Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jingle bells and New Year stress

Christmas snuck up on us this year. There we were in October with plenty of time on our hands. The shopping centres reminded us that the festive season (high retail season) was coming soon by putting up their decorations way too soon and I think that was partly the cause of my confusion - there were still many many weeks to go!

Then November whizzed past in the blink of an eye. Dante was involved in the NSW Dept of Education Schools Spectacular where practices and early morning drop offs ruled our lives for a few weeks. Before we knew it, the month was over and it was December. End of year work stuff (projects and parties!) combined with end of school (and pre-school) activities kept us rushing around. Finally school ended and work ended (two weeks' mandatory leave) and I thought "Great! I have plenty of time to get things ready for Xmas!". How wrong I was! More parties, present shopping, house cleaning. The time dissolved and it was Christmas.

We had our usual Dan's family shin dig on Xmas eve at our place. Presents out the wazoo. I think the girl scored best, and funnily enough I'd say the hit present of the day was the toy ironing board and iron which Grandma picked up cheap at a garage sale! Dan got an espresso machine (now that he drinks coffee) amongst other things, but surprisingly (my fault!) not a lot of Lego. Everyone else got lots of fun things as well as some practical items (underwear!!). It was a good afternoon/early evening.

Xmas day was spent at my brother's newly renovated place in Glebe. Thankfully it turned out to be a cool rainy day so the kids were happy to be kept occupied by the Wii and the rest of us ate until food was leaking out of our ears. Or so it felt!

Now a week has yet again flown by. I had a couple of projects I wanted to do, not even started. And now it's New Year's Eve! Less than 6 hours left of the year! Wow. I'm a little stressed by that fact. My mind is abuzz thinking of all the things I want to do and my heart is beating a little faster with the thought that I won't get to do them.

But, after an afternoon of stressing out and being unproductive, a sudden urge hit me. Lists. I work well with lists. There's something very satisfying about crossing things off a list. Lists and deadlines are what get me going. It's a stressful way to work, but eh, at least it works... sort of. That and a "oh, bugger it! That's good enough!" attitude!

So this is my plan for the new year. No silly resolutions like last year which are pretty much a guarantee that things won't get done.

Just this. I'm writing a list of things I'd like to do. Not big things. It's all cut down into bite-size pieces. And I'm going to try to tackle one every fortnight. Every week would be great but I know not to set my goals too high because then I just get disappointed in myself.

Now after making this decision, coming to this realisation, I feel like a weight has been lifted. Every time I start to feel stressed about something I need to do, I can just add it to my list and I know that some day it will get done and won't be forgotten about! I can feel myself calming even as I write this. And I feel a bit more motivated to get on with the house cleaning - I try to have the house tidy-ish if not perfectly clean (ha!) by New Year's Eve so that we can start the new year afresh. That's the plan. That's always the plan.

Hopefully next year it will be fulfilled.

I hope you all have a great night tonight and a happy and less stressful year in 2010!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Flood

One of my all time favourite music albums is Flood by They Might Be Giants. Brilliant album. Know it from start to finish.

The opening sequence (see it here on YouTube) has the lyrics "It's the brand new album for 1990" in it. And I realised that this year and next year's first year Uni students are YOUNGER than this album.

Boy does it make me feel old!

By the way, Dan noticed that they talked about Global Warming even then: "Why are the ocean levels rising up?" Nearly 20 years later and they are STILL discussing reducing carbon emissions. Grr.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Those three munchkins: no. 2

Atticus: 4 years, 9 months


Middle child and boy does he show it! Everything I read about middle children fits Atticus perfectly.

From http://www.allsands.com/kids/birthorderpers_rgw_gn.htm:
Middle children are the most enigmatic. The direction they take is most strongly influenced by their next older sibling. They realize quickly, however, that they are not able to do most things as well as their older sibling, because they are littler and less adept. They most often try to differentiate themselves from their older sibling, for example by being athletic if their older sibling is not, or academic if he is. They may resort to bad behavior in order to get more of their parents' attention, under the rationale that even negative attention is better than no attention. Or, they may realize self-importance within their social sphere, and become less dependent on the family for attention. Either way, what most middle children need most is more attention.

Atti is independent when he wants to be. He is incredibly observant and resourceful (he'll notice where the yummy snacks are kept and happily help himself, even if it involves climbing and trickery to get it). He looks up to his big brother immensely but plays more with his little sister. He is wonderful with Elora (most of the time).

But when I recently asked his preschool teacher to describe his behaviour, in one word it was "terrible!" (She wasn't cross or annoyed about it - just a matter of fact). It's not entirely his fault. He is still on his anti-convulsant medication which has very a well known side effect of adversely affecting behaviour. He has terrible outbursts of anger and won't co-operate unless he's interested (and often has to be coerced into joining in... bad when it's a fire drill at school). But other days he is perfect. We had a very thorough appointment with the paediatrician last week and are gradually starting to take him off his meds - over a period of three months! Hopefully he will improve, in time for starting "big school" next year.


Otherwise, he is a very funny kid. He has a great sense of humour and an intrinsic coolness about him. The way he moves, the way he just doesn't care (which can also be extremely frustrating at times). He still loves his toy dog but his interests have started to expand - cars are his thing now. "Hot Wheels" cars are awesome. And he will happily sit down and draw for ages. He has a good ear for music - I've often heard him singing songs after only one hearing (that I'm aware of). He can write his name at last (something he can do earlier than his brother due to preschool, I guess) but he prefers to write just "Atti"... because "he doesn't like the 'Kiss' bit" (as his teacher told us).


I love this recent artwork.

