Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year's Eve - Bah Humbug!

I'm not sure if you are allowed to Bah Humbug after Christmas, but I am going to anyway. Bah Humbug. I am not a fan of NYE!

Before kids, I used to indulge in the New Year's mayhem. Night clubs, pubs, house parties, music festivals, BBQs, weddings, dinner parties - you name it, I've done it on NYE. As I have gotten older, the nights have generally gotten more nanna-ish, but I was still in there. Staying up late and bringing in the New Year with a few (too many) beverages. But when I think about it. It was just another night. Nothing special really. Well, if you count queueing for hours for a taxi or walking half-way across Sydney to get home because you got so tired of waiting for said taxi that the drunk and disorderly you thought it might be a good idea to walk home instead. In high heels. In the rain. At 3am. You know what I mean? Nothing special.

Since having children, we have had a pretty good excuse to stay at home. 3 out of 4 of the kids were born in late December, so having newborns meant that people wanted to see us about as much as I wanted to go out! This year though, we have had a few invitations and my husband, who is quite partial to a New Years festivity, decided it was time we braved it out again. So we are. We are off to a BBQ at my sister's place. Seven children 5 and under. Ripper Rita!

I am feeling a little nervous about the menu. I have no control over what we are having for dinner and, since it is still Week One of WW, I am still not very well-versed in Points friendly choices. I will be going online ( to do a little research before I go. I have also saved as many Points as I am allowed to (handy that this is an option within the program so you can "save up" for events and festivities during the week), but seeing as I really don't like NYE I am hoping that I can control my intake so that I will not have a blow out! I have worked so hard for the past 4 days and I really don't want today to ruin my chances of a good first weigh-in. Not NYE. The most disappointing night of the year.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Shopping Fiasco

I hit the supermarket last night, as per the plan. The kids were all in bed and my husband (The Geege) was at home with them so I drove off at 7.20pm with my trusty list in hand and, apart from trying to be done by 8.30pm so I could be home for the final episode of Private Practice, all the time in the world.

It wasn't a bad time to go shopping I discovered. The local folk of Hornbsy must like their Tuesday viewing because I practically had the aisles to myself. This was a good thing as I am quite partial to a sing and a jiggle as I shop and I could do that uninterrupted.

I had quite a few items I had to really look for this week. That is one of the downsides of changing what you eat. You really can't find anything in the store. Except for the 80g of unsalted roasted peanuts, I think I managed to get the right quantities and flavours for all of my Weight Watchers meals. (The recipe selection on the Weight Watchers website is excellent. I am really just having the usual meals, just made the Weight Watchers way).

My biggest concession is the purchase of skim milk, which I am not a fan of. I figure I can have it on my cereal in the morning and add some milo if I want a drink of milk?

So after burning through the list and making it to the checkout (8.20pm), I was on target to be home for my TV show. I snagged a brand new checkout girl (not a major obstacle once I offered to bag the items for her).

At 8.30pm I went to pay for my shopping, which was surprisingly a little cheaper than usual and then it happened. You know. "It". My EFTPOS was rejected. My credit card was rejected. I had nothing to pay for my (almost) overflowing trolley load of stuff!

Of course, it had to be the one time that I left my mobile at home too. I had to ask to use the Coles landline so I could call The Geege to help me! The embarassment of it!

Fortunately for me, technology is so advanced now that The Geege could instantly transfer money and the cash register could "suspend" the transaction until I was ready to pay. In my day as a checkout chick, the transaction would have had to be "voided" and re-entered! I am grateful that I was a disorganised shopper in 2009, rather than 1999!

It didn't help me arrive home in time for Private Practice though. I caught it from about 9.00 onwards, so if anyone can tell me how the fire started that killed Heather, that would be great!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

And they are off

I have mentally been preparing for this Weight Watchers (WW) program since I found out I was one of the chosen bloggers at I decided the best way forward was to get the bad food obsessions out of my system by indulging them. Chocolate. Check. Chips. Check. Beer. Check.

I ate enough treaties over Christmas to create a staggering initial weigh in result, up three kilos on my usual weight! All those rumballs and Mum's rocky road! The only way is down for me now...

So the gist of the WW program is that it gives all foods a Points value so that you can keep within a total number of Points for the day. It is like calorie counting only much easier because you just have to add up to 20 or so. In my case, 27 (because I am breastfeeding they give me a few extra points so I can choose normal calcium-based products instead of low-fat).

