Thursday, January 29, 2009

All that nest building paid off

Remember our brush turkey neighbours and the enormous nest mound they built?

It worked. This evening there were three juvenile brush turkeys wandering around in our backyard. They look even less interesting without the bright red heads and brilliant yellow necks of the adults and they really didn't want me getting too close but I managed to grab a few photos.

There are intruders in the backyard!

Three young brush turkeys

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pork and beans?

Hmph! I wanted to embed the Weezer vid but You Tube has embedding disabled for it. Oh well, you all know it anyway don't you? Moving along....

I was going to take it easy on the culinary front this evening and whip up some couscous with onion, capsicum, peas and corn to serve with grilled pork loin medallions...and then discovered I didn't have any couscous.

Oh bugger.

So I had to improvise and it ended up turning into another Nanny Ogg type cooking adventure, here's what I came up with:

Mim's pork and beans

Mim's Pork and Beans (as christened by Tom, Adam wanted to call it "Weezer")

some butter
1 brown onion, diced
1/2 small red capsicum, diced
2 heaped tspn minced garlic
a splosh of olive oil
600g diced pork loin
a bit of water
800g can diced tomatoes
1 Massel chicken stock cube
4 shakes of dried chili flakes
2 bay leaves
a few shakes of ground cumin seeds
a few shakes of ground cardamom
a couple of shakes of dried thyme
a couple of shakes of ground allspice
freshly ground black pepper
a couple of shloshes of Worcestershire sauce
420g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Melt butter in large saucepan and cook onion, capsicum and garlic for a few minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add olive oil to pan and brown pork.
Add water to deglaze the pan (the pork can stay in there while you do this).
Add onion and capsicum mix and tinned tomatoes. Start rummaging through the spice rack grabbing this and that, reading the "what this is good with" blurb, realise you have no idea what this dish really is (chili? casserole? something else entirely?) and end up throwing in a semi-random collection of herbs and spices.
Add stock cube and Worcestershire sauce.
Be suddenly afflicted with a Weezer earworm and decide to throw in a can of beans.
Simmer until pork is tender the cries of hunger from the family who were expecting to wait about 10 minutes for dinner become too much to bear.

Mmmm, smells good

Tom got very excited while I was cooking this, I think he was fascinated by the process of inventing a recipe, he was watching everything I put in and then running to the other end of the house to give updates to the others. He kept telling me how great a cook I am and how much he loves me. It certainly made cooking the meal into something special instead of an inconvenient chore (I was tired and not really looking forward to tackling the kitchen).

We served it up over rice, Adam made Weezer jokes, Dave told me it looked yum and I held my breath as Caitlin tasted it.

Grub's up!

"Yum, this is good Mum, you should make it for Grandma or Grandy or Nana."

And then I fell off my chair in shock.

It did need longer cooking, the meat wasn't as tender as I'd have liked, I reckon it'd be pretty good in a crockpot with the beans added towards the end of the cooking time. The spices were fairly mild, if I didn't have to accommodate the kids I'd bump up the chili. Definitely worth doing again sometime.

Link-fest No. 9

The Shapelings (that will be the commentariat for the uninitiated) are in fine form of late over at Shapely Prose. Among many recent fine posts we have a critique by Sweet Machine of the latest "fat is contagious" kerfuffle that leads to the introduction of Coconut Crabs and Fillyjonk's quick hit on the subject of the monotony of articles about fatness that has spawned an epic comment thread with some beautiful rants about the absurdities of how mothers are perceived and expected to behave.

Wil Wheaton has been having fun with Rock Band.

Alix at Casa Hice has been telling the romantic and highly amusing story of Love at First Sight and her fabulous Vegas wedding. Alix is a damn fine story-teller, check out her Tribute to Lulu series too while you're over there, the first post is here.

The 2008 Aurealis Awards have been announced.

Neil Gaiman has won the Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book.

There you have it, the stuff I'm inspired to share with you all today. What cool stuff have you been reading on the intertubes?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blogosphere Book Circle reading list

I've gone and joined a book club, we'll be reading one book a month and sharing our thoughts and reviews on our blogs. It's been organised by the lovely Penny at Walking Upside Down and it's going to drag me kicking and screaming out of my usual genre comfort zone of SF&F and make me try something new and different for a change. I'm looking forward to it!