He can almost ride a two-wheeler bike - the training wheels are still there but often go unused. Loves his scooter. And he's tough. Big bumps are dealt with by a shake of the head or a quick rub of the affected area - no tears (unless he's super tired). He loves carrot sticks and french onion dip and would eat it all day every day if we let him. Otherwise he can be a bit fussy with food. Still needs a daytime nap most days. Still wears pull-ups at night-time but seems to be almost ready to stop using them (fingers crossed!).

I find it hard to believe that next year he'll be starting Kindergarten but at the same time I am excited about what improvements the new year will bring. The recent months have been filled with constant worry but at last I am full of hope for him.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Those three munchkins: no. 1

It's been a while since I've done an update on what the kids are up to these days. This pic was from our zoo trip during the school holidays, a few weeks ago now.



Dante: 8 years, 7 months

Eight years going on fifteen. A boy full of attitude, but still very sensitive and prone to tears every once in a while. Topped his class (or so he tells me) in the standard testing earlier this year - our school did not do quite as well as other inner-west Sydney schools, actually below the national average - but the boy did well, way above school and national average. But you all knew he was pretty bright. Loves reading. Fantasy novels mainly, at the moment. Fast, too!

He's still learning piano, now with a second lesson every Tuesday with a different teacher (at school!) who is helping him along with the exam stuff that he learns with his regular teacher. Tennis lessons on Wednesday afternoons. Gymnastics on Mondays. Last term he also attended his Extension Classes but we decided to give them a miss this term - too busy in the lead up to christmas!

He's in Yr 3 at school, but a composite 3/4 class. A brilliant teacher this year: tall, assertive, energetic, friendly, enthusiastic (good looking... am I allowed to say that?) Tall is good - he has a looming presence over the kids (and me!) - but he never yells at them, is always calm and collected. His routines and schedules have worked wonders with the boy. Dante has also calmed down incredibly this year. He has made a new best friend, Will, who is in Yr 4 and surprisingly never been in a class with D before. Another great calming influence!

He has an interesting time with his siblings. There is definitely a rivalry with Atticus there. I can't see why it's there. Boys? The age difference? Sometimes they will get on famously but more often it seems like he spends his energy teasing or taunting his brother. He is quite good with Elora - doesn't tend to stir her up too much. I wonder if it will increase or decrease as she gets older and more assertive. At the moment she is a very willing participant in anything her two big brothers are doing. I hope as Atti matures that Dante will become a more protective and caring brother.

And Dante has grown, physically. Now up to my shoulders - won't be long before he's up to my chin, my eyes, my head! Look at this comparison - the last time we went to the zoo in 2006.


I can't deny that it hasn't been an easy year, or five. It has been hard work. At times he just makes me want to scream! I joke about boarding school... half joking sometimes. He is too much like me - I am too much like my father. He and I still have our arguments (and shouting matches) but they seem to be lessening lately. I hope. I guess we are both growing up.

--

Well, that's taken me all day to write. I will continue with the other two tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

October in point form

For some out there in the blog world, October was a month of every-day posting. They called it Blogtoberfest.

I would have gotten involved, except that October was quite a busy month for us.

Oct 1: Our dear friends Jaime and Shannon arrived from Holly and we met their dear daughter Holly for the first time (Elora's godparents, Elora's birthday-sharer, two years younger).

Oct 2: Our friends Dave and Kate came over for dinner (incidentally, Elora's other god parents). Miss cranky pants was not in the mood for photos with them, unfortunately.

Oct 3: Party at our place so everyone else could meet Holly!

Oct 5: Public holiday

Oct 6: School holidays began!

Oct 10: Day of parties: 5 yr old at lunch, friends' going away party early evening, then a brief stop over at another house cooling party on the way home. Phew! What a day! We DID buy Guitar Hero World Tour though. Lots of drumming fun.

Oct 11: Another party at a friend's place in SW Sydney, about 45min drive away. A nice relaxed day with too much food and the Bathurst car race on the big TV.

Oct 15: Trip to the zoo with J&S. Fun, fun, fun! But mega crowded due to school holidays and the World Masters Games.

Oct 19: Back to school!

Oct 20: Jaime and Shannon went home :(

Oct 25: Awesome storm! The rain fell out of the sky in bucket loads. Very large buckets.

Oct 28-30: Dante's first school camp! He was so excited :)

Oct 31: Our school fete. Big day. Long day. Lots of fun. Face painting. Spendy spendy. But we did very well. Lots of money made (I'm the new treasurer of the P&C so I had the pleasure of counting the money afterwards... $12k in 50c coins (not quite, but almost!)

As you can see, things have been busy. There's been plenty to write about, just no time to do it.

And now it's November. Things coming up: School Spectacular (some dancing thing that Dante's involved in). Thanksgiving. Getting ready for Christmas. Blargh!!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Made by hand




P.S. Happy birthday bro!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gamer? Am I?

I wouldn't call myself a gamer. Not really. I mean, I ran a role playing convention once*. It had a pretty good turnout. I met my husband and, incidentally, most of my closest friends through the Sci-fi and Roleplaying society at Uni. I have my own (pink) Nintendo DS. And a PS2. And spend so many hours playing Zuma on the kitchen mac and Bejeweled2 on my iPod touch.

But I wouldn't call myself a gamer.

Except that I've recently started watching Good Game on Monday nights on ABC2. I think the hosts have a great rapport, they're funny and they have a hot asian chick reporter. I can't remember her name - haven't seen her on there very often.

The thing(s) I like most, however, are their little "community service announcements". 30 second clips interspersed throughout the half an hour show.

