Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Julian's Christmas lights outing

Would you believe that a Canberra house made it into the Guiness Book of records for the most number of Christmas lights?  331,038 lights in fact.

This is a great picture, it wasn't this magical on the night!  It's best captured on video as the flicker in time to christmas carols.

Here's another video, which is similar but a bit nicer done I think.

I hate to think what the electricity bill would be like!  It did say that it was all renewable energy on a sign outside the house.  Money was being collected (gold coin entry) for SIDS kids.  There were so many people there when we went, and we went quite early too, it was only just getting dark.  A very impressive display, and brought plenty of Christmas cheer for all the young children (and grown ups) as well.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The light has switched on!

Last week, Julian suddenly seemed to have a light switched on in his head, because one day he just started copying the words I was telling him!  That was around early December.

It's amazing but it feels like in 2-3 weeks his vocabulary has doubled.  Now he says things like fish, balloon (boon), egg, ant, all gone and all done on a regular basis.  It's really heartwarming!

I am wondering how long it will be before I can actually talk to him :)

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Lunar Eclipse on 11 December

Stayed up till 1am to take this pic, and it wasn't really a great picture, but it was the best I could manage without a tripod.  Love the red moon.  I've never seen one, I don't think, but now I have.  It was great at 9pm then got cloudy around 11pm and then it cleared up just for about 15 minutes at 1am. 

Friday, 2 December 2011

Joke of the Day - Potentially vs Realistically

A boy asks his father, "Dad, what's the difference between potentially and realistically?"

His dad thinks for a minute.  "Ok, son, we'll have to show you the answer to this as a practical experiment.  I want you to go ask your mother, your sister and your brother if they would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars."

So the boy goes to his mother and asks "Mum, would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?"

The mother thinks for a moment and says "Well, I mean I shouldn't, but I guess we have a mortgage to pay off and we could do with a holiday, so I guess, yeah I would sleep with him for a million dollars."

The boy then goes to his 21 year old sister.  "Hey sis, would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?"

"A million dollars?" his sister exclaimed.  "I'd do it for free!"

So the boy goes to his brother and says "Hey, would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?"

His brother screws up his forehead.  "Well, it's a bit weird, but a million dollars is a lot of money.  I guess so, just for the money."

The boy goes back to his father and tell him his findings.  "So, Dad, what does it all mean?  How does this tell me about Potentially and realistically?"

"Well," says his father, "Potentially we're sitting on 3 million dollars here.  Realistically we're living with 2 whores and a queer."

Sunday, 27 November 2011


I introduced my kids to Avatar the other day.  And you know what?  They loved it.

So Erika calls it the Blue Papa movie.  Where the Blue Papa dies near the home tree that fell down and everyone is crying.  She asked Aunty J if she could watch the Blue Papa movie and Aunty J was stumped until she went to look at the recent DVDs watched and realised she meant Avatar.

So Erika's understanding of the story is (ie what I explained)

The people with the robot clothes and flying the helicopters are bad people.
The blue people are good people
The bad people made their home tree fall down and burned it
The blue papa died and everyone cried
Then the bad people came to kill the magic tree
So everyone came to save the magic tree

Piggy Bunny

Kids say the cutest things.  Erika calls this Piggy Bunny.

 Poor Piglet :P

Monday, 14 November 2011

Taronga Zoo's new tiger cubs

Being Family Fun day on Sunday, we decided to make a trip to the zoo and see the new tiger cubs, who are now 10 weeks old.  There are 3 of them, 2 males and one female.  We left really early in the morning to make sure we were on the 9:15am ferry and there were quite a few people there already.  I guess they all had the same idea we had.  And also, we wanted to avoid the hot weather, but the forecast did say a maximum of 24-26, with minimal chance of rain.

The tiger exhibit didn't open till 10am and there were signs saying that the cubs would be out from 10am till 1pm so they wouldn't get too tired.  So we didn't wander over that early.  We made our way there about 1015am.

But there was a HUGE queue!  Which I guess, was to be expected, since they were new.  And they were funnelling people through 30 at a time and letting them look for about 3-4 minutes, which was great - plenty of time and not too crowded so the kids and us could get some good views and pics if needed.  But the wait was horrible.  Lining up with toddlers for almost half an hour is not my idea of fun.

The zoo has gone some major renovations and the front entrance has been revamped and looks fantastic.

One of the startling things that occurred was at lunch, when I gave Julian a potato chip to eat, and he was holding it and an ibis came along and pecked it out of his hand!  He was startled, but didn't cry but he didn't want to eat any more chips after that.  Damn pesky ibises.  That was INSIDE the food hall too!

The baby elephants have grown up so much.  And the Free Flight Bird Show has changed a little as well, with black cockatoos including a Glossy Black (I think) being displayed as part of the show.  This time we had an Australian Hobby doing some fast dives which was new, and also the usual barking owl, barn owl, Andean condor (though I always like that one), Brolga and Galah.  Julian was asleep for the whole thing but Erika was awake.

The seal at the exit was cute as well.  Sitting there at the bottom of the tank checking us out.

The ferry back was on a catamaran instead of a ferry, which was nice!  Sat up top for a little bit, but the sun got to me after a while and I headed back down below with everyone else.  Weather was great though, and all in all it was a nice day out.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The missing maternal link

I was reading an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today about maternal ambivalence, and what causes a mother to spurn her own child.  But it is actually about a lot more than that.

It starts off talking about a movie coming out where the mother is examining the relationship between her and her 15 year old son after he's gone and slaughtered his school mates.  How it was difficult to connect with him as a child, and whether that led to his sociopathic behaviour.  Then it talks about how difficult it must be for parents who don't immediately love their child and how difficult it can be to talk about it because of reactions like "You must be a bad mother, what's wrong with you" as you, the new mother don't perform like the stereotypical happy-I'm-so-thrilled mother that you're supposed to be.

This quote from the article is an example:
Edwina, 40, remembers the horror on a colleague's face when she joked that she would probably be "cheering at the gate" when it came time for her two children to start school.

