from here. I finished my second lot of poison Chinese Herbal Medicine last night. My father offered to get me more today but I think that is it for me.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Long day

As I noted yesterday, I got up and out of the house bright and early this morn and was in at work by 7:30am! Even better news (for me) was that the scheduled demolition in my office was postponed until after I have moved out of there. Phew! What a relief.

My heels were dragging a bit (understandably) by the time 3pm came around and I had to get Dante from school. Just him this week - no gymnastics (he's still not well enough and neither was I to take the usual three kids). Oh the whinging, complaining and carrying on that occurred from that point onwards! Not a "Hello, Mama" when he saw me at school. Instead I was greeted with "Oh, but I want to go to gymnastics! In the car! Where's the car? I'm allowed to go to gymnastics! Wha! Wha! Wha!" I was beside myself with fury.

You can imagine what the rest of my evening has been like. The other two both are coming down with this thing, I think. Dan stayed back at work a bit and was going to head off to his Monday Night Thing That He Does but after seeing my face when we did a quick video chat, he graciously decided to come home instead.

It wasn't until he arrived that I realised how ridiculously tired I am, and had been! And he pointed out that between us we were at work for 11½ hrs today. They don't pay us enough! No wonder Dante's behaviour got on my nerves so quickly. I get very cranky when I'm tired :(

Anyway, this has been a really blah sort of post. I apologise. I don't have the mental capacity for anything more. Let alone crafting. I haven't touched any crafty stuff at all for at least a week. Not even any knitting, which is what I'll do whilst sitting on the couch. I think this is the first night in several days that I haven't gone to bed straight after the kids have!

And, by the way, some of you may have noticed this thing that I'm doing with this blog this month... which would also explain the blandness of this post. And it's only the 8th day of September. Oh yeah, the thing: a post a day in September :)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Father's Day

As expected it was a very low key Father's Day over this way. Dan slept in until 10am before I got Dante to wake him so I could hang out three loads of washing!

I wished my own father a good day and he proceeded to tell me that "Chinese don't celebrate Father's Day" and so on. But I think he was happy anyway, especially since we gave him my old iPod with the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon soundtrack on it. Now he'll be able to do his tai-chi in the morning to music.

Back to work tomorrow - I'm a bit worried about the state of my office. There was some demolition work going on in there yesterday. I hope they didn't trash the place! I'm planning on going in early again to get things cleaned up before the phone calls begin.

In other news, I think I have finally worked out how to ease this nasty cough that I have, now that the raging fever has subsided. Who woulda thunk it... cough lozenges. My all-knowing, wise-as-the-ages mother gave me some Vicks Vapodrops and suddenly I can breathe again. Dan's onto the Butter Menthols and they're doing the same job. A huge relief!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Top secret

I also found out some wonderful exciting news this morning! Can't say any more than that, I'm afraid. It's so hard to keep mum!

Yay for YouTube!

This morning Atticus and I spent ages looking up and watching clips from Sesame Street on YouTube!

It started with Feist:

then Norah Jones:

then REM:

I really wish they'd release a DVD or music CD of all these versions. I love them so much!

Happy listening!

Friday, September 05, 2008

A tasty treat!

My sister-in-law's father was a surgeon back in China but now practises Chinese Herbal Medicine here in Australia. He's very good and has a good following of patients.

Last night on the phone my most wonderful sister-in-law suggested that he come and prescribe me some herbs to help me fight this illness. (By the way, everyone else's fever seems to have broken today. Thank goodness!) So this morning he did a house call - felt my pulse, my neck, looked in my mouth.

Then prescribed a bunch of stuff - all in Chinese so I couldn't read it. Probably better not to know what's in it.

Soak the herbs in water for half an hour and then boil down to one cup. Drink merrily...


It is the most awful thing I have ever tasted in my life. I can't get past the first sip! Dan killed himself laughing when he saw my face. I don't know how I'm going to do it without throwing up.

Wish me luck.