Here's our reading list for the next 12 months.

Feb: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Mar: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

Letter to my Daughter by Maya Angelou

PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and Reg Keeland

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Jan '10:
The book thief by Markus Zusak

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Political spectrum quiz

It's a blog quiz so it must be true.

My Political Views
I am a left moderate social libertarian
Left: 7.28, Libertarian: 2.94

Political Spectrum Quiz

My Foreign Policy Views
Score: -6.97

Political Spectrum Quiz

My Culture War Stance
Score: -8.1

Political Spectrum Quiz

Actually I'm not arguing with these results, if I go to the original Political Compass site it shows that I sit somewhere near Gandhi and the Dalai Lama on the spectrum. I'm cool with that. Not sure what the culture war result is supposed to mean though.


I'm wait...flattered, that's the word. Lou (aka Bogsider) has very kindly given me the Butterfly award. I discovered this when I was sitting in the car on our hide-from-the-heat trip down the coast from Merry Beach on the verge of tears because of the pain from my back and grabbing a quick dose of net therapy on my mobile while I actually had a signal. Made my day it did. Thank you Lou!

Meme rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

I'm passing this one on to these cool blogs all of whom are worthy of many grammatically dubious accolades.*

Ariane's little world
Eternal Lizdom
Casa Hice
ZB's Vegan Recipes
Kittens Gone Lentil
even the smallest
Shrinking Yoda
No Regrets (Nap Mom)

*Yes, I'm a pedant, I can't help it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Merry Beach

We're back! We came home a couple of days earlier than planned because I managed to do something nasty to my back and was in agony. Plus the forecast for Saturday said we'd be copping at least 35 degrees C (95F) and I stop functioning in anything more than 28 degrees. So there didn't seem to be much point in hanging around only to spend a large part of our one remaining full day going for a drive in the air-conditioned car just to keep me sane (we'd done that once already).

I didn't take very many photos, I'm terrible at remembering to take my camera with me which is one of the reasons Adam bought me a Nokia N95 - because I always remember my phone - but there's no mobile phone reception at Merry Beach so I wasn't carrying it around and besides, cameras and sand in close proximity make me nervous.

Every morning we had a major drama with David over getting ready to go to the beach. He didn't want to go, he wanted to stay at the tent while we all went without him, he refused to put sunscreen on, we were all so mean and unreasonable (ah, the joys of an anxious child)....and every morning he came into the water and was in raptures. "THIS ROCKS!" he whooped with glee on the second day as we dove into crystal clear perfectly gentle surf, just right for hesitant kids and overheated mothers. He also memorably announced to us "The beach is wet! And very wavy!" I'm keeping that one filed for future reference.

David on our first day discovering that the surf is actually pretty fun

David discovering he likes the surf

The water was fairly chilly and Caitlin doesn't have much insulation so she ended up spending a bit of time amusing herself on the beach while the rest of us swam and by the time I was prowling with the camera she'd had enough of being cold.

Caitlin making sand angels

Caitlin making sand angels

Tom had the best time, he didn't want to come home. He headed off into the surf without the slightest hint of fear. As he drifted down the beach away from me and towards one of the rips (otherwise known as an express ride out to sea) I called to him to come back and stay with me. "It's OK" he said "it's just the current in the water." Um, yes, that would be what I'm worried about.


Tom in seventh heaven


Worn out Tom

One lunchtime Adam was making the sandwiches and let Tom have free rein with the fillings, he chose lettuce, tomato, devon, ham, salami AND chorizo. And thus the 4 meat sandwich was born. He was pretty disappointed when we ran out of chorizo.

Our campsite

Our campsite

We were a fair bit back from the beach behind the office and caretaker's residence but we were a mere stone's throw from the pool (which I completely failed to take a photo of) and we had a little bit of a view of the beach.