"This woman told me, 'Well, that's disgusting. Those children should be everything to you,' " Edwina recalls. "She just looked at me and walked away."
I don't think I had baby blues or post natal depression, but I know that new mother life was not all about roses and cherubs.  I think most people accept that now.  But though complaining about the lack of sleep and constant work that a new baby generates is ok, it is the depression symptoms that people don't tolerate.  People who resent their child taking away their free time.  People who get angry and want to hurt their baby for crying and you don't know why.  People who secretly wish to kill their baby - people think OMG horror what a bad parent, but post natal depression is a real problem, and these parents need support because I'm sure inside they think "What is wrong with me, why can't I love my baby like I'm supposed to?" and feelings of guilt and self loathing perpetuate the depression.  Those people need support, reassurance, counselling and perhaps medication - not "You should be happy to be lucky to have such a sweet baby, shame on you."

It is amazing what people will say about your parenting choices.  I am not a stay at home mother, I work a full career and my kids have nannies 3 days a week for 10 hours a day and spend almost 4 hours in the car 2 of those days getting back and forth from nannies/work.  But at the end of the day, the kids love to see mummy, mummy is still their main source of comfort, and I do get satisfaction from that.  Who says you can't have a career and a family too?  It is just a balance of priorities.  When you come home and the kids want to be all over you, spend time with them!  In the morning, make sure you get up early and spend time with the kids before you go to work, no matter how early it is.  I am up at 530 with Julian, and then Erika wakes up and I try to get them fed before 7am so I can get to work.  So I do see them, even though I'm off early, and I like to put them to bed when I get home.  My kids accept that mummy has to go to work.  So putting in those extra hours always pays off, I think.  I am just lucky I don't need much sleep.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Things I wish I could fix about my son

There are some things that Julian does which I have no idea how to fix or stop:

Bleeding nose at night

The blood stained sheets and pillows, the dried blood all over his face and hands... GAH!  My mattresses and pillow all have blood stains on them and it drives me nuts.  I do have mattress protectors but stripping the bed every night to soak and wash sheets (especially in the middle of the night) just does my head in.  I have started putting cream/Vaseline in his nose to see if I can keep it moisturised and prevent more episodes, but if he is picking his nose at night... how do you stop that???  Very frustrating

Slipping his arms out of his seatbelt

Slipping his arms out of his seatbelt no matter how tight I put his seat belt is another irritating thing.  If only the harness clip was higher on his chest, then he wouldn't be able to get it out.  I tried tying it near his neck but he pulls that down and still slips his arms out, and he can lean forward to the chair in front and touch his head to it.  If the cops ever pull me over, I will be in big trouble.

Climbing, touching things, rolling the blinds down

This must just be naughty boy behaviour because my daughter never did it.  I keep trying to make him stop by taking him away and constantly telling him not to climb/touch it but he still does it.  Everyone says it's because he is spoilt and undisciplined.  But Erika would not touch things after being told, why won't he?  Even smacking doesn't work.  All I can do is continue to stop him from doing it and being consistent I guess.  But it is so hard when there don't seem to be results.

Waking up at 530am 
I am lucky that I get up early, so this doesn't bother me so much, but hubby is not an early person.  Going to sleep really late gets him up at 6am but I don't like him sleeping so late.  I like my kids going to bed between 730-830pm.  But he is a little alarm clock, most days he is up at 515am but he can sometimes be in bed till 6am if I'm lucky.  Not sure how to fix it though.  At least he knows that once it's 6am it's time to get out of his room

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Mona Simpson's Eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs

It is not often that I read anything in the paper that moves me to tears.  I even remember the last time I had tears in my eyes from anything in the news, and that was a few months after I had Julian, and there was a run of toddler deaths on the news and my eyes were stinging from unshed tears - I blamed the hormones, baby blues or whatever fancy name they have for it these days.

Today, I finished late at work and I came home and read the paper.  One of the articles was a picture of Steve Jobs with the caption "Steve Jobs's last words: 'Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow'.

I read the brief highlights of the eulogy - and this line captured my attention:
"Even as a feminist, my whole life I'd been waiting for a man to love, who could love me," she wrote.

"For decades, I'd thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother."
I was curious.  So I clicked on the link to find out more about this long lost sister that was trusted with the eulogy of one of the world's most famous, and richest, men.

This was the eulogy published in Sunday's New York Times:
I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild. This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.

We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter.

I told Steve I’d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.

Steve told me it was a good thing I’d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful.

I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.

Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.

That’s incredibly simple, but true.

He was the opposite of absent-minded.

He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.

When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.

He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.

Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.

For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.

He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.

He was willing to be misunderstood.

Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.

Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.

His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.

Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.

When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.

They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.

This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there.

And he did.

Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning.

Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.

Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.

With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun.

He treasured happiness.

Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.

Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.

I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.

Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes.

“You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.

He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.

I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.

Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham.

One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially.

I told him: Steve, this is special treatment.

He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”

Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.

For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to.

By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.

None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.

I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.

What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.

Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.

His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.

He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.

Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.

He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.

This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing.

But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:

By the end of it, tears were pouring down my face.  What a beautifully written tribute to her brother.  The admiration and love for him was shining from her words, and she described him in the brightest of lights.
I remember when I heard Steve Jobs died.  I was at work, in the private hospital.  Someone walked into my theatre and said Steve Jobs had died.  I said, but I just read the paper, I didn't see that in the paper.  So back I went to the Sydney Morning Herald and it was splashed all over the front page.  I sms'd my sister, who was sleeping.  When she woke up she said "Who?" but I knew she would realise who it was as soon as I said "CEO of Apple".

I never really knew anything about Steve Jobs except that he had so many funky ideas for Apple.  I knew he was one of the creators, kicked out and then came back and made Apple even more fantastic than it had been before.  He was what I imagined famous CEOs to be - full of ideas, faces for the company, the symbol of their brand.  He also seemed to be a bit of hippy to me as well - I heard he tried alternative treatments for his cancer before he returned to conventional medicine.

So I was a bit sad, but not overwhelmed or moved to tears at his death.  People die.  A sad day for Apple and Steve Jobs' family.  But I thought nothing more of it except that I'm sure that multiple biographies and stories and quotes would flood the internet for a while.  Maybe there would even be a limited edition iPod with a tribute signiture or something for those die hard Apple fans.  I thought no more on it.

Until today.

