Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Australians overcoming adversity....

Aidan has been placed in a combined Year 3/4/5 class at school this year where they will be doing lots of extension activities. They hit the ground running yesterday on the first day of school. Their French teacher gave them their first lesson in French language so there were lots of "Bonjours" and "Au revoirs" happening after school yesterday.

He already has a project to do that is due at the end of Week 2. He has been given two people to research who have overcome adversity in their lives (Ludwig van Beethoven and George Lucas) and he has to choose a third person (an Australian identity) who has also achieved in the face of obstacles or adversity.

This led to some interesting discussions yesterday evening. There were many ideas, most of them Chris' and mine. And lots of worthy nominations.

Then this morning Chris came up with Greg Wiggle. I think he was just joking. Unfortunately, Aidan was very taken with the idea. I'm not entirely sure Greg's the kind of candidate the teacher's looking for, but I think Aidan is going to go with him...

Fortunately the teacher concerned has a sense of humour. Hopefully he'll get it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thinking about....

...how I can be a good friend to our friends whose baby boy, Jonathan, is due to arrive next Tuesday. He isn't expected to survive very long after birth. Jonathan would have been Rowan's friend, and I am so sad that they may not have the chance to ever meet each other in this world, although I am praying they will one day see each other in heaven.

I'm praying....but sometimes I feel as if I don't know what to pray for. I guess my prayer is that God will be in control of this situation, as he is of all things. That they will have the chance to be together as a family even if it is only for a short while. That my friend will be able to cope with the labour and delivery knowing that the outcome at the end of it may not be good. That she will be well enough afterwards to hold him and love him for however long he is with them.

On a practical note...I'm baking some things for them. They'll have family staying around for a while afterwards so they'll need to eat. My friend wants to keep busy doing things as much as she can this week so I've offered to have coffee with her if she wants a bit of time out from all the appointments and other "must do" things. Our church family will help them out with meals after the birth too.

I'm trying to think of a gift for them, maybe some kind of photo album or voucher or something like that.

It's hard to know how to help at times like this. Sometimes praying is all we can do. But it is the most important thing we can do.

Cool ukulele song


This is great. And these guys are coming to the Gold Coast in March!! I was keen to see them in Brisbane, but that is on a Wednesday so it wouldn't have fitted in around my new work hours. The Gold Coast show is a Friday night. Much better.

Now to find a friend to go with (and the money for the tickets). Anyone out there interested??

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Carpe diem




This weekend was well and truly seized. Yesterday morning I baked rosemary and olive flavoured savoury scrolls. From my Edible Balcony gardening/cook book. They tasted pretty good for a first attempt.

Then I went out to Lincraft and bought some felt to make the little lighthouse. This is a square for a quilt that the ladies from our church are putting together for our friends. Their little boy is being born in ten days' time, but he isn't expected to survive for very long after birth. I spent the afternoon and evening making the pattern and sewing it. I'm not much good at crafty stuff, I usually don't have enough patience to see things through to completion. But it didn't look too bad when I'd finished it.

Watched some tennis while I was sewing. The ladies' final was a disappointment. It has been for the past few years. I was reading in this morning's paper that in four of the past seven finals, the loser has won three or less games in the match. It was a similar story last night. The men's doubles final, on the other hand, was highly entertaining. I wish they would show more doubles tennis in the television coverage. I find it a lot more interesting to watch.

While I was out shopping on Saturday, I popped into our local Rivers Clearance outlet because they were having a 50% off summer clothing sale. I came home with a skirt, a pair of 3/4 length pants, two t-shirts and a scarf, total cost $42 (the scarf was the most expensive item I bought at $9.95!?). I thought this was so good that I went back today and bought another skirt, another pair of pants and three more t-shirts for a total of $39. My wardrobe is looking much more interesting now. I haven't bought new non-maternity clothing for almost a year so I was pretty happy with all my bargains.

Today I have spent the morning at church and after I returned from Rivers this afternoon I labelled a lot of pencils for the kids to take to school, which starts tomorrow.

Exhausted now....but still watching the men's tennis tonight. Hoping for a closer match this time...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ironic

As the rain has been pouring down here for the past four or five days, our shire has been hit with water restrictions because of a breakdown in the pumping station.