The view from our tent

View from our tent

On Thursday it was stinking hot and my back was killing me. I don't really know what I did to it but I think it must have had something to do with having Tom and Caitlin in the surf with me on Monday out at the point where the bigger waves were breaking. They were hanging onto an arm each as we ducked under breaking waves and I guess I managed to pull a muscle. After a couple of days of swimming laps in the pool before breakfast and then surfing for a couple of hours before lunch I'd managed to get it really nice and sore. I ended up with my whole back and half my abs cramping up. We went for a surf on Thursday morning which was blissful...for a while. The water was very cold, crystal clear and gorgeous, but COLD. Wasn't doing those sore muscles any good at all. By lunchtime I was in serious pain and the heat was making me even more miserable. We went for a drive down the coast to do some exploring and avail ourselves of the air-conditioning in the car. There are some absolutely gorgeous little and not so little beaches down past Bateman's Bay.

Guerrilla Bay

Guerrilla Bay


Rock platform at Broulee

On our way home today we found ourselves driving though the edge of a very intense storm, hail too. We could barely see the car in front of us.

Through the front windscreen it looked like this

Driving in the hailstorm

But out the side window there was this

The view out the side window


Now all that remains is the washing, the tidying up, the putting away of the camping gear and I have a buggered back and can't do anything useful! Thank gawd Adam is so utterly awesome and will look after the worst of it without me.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


It's 2 o'clock in the morning. We're leaving to go camping in the morning and I haven't packed my bag or had a chance to find all the CDs, games and books I want to take with us. I have however cleared my work email in-box (which has taken me the last 4 hours to do), the kids' stuff is all packed and we've got all the tent and other equipment in the car already. With any luck we'll be on the road soon after 9:00am.

(It's a good thing Adam likes driving because I'm so not going to be fit to be behind the wheel in the morning.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Nargun and the Stars

The Nargun and the Stars
"The magical world of Patricia Wrightson’s much-loved novel comes to life on stage in a stunning visual feast, featuring ERTH’s large scale puppets, live actors, and digital animation.

The story follows Simon, a boy orphaned and relocated to his distant cousins’ bush farm, where he soon meets the indigenous creatures of the land: the trickster Potkoorok, the mischievous Turongs, the cave-dwelling Nyols and the Nargun, a terrifying stone creature.

Combining visual spectacle with Wrightson’s warmth, humour and richly drawn characters, this is a story of not only adventure and discovery, but also of respect for the land, Indigenous culture and its folklore. The adaptation is informed by ERTH’s on-going consultation with the original story owners, the Gunai/Kurnai, Monaro and Boon Wurrung communities of East Gippsland."

The performance we went to last night was the first preview of the show. At the beginning someone came out on stage and explained that it was in fact the very first time they'd done a complete run-through with all the lighting and effects and so on, and that there might be some things that didn't work quite right. He explained that there were 3 actors, 5 puppeteers and about 100 people backstage and he introduced the musicians and lighting people. It was kind of cool, gave the kids a bit of a feel for the mechanics of putting together what they were about to see on stage.

As far as being a first run-through everything seemed to go pretty smoothly though I'm sure there were a few things they'll tweak to tighten it up. The puppets were great, they looked fabulous and the puppeteers did a lovely job conveying character and emotion with them. The set design was quite clever with transitions from one location to another happening quickly and clearly.

I don't remember much about the book from my reading it way back in my primary school days (I do remember loving it though - I still have my pet rock named Nargun) so when the kids kept asking me questions about the story I had to say I couldn't remember, just wait and see. Tom was a bit scared at one point and wanted to swap seats to sit next to me, Daddy clearly not being up to the task of protecting him. Afterwards as we walked back to the car Tom (and the other 2, but mostly Tom) talked non-stop about the characters, why they did certain things, how they felt about events in the story and about each other, what would happen to them now after the story's end. I was so pleased by how engaged the kids were and just loved how the play provoked such deep thinking from Tom.

Who's playing the alphabet game?

These are the people I have tagged so far for the alphabet game, there's still plenty of letters to go so comment if you want one!

yodaobi (Em) landed the letter L and has written a loquacious and ludicrously alliterative list. I love it!

Brendan (ozfinn) must muse upon the letter M.

Nap Mom scored an S.

Ariane gets to grapple with G

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

B is for

I'm playing an alphabet game, Liz has given me the letter B so I get to come up with 10 things I like that start with the letter B.