Edited to add (6/9/08): I did it! Thought I couldn't at first. Got just over half down before I'd had enough but this morning my dad made me swig the rest of it (cold) down so he could take the cup away and make me the second lot! Ack! Now that is sitting there waiting to be imbibed.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Erk. Sick

All five of us have fevers now. Raging 40°C fevers. I'm lying in bed desperately waiting for the Nurofen to kick in. All five of us will be moping around the house today instead of work and school. I'm certainly not going to attempt yesterday's early start!

When, oh when will my immune system start battling this virus?? Plus my worst fear is passing this on to my not-so-young parents. It will really knock them about.

Sigh. Not happy.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Catching the early train

Woke up this morning at an incredibly ridiculous hour - half past five! I couldn't get back to sleep so I got up, took Panadol to ease my 39+°C temperature, had a long hot shower and decided to come in to work.

It was delightful getting out of the house so early. Birds still around (saw a Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike on the power line as I walked to the bus stop!). Annoyingly I missed the bus by three minutes and had to wait half an hour, but either it was a pleasantly mild morning or the fever kept me warm.

The train ride was uneventful, except for the weird man pacing up and down the carriage carrying a suitcase and wearing thongs. I noted the latter because of his toe nails. Ack. They must have been at least an inch long.

And now here I am at work. I'm getting so much more done this morning! I really quite like this early start. The downside is that Dan just called from home and everyone there is sick. He has a temperature, so does Elora. Atti's been up since half past six, and Dante is still sick (he's been sick since Saturday). I'm amazed that I'm well enough to work. I'm sure it will hit me later in the day.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Atti's second hair cut

Almost two weeks ago now we finally did what I've been putting off for months. The discovery of nits in Atti's hair (but not Dante's, surprisingly) meant that we had to go snip, snip, snip and trim it back, especially since he hates having his hair washed.

Unfortunately I didn't make the discovery until well after dinner so we had to get my father to do a quick job with the clippers. Atti was a wonderful sport. I guess he enjoyed the attention.

And afterwards he was delighted with his new look! We couldn't believe how different he looked - so grown up and so much more like Dante!

It's the end of an era, I know. It will probably be much easier to keep his hair this length now. The curliness of his hair means that it sits just nicely upon his head even with that pesky double crown.

I just hope now that we don't have to do the same with Elora!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Goodbye Winter!

Ah, lovely Spring is here. What a great season. As always, our front yard comes to the party with wonderful fragrant freesias dotting the lawn. I took this photo this morning, the first day of September.

The yard is a little overrun at the moment, but we'll sort it out eventually!

Happy Spring, everyone.

Friday, August 29, 2008

More about me

I've been told that there aren't enough pictures of myself here on this blog so I thought I'd better oblige.

Dan took this picture the other morning - I wanted a pic of my scarf.. which I really love. Knitted out of Noro Silk Garden yarn, it just gets softer and softer as it ages. I'm quite into purple at the moment, wearing my usual dark coloured clothes with a splash or more of purple or red. I'm liking this new found style (I guess that's what one calls it). I also love the pattern of this scarf. It's knitted in one piece but looks like the pieces are sewn together. Neat trick! (I couldn't decide whether to put on fringing or not, hence those two ends that haven't been sewn in. I've decided now (no fringe) and I'll get around to hiding those bits soon.)

Some random facts about me:
  • I'm 5'2"-ish tall. I've been this height pretty much since I was 12. Thought I might get a bit taller during my teenage years but unfortunately did not :(

  • I wanted to be an author when I grew up. I was a huge fan of Roald Dahl. I even wrote him a letter once and got a great reply. I'll see if I can dig it up and show you one day.

  • I learned piano when I was younger. I got up to Grade 7, one below the top level. I stopped in order to concentrate on my final two years of high school. I always regret not finishing off the grades.

  • I was born in Sydney and have lived here my entire life... except for two months when I was 18 when I went up to the Torres Strait for the summer.

  • I'm allergic to cat fur. And yet I have always had a cat since our first dear pet arrived on our doorstep when I was 11. Heh. Sucker for punishment!

  • I'm great with numbers. I can remember phone numbers and birthdays really easily. Names I'm not always so good at. And my arithmetic's not crash hot (which brings much amusement to my friends, since I majored in Pure Maths at Uni).