They are telling us no external water usage is allowed until it's fixed and that we should take shorter showers and use our washing machines less.

This is going to make it quite difficult for those who need to clean up post-flooding.

More from Sad and Useless...


Just a warning...don't turn the volume up too loud on this. I think he needed a lower key to begin with. I would have loved to see the pianist's facial expression while this was going on. Maybe they deliberately kept doing key changes upwards to see how high he would go before giving up.

The caption on youtube: "anytime you sing for God it doesn't matter how you sound but...."

Indeed. Singing with enthusiasm is fine. But perhaps not in front of everyone.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

West Wing marathon continuing

I'm now about a third of the way through Series 4. Really enjoying it.

Creative table decorating ideas: Harry Potter and fish

I cleaned up the dining room table today and needed something to make the middle of it look pretty.

Harry Potter courtesy of the $2 discount bin at the supermarket. We bought him to decorate Liam's Hogwarts birthday cake. And Aidan made the plaster fish. It appeared on the table for "decorating" after we told him to tidy up his room. I don't think he could bear to throw it out.

Karen's cooking adventures: Cinnamon scrolls

Made these yesterday while it was pouring rain outside. Yum.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bit wet

Bit of an understatement.

I found the above photo here. We live on a hill so we're pretty safe where we are, but we overlook where this photo was taken. Lots of rain this morning but it has stopped for now.

Book review: No-Cry Potty Training Solution

I have posted in here before about toilet training Rosie. It seems to be going okay so far. We do have accidents happening sometimes but she is also having lots of success which is keeping everyone happy.

This book is probably the best one I've discovered about toilet training. Elizabeth Pantley has also written several books on gentle approaches to sleep training and I noticed on her website that she has a new one out about dealing with picky eaters (none of those in our house, thank goodness, but I think this one would be good for me to read for work). Elizabeth is from the USA, so the terminology and language is distinctly US-flavoured, but still very readable.

The book consist of a menu of ideas to try during toilet training rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, similar to her sleep books. I like this because it provides options and acknowledges that different things may work in different families. Her toilet training checklist and bathroom safety checklists are useful too. She covers most of the common problems that arise during toilet training. Lots of good common sense advice is given.

She very much pushes (pardon the pun...) the idea that a positive and relaxed approach from those doing the toilet training is important. Bearing this in mind, she also says that toilet training isn't something that happens over a few days, but rather over several months. For those whose kids aren't ready to train yet, she has good information about things parents can do in the lead-up to prepare children for more full-on toilet training later.

I certainly wouldn't say that toilet training has been a completely no-cry process here, the sight of an accident on the carpet has driven me to tears on more than one occasion. And I've found the kids do need the occasional firm hand to make sure they know what's expected. This makes them (and me as well!) cranky sometimes.

But all in all, it's a pretty helpful read if you're thinking about toilet training and you're not sure where to start.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Made it to the hairdresser

There was a break in the rain late this afternoon. God was kind to us. The creeks and rivers around here are filling up though.

And there is more rain coming. The next few days might be pretty soggy.

Resisting posting about Carpe Diem article...

...because it seems as if everyone else in blogland is doing so. If you want to read it, it's here.

So I tried to think of something else and you guessed it....I've got nothing.

It's pouring rain here. Really pouring. Flooding is likely. Trying to decide whether it is heavy enough to cancel our haircuts this afternoon.

Other status updates:

Me: I spent the morning baking because it's cold and wet. Pumpkin scones and pumpkin fruitcake. They look yummy. Now to resist eating too much of either of them.

Aidan: Getting his school holiday homework done. He has to do a Powerpoint presentation about his holidays. I'm trying to convince him that sound and animations on Powerpoint won't save a bad presentation. I think he could get up there and say the holiday consisted of us begging him to get this done.

Liam: Building Kirrin Island and Kirrin Cottage out of Lego. I've already photographed a rather large Lego castle this morning (I'll try to add a photo of this later).

Rosie: Now in bed, but spent the morning unpacking all her toys that I'd carefully tidied away yesterday. You wouldn't believe how much time toddlers spend doing this until you have experienced it.

