Monday, June 30, 2008

5 year plan

One of our favourite children's book authors is Alison Lester, first discovered when a friend gave us their son's favourite childhood book, Magic Beach. Dante loved it and we read it night after night for weeks! Now Atticus loves it as well and Dan and I can recite it blind-folded.

Last night, however, we delved into another of her works. Are We There Yet? chronicles the journey of Grace and her family around Australia with their camper van. It's a terrific story, with wonderful pictures of the places they went and a great map at the front of the book.

Grace is 8 in the book and has two brothers, one older and one younger. Atticus is three now so in five years time our family will be roughly the same ages as the family in the book. Dan and I had a good look at the map (which incidentally answers the question of how to get to the centre of Australia without too much backtracking (head East from Broome then veer South East to Alice Springs and Uluru, then up to Darwin, backtrack a little bit South again and then head East to Queensland)) and decided that it is a great plan!

We would, of course, start at a different point (since we are in Sydney and the book starts South East of Adelaide). And we would probably go in the opposite direction, heading North to Queensland first to take advantage of the winter (wouldn't be quite so hot up North and by the time we got South it would hopefully not be as chilly)!

I'm quite excited about the idea. It's a long way off but that means we'll have plenty of time to plan and save up days of leave (as well as money)! We have a great guide book that we can study every night with the kids, too :) I think it will be a wonderful experience for the kids and for us as a family. The kids will be older so it won't be as difficult as if we went now... can you imagine? (I don't even want to think about it!)

So anyway, that's my plan. It's not really a well thought out plan, but it's a start! I've always wanted to travel around this magnificent country of ours and with luck (and a lot of organisation) I will finally get to do it!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Craft Fair Booty

I finally managed to get the photos off the old camera so I can show you the treasures I got at the craft fair last week. Sorry about the poor quality of the pics - the camera ain't too crash hot these days.

Lovely, lovely 100% merino wool in a "Fingering" weight (made for socks, but can be used for anything!). Colinette Jitterbug from Sarah Durrant in a beautiful deep, dark purple colour (called "Velvet Bilberry" - what a great name!).

I've already started knitting this up into a neck warmer from here. So nice to knit with - the stitches look so even and perfect. I know it's the wool because my knitting's not that great!

Another skein of Colinette Jitterbug in a colourway called "Fire". It's bright - red, orange, pink. I love bright socks (to counter the dark dull colours I normally wear to work).

I can't remember which place I got this yarn from - it's not as smooth as the Jitterbug and has some Nylon content but should be okay. Jolly Jumbuck, colour "Spicy".

And some plain old 8 ply wool for a cardigan for myself. Huge 200g balls (I got three which is equivalent to 12 regular size balls - should be plenty). Bendigo Woollen Mills, "Classic" in colour "Cherry Red".


Some handmade fabric from a local gal called Saffron Craig. She had some cute stuff and I just got a small piece. I was going to go back but ran out of time.

Fat quarter bundle which my mother bought for me. I like the colour combination of chocolate brown, green, and dark red. It seems to catch my eye quite often these days.

Selection of fat quarters from the Garden Party range by Anna Maria Horner (except the one on the far right - not part of the range but I liked it anyway). Got these from Material Obsession, one of the few good quilting fabric stores in Sydney. All the really great ones - huge variety, lots of gorgeous fabrics from America and Japan - seem to be in Melbourne/Victoria! Almost every time I found a shop that I liked, they ended up being from interstate. Makes me want to start my own shop even more. Pipe dreams, eh?

And some of the "Flutterby" range by Tula Pink. I first saw this online somewhere and fell in love with it. So cute - little bugs everywhere, but craftily disguised.

So, anyway, that was about it. I also bought some cute Japanese linen tape (75cm of it) which I am imagining on a little red dress for Elora. The silly camera just would not focus on the pictures of little chickens and their foot prints. But when I eventually sew that dress you'll get to see it!