So after reading it, I thought I had to put it here so I could read it again without having to google it, and remember the feelings I felt when I read it.  Admiration for his determination.  I could feel the love his sister felt.  The sadness of losing a sibling, which you felt was before his time.  The desperation of a man who had so many things he wanted to do and not enough time to do it.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

QANTAS flights grounded

Hubby and I went to Melbourne this weekend - he had a conference and I was going to catch up with some friends.  I had a nice day catching up with some World of Warcraft friends.

However, when we were going out for dinner, I got a call from HK saying that QANTAS had grounded all flights voluntarily because of the industrial action.  There have been a lot of worker strikes because of industrial dispute about a refusal to give a 2.5% pay rise.  However, the CEO of QANTAS, Alan Joyce recently gave himself a 66% pay rise.

As soon as I heard, I tried to get HK to book me a flight on Virgin Blue out of Melbourne.  He managed to get me one at 3pm.  However, about an hour later, all flights on Virgin Blue out of Melbourne were sold out.  Cost me a pretty penny though!

At present the Government is thinking of stepping in to intervene, and there are talks due to start soon.  I have to say it's all rather exciting.  I wonder how long it will take to resolve.

Fortunately QANTAS has released a statement that I will receive a full refund on my ticket.  So at least I can take my Virgin Blue flight and not worry that I have 2 flights to pay for.

Friday, 28 October 2011

NBN coming to ME soon!

Being in metropolitan Sydney I was super excited to see that they are rolling out in my area!  One of the surgeons I work with SMS'd me to let me know that the local paper front page said that NBN was coming to my suburb.

So I looked the rollout schedule and was pleased to see that it was true!

So I hope my house will be able to be connected.  I am sure it will be able to.  And I will be the first to sign up, and I wonder if this will be the end of my internet troubles.

They said that it may be up to 12 months before I can get connected, but if they are starting soon, then hey I will be excited as in one year I will be on fibre.  Woot!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A use for my Very Hungry Caterpillar Sticker book

I have so many copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar - I have 2 of the board books, one large paperback and this sticker book.  I never took the stickers out and put them into the book because... well, because I thought it was more fun to use it as a backup book for when I can't seem to find the others (lost under the bed, left at Grandma's house etc).

But!  I have found a use for my Count with The Very Hungry Caterpillar book.  Erika has been reluctant to go to the toilet on her own (she always wants me to go with her and wipe her botty, or carry her to put her on the toilet) but she loves to stick the stickers in the book.  So I told her each time she does everything herself on the toilet,  she gets to stick a sticker in the book.

In fact it's going so well, that I may have to buy another sticker book of some sort for her to do.  Though I'm hoping by the time stickers run out, she will be independent and not need me in the bathroom anymore.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Another Gastro Bug - OK It's not over yet...

Just when I thought things were better I got sick yesterday afternoon - when I went to a friend's house (HK) for dinner. No wonder the kids were grouchy, sore tummy doesn't make you feel good at all. Though I had more diarrheoa than them so far...

I wonder if and when hubby is going to get it. My BIL and SIL got it on Sunday, and I got it Monday so tomorrow sounds like it will be his day to get it if at all. Fingers crossed that he doesn't get it at all.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Kids vs grandparents and the Bluray player

Yesterday we went out for dinner and my in laws looked after them and put them to bed.  My mother in law was highly amused by an event that occurred.

Julian was playing with the playstation and the DVD player as he often does, and Erika asked Grandma if she could watch a DVD.  Grandma had no idea how to work the DVD/Bluray player.  She took the box and gave the DVD to Julian, who opened the DVD player and loaded up the DVD, then climbed onto the couch beside Grandma to watch the DVD.  He fell asleep watching it.

Another Gastro bug - thank god it's over!

On Friday, Julian seemed fine, but I got calls later in the day from my SIL who was looking after them saying that Julian had vomitted 3 times and also had some very watery diarrhoea.  He was very lethargic and tired and wanted to sleep a lot so I just let him sleep.  He had one further vomit on Saturday morning and seemed fine by Sunday.

Erika went with me to a birthday party on Saturday and on Sunday ate her breakfast fine, and I went out to meet some friends for lunch.  Hubby called me just before midday to say Erika was vomitting.  I went home and we tried to put her to bed but she did another huge vomit in her bed onto the wall and her bedding - YUK!  Then she had a few more vomits downstairs.  Probably about 6 vomits total, and one very watery diarrhoea.  She was brighter by the evening compared to her brother who was listless and miserable for at least 24-36 hours.  Today she looks totally normal, and is eating suprisingly well.

Now my SIL is sick.  I wonder will be the next victim.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Happy birthday! - here's some head lice

Erika and I went to a birthday party on Sunday, but unfortunately the weather was abyssmal and was pouring rain.  Erika was very shy and didn't talk much but after a while she got into the food, and was eating BBQ prawns, cashew nuts, sausages and chips.  I had her in her gumboots and raincoat so she didn't get wet but we got wet getting back into the car because I had to get her in the car and take off the raincoat and of course all the water on the raincoat ended up on the baby seat.

So today I saw FR, the mum of the girl whose birthday it was and she told me that her daughter M has head lice.  GREAT!

So now I have psychological head lice, because my head is itching like crazy now.  I will have to inspect Erika when I get home.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The funny things Erika says

My little girl is picking up more and more of adult speak every day!

Today I was trying to give her something.  I can't remember exactly what it was - perhaps it was some food, or a drink, or some toilet paper.  And I said to her "Here, do you want it now or do you want it later?"

"Later," she replied me.

"Well, where do you want me to put it now?" I asked

"Just leave it," she said.

What an adult thing to say!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Baby slings and how to keep your baby safe

An article today in the Sydney Morning Herald about a 2 day old South Australian baby who died while being carried in a sling under his mother's clothing is an awful tragedy.  In a letter to the Medical Journal of Australia, published today, two pathology experts say as tests found no other explanation for the Adelaide baby's death the cause was recorded as undetermined, but the sling was "considered a risk factor".  This is the first known fatality of a baby in a sling recorded in Australia.  There have been 16 deaths reported in the United States and Canada attributed to baby slings.

One thing to note here was that the poor mother was wearing the baby under the mother's shirt and jumper.  Which in itself is dangerous, as being under all those clothes can also cause suffocation.
The ACCC has issued a saftey alert for baby slings and there may be soon be mandatory safety standards.

