Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shows in your eyes and purple dragons.

I try not to be one of those mothers who go on about how wonderful their kids are, but today they've been pretty cool and it's fun to sit back and enjoy that. Besides, it's my blog!

Widget comes into bed with us in the mornings, and sometimes she's a pain and sometimes she falls asleep. Today was a sleep day, and when Midget and I rolled over this little voice chirped

"Good morning Mummy!"
"Good morning, sweetheart, have you been asleep?"
"Yes, I've been watching a show on my eyes."

Seriously, is that not the best description of a dream you've ever heard?

"Did someone tell you that?"
"No Mummy, it's a dream. Shut your eyes ... See! there are

It's her daycare day, and she badly wants Midget to go too, so she's been prattling on about how she will look after her and

"if the meanie boys go near her I'll say Stop! That's
my sister! Leave her alone!"

She's not convinced, but Midget and I are really enjoying our days together.

We have a little purple rubber dragon toy that Midget is not sure about, I don't know if it is the rubbery feel or if it looks scary to a one year old. I was hanging out washing when she started calling. I went over to see her pointing at the dragon, which was lying on its side. I picked it up, so she started talking and pointing more. I patted it on the head and that really set her off. She spent a good five minutes getting closer and closer but not being able to bring herself to actually touch this thing, all the while talking away at the top of her voice. Then, she went and got another toy, and sat there poking the dragon with the toy and jumping back! She tried another one and managed to knock it over, which led to actual tears so I had to pick the poor dragon up and show her it was alright. A bit after this she got up the courage to touch it with her own finger, looking over at me every time to check that I could see what a big, brave girl she was.

Kids - they're the real show that never ends.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Passive income

Second post on the money theme, bearing in mind this is all based on my use of Kiyosaki and I can't take any credit for it, except in the translation. Any errors or misunderstandings are mine. I am not an accountant, just someone who has been managing my money for a few years.

In the first I talked about wealth, and concluded that it is about not having to work because you can live off your passive income. So wealth is really simple - accumulate things that give you passive income. No need to read any more! Well maybe. What is useful here is a redefinition of assets and liabilities. These are not the definitions an accountant or bank or the ATO uses, these are definitions that make it easy to think about your own finances.

Asset: Something that earns passive income. e.g. a rental
property, a book you've written, shares that pay dividends.

Liability: Something that costs you. e.g. a negatively geared
property, a boat, your home.

See? Very different to your bank, which will almost certainly count your house as an asset. But your house will not help you pay your monthly expenses. Anything negatively geared will not help you pay your expenses either, because it is making a loss.

In fact DH and I don't talk about negative or positive gearing at all - we classify our investments as in the black or in the red, assets or liabilities. If it's a liability and we can see that it's going to remain a liability, we ask ourselves exactly why we are keeping it. Most people's answer to this is that they are after the capital gain. In other words, they're gambling. They are betting that the market for whatever it is will go up. Depending on many things, that may be a good bet or a bad bet, but it is still a bet, be very clear on that. Isn't it better to have cash in hand?

But what about taxes, you say? Negative gearing decreases your tax.

True. Let's use some simple numbers to look at that.

Say I make a $100 loss on my negatively geared rental property. That means that I can reduce my taxable income by $100. Assuming I'm in a 30% tax bracket, that means my tax is reduced by $30. Woohoo! I made a loss of $70!

Say I make a $100 profit on my positively geared rental property. That means I have to increase my taxable income by $100. Assuming the same 30% tax bracket, that means my tax is increased by $30. Woohoo! I made a profit of $70!

Obviously this is much simplified, there are a lot more complicated situations where your options will be different. But this week's lesson is:

Look for things that will make you passive income right now, today. If there isn't money in your pocket at the end of the month, why are you holding on to it?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Widget has a new word. Kyive. It's heard a lot, usually in sentences like

"Kyive a drink?" or
"Kyive one of those?"

It is better than her other common word, gemmia, which goes down like a lead balloon. But there are beginning to be sentences where I don't recognise a single word in English, so I think it's time to slow down a bit.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Money, Money, Money - Wealth

A bit of a different one for me, I can feel a series coming on plus a shameless plug.

"Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. Buy it, read it, get Cashflow the game and play it.

This is not because I've just read it and think it's great. This is not because I know anything at all about economics. This is because I read it many years ago and I've been following it ever since. I gave a copy to DH, who never ever reads, and he now has the whole series. He has bought them as presents for lots of friends, and especially his sons. And just say that DH and I are in a far better financial position than your average teachers, including allowing me to be a SAHM with an extremely expensive hobby (nappy businesses don't make money!).

So bearing in mind that all of this is just my paraphrasing and the things I've taken from his message, I'm going to start talking about the bits that have had an impact on me.
  1. The definition of wealth

Apparently this is from Buckminster Fuller, who is fascinating in his own right. It's extremely simple and precise and makes a lot of sense. Basically, think of all your expenses. Wealth is when you can cover all your expenses from passive income. In other words, if you lost your job tomorrow, how long would it be before your expenses eat you alive? How long until you would run out of money? If the answer is never, then you are wealthy.

The philosophical reason I love this definition is because it discounts work. As I've said in previous blogs I think we put far too much emphasis on work, to the detriment of our health, happiness and families. This definition states upfront that the aim of the game is to do away with work. Or at least the need for work. If you have something you love and want to keep doing, fantastic. But I think we would all love to have the option of stopping for a while and the freedom to set our own direction.

The practical reason I love this definition is because it then becomes so simple to see what you have to do to achieve wealth. You either need to decrease your expenses, and/or increase your passive income. Decreasing expenses only works so far - we all need to eat. And there's not much point in not needing to work if you have to sit at home all day. So ideally there will be a bit of both.

What's passive income? Obviously, given I'm talking about not working, it's income you don't have to work for. So royalties, rent, dividends, interest payments, income from a business and things like that. It's the things that will still be there, paying your expenses, when you get back from your 3 month world tour. I'm discounting welfare, because that is income you have no control over. I don't think we can call it wealth if it depends on the whim of the government.

So how long could you live? (And no, we're not there yet, darn it.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Here's a clue

I was just going through all the clothes drawers getting ready for winter, including DH's sock drawer.

Here's a clue, darling, the tiny little pink socks aren't yours. No wonder I can't make pairs for Widget!

ETA - turns out it wasn't his fault, there was a conversation this afternoon:

DH "I don't have any socks."
Me "Did you look in your drawer?"
DH "I looked this morning, there were no socks."
Me "Did you look in the third drawer?"
DH "I have a third drawer?"

Turns out this is what happens when Widget helps put the clothes away.

Monday, June 1, 2009

We went for a nature walk and found ...

a potato and an onion!

Someone obviously dropped their shopping on the way home :) Incidentally, it's our first really cold day, and my girls decide they want to go for a walk, what's with that? We only went around the corner and across a vacant lot, but Midget actually walked herself and Widget took her tricycle with a little basket on the back. They were so cute all rugged up, we're generally a nappy and t-shirt type of family, when we can get Widget to wear anything at all.

I've decided that the best way to cope with Widget and come up with different things to do is to have a theme every week. Yesterday she said she wanted to go for a walk, so I thought we'd make insects our theme. It's working really well so far, she cut out and decorated a butterfly yesterday and today we glued patty pans together to make a caterpillar. Next craft activity will be a cocoon, I might use toilet rolls for her to make one, then we can talk about the lifecycle of butterflies :)

Then today we did our nature walk, and read some books on butterflies. And this morning she discovered an earwig outside, so we spent time watching it and putting rocks in front of it or socks over it to see what it would do. We collected a whole heap of things on our walk, and I'm going to use them for something later on.