The way to stay motivated is to set little goals along the way, so I have come up with a few goals for the next 12 weeks.

Firstly, I want to lose 8kg, which will bring me into the 70s, and very close to my pre-babies' weight. My plan is to eat less, track my points, drink more water and to exercise. It sounds easy on paper. I will have to see how it goes in practise. I am still not 100% sure how I will squeeze the exercise in, but I am going to try to get the heart rate up at least 3 times a week.

So, December 28 was Day One. I made it through the day, even though I wasn’t in my normal habitat and relied on others to feed me for some of the day.

It was not without its hiccoughs though.

I had to weigh in on Mum’s scales as we were away for Xmas. I spent a few minutes recovering from that. Then I couldn’t get to a computer, so I had to manually track points. Note to self – guestimating is not going to cut it! But the real challenge was the birthday party I went to in the morning.

Sister A is a great cook. You know, the Nigella Lawson baking Domestic Goddess type of yummy? I attended my 6 year old nephew's birthday party and was faced a sea of delights. A chocolate Star Wars cake (with little R2D2 figurine), a dozen fluffy scones, and a bowl of lollies! All of life’s food temptations staring me in the face!

I had two choices - turn and walk away from the food table (have you noticed that you never really see thin people milling around the food table at parties?) or make a reasonable choice from a bad bunch.

I never really pictured myself standing around at a birthday party looking up Points in my (borrowed) Weight Watchers book, but what was a girl to do? You can't miss out entirely on the amazing baking on offer, can you? But what was the best selection? Low Points but tasty.

It turns out that a scone, with a little jam (no cream) is a 3 point snack, while a slice of chocolate mudcake constitutes my entire day of Points, so I went with the scone! It was delicious. Difficult, but not impossible, to stop at one. Looking forward to another one another time. But not today.

The rest of my day went without incident. Today I must shop for the family. I will spend some of this afternoon checking out some of the 1000s of recipes on the Weight Watchers site and putting together a shopping list, and then I will brave the masses at the supermarket. And shop like a thin person.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A Christmas Story

This photo was taken exactly one year ago - Christmas Eve, 2008. As you can see from the picture, I am rather large. Huge in fact (even my legs. What's that all about?). Expecting twins. It never really occurred to me that my babies would be born on Christmas day. I wasn’t due until January 17th, and I had a C-section booked for January 5th, so I thought that the twins would be born in 2009. It was still 2008 on Christmas day. I was safe.

Here is what happened the very next day...

I had my first contraction at about 9am. My three year old son was still examining his loot in his Santa bag while my 2 year old had already dragged everything out and opened all the boxes and was eagerly waiting to go to his Nan and Grandpa’s for the possibility of yet more presents. After 3 further contractions, about 15 minutes apart, I calmly told my husband that I was in labour at about 10am. He laughed and told me not to be silly. Denial. We hadn’t settled on names yet. Denial. They can’t be coming. Denial.

We packed up the kids and the dog and headed over to the in-laws for Christmas lunch. I had exclaimed that I was too big to move and would be staying at home, but my husband insisted that if I really were in labour, it was probably a good idea to stick together. I concurred. So I donned my enormous Maxi dress and drove to my parents-in-law’s place. Only 2 contractions in the 15 minute journey. Nothing too painful. Not too bad.

Once we arrived and the commotion settled a little, my mother-in-law noticed my demeanour. She asked me if I was “okay”. I told her that I had been having some contractions for a couple of hours. Nothing major. Denial. She insisted that I call the hospital. So I did. Given my previous complicated obstetric history, they informed me that I needed to come in pronto. So I stole a couple of my Mum’s famous rumballs out of the fridge and headed back to the car. Four contractions on the 40 minute journey, a couple needing my attention and a few deep breaths, but I was feeling pretty good. Denial.

When I got to the labour ward, there was much faffing to be done. They tried to listen to heart beats, but the babies were having a lovely party in utero and wouldn’t comply with the medico’s instructions. After an hour or so on the “trace”, whereby the midwives confirmed that I was indeed having regular contractions (you didn’t need to be Einstein to know that by that stage!), I had the necessary examinations which confirmed that because labour was progressing so nicely it was time for the scheduled C-section. They couldn’t “stretch me until Boxing Day”. My third emergency Caesar. Christmas babies. Unbelievable! Thank goodness for the rumballs. I wasn’t going to eat again that day.