  1. Books

  2. One of my greatest passions. I own far too many and I find it almost impossible to get rid of even the ones that I freely admit to being rubbish. See those shelves in the photo? I have 4 more the same, the shelves with paperbacks on them are double stacked and there are piles of books on my bedroom floor which don't fit anywhere. Problem is we've run out of walls to put the shelves against. That's the real reason why I want to build an extension on the house.


  3. Beaches

  4. We're off to Merry Beach for a week-long camping holiday in a few days time. I'm looking forward to walking on the sand, letting the waves wash over my feet, plunging into the surf and breathing the salt air. I'll walk to the end of the beach and sit watching the waves breaking against the rocks and I'll lie in bed at night listening to the ocean (and the possums trying to steal our stuff, if what I've been told is true).

    Photo credit: my mum

  5. Blogging

  6. I'd hardly be here doing this if I didn't like it would I? :-) I love the community of the bloggosphere. I love that it makes me think, prompts me to be creative, encourages me to keep a record of the little things about the kids that are so easily forgotten and, I confess, I love having an audience - yes you, you're the best!

  7. the Bush

  8. I grew up across the road from the Elouera Bushland Reserve, we played in the bush, I walked to high school along the fire trail through the reserve and bush bashed up the creek when it was too high to cross at the normal place without ending up with wet shoes. Find a rock to sit on with a view into a gully and sit listening to the birds and let the soft colours of the bush sooth the spirit. Lovely.

    Photo credit: Nelson~Blue on Flickr

  9. Beer

  10. I'm fussy though, it has to be good beer. Adam is always finding new brews for us to try, he used to do home-brewing too and it wasn't until I'd tried his home-brewed wheat beer that I began to develop an appreciation for beer. Some of my current favourites are Beez Kneez, Lord Nelson Old Admiral and Lowenbrau's Franziskaner Weissbier.

  11. Birds

  12. Birds are nice, particularly when they are NOT in cages.


  13. Bagpipes

  14. Yeah, I'm weird. I once had a boyfriend who played the bagpipes, I went to watch him play in his pipe band one time and they were playing INSIDE a church hall. So wrong. So painful. My family used to go each year to the Bundanoon is Brigadoon festival, we'd camp at a place that was up on the hill a short walk from the oval where the festival was held, it was just the right distance for listening to the pipe bands play.

  15. Brunch

  16. On our front deck on a mild spring day with scrambled eggs, bacon, grilled tomato and mushrooms, toast, a big pot of tea and nowhere to go and nothing to do.

  17. Baked dinner

  18. Roast leg of lamb seasoned with garlic and rosemary with baked potatoes, sweet potato, pumpkin and whole onions. Accompanied by steamed baby peas, gravy, mint sauce and dijon mustard. OMG YUM!

  19. Being

  20. I'm kind of glad I'm here, and that I'm me, and that I have the family and friends I have. Life is good.

The version of tagging for this particular meme is much more to my liking - if you'd like your own turn at the alphabet game, you have to leave a comment here letting me know that you want to play and I'll pick a letter for you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I've hit the wall

For way too long I have been going to bed after 1:00 in the morning, dragging myself out of bed the next morning, being too tired to accomplish very much during the day and then sitting around in the evenings feeling pissed off with myself because I've wasted so much of the day yet again and being too wound up to be able to go to bed even though I'm barely keeping my eyes open at 9:30pm. At around 11:00pm I get my second wind and the next thing I know it's 1:00am again and I'm stuck on this treadmill of stupidity for another day.

I feel like crap, the kids cop a grumpy mum, the house is barely under control and the days pass by in a blur of exhaustion. And it's all self-inflicted.

Tonight I have a sore throat and the beginnings of a nasty behind the eyes type headache, I should do a couple of hours work for one of my jobs but if I start doing that now then tomorrow is going to be horrible.

I'm going to bed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

From my bookshelf

Things I've been reading this past week.

Incandescence by Greg Egan
I haven't finished this one yet so who knows how I'll feel about it when I'm done but here's my thoughts so far: Egan usually makes my head hurt trying to follow the science part of his SF (and I do love him for it!) but this time, even though I'm sure I'm not completely grasping the details of the orbital mechanics on which the story hinges, I'm getting enough of it to follow what's going on without too much effort. I am wondering if the central idea really needed a whole novel, and the character driven stuff is not particularly engaging, but I do like the playing around with science stuff so all up I'm enjoying it. When I've finished reading he book I'll have to go have a play on Greg's website too.