It's just making it easier to think of different activities, instead of generic 'drawing' or 'outside.' I feel like I'm teaching again!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Exquisite Timing

I love my daughter, I really do. Even when I want to strangle her.

It's been a tough week (and it's only Wednesday!), DH is away and she hasn't been well. There has been no sleep between the two of them, Widget took over 2 hours to get settled in the middle of the night, then she has been coming into bed with us and generally a good time has been had by all. In retrospect buying the caffiene free diet coke was probably a mistake.

So last night I decided enough was enough, she had to sleep in her own bed.

Now to set the scene, she'd been revolting all evening. It started with tears because she didn't want to leave daycare, yelling at her sister, taking things off her, yelling at me when I didn't do what she wanted, yelling at me when I did do what she wanted. All the hallmarks of an extremely over-tired little girl. We'd finally had a good time reading books on my bed, then started getting ready. Daddy phoned, which was good, but there was another fight over her jammies, and Midget hit her head while I was trying to get Widget dressed.

Well then I have both of them in tears, but finally manage to calm them down. We go through the toilet, drink and get Widget into bed. I say goodnight and promise faithfully that I will come back as soon as Midget is asleep, when Widget bursts into tears again. I'm pretty annoyed by this stage, but then realise what she's saying through all the sobbing.

"But Mummy, I love you so so so much."

Now how can you be angry about that? So I put Midget down, climbed into bed with her and gave her a big cuddle, ignoring Midget's yelling. When she calmed down I got Midget to sleep, and of course when I went and checked Widget was sound asleep. She slept through the whole night in her own bed, and we've had a wonderful day today.

I knew babies have a wonderful sense of self-preservation, obviously it continues for a few years.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I'm looking at an embroidery machine and want to get one that can be serviced somewhere I go regularly, rather than being sent away. So I have two choices, the major town down the road or the city. I phoned someone in the city and was talking to them about it.

"I'm interested in getting a machine I can have serviced easily, but I'm actually from the country."
"Where are you?"
"Tennant Creek."
"But that's just down the track, I thought you meant overseas."

First off, the track is NT slang for the Stuart Hwy, the road that runs from Darwin to Adelaide. So I really am just down the track.

By 12ookm.

Yes, over a thousand kilometres away from our nearest city, but it's considered local. We have a house there, we go there regularly, a lot of people from here do it in 2 days but we usually leave early and just do one.

Now to put that in perspective, if we were in Victoria, 12ookm would pretty much cover the state from east to west. If we were in the UK, it just about covers the countries (England and Scotland) from north to south. If we were in the US, you could drive across 3 states, or at least across Texas east to west. But that's our nearest city.

There are 3 other towns in the NT, Alice Springs has around 28,000, so technically it's a city, Katherine has a bit under 10,000 and Nhulunbuy has around 4000. Then Tennant has around 3000 and Maningrida about 2500, Borroloola about 1500. There are several large communities and that's it. Population of around 200 000 and bigger than the UK.

No wonder Territorians are distinctive.

Friday, May 22, 2009

PLEASE write to Oprah

Oprah Winfrey's production company has offered Jenny McCarthy her own television show. For anyone who cares about our children's health this is horrifying, as McCarthy is one of the most irrational of the anti-vaccinationists. She champions unproven and downright dangerous treatments yet is completely ignorant about health and science. Her idea of discussion is to yell down and swear at doctors, people who have spent years learning about disease and have done it because they care about children!

In her books and videos (yes, she makes money out of this) she claims that wheat and milk affect children like marijuana, this is the level of her understanding. She originally claimed that her son was a 'Crystal child' and she was an 'indigo mom,' however she has now changed her mind and blames vaccination for his possible autism. This blog post is about her latest video and shows another letter, this shows and discusses a video of her on Larry King Live. One of the reasons she is so dangerous is because of her celebrity status, she is being used as a spokesperson by the anti-vaccination lobby. An author on the Young Australian Skeptics blog has called for letters to Oprah condemning a show for McCarthy, as have other organisations.

We cannot allow our children's health to be under the influence of people so ignorant they don't even know what they don't know. This is my letter to Oprah, it required a bit of editing because there is only a 2000 character limit.

Dear Oprah,

I write as a concerned parent about the decision to give Jenny McCarthy a TV show. Your television shows are major sources mothers are turning to for the latest information and are very influential.

Your experiences in Africa will have given you an appreciation of the devastation of infectious diseases. They are killers of children, those who survive can be left with shattering disabilities including brain damage. It is vaccination that gives us our relative safety, not only directly but through herd immunity there is some safety for those who cannot be immunised. When people decide not to immunise it is a decision that affects other vulnerable children as well.

Science is our most reliable way of learning about the world. Our society is based on science – every time we switch on a TV or drive a car over a bridge, we know we are safe because science works. Science based medicine has given us treatments for cancer, diagnostic tools such as ultrasounds and the antibiotics which have saved literally millions. It has also given us vaccines, and demonstrated over and over again that they are not linked to autism. There is no link between mercury and autism, the evidence for a link between the MMR and autism was fraudulent, and you receive more antigens directly to your bloodstream from brushing your teeth than you do from a vaccination. Having an autistic child is a challenge to any family, but wasting time and money vilifying vaccines does not help those families. Let’s put that effort where it belongs – supporting autistic children.

Even without the evidence against her, is Jenny McCarthy a fit person to front one of your shows? Her language and behaviour are offensive, as a mother and a consumer I can’t support her. Maybe controversy sells on TV, but by shutting down discussion and refusing debate she is not helping children, she is hurting them. She supports ignorance and hatred rather than openness and learning. Is this the image you want to be associated with?

I can only hope that you will listen. Listen to mothers, listen to scientists, listen to people who have spent time and energy to learn. Rather than being taken in by arrogance and emotion and ultimately misusing your power and influence in a way you may come to regret.

Please write your own letter here. The more of us who write, Oprah and her production company may realise what a terrible mistake it would be to encourage those who know so little that they are truly dangerous.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I love my lint roller

This is a non-family-oriented purely selfish post.

I'm not a particularly tidy person, in fact I'm extremely messy. And I sew with fabrics such as minkee, bamboo velour, bamboo terry, and microfibre terry. If you know anything about fabrics, the first three are lint producers like you wouldn't believe because of dense pile and loops, and the microfibre is extremely 'sticky.' Add in two daughters who think my fabric boxes are treasure troves to go through and feel the pretties and all the little threads that are snipped off when sewing and scraps from overlocking and you have a recipe for disaster, or at least many hours picking threads off.

Enter the el cheapo lint roller I recently picked up for about $2. It's one with sticky paper around the top, when it gets too fluffy you peel it off and go to the next sheet. It's brilliant, a quick wipe over my table gets all the fluff and threads, and another roll over the finished product and it's clean. Even better, Widget and Midget can both use it. Widget goes around picking things up purposely, and Midget can sit on my lap and run it over the desk copying us and being part of the action.

If you sew, get a lint roller! Who would have guessed so much family togetherness for so little.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Inigo Montoya School of Baby Signing

You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you
think it means.
Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

It started with 'more.' Midget picked it up really quickly, unfortunately she thought it meant the frozen yoghurt iceblocks, because that's what she was always having 'more' of. No worries, after a few days she expanded the meaning to 'food.'