Rowan: Due to wake up for a feed any minute.

Hope everyone else is enjoying today.



The wonderful world of radishes

Yesterday I went on an online search to find where I could buy some radish seeds. It was very enlightening. Who would have thought there were so many different kinds?

Check them all out here. Now to decide which ones to get. Some of them look more like carrots or little turnips than traditional radishes. There's even one called a watermelon radish that's white on the outside and pink in the middle.

I think we'll start with some red ones though. I love their colour in salads.

Helpful thoughts on school readiness

Here.

Worth a look. Trevor's blog has lots of very useful information related to children's literacy that I like to read. He also puts out a regular email newsletter that summarizes local and international articles on literacy. You can subscribe to this by email.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Banana ripening update

See last week's post. I tried the trick of putting them in a paper bag with an apple.

Still no change. We have bananas bought a week later that ripened in a couple of days.

I think something is definitely wrong with this lot.

Chris thinks I should just leave them on the bench and take photos of them every few days to see if anything happens. Not sure if I can be bothered...

Gardening project plan


Once all the palm and fig rubbish has gone from our backyard, I'm going to start growing some things in pots. I bought this book with some birthday money. Although it's about gardening on a high-rise balcony, there are some good ideas that I hope might work in our limited-space scenario here. And we do have a front deck that gets a lot of northern sun so I am hoping to put some pots on there without too much loss of space.

We already have rosemary and parsley growing. Our rosemary is outgrowing the space we'd allocated for it, is taking over the rest of the garden bed and needs a good prune when it finishes flowering. I keep thinking I'll take some to church and share it around but I keep forgetting to do that. The parsley is in a pot with some poor little strawberry plants. The parsley decided to take over the pot so the strawberries are struggling and I think they may give up soon (lesson learned re overplanting...).

I'm planning to add pots of tomatoes, radishes, mint and lavender to this. I think I'll put the lavender on the deck so the afternoon breezes might blow the scent inside. The other things will go out the back. I'll need to find a suitably shady and damp spot for the mint.

All this sounds very good in theory. In practice, I'm quite good at buying the seedlings, planting them out and watering and fertilizing them for the first week or two. Ongoing maintenance after that is a bit hit and miss. We're lucky it rains a lot here. I think I'd probably get better results if I added fertilizer to the soil more often. Plants that don't need much kindness and attention tend to fare much better at our house.

So I'll see how it goes. The first step is getting to the nursery with all four kids in tow. It's already sounding difficult. I may have to leave it until school goes back...

Found the baby birds

Our neighbour put their nest back into the tree where it was first discovered. Unfortunately most of the shelter the little guys used to have when the trees were thick and lush has disappeared. Yesterday afternoon they copped a bit of a pounding in the afternoon showers.

Hope they'll be okay.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Psalm 92:12...a somewhat tenuous link to our garden clean-up


"The righteous flourish like the palm tree..."

We heard a sermon on this Psalm last Sunday in church.

The simile (or is that a metaphor?) in verse 12 is certainly apt. Our backyard is a jungle of golden cane palm trees that are flourishing. Chris and our neighbour from behind our house spent most of this morning thinning the ones along our back fence out as part of a much bigger garden clean up we have happening here at the moment. The neighbour was pretty enthusiastic about it with his chainsaw. I think he was keen to improve his view since his house is higher up the hill than ours.

So now we have a much thinner privacy screen from our back neighbours. And palm branches and trunks all over the yard waiting to be taken away. The neighbour did take some of it. Two birds' nests were located in the process, one with two babies in it. The neighbour's wife took it off to their next door neighbour for identification on what kind of bird it was (he thought maybe kookaburras but I haven't seen any in our yard). Chris couldn't remember what they did with it after that, so I am really hoping it ended up somewhere that the mother bird could find it again.

But the big clean up isn't over yet. We have another jungle of palms around our pool that need the same treatment. We're paying someone to do that. And to trim our enormous fig tree that is equally difficult to keep under control and is busy all year round shedding something or other for us to sweep up (leaves, flowers, little figgy things). And then they will take away all the rubbish afterwards.

