29 July 2010

You know you're spending too much time online when ...

You know you're spending too much time online when you're reading your Bible, and you mentally go to "click" on Jesus' words in red text ... because it sorta looks like it could be a hyperlink.

26 July 2010


"Hey Mum!  Come and watch me ride my bike!  I love it when you watch me ride my bike!"  I couldn't resist that.  Sometimes I am concerned that although Jessie is a snuggly, soft Mummy's-girl and Joseph is a baby who wants nothing but cuddles, Buzz sees me as an optional extra.  I am helpful when food is required but basically I am a nuisance and a nag.  Not-nagging him seems only part-way to building a close relationship with him.  He wants me to enter his world, and so there's not much that can keep me away when he asks me to do something with him for the reason that he "loves it" when I do.

We went into the back yard and I did indeed watch, enthusiastically cheering him on as he turned tight corners and rode around and around.  It wasn't long before he was asking to collect on a promise Mr de Elba and I had made on the weekend: to go down to the bike track so he could ride there.

Nothing could have been more inconvenient, but nothing could have been more important to him.  We went.

Three children (some reluctant), two bikes (one inadequate) and one stroller (necessary) were packed into the car and we drove the two minutes to the bike track.  I'm no dummy.  I'm not going to add the downhill distance to the bike track at the beginning, only to find they cannot muster the energy to complete the uphill distance back home after the actual ride.

Once we arrived, Buzz was in his element.  Excited about how much easier it was to ride on the track than the bumpy grass at home, Buzz rode far ahead until the track curved.  Instead of venturing where I couldn't see him, he turned and came back to me.  He rode up and back, up and back while I pushed Woody in his stroller, attempting to ease Jessie out of her inevitable "I Hate This Stupid Bike" tantrum that accompanies any outing involving the Tricycle Of Minimal Torque.

The car was parked close to a small playground where several families were spending the last few daylight hours.  I had only walked a short way when Buzz, having reached the far curve and doubled back, passed me and ended up spending a few minutes in the playground.  When he returned to the track, he pedaled quickly, trying to catch up with me.  It was then that he joyfully informed me of something in the loudest shout that a five-year-old boy can muster while pedaling quickly: "Hey Mum!  Did you notice some dark-skinned people?  Dark-skinned people!  Back there!"

And the ground unmercifully refused to swallow me whole.

When thinking of people from other countries, we want our children to be "colour-blind" but of course they are bound to notice physical differences.  Buzz has a sponsor child and some good friends from church who are Ethiopian, and I think he was quite excited to meet this family in the park.

"I said hello to them," he went on.  "They were nice."  I hoped they understood that his gleeful shout was a mere statement of fact, not a judgment.  We continued our travels away from the park

Eventually, Jessie gave up on the Tricycle Of Minimal Torque.  While I carried it back towards the car, Jessie ran ahead to where Buzz was at the furthest point of his ride.  The fact that she was wearing her SuperGirl Suit made me smile.  I turned to look over my shoulder again just in time to see Jessie catch up to Buzz.  He was riding slowly - too slowly - and then without using his leg to steady himself, he toppled over onto the path.

They were too far away for me to hear or see their facial expressions, but I could tell I was needed by the way Jessie took it in, turned to me, looked again and started running toward me.  Summoning Help.  I abandoned the tricycle and powered back towards Buzz.

The leg of his tracksuit pants had become hopelessly tangled in the pedal.  That was why he didn't use his leg to steady himself.  He wasn't hurt, but he was a bit upset.  He lay on the path gloomily predicting that we were "never ever going to get it unstuck - it's stuck there for ever," which was a little unnerving as I set about the task of ensuring that wasn't going to happen.  It was quite stuck, but I was having none of that.  I ripped it free, Buzz marvelled, and we started back towards the car.

Except of course we needed to have a quick play in the playground first.  Buzz and Jessie played on the climbing frame, Woody sat on a swing, Buzz tried a slide, Jessie joined Woody on the swings, Buzz came over to push Woody who giggled loudly, making Jessie giggle and nearly fall off her swing, which made her shout, "Whooah" and then laugh uproariously.

