Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The great Australian trivia board game project

For the past four weeks, the homework in Aidan's extension class has been to invent a board game with an Australian trivia component. Let's just say this has project has had its good and bad moments. It's too big a task for Aidan to complete alone (unlike, say, the more conventional homework of independent reading and writing a list of spelling words) so parental assistance has been required fairly frequently.

Chris and I have been playing to our strengths to help him out. Chris is the big picture guy. Aidan had a good idea, Chris helped him to invent the game that would include the idea. All three of us have chucked in a lot of trivia questions. And now, with the project due on Friday, we are down to the finer details.

Here's where I come in. (Helping Aidan to) choose the right colour poster board and what to decorate it with are my jobs. I had a good idea but it didn't quite come off. I bought a couple of Steve Parish calendars (at 75% markdown price each!) and we planned to cut out the large pictures and glue them on the board as a background to the printed squares of the board game. They were a little bit too big so we had to resort to the thumbnail sketches on the back arranged in mosaic style. These are a little bit too small so the board still looks a little bit bare. Tomorrow's job is to see if we can improve the border in any way or whether we just decide that plain and uncluttered is the way to go. Plain and uncluttered sounds better right now.

We are still colouring in the squares on the board itself (there is a convict track, a free settler track and a bushranger track to choose from as the game progresses) which might take some time. We're using watercolour pencils. I'm doing a trial run on one of the draft board layouts to see if painting over the colouring in makes it look better or worse.

And the trivia question cards still need to be printed up and checked for spelling. Chris will take care of the printing, I'm the spelling queen so that's my job (although I will get Aidan to check that as well since spelling is one of his strengths also).

Tomorrow Aidan is not going to school because he's going to an all day science workshop at one of the big private schools further north of us. We won't get home till after 5pm tomorrow. So I can see tomorrow night being the ten year old's (and tired mother's) equivalent of an allnighter before a Uni assignment is due to be submitted.

Things could have been worse, though. Because this extension class includes kids from Years 3, 4 and 5, there is one poor mother with two kids in the class so they have to come up with two games. I saw her last night at a meeting at school. She looked a bit frazzled. I'm not surprised.

I will try to put up some pictures of the game when it's finally finished. It's called Settler Life. A great team effort from all involved.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Exciting finish coming up in the one day cricket...

India vs Sri Lanka. Who would have thought a game between these two sides would be in any way interesting?

30 runs from 33 balls. 7 wickets in hand. The Indian batsmen are scoring boundaries all over the park. In the last over, there was one six and five fours. They look like they are going to reach 320 runs off 40 overs so they can achieve a bonus point in the competition. A pretty amazing effort.

So I'll get back to a bit of blogging later...

Monday, February 27, 2012

My mint died

I thought it was almost impossible to kill.

All I did was forget to water it on just one day last week. That was enough. It dried up and died.

I bought another one this morning. Praying for rain every day for the next week so it can get itself established. I'm not always the best at remembering to water stuff.

At the opposite end of the water-loving scale, I bought some lavender this morning as well. It doesn't like much water at all, so I need to work out a way to keep it as dry as possible. No problems. I think this plant might like my forgetful watering habits.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

One of Rosie's current favourite pastimes

She loves looking through her Beginner's Bible and finding pictures with Jesus in them. She now knows that he only appears in the second half of her Bible (and on the cover, of course).

It's pretty funny listening to her turning the pages and hearing "Jesus"..."Jesus"..."Jesus" over and over again.

Friday, February 24, 2012

This one gets my vote for the best cartoon of the week

From here.

This is doing the email rounds today


The ongoing challenge of evangelism

Chris had a great conversation about Christianity with a work colleague yesterday and gave him a copy of The Essential Jesus to read (he keeps a copy in his desk drawer for sharing with other people). The rest of his day was frustrating for many reasons, but he was really pleased to have had such a good chat about Christian things with somebody in his workplace.