If we ever buy another house I'll be looking for one that has no palm (or fig) trees anywhere near it. Never believe a real estate ad that tells you a house has a low maintenance garden if there are either of these trees in it.

Still, isn't it great to know that the Bible tells us the righteous will flourish like these trees do? And that it is full of truth, even on such mundane matters as what grows well in gardens?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday funny

From here. I also quite liked this one (slight language warning on it though...).

The ukulele is home

It ended up just having the faulty tuning peg replaced. Not such a bad thing really since the other strings were pretty settled in and staying in tune quite well.

Rowan seems to really enjoy it when I play and sing songs on it to him. I'm now learning a few from the "J is for Jesus" Emu kids CD to entertain him with. Rosie also liked it when I sang the Hello Song from it this afternoon. She knows it well because the littlies sing it every week in the kids' program at church. I can also do passable versions of "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock" and "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands."

My goal is to not need the CD player at all for the kids' songs by the time I go back to teaching in the little kids' program at church again. This isn't until the second half of the year so I have plenty of time. The playing doesn't really worry me, but I am not a confident singer at all, so that's where I'll probably fall down.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More 80s music gold...


Some truly bizarre action in this...not sure what to make of the little dancing man with dwarfism. Some of the commenters on YouTube were unkind enough to call him a troll...

I know...I have way too much time on my hands. Definitely time to get back to work....

Said yes to the job

It's only a few hours a week. How hard could that be? (Might need to be reminded of that in a few months if I'm in here whingeing about it later....).

If I feed Rowan before I go, he should be okay for a couple of hours without me.

I'm glad I have a very helpful and supportive husband. He told me I should definitely do it and he will rearrange his work hours so I can fit it in.

I'm thankful to God for this opportunity for a few extra dollars as well. It will be nice to have a bit of pocket money for things like supporting missions, continuing the kids' music lessons and a few other extras without feeling too stretched. I like to feel that I can help out financially and continue to use my brain a little bit!

Thursday Muppets


Today I took my boys to see the new Muppets movie while Rosie was at child care. Very enjoyable, not least because it was a break from the frequent toilet trips we have been enduring at home over the past few weeks while toilet training has been in progress.

Rowan fed before we left home and then was kind enough to sleep through the whole movie with only a couple of fidgety moments.

This song is in the movie but I won't give away any more than that. Go and see it if you can, it has nice moments for both the kids and adults. Even a couple of tear-jerking moments for me (how embarrassing...).

Edited to add...the line in this song that goes "Have you been half asleep...and have you heard voices?" takes on a whole new meaning when you have small children...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Karen's cooking adventures #2 - Frogs in the pond


Monday's dessert-making effort doesn't happen often here. Most nights we don't even eat dessert. The kids might have yoghurt or some fruit if they're lucky (or well-behaved).

But because it's the holidays, I'm feeling a bit more inclined to make something sweet for after dinner.

If you don't want to spend the whole afternoon baking a pie in the heat, another popular dessert in this house is frogs in the pond. This only takes five minutes to make. Just prepare jelly (use any flavour you like) as per packet instructions, pour into ramekins or plastic cups and refrigerate. Prior to serving, unwrap chocolate frogs and stick them into the individual ponds. (Photo from here because mine have only just gone into the fridge).


Too easy. And nice and cool to eat after a hot day.


And in other big news of the day....

Greg Wiggle is making a comeback. Sam's been bumped. Read about it here.

Poor Sam. I quite liked him. But I guess he'll need to continue to be on stand-by in case Greg's health takes another turn for the worse.


The bananas that won't ripen

I bought a bunch of bananas from Woolworths on Saturday morning when I did the weekly shopping. They looked like the ones in the picture. I can't be bothered running around to lots of different shops to get meat, fruit/vegies and groceries so we just get everything at the one place for convenience. Most of the time we're happy enough with what we get from there.

But these bananas are dodgy. Five days on from the day of purchase, they still look like the ones in the picture. There hasn't been any ripening or change in their outward appearance at all.

I got sick of it today and cut one open to see if I could find out what was going on. Peeling the skin off was a struggle. And then it didn't even taste like a banana. Some weird woody kind of taste that wasn't even close.

