Friday, December 31, 2010


The month of December has gone in a flash, somewhat like the fireworks going off around my suburb and around my city as I write. Work and all that associated stress. Recovering from Dante's Schools Spectacular weekend of horror (which wasn't too bad in the end). Dan going overseas to Saudi Arabia and Jordan for two weeks. The end of the school year. Christmas and presents.

But really, for us, December this year has been all about this man. My father.

In November I went away for a weekend's respite. On the last day I found out my father had been admitted to hospital. Two days later we found out he had a large gastric ulcer that had been bleeding.

A week later we found out that it was actually a form of stomach cancer and my father was readmitted to hospital for an exploratory gastroscopy. Following that and a visit to an oncologist it was decided that he'd have surgery followed by chemo so a week later he was back in hospital for the big operation. Two thirds of his stomach was removed.

His recovery was good to begin with but slowed due to his age (he's 78) and a few complications. After two weeks we thought he'd be home but then another setback kept him in hospital for a few more days.

Finally, though, he is home. He came home on Christmas Eve afternoon after three weeks in hospital. Frail, weak but home and never happier to be here. A great Xmas present for us all!

I sent out calls for good thoughts (and prayers if that's your thing) via Facebook and twitter and all the good will was wonderful. Thank you, all, for your supportive words and hopeful wishes.

The new year will still present many challenges for us. My father still has to undertake a round or two of chemo. I've got to find myself a new job, unfortunately, probably. Elora will be starting preschool. Dante heading to the more serious end of primary school (Yr 5) with thoughts of high school looming. Atticus, well, he's doing pretty darn well. And hopefully everything is gonna turn out okay.

Here's hoping 2011 brings you much joy and prosperity. Thank you for sticking with me as I try to sort out this hectic thing called life and neglect my poor ol' blog here. Every year I say I'll try harder to write more but I think I know not to make such promises this year. I honestly don't know what lies ahead. Hopefully more good than bad! And hopefully I will take more time to share it with you and record the moments of my life for posterity like I originally intended.

We shall see.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Work - an update

A few folks have asked me how things are going with the whole work situation. I just thought I'd update y'all.

At the beginning of October we had a big meeting and determined that we would have a month of "data collection" to see just how much work was out there for my colleague and myself. That ended last week. I thought it went quite well. We were quite busy during that time and I managed to enter a fair few number of jobs into the system. We hadn't heard anything about how things were going though.

Then today, just before lunch, the manager asked me if I can attend a meeting with him and the Head of School next Monday at 3pm. Just the three of us. No indication of why, but anyone with a bit of a brain (which surprisingly includes me!) can guess that it's about "The Restructure" and my Women's Intuition tells me it ain't gonna be good news.

So, yeah. I'm about to head off on a "girl's weekend" with some other mothers from the kids' school. 48 hours of child-free, husband-free leisure time in a freshly renovated historic house in the Southern Highlands. And instead of relaxing, now it will be a stress-filled teeth-clenching grey-hair-making two day wait to find out if I have a job or not. What timing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wool. Giant balls of wool.

There was a sale. I couldn't resist. I bought a bucket load (or a very large bag, anyway) of 200g balls of wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills last month. Curse them and their discounts. (Still on sale until the end of November, by the way!)

It was wonderful seeing the package waiting for me on the door step after a treacherous drive home on a very stormy Sydney afternoon. I couldn't wait to rip it open.

"Ginormous balls of wool," Elora exclaimed when she saw them. Followed by "The pink ones are for me and the blue ones are for the boys."

Right she was. 5 colours for a blankie for Atti, 6 for her. "Luxury" 8ply 100% wool 200g balls
For the boy: Leaf, Ice, Ghost, Lake, Junior Navy
For the girl: Frost, Lavender, Purple Storm, Baby Pink, Ruby, Pink.

My intention is to make squares from my new book, 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans by Jan Eaton (bought from Better World Books - I highly recommend them) to make blankets for the two youngest kiddies. I feel a bit bad that I'm not making one for the biggest boy, but, he's nearing 10. He's not so keen on my hand made items anymore (except for Halloween costumes... more on that another day I hope).

Tragically, in my eagerness to open the packet, I got a bit overzealous with the scissors. Wah! I cut up my gigantic ball of wool! Well, a few strands.

But I think I can live with it.

Now to get to the crocheting!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Snail mail

Back in June I took a photo of what our mail looks like when I hadn't checked it for a few days, or a week. Or two.

Pretty funny, I thought. Proper "snail mail".

But in recent weeks the problem started getting worse. Possibly because of Spring? I don't know. I took this photo inside the mailbox today. Those junk mail leaflets had only been in there for a day, two at most. It is mostly unreadable. Some other mail was barely holding together it had that many holes!

Now, I'm not a fan of snails. I absolutely detest slugs, and snails are pretty much slugs with shells, right? Eeyuck! Eeyou! I HATE them.

Something had to be done.

So I went into the pantry and found a 1kg bag of cooking salt. And poured it into the mailbox. Not all of it but probably about half. There was a good 5-7mm thick layer on the bottom. So pretty, like snow.

No more snail mail for this family.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

First Tues in November

There was some big horse race here today. I was feeling crook this afternoon, so I sat in the comfy chair in my office and played a highly addictive ipad game instead. Naughty, naughty, but why should I be working when everyone else in the entire country downs tools for five minutes or so at 3pm?*

* Just so you don't think the worst of me, and in case my boss reads this (ha!), I actually put in for a half day of sick leave today - around lunch time I realised I just couldn't take it any more, with my throbbing head and twisting insides. But I had to stick around at work since Dan wasn't able to pick up the kids after school (well, not without major inconvenience) and heck, I can catch up on some blog reading and writing while I'm here, as well as curling up in my comfy chair (which isn't really that comfy but good enough when you're feeling unwell)!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Busy times ahead

November: second last month of the year.