There were an insane number of people in the operating room. Most of them plucked from their Christmas feasts for the occasion. Sorry. Because the babies were 36+5 weeks gestation, the doctor said there was a chance that they may be a little small and may need some time “feeding and growing” in the NICU. I thought to myself that it would be a travesty for me to be as large as I was and for the babies to be tiny. What was occupying all that space if not the babies?

As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about. Dew Drop was born at 3.01pm, 25 December, 2008 weighing in at 3.24kg (7 pounds 1). His sister, The Minx, was born at 3.04pm weighing 3.365kg (7 pounds 4). Dew Drop was breech and came out swinging. The Minx was transverse and needed a forceps delivery (I didn’t know that happened with Caesars? You?). Both were healthy and breathing on their own. Phew!

It was an extremely overwhelming experience, and the strangest Christmas I have ever had. I fell in love with my new Christmas bundles instantly. I was delighted they were here and I was no longer pregnant. I was stoked they were so big and healthy. I was amused that they arrived on Christmas Day. Christmas will never be the same again. They only have themselves to blame.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Hoping to be a WW star!

I have been selected as a Weight Watchers (WW) blogger for Kidspot Social!

For those of you who don't know me, I am a 36 year old mother of four kids (3 boys and a girl), all under 5 with a set of twins (turning one on Xmas day). This is a wonderful opportunity for me, so many thanks to WW and Kidspot Social for helping me out! Oh to be slim again!

I have done the WW thing before, and fairly successfully (although never to goal weight). It is an excellent concept. This time though, I have to juggle 4 small children and their individual palates, breast-feeding twins (that has got to give me a few extra points though huh?), and a husband who has just opened a retail business and who is rarely at home leaving me as (practically) a single Mum with very little time to exercise. It will be interesting to say the least! The thought of all of this fills me with a mix of emotions:

1. Excitement, might I actually be able to legitimately focus on myself a little to get myself back on track?

2. Dread, the silly season on a few points a day? Is that possible? and

3. Fear, just how organised am I going to have to be? When am I going to have time to exercise?

So, December 28 is the official beginning to the 12 week program. In the meantime I will be getting down to some intense planning. The thing I remember most about the Weight Watchers program from before is that PLANNING is key. Plan what you buy, plan what you cook and plan what you eat each day. It is a long way from my random approach at the moment so will take a bit of time to get right, but this is what I will be focusing on to start with.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you and hope that some of you will take up the challenge yourselves. Being a Mum doesn't mean we have to be stuck with rolls of extra loving, with large lady undies or, my latest little drama, under-boob chaff (no I didn't know it was possible either). So here's to putting an end to all of that the Weight Watchers way!

*This post was originally written for
** Cartoon from (used without permission)

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Are they twins?

I went on a big walk this morning (refer here for motivation) with my twins and (nearly) 3 year old after dropping my 4 year old at daycare. We ended up at the shops and, at this time of year, it is a dangerous place to be with a BIG pram.

The stores are rarely wide enough for a single stroller, let alone the big rig. The number of things that we had to dodge just to get to the counter in the post office would make your head spin. And the people. There are so many more people to weave through. Happy little Christmas shoppers everywhere!

I was asking for trouble when I entered the shopping centre.

I actually have 3 hand-me-down prams, all twin style, and the one I was using this morning has the added benefit of a toddler seat on the front. It is enormous! It attracts a LOT of attention. More attention than a woman in her white trainers and comfy pants would ever purposefully ask for.

So we circuited the shops doing a little more Christmas shopping trailed by a sea of comments:

"You've got your hands full there, love";

"Oh, are they all yours?";

and (this morning's favourite uttered by a large beer-bellied elderly gentleman with a particularly sleazy expression) "Have you worked out how it happens yet, love?".

You just get so sick of the comments! What's it to you, anyway?

Today I also had a ridiculous number of people ask me if my B/G twins are in fact twins. They really do not look a thing alike granted, but they are the same age, same size and sit side-by-side in a pram. What else are they going to be? Who would be mad enough to take someone else's kid Christmas shopping?

There really is a societal expectation that twins need to be matching. The reality is that fraternal twins have the same chance of being similar as regular siblings. They too can be chalk and cheese. Fair and dark. Tall and short. You get what I mean?

So let my shopping excursion be a lesson for us all.

Do not go to the shops with three small children in a pram unless you are prepared to wear a T-shirt explaining your life story on it.

Do not attempt to Christmas shop with three small children in a big pram.

And do not have twins unless they are identical because it is too hard for people to understand the concept of fraternal twins.