  • I'm the only one in my family who has never needed glasses. My second and third brothers only had them for a short time, but everyone else has needed them (until my fourth brother had laser eye surgery).

  • Following from that - I'm the youngest of five children, and the only girl. Yes, I was/am spoiled a bit because of that :) We are a fairly close family - we all live in Sydney and always have. We try to get together regularly, every fortnight or more if possible. Even the non-school-age kids all go to the same child care centre!

  • I'm a stickler for spelling. The dictionary is my favourite book.

  • I'm not full Chinese (ethnically). My maternal grandfather was half Chinese, a quarter Spanish and a quarter Welsh!

  • I'm inherently lazy. If I can get away with not doing something, I won't. Or is that I will?

And on that note, I shall leave you this day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I love...

Anne at pinsandthimbles shared a writing exercise she was given recently.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in a writing exercise we did in Barbara Samuel’s workshop. I’m not so sure if it’s just good to set you writing, or if it’s good to send you living, or both, but I’m sharing the idea because it made me happy. It still makes me happy.

Sit down — now, if you can — and write down 25 things you love. Specific things, not ‘I love my cat’ but ‘I love the way my cat smells when he’s sleepy.’ I struggled over the last five or ten, but that was a good thing because I had to think a little harder and be a little bit more true. I’m so glad I finished it. I think I understand myself better, and maybe I understand what I want to write about, too.

I think it's a wonderful idea. So here's mine. It wasn't overly easy to think of them all but as Anne said, it certainly made me happy.

  • I love the sound of my children's laughter.
  • I love the feel of strong arms around me.
  • I love the smell in the air before it rains.
  • I love to go outside on a clear dark night and look at the stars.
  • I love the light from the full moon.
  • I love the way some songs pierce you right inside.
  • I love scones with jam and fresh cream.
  • I love modern, bright, colourful fabric.
  • I love the feeling of satisfaction from getting something difficult done.
  • I love it when the kitchen is clean - no dirty dishes anywhere!
  • I love the smell of ironing, and the iron.
  • I love red shoes (I wish I had more).
  • I love chest hair (!!).
  • I love the feel of the shower on my back.
  • I love walking around Sydney Harbour with the sunlight glinting off the water.
  • I love holding newborn babies.
  • I love the sound of rain on a tin roof, especially if I'm snuggled up in bed under a warm quilt.
  • I love it when my children cooperate.
  • I love being cozy in my warmy-warm dressing gown.
  • I love thinking about a good book, even months after I've read it.
  • I love hearing my son play piano.
  • I love when my big brother, whom I always looked up to, asks me for advice!
  • I love the time of day when all the children are asleep and the time is my own.
  • I love sitting in the warmth of the sun on a sunny winter's day.
  • I love complete silence.

He's no Pro Hart

Atti got busy with a crayon last night. We're not sure what was going through his head at the time. Perhaps he was copying Elora. But he certainly got into big trouble for it.

Dan and I spent the rest of the evening (during our kid-free R&R time) cleaning it off. Oh, the wonders of WD-40! Is there anything it cannot do?

And all the while, I could not help but think of this ad:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A little less trusting of the world

A horrible thing happened earlier today. I'm not even sure that I want to write about it (and yet here I am)... thinking about it makes my hands shake again.

I took Atticus and Elora to the park this morning. Not our usual park just around the corner but another one a little further away, but still walking distance. Atti calls it the "Special Purple Park" because of the dual purple slides.

We had a pleasant wander along the bike track to get there. I'd wanted to check it out for a while now (it's new). There was noone else there, which I was quite pleased about. Not long after we arrived, a man came and sat down at the park bench/picnic table next to the playground. He had a shirt and tie and business pants on, with some papers and a book. He sat down and started reading and working. I assumed that he was just taking a break in the middle of the day.

A few times I noticed him watching the kids and I and smiling. I didn't think anything of it, as lots of people like to watch kids play and smile at their cute antics. I know I do.