It was then that I noticed people were staring at me and giving me what I thought were dirty looks.

Specifically 'dark-skinned' people.  I'm sure you saw that punch-line coming.

I smiled at them and chatted to their kids, but it was still awkward so I invoked the Playground Rule (Q: How long do you stay? A: If it really sucks, you don't stay) and we hurried off home.

Dinner was late but I think I achieved something more important this afternoon.

(Providing no race riots ensue.)

23 July 2010

Jessie's Whiskers

This morning, Jessie had a complaint for me.  Just to be different.

"You've taken my three whiskers," she grumbled as she ferreted around in my kitchen drawers.

"What whiskers?" I asked.  "You don't have any whiskers.  Certainly not three whiskers."

"These whiskers!" she objected.  "They were in your drawer!  They go in my kitchen!"

22 July 2010

Small Boy

One year ago, Buzz was sick, Jessie was having a tantrum and Woody was just born.  

This year, not much has changed.

Except Woody.

Happy Birthday, little boy.

20 July 2010

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

To my Electricity Company,

Mark Twain popularised the saying, 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'  I suspect he had seen the final page of my electricity bill.

Over the last two billing periods, I have been puzzled to see the graph appearing on page three of my electricity bill, claiming that my household electricity usage over the last quarter (the enormous grey block on the graph) was approximately twice the average usage in my regional area (the markedly shorter block on the graph.)

Leaky hot water system notwithstanding, I hardly think that we are using twice the energy of average families in my local area.

You stated that you worked out the average by taking all residential customers in my local region who have been billed recently, and then found the median household usage in kilowatt hours.

I am not a statistician, but even I can see the problem with your calculations.  It's apples and oranges, isn't it?

You are comparing my household usage with everyone else's.  You are comparing me, with electricity as my sole power source, with my neighbours, some of whom are using 70% gas or 50% solar energy.  And when I ask my neighbours using gas to add the totals of their electricity and gas bills, their answers prove that we are paying a similar amount in total for power.  Those using solar energy still haven't broken even following the installation of their expensive solar panels.

Clever, and a little bit sneaky.  You're making an unfair comparison and making householders like me feel terrible about our electricity consumption.

Perhaps, in the interests of using statistics with integrity, you would consider removing from each consumer's electricity bill the section comparing their household electricity usage with your meaningless calculation of the regional "average".

It certainly appears that by doing so, you would be able to halve the paper used in each bill from two pages to one, thereby saving paper, and of course the water and -dare I say- electricity consumption involved in its manufacture.

Just a thought.

Statistically yours,

19 July 2010

Still Laughing

You know that something is truly funny when you are still laughing a few days later.

Tonight I was getting three children into the shower and I suddenly burst out laughing because the following picture from Awkward Family Photos came to my mind as I saw one of my children's dirty shirts:

Photo from http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/2010/05/06/behind-the-awkwardness-facial/

This poor blood-soaked birthday boy has made a silly Australian lady laugh while showering her children.  What a community service.

For details on the story behind this photo, follow this link to where the picture appeared on AFP.

17 July 2010

The funniest thing I've seen all day

Go HERE for a huge laugh.  Don't spit coffee at your screen, okay?

15 July 2010

Nothing stirs up excitement like a half-dead mouse in the house

The title said it all, I thought.

13 July 2010

Professor Branestawm's Inventions

I don't know what's going on here, but I'm ready for it to stop.  Last night I gave Buzz and Jessie one chocolate biscuit each after dinner and took them and Woody grocery shopping.

The chocolate biscuit must have done it.

Five minutes after the biscuits hit their tummies, their behaviour went wild!  Buzz and Jessie ran around the shop, under people's feet and in front of the trolley.  They zig-zagged wildly as they laughed and giggled their way across my path and then out of view, only to run under the feet of every shopper in the store.  I employed every single tactic short of spanking, but I was unable to rein them in because I am loathe to 'go postal' at the shops.  Someone could video me on their phone and once on Youtube, it could go viral.  Then of course my life would be over.