But then it all just got confusing.

For the past two days she has been desparately pointing to the bench. I have tried the water bottles, the grapes, the doll, the box, the cheese, the pasta, and basically everything off the bench she could possibly want. The barbecue sauce bottle sparked an interest, but everything else has been pushed away in disgust.

I've just asked her if she wants water, with a sign, so she's been standing in front of the fridge signing 'more water.' Now partly I'm shocked that she's combined two signs, but she doesn't want water, more or otherwise. I wish she'd use just one sign that we both know what it means.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More terry flats

How do you keep you floors clean with babies and toddlers if you don't have terry flats? We have one permanently on the kitchen and living room floor, then it's used to wipe up whatever the latest spill is.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day Care

Widget just spent her first day at day care all by herself ... and loved it!

We've been going together for ages, she is on the waiting list so we are allowed to go anytime so long as I am there. So she knows all the ladies, most of the kids, and all the routines. She also knows how to deal with any problems, by telling one of the ladies if she can't solve it herself, and has practiced everything. We generally go in the morning then leave when they have lunch, and she's been hanging out to stay with everyone else.

There still isn't a permanent place for her, but someone was away for a couple of days so they let us have the casual place. We've been talking about it over the weekend, just every now and then saying "Wow, on Monday you get to stay and have lunch with the other kids at daycare," making sure that she knew Midget and I would be leaving but emphasising who she would get to play with and some of the things she would do.

So as soon as she got up and was properly awake she got herself dressed and ready. When we got there I explained again and checked she knew where everything was, then asked if she wanted me to stay for a little while? "No Mummy, you and Midget have to leave. I'm staying here for lunch."

And she did! When I went back at 3pm after Midget's nap she complained and insisted that we had to stay so she could play longer, they'd only just gone outside. So we stayed another hour or so, when I finally tore her away she insisted she's going back tomorrow. Luckily she can, but Wednesday might be a problem!

I thought long and hard before doing this, there was something that felt vaguely wrong about putting my child in care when I'm a SAHM, sort of like it's cheating. In the end I think this is actually the more 'natural' way to go, although I really really hate that as a label. In a biologically normal situation she would be living in an extended family group, with many adults caring for her or at least interacting with her even if I was the primary carer. There would also be children of a range of ages. But we live in a very small town without any relatives. We go to playgroup once a week, but that's it. There's no library session, music group, toddler gym or anything else for that age group, and she's a bit young for brownies! We occasionally get together with some of the other playgroup people, but realistically we all have small children and most have jobs of some sort. So the only people she sees are me, DH, Midget, and people at the post office and shops to say hello to, then playgroup once a week.

She's also a bit over three and a half, so she's wanting to socialise. Any time we visit relatives she has a ball, any stray child at a park she'll try to play with. She really does want the interaction. And she's very good at it - she has great negotiating and protective skills and she's extremely caring of others, especially little kids. So I felt she was ready to try it on her own (whether I was ready is a whole 'nother question).

And obviously she was, because today has been a roaring success. I just hope it continues this way and we can keep getting some time for her, or we'll just go back to going together (although I really enjoyed the break!).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Library Bag

A quick project, I made Widget a library bag today. Her name is appliqued on scrap minkee, and the butterfly is a pocket for her library card. She chose the fabric and was so excited! You can't see on this photo, but the fabric has silver butterflies on it as well and I did the satin stitching with silver thread. I hate using metallic threads! They always seem to get caught at some stage, although I'm sort of hoping that's my machine and if I can justify getting a new one it won't happen. But I don't really use metallic threads often enough to spend hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars.

(I put a twitter button on last night, now to see if my coding worked!)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Things change when you don't notice (except I definitely noticed!)

Midget slept for 2 hours!!!!!!!!

You have to understand my children are appalling sleepers. Actually that's not strictly true, even though Widget hasn't napped since she turned 2 she is now a very good night sleeper. So I know that the pay-off will be there if I survive long enough.

Midget is worse than Widget,

I started writing this post a week or so ago, and didn't finish it because that night was a complete disaster, involving about 3 hours of playing, crying (from both of us), DH helping, etc.

Basically Midget is a really, really, really light sleeper, so the only way you can let go of her is to be lying down on the bed, putting her down wakes her up. And up until now she will only go to sleep by feeding. Rocking, cuddling, patting just results in hysterical screaming and throwing up. By screaming I don't mean crying, I mean the "Someone's trying to murder me!/I've just had a limb removed and am in great pain!" high pitched psycho-type scream. So we've ended up co-sleeping and not really enjoying it.

Then a few days ago after a mini-tantrum about how I really wasn't coping, DH tried taking Midget's first wake up. Bed time is around 8pm, I'm in there for around an hour, then she will wake up anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour after that. I go back in and feed her again, and she's gradually been getting better on these later wake-ups, from an hour down to 40 minutes, down to 10 minutes and the occasional grumble and self-settle. The first time he took her there was a bit of hysteria, but she actually went to sleep with him. The second night there were 2 self settles then she went to sleep within a couple of minutes when he went in. After that she's been self-settling several times before needing help (although as I write this she's still grizzling, so I hope I'm not jinxing it).

Last night we were up until midnight because we kept waiting for her to need us to go in!

At the same time, I've moved her nap back an hour or so, and she's got much better with that as well. There are still the days she only does 10 minutes by herself, but there are also days she'll go straight to sleep and last for an hour. That's an amazing sleep for her, and given her performance I don't really want her to sleep longer because I don't want to mess with bedtime.

In my mind I always expected things to get better around 12 months. (Yep, it was the light from the study causing a problem, all fixed.) You know, if I just make it through the first year it will change. Plus I saw an interview with some sleep researchers and they were saying they wouldn't expect babies to sleep through the whole night until 12 months, so it sort of stuck in my head that sleep changes around then.

And it has. It hasn't been some wonderful technique we've tried, and there's still a long way before I'd call her a great sleeper, but it's so much better than she was. We may even get her out of the bed! It's been tough, but in the end it's just been a matter of waiting and letting her mature and be ready.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Finish your dinner

I'm really ambivalent about food.

I don't have good eating habits, far too much junk, and neither does DH. I'd love, love, love to pass on better habits to the girls, but I'm not sure how so it makes me uptight.

I'm probably middle of the road on food choices - some would be horrified, some would consider me a food nazi. But I also know that we all tend to think we're better than we are, especially when it isn't something we're an expert in, so I have this nagging suspicion I'm not really that good.

And then it gets more complicated!

I don't like the idea of forcing a child to finish their dinner. I figure she has a better idea of how hungry she is than I do. At the same time, Widget's track record is not that great - she doesn't eat when she's hungry, but will get rattier and rattier until we make her eat, then she feels better. So while I love the idea of her self-regulating, she doesn't do it and I don't know how to teach her. This means I'm torn at dinnertime - I want her to just eat until she's full, but I know it's a long time until breakfast.

Then there's dessert. We never had it growing up, so it would never occur to me to tell someone to finish their dinner so they can have dessert. But DH does it all the time. It drives me mad, but I'm not going to contradict him in front of the kids. And given how well Midget sleeps it's a good night if we get 10 minutes without them, so it's not something I've remembered to talk to him about.

Now after 3 years of Widget happily eating foods that are mostly mixed together, she has suddenly decided she wants to see each individual ingredient. It's really been coming on for a long time, but we've been resisting. Not on purpose, but it's taking a bit of adjusting to change our cooking habits so everything can be put on the plate separately.