Month of the NSW Schools Spectacular which Dante is dancing in for the second time. Lots of early starts culminating in three long days with two extremely late nights...

Which coincides with Dan going away to Saudi Arabia for a couple of weeks for work (hopefully with a chance for some sightseeing included - so close to Petra!)...

Which means he'll miss the annual Thanksgiving lunch which his family have celebrated for the last twenty three or so years...

But will be back in time for December - the craziest month of the year.

Fun times ahead for this gal and her brood.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dinner from Hamburg

Well, not really from Germany... We got home early from school/child care today (4:30pm instead of the usual 6:30pm) so I decided to cook hamburgers for dinner (mostly at Dante's request). I didn't have all the ingredients - Dan had to get hamburger buns on the way home - but I made do.

500g beef mince
1 carrot, grated
Handful of mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices old bread, soaked in water until really soft then squeezed out
½ packet French onion soup mix
1 egg

Sauté onions and garlic until slightly browned.
Put everything into a big bowl and mix well.
Shape into patties and cook in a fry pan until done.

Serve on toasted buns with cheese and lettuce from the garden.
And tomatoes if your family will eat them. Mine don't so I had to go without.

Sorry, no pictures.

A hit with the boys. Elora "helped" and hence knew about the hidden veges and refused more than a mouthful of the meat. Ate lots of bread and cheese though!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Saw this bike a few weeks ago at a bike store and have been seriously drooling over it. So nice! But perhaps a little bit big for me.

Then I found this one on their website and while it's not as graceful-looking as the first, comes in a smaller size and would be perfect for this not-so-confident-on-the-streets cyclist.

Sigh. Both well above the amount I'm willing to spend on a bicycle right now, alas.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snowed under

Ever get so busy and stressed that you can't get it together enough to actually get things done?

That's the way I'm feeling at the moment. At work (eep! Still struggling/fighting to keep my job!), at home (housework), at leisure (craft stuff)...


Thursday, September 23, 2010

100 and counting!

I've had several comments lately about how tall this girl is getting.

So I measured her this morning.

100cm and growing! She's grown 4cm in the three months since I last measured her. That's 1½" in the Imperial scale.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Listening to. Reading.

I'm so sick of seeing that complaining post - about time I update this here blog with something more interesting. (Things haven't gotten any worse here at work... maybe there is a bit of hope? I don't know. Trying not to think about it too much, spent a chunk of the week writing up a two page document, "Twenty reasons to keep employing Jen" or something to that affect, which I hadn't written earlier because I'd been trying not to think about the possibility of losing my job and almost made things worse. Ack. Talk about downward spirals. Anyway.)

So just quickly. Because now it's the weekend and I've got a zillion loads of washing to do and another zillion other household chores to get through.

This song has been stuck in my head recently. I just can't get enough of They Might Be Giants.

This book has been stuck in my hand constantly. When I'm not reading it I am thinking about it and when I will next get a chance to read it. Even so much that I read in the car the other day, and I am very prone to motion sickness (but was willing to risk it)! Will write a full review when I'm done. But let me just say, "Wow. In a confronting and thought provoking way."

That will be all.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Home again. The holiday was wonderful! The journey back was nightmarish. I will write all about it soon.

But first I need to get something off my chest. It's three in the morning and I'm wide awake, unable to sleep. And I'm usually asleep by half past nine most nights and up in a couple of hours!

Today I suffered incredible disappointment, not wholly unpredicted as I got an inkling yesterday from certain mannerisms, and not life threateningly awful but upsetting nonetheless. Today the head at my workplace took me into a meeting with just the other manager and told me that in the new restructure my 0.6 FTE (full time equivalent) position was probably not needed. Lots of "It's not set in stone" type comments but one can tell by the sympathetic-not-quite-sympathetic looks and the repeated "We appreciate everything you've done for us" that the decision to get rid of me has been made. I'm not holding my hopes up, no matter what they say.

I managed to hold it together as much as I could in that meeting room. I'm quite surprised. Saved my bawling for back in the privacy of my office. What a way to come back from a wonderful family holiday.

My colleague, who will be directly affected by this considering his workload is already sky high and will have to take on all the extra work, is pretty devastated and shocked. I'm really touched by his reaction. They (the bosses) implied that they told him yesterday but not in so many words. He didn't realise just how far they were taking the restructure. He has thought of lots of things to say against the idea which he will take into his meeting with them tomorrow. He says we will fight this stupidity. I couldn't be more grateful.

But now I don't know what to do. Is it worth the fight? If a fight it will be? Do I want to stay in this place which doesn't want me? Is it time to think about a career change, something I've considered in the past? But it's a great place to work (despite the "You're fired!") and I've made the most wonderful friendships which I'm not willing to lose. The flexibility with hours has always been great... But I can't help think that my move to part-time work at the beginning of 2008 was the start of my downfall. I've never felt really discriminated against for wanting to work and raise a family before, but today I really did. I felt that being female and a mother was such a huge disadvantage to my situation and "career". I've never been overly ambitious. I thought I would be happy in the same position at work for years to come. There are other possibilities for my role at work, but when I suggested one I was met with surprise. I would be interested in looking into more training in Electronics? A girl? I don't know if I misread those raised eyebrows in my shocked and upset state, but that's the way it seems to me. They'd never even considered it but were happy to suggest it to my colleague. I'm disappointed to say the least.