I particularly liked last night's one: If art were games.... Mondrian tetris!


* Not on my own. I couldn't have done it with my co-convenor Anna :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red, red, red

For the third morning in a row I awoke at 5am, this time without my alarm clock! Still dark and quiet with the exception of the rattling of the fence by the wind. Not even the birds were up.

I pottered around, not sure what to do with myself for a while. Made a cup of tea. Played a game of Zuma's Revenge. Then I looked out the window towards next door. A deep red light was filtering through. What on earth? I thought it was my neighbour's light. But upon another look it was the sky!


I raced outside with the camera (of course). The colours in the photos have NOT been altered in any way. Check out the flourescent light in my kitchen above. And here's the view from my bedroom window.


And just for reference, here's the view from my bedroom window on a normal day.


Wow!

Edited to add (7:10am):
Now the sun is up and the sky is a little less red. More orangey-yellow. The boys both woke up astonished at the sight. Atti said to me, "I went outside [to go next door] and the sky was all orange!" The downside to all this amazing light is that now EVERYTHING is covered in a fine layer of red dust. Ah, a little bit of Central Australia come to our door.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Morning busy-ness

Today was the second day in a row I was up at 5am. Not just awake, but up and about. I'm starting to feel a little tired.

I am amazed at how much I did before work, though.

In point form:
  • Showered.
  • Drove my parents to the airport.
  • Got some dough out to rest before baking it.
  • Baked a small loaf of bread (I'll post about that soon).
  • Fed and dressed three children.
  • Cleaned out the bunny's cage.
  • Got ready for work.
  • Dropped the kids off at school/childcare.

Hmm. Looking at the list, it doesn't seem like a huge amount but really, it was a busy and productive morning! Dan helped get the kids dressed but he had to leave early for a presentation on the north shore.

And the worst part was that I was still late for work (although to their credit the boys were ready before 8am).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Now that's some driving...

Last night (Monday night = single parent night) I managed to get the children into bed by 8pm! Incredible! Half an hour to an hour earlier than normal!

So early that I was able to watch half of Top Gear. And I saw this. It was incredible. The rest of the show was quite funny, too. I never really thought of myself as a "car" person, but this show makes it highly entertaining.




I hope the video doesn't get taken down due to copyright issues!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Lego Taj Mahal: Part 4

Slowly but surely I'm getting there. Two thirds of the base part is now done!


I'm loving the little details - especially the windows. I'm looking forward to the "glass" windows... whenever I get to them.



Wish I could build it this quickly:


Good intentions...

At the end of last year I was full of good intentions... making several resolutions for the year ahead. Well, it's September now and I'd say I've sort-of, more-or-less stuck to them... except for the "more" part of things ("Cook more, craft more, exercise more...") But at least I haven't really done any less.

Except for this last one: "BLOG MORE!".

Darn it. I'm a bit annoyed about it. I can't help but be disappointed in myself. The months have flown by and I'm constantly writing posts in my head, or starting them and not finishing them. And nothing more than the usual LIFE getting in the way. I just don't know how to do it. To be a good mother, to be a good employee, to be a good wife, to be a good housekeeper, to be a good daughter, to be good to myself and to have time for my hobbies... and to be a good geek! Perhaps I demand too much of myself. Something's gotta give (as the saying goes). Friends complain that I don't have time for them anymore. (But really, if friends complain to you when they know how busy you are, how good a friend are they?) And yet, I'm not ready to let go. Of anything.

It's a conundrum. I don't know if I'll ever sort it out. I think it's just ME. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

He would have been 46 today


My eldest brother Arthur, and a young me. My next two older brothers are behind.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Lego Taj Mahal: Part 3

It's been a while since I've touched my poor neglected Lego. I had it out in the kitchen/dining area for a while. Box on its end, the piece on top of it... Asking for trouble, really. One day Atti and Elora were playing near it and I popped out of the room. Came back and there was Lego all over the floor.

"What happened, Atti?"
"It fell all by itself."
"Oh really? How did it fall?"
"It just did it by itself... Oh. Yeah. Doggy did it."
"So you threw Doggy and he knocked the Lego down?"
"No. It just fell. By itself. With Doggy."
"Uh-huh. Right."

I also noticed that parts of it were haphazardly put back together. Somebody knew they'd done wrong and tried to fix it... and then left it when he realised he didn't know how. Hmm. That boy!!

Anyway, Dan was out last night and the lounge room was in a semi-tidy state so after the kids went to bed I pulled out the box and repaired the damage. And then started building.


TripleJ TV came on so I watched that. Then Doctor Who. And I built some more. It was a good episode. I don't normally watch that show. In fact I don't think I've seen a single episode with David Tennant in it. But I watched it last night. It had daleks AND cybermen in it!


And I ended up going to bed much later than I should have, considering I was up at a quarter past five that morning.

Later in the week I want to build the first two corner pieces. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The newest family member

I've been going for jogs/walks/runs in the mornings on the weekends lately. We have some great bike paths along the river around this area and it's very pleasant early in the morning with the sun coming up and the birds flitting and squawking.

Last Sunday morning as I headed out I saw a little creature bouncing around. I stopped and it came up and jumped around my feet then wandered off to eat some grass. I continued on my way. An hour later I came back and there it was huddled under a car tire, presumably scared off by someone's dog. So I crawled in, grabbed it by the scruff of its neck and carried it home.


We've decided to call him Flopsy. And I took him to the vet on Thursday when we found out that he definitely is a "he". So now he's Flopsy-boy.