So I don't know whether she happily ate dinner tonight because we remembered to separate it all, or because she knew Daddy had some icecream.

This requires more work.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Not a computer one, a real one.

When we got back from Perth there was a little mouse sitting behind my computer. In the resultant jumping, screaming and pushing the desk away it came off second best. Problem solved?


We have a new mousetrap (Catch them alive humanely! So then what are you meant to do with them?) but the little bugger isn't being obliging. We have wooden furniture and the house has wooden panelling on all the walls and built in cupboards (lovely 70's stuff), so there is quite a loud echoing gnawing sound.

They're either eating my furniture or eating the house (that we're considering buying). And so far the most effective thing I've found is to throw things at the sound and scare them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Do NOT wear a wrap top when using a ring sling.

I have a very nice top I made, the sort that wraps over and ties on one side with a fairly deep V-neck. So I checked it wasn't showing anything and set off for the shops, where I put Midget in a ring sling. Now if you haven't used one of these, it goes over one shoulder and Midget sits on the opposite hip, the ring should be in the 'corsage position.'

To get her in I put her up over my shoulder, then get her feet inside the sling and slide her down to a sitting position. I hold her there and pull on the tail of the sling to tighten it, this generally pulls the ring down a bit lower. And off we went.

It was only after we had left the shop, where I had had a long conversation with the shop assistant, that I looked down.

To see that all that sliding down didn't just include Midget and the sling, but both sides of my top as well, so I was basically just wearing a bra (and a baby!) at the front.

At least it was a clean one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Midget is 1!

I no longer have a little baby :( But she is so much fun (the velcro has loosened a little).

  • Is walking quite well, it's now her preferred method of getting around except if she's in a hurry (ie I'm out of sight!).
  • Has no words but has two signs, feed and finished! Given Widget's speech delay this is very exciting. She's been doing them appropriately if reminded for a few days (ie if I make the feed sign and she doesn't want one she ignores it, but if she does want one she copies it). But today she did both of them spontaneously and appropriately. We were out at the shops and she looked me in the eye and asked for a feed, and later on she let go and sat up, looked at me and signed finished :D :D :D :D :D
  • Has amazing comprehension (to me, it's probably completely normal but it's a shock to realise your baby understands you IYKWIM). She was trying to climb off something forwards today and I told her to turn around, she looked at me, spun around and tried to climb off the other side. Not quite what I meant.
  • Hugs and kisses. Aaaaaaaw.
  • Knows exactly how things work. Give her a bottle and she tries to twist the lid. Give her a tin and she goes for the pull on top. Yesterday we played with shaving cream, today she picked up the can, held it correctly and was 'writing' on the wall with it, then rubbing her other hand over that spot to spread it out.
  • Brushes my hair and feeds me.
  • Insists on feeding herself, and won't drink from any of the spill proof water bottles. She only wants the ones Widget uses. Sigh.
  • Thinks the red dust out the back is a wonderful food. She actually found a spoon this morning and was hoeing in with it.
  • Is still a horrendous sleeper.
  • Scribbles on the whiteboard and tries to draw on paper.
  • Points!
  • Likes using the potty, we generally get the first wee of the morning and then it depends on my timing or how busy we are. She reads on the potty.

When Widget snuggled into bed this morning she solemnly told me that Midget was only little and didn't know how to blow out candles yet, so she would have to teach her. She made and decorated a wonderful cake for her.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Well I've been told!

Midget's communication is coming on in leaps and bounds.

Today in the car she woke up after a long sleep and there was a scramble to find something to keep her in a good mood while she adjusted. After trying several things DH put a toy with a button on top on the centre console in front of her and pushed it, so it spun around. She liked this and was quite enjoying it, and the little arm started flapping up and down as if she was pushing the button.

I tried moving it to her lap and was soundly told off, she pushed and kicked it away. So I put it down on the floor and started looking for something else. All of a sudden a little arm was pushing me and pointing down, and "Aaaah aaah aaah!" I picked it up again and offered it to her, but an imperious hand pointed at the centre console.

I meekly put it back and hit the button again, and peace reigned for a few minutes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm not a piece of furniture!!!!

I don't know, maybe I'm very permissive and my kids get away with murder.

Maybe I have extremely well bonded children who love me very much.

Maybe my children's love language is touch, and they want to show me how much they love me.

Maybe they are sensitive little souls and need lots of reassurance.

But I seem to have one or other of them attached to me 24/7.

Midget is at least starting to sleep on a mattress on the floor, so there are a couple of hours after she first goes to sleep at night, then she is in with us. She is having extreme separation anxiety, all perfectly understandable when she has been taken to a strange place and is meeting a lot of strange people, but she cries whenever she is out of my arms. I mean she cries if I put her down at my feet to turn on a tap. She cries if Daddy is holding her and I am out of sight. She cries if I am sitting next to her on the ground but not actually holding her! There is some playing in between, but it doesn't feel like very much.

And when she does let go to play, Widget grabs hold. I don't mind giving her cuddles because of the endless round of trips and scrapes, I don't mind the feeds and I don't mind her sitting on my lap if she asks. It is when she sits next to me but half on top of me and starts wiggling over, so I end up squashed. Or I'm in the middle of eating or doing something and she will try to climb onto my lap. And God forbid that I try to go to the toilet.

It's nothing major, just the constancy wearing me down. And the bit that worries me is that I don't feel like I've had a break. DH is understandably caught up with his father at the moment, and we are spending as much time with them as we can. And it doesn't really feel like a holiday with everything that's happening. But at the back of my mind there's a little worry that we're almost going home, then it's back into it until July.

I just hope that being back home will mean the girls are a bit more settled and I become a human again, rather than a piece of the furniture.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Little Mirrors

You learn so much about yourself with little children. Yes the big things, like your priorities and values, but also the little every day things you never noticed.

  • I brush my teeth in the shower, and thanks to Widget I know I rinse the brush several times.
  • When getting very frustrated I put my hands over my face and take a deep breath (Widget).
  • The next step is to point with both hands, a bit like a goal umpire (Widget again).
  • I drink far too many cans (Midget, she goes straight for the little ring pull on top).
  • I like using a particular brand of water bottle (Midget).
  • I brush my hair back from my forehead when thinking (Midget).

Monday, April 6, 2009


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Muco-purulent Discharge

I have a lovely little book called "Does Anything Eat Wasps?" It is a selection of questions and answers from "The Last Word" in New Scientist magazine. This is where anyone can send in any puzzling question, and readers try to answer it. It has even sparked university research.

One of the questions was about the little yellow crusty bits in your eyes, commonly known as sleep or sand (can you see where this is going?) and whether they had a real name. It turns out that they are a very dilute mix of mucous and pus. This is the protective coating of your eye, the mucous lubricates it and the pus is lots of white blood cells to eat any bacteria or dirt. It drains down the tear duct, but if for some reason there is too much or an infection it can't all drain away and evaporates, leaving the lovely yellow bits. Up until now it hasn't had a real name, but the consensus of readers was that it was a 'muco-purulent discharge.'

We have been learning all about it. I had never actually had conjunctivitis myself, but Widget picked it up somehow. We seemed to get rid of it with eye drops, but obviously stopped too soon and it came back. Then she passed it to me, and finally Midget. So more than two weeks later we are still doing the eye drop thing, because I'm not game to stop until we've all been clear eyed for a few days.