As for me...well, I get excited when I work up enough courage to mention to someone that I go to Bible study every week. I told a friend this yesterday when we caught up for coffee. I think she knew I went to church but I haven't mentioned Bible study to her before.

Sigh. I've got such a long way to go with all this stuff.

But if you are interested you can download a copy of The Essential Jesus here. It's really worth reading if you're wanting to know more about Christianity. And there are lots of good courses you can do too. Our church is running Christianity Explored right now. Our Bible study group did this last year. It's excellent.

There's still lots of mileage.... come out of the Rudd/Gillard leadership struggle.

Best quote of the morning so far from the ABC's Chris Uhlmann (7.30 Report):

"It's just like World Series Cricket all over again...."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kids on marriage

Came home from my first tutorial this evening... the news that Kevin Rudd has resigned as Foreign minister. I'm pleased that someone has made the first move in the stand-off at last.

Interesting times ahead.

Anyway, the tute went okay. Referencing was a challenging task for almost all of them, although there were a few with that "I already know all this, I'm pretty bored" look as we were doing the referencing practice activities at the end.

In answer to the getting to know you opening question I gave them about the superpower they would most like to have, there were some interesting responses. Lots of time travellers, flyers and several who wanted to be invisible. A sizeable minority wanted to read minds. My favourite responses were from a girl who wanted to be able to breathe under water so she could go diving more easily, and another one who wanted to be able to walk through walls so she wouldn't have to go around stuff.

Disappointingly all of the above was probably more interesting than the responses to the question of why they chose to do occupational therapy. Hearing "it would be sooo rewarding" and "I really wanted to help people" became quite repetitive after a while. Though I suppose my answer to that question isn't much better. I ended up in occupational therapy after a careers talk in which they showed us a whole heap of equipment (easy reachers, bottle openers, tap turners and the like) and talked about how much we could help people do everyday things. It sounded and looked more interesting than the speech pathology talk I went along to the same evening. And here I am twenty years later, still an OT.

If you imagine Kevin Rudd in place of the girl in this cartoon...

... you have a pretty good summary of Australian federal politics over the past two years.

Well, the general public's perspective of it, anyway.

Annabel Crabb's take on the Rudd/Gillard mess

..."if Mr Rudd or Ms Gillard could speak frankly about the current impasse, what would they say? Their silent tussle is surely the most nihilistic in Labor's organisational memory. It's not about clashing, passionately-held convictions, or the parties' spirited disagreement on what to do about schools, or nukes, or Syria. It's a classic corner-office dispute of numbing mundanity. She thinks he shouldn't be prime minister because he's nuts. He thinks she shouldn't be prime minister because she's hopeless. And that's about the size of it. Caucus members now arrange themselves into Team Bloodnut and Team Bowlcut, driven by nothing except the clinical extent of their own despair."

From here.

Yes indeed. Love the Team Bloodnut vs Team Bowlcut line. Absolute gold.

While I'm at it, I'm quite enjoying The Drum on the ABC right now as well. Best current affairs show on television. Q&A is highly entertaining too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This is how it feels some days here...

I think it's really funny

...that with Kevin Rudd currently away in Mexico, the ongoing brouhaha* over the leadership of the federal Labor Party is literally a Mexican stand-off.

*didn't think I would EVER get to use this word in a blog post...

Monday, February 20, 2012

And in the most bizarre news headline of the day

Woman dies after waking at own funeral.

Now that's a funeral they'll be talking about for years to come...

Looking forward to hearing the details....

....of this.

Looks like it could be good news for the public education system in Australia.

Edited to add: Provided the government can come up with some funding, that is...

Lucky lizard

On Saturday while I was out and about driving, I turned right into a busy local street.