He's very friendly and tame. I think he belonged to a family before us. We did put up signs around the neighbourhood but no-one responded after five days. Apparently people dump unwanted pets in the park all the time. It's very sad. But to be quite honest, we weren't really that unhappy that nobody had claimed him!


Except for the cat. She's not too happy. We haven't told her about her bowl yet, either.

Quiet times

Kids, work... it all just takes up time. And whatever's left is spent sleeping these days.

Today we had a sausage sizzle fund raiser for child care. I spent over three hours cooking onions, putting sausages into bread, serving customers. And I still smell like barbecue!

Now I'm tired. The usual state of being at this time of night. Actually, usually at 10:30pm I'm fast alseep. But my plan tonight was to build some Lego (my poor Taj Mahal has taken some backward steps, due to two littlies and a box that was too accessible), watch Pretty in Pink (vale John Hughes, thanks for making my favourite movies) and perhaps blog about our new family member... Well, I managed one of my goals (the movie) and half a blog post (this one)... There'll be more soon I hope.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Lego Taj Mahal: Part 2

More steps done on the weekend...


Atticus awoke from his nap earlier than planned on Saturday afternoon and helped me build the little arches. I was impressed with his dexterity. I didn't think he could attach those little "headlight" pieces but he managed! Got bored after five of them, though.


I sat down and roughly counted the number of steps. Not including repeats. About 330. One step a night = almost a year! Hopefully it will get faster as I get the pieces sorted out. But then some nights I don't touch it at all.

I'll get there in the end.

Template change

Hmm. I've changed the blog template after years of the same old one. Just one of the standard choices but I was so annoyed at how the main text window would not stretch if your screen was bigger than the minimum. I hate wasted screen space!

I know it's boring. There are some lovely fancy templates out there but I can't be bothered editing them! What do you think?

Illness strikes!

Well, it had to happen eventually. We'd been going well. Winter, swine flu rampant, kids in school and child care.

Dante had a mild fever on Sunday night and Monday morning. Atticus was okay on Sunday but had a slight fever which got worse during the day on Monday. Dan was a little under the weather on the weekend but was worse on Monday morning. (Mondayitis strikes with a vengeance?!) Everyone but me stayed home yesterday (Elora's normal day at home)... Boo!

Today (Tuesday) Dan is still sick with fever and cough. Atticus is, too. We always worry most when Atti has fevers - they go so high (39.7°C this morning) and scare me silly. I really should be least worried since he's on the anti-convulsants still but old habits die hard. Thank goodness Dante was able to go to school today. And Elora. But now she's getting a fever, too.

It's only a matter of time before it knocks me over, too. Ack! Be gone, evil germs! Infect me not!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Grr grr grr

There's so many posts waiting to be completed and published but tonight I have another topic on my mind. More than on my mind. It's causing a physical reaction...

Probably too much information, but it's that time of the month. That time of the month when I confirm that I'm not pregnant but also that I'm still in my child-bearing years.

And I hate it! After more than twenty years (and who knows how many more) you'd think that I'd be used to the changes in mood, the grumpiness, the pain! Oh the pain! It's almost enough to make me want to be pregnant again. 9 months without a period. Then another 10 or 11 if you breastfeed (well, that was my experience, all three times). Except that I'm not keen on all the other things that go along with being pregnant, like being weighty and unwieldy and uncomfortable. The labour, well, that's not so bad. It only lasts a few hours. But then there's the whole bringing up another child thing. That's not something I'm ready for!! Although I do love newborn babies so much!

Anyway, that's enough complaining.

Let me tell you about our weekend. Dinner at Dante's friend's place on Friday night (after he and Atti spent the afternoon there after school). Did some computer support while we were there too. Saturday Dan spent shopping at the toy sales. Heinous amounts of money spent on Lego. Enough for another blog post. More Taj Mahal building. Mother-in-law over for dinner. A second late night in a row for the kids. This afternoon we spent at a birthday party for one of Atti's classmates. The hugest 4-year-old's party I've ever been to. There must have been nearly 30 kids there (including siblings). It was great. Plenty of food, plenty of fun, beautiful sunny weather (but a little chilly). Dante spent the time at another school friend's place. Everyone was happy (and everyone was tired and crashed out in the car on the way home).

So that's it in a nut shell. How was your weekend?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Lego Taj Mahal: Part 1

As some of you may know, my husband is a wee bit of a fan of a particular plastic construction toy. He has a room dedicated to the stuff. This picture I've roughly put together to try and capture the essence of it. Most people are completely gobsmacked when they see it.


Every now and then there's a set that I quite like but since I have my other money-eating hobby (craft) I usually resist. Until I saw this set: the Taj Mahal. It's been out for a while and is quite expensive. But I thought it was just lovely. Dan didn't think it was particularly good value, and it wasn't Star Wars or Castle or Space Pirate related, so he didn't buy it.

Then one of the large department stores decided to have a big sale starting last Thursday, including this set for 20% off and I couldn't resist. A friend was buying one and had a card that enabled him to get another 10% off. Woohoo! It would be mine! (Actually, he probably wished I was there when he bought them - the boxes are large and weigh just under 6.5kg... plus he bought some other stuff that day... and caught the train back to work with them!)

So here it is. Here I am with it. My very own Lego.


And last night I decided I would build it. Until I realised that there are almost 6,000 pieces and apparently it takes 9-12 hours to complete. Okay, so I won't get it done in one night... but I could at least get a start.

I opened the box. Three trays of bags of pieces. One book of instructions in each tray.
"Nice," I thought. "I can just use one tray at a time."
I opened the first page of the first book.
I looked at the pieces required for the first step.
Uh oh.