So here I lie in bed tonight, thinking back to all the things I could have done differently to not be in this position now. Thinking about all the things I will need to do tomorrow to show Them that I'm not so dispensable. I've been in this place for 11 years. A third of my life! Nearly all of my working life! I've put in many more hours than necessary, than I've been paid for, but ruthlessness and The Budget prevail. It's all about the money in the end, isn't it? Not loyalty. "Thinking of the future," I was told. Whose future? I'd like to know. Certainly not mine, nor my colleagues. He'll get more money perhaps, but certainly more stress to go along with it.

So anyway, that's off my chest for now. I'm still not any sleepier though. Just "in limbo". Hoping they're wrong. But at the same time not holding any hope. Self confidence at rock bottom. Sucks to be me right now.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Thursday Island

We are here. And have intermittent Internet access after all. I don't know why I'm so surprised - so many of my cousins are on Facebook!

Cairns was busy and tiring. Early mornings, long days, late nights. Trying to fit everything and everyone into two and a half days.

Now we are T.I. and it's much more relaxing... And that, to the children, to my city-bred computer-addicted children, means BORING. Ack! Hopefully they'll catch up on lost sleep soon and start being more pleasant to each other. There was an incident that ended up with a bleeding nose this afternoon. Not fun. Thankfully Atti recovered quickly and spent the afternoon trying to work out how to use the borrowed Xbox.

Despite all that, I'm happy as larry. It's gorgeously warm. A nice 30°C with an incredible and constant strong wind blowing in from the east. We're staying in my (late) Grandmother's old place - a world of memories brought forth. Even the walls are still the same colour!

It also helps that we have occasional 'net access so we're not completely cut off from the world. Best of both worlds, I say!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Sounds rude, but it's not. It's where we're headed for the next ten days. Sunny, tropical Far North Queensland. Specifically, Cairns and Thursday Island. The kids are ridiculously excited. I'm more trepidatious... I hope they are good flyers!

I've probably packed more knitting projects than I can possibly hope to complete but, hey, better to have too many than not enough. And the same with books, for that matter. At least I remembered to pack my reading glasses.

We will have limited internet access while we're away. Maybe none! I'll miss you all.

See you later!

P.S. Note the time on this post? Yep. Time to get some sleep... Taxi's coming in five hours.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Scowl

We found out a couple of weeks ago that the Director of the boys' After School Care Program is leaving, after 8 years there! Dante was quite upset about it all, especially after not getting off to a good start with the new Director (during his hand over week)...

I wracked my brains for present ideas. Something safe like a Dymocks book voucher, perhaps? But I really wanted to hand make something for her. Because that's what I do... Decide to hand make something and leave it to the last minute. I think I thrive on the stress of it.

Then a new yarn shop opened up last week, not five minutes from work. I've been waiting for it for ages it seems, eagerly watching for signs of activity as we drive by every day. Of course I had to drop by on opening day. And to bring a shop luck you've got to buy something on its first day. Looking at all those beautiful balls of wool and cotton brought an idea to my mind. I'd knit Sarah a cowl. She lives in the Blue Mountains, land of ice weather and chill winds. Something nice for her to wear to keep her warm would work. I've seen her wearing scarves so I knew she'd like it.

I searched Ravelry (a really great knitting and crocheting resource, if you haven't heard of it) and found a great pattern, which I'd actually added to my queue a couple of years ago and never started (or finished). The Spiral Cowl (affectionately known as the "scowl" for some reason) knitted up quickly and easily (except for a major misread of the pattern by me. Oops!) and I managed to finish it with an entire hour to spare!

Photo taken in a hurry on a friend's iPhone under horrible work fluorescent lights. The colour is much deeper in real life (see next picture).

What I loved most was the picot edging. Never done it before, always being too scared of it. But, you know what? Easy! Not that complicated!

Can't wait to make one for myself now!
More details here, on Ravelry.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

City to Surf - a recap

Last week I mentioned I was entering in the big race today. Well, it turns out that 80,000 people did the same thing and this morning we ran and jogged and walked 14km from the city to Bondi Beach.

I left the house this morning feeling completely unprepared, having slept fitfully and suffering a bit of sunstroke from spending a few hours in the park yesterday. My training was incomplete, my health not 100% and I was nervous as anything. I caught the train in and everywhere I looked, even at my local train station, there seemed to be people wearing sandshoes and sporting clothes. I calmed myself by knitting on the journey in. Yes, I carried a small knitting project with me. How could I not??

Got to Hyde Park in the city and there were even more crowds. The major theme for the day, obviously. Met with my brother and sister-in-law and we queued up in our starting group. The atmosphere was fun. People were excited, nervous and a little cold! Lots of cheering and clapping when the first group went off (funnily enough the winner would have crossed the finish line just as I was crossing the start. Heh).

The gun went off, the surge began and we were off. "Let's run!" my sister-in-law exclaimed and then zoom, she was off. My brother and I looked at each other and laughed and started at our own, slower pace. A steady jog.

And amazingly we kept it up the entire time. Jogged the whole way. Made it up "Heartbreak Hill" with nary a scratch. Upped the pace a little on the downward stretch around the 11km mark. No sign of Prisciilla although we kept in contact by phone a little along the way. I checked my timer as we rounded the corner to Bondi - 95 minutes. I tried to up the pace a little more (to try and beat the magic 100 minute mark) but my body wouldn't budge! Took us another ten minutes to reach the finish, but we did it. Sore but smiling! (And my incredible sister-in-law beat us in by a few minutes, even after stopping for a toilet break (and queueing for that!) half way through!)

I have to say that I am so very pleased with my effort today. I honestly did not expect to be able to do anything but walk. Having my big brother by my side was wonderful. He encouraged me and kept pace with me and made the whole experience so much more enjoyable. And knowing my sister-in-law was somewhere up in front inspired us to keep going in the (vain, it turns out) hope that we might catch up with her!

Thanks, guys! I'm really looking forward to doing it all again next year, but perhaps with a little more preparation this time!

