Friday, October 29, 2010

Letter to the editor

Apparently I had a letter to the editor published in Wednesday's Courier-Mail.

Although we have bought a few weekday editions lately (not our usual practice) so we can make little wooden dinosaurs, we didn't buy Wednesday's paper so I haven't yet seen the letter in print to see how much they edited what I sent to them. I thought nothing happened when I hit submit on the bottom of the form I wrote it on so for me it was quite a surprise to discover that it had reached anyone at all. The first I knew of it was when my sister sent me a text yesterday to say she'd seen it.

Probably if I had followed my usual rule of waiting a while before hitting submit/send, I wouldn't have sent it. I'm still not sure it was the right thing to complain about, since it concerned my employer and the ongoing issues it is having paying its staff. I have in fact been overpaid and therefore there are others in a worse position than me. I was just annoyed that they (the journalists, anyway) seem to be implying that overpaid staff are trying to rort the system and get away without paying the money back. Some might, but not me, I've been trying to pay the money back for the last five months, but I'm not getting far.

My mother thought the letter was good though. I don't think many other people would have noticed it so I don't think I'll bother trying to track down the paper myself.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Paul the psychic octopus found dead in aquarium

I wonder if he saw that coming?

Read more here.

Darn it, the ABC beat me to it with the "did he see that coming" line....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Batten Disease

This is an amazing clip of Bryce's journey. I first came across Bryce and his Mum Lorraine through a parenting website I visit. Batten Disease is just devastating for families. When we lived in Toowoomba, a family from our church had their (only) two sons die from this condition. It's rare, so it's difficult to attract funds for research to develop a cure.
Bryce's birthday is exactly the same as Aidan's, except that Bryce is one year older. I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to think that everything was normal and then discover my child had a fatal disease. I think of his family often and although I don't think they are Christians, I pray for them too.


My favourite flower. One of God's most amazing creations.

Even more cool is that my husband bought me some and I took these photos of them. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Last night on Wife Swap USA

...a fundamentalist Christian family and liberal Christian family exchanged wives. A woman who idolized home and family with a very annoying husband who kept saying that he was "the gatekeeper" of what his family were taught from the Bible swapped lives with a woman who believed that a full time career was a perfectly acceptable option for a Christian woman while her husband stayed home, looked after the house and studied theology to PhD level.

Nobody was prepared to give an inch on their respective positions, so the only change to report in the end of show follow up was that the male head of the household in the fundamentalist family started to help his wife a little bit more in the kitchen.

The saddest thing was that all of them were so judgmental and unable to see the other side's point of view that they all just ended up looking decidedly un-Christian. Or just plain weird.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I suppose I should add...

...a Christian perspective to the previous post.

Procrastination = putting things off = laziness = sin.

Although possibly procrastinators could argue that eventually the effort gets put in and the work gets done so then it isn't laziness.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The psychology of procrastination

I no longer have to do exams at this time of the year, nor am I planning to write another thesis for a while.

But for those who are doing exams or completing their assignments or thesis, here is some interesting research on procrastination. Found it here.

Might make those people who are easily distracted by Facebook, cruising blogs or the myriad of other ways of avoiding study feel better.

When I was writing my thesis, my primary form of procrastination was doing housework. Never did my house look so clean as it did during those years. I used to justify it by saying I was thinking about what I was going to write in the next section. Sometimes I was. But not always.

And now my house is nowhere near as tidy as it was....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

If you are looking for a good book to read...

Don't read this one. I started it but it became too annoying to continue. I think Liz Gilbert is a selfish woman. I'm not God, but if I was I would probably have told her to suck it up and work on being contented with what she had.

If you are seriously considering changing your life, this one is a much better choice. I have just started reading it. So far it's excellent. I think Liz should have read it. But then she wouldn't have made as much money and gotten as much publicity as she has.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nesting season

Just around the corner from our house, on someone's front lawn, a pair of spur wing plovers have decided to build a nest. The home owners have carefully fenced off the nest area with a little wooden frame while the mother bird is sitting on them. A father bird hangs around protectively nearby.

This is really interesting to observe as we drive past in the car, usually at least a couple of times every day. Over the weekend the people who live in the house mowed the lawn all around the edge of the frame leaving the nest undisturbed. Sometimes I've driven past and seen the mother bird standing up near the nest, and I counted at least two eggs.