And coming in the opposite direction (fortunately in the opposite lane to me) was one of these lizards. He wasn't sitting quietly on the concrete waiting to have his photo taken, though. He was running pretty fast. Right behind him was a dog in hot pursuit. And behind them both was a car that had slowed to a crawl to give them the right of way. If I'd been a few seconds later they would have flown out into the street I was turning right from and I probably would have squashed the poor lizard, and maybe the dog as well, flat.

Not sure what happened next although I didn't hear any brakes squealing behind me so hopefully all concerned survived.

Not quite what you expect to see as you're driving along. A bit funny to think about afterwards since I didn't kill or crash into anything. Unlike this guy who was very lucky to only crash into a few cars as he drove ten kilometres the wrong way across the Westgate Bridge and freeway in Melbourne over the weekend. Scary stuff.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Busy busy weekend

Well, that's how it felt. Although when I think back to what I actually did, it probably wasn't all that much.

Yesterday morning, I went to a history talk at a local landmark (a lookout on top of a hill). A bit nerdy, I know. The average age of those in attendance appeared to be well into the 60s. Lots of historical society members. A few of their grandkids. A couple of the older folk were on wheelie walkers. I was very impressed they'd made it up the rather steep ramp to the top of the hill.

There weren't many people my age at all. But I enjoyed it anyway. Maybe in twenty years time I'll be in the historical society myself. Although it all appeared a little bit too social for the introvert in me...

This morning we went to church. Then this afternoon I went for a bit of a wander around a local antique shop and second hand bookshop by myself. So much fun. After that I went and bought some mint and planted it in a pot (that's the first step completed in my gardening project). I also bought another pot to put lavender in, but I'm still deciding which variety of lavender I want to buy so that planting will have to wait till next weekend.

About to go and make some jam drops for the lunchboxes and sort out a shopping list to make a dinner to take to our lovely friends this week.

The week ahead is full of committee meetings. Preschool committee tomorrow night. At that one, we usually get a free pizza dinner included so it's worth the effort of going. I'm the secretary on that committee and I've found that taking minutes is a good way to avoid overeating the pizzas. Then there's P&C at the boys' school on Tuesday evening. I don't usually bother going to the P&C but at this meeting they are discussing putting on a chaplain at the school so I thought I should go and hear what they are planning to do. And on Wednesday I start my new job at the Uni, although I have what I am doing in the first week pretty much sorted now. I'm beginning to wonder if I may have (yet again...) overcommitted myself....

So if I am a little bit quieter on the blog, that is why. Although I really didn't think that keeping up the recent effort of three or four posts a day was going to be sustainable (insert smiley emoticon here).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yesterday we received a letter from our seven year old

It read:
"You make me feel like you don't love me"

Underneath this, there was a picture of a boy with a sad face.

I wanted to take a photo of it and put it on here but Chris said that might be a bit embarrassing. Perhaps not one of our happier parenting experiences.*

Anyway, it turned out upon further investigation that Mister 7 thinks we don't love him because we won't buy him the Lego set that he wants.

The problem we are having here with Lego is that there is always something more that can be bought. We have noticed an unhealthy tendency with this particular child to want another Lego kit almost as soon as he has built the last new one he received. It's almost like an addiction for him. We need to keep explaining to him that he can't just keep getting more and more and that there are limits to our funds for these kinds of things (particularly when it's not Christmas or his birthday). And that we show him we love him in many other ways and not just by purchasing the next great Lego item.

Fortunately his older brother is much less interested in Lego. I wouldn't enjoy having two of them at us for more of it all the time.

We prayed for Liam last night. He is going through a difficult patch with making friends at school at the moment. I think the Lego addiction might be his current coping strategy to help him manage this. But we don't want him to become materialistic and thinking that the way to fix his problems is to buy more stuff.

We prayed that in the long run he'll come to know that love is not about the things he gets but about kindness, loving and serving others.

*although we did have a little giggle about it afterwards...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Too much information

Today I went to have a bit of orientation at my new workplace. I came away feeling a bit overloaded with information. But I did score a free lunch because it was also student orientation day.