P.S. We took some pictures with our mobile phones. I'll add them later when I get a chance.

Friday, August 06, 2010


I recently discovered the blog of Jo from bubala who is also a mother of three here in Sydney. Lately she has been making bread and the other day she wrote about making cinnamon scrolls. They sounded just too delicious and too simple and easy not to try making them myself!

So yesterday (my day at home with Elora) I made up a batch of dough and in the afternoon I made the scrolls. I probably used more butter than Jo and forgot the sultanas but it didn't matter.

They turned out wonderfully! Soft but not too soft, sweet and cinnamony and delish. We had them for dessert and the kids demolished them in no time. "Mmm. They're like doughnuts!" Atti said as he reached for his second.

They were so good I decided to make another batch this morning and took them to work. I remembered the sultanas this time and used a little less butter and a little more cinnamon. They weren't bad either. We demolished them too!

Thanks, Jo, for the inspiration!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Ice Cream Dress

I did it. On Saturday I decided to get stuck into making an Ice Cream Dress (or rather, the blouse) as part of the Ice Cream Social. And by dinner time I had it completed!

I just used some cheap poly-cotton fabrics I had lying around, since it was sort of a rushed job and a first try. I made size 3T for my 3½ year old.

I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. Fairly professional looking as long as you don't look too closely at the stitching... I can't sew perfectly straight yet, and there were a few places where things didn't turn out quite right. Will have to ask the expert about it if I see her one day.

I chose a blue button for the closure. There was a little too much pink going on for my liking.

It fits the girl, just. A little tight around the arms, but she did have two layers on underneath. Should be alright in a couple of weeks' time when we head to Far North Queensland to visit family (and for a break - the tickets were cheap! I'll write more about that soon).

She wasn't in a very good mood when I asked her to try it on... this was the best picture I could get.

What a great cranky face! Don't want to cross this one!

I can't wait to make the full dress (View A) with pockets. This time a size 4. I might even get Elora to help me choose the main fabric. She might be happier to wear it then.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

One week to go

I don't think I mentioned that I entered the City to Surf back in June. I was feeling optimistic. There was plenty of time, it was over two months away. Plus my brother was going in it, and my sister-in-law said that it was probably his last time. How could I not go with them?

Heh. The weeks flew by incredibly fast, as they always do. The past couple of weeks I've been fending off a head cold/respiratory virus thingy that the kids have happily brought home and spread around. Cough, splutter, sniff, sneeze. I've still managed to keep it mostly at bay, but it's also meant that I've been tired, unfit and generally lazy. AND NOT TRAINING. Eep.

Now there is one week to go and I think I am even more unfit than I was when I entered. So much for my running. At least I know that I'll be able to walk it with ease!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Today's plan

Today we were hoping to get out to the Biennale since tomorrow's the last day. But looking at the weather radar this morning:

I think that plan is out the window (the blue/white/yellow bits are rain). I went during the school holidays with Atti and Elora. On an iffy sort of day, weather-wise. Iffy until we got there, that is. And the skies opened up and we were miserable and wet, no, soaked, and Atti said "I don't want to go to Cockatoo Island ever again" when we got home. Not doing that again!

So I've finally started to get cracking on the oliver+s Ice Cream Dress as part of Amy and Kate's Ice Cream Social.

I only decided to participate at the last minute. Of course by then patterns had sold out. I finally got mine yesterday so I'm starting one day after the finish. D'oh! But that's okay. I've had plenty of time to admire all the work of everyone else and boy are there some prolific sewers (sewists? people who sew?) out there!

I'm thinking of just making View C for now - less work involved (no pockets) meaning it will get done more quickly.

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ikea hacker

Whee! I submitted a simple ikea hack and it was published. Go and see my iPad stand which cost a whole $10 for two stands. You beauty.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

WIP Wednesday and a pattern of sorts

It's school holidays this week and next week. I'm at work for a full day since the boys are at vacation care and I don't have to collect them until 5pm. (Well, actually I have to collect them before 5pm but I like to leave it as long as possible... I normally finish at 2:30pm on Wednesdays). They're at "art classes" as Atti calls it - vacation care at a Creative Arts centre. Atti went yesterday and made an incredible artwork. More on that another day when I can get a photo!

So since I've got a little bit of spare time I thought I'd participate in this thing out there in the craft blog world called WIP Wednesday (WIP = Work In Progress)... I'm not sure who/where the originator is, sorry.

Heh. My LIFE is a work in progress, but I guess you're more interested in something crafty*. Last post I mentioned a soft ripple blanket that I unsuccessfully started at a craft get-together. Finally I've managed to make some headway and even take some pictures.

It's very long, or wide, depending on how you look at it. I just measured it and it's roughly 5 feet long. Nearly as tall as me. I still haven't counted the number of stitches. I guess I could calculate it...

I also decided that it'll probably end up being used with the stripes running vertically instead of horizontally. Neat idea, huh? And if I'm ever so inclined I can always add to it. The beauty of crochet!

The basic pattern, if you wish to replicate:

1st row: Chain [multiple of 14] + 1

2nd row: 1 Double crochet in second chain from hook. 5DC in each of the next 5 chains. *[2DC in the following one chain (an increase - this is the "bump" in the ripple). 6DC in the each of the next 6 chains, skip one chain (a decrease - this is the "valley" in the ripple), 6 DC in each of the next 6 DCs]. Repeat from * until you get to the end of the row. 1DC in the remaining chain.

3rd row. Turn. Repeat the 2nd row, working into the FRONT of each DC only (only one piece of yarn on your hook, not two).

You'll find that your "bumps" will not line up vertically - they'll be offset by one stitch. I quite liked that idea. Makes it a softer curve - the peaks are not too sharp. You should be doing your double DC in the first, right-most of the doubles in the previous row. Does that make sense??