All in all I'm super happy with my purchases on the day. I ummed and ahhed over a lot of things and did resist quite a lot, knowing that so much of it can be bought online for so much cheaper. But you've got to support the local guys a bit, too, right?

Now to find time for all these projects! (The usual sad story)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cool mum

This is the kind of mother I wanted to be:

On the way to school this morning, driving through the back streets of Newtown with the kids singing Wall of Voodoo in the back*.


*Inspired by the SMS received from Dan this morning telling us that he is in Mexico!

Another year older

My birthday has come and gone for another year.

It wasn't a bad one, really. Had a family lunch on Sunday (which was going to be held next door but got transfered to my place at the last minute - ack! Thank goodness Dante and I did a good clean-up on Saturday). Got lots of "Happy birthday"s via Facebook, email and phone calls, including two from overseas (Dan in America and Jaime and Shannon in Canada)! Yay! Even Dante's absolute misery, crying and carrying on in the back of the car after I picked him up from Aftercare didn't dampen my spirits too much.

I crashed out on the couch before dragging myself up to bed and that was it for another year.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Moravian Swearing Bear

Dante's been attending Extension Classes (for Gifted and Talented Kids) this term, every Saturday from 1 - 4pm. He had to undergo an assessment to see if he was bright enough to get in and passed that easily enough. This term they are learning Science concepts (in a proper high-school science lab) and Ancient History. It's pretty amazing. Dante's getting to hang around with kids of the same level of intelligence as him (so he can't get away with talking rubbish) and learn lots of fun and interesting things. He's really enjoying them and I'm so pleased that I looked into it. (And note: it's not like those Saturday tutoring things that a lot of kids get sent to where they just do work that they would learn in school anyway... I don't think those are of much benefit.)

So I was quite surprised when earlier this week I got a phone call from the secretary of the Extension Centre asking Dan and I to come in to have an interview with the Director. Alarm bells immediately started ringing. Wasn't Dante smart enough for them? Were they going to kick him out? Is it because of his constant scratching and fidgeting? What could it be? The alarms rang even louder yesterday when there was a message on our answering machine saying that the meeting would be postponed until Dan came back because the Director wanted to make sure that both parents were there. Oh s*#%!

So when I dropped him off today I popped in to the office to ask them what it was about, that I was getting quite worried. The Director was around and had a quick chat with me to explain the situation and allay my fears.

Turns out our son is a bit of a Moravian Swearing Bear. He's been cursing up a storm during his classes and some of the other kids don't like it. He doesn't swear at home around us (although I heard him once and told him off straight away.) The Director wants to work with us to develop some strategies to help Dante learn about setting limits, understanding his emotions and controlling his behaviour. I think there will be a lot more to it than that but it's a start. Dante has had trouble making friends there and it all stems from this basic behaviour problem. But he stressed that Dante was not in trouble for swearing and emphasised that I should not punish him for it.

I'm so relieved by this. I mean, it's still a problem that we have to deal with, but I'm glad that there is someone who has identified that there is a problem and is willing to help Dan and I work to resolve it. For the past year or two (or more) Dante has been an endless source of frustration to me. I just can't deal with him sometimes, and his behaviour makes me want to tear my hair out at times. I shouldn't be so hard on him as he is generally an excellent child, but things have definitely been going downhill. I know a lot of it has to do with my own impatience with him, and the simple fact that I can't give him the attention that he once got. It's been getting me quite down at times, making me wonder why I ever had kids and looking up boarding schools!! I don't want to be like this. I want to be a good mother who is caring and patient, who doesn't yell at her kids constantly and has more time, energy and willingness to play with them. Maybe this will be the change we've needed.

I hope so.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Craft fair: done!

One craft fair successfully visited.
Lots of quilts successfully admired.
Sock wool successfully purchased.
Many fat quarters successfully acquired.
Two mothers successfully exhausted.