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when the eggs hatch. My prior knowledge and experience of these birds is that they would nest on the large expanse of oval at my primary school and then become highly protective of their young and highly aggressive towards anyone who was unfortunate enough to get too close to them.

So I'm not sure I would want to actually be living in the house when the chicks hatch out of the eggs. Regular drive pasts will probably be a far safer option.

And while I'm on the subject of nesting, our ducks are making a comeback. We are now chasing one, sometimes two, adult ducks out of the pool again. I think it's only a matter of time before we're calling the wildlife carers to take the next bunch of ducklings away.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Who paints an internal staircase white?

Today I also visited an open house. This activity has been a passion of mine in the past, but I haven't indulged in it much lately.

This one. Beyond our budget but it had amazing views.

The advertising described it as being "family friendly" and the big block of land with lots of out of the way spots for kids to explore was certainly that. In other ways, though, it was a bit unusual. The bathroom was the first room I saw as I walked in, a hard turn left at the front entry. Not necessarily where I would have expected to find it. Oddly shaped bedrooms located in out of the way spots, one with a "powder room" in the middle of it. (Since when did "second toilet and washbasin" become a "powder room"?) Kitchen and living area upstairs were a little small. Lots of white furniture, benchtops and white doona covers on all the beds. I guess all the white was designed to create an impression of lightness, brightness and space.

But seriously, why would anyone choose to paint an internal staircase white? It might as well have had a sign on it saying "If you have kids, this will need cleaning every five minutes."

Revisiting old TV shows and sharing the lighthouse love

The kids spent some of this afternoon watching episodes of Round the Twist on DVD. We have made it about halfway through Series 1.

This is a show I remember from my younger days. The first series was made in 1989 so I was too old to be watching it in first year University, but I remember it being on TV, presumably because my younger brothers may have been watching. Apparently a further three series were made over a period of about ten years, with lots of recasting required. And they are based on books written by the prolific Australian author Paul Jennings, which of course we will now be hunting down at the library.

Although they are a bit frightened of ghosts, which have featured quite heavily so far, the boys have been enjoying it. Mostly the ghosts turn out to be friendly, so we no longer have the two of them leaving the room or quivering with fear whenever a ghost turns up in the story.

For me (and Liam, who also likes lighthouses), the coolest thing about this series is that the family live in a lighthouse, the one in the above picture. It's located at Split Point, along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. One day we will drive that road to see all the lighthouses along it. In the meantime we'll just continue watching Round the Twist so we can get our fix.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Conga bars

Inspired by Sheryl's post with a great tomato relish recipe, I am posting a recipe that I made last night.

It's not at all healthy but it's very easy to make and very yummy. I was going to take a photo of my finished product to put on here, but our oven has a bad habit of overbrowning the top of cakes and slices so I have had to revert to the more attractively styled picture from Huey's website. There is also a printable version of the recipe here.

  • 225 g brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 250g unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp vanilla essence (that seemed a bit over the top so I just used one)
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g self raising flour, sifted
  • 300g dark cooking chocolate, chopped (can substitute other types of chocolate)
  • cooking oil spray (for greasing, I didn't bother with that, just use baking paper)
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan forced), 200 normal (if your oven is too hot, like ours, make it a bit less)
  • Beat sugar and eggs in a large bowl using an electric mixer, until smooth
  • Then add melted butter, vanilla, salt and flour, continually mixing
  • Add chocolate and fold in with a wooden spoon. Transfer mixture to greased or paper lined slice tin, smooth top and give tin a bang on the workbench (removes air bubbles). Mixture may seem a little runny but it cooks up fine.
  • Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until just set but still a little soft in the centre.
  • Set aside to cool before cutting into bars. The chocolate makes a nice layer at the bottom of the slice and the top is a bit brownie-ish.
What I want to know is why are they called conga bars?? Any ideas?

Venn diagram competition

I wish I had known before I entered that all the entries were going to be published on Simone's blog for everyone in blogland to see.

Mine aren't very good (or popular)...but if anyone has a look and wants to vote, mine are the Yamba holiday and church music ones.

Wendy's is excellent. I also admire those people who were brave enough to put more than three circles in their diagrams...great job, Nicole!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to show care without a casserole

Over on Sarah's blog, there is an interesting post up about being creative in how we show care for others in our church family who might be struggling. The suggestion was that perhaps the casserole drop-off might not really cut it every time. And because we only do the casserole roster for people who have just had a baby or have just come home from hospital, there are many other people in need (not just in need of meals but of support generally) who miss out.