Have fun. Feel free to email me if you have any questions! Or find an error. I'm really just guessing at numbers... Eep!

* Not this sort of crafty, mind you. (A little bit unsafe for kids, this video. But hilarious and rude!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Unproductive crafting

Had a great day yesterday at the Craft Room Sunday gathering. Plenty of good company and food (and noise! Put 20-ish women together in one room and it sure does get loud) but not so much crafting from this sorry sod.

At first I was just happy to chat and meet new people, thinking that I had six hours of pure crafting time - there was no rush! But as you know, time flies when you're having fun (and eating delicious brownies and caramel slice and cupcakes and cookies and salad and sandwiches and quiche and muffins and drinking a bucket load of tea)... I didn't feel like working on WIPs (Works in Progress) so started a new project. 'Cause I do that.

Decided to start crocheting a soft ripple blanket for Elora's bed. No pattern. Just winging it. Made about a billion chains to begin with and started my rows. By this time it was well after lunch! I got three rows in before I realised that I'd made a mistake. Two zags when there should have been a zig and a zag. Ack! So I ripped it back to the starting row of chains and that was my day's work done. One row of chains. And lots of eating.

But still, I had fun. And the blankie bug is still biting. I continued it when I got home (continued? More like "started properly"!) and used up an entire ball of wool. This blanket's gonna be big. It will take me a long time. But I knew that when I started it.

Pics to come.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What she said

Man, sooz can write. Everything she says rings so true, not just in her latest post either.

Eloquent and articulate, you are, sooz. Thanks!


My brother wrote this to me today.

I can now say that I have a female:
  • Monarch

  • Governor General

  • Prime Minister

  • State Governor

  • Federal parliamentarian

  • State parliamentarian

  • Lord Mayor

  • CEO

  • Division Manager

  • Department Manager

  • State Manager

To add to that, the rest of the staff comprises 21 females in various roles, and of course 5 females at home!

And I was thinking of getting egg-laying hens!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome to the 21st century

This morning we got a new PM. Australia's first female Prime Minister. Thank goodness. At last. Too bad it didn't happen in an election though. I hope this change is enough to give the government the boost it needs to stay in power at the next election. I just can't bear to think what will happen if the Liberals get in again.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

35 years + 6 days

That's how old I am today. It was my birthday last week. On Thursday, my day off! I don't think I've ever had so many "Happy Birthday"s via Facebook and email and SMS. Thanks everyone.

But it is tinged with a little sadness, I have to say. Besides the usual "Oh gawd, I'm getting old" grumpiness that accompanies the passing years, of course. (I mean, wow! 35! I've had this blog for five and a half years! This morning on the train I saw a lady attempt to stand up for another lady who honestly didn't look that old... How long will it be before people are standing up for me? Except for those very chivalrous few.)

Today I am as old as my eldest brother ever was.

He got to 35 years + 6 days before he was killed in a car accident on his way home from work one Friday evening. "Accident" is used lightly - the driver of the semi-trailer was off his nut on methamphetamines and drove along on the wrong side of the road for a good couple of hundred metres before squashing two cars and killing their drivers instantly. In a way it was lucky that both cars only contained one person - there was ample opportunity for him to kill many more people, as I found out during the court case a couple of years later (they charged him for murder, eventually settling for manslaughter), listening to the testimonies of the 60+ witnesses.

I went through this blog and realised that even though I'd mentioned him a couple of times I'd never really talked about the tragedy which devastated our family while at the same time brought us closer together. There was only one grandchild then. Only two of us were married. I was 23.

Of course my parents still feel his loss keenly. I don't think it's something a parent would ever get over. The rest of us keep busy (there have been 9 children added to the brood since then!) but I think he is always there in the back of our minds.

I think of him when I hear/read T.S. Eliot, reminded of his patience helping me study for my final high school English exams. I thought of him the other day at work when there was talk about the "Hall effect" - some electronics/physics thing which I know he would have had no trouble explaining to me. He would be absolutely amazed at the incredible technological advances over the past twelve years. He would be horrified at my love of Apple computers and products (but possibly would have been swayed - he loved his gadgets). It's so hard to imagine what things would be like now if he was still around.

So anyway. That's the story of my eldest brother Arthur. Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Warm ankles at last

For the last few years I have been on the hunt for boots. Knee-high black flat leather boots to wear with skirts to work. Madness, I tell you! I just have NOT liked anything that I've seen (within a reasonable price range, that is... LOVE my sister-in-law's Prada boots (although they have a heel) but CANNOT afford/justify spending that much on shoes!).

But behold! I finally found a pair that I liked! And they were half price too! (From Betts.)

Yay. I am a happy Jen. A happy Jen with warm ankles in Wintery cold and wet Sydney.

Apologies for the poor quality snapped-with-an-iphone picture.

Atti's school project

The weekend before last was a long weekend for us - the Queen's birthday weekend. Atti amused me by asking if we could make her a cake. We settled for a birthday card (which he never made in the end - got distracted by the 'puter as usual).

Both boys had school projects due the following week so it was full steam ahead in the Burn household.

Dan helped Atti with his. The kindergarten kids had to choose a "weather" topic and do something about it. Anything. Draw a picture, make a model, create a powerpoint presentation. Dan and Atti decided to make a movie about tornados. And in fine geek-form we put it up on youtube.

And being the proud mother (and knowing everyone likes a good laugh) I'm sharing it with you. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Can't shake this feeling

Thursdays I don't work. It's my day off with Elora. Our "just you and me" day. It's nice to have that day off work but having the extra time at home means that I have more time to look around and see the horrendous MESS that has accumulated during the week. Argh!