It was mortifying.  They are not normally like this.

Ever since then, Buzz, Jessie and Woody have been behaving wildly.  It's been 24 hours now, and I'm beginning to wonder how long it will last.  By the way, the vile hallucinogen that caused this outrage is pictured below as a warning for all parents wanting to avoid similar lunacy:


I've found their behaviour very difficult to manage while they go through what I can only assume must be withdrawal.  Hence, at dinnertime I was forced to sit them at the table, give them paper and felt pens and ask them to draw me picture after picture after picture to keep them from killing each other or waking up Woody or committing a vile atrocity, the likes of which I have not yet imagined.

In the end, I asked Buzz to draw me (for he LOVES inventions) a Pancake-Making Invention.  I'd had an inspiration - I'd remembered a book I read about twenty years ago called "The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm" by Norman Hunter.  Well, to tell the truth, I found the story a bit too slow for my Famous Five-loving mind, but I did spend ages poring over one picture: the professor's Pancake-Making Machine.  And for some reason, it had popped into my mind and I'd decided to ask Buzz to draw his version, and compare the two.

Google didn't fail me.  I present you with Professor Branestawm's Pancake-Making Machine:
Note the mixing tub, the flipping mechanism and the lemon squeezing device.  Buzz, whose own invention was a conveyor belt for cupcakes, found the Professor's version fascinating and recounted to Mr de Elba later some of the details of how it works.

When searching for the above, I also found the Professor's invention for Peeling Potatoes...

...and his Shower-Bath creation which he demonstrates with a desperately miserable look on his face:

In light of this, I thought of making my own dishwashing invention, but decided it was too far-fetched.
Buzz and Jessie drew their pictures, dinner was cooked and served and baby Woody looked like he was going to sleep through dinner and keep on going until the morning.

He didn't, however, and after the craziness of getting Jessie and Buzz into and out of the shower and into pyjamas (all the while bouncing off the walls) Woody woke up, ate a load of soup, and promptly demonstrated what happens when a small child has a little too much prune juice.

I tell you, I don't know what's going on here, but I'm ready for it to stop.

Don't you just love it when ...

Don't you just love it when you HAD a great plan for shelving for your playroom, but it involved a cabinetmaker and lots of money, and you had to sadly put it on the back-burner, then you get the great idea to use existing shelves and some funky little baskets that end up being MUCH cheaper than the original job was going to cost?

12 July 2010

There might be something wrong with that

I need more time to think when I'm at the shops.

A few years ago, I bought these pyjamas for Buzz.  They didn't bother me at the time, but the following year we had a shocking drama with bedbugs and these pyjamas ceased to be cute anymore.

Then last year, as baby Woody slept in one of my arms, I used the other to flip through a rack of heavily discounted boys' jeans looking for something to fit Buzz.  I found a few pairs that fit the bill, bought them and raced home with my bargains.  When I got home I realised that the two black pairs had skulls on them - not that there's anything wrong with that - but we're not really a skulls-on-clothing type of family - not that there's anything wrong with that - but I thought to myself that I should have had two free hands to flip through the jeans, and I should have taken more time to check the back pockets (and the belts) (and the small details) for skulls - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Today I foolishly put Woody in the stroller while taking three children to the shops instead of putting Woody in the trolley seat.  Once I'd collected a few very large things in my trolley, propelling it as well as the stroller while receiving questionable help from two older children who were determined to destroy each other became difficult.  So I hastily chose two pairs of track pants for Buzz and headed for the checkouts.

When I got home, I noticed that the design on one of them:

... in terms of current world events, was quite topically inappropriate.

Not that (as some might say) there's anything (as you might quite rightly point out) wrong with that (if you're into wearing inappropriate slogans on your clothing.)