The trays are nice. BUT the bags are NOT in any order. There are multiples of some bags, which is a little better, but they are not sorted into order of building! I will have to open two bags just to do the first step! This is not how I remember big Lego sets being packaged. I remember Dan building a set with bags with big numbers on them to indicate the order to use them! But no! This is going to be a lot more time consuming than I thought it would be.


So, a-sorting I will go. Ziplock bags are my friend.
I'll keep you updated with my progress.

Monday, June 22, 2009

One step forward...

I can't remember how much I've written about this, but things have been somewhat... trying with Dante lately. Part of it is his age. Part of it is my lack of patience. Part of it is his high intelligence and our lack of clear boundary setting when he was younger. Or so we've been told, anyway.

The upshot is that I have been slowly tearing my hair out and losing my voice from shouting and Dante has been known to have quite a temper and... well, I think you get the picture.

Since he was five he has been having piano lessons. Once a week, with a few weeks off over summer. He did his Preliminary exam last year and obtained a B+. Not bad, but not reflective of his natural talent. Of course I have been driven mad by his lack of enthusiasm for practising. Last year he was bribed with time on my Nintendo DS, which worked wonderfully until he got his own at Christmas.

Anyway, after all this time, he still has trouble actually reading the notes of the music. Instead, he memorises the pieces which is not really bad as such but he should be able to know at least some of the notes by now. And lately it's been so bad that I have seriously contemplated just giving it all up, even though I strongly believe in the benefits of a musical education, having had one myself and appreciating the efforts my parents went to to pay for it!

The other night Dan asked Dante to practise piano - the usual complaining and grumbling and half-hearted efforts ensued. I got so frustrated that I had a conversation with Dan about it, within earshot of the boy (but not obviously so).

"What are we going to do with him? He shows no interest, isn't learning and is wasting our time and money..."

I then went on to say how important it is to one's future education etc. Dan busted Dante listening in and he explained to him how all the coolest people know how to read and play music and how he wished he'd had the chance to learn... Blah blah blah.

Dante soaked it all in. Complained that he couldn't read the notes and needed help. So I went to help him. Instead of the usual shouting and complaining routine, I tried a different tactic. Remembering how easily be learnt what the different notes are (crotchets, quavers etc.) I decided to use the same technique - a chart. I drew one up in black marker and voilĂ ! He suddenly could work out the names of the notes on the music and transfer it to the piano! Incredible!


The best thing was that afterwards we were both so happy. He was happy that he could do it and I was happy that he was happy and trying. Boy oh boy. Something simple like positive reinforcement works so well and when I'm tired and cranky I just forget about it. Got to work on it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bingo night

Last night Dan and I attended our very first Bingo night. Organised by the mother of one of Dante's friends, we felt obliged to lend our support. My mother took the kids and away we went!

We sat at a table with some other parents from pre-school. It was in the school hall and was a very relaxed, informal affair. Dinner was served, the school principal called the numbers and fun was had all around.

I even won two games! The second was the most amusing. The game was "Four Corners"... get the four numbers in each corner of your grid. Except three of mine were blank. And the first number to be called was the one I needed. I was actually a little embarrassed that I won so easily... I needn't have been. It happened twice more later in the evening (not to me), and once before any numbers were called - all four squares were blank!

I'm not sure that we'll do it again... perhaps a trivia night or something different. But at least we had a night out kid-free. Yay!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dance, little boy, dance!

Dante's school has a professional dance teacher who spends a fair amount of time and resources entering her troupes into competitions around the place. Tuesday night was Dante's turn - they performed to "Aladdin".


These dance festivals are really just a big money-grabbing exercise, in my opinion. Boy, he's only in Year 3 and I'm that jaded already. I guess it's from going to a private school where we were constantly harassed for donations. But, you pay your $25 per person to go and watch your kids on stage for three minutes and then you have to sit through everybody else's kids for another two hours! Late on a school night!

"Bah, humbug!" I say. "I'll just watch the dress rehearsal at school beforehand." And so I did. We got to see it three times in a row! And Atti and Elora loved it.

One thing I do have to say, though, is that the dance teacher does a good job. The costumes are always terrific and the kids are cute. Very entertaining!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

34

Today I am half my mother's age. I have reached the age my mother was when she had me.

It feels somewhat significant. I can't say why, though.

I've been feeling a little... icky about it. I guess it's just the reminder of time passing that irks me. But, a friend told me that you're going to get older no matter what, so there's no point getting upset about it. Relax and enjoy your special day and you'll be happier for it.

So I did. With sticky date pudding for morning tea. And a Tom Cruise dinner (anyone who was in Australia in the 80's would know this means a lamb roast)!

And lots of cups of tea in my new mug which I've coveted ever since I saw Monica's one. Sitting here next to my other favourite mug which I received when I turned 33. That's $50 worth of mug you see sitting there on the bench at work!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sydney Craft Fair

I had been so good all week. The Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair was on at Darling Harbour, always in my birthday week and such a huge temptation to spend heinous amounts of money. But I had resisted! Wednesday, Thursday, Friday... and then I started seeing people's blog posts about it. The bargains they got, the gorgeous quilts on display...

And I succumbed. It was a last minute decision. I would go. Today, Sunday, the last day of the fair.

I didn't end up leaving the house until after 2pm (erhem... somebody in this household who was going to mind the children slept in until 11am... then it was Dante's postponed piano lesson and lunch and so on...) and got to the fair by 3pm. No discount for last minute entry which I thought was a bit unfair (for a Fair, heh. Get it?)