This morning it struck a nerve and I just lost it. The toys and paper and pencils and textas all over the dining room floor drove me nuts. I yelled at the boys to pick up and got out the broom to sweep up all the bits and mandarin seeds (Argh! I don't know why they just decided to put them onto the floor lately!) and now it looks a lot better.

I can almost sigh with relief, except I still have that anxious, panicky feeling and I can't shake it. Sitting down with the iPad/iPod doesn't help. Having a cup of tea hasn't helped. I'm thinking the only way I'll feel better is to make good use of this nervous energy and get to more cleaning. Even though what I WANT to do is something crafty. Perhaps I'm just feeling guilty because I just want to knit/crochet/sew when really I should be doing domestic chores.


I think soozs put it best in her recent series of posts. Everything she wrote struck a chord with me. Working part time, trying to keep the house in order (although she cooks a lot more than me and doesn't have the incredible support that I get from my parents, and is an incredible seamstress and general crafter... But I digress), she got frustrated with her situation. Her eloquence and clarity of thoughts had me nodding my head as I read. She has come upon a solution and it seems to be working for her - more than I can say for myself.

BUT we must keep trying. One day we'll get there. Maybe?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Two becomes one

A sad loss today at work. One of my fishies died. Now there is only one, from a start of five. (Read about my fishtank here).

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

When tired will complain

Yesterday evening on the way home from school/work I tortured my eldest son by playing The Specials in the car.

"What is this song meant to be?"
"Do you call this music?"
"Who is this, again?"
"Why are we listening to this?"
"PLEASE turn it off. It's annoying me!"

Now I'm trying to think what else I can put on. Indigo Girls, Nick Cave, Ride, Billy Bragg. I'll edu-ma-cate those kids if it kills me.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Winter: Day x

So I've lost count already with this winter days thing. Shrug.

I read somewhere that during the cold, dark days of Winter people tend to be less cheery and motivated and happy. I would have to agree with that - there's been a bit of talk of it on some of the blogs I read too.

The weekend proved to be a little bit drier than the few weeks preceeding it. I even managed to get some washing dry. Some, not all of the four loads I did!

Yesterday started out very promising, as Mel wrote, but turned a little by the afternoon. We spent it at the wonderful Sydney Park celebrating my niece's 3rd birthday (as Elora says, "My best friend Charlotte").

Plenty of food, good company and excellent music provided by the "Sunday Dub Club" (sorry, couldn't find a link)... Love me some ska. It stayed mostly dry, right up until the cake time, after which the skies opened up. As good as any signal that it was time to leave, I guess.

And just because, Dan made this silly comic using a new iPad app (called Strip Designer) which he bought yesterday.

Yes, that's me crocheting at a birthday party. Had to do something to keep my hands warm. Something that wasn't eating.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Winter: Day 3

Lying in bed listening to the sound of the rain pummeling against the windows. It's been like this all day. Sunny, then dark, then bucketing down, then suddenly dry then sunny again. Instant downpour, like in the movies.

I can hardly believe that the week is almost over. As I get older the days go by in a blink and the weeks meld into one another. Highly frustrating at times and yet at other times I'm impatient to see what the future holds.

Just some random thoughts tonight. I hope this isn't turning into a weather journal!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Winter: Day 2

It seemed a little milder today, or maybe I dressed warmer. I almost got a little sweaty at one stage (in my woollen long sleeve top with a cardigan and my thick woollen overcoat carrying three bags sitting in the tropical surrounds of the swimming pool...)

Anyway, tonight I went here.

To see this boy (and his friends).

In this crowd.

(Click on the picture go to the flickr page and see the note pointing out his position.)

It was the Festival of Instrumental Music organised by the Department of Education. Over 1,000 kids from State schools performing for us. Three quarters of them on recorder in the NSW Combined Schools Recorder Ensemble but also about 200 in the Combined Schools Wind Ensemble too. 200 kids crammed on stage playing violin, viola and cello at one stage! As well as a bunch of smaller groups and some soloists.

When the note first came home about this concert, we were warned that tickets sell out fast so be quick. I didn't buy a ticket though. I'm cynical... See it just as a money-grabbing exercise by the Department and wasn't willing to fork out $40 to see my kid play for five minutes. But as the day came closer Dante kept asking if I was coming to see him and, well, I figured I'd better do the right thing and at least try.

I met up with the kids while they were having dinner at Circular Quay and was told by the teachers that if I hurry I might have luck at the Opera House Box Office. So after giving Dante a big hug and smoochy kiss in front of his friends (which surprisingly he didn't repel!) I set off in search of a ticket. The nice lady behind the counter said they were sold out but pointed me to a queue and said I could wait there in case anything comes up. Apparently some people hand their tickets in at the last minute if they can't make it. I was fourth in line. What I affectionately called the Bad Parents Line.

I waited for about twenty minutes before deciding that was enough. I tried, but I wasn't going to waste half my night lining up for a ticket. I hadn't had dinner yet or anything. So I went outside and took pictures of the incredible beauty of the Opera House lit up at night with the spiffy new camera. I managed to see the kids coming back to go inside and walked with them for a bit, until I couldn't go any further.

Eventually, after most people were seated but before the concert began, I wandered down to the info counter and asked if there was anywhere I could sit to maybe listen? I must have looked pathetic or something because the lady reached under the counter and instead handed me a ticket. "You might as well just take this," she said. "One of our VIPs didn't show up. It's a good seat."

I couldn't believe it! In fact she had to tell me twice to take it. I hurried upstairs and had an incredible seat. First row of the dress circle. Awesome!

And despite all my cynicism about these concerts, I've come to realise that I do actually enjoy them. What a big dag, huh? There's just something about seeing all these incredibly talented kids that fills me with delight. Knowing how much work the kids and the teachers put into it. What an opportunity for them! I certainly never was given a chance like this when I grew up. Plus it was FREE! The Chinese in me was happy about that. Dante was so happy when I met up with him afterwards. Glad that I saw him in action, that I was there to support him.