And if you do have identical twins, be prepared for the inevitable "Are they twins?" because even mothers of identical twins spend their lives answering that question.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Not a fan of the common mosquito

I've got a few issues today with the common mosquito. I am not a fan. They seem to be everywhere and causing trouble wherever they are.

I have questions about these little suckers. My top three mozzie-related queries are thus:

1. My poor little (nearly) three year old is covered in mozzie bites (again). He seems to get attacked the minute he gets into our backyard (or anyone else's for that matter). Even when I slather him in, probably highly poisonous, bug spray the poor little mite still gets eaten. He comes out in these great big lumps which he scratches constantly (surprisingly he hasn't had a major infection yet - cross fingers). So I ask, are there more mozzies out there these days or are they just becoming smarter, bug-spray resistent, super-mozzies?

2. My other son doesn't get bitten at all. Well, rarely. So why doesn't he? and finally,

3. My husband and I were having a quiet beverage last night, outside, after the kids were all (finally) asleep and I had been to the shops to start the Xmas shopping. It was pretty late, and yet, we were still being eaten alive by mozzies. I thought they went to bed after dusk. What's with that?

I know vampires are all the rage (fine '80s expression) at the moment. Think Twilight. Think True Blood. And I am quite partial to a vampire. But I could live happily without these blood-suckers in my life.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Are Mum's allowed to get sick?

I went out with some girlfriends last night for some pizza. We had a lovely time but as I was getting ready to leave at the ripe old time of 9.50pm, I started getting stomach cramps. Oh-oh.

I have a long (boring) history of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the familiar pains meant that I knew I had to get home. Pronto.

So, I walked in the door, straight to the bathroom and then off to bed after a few words with my husband.

Only, it wasn't IBS that I was experiencing because this morning I am completely exhausted with sore joints, a sore tum and a headache. I have brought a virus into the sanctum!

The thing is that it seems that as a Mum I'm not really allowed to be sick. I meant, physically I AM sick, but the barber has to keep on shaving if you know what I mean?

There is breast feeding, breakfasts to prepare, children to get dressed and "ready" for the day, the vacuuming to do, the dishwasher to unpack - need I go on?

My husband did his share of chores this morning and then went to work. And here I am with my sore head and my achy limbs dealing with my four small children. When would a Dad ever experience this level of parenting joy?

The upside is that this too will pass. I will make it through the day. So what if the big boys watch a little too much TV for the day? So what if I use disposable nappies for the day? So what if I don't get all the housework done? We will survive the day.

The downside is that not only do I have to feel the love of this virus myself for the next 24 hours but I will probably have to nurse my children through it too! Days of whingey babies ahead of me. Oh joy!

But, for today there will be only one whinger allowed in this house. The one who is sick and who can't spend the day in bed where she would like to be.

That whinger would be me.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Still got my big pants on!

I realised this morning as I was getting dressed that I am still wearing my big lady undies. You know the ones that you get after you have a baby and you are supposed to wear them for a few weeks (while your C-section scar heals)?

Well, I'm still in those.

I'm not really sure how this happened.

Last Christmas I gave birth to twins. They are baby 3 and 4 for me and, as I had already had a couple of emergency Caesars, I had a booked C-section planned for early Jan 09. The babies decided to come a few weeks early, so there I was on Christmas morning with the familiar breathlessness of early labour, thinking 'not today kids'. As it turned out, I had no option but to have the surgery that afternoon and so two Christmas babies it was for me.

The thing is, I was completely unprepared. I didn't even have my hospital bag packed. Some would say I was in a state of denial. I just think I was too busy getting ready for Christmas.


Here's where I segue back to the undies, my husband had to pack and bring in my stuff for my hospital stay. Being a man, he brought in my smallest, sexiest g-strings! Of course, the underwear situation needed to be remedied. I just needed comfort at that time in my life. I needed to bring in the big guns. At least size 20!

My husband sent my sister-in-law to the shops to purchase the post-natal comfort undies. I laughed out loud hearing the story of my then 12 year old niece walking through K-Mart grasping the gigantic undies to her chest while surveying the store for any sign of anyone she knew on the way to the check-out. She was simply horrified at the thought of being caught! Imagine if someone thought they were for her!

And so the undies came into my life. And they offered comfort. Who cares about VPL after you have just had twins?