The interesting thing is that when your eyes are all inflamed the drops aren't too bad, but when they clear up it really stings. Obviously the thick protective gunk isn't just a nuisance, it does protect your eyes. Isn't it nice that parenting gives you the opportunity for wonderful little observations like that?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Learning to feed at 2 years old

I just submitted this to an amazing site called ibreastfed. It's a non-profit collection of inspirational breastfeeding stories, ranging from very simple to awesome. I think part of the goal is not just to share triumphs, but to normalise breastfeeding. We all know it is natural, but so many people seem to think that means it is easy. It is a learned skill, just like walking, and it comes with it's own share of pitfalls. But they can almost always be overcome with the right support. So by showing that all sorts of people have all sorts of problems it can help new Mums to realise that it isn't the end of the world if they have thrush, or grazes, or their baby wants to feed every 45 minutes (hello Midget).

After a few problems with jaundice and oversupply, Molly was a fantastic feeder. In fact she was a little addict who would happily have skipped solids altogether, snacking away into her second year. I had to wean when we were trying for a second baby, but we took it very slowly (in the end it took 10 months!) and it was fairly peaceful and pleasant. I was glad because I didn’t want to tandem feed.

When I was about 3 months pregnant and she had been weaned for 4 or 5 months, she asked for a feed again. She had forgotten how to breastfeed and was trying to suck like a straw, plus by that time I only had colostrum. So it was quick and a bit painful and I didn’t think much about it. A few days later she wanted to do it again, and from then on it got more frequent. Sometimes she’d go a week without asking, then it would be constant for a few days. I could see that it was only going to happen more when she saw the new baby feeding, and decided that we would have to re-learn to do it properly.

She was squashing my nipple just like a newborn, so I decided to go back to the beginning. We practiced opening her mouth as wide as she could, and sticking her tongue out over her bottom teeth. We made it into a game and would stick our tongues out at each other.

After she was attaching in the right place, she had to learn to suck again. I knew that newborns have a lot of jaw movement, so we practiced opening and closing her jaws. At first I would sit her in front of me and she would do the big mouth and tongue and I would move her jaw up and down, then we would swap places. Then she would attach and I would move her chin up and down while she was trying to suck. Then she would try it on her own. So over a few weeks we got to the point that she could suck again. It was always a bit painful, but I was never sure if that was because of what she was doing or if it was because I was pregnant and only had colostrum. We developed a rule that she could only have one feed a day and only one side, so each nipple was only being used every second day.

Once we had the physical side of feeding sorted and it became regular again, I was hit with breastfeeding aversion. In the immortal words of a counsellor, if I were a cow I would have kicked her in the head. Even the thought of feeding made me tense up, I hated everything about it. It made me feel sick I was so tense, and I hated the way it made me snap at her. I seriously considered weaning, but we had come so far I felt it would be too mean to take it away from her again. I could see how important it was for her, so I gritted my teeth and trusted that I would be fine with the new baby.

When Joanna was born she fed like a dream and I enjoyed it. She seemed to be born knowing how to attach and suck, and I never even got a sore nipple from her seven and eight hour feeding marathons in the first couple of days. I had chosen to stay in hospital for a few days, and one of the reasons was I wanted to get Joanna’s feeding established without Molly constantly asking to feed. I was so relieved when I went home and Molly’s first feed was painless, although I still hated doing it.

There were lots of tears and tantrums because she went back to wanting to feed all the time, but looking back that only lasted a few weeks before she accepted that there were limits. The aversion lasted much longer, it was probably 5 months before it went and I still don’t have much patience for her. I had to really concentrate on relaxing and make sure I was comfortable and had something to do like a book.

A year later she has her special time in the morning, she comes and snuggles into bed and has a feed before we get up. I never thought I would still be feeding her at three and a half, but it is so useful. When she is sick or tired or out of sorts the magic boobies still work, and I love our special cuddles. I’m really glad we worked through it and she can still do something that is obviously so important to her.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Widget's Rubbing Doll

Widget rubs things with her fingers and it's driving me mad. It's at the point where she can't hold my hand because she won't let go of her skirt, or she will walk along behind Midget rubbing her t-shirt. So I made her a rubbing doll.

She chose the fabrics for the skirt, yes that's raspberry slush minkee on the front!
It HAD to have wings, and I put a hat on it to avoid the hair. After spending ages hand sewing a few rows last night I realised why dolls wear hats.

Rubbing the skirt, it's been wonderful having my clothes left alone for a whole day.

It has velcro hands so it's giving her a big hug and she can take it out without losing it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How on earth

do babies learn to walk in disposables?

Midget goes thumping down on her bum regularly, if it wasn't for the lovely thick padding I'm sure she'd have a permanent spinal injury!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hot Cross Buns

How hard is it to buy Hot Cross Buns these days?

The first lot I grabbed were minis. So I looked some more but ended up with fruitless. DH told me to grab the ones down the bottom, all looked fine. Got them home (5 hours away!) and they tasted a bit strange. They have chocolate bits in rather than fruit!

Remember when Hot Cross Buns came out just before Easter? There was one type and they all had spices and lovely juicy sultanas in them?

I don't want to be one of those people who moan that the world was much better 'back in my day.' I'm sure there were things that were better and things that were worse, and it probably all evened out. I just find it strange that there are now 53 types of Hot Cross Buns. Paradoxically, I think it means we are losing variety.

Think about it. By providing fruitless, and mini, and chocolate chip, and even chocolate with chocolate chips, what happens is the people who eat chocolate at every other time of the year can now eat chocolate at Easter too. We are actually becoming more bland and less likely to try anything new.

It may be a stretch, but now think about Facebook and mobile phones. These are all about sharing every tiny experience and never being alone. You never have to make a decision on your own, you can check with all your friends. Google is an extended version of this - don't like what the doctor is saying? There is almost guaranteed to be some information Google can find to let you back up what you want to do. It may not be very accurate, but you'll only find that out if you dig deeper, and that is the one thing we choose not to do. And now, you don't have to make a decision at all, because you can get the same safe option you always pick.

If this is happening with little things, I wonder how the big things are?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My big walking girl

Midget took 5 steps last night!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


How great is this timing? I just got the girls' leg warmers on Monday and have used them several times already. Then tonight I found there is a giveaway happening. I would so like to have more of them, they're brilliant. So I love huggalug leg huggers because they are such cool colours and they extend my girls' clothes - instead of wearing something for 2 weeks then shooting up and showing their ankles, the leg warmers can cover the bottoms and they can still wear the pants. And they are so easy in the change bag!

ETA - I forgot to add, if you want to win some too it's really easy and I'll tell you how, but I'm not giving out my email address publicly. So PM Dash at the ABA or Nappycino and I'll let you know.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sugar, Honey, Icing, Tea

This is apparently what a playgroup Dad has taught his son to say instead of swearing. I have to admit I've never heard the boy saying this, and I think it's pretty much a joke.

Swearing, the perrenial favourite, came up at playgroup a few weeks ago. Amusing things fathers do was a big one, and the weird ways other people have dealt with it. Someone knew someone who had actually made their child eat hot chili. And what was even stranger, when the daughter called them on their swearing, they ate it too.

Several Mums were heard to say "Ooh no, I'm too much of a potty mouth for that."

Well obviously I'm the weird one.

Don't get me wrong, I swear, and Widget swears. But to me it's a signal of a couple of different things. Firstly it means I'm swearing way too much if she's copying it, so I need to rein it back. Secondly, I need to look at the times and ways she's using it.