It felt like a great parenting moment. We celebrated with ice creams before catching the train home, tired but happy.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Winter: Day 1

The chilly season is upon us once more. Brrr. NOT my favorite time of year. Cold. Dry skin. Wet (at the moment). Short days, dark when leaving work. Bad laundry weather. How did it sneak up on us so fast? Half the year nearly gone already?

Even more disconcerting is hearing people from the Northern Hemisphere talk about Summer. Flowers blooming. Long balmy days. End of the school year. I want that!

At least I have my iPad to keep me company while I'm snuggled up under my doubled-over goose-down doona. Hmm. Cosy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Henceforth it shall be called "iPad Day"

Dan pre-ordered his new little toy back at the beginning of the month. We discussed the need for it. It would be useful for reading papers for his PhD. Plus, we just wanted one. I talked him into getting the 64Gb one - we can put movies on it for the kids to watch when we are travelling - and from then we just sat back and waited for today. May 28th.

So this morning I arrived at work, knowing that Dan's iPad was in the back of a courier truck making its way to his office. Then I found out that my friend at work actually went to the city and queued to get one, after not pre-ordering it (couldn't decide if he really wanted it)... Then I found out that our local Apple reseller just next to my building had them in stock! They weren't allowed to tell anyone that they had them prior to this morning.

Well, how could I resist? All that hype, all that excitement, no queues, very convenient location, buying from friends... So I grabbed my credit card and headed down there.

Five minutes later I had my very own iPad. Yay me!

Unfortunately Dan didn't get his first thing. So I had to wait until he got his before I could open mine. (Because I'm sweet... and boy was it frustrating! But I probably got more work done anyway!) His didn't come until 4pm. The weekend will be spent setting it up and playing. The kids are beside themselves. Not just one ginormous iPod, but TWO!

Wee! Technology!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Before you die...

Why write a list of things to do before you die that in all likelihood will never get done? This guy has written a list of Amazingly Achievable Things to Do and it is hilarious.

I scored 43.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

YACS (Yet Another Cake Stall)

Yesterday the P&C at the boys' school held a cake stall at the local Farmers' Market. Success, of course! I was only partly involved, in that I was there from a quarter to eight in the morning until we closed up just before 1pm. And collected all the money (since I somehow got talked into taking on the Treasurer's position). And was up at 4:30am making scones.

Sounds like a lot but it wasn't really. All the other organising was done by a bunch of much more efficient and organised parents!

Something that always surprises me (although I'm starting to get used to it - but must not take it for granted) is the amount the parents at the school pitch in. Only a handful come to the actual meetings once a month but when we put out a call for help we are inundated with offers.

This time we were inundated with delicious home-made baked goods! Yum yum yum.

It was a cold and bleary day. Bucketed down with rain in the first hour or two. And yet the crowds came. And everything was sold.

A friend has called me "the queen of cake stalls". I seem to be involved in a lot of them! Well, who doesn't like cake, huh?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Happy Star Wars Day

For those Lego fans - this is the Grand Carousel 10196. Not ours, unfortunately. A friend from work made this and allowed me to use it here!

Friday, April 16, 2010


I've been getting headaches for a couple of months, more so in the last few weeks. Someone suggested I go and get my eyes checked. So on Tuesday I did.

And on Wednesday I picked up my new specs for reading and computer work. I do a lot of reading at home and work and a lot of computer work... I'll be wearing these a lot.

Picture taken with my computer at work - sorry for the blurriness. Or perhaps that's just my eyes??

How do I feel about this?

I'm in two minds about it. When I was a kid I always wished I had glasses. They looked cool. I liked the "smart librarian" sort of image. I had a pair of my brother's old frames (with no lenses) which I put on sometimes, just to see how it looked. (It looked extremely daggy - they were not a very nice pair of specs.)

But on the other hand, I was glad that I didn't need them. Two brothers with glasses and two parents with glasses... I was the one with perfect 20/20 vision. There was none of the inconvenience of glasses or the painful fiddling with contact lenses.

So now, I don't mind "the look"... there've been a few compliments. That's been nice. But they are a concrete sign that I'm not getting any younger, as they say. That age is catching up with me. Or maybe it's just the bad lighting in my office and too much time in front of the computer screen. I was told that eyes don't dramatically change until one is 40 and I've still got 5-ish years before then!

Oh well. I can't complain. At least the headaches have gone!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A colourful wedding

Our dear friends Red Bec (as opposed to "Auntie Bec") and Joel got married on the Easter long weekend. A much more informal affair than my sister-in-law's the week before but no less enjoyable and happy!

Things I loved about this wedding:
  • It was a late afternoon event, not too late for the kids (and boy there were a lot of young kids)!

  • The bride wore a bright green dress and no shoes, and the groom had an equally bright red shirt. Love the colours.

  • At the ring-exchanging part of the ceremony the celebrant asked, "Does the best man have the pen?"... The couple drew a bow around each others' fingers instead!

  • There was not just one wedding cake. Instead the couple had asked some friends and family to bring a cake so there were many to choose from for dessert.

  • The kids were well thought of. A "Kids' play area" was set up with a drawing station and playdough and and other toys.

Thanks so much, Bec and Joel! It was a wonderful afternoon/evening. More pics in my flickr set.

School holidays again... already!

It seems like the kids had only just started school when holidays suddenly came upon us again. For the last two weeks-ish the boys have been home except for a couple of days at vacation care activities.

Thankfully Dan has been looking after them most of the time. He's got more leave than this part-timer.