But then he hunched over and put his hands in his crotch. It took me a good minute or two before I realised what he was doing - jerking off! I couldn't believe it! I was horrified. Not knowing WHAT to do, I rang Dan. He told me to "Get out of there!" and to call the cops and suggested I call my father to come and meet us. I did the latter, but the kids weren't ready to leave yet. When I turned around (I was trying not to look at him or encourage him) he was gone. I called the police, not sure if 000 was the right number for this sort of thing. Thankfully, the operator reassured me that this was the correct thing to do and got details before sending a car out to investigate. The guy had left some "DNA" behind on the park bench (eeyou!) and they might get a sample.

Thankfully, the kids were completely unaware of anything that was going on and were happy playing. They were especially excited when my dad appeared, thank goodness. We slowly made our way home and my mother made me a wonderful cup of tea to calm my nerves.

But, ack. I wouldn't call myself naive but I do have faith that people will generally do the right thing and our world is fairly safe. After today, I find that I'm a little less trusting of strangers and that little bit more protective of my kids.

It makes me very sad.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Listening to...

I currently have my head stuck in XTC's album "Apple Venus Volume 1" (I don't know if there's a Volume 2!).

Over and over again, the songs go round. I am not tired of them yet.

Dante loves humming this one. It never fails to make me think of our friend Evelyn currently living in Edinburgh. (Hi!)

XTC - Greenman (1999)

Monday, August 18, 2008


I also checked my Lotto ticket, finally.

Didn't win.

Not really surprised :)


I forgot to mention that we got the results from Atti's EEG last week.

Thankfully, all was completely, utterly normal.

I'm hugely relieved. But on the down side, we do need to keep an eye on him just in case he suffers more episodes, and then will have to consider re-medicating him.

Fingers crossed!

Old school


I went to a primary school reunion on Saturday evening. Organised partly through Facebook (and lots of phone calls on the part of the organisers). I was fairly excited about it, leading up to it. My school friend said that she'd been in contact with nearly everyone so I was expecting a great turnout.

In the end there were only 7 of us, including the sole male representative. It was a little disappointing that the others didn't make the effort to turn up. Perhaps they were too nervous to show up, but really, it's just primary school. You'd expect everyone to have changed completely (and yet not!). Nothing to be worried about, in my opinion. (High school, now that's a totally different picture.)

Well, we had a fun night anyway. It was wonderful to see those who came and we had a great time chatting about old times, as well as chatting about recent times! We all had kids - I won the night with three. We talked about the last reunion 14 years ago (which had a much better turn out and went to the wee hours of the morning... we were younger, carefree and knew how to party back then!) We ate, we drank wine, we took photos.

The night put me in a bit of a funny mood for the rest of the weekend - reminiscing about old times, especially my crazy Uni days. Perhaps fodder for another post one day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Man Booker Prize List

So, here's the list to date. Looking over it, I realised that I haven't finished any of them, although I've been reading "The God of Small Things" on and off for a couple of years! Currently reading "The Blind Assassin". It's good so far.

I've added them to my side bar (bottom right) and will put a * next to them as I go.

2007 The Gathering by Anne Enright
2006 The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
2005 The Sea by John Banville
2004 The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
2003 Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
2002 Life of Pi by Yann Martel
2001 True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
2000 The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
1999 Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
1998 Amsterdam: A Novel by Ian McEwan
1997 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
1996 Last Orders by Graham Swift
1995 The Ghost Road by Pat Barker
1994 How Late It Was, How Late by James Kelman
1993 Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
1992 The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (co-winner)
1992 Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth (co-winner)
1991 The Famished Road by Ben Okri
1990 Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
1989 The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
1988 Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
1987 Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
1986 The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis
1985 The Bone People by Keri Hulme
1984 Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner
1983 Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee
1982 Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
1981 Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
1980 Rites of Passage by William Golding
1979 Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald
1978 The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch
1977 Staying on by Paul Scott
1976 Saville by David Storey
1975 Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
1974 The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer
1973 The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell
1972 G. by John Berger
1971 In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul
1970 The Elected Member by Bernice. Rubens
1969 Something to Answer For by P. H. Newby

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lots of reading in store

I just found out that a friend of mine buys the Booker prize winning book each year for his wife (they announce it just before her birthday each year). What a brilliant idea, I reckon! If you're looking for something to read, why not something that's been critically acclaimed and awarded?