Having used slings for both my babies I am going to share what I know about the safe use of baby slings:
  • Always be able to keep a visual contact with your baby.  I never had my infant under clothing, the sling was always on the outside of my clothing (I even bought a second, bigger size sling so I could compensate for clothing)
  • Avoid excessive neck flexion and nose/mouth pressing against the cloth or your skin.  This can lead to suffocation.  I found that the sling would often put them in that position and you would have to turn them slightly so they face more upwards rather than into your chest (though that chest facing position was good for breastfeeding if you wanted to breastfeed your baby in your sling)
  • Be vigilant!  I know it can be hard when you're busy with a few kids but I did try to make sure I could hear breathing or some kind of noise from the baby.
  • Don't lean forward excessively with the baby - squat lift things - otherwise your baby could tumble out of the sling.
  • Never eat hot food or hot drinks while carrying baby in a baby sling!  You could spill it on the baby.
I used Jazsling and Peanut Shell slings for my kids.  This picture shows the correct positioning of the baby in the sling.  Facing outwards, outside of the clothing, and in easy visual contact with the parent.  Jazslings are very light, and at the time quite cheap!  They are a bit more pricey now, and you can also breastfeed with them, but I was never very successful at doing that.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Kite flying in Bicentennial Park

 It was a nice day on the weekend so we took the kids out to the Bicentennial park so we could fly some kites.  There was quite a bit of wind.  We bought some new kites to fly and they actually flew really well!

There was an older gentleman there too with his kites and he had a whole trolley bag full of  kites and he was flying them near us.  I was worried we would "cross the streams" but it was ok.
Hubby is excited and wants to buy more kites now, as well as a fishing reel type thing for reeling in your kite.  The kids were happy to look at the kites but a bit scared to hold them because of the pulling feeling I think.  Anyway, guess I won't be taking them fishing either any time soon

Monday, 5 September 2011

Family friendly Eats (Sydney) - An Restaurant

An Restaurant in Bankstown is a Vietnamese noodle house that specialises (in fact, only makes) Pho, the Vietnamese Rice Noodle soup.  We have eaten there a few times, but I wanted to blog about it today because I had a nice experience there on Saturday.

Located near the Bankstown Sports Club, there is a free public multistory car park nearby which is where we always park. It can get really busy though, so traffic around there can be slow.

When we walked in, we were immediately ushered to a table, and a high chair put there for Julian, without even asking.  The orders are always quick and the food comes quickly (I guess because for them a quick turnover makes good money), but then again they aren't making much except Beef Noodle Soup.

One of the complaints people have about Pho An is that it isn't cheap.  A medium Pho is about $10, and a large just a bit more than that.  For Pho that is quite pricey.  However, the service, the speed at which food comes out and ease of ordering is what makes it worth it in my opinion.  It was very family friendly - not just the high chairs coming without asking, but also they gave us plastic bowls and spoons for the kids when they came to take our order.  It was such a relief, because screaming hungry kids is what makes eating out a real pain sometimes.

Address: 27 Greenfield Parade, Bankstown
Ph: (02) 9796 7826

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Father's Day - Family Fun Day, Australian Museum and Dumplings for lunch

For Father's day we went to the Australian Museum to see the Beauty from Nature: art of the Scott sisters.  I was quite excited because I really love natural history publications and old lithographs/watercolours/botanical prints.

From the Australian Museum website:

Beautiful and intricate, this stunning exhibition features more than 60 delicate watercolours, as well as rarely-seen notebooks, handwritten manuscripts, sketches and letters, which together form a fascinating record of the lives of Harriet (Hattie) and Helena (Nellie) Scott.

Turn back the pages as you uncover the captivating story of these two extraordinary women whose love of nature and tremendous skill in rendering its beauty enabled them to distinguish themselves amid the male-dominated world of 19th century science.

The highlight of the exhibition is the 60 watercoloured paintings created between 1846 and 1851 for their father A.W Scott’s landmark publication Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations.

Considered the finest examples of the sisters’ work, the paintings feature caterpillars in life-like poses, gorgeous butterflies, native flowers and stunning landscapes.

The exhibition features more than 100 of the original moths and butterflies collected by the Scotts during their research for the Lepidoptera and donated to the Australian Museum in the 1860s.

I even asked Erika what did she want to do on Father's day - would she like to see pictures of butterflies or go to the zoo?  She said she would like to see pictures of butterflies.

I loved the watercolours and sketches.  The scientific detail was excellent, and I think that any of their prints would make an excellent addition to my wall!

One of the other great things about our day out was that it was Sunday - which is Family Fun Day for Cityrail.  This means that for $2.50 you can get an all day public transport ticket as long as you have at least one child with you, and travel around as much as you want.  So the kids got to ride on the train and have some fun, and we got some cheap transport.

For lunch we went to check out the Westfield in Pitt St Mall.  Haven't been there since the revamp and it looks great.  We went to the food court (thinking, ugh what boring Westfield food are we going to have today) and it was actually a REALLY nice food court.  They had Din Tai Fung Dumpling Express there, so that's what I ended up getting us for lunch, and they had a Becasse Bakery and so many fast food outlets I hadn't seen before but would love to go back and try again the next time I go to the city.  Sushi, Mexican, kebabs, fish, health food... too many things to choose from!  So we had the Xiao Long Bao and Siu Mai steamed with the soup inside (kids didn't like that for some reason), and the fried Siu Mai, as well as the dessert steamed dumplings and hot and sour soup.  Pricey but yummy! (Pics here by Food Booze shoes for Urbanspoon).

So for Father's day, hubby got a card with Baba written by Erika, and I got him a Tempur pillow to try.  Hope it works well for him.  At the end of our outing, hubby thanked me for the fun Father's day.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Why Lazy Parents Make Happy Families

This is the title of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today which says that kids and parents are getting exhausted from the myriad of extracurricular activities that parents feel their kids need to stay healthy, active and educated.