Which brings me to this mornings little eye-opener. I haven't just had twins anymore. They are almost one now, and yet, the undies are still there. I don't need the 'above Caesar scar' comfort. And yet they are still there. And so I conclude that I think I must like these ballooning undies! Why else would I still be in them? Why else have I steered clear of my low-riders? I may just be a big-pant girl now. Perhaps I will never return to my former underwear habits.

My poor, poor husband.

Submitted for Flog Yo Blog Friday 6.08.2010. Follow the link back to RRSAHM for more flogging action.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The weather really aint helping

So I am supposed to be focusing on shedding a few kegs before Xmas. On Xmas day my twins will be one and that was my cut-off for return to pre-twin pregnancy weight. I still have 2-3 kilos to go (depending on the scales I use) but I just can't seem to make it happen. It is a case of So Close and Yet so Far!

Let me just reiterate by saying this is a pre-twin weight goal I am working towards. There is also a pre-baby 2 weight goal (another 1kg) and, of course, the pre-babies weight goal (I am at least 5 kgs off that!) and the ultimate goal, which is the 5 kilos that I always wanted to lose even before having kids but was having too much fun to. There is much shedding to be done!

I have discovered it is not a good time of year to be trying to lose weight. In addition to the Christmas functions and the 'let's catch up before Christmas' play-dates, there's the weather! It is just too damned hot to exercise! My husband has his own business, so I spend an awful lot of time hanging out solo with my four kids. Exercise has to be something they can do too. Needless to say we normally do a LOT of walking and kicking soccer balls at the park, but in this heat? What's a gal to do?

So I resort to this, a public declaration, to be my motivating factor. I am going to reach my Xmas weight-loss goal and you will be my witness. You will have to trust me when I post my numbers, but I can be trusted. I am a mother of twins and two others. Definitely trustworthy.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Angst over the human speed hump

I have had a couple of troubled days worrying about Dew Drop. He is just sitting there. He seems to want to move but really doesn't have a clue how to move his body. I think he may be wanting to bum shuffle because he is doing this bouncing thing on his bottom. All I think of is Greg and walking at 23 months. This can't be the case can it?

With the family history I really haven't been at all worried until my last blog post when I realised that he really is 11 months old and he really can't even roll over. God, I must be a terrible mother to have not even given this a thought.

I am going to call the Early Childhood centre on Monday and try to get an appointment (I am dreading this after the last appointment with the nurse making the cerebral palsy comment about the Minx) to see the paediatric physiotherapist.

It doesn't help that he has his aged-matched peer zipping all over the place. I probably needed to be more persistent with "tummy time" - he has always hated it. Oh God! What if there is something wrong with him? I can hear the health professionals now saying ' He's eleven months and not crawling yet. He can't even roll over and it has taken her 11 months to bring him in'.

Oh well. It isn't about me. It is about my precious boy and I really need to make sure that he is okay. Just a bit slow off the mark (like the rest of them). I mean Doo Dah wasn't crawling yet either. I don't remember if he was commandoing or anything. Dew Drop isn't. He is redefining speed humps.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Welcome to the class of 2023!

So we have started school. Well, Nugget has. The orientation program for Hornsby Heights Public School took place this month. Nugget thought it was fab! The Geege and I attended the parent orientation while he met his "buddy". I was pretty happy with the school. Considering how close it is to our house, I never really thought about where the kids might go to school. It was always going to be there, but I was secretly impressed with the school program, organisation and opportunities offered to the kids. Phew.

After the orientation morning, Nugget and I attended a couple of other times. We did computer class, library, music and an interactive whiteboard class. School has sure changed since I was there! I think the whole interactive whiteboard thing must be a bit new because they were all very impressed with themselves while they used it. Funny.

The twins started talking this month. One day apart. The Minx said "Jakie" and Dew Drop said "Mumma". I don't know which one set my heart aflutter more! The Minx also got a couple more teeth and Dew Drop (finally) got his first one. The Minx got on the move on Nov 2 (commando) and then perfected the crawl on Nov 10. Dew Drop remains stationary. None of the kids have set the world on fire with their gross motor skills - Nugget crawled a week before he was ten months, Declan at 11 1/2 months, and now, the Minx at 10 1/2 months - but I think Dew Drop will be the slowest. He still hasn't even rolled over yet. Not sure if I should be worried. Will let you know next month :)

I started editing the HKHMBA Newsletter last month (November is my first issue but I wrote it in October). It feels good to be using my brain a bit. I have to do a little column in it, so I will post those in here too.