I will have twenty six students in my tute group if they all turn up. There will probably be a few drop outs though.

Getting myself onto the Uni email system and getting a photo ID card are the next jobs to be tackled.

Before I went out to Uni, I caught up with my friend, Jonathan's Mum. We walked and talked, and drank peach iced tea together in a cafe. And it was nice to just be with her, talking about anything and everything and enjoying the sunny day. And we talked about our little boys. Even though we were sad Jonathan wasn't with us, it was good.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Today's amusement....

I think the title of this photo is "Hot air orchestra"....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Time for something funny to celebrate Valentine's Day (or not)

Referencing e-books

This one's for Wendy, and anyone else who needs the information...

Referencing electronic version of a print book in a reference list...

eg. DeLara, M. & Doyen, L. (2008). Sustainable management of natural resources: Mathematical models and methods. [SpringerLink version]. Retrieved from

The in-text citation for this would be (DeLara & Doyen, 2008)

Here's another one:

Ardia, D. (2008). Financial risk management with Bayesian estimation of GARCH models: Theory and applications. [SpringerLink version]. doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-78657-3

In-text citation would be (Ardia, 2008).

If it's an electronic-only book, example as follows:

Stevens, K. (n.d.) The dreamer and the beast. Retrieved from

In text reference would be (Stevens, n.d.)

And, just for good measure, for a translation of a book:

Yinen, J. (2008). Stretching therapy: For sport and manual therapies. (J.Nurmenniemi, Trans.) Edinburgh, Scotland: Churchill Livingstone.

In text reference is (Yline, 2008).

It doesn't seem to say what you do about page numbers if there is a direct quote from one of these sources, though. I guess you would just put the page number from the electronic device on it. My e-reader (a Sony) does have page numbering, although I don't think that always correlates with the page numbers in the print version.

Anyway, this is all from the University of Queensland Library information sheet on References/Bibliography APA style. Retrieved 14/2/2012 from

This page seems to be accessible even if you are not a UQ student, so you might find any other information you need there.

Or you could go straight to the source at

Hope this might be helpful to start with...

Interesting sibling name set

Charlotte and Bronte.

These children belong to a woman at Chris' work.

Hmmm. Either she's unfamiliar with Jane Eyre's author, or she likes her very much.

So what super power would I most like to have?

Yes, I know I'm covering the most important question in the whole tutorial here.

I think right now it would be the ability to clean and tidy the house with a click of my fingers. Or to get the kids to do something when I ask them the first time rather than having to get to the point of shouting after asking them ten times to do it.

Wendy, yes, there is information on referencing ebooks in my pile of paperwork here so I will get back to you on that one when I read it properly...

Monday, February 13, 2012

So my new work starts next Wednesday

And the notes for my first tutorial have arrived. It sounds like fun. It's all about referencing using APA style and telling the students they aren't allowed to just copy stuff from a book, article or webpage and pretend they made it up themselves. Oh, and a cool getting to know you game where you have to share with the group what super power you would most like to have (??).

I discovered that there are a lot more things you can reference these days in academia. Even posts from blogs, which I found a bit amusing. Back when I was an undergraduate at University, books and journal articles were pretty much it for reference sources. Even when I was doing my Masters thesis seven years ago, those were still the main sources of material.

Not anymore. There's been a big information explosion out there, people.

Making playdough can be very therapeutic

Even if you can't produce the colour requested by the two year old (she wanted orange) because all you have left in the food colouring box is green or blue.

And it was still enjoyable even when, after choosing blue from those two options, she then decided after the colouring was added that she wanted green instead.

I want to make more of it now. I think I will go to the shops tonight and buy up all the different food colourings so I can make a whole lot of batches in lots of colours.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tonight I was in the mood to listen to Beethoven's Sonata Pathetique...

....and came across this when I was searching for it on YouTube.

The elephants look like they're having a nice time.

