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.)