Consistency is one of the things we all know we should strive for in our parenting. We have to be consistent with their behaviour, their routines, or it's all going to end in tears. So why doesn't that apply to us to? How can I expect behaviours out of my 3 year old that I don't expect from myself? Why should her language be more perfect than mine? Swearing is just one example of consistency for me, if I make a mistake I acknowledge it and apologise, if she has a like or dislike I take it into account, if she does something for me I thank her. In other words, she is a full member of this family with the same rights, and she doesn't have expectations put on her that I wouldn't expect from myself.

As for times and ways, well there's a level of personal comfort isn't there. Language is a defining human feature, if we drop something on our toe we're going to say something. In practical terms it doesn't matter if we say 'shit' or 'sugar,' the intent is the same. But who likes to hear a toddler swearing? But why tell her off for it? She already copies "Oh dear" from me, if I make the substitution she's going to follow pretty quickly. It's a really superficial way of looking at swearing, but it's just plain 'not nice.'

Sometimes it's definitely for attention, so that's definitely ignored!

The one thing that she will absolutely always get into trouble for is swearing at someone. Because that is about respect. It's never happened so far and I can't see it happening soon, because she's never been sworn at. Again, I'm not perfect and I get frustrated with her just as much as the next person. I know I've said things to her that aren't nice, but I don't swear at her and I apologise afterwards.

So what do I do when she swears? Mostly I adjust my behaviour, usually I ignore it, occasionally I tell her she doesn't need to say that, what else could she say? Basically I try to be consistent.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Who is this pet?
Say! He is wet.
You never yet met a pet,
I bet, as wet
as they let
this wet pet get.

Widget is loving Dr Seuss. We have to have several a day, and she 'reads' them herself. It's a combination of remembering, pictures, and her experiences, so this one was particularly fun. It went something like:

This pet is wet,
he's very very very very very wet.
They wrapped him in a towel.

The alphabet was great, G has a goat and girl pictures so that became

Mary had a little goat

It gives such an insight into her little mind to hear what she reads.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Change of plans

I actually have a list of topics I was going to write on and have started some of them. However FIL has just been diagnosed with cancer and given a few weeks to live. So we are visiting, luckily we already had something booked and there have just been some rearrangements.

After starting in the car at 4am the girls are doing brilliantly, Midget is asleep on my shoulder as I write this. I think I am going to continue my quest for cute leather baby shoes and the little green nappy icon.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I've found a worse addiction than caffiene - my internet is broken!


(I'm typing this at DH's work because we had to come and bring the girls in. Plus the nappy hunt starts today and I had a whole heap of work to do, so we were in here for about 5 hours yesterday.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What marvellous fun

is a bucket of sponges.

I cut out some sponge stamps for Widget about a week ago, but today was the first time we got organised to use them. She had a great time stamping them onto big sheets of butcher's paper while Midget pottered around outside.

When we were cleaning up Widget helped me rub the paint out of the sponges under the tap and I was throwing them into a bucket with a bit of water while Midget sat underneath us. She had the best time! Squeezing them above her head and getting the water on her face, sucking on them (cough, choke, splutter), hitting them on things, leaning on them and watching the water shoot out.

You want a really easy way to entertain a 10 month old baby?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bad Mummy! Stop laughing!

It was bad but so, so funny at playgroup today. Widget tried to climb through a wooden chair between the back and seat and got stuck. It was one of those old school type ones with a metal frame and really thick wood. I tried to get her to go forwards and she couldn't get her bum through, then I got her to go back and her head was too big. Even twisting it around she couldn't get it back through.

At that poing Midget got all worried and started crying, and some other parents noticed what was going on. Another Mum took her and I was about to break the back off the seat when a Dad suggested getting her to stand up. So poor little girl stood there while this Dad and I held the chair and worked it down. It was getting caught on her overalls so I had to undress her as we were going and she got a bit of a scrape on her back.

After Midget was crying and trying to hug her, and I ended up having to cuddle both of them in my lap. Poor little thing, but I just couldn't help laughing. So then we all traded stories of how we've managed to injure our children, falling off beds and dropping them, and felt better because we've all done it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

So what's the point

of caffiene free diet coke?

There's no sugar, no caffiene, how on earth is that supposed to keep me going?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Through the baby monitor

While DH is playing with the girls on our bed:

Widget: Hey!!
DH: I'm trying to turn you off.
Widget: There's no button on me!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I feel a bit like I'm in a self-help book, you know something trendy that talks about simplifying your life. But we are finally doing it.

The house was getting ridiculous - we met in the country, so we both had a full set of house things. It's hard to get rid of things in the country - they're too good to throw out but there isn't anyone to pass them on to or anything like the Good Sammies. Then we emptied the Darwin house and brought it back here. I've lost a lot of weight and my clothes were too big, and throw in the fact that I'm a hoarder, and have all these grand plans that I haven't got around to finishing yet.

When we got back I did my clothes. Two big plastic tubs of mostly maternity clothes to take down to playgroup and then go to the op shop. Then last weekend we did Widget's room. Emptied the big cupboard, threw out all the fitted sheets that had lost their elastic or were getting a bit sheer, neatly folded everthing and put toys on the bottom shelves she can reach. It's a bit sad to fold up all the tiny baby clothes, but there are people to pass them on to.

This weekend DH did the bathroom. And next week we're having a garage sale.

The really interesting thing is that since we got home we've been eating dinner at the table every night because it's finally been clear enough. And we've barely turned the television on at all. So starting anew and cleaning up has had a big effect on how we're living.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Electrician is here

And Widget's having the best day! She's his little shadow, shining a torch at him (whether he wants it or not) running out to give us updates, looking after his tools and keeping Midget away.

And now Midget has actually gone to sleep and I've put her down!!!! That hasn't happened in a couple of months.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Half an hour off

I got half an hour without the kids yesterday, and seeing there is so much to do here I wandered around the supermarket. It was actually quite interesting (that's pathetic, isn't it) to look rather than search for things quickly while keeping the toddler occupied. So I bought:

- Coloured mini patty pans. Great for making flowers, snowflakes, collages, you can even use them in cooking.

- Water bombs. It's pretty hot here!

- Balloons. An absolute favourite. I never used to be able to tie balloons, look at the new skills you learn as a parent. It makes my skin crawl the way Midget grabs them and digs her fingernails right in, but it doesn't seem to bother her when they explode.

- Icing pens. Tubes of icing you can use to draw on biscuits and cakes. We make biscuits at least once a week, Widget is going to love them.

- Sponges. For cutting into shapes to use for stamping paint.

- Hydrogen peroxide. For neutralising bleach when I use it to reverse tie dye fabric. Although having had a closer look at the bleach I think it already contains it, I think American bleach must be different.

And that was my exciting break without the kids.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My poor little baby.

So Midget has cut her first tooth. That isn't the problem, both the girls have been good teethers. A grizzly day or two, then oh look, there's a tooth.

The problem is that she seems to have christened it.

I moved their little paddling pool onto the driveway where there is rough concrete so it would be in the shade. I don't know whether she was bouncing up and down, or if her feet slipped out, or if the edge bent down, but suddenly poor little Midget tipped over and landed on her face.