Goodbye Jonathan

We are very sad we won't get to know you here on earth but look forward to meeting you in heaven.

We are so proud to be friends of your amazing family. Today it was great to hear the letters your Mum and Dad had written for you and to see your photo.

We grieve, but not without hope. We smile to know that one day we will see you again.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I have to finish reading this book today

In time for a discussion this evening. 90 pages to go. It's going to be tight. Between now and then I also have to make some plum and almond cupcakes for dessert (goes with the book discussion), pick up the kids from school, deal with a few toddler toilet trips and feed the baby at least twice.

It is an excellent book though. I'm very keen to get to the end to see what happens.

I talked to my friend, Jonathan's Mum, this morning. His funeral is tomorrow morning. She is doing as well as can be expected, considering what she has been through this week. Still praying for strength for their whole family.

Off to keep reading over lunch while both kids are still asleep...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Observations during grocery shopping

Our local Woolworths has had new trolleys for the past few weeks. All new and clean, complete with coffee cup, baguette and flower holders. Sadly, every one of them I've tried has shown absolutely no improvement in steering control compared with the old ones. What a disappointment.

On the up side, I think I've mentioned before in here that I quite like grocery shopping at night. The night shopping crowd seem a bit more laid back than the daytime shoppers. There's no trolley push and shove, even though when the shop is about to close up for the night everyone arrives simultaneously at the single check-out that's open. And the staff then manage to actually appear helpful as they open another one to help get the last minute rush of customers out the door.

Tonight I shared a moment of camaraderie with the elderly lady in front of me in the check-out queue. She complimented me on my choice of Streets Mini-Magnum iceblocks (on special this week). I said to her that I like to tell myself they're healthier than the big ones just because they're a smaller size. She said she tells herself the same thing. A real meeting of minds. Then she went a step further and said she likes to bite through the top of the chocolate shell and dip the icecream section into crushed macadamia nuts.

That sounded pretty good. So now you know what I'm about to try for dessert....

Christians and their finances...

There is a great post here on this topic that is very helpful. Thanks for posting it, Cathy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

12 days

And Rowan's poo landed after the early morning feed today. Fortunately Chris was still home. And it exploded out the side of the nappy onto the leather lounge (rather than onto my pyjamas) so it was a relatively easy furniture clean-up.

The bottom clean-up was another story though...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blessed Be Your Name

Little Jonathan was born last night

He was alive when he was born, but passed away soon afterwards.

Praying for our friends and their extended families.

Not much more to say. I am a bit too sad.

"And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21

My daughter loves Thomas the Tank Engine

We have plenty of Thomas reading material in our home so it's no surprise really. And we have encouraged her a little bit because in the plethora of trains that have joined the crew since the original Thomas, there is a book and a train named after her, so of course we bought them.

She gets very excited every morning at 10.15am when Thomas comes on television. This often coincides with the time when I am feeding Rowan so we watch Thomas' adventures together.

One thing that I love about Thomas' television show is how it has brought back words that have fallen into disuse. Dowager is a great example (Dowager Hatt, the Fat Controller's mother, is a regular character).

Who would have thought that word could ever make a comeback?

Kids behaving badly

Feeling a bit "got at" today. Twice I have heard from other people about my children's behaviour (at school and church).

I'm always embarrassed when this happens. You like to think that your kids aren't annoying other people and are doing what they are told. The reality is, it doesn't always happen.

And when things like this happen, I feel that there is sometimes an underlying criticism of our parenting going on. Since I tend to be oversensitive, there probably isn't, but that doesn't stop me feeling it. And then I think of all the times that I haven't said anything when other people's kids are annoying me. And I want to bite back.

I'll be okay. We've been here before. The kids aren't perfect, neither am I. I just wish it was easier some days. And that all the good things they do could also get noticed sometimes (but that's something I need to work on more too....).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Is it un-Australian... not enjoy Tim Winton's books?