But I did okay. I whizzed through the entire thing with five minutes to spare! I came in under budget by a third but still managed to get some nice stuff. I was totally inspired by some of the fantastic quilts on display but of course didn't take my camera with me (not that you're meant to take pictures).

My booty:
Bendigo Woollen Mills 8ply Classic wool in Holly and Silver. The Holly seemed a little more pinky-red inside but is pretty plain red in real light. Great value 200g balls!

Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn in colour "Vatican Pie". A delicious deep red that I am totally in love with and am itching to start knitting with. Too nice for socks, though!

And some fabric. This pack of fat quarters came to less than $3 per piece. That is a great price considering the going price was around $6-$7 each! Wowsers! I never said my hobbies were cheap :)

In the end, I'm glad I went. Going on my own on the closing afternoon was a great idea. There were "end of show" specials, very few crowds and being on my own meant I could fly through it and spend more time on the things I liked. Yay for an afternoon out!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Crocheted coral


Wow.
Created and curated by The Institute For Figuring and on display at the Powerhouse Museum from 21-3 August.

BUT workshops are being held where you can help create it!
More info at http://sydneyreef.blogspot.com/.

I'm torn between going to the next one on June 28 or the next Sunday Craft Room although it may be possible to go to both... Fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Restless and panicky

Today is my usual Thursday when I don't go to work but stay at home with my delightful bundle of two year old entropy. And I've got this feeling... my heart races, I feel nervous and anxious and worried. There's so much I should be doing but I can't stick to one task. I've hung out one load of washing but the next is sitting there waiting. I'm half way through the dishes (one dishwasher load done but the handwashing waits). Only one out of four baskets of clean, dry clothes folded. One blog post half written. Countless craft projects unfinished... I think you get the picture.

I don't know what is causing this feeling today. I can't even think of the proper word for it. I think it's probably the stress of being snowed under with housework. It's just too much. Built up from the lazy long weekend when I did naught but create more mess (baking and general hanging around). Argh!!

Well, at least I'll manage to publish this blog post. That's something.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Welcome, winter

June already. And boy does the weather make us feel it. Actually, it's been funny lately. Lots of rain, coolish days but nothing a good blowy heater under the desk can't fix (when I'm at work, anyway). I'm looking forward to when these miserable first days of winter go away and the glorious Sydney sunny winter days begin.

The other funny thing is reading craft blogs (via Google reader - I really ought to update my link list) from the Northern Hemisphere where they are talking about school finishing for the year and spending days at the pool and wearing summery frocks. Crazy talk! It's less than 20°C!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Visit from the past

Oh joyous of days! My dear old friends Kate and Iain came for a whirlwind visit today with their seven month old bub. It was so wonderful to see them since it's been quite a while since we've caught up - they now live in the UK (Oxford but soon Cambridge).

My mood has lifted incredibly this afternoon - I'm bouncing around grinning happily. Yay! It's so good to see old friends and to feel like you've only been apart for a short time, not months/years. Nothing makes me happier* :)

Well, actually, quite a number of things make me happier, but it's still pretty damn awesome.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's been raining...

The weather's been a bit wet lately. Not as bad here in Sydney as further North in the state, but still not the pleasantest of times for three children cooped up inside.

This is what our lounge room looked like after a morning inside yesterday...


Thank goodness it cleared up today (and thank goodness I was able to get five loads of washing dry)!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good knitting value

In August 2007 I started knitting a cardigan for Elora. A gorgeous yet simple wrap cardigan designed by 6.5st.

I finished it in October when she was eight months old.


Now that winter's almost upon us and the weather has cooled, it's time to get the woollens out again. Lo and behold, Elora's cardigan still fits beautifully, all this time later. I have to say I'm very pleased! Now that's good value!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gettin' my bake on

The oven has been running hot here, lately! (Arf, arf)

It started two weeks ago. A friend at work brought in scones for afternoon tea on Friday. Hmm... I love scones with jam and cream, if you recall. So that weekend (which incidentally happened to be the Mother's Day weekend) I made three batches of scones. They weren't great - the first batch had too much milk, the second was better but didn't rise as much, the third better still. But I had cream and jam and was going to take them down to tennis (our regular Sunday fortnight family tennis gathering) except that it poured rain. So we had three batches of ordinary scones to eat. Ack! I'll get better with practice, I'm sure. If we can face them again (of course I can!)

Then we had a cake stall at child care. I think my fifth or sixth? Getting better at organising them, I have to say. We had a terrific response from both parents and buyers. Lots of delicious treats to sell, lots of helping hands, lots of willing purchasers. We made about twice as much money as I expected - a resounding success. My contribution - a couple of dozen cupcakes and the same number of chocolate crackles (which were actually made by Dan!).


There was, of course, The Dinner. Incredibly, we had the kitchen pretty much completely cleaned up by mid-morning the next day. And on Sunday I couldn't shake the baking bug. I made banana+choc-chip cupcakes in the afternoon while the kids were napping, on a whim. From scratch, too :) Yay! They were delicious. Even my father said "not bad". Especially warm and fresh.

I didn't take any pictures, unfortunately.

I wonder when I'll lose the baking bug. Perhaps when I run out of flour?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Markets and dinner

The weekend's planned trip to the Finders Keepers Markets was heartily disappointing. Not because the markets were no good, but because we didn't get to go. Even more disappointing because when I read some blog posts about it I hear that it was a terrific success.

The reason we didn't go was a good one, though. It was Dan's birthday on Friday and I decided (copying a friend's idea) to have a surprise dinner party for him. I'm always doing this to myself. Have an idea for something simple and it turns into something huge! Just a few friends turned into dinner for twenty-one (including the kids).