This has happened to us once before with Woolies bananas. We ended up having to throw them out. And of course we have now thrown away the shopping docket so I can't take these ones back to complain about them. Once is okay, but I'm not happy that it's happened again. At least their price has come down so they were cheap ones.

But why does this failure to ripen happen in the first place? Are they picked too early or are there just dodgy bunches out there?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Listening to...


Walk of Life by Dire Straits. From the Sultans of Swing album.

Classic stuff. Big hair. Big bright clothing. Big crowd (at one point, the video cuts to a crowd view, it's huge!). This version also has a big instrumental finale that's worth hanging in there for.

Just got offered some work

A bit unexpectedly.

Tutoring with first year OT students at our local university. Two hours of face to face contact per week, starting in late February. Plus extra time for prep/marking, availability to answer students' emails and whatever else happens outside of that.

Not sure if I am quite ready to take this on. Rowan is still quite new. And the hours being offered are from 4-6pm. Right in the middle of arsenic hour.

It is a foot in the door though. Might lead to more opportunities down the track as well. This is something I've been interested in trying out for a while.

Semester 2 would have been better. But I'm pretty sure that the offer won't come then. Will need to think about it, and discuss with everyone at home. I have a day to make a decision about it.

Karen's cooking adventures...plum tart with pistachio crumble

Inspired by a conversation about pastry-making I was involved in over the weekend, I had a go at making a pie for dessert last night. From scratch. A plum tart with pistachio crumble sprinkled on the top (the photo above shows the pie before the crumble was sprinkled on it). From this book that I have out of the library at the moment.

I've never had much joy making shortcrust pastry from scratch. It says in the profile thing on the side of my blog that I like baking sweet things but that should probably include the disclaimer "only if they're really easy."

But I was pleasantly surprised this time around. The pastry turned out very well. It was a cool day so I think that helped. This recipe also involved creaming the butter and icing sugar together first, using an electric mixer, rather than the rubbing butter into the flour method. Then I stirred in the flour and egg to bring the dough together. After it had rested I rolled it out between two pieces of baking paper. Peel off the top layer, invert the other piece of paper into the pie dish and hey presto...a pastry shell.

Well, it wasn't quite that easy. Inverting the baking paper with pastry attached was harder than it sounded. But I managed in the end. And I think the reduced handling of the dough made a big difference. It didn't crumble nearly as much as it has when I've tried to do pastry in the past.

It tasted great. It had a frangipane filling made from ground almonds. It was a bit soft when we cut into the pie (our oven has a bad habit of over-browning things so they look cooked on top but inside they're still getting there) but cooked enough to eat.

It took almost all of yesterday afternoon to make. But it was satisfying to achieve a successful home-made pastry base at last. On a cool day, there's nothing quite like eating warm pie with ice-cream on top.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Something I like about the silver bus


It's taken a while for me to find something I like about our new car. But this morning I found it.

The mute button on the steering wheel. So convenient for the occasional bad word that appears in a song....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The silver bus is now back on the road

And I am now parking it a long way away from other cars and concrete pillars whenever I take it out. If that means I have to walk some distance, then so be it.

When Chris picked it up from the panelbeater's, the guy told him to make sure we contacted him first for smash repairs in the future and he would help us to sort out any insurance claims.

Chris said he was thinking that he never wants to see this guy again for the rest of our lives. Here's hoping we don't have to.

Highs and lows for the day

Went to the doctor this morning to get results from my follow up glucose tolerance test and a few other recent tests. No more blood sugar problems for now. And my full blood count was good too. No anaemia. All good news.

Then I went and caught up with a friend from work at a very cool cafe. She had a little baby boy four weeks after I had Rowan. Well, he wasn't so little actually. He weighed 4.5 kg at birth and already weighs over 6 kg. Rowan looked very little beside him. But it was very pleasant sitting in the comfy chairs drinking coffee and enjoying the atmosphere. Some nice vintage furniture to look at and wish I could afford to buy.

Heard from ukulele shop. They are going to give me a whole new ukulele because he can't get a single tuning peg. Cool.

Picked up Rosie from child care, then came home to discover she had a head full of nits. Not so good, since we had some other ladies and small children at our house yesterday for morning tea. I'd noticed Rosie had been scratching her head for a couple of days, but Chris kept telling me he'd checked and there was nothing there. Hmmm.