I dove over there and grabbed her, but of course she was wet and wriggling around and I almost dropped her again, luckily I didn't. It looks like as she fell she scraped her chin and mouth along the rough concrete and the inside of her lip is all cut, but she might have put the new tooth into it - we weren't interested in checking too closely.
I carried her inside while Widget announced to DH that she had blood all over her "And it wasn't me! It was an accident!"
It got better.
After she was cleaned up I got some ice for her. I was holding a block to her lip when she sucked it in and it went right into her throat. There was no gagging, this was the real silent choking. By the time I had shifted her around in my arms to help tip her the ice came flying out, which is about when I felt like panicking.
Dinner was interesting, spoons were not good so she ended up having frozen yoghurt which she loves. After that she seemed to have completely forgotten it. And she had no problems latching on for her bedtime feed.
I have a whole series of photos of Widget with a big bruise on her cheek from when she started standing, I can see that these will join them as "Mummy blackmail material."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blue Boobs

"Mummy! Your boob is blue and green!"
"Yes, that's the blood. You can see it through the skin."
"Why is it blue?"

Ummm, well. I've explained a lot of science simply before, but she's 3.
"Blood takes things around the body that it needs. So down to your feet and everywhere. When it's dropped everything off and runs out it turns blue. Then it has to go back to Mummy's chest and get some more."
Looking at my chest, "There must be little people in there."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First day of school

For DH! I've been dreading it a bit because my lovely holiday is over too. And after a few rays of light in Darwin Midget is back to her old non-sleeping tricks. Something hit me really hard over the weekend and I was quite depressed, hopefully it's just the back to work thing.

We did well in the end, it was cool enough to spend the morning outdoors and Widget had a wonderful time playing with the hose. Midget is having so much fun now she can get around and explore everything on her own, she is another rock eater though. I remember pulling handfuls of gravel out of Widget's mouth.

Midget only did a 40 minute nap and Widget decided she just couldn't play all by herself, so she brought her books in. She was actually really good, but I wanted a break! I feel bad because I yelled at her, she didn't deserve that. But she spent the whole evening telling us "Play with me!" It's going to take her a bit to get used to only having one of us available again. She's done well without TV though. We didn't use it in Darwin because there were two of us and we were going out a lot, so I've just continued that here. We'll see how long that lasts.

Sometimes it really helps to consider SAHMing as my 'job' to stop me resenting the constant neediness. Sometimes that makes it worse, because it becomes a rut. At the moment I'm enjoying playing with my girls, they really are pretty special.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not in hot water anymore.

When we got back, no hot water. Lucky it was Thursday, so we spent the Friday before a long weekend frantically trying to get it fixed. So Territory housing got on to the owner, who got on to the agent, who was given the wrong address and got on to the plumber, and luckily I phoned to find out what was happening and gave them the right address. At 4.30pm Friday we had someone out to look at it, which is pretty amazing for the Territory.

Easy, some water has got in and shorted out the electrical system. Oh, would you like us to clean the calcium out of it? We have very hard water and calcium buildup on everything, the hot water system was only managing one short shower at a time so it definitely needed to be cleaned. They managed to get it outside and got a huge amount of calcium out, which Widget then cleaned up with her new spade. Roll it back in and start putting it back together.

Oh dear. Turns out the calcium was basically holding it together, so now it leaks. Wonderful plumbers jump in the car to try to find another hot water system in town, but there isn't one. So they ordered it, and maybe it will be here Tuesday.

I don't do cold showers.

I know it is 40 degrees outside, and muggy and generally revolting, but the airconditioning is on inside and I just can't do it. I did have a wash, for some reason that is better than actually standing under cold water. So my wonderful darling husband heated water in pots and the kettle and made a bath for me last night. I got to sit in there with two excited little girls standing on the step next to the bath, and one of them helped wash my hair. Then we all got in and had a good play.

Here's hoping a system gets shipped in soon!!!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Next time you decide to move your entire house ...

give yourself more than 3 days.

We have a house in the city we use during holidays, we've slowly been moving things up there. Plus we have a complete set of toys, clothes, kitchen stuff, linen and toiletries that live there, so we can pretty much walk in, vacuum and it's ready to go. Now we've bought our ambulance (did I mention we've bought an ambulance!) for camping we're not going to be there that often.

Then a couple of days before going back to our community we found out a friend was moving to Darwin and was looking for a place, and she doesn't have furniture. What a good idea - she can have our house, she gets it cheaper than market (rent in Darwin is absolutely ridiculous), we get something for it, plus there is someone there to look after it rather than it sitting empty and we don't have to clear it out like we would with a normal rental.

Only problem is we needed to move everything we've been moving up there back!!!!! It took us a couple of days to sort and pack, with a baby who's just discovered she can stand at a box and pull things out, plus a pre-schooler who is 'helping' by putting everything in random boxes. Poor DH was still going at 1am (oh dear, I had to feed Midget) and then we started at 6.30 the next morning. The car was so full there was barely enough room to sit, with sheets and towels stuffed in around the edges. The trailer was well tied down, with two office chairs and a tricycle on top.

I'm sure everyone who saw us had a good giggle.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Playing games

Midget has worked out games in the last few weeks. So she will catch your eye and screw her face up until you copy her, then keep doing it. She's waving, and peekaboo is absolutely hilarious. We play with a wrap in the car, putting it over people's faces, and she started trying to do that. Now her co-ordination is great, but she will do it anytime - so even if she doesn't have the wrap, if you say "Where's Midget?" she puts her arms above her head then quickly pulls them down, laughing her head off.

She's at that delightful age where everything is fun and exciting and the world is one big adventure.

She has also worked out that she can tell us things - "Get me down this step!" or "NO, I hadn't finished with that!"

But the games must be so amazing for her - it really is the beginning of two way interaction and communication. When they are little they cry because they are upset, and we try to find some way of dealing with it. But now you can see it happening in her little head - I did this, then they did that, maybe I'll try that again ...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

RIP Ramsey

One of the most amazing, determined, special young men I have ever had the privelege to know is gone. I've known for a while, but I'm crying while I write this.

I taught Ramsey for two years while he did Years 11 and 12. He graduated and was accepted to do a TAFE course. The thing that makes him so amazing was that he didn't live in Melbourne, or Sydney, or even a smaller town. He lived in a remote community in the Northern Territory about 5 hours from the nearest town.

He didn't have a nuclear family to look after and support him, in the time I knew him he 'lived' with his grandmother. At least she usually looked after him, and he had a swag that he slept in on the kitchen floor. Most of the time. He also stayed with various other people, so I suppose you could say he had a large family. Occasionally he would go to another town to see his mother so he could get some of his abstudy money, then he would wait a few weeks until he could get a lift back again.

I first saw Ramsey as a grinning face, the sole male with about 11 girls around him. So that was culturally hard for him. It would be hard for most teenagers! Many of the girls fell by the wayside, but he and 3 others kept plugging away, and if he was in the community he was there every day. He wasn't brilliant, but he always handed in drafts before the due date, and would go through them with you then have another go. He took great delight in ticking off every assignment he finished and taking down the record when the unit was finished. He always had a sense of humour and a cheeky grin, and he had so much time for the younger boys.

Remote schools don't have nice classes, Year 1, Year 2, Year 3. They don't have enough students for that, so it's quite common to have 3 or 4 year levels all in together. And kids like Ramsey get put up, because "he can read and he's so far ahead of the others in this class." And usually it doesn't matter because they aren't offered anything else anyway. Up until about 3 years ago remote schools in the NT were not allowed to offer Secondary, they offered English all morning (Goldilocks and blends - sh and ch) and maths until lunch (adding and taking, but only up to 100), then after lunch it might be sport (playing basketball) or station skills (fencing and riding), or art (drawing). That's still true in most places, but Ramsey was part of a great experiment, when a Principal and an amazing teacher decided that wasn't good enough and these kids deserved better. They broke the rules and actually started offering education.