We had a trip to Nowra again. Al was away on a cruise (don't ask!) so we stayed at her place. R and her kids came with us for a few days. It was fun. We got to the beach and the pool and caught up with some friends and, of course, saw as much of Gran and Pops as we could. I was pretty stressed out when we arrived (Nov 11) due to having too much on (The Geege's work mostly), but it was a really nice break and I felt quite refreshed on my return. A change of scene is rarely a bad thing when you have 4 small children I have been discovering. As long as they sleep okay, anything is possible.

Until next time

Friday, 30 October 2009

Camping in Rocktober and all things Camp Hike Climb

We had a lovely camping trip over the long weekend. We had it planned for months on end. Many of the families piked at the last minute because the weather forecast was terrible. It did rain the entire time, but somehow it didn't really bother us. Just a light smattering most of the time. The kids gumboots got a work-out and I had about 8 loads of washing to do when I got home, but it was worth it. Where's your sense of adventure people?

We ended up going to Newnes, near Lithgow, with the Ms, Ls and Fs. It was tops! 8 adults and 10 kids 5 and under. The children all had a ball - what is not to like? Puddles. Sticks. Rocks to climb. Caves to explore. Mud to stomp in. A child's heaven. The adults had fun too. We had time to do some walking, reading, eating, scrabbling, drinking, toasting marshmellows on the campfire, playing footy with the kids, adult conversation, sleep ins.. really it was superb.

I just love the bush and the way it makes me feel so alive, earthy and connected. I really miss this a lot of the time. I can't think of a way to get out there more often - unfortunately I can't strap 2 babies to my back. It will have to wait another couple of years I think. In the meantime, these small snippets will have to keep me going. Keep me breathing.

The camping seemed to revitalise us a bit. We managed to actually catch up with a few old mates this month. We had Millie S's birthday party and a BBQ at the Ms with a heavily pregnant Sam. It is nice to socialise and really great to step outside of the box to do it. We also celebrated our wedding anniversary. It was a challenge to get out - the boys went to Nan and Grandpa's and Auntie M minded the twins at her place. We were so tired we really would have loved to have just gone to sleep for a few hours of uninterrupted slumber, but, as we don't really get out much these days (understatement), we made the most of the babysitting and went out for a tasty Vietnamese meal.

The summary of the family:
The Minx - waving. More content although glimpses of separation anxiety. Still sleeping well.
Dew Drop - no change. Speed hump. Happy in the day. Terror in the night.
Nugget - preschool orientation. Pretty sure he won't be going there. School feels right. Getting more and more interested in reading and learning. "What does that say?" "What does 'boring' mean?" Amazes me with his memory and analytical brain. Annoys me with his tantrums (temper) and laziness.
Doo Dah - Still flying under the radar most of the time. He is such a contented little thing, it is hard to think of anything to write about him. I must remember this when he goes to school and we get his report cards :) Getting more coordinated, although had a terrible stack on the end of the bed and ended up almost losing his front tooth. It moved and it bled, but it is still there (3 visits to the dentist later). The dentist thinks all should be okay although the next tooth may take some time to come down.
The Geege - C started work for Camp Hike Climb this month. It is all guns blazing and the fit out has started. Barefoot Builders are doing the job. M is gorge. J is driving me mad (love him to bits but glad I don't have to work with him). Greg is stressed but seems happy. I still wonder about the timing of this (puts a LOT of pressure on him, our relationship and me) but it is too late to pull the pin now.
Me - I have been helping the Geege with the business where possible, evacuating the house with the 4 kids as much as possible so that he and C can work (they are still in the house), and not getting much time to myself. Pretty tired at this point.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Getting on with it

September has been a pretty nice month for us. The twins are becoming more interactive, generally sleeping better, and we have got a pretty good groove now. I am feeling more positive - it is starting to feel like, "is it September already? Where has the year gone?". I think this is a good change. So the update:

Dew Drop - clapping. Waving.
The Minx - sitting on her own. Clapping.
Nugget - playdates with a few mates from Daycare in the lead up to school. We thought that creating friendships outside of Busy Bears might help keep us all in touch next year.
Doo Dah - humming along. In the big boy bed now. Still has dummies - not quite sure how to handle that little problem :(
The Geege - Business continues to progress. Should be open by end of October. Organised to have our wills sorted. A very morbid process but glad we have someone to leave our mortgage debt to!
Me - Visit to surgeon (Dr Middleton) on 29/09. Will need surgery early next year to sort out "the bulge". Big hernia around the umbilical area. Not really looking forward to it (about 3 weeks to recover apparently) but it will be nice to have a stomach muscle again. There is a lot to be said for "core stability". Missed M's baby shower due to Nugget having a random virus (high temps for about 5 days) - feeling annoyed about this but it is all part of being a "Mum".
Until next time,

Saturday, 5 September 2009

That's the ticket!