11 July 2010

Federal Government's Proposal

Thankyou for your comments.  I love blogging and will try to keep it up, even if I only have Semi-Blog-Worthy Material to post.  With that in mind, let me show you what's on the ABC News site right now, right in the middle of this screen grab:

Let me make that a little larger for you.
Great.  The Federal Government is proposing diabetes for us?  That I don't need.

On the theme of scraping the barrel of semi-blog-worthy thoughts, would you have a little think about "Love Languages?"  If you're not familiar with Gary Chapman's concept of the five love languages, maybe you'd like to check it out here.  In brief, this paragraph from that linked page summarises the basic concept:

Of the countless ways we can show love to one another, five key categories, or five love languages, proved to be universal and comprehensive—everyone has a love language, and we all identify primarily with one of the five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

I was thinking about this today, because I noticed how deflated I became as I was doing something with a group of talented people (not perfectly, but it was okay) but as I progressed, I just didn't receive much in the way of my primary love languages, which happens to be Words of Affirmation.  This was through no fault of the talented guys I was working with, it was just not the sort of situation where people stop and give each other a slap on the back, though I made a point of doing it for some of the other guys.  Not their fault.  I repeat - not their fault.

I was surprised at how quickly I came to suspect that everyone thought I was doing a terrible job, that I was really quite rubbish, and that I should probably stand down and let someone else do it instead.

This begs the question - irrespective of the fact that I thrive on hearing affirming words about me and what I'm doing, why on earth do I need it?  Surely I am mature enough to take it for granted that I'm doing a good-enough job, and just get on and do it?  It made me feel a little weak, realising that I was wallowing in a pathetic need for affirmation in order to feel strong enough to go on.

So I'm going to ask you - do you know what your Love Language is?  Do you thrive on hearing Words of Affirmation, enjoying Quality Time, receiving thoughtful Gifts, accepting Acts of Service or receiving closeness or Physical Touch?

Tell me - how do you deal with times when you feel you really need to receive something in the way of your language, but it's not forthcoming and seems silly to ask for it (e.g., "Hey guys, tell me I'm doing okay, won'tcha?")


10 July 2010

Remind me what you DO with a blog?

I'm having trouble knowing what to post.  As if you hadn't noticed that already.

What's wrong with me?  Blogging has been so much fun over the last few years and I love the enjoyment that writing my blog gives me.  But recently I've been classifying every single previously-bloggable anecdote as "semi-blog-worthy", instead holding out for the Major Interesting Event that I am sure is around the corner.

Well, it seems that around each corner is a series of fun times, frustrating times and slightly funny times, but there's nothing that would be classified as a "Major Interesting Event."  Hence the number of days since my last post. 

I have refused to blog about not being able to blog, but I think it's time to confess that I'm still in that blogging rut I fell into a few months ago.  Recently I tried to blog each day and I decided that 1 July was a great time to put that into practice.  I fell off that wagon on 2 July.

In the meantime, I've been reading all your blogs and I comment as often as I can.  Inspired by Emily Sue, I haven't exactly started watching TV again, but I have been watching shows on ABC iView which lets me watch whenever I want and pause shows if I need to.  I've been trying to keep my kitchen cleaner.  I've been trying to go to bed earlier.

But I haven't been blogging.


04 July 2010

One shouldn't be this excited over shelves

Emily Sue, prepare to be amazed.

A few years ago, I saw on people's blogs the "Mud Rooms" they were making in their new homes and home renovations.  On a few different blogs, I saw some great vertical doorless locker-like storage units, one for each person in the family, with places to store everything that usually gets discarded in the afternoon trudge from car to kitchen table after school, work or sports practice: shoes, hats, bags, etc.

I'd picked out the ideal place for a Mud Room in our old house, but when we moved I was glad I hadn't gone to the bother and expense.  In our new house, I tossed the idea around in my mind for a full 12 months before I got to work.  The end result is AMAZING!

Remember "before"?  Shoe shelves with two boxes of hats on top.  This is also before the shoes, bags and hats started overflowing and also before the grass and dirt and leaves made the whole deal look pretty ordinary.

And now, things look more like this:

That's what's got me all excited this week.