So with that as a background Ramsey completed Senior Secondary and graduated, with moderated work the same as any other student. He had spent much of his primary years being provided the poorest education that would horrify white middle class parents, and he hadn't even got all of it because he was put up. He had four years as part of an educational revolution, and he did it. He wasn't brilliant, he wasn't going to be a doctor or a lawyer or push for Aboriginal rights. But he should have been a shining light to show that they are the same as anyone else. That you don't need a white parent, or a scholarship to a boarding school, or a mission, or to be super intelligent, or to have special units. But when our part of the bargain was fulfilled, when we provided the opportunity, he had the determination, the tenacity, to work hard and climb the mountain. He was the proof that when everyone contributes things can change.

He got into NTU to do a course, but it was hard, hard, hard for him. To move away to the city, where he knew no-one and didn't even know how things worked. He'd never caught a bus, never gone to a cinema, never budgeted money or done all the little things we take for granted that you have to do to live. A small community is a cocoon, where you know everyone and know the rules. And he wasn't really sure what he wanted to do anyway - he was only 17. So he stayed in the community.

I actually toyed with the idea of asking him to come with us to try to get a job in a nearby mine. But we had moved to another community and I had a young baby so in the end I didn't.

He tried for the army. I think he would have done well there. But he wasn't allowed to do the test under English as a Second Language (ESL)conditions. In his community English isn't the native language. The only place they really hear it is at school, and that wasn't particularly effective. He had done well in ESL, but that was with time to work things out and practice. So in an exam he just didn't have time to answer all the questions. Someone who was helping him wrote to the then Federal Minister about the fact that Aboriginal kids were disadvantaged and was invited to contribute to a review. But that didn't do Ramsey any good.

In spite of everything, he succeeded. He did as much as anyone could ask, but he was failed or let down again and again.

So at 19 he was a passenger in a car being driven along dirt roads by an unlicenced, underage, drunk driver. The other 3 survived.

Monday, January 12, 2009


We just gave Midget beetroot for the first time. It went down very well, I stripped off to do it and kept little hands well away! We've already had pink drool all down her front and pink vomit on the floor, tomorrow's nappy will be interesting ...

I wonder if it stains?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Food, glorious food


We made a little mistake today and didn't keep track of what Widget was eating. Poor little thing managed to not eat from about 11am. And because it's holidays she isn't eating the best, so she had some cereal, a party sausage roll and a biscuit.

Around 3pm when we were trying to get ready to go out she was very whingy and we just got annoyed because we were in a hurry. We were getting photos of the girls which they did really well, then they played beautifully while DH was in an appointment. After that I was going to get a drink while we drove to dinner, which is when we suddenly realised she hadn't eaten in about five and a half hours. Not unreasonably she asked for something, but we were on the way to a restaurant. I found some emergency snacks in the car which she doesn't like, but the poor little thing was so hungry she ate about half of it.

She wouldn't have her drink, wouldn't do anything we asked, was just about in tears, yelling at us and Midget and kept telling us to leave her alone even when we were trying to help. I'm so glad we knew what was wrong, otherwise we would definitely have told her off.

We got to the restaurant and got her some garlic bread straight away, and a beautiful little girl appeared. Interestingly, she got the usual kids' meal of fish and chips but was asking for vegetables from our plates as well. She was a joy to be around for the rest of the evening, happy and playing. We walked down the street and got an icecream and she ate what she wanted and then stopped, saying she was full. I wish I had that sort of appetite control!

Now we've just got to get her to recognise when she's hungry, it's obviously not good to try and rely on Mummy and Daddy's memory.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Well, Widget and Midget were babysat for the first time today. The main reason they've never been away from us is because of where we live - there's nowhere to go and no-one to babysit. Widget has been with her grandparents or brother a couple of times when we have been visiting interstate, but today we had an appointment that really wasn't child friendly.

I'm glad to say it went really well. Widget had a wonderful time and has already asked if she can play with them again. The daughters of the lady babysitting are hairdressers, so we picked her up and her hair had been redone, her fingernails painted and she had made a bracelet. Midget slept for about an hour, one of the daughters had a ball sitting there cuddling her. It's very reassuring to know that they are happy to do that.

So it looks like next week is a go as well! Wow, two whole hours away from our kids.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Life now has a soundtrack

Widget never got into dancing, and singing was right out. Which was a pity, because she had a speech problem and singing would have helped.

Suddenly, she has decided that singing and dancing are fun. All those nursery rhymes I spent hours doing with her have appeared, and they're pretty recognisable. Even better, she makes her own songs. There is a constant background commentary, usually a recount of what we are doing with lots of 'Okaaaaay, awright' thrown in to fill in the gaps. So such gems as

"Mummy's on the toilet, OK awright,

Daddy's in bed, OK,

With Jo-ANna, OK awright"

There are also occasional surprises thrown in, like

"And Robin is my brother, OK awright"
Robin is her brother, but he lives interstate so it's a bit of a surprise when he suddenly appears in a song. It's fun listening to her and finding out what's happening from her perspective.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Glow in the dark baby

Poor little Midget has my skin.

We went to a water park yesterday and she now has bright red forearms and face. There were great shade sails but it was very cloudy, and while I know you get burnt through clouds and tried to stay undercover it made it hard to tell if I was in the shade. Luckily she was wearing her sunsmart bathers and the rest of her is ok. Widget and DH have a bit of red on their nose and cheeks but are fine other than that. I, on the other hand, have lost 14kg and no longer fit my sunsmart bathers, so I was wearing a bikini for the first time in years. I now have bright red arms, chest, neck, shoulders and face.

So we have been searching for adult rashies and baby bathers with long sleeves. We did manage to find long sleeves in a size 2, Midget will just have to roll them up. It's a bit strange that all the smaller ones are only knee and elbow length - surely it's our little ones who need the most protection? As for me, it's lucky I've lost the weight. The only long sleeve bathers around are from trendy surf labels, and they don't come in larger sizes. Heaps of 10s and a few 12s, but only about four 14s in all the shops we checked today (ie most of Darwin). All larger sizes and all bathers in women's boutiques or chain stores had at most an extended sleeve that covered about an inch of your arm.

But on the bottom it's the opposite. You can get long board shorts that cover down to your knees if you are size 18+. Any smaller than that and you can have short shorts or bikini bottoms. After much searching we seem to have found the only size 14 long boardies in Darwin.

How ridiculous. This is the land of the melanoma. We have the highest rate of death from skin cancers anywhere in the world. We have a hole in the ozone layer above us (if you live in the south). Yet bathers are a fashion statement, not a practicality. If you are fat then you must want to hide your thighs, otherwise show them off and watch them go red. If you fit trendy surf labels you can protect your arms, shoulders and neck. The government spends millions on campaigns to get us to slip, slop, slap, but what are we supposed to use? How are we supposed to do it?

At the park yesterday there was a Muslim lady in a fabulous swimming outfit. Full length leggings and an overshirt/dress with long sleeves and an attached cap, all made out of sun protection fabric. I wanted to ask her where she got it, but felt a bit hypocritical seeing I was wearing a bikini. Being as fair as I am this is probably the first time I've worn less than the full outfit, and yeah, it felt good to show off my hard work to lose that weight. But the pain, and especially looking at my poor little baby, just isn't worth it. From now on I'm back to covering up and constant sunscreen. (And if anyone knows where to get a Muslim swim suit in a size 14, let me know.)