August was a pretty good month for the L crew.

It started with a pretty awful week in Nowra. That is probably a bit harsh, but noone slept which meant I was up all night (the Geege stayed in Sydney) and I was single parenting. Mum and Dad were helpful at feeding us and doing our washing, but the responsibility of four children really did my head in (did I mention the lack of sleep? Some nights I was up 8 times! Two nights I had all four kids screaming in unison in the middle of the night! Horrendous). The up side was that we saw the V, the McDs and the Nowra neighbours and the boys had a lovely time playing with all the kids. We also had a few trips to the park to feed the ducks (and get attacked by the awful geese) and a jaunt out to the beach to see Mez. Things returned to "normal" immediately upon returning home. The children are just not the sort that you can take anywhere and have them sleep "like babies".

All the Ls are progressing well in their different arenas. August highlights/challenges:
The Minx - got two teeth. Started rolling all over the place to move. Not sitting on own just yet. Mostly happy/smiley but can be whingey by afternoon. 40 minute cat-naps may have something to do with it! Eating really well.
Dew Drop- started sitting on his own. No rolling to be seen. Really coming into his own. Better day sleeps (usually at least one 2 hour sleep). Generally pretty content. Still waking for feeds at night. Improved eating. Forward facing car seats! Hooray.
Doo Dah - started pooing on the toilet. Yay! Many tantrums. Boo! TV obsessed. Boo! Still falling over a lot - should I be worrying about this?
Nugget - started dressing himself consistently. Poos in his night nappies (on purpose) to gain attention. Changed routine and is now going to bed a little later than DD. Nug loving this. DD not so much - refer above. I have many a giggle at Nugget at the moment. He sounds just like me. "That's the ticket", "Sure do, Shauna", "Ouch I kicked my toe on that bloody toy". He really is hysterical!
The Geege - the business is progressing. Property secured. Logos done. Website started. Finances received. Not long now people.
Me - I have been getting out of the house more consistently with the kids. Attended a few playgroups and caught up with some friends. Pretty happy about that although the effort to get everyone into the car is sometimes enought to keep me at home! On the downside, it is the eighth month. Eight months of 3-4 hourly breastfeeding. Eight months of broken sleep. Eight months of being stretched beyond my limits. Eight months of I hit a big lull this week. I have identified that I am the family's slave and I really had a sense of loss of person this week. Who the hell am I these days? I know that I am a Mum (of varying skills, dependent on amount of sleep had and amount of support received). I know that I am a wife (thankfully with a very understanding and helpful husband who isn't too demanding). I know I am a friend (although my duties in the world of friendship have become progressively virtual, and distance-based in most cases). I am also an Auntie, daughter, daughter in law, sister, colleague etc. but I really don't know who I am. I don't seem to exist beyond those roles anymore. I am starting to miss myself. I find myself saying things like: I used to be cool or I used to be funny. I am pretty lost (smothered?) in the overwhelming workload that is my life. I don't feel depressed about it or anything. I just notice and wish for a little bit of appreciation - silly really considering the people I am "slaving" over are less than four years old on the whole and completely unaware of my needs anyway.

Chin up hey? At least I have my appendix. B has just had hers out.

On that note, I will be seeing a surgeon later in September to assess the state of my stomach after the twin pregnancy. All the hernias etc are starting to cause me issue. Will report more on that once I have been.


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The blissful period?

Babies having first dinners
The gorgeous and exceptionally talented Minx

The boys - rub a dub dub, three men in a tub

The two gooses (?geese) "breast feeding" their teddies

Dew Drop and Minx all snug for bed.
I think I have hit the top of the pops. Mostly sleeping well, not yet moving, reasonably happy most of the time... it is all downhill from here.

Friday, 31 July 2009

40 minute catnaps

These photos will make more sense as the post develops - my skills in uploading photos are infantile and require more work at this stage.

Doo Dah - after frenulectomy                                                                                        Doo Dah- before frenulectomy

So we are 7 months in now. The Minx and Dew Drop are getting easier but life remains one big challenge. I took the bubs to the clinic for their 6 month check up on July 7th. All is well although I then had to take the Minx to see a paediatrician (July 14th) to check her hand movements out. She was doing everything backwards with her hands. The paediatrician wasn't concerned but when the Early Childhood Nurse mentioned "ruling out cerebral palsy" you find yourself worrying. A lot. Fortunately everything is okay but a little delayed. I think all of my children have been delayed in the movement stakes, so it just probably makes her part of the gang.