The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Heritage of Hastur by Marion Zimmer Bradley
I started on the MZB's because I'd left the Egan upstairs when I went to bed one night and couldn't be bothered going up to get it. It's ages since I'd read any Darkover books but I think I'm hooked again. One of the kids asked me what they were about, I was half-asleep so I muttered something about "long-lost colony on Darkover rediscovered by Terran Empire...culture clash...adventure...alien stuff...they're good...there's LOTS of them!" (Now all I have to do is find them on my sadly disorganised and overcrowded bookshelves.)

The Iron Wolf and other stories by Richard Adams (also published as The Unbroken Web)

This is a collection of folk-tales from all over the world which I've had since I was a kid, it has beautiful illustrations and I've been looking forward to sharing them with the kids. When Tom was sick last week I asked if he wanted me to read to him in bed and he said "yes please" and that I could pick the book. I pulled this off my shelf and read him the list of stories, he asked for "The Iron Wolf". About half-way down the first page I thought to myself "this is too old for him" and asked if he wanted me to keep going. He did, in fact he loved it! The next day he had to tell Grandma all about it...and Dad and Dave and Cait. Just a moment ago he saw me holding the book and said excitedly to Dave and Cait "We could read some Iron Wolf stories, guys I think you'd really like them!" So I guess that's what we'll be doing later this arvo.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Tom has just come home from a friend's birthday party. The very first thing he did as he came through the door was offer me one of the chocolates from his lolly bag.

"I want to share with everyone," he said, as he handed out lollies to David, Dad and then went running downstairs to make sure Caitlin didn't miss out.

He was going to keep on sharing them out evenly but Adam persuaded him to save the rest for himself and make them last. It only seems fair given that his big brother and sister are renowned for either consuming their lolly bags at top speed in the car on the way home from the party or flaunting them at their siblings with great glee and a complete absence of generosity.

Perhaps he's just doing it to show them up.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Muuum! Stop blogging!

After a slow start to the day we went off to my mum's place for lunch where we finished off the last of her Christmas ham.

Then I fixed her table tennis table (it needed a couple of new screws on one of the hinges) and we had a frantic search of her garage looking for the net, paddles and balls. Mum, the kids and I took turns playing one-on-one, I think the longest rally of the day that wasn't between Mum and I was 5 hits, we all spent much more time chasing after errant balls than actually playing!

Once we'd exhausted the possibilities of hitting a small plastic ball around the garage it was movie time. Unfortunately I'd forgotten the blindfold and earplugs so Tom did get to watch The Tale of Despereaux after all. I've only read the first few chapters of the book but even from that I have to say the movie didn't seem to capture the feel of the book. Which isn't to say it was awful, but although I wasn't sitting there desperately wishing the end would come quickly (as I did with Clone Wars for example) I do think it could have been a lot better. There was a somewhat disjointed feel to it as though they couldn't quite work out what they wanted the film to be about. I'm going to have to finish reading the book and see if I can figure out why it didn't quite work. The kids all liked it but Caitlin's verdict was that the book was better.

After a detour to the supermarket to pick up science supplies we headed home. I'd been thinking we'd get experimental tomorrow morning but Tom was so excited about the one he had planned that he bullied me into getting it started straight away. So at 7:30pm, instead of cooking dinner, I was stirring up a saturated solution of Sodium Carbonate (washing soda) for a crystal growing experiment.

Eventually dinner was cooked and eaten (spag bol) and now Tom and Caitlin are playing Singstar Abba, David and Adam are playing City of Heroes on-line with Uncle Gaz (Adam's brother) and I'm thinking about making myself a hot chocolate with butterscotch schnapps.

But apparently I'm required to get off the computer and do a Singstar song with Tom first!

Keep 'em guessing.

Tom: Can we all go and see Despereaux?

Me: No, you can sit in the theatre with a blindfold on and earplugs in.

Tom: Muuuuuum!

David: She's kidding...I think.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It could have been a really bad day

But in the end it turned out better than average.