We've managed to fit quite a few excursions and events in during the time, though. Hopefully I'll write more about them soon... but in summary, a wedding, a birthday party, a picnic, a movie, a visit, a grand Adventure (really, just a trip into the city and on a ferry), a trip to the Powerhouse Museum and numerous trips to the shops.

Tiring, no?

Monday, April 05, 2010

New life starting

Here be the window sill of my "hand washing room". (As Captain Feathersword would say. And the kids.)

On the right is my African Violet plant.

I've had one there since we moved into this house. My mother-in-law bought the first. It died last year. Then we bought a bunch of plants as gifts for the carers at child care. A couple of big leaves broke off one of them and it didn't look gift-worthy any more, so we kept it.

So pretty.

Here's one of the broken-off leaves. My mother told me to stick it in a pot and water it to keep it alive.

And three months later, more than three months later, something has finally started to happen. The start of a shoot appeared just at the base of the leaf. Can you see it?

I don't know if I'm more amazed at this growth from virtually nothing, or the fact that I was able to keep the leaf alive long enough for it to sprout. I'm very proud, in any case.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March success

Well that was a busy month. I missed a couple of days but otherwise managed to write something every day. And it didn't become a chore either! I think I might have my blogging mojo back. I hope so!

Times in the Burn household are only going to become busier as the year goes on, I suspect. The boys will get more and more into their schooling and school work. We'll start getting term-long projects (argh! Curse them!) and more homework (perhaps). Elora will progress through her "troublesome threes" (as opposed to the so-called "terrible twos" which never happened)... It has already begun.

The biggest change around here will be in the second half of the year when Dan begins his PhD. He has finally started the ball rolling, happy to at last be fulfilling a lifelong ambition (to become Dr Dan) but nervous about the stress and workload, understandably. I don't know many people who embark on a four-five year higher degree with a full time job (even if it's related somewhat) and three young kids at home. We will all have to pull our socks up.

See you in April!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kicking on

It's been three days since the wedding and we are still suffering the after-effects from the late night and busy days (in the lead up).

But we kick on. My head is aching; the bug I've been fighting is trying to get a foot-hold. Hurry up, Easter. We need a break.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wedding goodness

It was the most wonderful of days. Everyone was happy and excited and of course the bride looked incredible. We had a fantastic time. The kids were great - over excited (and then way over tired), boisterous but above all else, happy and friendly.

Some pictures, mostly taken by a family friend with a much nicer camera (a couple taken by me). Click on the photo for an enlargement. More of my photos can be seen in my flickr set.

Gorgeous boy in his suit and green tie (self-chosen).

Atticus and I. Gosh I love my boys in suits and ties.

Shy flower girl. She eventually got there, grabbing onto her grandmother's hand as she walked the bride down the aisle. So sweet! (That's me hiding behind the tree.)

Looking older than his years (in my opinion). Photo taken by me, links to Flickr.

Happy couple at the "altar" with bridesmaids and flowergirl looking on.

My beautiful little girl!

Mr and Mrs M.

Proud brother of the bride. Photo taken by me, links to Flickr.

Later in the evening... boys gettin' rowdy on the dance floor. There was much running and wrestling (here). Atti on the left, Ollie, the ring bearer and groom's nephew, on the right. They got on so very well!

The little miss had to copy. This is more like what she looked like for most of the evening (not lying down, but dishevelled and shoeless).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two suits, one flowergirl dress

Today's the day. Dan's sister is getting married this afternoon!! Stressed much? I can't imagine how she must be feeling right now. Well, actually I guess I can, having gone through it 6½ years ago!

It's going to be a late night for us. More pics tomorrow.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Now that's a better fish tank

There's a bit of "fish tank" culture here at my work. i.e. There are lots of offices and labs in the building that have tanks. It's wonderful to see! And I guess it's easier to look after them in a building of scientific research since there are taps and sinks and ph measuring tools and lots of very smart and dedicated people.

I got my first fish tank a long time ago. Let's see, I've been here ten years, so I probably got my tank 9½ years ago! It held guppies then. Caught from a tank upstairs. Probably very inbred.

When I went on maternity leave to have Elora I put the tank away. Sent the fish to another happy home upstairs and packed the tank in a box. I came back to work to find out that my office was being taken over by an instrument (a multi-million dollar very large magnet, to be exact) so I didn't set up my tank again, deciding to wait until I was properly set up in my new space.

So I moved office in Sept '08. And finally, at the start of this year, I got around to setting up my tank. We visited our friend's fish farm in late January and I came away with 5 goldfish. Only once I'd caught them (how cool to fish for your own gold fish!) did we work out where the tropical fish were kept but I was happy to keep my guys.

Over three weeks I lost three of the 5 fish. Can you believe it? They had lice! I've had enough of lice with my kids, and then to see them on my fish was extremely icky.

But now the population (of two) has stabilised and the goldfish are fat and happy.

Today I installed the final touch. Some bits of Lego, of course. Needed some trickery to keep them down (did you know Lego floats? I didn't!) but in the end I think it looks great!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Post Script

I forgot to add.

See that last post? The one with all the pictures of the boys in their orange shirts?

See that shirt that Dante is wearing? It used to be mine. It still fits me, although a little tight (but it was meant to be).

It fits Dante perfectly.

I never thought he'd fit into my clothes aged nine! How long before he's taller than me??

On second thoughts, don't answer that last question. I don't want to think about it!!

Still on the hair theme...

Today was Harmony Day at school. Also known as "Mad Hair Day". Wear orange and go crazy with the hair gel and coloured hair spray. It has always been tricky getting Dante's hair to stay "up" and crazy. It's just too straight and thick. Like mine. Atti's curls make life a lot easier. We need to get more orange hair spray.

Sorry for the repetitive pictures but this photo series cracks me up!