So, that's my next big project/ambition. I'm going to read all the Booker prize books.

I'm starting with "The Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood. Mainly because we already have it and I loved "Oryx and Crake".

Anyone want to join me?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Living the Lotto dream

I bought a lotto ticket the other day after my iPod win. The major prize was $4m.

The draw was a week ago. But I haven't checked my ticket yet. Dan keeps asking me if we've won but I'm still living the dream of it. Planning what I'll do with my winnings...

Pay off the mortgage, buy some wool and fabric, invest the rest.

It's nice to dream a bit, don't you think? Maybe I'll check the ticket some day soon, perhaps tonight. I'll let you know :)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yay for coffee

We made it!

We altered the plan a bit. Dan stayed up with Atti until midnight last night while I went to bed early so that I could wake him up at 4am.

Dan did a great job - took Atti to the supermarket with him. Apparently he was incredibly cheerful and helpful. I woke up at 4am, immediately had a cup of coffee (which Dan bought the night before since we don't usually drink the stuff) and went up to the boy. I sat on his bed looking at him sleeping for at least 10 minutes before I could finally work up to waking him up. Sleeping children look so angelic. I felt so slack!

But the kid is a real trooper. After having some breakfast we played with the marble run (I love that toy!) and watched some Yo Gabba Gabba (and I had my second cup of coffee...)

Atti at 5am

He stayed awake the whole journey to the hospital - the entire hour... until about 5 minutes away. That short sleep was enough to energize him so he didn't sleep during the test but I think they got good results. He was pretty excited because Dan had told him that he would be wearing a special "Space Hat". He couldn't wait to get it on!
Happy with his Space Hat on.

We'll find out the verdict in a few days.

The rest of the day he and I were write-offs.

But I have to say that I'm incredibly proud of how well our little guy did, especially considering the circumstances. Back to work tomorrow. I wonder how I'll do!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sleep deprived child = sleep deprived parent

We're off to the hospital on Thursday for Atti to have an EEG to try and find the cause of these convulsions.

However, oh no! He has to be sleep deprived for the test! This means, according to the lady on the phone, that we need to wake up Atti 6hrs before he normally wakes. I don't know how I'm meant to keep him awake during this time.

God help me!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Weekend of horrors

Okay, well it wasn't as bad as it sounds...

Saturday, Atti had another convulsion. It's been months since he last had one - he's been off his meds since Christmas. He was having lunch out in the backyard when Dan saw him lying on the ground, out of it with foam around his mouth. A bit scary for us all but especially Dan. I was taking Dante to his Extension classes at the time. My father and Dan put him to bed and he seemed okay when he woke up.

Then on Sunday we took my mother-in-law to yum cha for lunch. All was going well until the end when we were getting ready to go. Elora, the little climbing monkey, was standing on her booster seat when she took a tumble and fell backwards flat onto her back. She had a big cry while I cuddled her and then promptly vomited down my back and on the restaurant floor. I felt sorry for the other customers!

Blargh. So that's the horror of the weekend. Now I'm waiting to hear from the paediatrician about Atticus.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yo Gabba Gabba

We've recently discovered an excellent kids program called Yo Gabba Gabba. A hip-hop modern music show for kids. It's so much fun!

The songs/chants are completely entrancing and get stuck in your head all day. The dances are silly and fun. And the kids love it, of course. It's a hugely welcome break from Hi-5!

Here's an excerpt (Youtube, 2:01)

My favourite part is the "Cool tricks" segment. Every episode they have someone come on and demonstrate their cool trick. One girl does gymnastics. One man plays the theramin. One boy stacks cups. You get the idea? All sorts of random stuff and people.

The boys have really taken it to heart. They talk about what their cool tricks might be. Atti said his is stacking blocks. Dante's not sure about his at the moment. Elora's is falling off things. Hmm... I'm not sure about that last one!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The winner is me - Part Two

Lady Luck seems to be shining on me. I won wool the other day, and yesterday I won a lucky door prize at our local Apple shop re-launch party!