Pics of my loot to come once I work out how to get the photos off the camera without the USB cable (which is in America at the moment)!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lego Indie

Huzzah! I'm so excited. I got the new Lego Indiana Jones PS2 game today and instead of going to bed early I played the first level (after the kids had gone to bed... can't share this one yet :) It plays just like the Lego Star Wars games except Indie has his whip (of course) instead of Jedi using The Force. I know what I'll be doing during nap time tomorrow. (Actually, probably the grocery shopping. Oh well.)

I'm also feeling good because I've finished my working week (after one and a half days)... I'm enjoying this part time thing. I'm taking the day off work on Friday when the kids are at child care/school/after care and I'll be free to go to the big craft fair that starts tomorrow here in Sydney. I'm really looking forward to this one for some reason. Perhaps because I'll have birthday money to spend :) As well as having a day out with my ma.

Yay! Everything's coming up Jen.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Project Pain

Dante's got another school project to do. They generally have one big one every second term, as far as I can tell. This one's about National Parks. He's got two weeks to do it, unfortunately due on the day that Dan comes home so I'm stuck helping him with it.

I don't know what it is about projects that gets him, but it always involves tears and shouting. ALWAYS. He screams at me, "I HATE my project! I DON'T want to do it!" and I reply, "Fine. I'll tell your teacher to put you back into Kindergarten where they don't do big projects"*. And then more screaming ensues.

Eventually I found the Wikipedia page about the park and wrote up a few questions. He writes the answers in full sentence form in a word processor and voila! One part of the project done. He's happy to type up the answers to questions, and search for the answers on the page in front of him. It's just getting to that point which is so incredibly painful. We've had it three days in a row now.

So what do I do? Continue with my method? It's getting the project done, in his own words (sort of). He's researching somewhat on his own. But is it too much help? Am I becoming one of those parents that does their kids' homework for them?

I've never been particularly good at school projects/uni assignments. I hated them, too. I always left it to the last minute ("procrastination" is my middle name, as anyone who knew me through those years knows). I complained and whinged about the need to do them, just like Dante (although possibly without so much yelling). I know what he's going through, but I don't want him to follow the same path that I did. I once handed in a Psychology essay two weeks late, got a zero, but had to do it or fail the course. That was me at my worst. I really don't want D to be like that. But I'm not sure that I have the skills even now to help him with this.

I guess I should talk to his teacher about it. Still waiting for the parent-teacher interview which we were meant to have two months ago (but was postponed). Anyone got any other ideas?

* Except that I forgot that they do.

Edit (11/06/08): I spoke to Dante's school teacher this afternoon and she is happy for parents to give as much help as they want. "It's all part of the learning process," she said. And also that she wasn't expecting anything flash from the Yr 2 kids. Just a piece of cardboard with some pictures, the name of the park, names of some native and non-native animals and that will do! Dante decided tonight that he wanted to do it in a "book" form rather than a poster so I dug out one of those folders with plastic sleeves. He's quite pleased about it all. I'm very relieved about it, too, and am not so stressed about "doing too much".

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Obligatory cute photo

I noticed that I haven't posted a pic of the younger two kids recently. So here's one. Elora's first pig tails :)

1 day down, 15 to go

I've survived my first 24 hours with the kids without Dan. Of course with lots of help from my folks. It hasn't been the most pleasant of times, but I'm sure the time will go quicker during the week when the kids are at school/child care and I'm at work.

The weather has been incredibly gloomy (except for some sunshine yesterday - yay for clean clothes) so the kids are getting stir-crazy stuck inside. I keep trying to send the boys outside for a run-around but all Dante wants to do is sit in front of the TV. Any time I ask him to do anything that doesn't involve television, he yells at me, "No! I don't want to!" and I can't help but see red. I even looked up boarding schools this morning. There are some that take them from Yr 3 onwards...

But anyway, besides the arguing things have been okay. Tomorrow I've planned to take them all to one of those play-gym things (we won a $100 value voucher at a school fund raiser). I really hope we'll survive it. Those things are pretty fool-proof and hardy. We'll stay there for lunch (got to get our money's worth) and come home for nice long naps in the afternoon. That's the plan. We'll see how it goes.