Now I wanted to read this article because I am a lazy parent.  I hate the idea of carting the kids around to call sorts of classes and sports.  I hear my friends with kids talking about the 4 hours they spend driving the kids to and from school every day - there is no way I could do that!  And how their Saturday was spent taking the son to cricket in the morning, the daughter to ballet, pick up the son and take him for his piano class, then pick up the daughter to take her to drama class, and then pick them both up for dinner, and then take them out to their friends' houses for some sort of birthday party etc.  Phew!

So here are the tips from that article:

1. Eat together as a family in the evening. It promotes easy conversation about everyone's day.
2. Limit your child's activities to one or two per week - or whatever gives you the right balance as a family.
3. Check in with yourself to assess if your routine is making you stressed, and to make sure you have enough time to give your children unstructured play.
4. Get creative. Leave a box of random household items in your child's room and change the objects regularly, or leave random objects (an old hockey stick, a tennis racket or a ball) in the garden, or kitchen utensils in the sandpit.
5. Turn off the TV or computer and send the kids outside instead.
6. Don't apply the same rules for all kids - they're often very different.
7. If you let your children do an activity, let them choose what they want to do.
8. Don't be afraid of saying no to your child to one activity, or telling them they need to compromise.
9. Prioritise sleep (especially if you have younger children). All families are happier if the parents are feeling good.
10. Go camping. There'll be no distractions and plenty of time, space and inspiration for some good child's play.

So how will this affect how I bring my kids?  I'm not sure if it will.  I have never felt the need to keep up with the Jones's (I have lots of friends taking their kids to dance class, Gymbaroo, playgroup, swim school), and I like to teach the kids to entertain themselve at home.  They like to go out in the garden and play with pebbles and pull up weeds (and put pebbles in the drain, in the outdoor heater... etc).  I want my kids to walk to school and catch the train to school when they are in high school.  However I will still structure their time a little - set times for meals, wakeup, bedtime.  It can't all be free reign!  And if I had to choose extra curricular activities?  Well, one thing I do love is going to the Australian Museum.  I would love if one of my kids would go with me and we could do things with nature, learning about science, or doing a Dinosnore (sleepover in the museum).  And the zoo too.  I love the zoo.  I think photography would be a great thing for the kids to get into.  I would love to go out with them doing nature photography.

But hey, am I pushing them too much?  They are only toddlers after all!  Should I do more lazy parenting? Haha, I think that article is just trying to say that we shouldn't feel guilty if we are lazy or if we are hyper parents, there are studies to support both.  Just as long as you are happy with what you do.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Julian at 22 months, Erika at 3.5 years

Julian seems now to understand almost everything I say to him.  Things like closing the door, give this item to Baba (dad), go and get your shoes...

He also has taken an interest in books now, which he didn't like last month.  He points at items in the picture books, and can even point to some of the correct items.  Chair, ball, aeroplane, car, helicopter, teddy bear, train, door are examples of the ones he can correctly point out in a book if asked to.  When I taught him door, I knocked on the picture of the door, and now he knocks on the door when I ask him to point to the door.

His toiletting is good now, and I often put him without a nappy during the day.   I still have the occasional accidnents, probably about once a day, but the rest of the time he does his wees and poos on the potty or toilet.

Erika has a good vocabulary and talks complete sentences and has quite a good memory for things.  She also says sorry appropriately now, in fact she says it a lot, quite sincerely.

She busted me the other day when I went up to get her out of bed when I was running late for work.  I opened her door with a cup of soy milk in my hand, and she was awake and she looked at me and said "Mama, you're not supposed to eat on the carpet.  Mama is not supposed to eat upstairs.  Mama is naughty!"  Oops!

She can get on the toilet herself and wipe after toiletting but she has to be supervised.  She doesn't do it on her own yet (I wish she would!)

Lying down with your kids to sleep - am I doing more harm than help?

We all get into that bad habit when the kids are babies where they settle when you carry them, and you get into the bad habit of carrying them to sleep.  My daughter was like that until about 15 months of age when I left her with my parents for a bit and they kept carrying her to sleep.  I was pregnant then and I did NOT want to carry her as she was getting heavy and so when I put her to bed I would lay down next to her and let her snuggle up to me and sleep.  Of course it started off with wailing, crying, climbing all over me, tossing and turning, doing 360s in the bed... but it would work and after a while everyone saw that it worked and stopped carrying her.

But, 2 years down the track, we are still lying down to put her to sleep, and we do that for my son also.  In fact neither of my children will lie down in their rooms to sleep on their own, they wail and cry and get hugely upset until they vomit if one of us doesn't lie down to sleep with them.  We do leave them once they are asleep though!

I have often wondered if I am doing more harm than good.  Everyone else has their kids sleeping in their own rooms, by themselves.  I read lots of books about self settling and being firm, and though I have tried it, I am not successful and end up with tears, stress and husband/wife fights.

All the great parenting books will tell you that encouraging children to sleep in their own rooms allows parents privacy (and sanity).  And I don't disagree!  But what are the effects on children?  Some studies say that there is an increase in cortisol when children sleep on their own (stress hormones).  An article by Jennifer Coburn outlined some interesting research points.
  • Babies who sleep alone are more susceptible to stress disorders (Michael Commons, Harvard psychiatrist).  When babies are left alone to cry by themselves, levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) rise, and constant stimulation by cortisol in infancy causes physical changes in the brain, making them more prone to the effects of stress, illness (including mental illness), and making it harder to recover from that illness.
  • McKenna showed that babies who co-sleep spend time in Phase III sleep (which is where the risk of apnoeas is increased), and they learn healthy breathing patterns from bunkmates (gee you hope that mum doesn't snore or have sleep apnoea!)
So co-sleeping with your infant is supposed to give them less stress and decrease the risk of SIDS.  Ok, so why does everyone say that you should put them in their own room to cry to sleep?

It is likely because of the Western valuing independence.  Children sleeping on their own, feeding themselves, is important in modern and Western values.  Also it is a relatively new thing, in the last 200 years, that sleeping separately for infants has emerged.  New psychologists say that parents need their time to themselves for the sake of their marriage, and that the children will develop abnormal sleeping habits if they sleep with their parents.