It was a good morning. Went to the Lost Property sale at Uni and picked up a cheap pair of sunnies and a bunch of cheap calculators. Then popped over to the computer shop and had lots of delicious snacky cakes and my favourite Lady Grey tea. After a while Dr Karl (a regular, favourite customer) called us to attention and started pulling tickets out of a box. First up, three lucky winners of iPod shuffles, two of them one number away from mine! Then, incredibly, my number was called. For the grand prize!

I won an iPod Touch (8Gb)! Can you believe it? Not one week after I got my hands on my very own 16Gb version. The most delightful hostess, Sandra, was beside herself with joy, so glad that a friend had won.

But no-one was happier than me! Off to buy a lottery ticket now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The winner is me!

Rose Red, a craft blogger and fellow Sydney-sider, had a "Blogthday" competition earlier this month and I won! I was incredibly amazed, as I always am, at the generosity of the craft blog community out there. It's not the first time that I've won a give-away, but I'm still astonished when it happens.

The lovely parcel arrived yesterday and I tore it open with excitement (and help from little fingers). Hmm... lovely Fleece Artist sea wool sock yarn (Blackberry, 1 x 100g skein) and fair-trade dark chocolate from the Oxfam shop (I know this because I bought a block of it the other day for the new parents and almost didn't let it go because it looked so delicious. Karma looked down on me and brought the chocolate back to me). Yummo!

I couldn't wait to get stuck into it (the wool) so on my day off from work today (from paid work, I should say) I undid the skein, draped it over the back of a kitchen chair and started winding. It went swimmingly. I got half of it done in no time at all. The kids were busy playing, interested but not hazardous (or so I thought).

Until disaster struck:

In the blink of an eye a little blur came past and yanked the wool off the chair. That's all she did. One swift movement. Ack! It took my mother and I the rest of the afternoon to get that ball wound. A good four hours at least. Blargh.

Ah, but it's done now and I've started knitting a cover for my iPod which I've been contemplating since the moment we got it (and even before it was mine). Luckily enough, the most wonderful aforementioned Rose Red did exactly the same thing and wrote up her pattern. I've started it three times now, trying to get the right size, but I think I'm right with 44 stitches (I used the "Magic cast-on" on circular needles to knit it in one piece with no seams to sew up (which I hate doing)).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Little bite marks

The result of a little girl trying to eat an apple.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Party, party, play, sleep-over

An exhausting and busy weekend.

Saturday morning I took Atti and Elora to the 3rd birthday party of a girl from child care. It was a nice affair - the mother was totally stressed out by it (I can completely sympathise!) but everything went splendidly. A good handful of kids who knew each other, lots of sunshine and excellent food.

She did a great job with the party games. The kids loved them.

The first: Treasure Hunt.

She had some gold coin chocolates and showed an example to the kids. "There are these treasures hidden in the garden. When you find them, come and put them in my basket."

That was it. No competition to get the most. Just fun finding the treasure. The cunning part was that she kept walking around redistributing the "found" treasures so that everyone could have a go at finding them and they weren't put in too difficult places. It was incredibly successful for a bunch of 3 year olds! And at the end she divided the coins up evenly amongst the kids so that no-one missed out.

The second game: Pinata.

Just a bought pinata that all the kids had a go at bashing. Nothing too strenuous or complicated. The best bit about this was that it was actually a "string-pull" pinata so (once she worked this part out with some advice form moi) once all the kids had had a good go with the stick, she simply pulled the string and let them scramble for the goodies. Excellent stuff!

The chocolate truffle birthday cake was gorgeous. Elora made sure she ate her share. Atti was too busy picking out the pinata lollies that had been trampled into the grass (ack!).

But, we eventually made it home and managed to get Atti down for his nap. Elora fell asleep in the car and then woke up when I tried to put her in bed (typical!). The rest of us tried to have a quiet afternoon and I finally got her to bed at about 3:30pm... and then had to WAKE her so we could go to our next party!

Dan's sister's 30th "B" party (B for Bec).