I took the kids to the pool again this morning, we all swam laps this time, Dave did 2, Tom did 4 and Caitlin did 6. She announced to me with great glee that she'd swum 300m. There may have been flippers involved but it's a significant effort nonetheless. I caved in to pleas for ice-cream when we were leaving so we all headed back to the car with fast melting treats. I had a Heaven Caramel Truffle which sadly wasn't nearly as nice as it sounds, I'll stick with something chocolate next time.

On the way home the car started doing weird stuff, we were slowing way down going up the hills, the transmission wasn't shifting down through the gears quick enough, then suddenly it would drop a gear and the revs were going through the roof. It was all very disconcerting and stuff, especially as I was in my swimming costume and board shorts. I knew I was low on petrol but not so low that I was worried about it - I've driven for 30 minutes plus with the gauge reading as it was many, many times. We made it to our street and just as I turned the corner and pulled into our cul-de-sac the engine died. Oh my god, I could have been stuck half-way to Pymble with a broken down car dressed in my swimmers in 35 degrees C! Close call.

After I'd got the kids inside I went back to check that the car was really dead before I rang the NRMA...and it started just fine, I was able to drive up to the house and park properly. Weird. I washed the dog (she was not amused) and then had a shower so I'd be presentable when the NRMA came, there was no way I was driving anywhere till someone had looked at the car.

The guy who came (and who incidentally was lovely, very impressed I was) gave it the once over but couldn't see any obvious problem. He suggested that the fuel gauge might be less accurate than it once was and offered to follow me to the servo to get petrol. No problems getting there, the car behaved quite normally, but when I filled up, instead of the usual 50-55L that fits in when the gauge is reading almost empty, it took 59.somethingL. It's a 70L tank. Seems I'd nearly run out of petrol and on the steep hills what was left in the tank wasn't getting into the fuel line properly.

The kids and I spent the rest of the day hiding from the heat. We played Disney Trivial Pursuit and much to Caitlin's disgust David and I won. Then we watched DVDs till Adam came home with his mum for dinner.

After dinner I buggered off leaving Adam with the kids and went to see Quantum of Solace with Jen which we both enjoyed immensely.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


We went to the pool today, it's not our closest public pool, there's one at Hornsby too but this one at West Pymble is in such a lovely setting that it's well worth a few extra minutes drive to go there instead.

You can see what I mean from the Google satellite image

This is the pool I used to come to for swimming lessons in the summer holidays when I was a kid, I have vivid memories of doing water safety and having to jump into the olympic pool fully dressed, tread water for a while and then swim to the side and climb out.

David and Caitlin also had a couple of summer's worth of lessons here when they were first learning. Once, when Dave and Cait were being taught in one half of the pool in the top right corner of that photo and I was watching and dividing my attention between them and Tom who was still in floaties and swimming in the other half of the same pool, I looked back from the lessons to check on Tom and he was no-where to be seen. I found him a couple of minutes later blithely climbing out of the deep end of the olympic pool and jumping back in again - he was 3 years old. I think he discarded the floaties for good the next time we went.

Today when we were almost ready to head for home (Caitlin's lips were blue - this is always our sign that it's time to leave) I was trying to persuade David to come and swim a lap or two with me, I'd done 5 but I thought I had at least 2 more in me. Dave was not showing much enthusiasm but Tom announced he wanted to do it.

Now Tom is a natural floater but hasn't been much for actually moving through the water. He deeply resented having lessons and being made to do what someone told him to and it was no good dragging him away from the side of a pool and using the sink or swim tactic, he'd just do the passive resistance thing and lie back and refuse to move, drove his swimming teachers nuts! We persevered, but when dance and soccer ended up clashing with swimming half-way through last year I gave up and he quit lessons just as he was starting to get the hang of doing the breathing.

When we first got in the pool today I asked if he could show me breathe and bubble and he was all over the place. I gave a demonstration and he did manage to get the arms and breathing co-ordinated but wasn't interested in doing more than a few strokes. So I really didn't think he'd be able to do two 50m laps...but he did. Slowly yes, but with great determination and astonishingly good style (until he was getting tired at which point he was rolling almost all the way over and practically turning into a submarine). I was amazed and very, very proud of him.