All this is very interesting, but it doesn't answer my question: Does sleeping with my kids to put them to sleep cause them to develop a bad habit or behaviour problem?  Does it cause more damage than good?  Because I am putting them to sleep so they know I'm there, but when they wake up they are alone.  However, the kids are free to join our bed or ask us to come to their bed if they wake up at night.  This is detrimental to my husband's sleep, but I don't find it too bad.  Julian can now open his door and when he wakes up too early, I go and lie down with him until he is asleep.  The same with Erika, she often comes to the room asking for me to sleep with her and I do.  Is this detrimental to their health?  It doesn't feel like it, but I can imagine for some families or parents who need more sleep than I do, that it can be detrimental for your sanity, rest, and wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of your marriage.

So I think I am tempted to say that lying down with my kids is NOT bad for them.  It is bad for the parent who is busy or for those who have fragile marriages.  I know that the one thing that I don't like about lying down with the kids is the amount of time it takes up.  In this day and age where we value our own time, using your time like that can be annoying.

I will keep researching, and perhaps I might receive comments as well about people who know of some reasearch that either proves or disproves my ideas.

    Wednesday, 10 August 2011

    Julian - Vocabulary Update

    In the last few days Julian started to say Poh Poh (Maternal grandmother)!  I thought it was just a fluke but he said it continuously while I was talking to my mother on the phone.  I swear it sounded like he said Hewo Poh Poh...

    He usually just says Ah Mah when he picks up the phone and holds it to his ear (Paternal Grandmother).  Hubby's mum thinks it's so cute.

    So now he is consistently saying Poh Poh when I am telling him who is on the phone.  I think my mum is quite chuffed with that.

    At the supermarket on the weekend, I picked up a box of Nutri grain and there was a soccerball on the back of the box.  Julian pointed at it and said ball.

    And this is cute - when he sees daddy he runs to him yelling Baba.  So cute.  I keep telling hubby that if he sees him doing that he has to pick him up or give him a cuddle and not ignore him!  Because that cute behaviour is only going to last a few more years.  I think I should try to video it so we can remember.

    Apple is one he sometimes says.  I am sure I have heard him vocalise it but I don't think he's said it in conjunction with an apple.  He does say nana when he sees Bananas though.  Not that we have many bananas lying around the house, since they're like $16 a kilo!  He gets them at Nanny M's house.

    So we're getting there, slowly but surely!

    Tuesday, 9 August 2011

    Like mother like son - up at the crack of dawn

    Julian has stopped waking up at 6am and now is rising at 4.30-5.30 am.  It is driving my husband crazy (he is not a morning person).  Fortunately for me I don't mind because I don't sleep much.

    It started about 2-3 weeks ago, and it happened to coincide with him being able to reach the door handle and open the door on his own.  So now instead of knocking on the door to be let out of his room when he woke up in the morning, he opens his own door, comes into my room and makes that Nghhh sound (a grunty sound when you're trying to poop!) to let me know he needs to go to the toilet.  Though I suspect that he makes that sound to get me to take off his nappy, because I put him on the toilet and nothing happens.

    At first I was lying in his room and trying to coax him back to sleep, but now I am taking him downstairs and sitting with me while I get on World of Warcraft and do my boring rares hunting in Outland and Northrend.  He watches Baby Einstein videos on the other monitor and snacks on some breakfast cereal.  That occupies him for about half an hour.

    Tried and tested - 3 years of MCN - What lasts the distance

    I spent a lot of money on cloth nappies!  It is hard to know what works until you tried it and I tried so many nappies but ended up using only a few after the 6 month age.  Here are my experiences and recommendations (including vendor interactions!)

    Longest lasting nappies

    Baby Beehinds - in fact all of my BBH have had excellent wear and use over 3 years and I would say they still had one more baby in them!  The Bamboo fitteds were fantastic and hardy, the inserts last ages and don't fray or decay, and I found them the best in terms of leakage protection (but then again I had a cover on them).  I had one Hemp fitted which is a little bit coarse but still a decent nappy.  I used lots of the trifold boosters inside the nappies leaving my kids with huge bums but great absorbency.  I had a few magicalls which were fantastic for carers/nannies/grandparents as they are so simple and they also were excellent wear - I think the velcro was better than the snaps though in terms of fit.  And the Baby Beehind Nights are fantastic, if I could buy just one night nappy it would probably be these, because the really are absorbent and hard wearing. The Baby Beehind Petites are good for quick out and abouts but they don't last long, but at least they are slim and fit well under clothes. The I think that you could satsify all your nappying needs with just Baby Beehinds.  And did I mention they are great value too?  Davina the founder was who I dealt with when I did a lot of my orders and she probably now has such a big business that she doesn't so much sales or promos anymore but the BBH sales and service has always been friendly and helpful.

    Most beautiful nappies

    Wild child nappies - I really love my Wild Childs - a shame that the inserts didn't last that long!  I had to have them replaced after a year, and then they were looking tatty again recently.  I'm not sure if it's because I use them a lot or whether the kids just have toxic wee!  I had one all in one but I didn't really like it that much, the fit was ok but the design was not that great with the leg part curling outwards a lot.  However the fitteds and night nappies were superb and I would often reach for these.  Though Michelle at WC was courteous I often got the feeling that she thought I was a pain in the butt (though maybe I was being sensitive).  I would highly recommend this nappy.

    Best customer Service

    Sustainable Hemp Products - I bought the Sandman night nappies and some of the newborn nappies which were great up to 6 months.  Michelle was the best salesperson of the lot - friendly and helpful and really made me want to go back and get more.  Though her nappies weren't the best fit ( I did have a lot of issues with wing droops but when it's in a nappy cover who notices right?), she always seemed to remember me and send such lovely emails and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say about her product.  The bamboo night nappies were the best night nappies I think!  And they have lasted for a long time - good wear and tear nappies these ones!

    Easiest to use nappies

    Ittibitti nappies - These were great nappies but didn't absorb much, even with that tiny little booster in them.  However the earlier versions seemed to better made in my opinion!  The later versions started to fray a lot earlier and have issues with snaps coming off and inserts wearing out and that crunchy funny feeling that you get when the PUL starts to peel off from inside the nappy.  However, they were trim and always sat really well on my kids.  Great under jeans!  I would have to recommend the medium size, they had the longest wear in my opinion.