Dante went as "Ben 10", Dan went as a buccaneer, I went as "a Billy Bragg fan". About as much costuming as we could muster. Elora had her ballerina skirt and Atti wanted to go as Spiderman (or "Bider-man" as Dante insisted we call him) except that he refused to wear his costume when it came to it.

We had a lovely time. Grandma was there and another boy dressed as Ben 10 (son of some of Bec's friends). Lots of littlies, too. The kids had a ball. Elora almost demolished all of the cucumbers from the snack plate before graduating to the fruit platter (blood oranges, mandarins, kiwi...). It took two of our friends (Anna and "Red" Bec) to hold down Atti and put his shoes on when it came time to leave. He was Mr. Hyper.

And it was a very late night for us. The kids were not in bed before 10pm. Yikes! Not so good because the next morning we picked up Dante's school friend Luke who came over for a play and a sleep-over last night.

He's the middle child with an eleven year old brother and five year old sister. He can sometimes play a bit rough but his manners are exemplary, he eats anything and is generally a mild-mannered, patient boy. I was truly impressed at the way he was able to handle Dante's bossiness and outbursts. Even more impressive was the way he made sure that my niece Jasmine (who was over with her three sisters while her parents went cycling) was included in most, if not all, of the play. The general noise coming from the lounge room or wherever they were was full of cackling laughter and excitement with only the occasional argument. It was lovely to listen to!

This morning we dropped Luke off at home on the way to work. I have to say, it was a relief to get into my office this morning and sit down for a while!

Friday, July 18, 2008

iPod-y Goodness

Woohoo! Dan got his iPhone today (and it actually works, too... I've been reading a lot of stuff around saying that people are having trouble getting theirs to work with their particular provider. Dan's worked first go! edited to add: Dan corrected me here. It certainly didn't work first time. "I was fighting it all day," he said.) which means that...

I got my iPod Touch tonight! (Okay, so it's a hand-me-down but only five or six weeks old and all mine! Mine, mine, mine!)

I haven't really played with it much yet - it's still got all his stuff on it, but had to share the joy anyway :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Conversation between two boys

Boy 1 (age 7): What's your name?
Boy 2 (age 3½): Atticus.
Boy 1: What's my name?
Boy 2: Dante.
Boy 1: Okay, now you ask me what my name is.
Boy 2. Dante.
Boy 1: No, say "What's your name?"
Boy 2: Atticus.
Boy 1 (getting frustrated): No. Ask me what's my name!
Boy 2: Dante.
Boy 1 pauses. He's getting very annoyed.
Boy 1: Say after me, "What is"
Boy 2: What is
Boy 1: "your name?"
Boy 2: Atticus!

<Background noise> Parents laughing heartily, trying not to be heard or seen.</background noise>

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Great kids clothes!

Walking the streets of Newtown at lunch time today I stumbled upon a wonderful kids' clothing shop on one of the side streets. Gorgeous hand made dresses, jumpers, shirts, pants and beanies. They also have a nice selection of baby shoes and some fun toys. I bought a dress for Elora. Of course. How could I not? Though, it was in the "Sale" bin. And one size too big.

The clothes are all locally made and designed by the owner of the shop. Simple "retro" designs but the thing that really got me drooling was the choice of fabrics which she used. So lovely! Nice fabrics + simple designs = gorgeous and cute.

Anyway, if you're in the area, check it out. Support local! One day I'd love to have a place like that (heh... after I learn to sew straight seams) so I like to support local businesses.

243 Australian St

Monday, July 14, 2008

That newborn smell

Our good friends Joe and Ellie had their first baby yesterday. Right on his due date! Amazing! How many babies do you know that actually arrive on the date they're expected (excepting scheduled caesarians)?

I couldn't wait to go and visit him today. The hours until 2 o'clock just dragged on. And he was just lovely. I had a nice extended cuddle and was very reluctant to hand him back. He was so gorgeous I even entertained the thought of having another baby... holding him and smelling him brought back such wonderful memories. Dan helpfully reminded me that we had both learned our lesson and we AGREED that there'd be no more.

Anyway, welcome to the world little John Haven. Isn't he sweet? And a brilliant name, too!

(That's me holding him in the photo above, not his mother!)