He was pretty pleased with himself too, when we got home he was desperate to ring Grandma and tell her all about it. Mum was suitably excited and impressed, she's an awesome grandma :)

We went out for dinner tonight, my mum came too, had a very nice meal at the restaurant that's attached to the Manly Fish Markets Cafe, a seafood platter for two plus a seafood basket main fed all six of us and it's BYO so we took a bottle of Grant Burge 2006 Kraft Sauvignon Blanc which we bought at the cellar door the last time we were in the Barossa Valley (we chose well - it was yum).

Then I took the dog for a walk when we got home, don't know where the energy for that came from.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The eighth Down Under Feminist Carnival is up

This month's carnival is up at stephiepenguin's lj. Plenty of great posts to keep you busy reading so head on over and get clicking!

Pride and Prejudice - Facebook version

In a similar vein to the Facebook Hamlet, I am pleased to share with you this gem of literature transformed into a Facebook newsfeed.


Some of my favourite bits:



Go read it all for yourself!

via Tigtog at Hoyden About Town

Thursday, January 01, 2009

12 things for 2009

New Year's resolutions never seem to amount to anything much do they? I don't think I've ever made any that lasted past the first few days until last year and even then they weren't New Year's resolutions so much as February planning. I was quite pleased with how my goal setting for 2008 worked out, so I thought I'd do something similar for this year.

One thing I've learned from looking at which things got done and which things didn't is that there's not much point in setting my heart on achieving something that would require a major shift in behaviour for me or the family as a whole. Small changes and building on existing interests and activities is the way to go.

So what would I like to be able to tick off as done in 2009?

1. Take the kids to see live theatre - I'll be getting tickets to the Berowra Musical Society Les Miz production (which Caitlin did not get a part in - she was quite upset but hasn't sworn off auditioning in the future so I'm calling it a worthwhile experience) and I've booked tickets for The Nargun and the Stars so this one is well under way already.

2. Have a night out for just me and Adam once a month - movie, theatre, dinner without Tom demanding to leave as soon as he's finished eating, a moonlight walk on a beach, time to talk without interruptions or the distractions of tv and computers.

3. Learn something about photography and get the gear I need to be able to take good photos of food and jewellery etc indoors so I'm not reliant on the vagaries of natural light.

4. Remember to get my gorram B12 shots done on time - I had one just before Christmas so the plan is to get one in every month that's a multiple of 3, that shouldn't be so hard to remember should it?

5. Play a game, chess or whatever else he prefers, with David once a week - if we play chess he'll probably win every single time, after all he's been going to chess club for 6 months while I haven't played in years.

6. Do a craft activity with Caitlin once a week - we can play with polymer clay, make jewellery, draw, paint, make gifts for people, do needle crafts. She has a long-stitch project waiting to be finished at the moment.

7. Foster Tom's love of nature and interest in science by doing a simple experiment with him each week - I've got a book somewhere full of science experiments to do with kids using household stuff. He was absolutely thrilled with the electricity experiments kit he got for Christmas.

8. Walk the dog in the mornings instead of at 9:30 at night - I'm hoping this will help with getting me into a better routine for the mornings and also with having healthier sleep patterns.

9. Do enough tablet weaving to trim my Huscarls cloak and dress - more would be good but let's not get too ambitious!

10. Grow some herbs in my hanging pots on the front deck - I've tried this before and killed many, many plants in the process but it really should be possible, I just want mint, basil, parsley and chives.

11. Make sure we do one fun active thing together as a family each weekend - ice-skating, bowling, swimming, bushwalking, a visit to a park, flying kites, bike riding, walking around a museum or art gallery, anything that's not about watching something on a screen or centered around food!

12. Get the extension built (assuming we can get it approved) - this one kind of freaks me out, the huge disruption of either living with renovations or having to move out while they're done, the resulting change in our financial situation, the stress of it all. I do think this is the right time to do it though, if at all possible I want it done before David starts high school in 2010.

Happy New Year!

Break out the bubbly folks, we've just passed an arbitrarily chosen point in our orbit around the sun, the primary effect of which will be that I won't be able to write the date correctly for the next 6 weeks or so.

Clearly cause for celebration!

Happy New Year everyone :D