    Honourable mentions

    Cute Tooshies - these nappies though not very absorbent seemed to last from birth till toilet training for us, even though lots of people said they had issues with low rise and plumber's crack but it wasn't much of an issue in my family.  I bought a whole bunch of them cheap too, and I did boost them rather heavily.  By the end of 3 years they did start to show their wear and tear though.  These were one of the first nappies I bought!  I never got any blue ones ut I had the plain and the pinks.

    Blueberry - My favourite pocket nappies, I found these are the only pocket nappies that I didn't have leaks out of.  Excellent for carers and fast drying - I only had minky ones and they were really good nappies.  They are American so they are a bit pricey but I think they were well worth it.  You can buy them at Baby Blossom, The Weewuns, and Baby Soft Landings.  And they are one size fit all, so you can use them for 2 years!  I wish I had bought more of these, I think I only had 3.  I bought a few as gifts for friends with new babies, but I was SOOO tempted to keep them for myself.

    Cloth wipes

    I started out cutting out squares of flannel, but what worked really well was these baby face towels you can buy from Woolworths or BigW (I think they are called Little Wishes or something) and I used those for bum wiping.  However, the BEST cloth wipes I got were bought on (now called by beautbots, and they are the BEST wipes ever, I use them for wiping snotty noses and dirty food covered faces, and in the shower/bath.  I also pack them for taking out.  They are cute flannel print one side and sherpa cotton the other side, and I must have bought 3 lots of 5 because I loved them so much!

    Images are courtesy of all the shops that I've linked, and I just had to say that this post was inspired by my nappy cleanout!  I culled my huge pile down recently to what I like to use and these are the ones which made it into the keepers (whoops, except the Cute Tooshies which all had to be retired because of wear and tear)

    Heroes and what it means to me

    After watching Captain America, I got thinking to superheroes and how I have always admired superheroes.  I feel like these days, kids don't really have superheroes or even heroes that they can look up to from the entertainment point of view.

    When I was growing up, I loved cartoons about superheroes, comic book characters, secret identities.  My favourite superhero then (and even now) is Spiderman.  I could really relate to Spidey, he was a nerdy sciency kid who was bitten by a radioactive spider and turned into an amazing Spiderman, with superhuman abilities.  And of course what do we do with new found abilities?  We use it for money and glory.  But he learned his lesson the hard way with the loss of his uncle when a criminal escaped that he could have stopped, gunned down his beloved Uncle Ben.  And the words his uncle spoke to him:

    With great power, comes great responsibility.

    I really looked up to Spidey, I wanted to be Spiderman!  I wanted to be nerdy by day and a superhero by night, with nobody knowing who I was and being your "friendly neighbourhood Spiderman".  Perhaps I am still naive with the wholesome look that he had, but at least I had my hero.

    So, watching Captain America, I was really moved by the character.  I never really read the comic but I knew how he came to be, a nerdy sickly kid who wanted to join the army, used as a human experiment to create a supersoldier.  But when I watched the movie, I saw the hero that he was within, not just the meat shield that he was on the outside.

    This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength. And knows compassion.

    God what a great line!  And it totally makes a hero in my book!

    Batman, another great hero.  No super powers, just intelligent, aloof, dark.  And he doesn't use guns.  I love intelligent superheroes.  A superhero who hides beneath the playboy exterior, a total opposite to the hero that he really is.

     It's not who I am underneath, but what I *do* that defines me.

    I miss those days of the superhero.  Where we would imagine that we could be like them, be great like them, and yet keep our accomplishments hidden, not doing it for the glory but for your own sense of good and justice.  I don't see the same qualities in any of the modern day heroes.  But perhaps it's because these days the hero is the ordinary man, doing extraordinary things.  Maybe it's wrong to believe in the fantastic, or wish for the unachievable, and perhaps focus more on reality.  More on the real heroes.  People who work hard for the community.  People who do things for the sickly.  People who take care of those less fortunate than them.
    But they are all heroes.  They all have a sense of duty, a sense of doing what is right.  And that is what I want my kids to learn - to do what is right, and not do it for the glory, but do it in secret for yourself.

    Monday, 8 August 2011

    Bad parent moment!

    I had a bad parent moment today.

    Julian and Erika were playing at the front door like they often do, banging away on the security screen, looking at cars and trucks and what not.  Julian had taken the chair to the front door to open it.

    So I was on my computer, looking at healing logs on Worldoflogs for Baleroc, and suddenly I realised that it was suspiciously quiet.  So I went to go look at what they were doing and my heart nearly stopped.

    The security door was wide open and there were no kids in sight.

    I was wearing my pyjamas (the leopard print flannie!) and no shoes and I ran out screaming "Erika! Julian!" and thinking "please please don't be dead, please don't be lost, please let me find them!" because they were not in the yard, and they weren't across the street.  I ran to the footpath (and the workmen who were outside just looked at me like I was a crazy person) and looked to the left and saw my children walking along the footpath, wearing their gumboots.  I yelled their names and ran to them, scooping Julian up and holding Erika's hand.

    "You're not supposed to go outside without mama!" I exclaimed.

    "We're going to see the fountain, mama," said Erika.

    "You scared me!  Come on let's go inside the house."

    "But I want to see the fountain!"

    So I promised I would take them to the fountain, but first we had to put a nappy on Julian because he can't go outside without a nappy.  And so off we went once I got the kids all sorted out for a long walk, while I sat there and thought about how bad I was for not checking that the security door was locked...

    I'm just glad that nothing bad happened.  My lucky stars must have been shining today.

    Friday, 29 July 2011

    Early start potty training

    Before children I never really thought about potty training - I mean geez, why would you?  But at a Baby Expo in 2008 when Erika was just under 4 months old, I walked by the toilet training stall and was looking at the things there, and the lady was so helpful, enthusiastic and full of information.  She sold me a potty and the book "Early Start Potty Training" by Dr Linda Sonna and I took it home to read.

    In the first chapter they talked about a toilet trained 4 month old, and I was astonished.  I didn't realise it was possible!  I wished that I could do that and I was determined to try.

    Now that I have toilet trained 2 children, I feel like I can talk a bit more about it.  The analogy I often use when I try to explain to people about early toilet training is that you can start toilet training puppies at 6 weeks of age, why can't you train a child?  Isn't a child smarter than a dog?