A few dramas in the lead up - I had to work, Dan took the day off work, I couldn't leave work early enough and then got stuck in traffic and didn't get home until 6pm!! Dan ended up putting the meat on, my mother did more meat and the potatoes and my mother-in-law and I did the rest. We didn't eat until 8pm.

The best family shot of the night! Note the delicious passionfruit + chocolate gelato cake. I couldn't find a 5 candle so 4+1 had to suffice.

But all in all, it was a fabulous night with good company, lots of food and a lovely relaxed atmosphere. Nothing formal. But my friends don't care about that sort of thing. Dan was quite happy. The kids were fairly well behaved.


After dinner they took themselves off to the lounge room and flaked out in front of a movie until I was able to get them to bed - at 10:30pm! So late! No wonder we were a wreck the next day and missed the markets! As evidenced by this picture. Atticus, fast asleep on the lounge, just before lunch.


I don't think I will be doing it again for a quite a few years, even though it was a lot of fun. The markets, though, will definitely NOT be missed again!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Finders Keepers markets

Yay! Tomorrow I'm going to the Finders Keepers markets at Carriageworks (which, incidentally, is where they filmed So You Think You Can Dance).

I'll take some pictures and post more about it later.

--

By the way, I cannot believe that it has been a month since I last wrote on this here online journal. Seriously! This crazy thing called TIME just keeps getting away from me. It's driving me crazy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The youngest blogger

Well, the long weekend finally finished... I never thought I'd be so happy to get back to work yesterday morning! By day 4 (Atti, Elora and I had 5 days, remember?) Atticus was ready to go back to school. Now when I answer, "Yes, it's a stay-at-home day" to his question in the morning, he replies, "But I want to go to school!" The poor boy. He still has almost two weeks of holidays left!

Anyway, I thought I'd tell you what Dante got up to during the break. Well, actually only on Good Friday so far but there's still plenty of time. He started a blog! I don't think he was influenced by mine or Dan's - a school friend told him about it. He's been itching to start one up - he keeps searching for "blogspot" and keeps telling us "But, it's free!" so on Friday morning I gave in and helped him with it.

Technically blogspot is for authors aged 13 and over, but I figure that if I'm supervising and moderating it will be okay. He and his friend T have written some stories about "Smelly Sock and the Adventures of Garbageland". He has posted the first instalment already. Do you want to read it?

http://donskycesandtemo.blogspot.com

I hope he keeps it up - I love that he is using his imagination and building his writing skills. I know that when I was his age I would have loved to have access to this sort of technology!

Happy reading!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday morning

School holidays have begun. Hooray, I think!

It's a bit difficult for us this year because Atti is not old enough for Vacation Care (school age only) but the pre-school is shut down since it's part of the proper school. Child care doesn't have any spaces for him either, so it was a mad shuffle of days and calling upon grandparents and Auntie Bec to help take care of the boy (and the kids in general).

Atti is very happy to be home. I kept him home with me yesterday (my usual day off with Elora) as the pre-school had a half day and since Dan and Dante were both occupied until 5:30pm with work, school and after school care it was easier for Atti to stay. Both he and Elora were happy to have the time together. They play together beautifully. We had a lovely day - we visited the park, had some lunch, watched Hi-5. In the afternoon I took poor Atti to get his four-year-old immunisation shots. (A wee bit overdue). Poor kid didn't know what was coming. The first was a big shock - the second was a lot more trouble, trying to convince him to let us hurt him again! In the end he let us, very bravely and got spoilt rotten afterwards with an ice block and lollies, a balloon and a new pack of play-doh.

This morning the boys were up a little after 6am. Ack! First day of holidays and they are up at the crack of dawn! So much for sleeping in. Dante is busy at the computer. More about that later.

Have a nice Easter break everyone.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Poor worn out bub

Elora came down with a stomach bug on Tuesday night. In the middle of the night. The poor thing. I am, as expected, exhausted. We got about 4 hours' sleep yesterday (from 2am).

Today she's at home with Dan and obviously completely worn out. He sent me this photo. My heart is breaking!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Who doesn't??

Doing some web surfing tonight, I came upon this:



I mean, who doesn't love John Cusack?

And this song is totally stuck in my head right now.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Waiting for babies

There's been a lot of babies born lately... the Sydney inner-west baby boom, I guess.

Two babies I know are due ANY DAY and I m anxious with anticipation for their mothers.

One of them is on the other side of the country! A fellow blogger, someone who inspired me to keep at my own blog, Karen is 40 weeks pregnant with her third child, and a little frustrated because her other two both came at 38 weeks. I know how she feels - I was terribly annoyed for the last three weeks of Atti's pregnancy since Dante was three weeks early! She's shared the whole story of this pregnancy, from when they first decided to try for a third, until now! I can't wait to see her little gem when he arrives :)

The other bub due is my next door neighbour's. They have a 16 month old little boy "Baby Simon" and are due any day with their second. Every night I keep an ear out for the sounds of a woman in labour just in case. The other night I was sure I heard something and then heard their car drive out at 11:30pm. I was so excited! But then last night I saw my neighbour, still pregnant. No baby yet.

Waiting, waiting. You can imagine how I felt during my own pregnancies if I'm this anxious for others!!

Edited to add: Karen had a little boy! and my neighbours had a little girl whom we haven't yet met because we don't want to pass on our dreadful germs.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The next craft

Right, so. I knit, I crochet, I quilt, I sew. The main crafts. I wouldn't say that I'm an expert at any of them but I try, and that's what counts, right?