Rockin' it at The Wiggles

At the end of last month I took Atti to see The Wiggles yet again. (I also took him just before Christmas to one of their concerts at the Sydney Entertainment Centre - big venue, lots of people. I really thought I'd blogged about that, but couldn't find the entry. Must have dreamt about blogging it!! There are some pictures of it here.)

This time it was a special concert in a much smaller venue and I managed to get tickets within an hour of them going on sale so got terrific seats (stalls, row G in the middle next to the central aisle). My sister-in-laws and nieces (Abi and Lori, similar ages to Atti) came as well.

We had such a wonderful time. The kids rocked! The Wiggles always put on a terrific show and this was so much better for the small venue. I took a few videos and pictures to show Dan afterwards. This one made us laugh our heads off. I had to share it!

Friday, June 06, 2008


On the weekend my mother told me of my crafty beginnings. I was knitting myself a scarf while chatting to my brother and he remembered me knitting when I was quite young. About 8, I think he said. I was pretty impressed! But then again, my mother and grandmother have always been big crocheters and knitters. It's in my genes.

Then my mother told us of how one day when she was doing some sewing, I pestered her until she gave me some scraps and a (larger) needle and thread and showed me how to sew! I was only two years old at the time, and sewed a dress for one of my dolls! I couldn't believe it! How proud am I?? :)

I saw a photo on Flickr today of a patchwork quilt made by a six year old boy. Just incredible work. (His mother helped him with some parts and quilted it). I'm looking forward to the day that Elora is old enough to be taught how to sew, knit and crochet!*

* Just realised how sexist that is. I would love it if any or all of my children showed an interest in learning my hobbies!

Two sleeps to go

Dan's heading off to San Francisco on Saturday. Just two sleeps away! I'm absolutely dreading the next two weeks. So worried about looking after the kids by myself. Really, I have no cause to complain. My super helpful parents are just next door and willing to lend a hand (or more like an arm, no, a whole body)! I should be excited for Dan going off on another overseas adventure. I am. But tempered by the worry. I'm sure we will be fine and he will, too. He was having some passport issues but I'm sure it will all work out and he won't get sent home. That would be a real bummer.

So, anyway, thankfully I have plenty of crafty projects to keep me busy. Take tonight, for instance. It was a bit of a sneak peek into my evenings for the next two weeks. Dan crashed out in bed after the kids went to sleep so I sat myself down in front of a soppy chick flick (with Gerard Butler and the guy that plays Denny Duquette in Grey's Anatomy) and knitted to my heart's content.

Working on this Chevron Scarf as a gift for my niece, since her parents brought the book back for me from NY (where I had it shipped from Amazon). It's coming along nicely - has grown since I took this picture last week. I'm not quite sure how long to make a scarf for a wee lass but I reckon it should be done by the weekend. Then to start another for her sister! It's such an easy pattern but looks lovely. And they'll certainly have a use for them - the weather here in ol' Sydney town has been absolutely atrocious lately. Cold and wet. No good for laundry, but wonderful for our dams.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Toothy happenings around here recently.

Elora has had seven teeth for the last 6 months at least but just got five more in the space of four weeks! Another one at the bottom front (four up top, three down bottom) plus her four first molars have come through. Things have been a bit miserable for her, the poor thing, but at least she'll be able to chew better.

I went to the dentist today (a follow up from an appointment last week) to get an "occipital splint" . It's like a mouth guard type thing that I have to wear at night because I grind my teeth. Erk. Hopefully it'll stop these constant killer headaches that have been plaguing me.

And finally, I took Dante for an overdue check-up as well. Eek. He has a hole in his tooth. One of his back molars that obviously hasn't been getting brushed properly. I can't believe it. He's only seven and he has to have a filling. I feel like a complete failure as a parent because of this. How could I let it get so far?