I am trying for the umpteenth time to get started on Cloudstreet. I just can't do it. The copy I've borrowed from the library has pictures from the TV series on the front of it. I thought that might be inspiring enough to get me hooked. But no.

A friend told me yesterday that she's heard there are two Winton camps you can fall into, you either like Cloudstreet or Dirt Music. I haven't read Dirt Music, so I couldn't really comment. But I did read another book of his, Breath, last year. I managed to get that one finished but I didn't enjoy it much either. I think it was the whole "teenage boy experiences sexual awakening by having an illicit affair with an older woman" thing that I disliked in that one. As a parent of boys, I would hate to think that they might get up to anything like that when they become teenagers...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Malory Towers trivia

Simone has a great quiz up on Enid Blyton's Malory Towers series. Test yourself here.

I knew almost all of the answers without having to check the books. I still re-read them every couple of years. I liked her St Clare's series too, but not quite as much as MT.

Nine days and counting....

....without a poo. From Rowan, that is.

I know it's normal for breastfed babies to go this long between poos. Rosie was like this too (but she was a bit of a shock to the system because the boys were the baby type that poo at just about every nappy change). And he's growing fine and gaining weight so I'm not worried he's not getting enough nutrition.

But while it's nice to have most nappy changes requiring relatively little clean up, the arrival of the infrequent poo is a very different story. The nappy rarely copes with the volume produced so we end up with mess over the nappy, the cover, and whatever he happens to be sitting or lying on at the time.

And I get a bit nervous taking him out with me when I think the poo could be on its way because if I'm holding him, I'll end up covered in it as well.

Hopefully tomorrow or Tuesday is the day. We don't have much planned except for swimming squad and the school swimming carnival on Tuesday evening. Getting it done around those events would be greatly appreciated...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

National Year of Reading

This year in Australia is the National Year of Reading.

How cool is that? My favourite leisure activity has a whole year devoted to it...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Our garden clean-up man unearthed a snake

A male brown snake. It's living between our pool and our side fence. I'd be okay with this if it was a carpet snake or a green snake since that would be good for rodent control.

But I'm less comfortable with a brown snake because it's a venomous snake. I'm glad it was the garden maintenance man with protective footwear on who found him. Chris likes to clean up the garden wearing a pair of old falling apart sports shoes. They wouldn't have offered too much protection against a snake who might be a bit cranky about his home being torn up.

So then I rang a local snake catcher for some advice. He charges an $80 call-out fee with no guarantee he'll be able to catch the snake. Today's probably not the best day for him to come since all the disturbance of the gardening has most likely scared the snake away for the moment. The snake might return, but then again he might not (that would be a far cheaper option as far as I'm concerned so I hope that happens...). So we have the snake catcher's number so we can give him a call if we see it again. He can be here in 15 minutes to have a look for it.

Apparently the suburb we live in is (and I quote) "a real hot spot for snakes." Nice to know that. I think we are going to have to be a bit more vigilant about preventing overgrowth in our garden in the future.

And we are going to have to go and tell our next door neighbours about all this. Some of the overgrown trees were pushing the fence over into their yard (lower down than ours) so we needed to clean them up to stop the fence from falling over. We need to let them know that's been done.

But I don't think they'll be so thrilled to hear about the snake. Because if he's slithered off anywhere, he's highly likely to have gone into their yard...

Australians overcoming adversity/obstacles #2

We talked Aidan out of doing Greg Wiggle. So he's now doing Paul Jennings. Paul apparently had his first story rejected when he was a teenager and then didn't start writing again and have his first book published until he was 42 years old.

I'm glad he persevered. I quite enjoyed Round the Twist. I think it was the living in the lighthouse thing that really captured my imagination.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

This blog is hilarious

Pointless, but very very funny. Go and have a look, it will make you laugh, I promise!

Some days, living with a toddler can be soul-destroying

It's just lucky they are cute enough on the other days to make up for it. Praying for patience.

That is all.