A couple of friends are into cross-stitching. It was never really my cup of tea. Pretty little ducklings and flowers and heart-felt messages. Not my thing at all.

But today I found some brilliant inspiration and now I want to start cross-stitching: Radical Cross Stitch. Their tag line is "Seriously Seditious Stitching". It says it all, really. Check out the gallery. Awesome! If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday night on my own

Every Monday night Dan goes out to a friend's place and I get an evening to myself... after I've put the kids to bed, of course.

Every week I have grand plans for my time. Sewing, blogging, housework. Most of the time I never get any of it done. Tonight is a prime example. As soon as the kids went to bed at 8:30pm I plonked myself down on the couch with a bowl of frozen yoghurt, Ugly Betty on the television and my knitting. And that's where I stayed for an hour and a half (two episodes) except for getting up to tell Dante to go to sleep.

And that's that. No one come near my kitchen - it's a nightmare!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

On the needles

I started knitting a bias baby blanket late last year intended for a friend's new baby boy on the other side of the world... but it got heavy on the needles, Christmas and the New Year happened and other projects got in the way.

This week I was determined to complete it so I could send it off. I have three balls each of a cotton/linen yarn in three colours to make nine stripes but decided to only make six. I added two whole balls to the blanket, 5 out of 6 stripes. Wonderful work. Lots of knitting...

until I laid it out on the floor and realised it would be too small to be useful. So just like that, in five minutes, I pulled out a week's worth of work. Huh! So easy to undo.

And so, back to work I go.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dressmaking!

Starting tomorrow, for the next four weeks, I'm going to a dress making class at the Sydney Community College. It goes from 9:30-2:30pm on each Friday - a whole day of sewing :)

I'm so excited! I worked today instead of tomorrow - usually Thursdays are my day off. Thankfully my mother and Dan have combined forces to allow me to work for the Thursdays adjacent to my Friday classes. How lucky am I?

I chose a pattern - Simplicity 2848 - a "jumper" dress (I always thought they were called pinafores or some such). It looks a little daunting but I didn't want to choose something too easy. I mean, it's a learning experience so I have to challenge myself. I tried to do a little preliminary work tonight, tracing the pattern etc. But I couldn't work out what size is best - my measurements don't fit into one particular size (surprise, surprise - not having the "ideal" body shape). So, I'll have to do it all in the classroom. I hope I won't run out of time. I know that four weeks will go very quickly!

I'll keep you posted with my progress.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Our trip to Hawks Nest, NSW

We spent a week out of town in January. Hawk's Nest is about a three hour drive north of Sydney. A small seaside town whose population triples during the summer. It is right on the beach - two beaches, actually. One an ocean beach with big waves and sand dunes and the other backing onto Port Stephen with no waves, shallower and great for kids.

We had a wonderful time. The kids loved it. Dan and I loved it. So relaxing. No internet. No phone. Just reading and knitting to be done.

On Jimmy's Beach, the gentler one. Part of every day was spent at the beach.



Elora loved her bucket and spade. Although sometimes she had trouble.
"Can you help me?"



My parents came up for one day. We went for a walk to the ocean beach, Bennett's Beach. We didn't have time to go swimming.


Dan found a tiny, tiny crab.


Proud builders, father and son. A wave came and knocked the top of this sand castle seconds before the photo was taken.


Dante and his unusual building style. I'm not sure what he was doing but he sure did like digging deep holes! I guess that's seven year old boys for you.


On the ferry ride across the bay to Nelson Bay. Just a morning trip to see some dolphins. We saw some, but didn't really get a good picture.


More photos in my Flickr set.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Must-watch TV tonight!

For those in Oz, one of my favourite shows is on TV tonight (first of a four-part series).

8:30pm Sunday March 8
Lost in Austen on ABC1

It is a must for all Austen fans. I saw a preview for it a while ago and immediately downloaded it from the UK. I thought I'd written about it here on the blog but couldn't find the post about it.

Watch it! It's fun! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Sentimental Chick


Towards the end of last year, our elderly neighbour, Uncle Ted (pictured above at Christmas 2007 - the last Christmas he spent with us), passed away at the ripe old age of 93. He'd lived alone for 21 years and spent the last ten months of his life in a nursing home. He lived three houses down from us and was like a grandfather to us kids. He and his wife (whom we always called "Mrs Bock" for some reason, never "Auntie Winnie") were of great help to my mother when she was bringing up five kids with her parents far away in the Torres Strait. (Mrs Bock died in 1986. They never had any children.) Uncle Ted always came over to our place for Christmas, Chinese New Year and any other big celebration we'd have.

I didn't mention it at the time because it was just too sad. Too many deaths occurred at that time, too many funerals. It was hard.

Uncle Ted's house went up for sale today.


I went along to say my final farewell to him and Mrs Bock and their house. Just thinking about it in the morning made me a little sad.

But when I walked into that house for the last time, I took one look and burst into tears. I couldn't believe it. A whole bunch of memories came flooding back. I haven't really been inside for years. Everything was still the same. The same furniture, the same carpet, the same smell of Sunlight soap.


The other people inspecting the house must have thought I was completely loony. They gave me the strangest looks. The real estate agents gave me a wide berth. I didn't care. I was remembering visiting Mrs Bock with Mama after school and on weekends. I remembered the bars of soap they used to fashion from the tiny leftover bits of soap. I remembered the old transistor radio they used to listen to. The stairs at the back of the house. I remembered playing in the back yard and the rows of beans and veges growing on trestles, sadly now all gone.

That's me, the baby.

I hope the new owners will be happy in that old house. I hope they treat it well and fill it with new life. And I really hope they don't knock it down.