    And children are smart.  What we are doing is teaching them to wee in their nappies, and the reason why it's so difficult later is because we are trying to teach them to do something different, something that they have been doing all along.  Like suddenly telling them to use their left hand instead of their right hand.  Now what rebellious 2 year old would want to go along with that when they have been totally comfortable all along doing it the way they'd been doing?

    So essentially what we should be doing is getting them used to weeing without their nappy from as early as possible, so they know that you can wee into the toilet as well as into a nappy.  Preferably, not to wee into the nappy at all (ie hold it!) would be ideal!

    My daughter didn't really start her potty training until 6 months when she could sit up.  And she had quite intensive potty training in the fun way, with books, balls and toys and lots of encouragement and praise when she did do her business in the potty.  She was wandering around without a nappy from the age of one and taken to the toilet at regular intervals so that she didn't have accidents.

    My son didn't get the same intensive training but seeing how great my daughter went, I thought I would try it earlier.  From 3 months I had him over the potty or sink to catch his wees and poos.  However I didn't think he would do well and he seemed to be behind my daughter in her training, however in recent months he has improved in leaps and bounds.

    But when I explain this concept to people they think I am cruel.  But how is it cruel?  I am merely teaching them to be clean!  And I'm not making them cry or withholding food or torturing them if they don't use the toilet.  I patiently do my best and if it doesn't work I just keep trying, but being encouraging.

    So how is the best way to start?  I think the younger the better.  It's about knowing the habits of your child.  So if you know that after a breastfeed your baby is going to poop, well that's the perfect time!  As soon as you're done breastfeeding, hold them over a potty and make those straining sounds, and if something happens in the potty then that's great!  If it doesn't don't be disheartened, just keep trying.  You will get it!  It is really exciting that first time you catch a wee or a poo, kind of like winning the lottery... ha!

    Ok, so once you get your child used to going to the toilet what next?  This is a difficult part.  I have found with my kids that if you leave the nappy on them and try to take them at regular intervals, you will more often than not have a wet nappy.  Why?  Because the kids know they can just wee in their nappies.  I think that timing it is better.  Watch your child, and see at what intervals after a drink they need to go to the toilet and take them regularly.  Babies can't really hold it for very long after they tell you they need to go, so you really have to grab them early.  So I really think that it's best if you have them wandering around without nappies so you have more incentive to take them to the toilet (otherwise you'll have a messy floor!).  You will have lots of accidents though, so just be prepared for that.

    Doing it this way you will find that they are toilet trained for poos before they are toilet trained for wees.  If you toilet train the standard way, it's the other way around.  I'm not sure why!

    So, just remember that it doesn't come overnight, and it takes a lot of hard work, but you will feel so proud of your little one if they are successful, and if you aren't successful - it's not a failure! 

    Friday, 22 July 2011

    Super klutz skiier!

    Well what I was hoping to be a nice skiing weekend didn't turn out as I hoped!  After playing on the Friday flats for a few runs we went up to the longer runs and I did a huge stack coming down the hill, straining my gastrocnemius!  And it turned out that I tore it because after a few days the bruising and swelling was atrocious!

    Because of my bung leg, I couldn't control myself well and I ended up stacking it again and hurting my arm, leaving some very impressive bruising.

    Now I am limping around at work and looking like a downright klutz.  Check these pics out!

    Wednesday, 13 July 2011

    The things I teach my kids

    Well, I have been enjoying the trailers for Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO game so much I made the kids watch it.  Now Erika really likes it and she asks to watch it all the time.  We probably watch those trailers about 7 times a day.

    I have both the Alderaan one and the Cinematic trailer.  Erika calls the Alderaan the "outside one" and likes that one best.  She even talks about the "red one" and the "blue one".  So, when I ask her what the red one is?  Her reply "Sith."  And what is the blue one? "Jedi."

    Well, at least my daughter has good taste in Sci-fi.  Like mother like daughter.

    Monday, 11 July 2011

    William Shatner at George Lucas tribute

    My sister sent me this video, I thought it was great.  Two of my fave sci-fi genre in one!

    William Shatner seems much cooler now than he was about 15 years ago.  Gosh the look on Harrison Ford's face and Mark Hammill!  Priceless.

    Sick family

    So the whole family is sickly.  I've decided they all have influenza because they all got sick with fevers and generalised malaise and of course cough and runny nose and I didn't, despite being coughed on, wiping runny noses all day and sharing food.  I guess that's one good thing about having yearly flu shots (though ironically I didn't have it this year).  It at least offers me some protection.  Can you imagine if the whole house was sick?  What a depressing place it would be!

    As it is I feel like I am doing the lion's share of childcare.  I feed them both in the morning and toilet them and then I also have to feed them dinner and put them to bed.  Though last night it was a shared effort with putting to bed so that was better, compared to previous nights where I was doing it all.

    The waking up at night has not been happening the last 2 days which leads me to believe that they are getting over it again.  I find Julian wakes up a lot in the first 2-3 days of illness, Erika too.

    Pushing fluids was hard, they were both very resistant to eating and it was under threat of hospitalisation that Erika drank.  Thank goodness now she has recovered.  Julian doesn't eat but at least he loves to drink so that's ok.

    So I hope they are better by this weekend.  Going to leave them with my parents while me and hubby hit the snow fields.

    Sunday, 3 July 2011

    Remedies for Erika's constipation - progress

    Well we are past a month now and I have been doing dairy free with Erika for her constipation and it hasn't really had that much of an effect.  Which is a bit disappointing, however it has the advantage of only 2 varieties of milk in the house instead of 3.

    Now she seems to be doing a poo every 2 days, and it isn't really that hard, though it still seems to be 2-3 on the Bristol stool scale.

    I have been adding extra virgin olive oil to her breakfast cereal with bran and hiding it with extra sugar and she seems to eat it quite well.  I doesn't seem to be harming her and from what I can tell it doesn't cause dependence either.  I wonder if it's bad to have it every second day which is what I've been doing for her.

    Edit August: It has actually improved her constipation a lot!  And it works quite well, so I'm pleased.  I have read that olive oil is a natural laxative, and has antioxidants so that's good.  However it doesn't have any omega 3, which you can find in linseed oil (flaxseed oil).  Maybe I should try that instead (though it is a lot more expensive)