Each person has one vertical "locker".  My basic requirement for the width was that they had to fit two pairs of men's shoes side-by-side.  Only five 45cm-wide lockers fit in the space so we don't have a spare one for general family stuff, but that stuff seems to fit into spots that otherwise wouldn't be used.
The things I particularly like are the places for everything (even my shopping bags and the umbrellas), the top four adjustable shelves so that each person can arrange it how they want (including a skinny shelf for Buzz's homework folder and library bag), the way that everyone now has their own hat box and space for shoes, and the space at the top for more storage - we're using it for picnic things at the moment.

I asked a cabinetmaker to make this for me.  He was able to make all the dimensions perfect for the space available (avoiding the roller door), and when at the eleventh hour I discovered that the garage floor slopes down towards outside, the man installing it said "No problem!" and cut the base so the shelves were perfectly level (taller at the left and shorter at the right.)  It wasn't cheap, but my Friday afternoons at work since Easter covered the total cost.

Aah, sigh.  My Mud Room.  Less mud, a whole lot more room!

- - - - - - - - - -
Interesting fact: during the measuring, quoting, check-measuring and installation, I worked with three cabinetmakers, and I noticed that only one of them had his full compliment of fingers and thumbs.  Is the loss of the left Peter Pointer finger a common hazard among cabinetmakers?  I will have to ask Alison.

03 July 2010

Winter Holidays

We've had one week of winter holidays and I'm amazed at how much I've enjoyed having everyone home together, and also at how frustrated it's made me, listening to their constant bickering.

It would have been perfect had it not been for the bickering.

It's been pretty packed, but I haven't taken many photos (as per usual.)  In fact, the first thing I did was ...

let the battery in my Canon run flat and fail to charge it.  So our holiday pictures have so far been taken on the little point and shoot.  Yurk.  Anyway ...

there has been some baby-cuddling.  It was great to see our friends from our old town - they came for a visit and let Jessie have a lovely long cuddle with their new little man.  She was smitten.  Kept giving him little kisses on the head and when they left she asked if we could travel to their place the next day so she could cuddle the baby again!  Next week, I think there will be some more baby-cuddling - this time it will be a little pink bundle closer to home.  I think she's looking forward to that.

Some other great friends (wow we have a lot of great friends) gave us tickets to see Dora Live.  It was a pretty good show, and now I feel fluent in Spanish.  Admittedly, I can only say "Hola!" and name items like backpacks and teddy bears, but it's a lot more than I could say a week ago.  We've never seen Dora on TV, so it was a bit weird having kids all around us jumping up and screaming the names of creatures we'd never seen, but it was fun!

And then there was the craft.  Usually I run in the opposite direction from kids with PVA glue, but Jessie needed a bedroom clock, so I bought some cheap clocks and some sparkles and we got to work.  Glue went everywhere, including over the tops of the sparkles.  I was sure they clocks would turn out ghastly, but they were ...

gorgeous!  These pictures don't do this (Jessie's) clock justice, but it's beautiful, as is Buzz's next door.  When the glue dried, it didn't seem to make the sparkles any less sparkly, and the completely haphazard placement of random sparkles actually looks planned and organised.  Yay for Buzz and Jessie, and yay for me, who let them do it.  I think we need to head to Spotlight for some more things to decorate next week!

To show you how absolutely SAD I am, I was most excited this week by the coming of The Garage Shelves.  I still don't have a half-decent picture of them so I'll leave you with this "before" picture, and then I'll fill you in on what we've done in the space since then.

Oh dear.  That was in April 2009.  If I'd taken a picture on Monday morning, there would have been shoes overflowing from the shelves, bags falling from on top and a lot more dirt and dust in there.  I didn't take a picture on Monday morning because I was far too excited about The Coming Of The New Shelves.  I will attempt to take a better picture of them tomorrow and show you how it looks now!

01 July 2010

Sustainable Baby

Fewer poos in the nappy, more poos in the bath.

Sustainable Baby.  Committed to becoming "greener."