This conversation has come up in our house at times. Chris and I were probably too independent when we had our first baby. We actually said no to the offer of meals from people at our church. Not because we wanted to be rude, but because we didn't need meals. Chris does most of the evening meal cooking in our house and my Mum was staying with us. The cooking was covered. What I really needed then was someone to help me work out all the new baby stuff...what all the crying was about, how to encourage a reluctant baby to feed, someone to let me know that while it all felt like it would never end, that it would actually pass all too soon. In hindsight, though, I think we should have accepted the kind offer of cooking. It was a way of showing care that we needed to have the grace and humility to accept.

With our other children, we said yes to the meals. It helped since we had not only a new baby to think about, but also other children who needed attention. But although it was really good not to always have to think about what to make for dinner, once again the cooking wasn't the hardest thing, particularly when we had Rosie. The thing that was freaking me out the most third time around was how I would manage school pickups and drop offs, how I would get the boys to swimming classes every Monday afternoon, how I would do little things like get a haircut or pick up a few things from the shops. Having someone to mind the baby in the early days while I ducked out to do those things was probably what would have helped me the most.

As it turned out, we just managed all the other stuff. Rosie just had to adjust to being woken mid-sleep to head down to school for pickup, she often has her morning sleep in her sling at school while I read in the boys' classrooms and we just booked appointments and let her sleeping fit around them. Sometimes in the first few months she had to feed a bit earlier or later than what she would have liked.

But I agree with Sarah that we need to be creative in ways that we care for others. In similar situations, I am now going to try to ask people what they need most when they are having a difficult time. And I might even push them a little if they say "no, I'm fine, I really don't need anything", since I sometimes have a tendency to do this myself. Sometimes it might be practical help, sometimes it might be just sitting with them to have a cup of tea, sometimes it might be loaning them a book that could be helpful (I love getting information from books so I would love it if someone did this for me!). And sometimes it might even be a casserole. But perhaps not always.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gold Class movies

Today we finally used our Gold Class movie gift card. It expired today so we had limited options for movies to choose from. It was a choice between Eat Pray Love (I couldn't finish the book so I didn't think the movie would be bearable either, and also probably not a movie for men), Wall Street 2 (film topic holding absolutely no interest) and Dinner for Schmucks (comedy with mixed reviews).

So we chose Dinner for Schmucks. I figured that even if it was a really bad comedy at least there might be a few laughs to be had while we were enjoying the recliner chairs and the drinks.

As happens sometimes when you go to a movie with low expectations, it was better than I thought it would be. Not brilliant, not unforgettable, but a clever storyline with some quite funny moments. Think bizarre kind of comedy moments rather than stupid and irritating ones. Happy ending. The good guys (in this case, the idiots) come out on top. And the mouse dioramas are quite fetching.

Gold Class was nice too. The best bits were being able to put your feet up on the seats and having the food and drink brought out. I had an ice-cream sundae with crushed up Maltesers in it. There's an easy dessert idea for the future when we have family movie nights.

At this stage in our lives, it's unlikely we'll see the inside of Gold Class again for quite a while. It was good to be able to do it this once.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Newborns are amazing

... and great if you can give them back after a lovely cuddle. Today I visited a friend and her newborn little girl. I was using a newborn assessment that I have used in the past at work and try to practise when I can so I don't lose my skills in doing it. My skills weren't very good to begin with (I only just scraped through the certification exam) so I figure that the more typically developing newborns I can do it with, the better I'll be if I use it at work again in the future with babies who may actually be at risk of developing problems.

Newborns can do lots of things despite the prevailing view that they don't do much except eat, sleep, poo and cry. For instance, they are very good at protecting their sleep in that they will adjust to a stimulus presented repeatedly, for example, a torch that shines into their eyes. They have amazing reflexes that precede movement development. And they can be very social if they are in an alert state, following an adult's face or turning to their voice.

It's fascinating to watch them and see the many things they are able to do. I found it hard to do this with my own baby because I was so sleep deprived, and in my case, feeding difficulties meant that much time in Rosie's early months was spent dreading her next feed and praying that she would gain weight.

But when I have the opportunity to observe someone else's newborn, I am in awe of how God has made us.