So we've spent the afternoon and evening getting nit treatments happening. I hate that itchy feeling that always comes on when you know nits are in the immediate area. And the shelf of nit treatment products in the chemist shop is quite overwhelming. What to choose...which comb works the best etc etc...

Quiet day at home coming up tomorrow. Think another nit treatment may be in order. Sorry to any of my guests from yesterday who might be reading this. Hope the nits didn't jump heads. But I'm not sure where they came from to start with. We haven't been anywhere for a couple of weeks except church.* Oh well. One of those things that just happens, I guess.

*But I suppose nits do come to church too...I know they don't discriminate between Christians and non-Christians (!)

Book for young Lego fanatics

I borrowed this from the local library today for Liam. He is away staying with his grandparents this week so I have had a chance to look at it. There are some very cool models inside.

I can't wait to see his face when he comes back and sees it. After that, I won't get to look at it ever again so I'd better make the most of the next couple of days.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reading...

Recommended by Jenny, here. It's about a five year old boy, Jack, who has spent his entire life living in a small room (Room) with his Ma. He spends his days watching television and doing exercises with her, but at night he needs to sleep in Wardrobe because Old Nick comes to sleep with Ma.

While the basis for the story is pretty disturbing, it's an interesting read at the same time. And as a therapist with an interest in child development, it was fascinating to see this author's perception of the impact of environmental deprivation on Jack's development.

One uplifting and positive aspect of this book is the loving relationship and secure attachment that Jack had developed with his Ma. This was, I think, a safe haven for him during the events that unfolded as the book progressed.

I once worked with a little girl who had spent the first three years of her life shut in a cupboard. This was abuse and neglect at the extreme end of the scale. There was no secure attachment figure for this child. And although to all outward appearances, she looked "normal"once she was removed from this environment, even the best of foster care placements couldn't make up for the early deprivation she had sustained.

That's why I love working with little people in the first five years of life. So much happens. So much of it being absorbed without us necessarily being aware of it...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Now he won't settle

I think he's too hot. Time for some extra feeds to get him sorted out...

Just put Rowan to sleep...



...by playing (and humming) Hallelujah (the Leonard Cohen version) on the ukulele.

It was lovely to watch.

Unfortunately, he went to sleep on the edge of our bed so he then woke up again when I tried to transfer him into the cot.

But he went off to sleep again after only a minute or two of fuss.

If only it was always that easy to get him to go to sleep.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thinking about....loneliness, relationships and the purpose of church

I had a conversation last week with someone who is a relative newcomer at our church (she has started coming along in the last twelve months). It got me thinking about how people can feel left out in a church community.

So I did a bit of googling on the topic and I was reading this earlier today on another blog. Interesting:

We need to think of churches as moral rather than social communities. When I go to church I need to have ethics on the brain and not intimacy. This, I think, is a huge problem with many churches. People go to church to have their relational needs met. They don't go to get morally challenged or changed. Thus, if I have a good social time at church then church is great and fulfilling. Conversely, if church is a lonely affair I stop going and think it sucks.

The goal of church, to my mind, is to be better, not to be known. Of course, in the effort to become better I become known. I'll need to confess and ask forgiveness. I'll need to give an honest moral accounting of myself. And so on. These things promote community and camaraderie and even friendship.

Again, don't get me wrong. Relationships are important. Feeling known and connected is important. But if these things become the focal point then church is just a club and people will start evaluating it like a club. Worse, once you get "inside" the club there is little incentive to let new people into your church, clique or circle of friends. Once you find your "group" you relax. You are no longer lonely! You've finished the race. Won the price. And fought the good fight. Well done good and faithful servant!

And best of luck to those people left on the outside.

Not sure I'm entirely in agreement with what this guy has to say. But it did make me think. As someone who has felt "on the outer" at times in our current church, there was something about this that rang true to me. We need to be careful that we don't get so caught up in our own circle of friends that we see new people as possible disruptions to the existing comfortable rapport we share. This leads to disunity. And people who come along a few times to our church, and then quietly disappear.