A summary of the last month:

Dew Drop - Sleeping through the night rarely. Mostly 2 night breast feeds (10ish and 2ish) and 4 day feeds. Eating 3 meals as well (he has hollow legs I think!). Catnapping in the day (only 40 minutes) although occasionally will have a 2 hour sleep in the middle of the day. Remains on the 25th percentile for weight. 75th for length. Still not rolling. No teeth. Rocks self in the rocker chair. Grips well and moves things from hand to hand. Social and chatty (no specific babble consonants, but squeals, giggles and changes vowel sounds).

The Minx - Sleeping through the night mostly. Sometimes 1 night feed. 4 day feeds. Eating 3 meals well. 3 catnaps per day - 40 mins. Impossible to resettle. 75th percentile weight and height. Rolling back to front. Improved hand function - grips well now and changes things from side to side (although not as easily as Dew Drop). Social and chatty (ba, da, gi). Bottom teeth through today!

Nugget - Sleeping in our bed most of the time due to sickness initially (he had a 7 day virus with temps over 40), now "growing pains". Working on getting him back into his bed! Starting to prepare him for school as we have decided to send him next year. Has learnt most of his letters now and mastering counting numbers beyond 20. Improved self-help skills although still needs encouragement to dress himself. Has been dealing with the testosterone influx. Describes himself as "angry" or "grumpy" much of the time. Has had lots of playdates and is playing well with other kids. Is quite delightful much of the time (albeit a little touchy-feely for my taste).

Doo Dah - Had his tongue-tie released at the dentist early in the month. Despite the worry building up to the day (mine not his) the procedure went very well. The worst bit was that he bit his tongue while it was anaethetised! He was a little sorry for himself for a few days afterwards; the fact that he got the 'flu didn't really help. Boys develop Manflu very early in their life it seems. He is still getting used to speaking with his "new" tongue, but I can already tell that his speech is clearer. He has also had a huge language burst in the past month and is now using conjunctions and comparatives. He is learning to dress himself, drinks from a "normal" cup and is very interested in helping me with the daily chores (this sounds better than it is!). He is still mostly playing on his own (except with Noah) but is starting to play games with other kids too.

The Geege - Has been working on the outdoor store business idea. Has now registered a company and thought of the name Camp, Hike & Climb. He is in the process of negotiating leases for a property in Turramurra. Still working for Helen doing the tours when he can.

Me - Just trying to keep it all together. The sleep deprivation is better but ongoing. It seems unbelievable that a person can endure so many years of sleepless nights and remain sane. This has made me think that maybe I am in fact insane? Recently have had the need to have some time to myself (surprise, surprise!). Had a bushwalk with a (chatty) friend yesterday which was great! So good to be out in the bush. The Minx came with me (backpack) so I wasn't entirely child-free but near enough! Am needing to do something about my stomach region. Hernias not going away on their own and the whole area is so weak, protruding and broken. Am going to try a physiotherapist who specialises in pilates first, but think it will be a surgeon who helps me in the end :(

Whole family - The good thing is we have had lots of time together. The bad thing, we have no spare money to do anything too fun. We got ourselves a new cleaner (K) after T broke her wrist. The girls are still coming Mon, Tues and Fri, so that is helping us keep on keeping on. Life is pretty good. Routine, but good. Groundhog day, but good.

'Til next time...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Six months and counting

Everything has gone pear shaped this month. Bloody Dew Drop just won't sleep. He is catnapping day and night. The Minx is sleeping through the night from time to time now, but Dew Drop is up every hour! It is awful and I am ready to ... well I don't really know what to do!

It has been a pretty busy month. We finally had our day in court over the whole Big Red Bus business. The Geege settled with John Thomson for half-half payment of the new transmission, so that was a good outcome. It was so nice to get closure and especially nice to have our story listened to.

The Geege's tour work has died. There are no tourists in Sydney it seems! He has had to start working at Snowgum again to help us make ends meet. He enjoys the work, but not the pay! Retail is not really a very well-paid industry. I thought Tourism was bad! He has started thinking about opening his own Outdoor store, or maybe buying Adventure Outdoors (where C works). He has also applied for (and gotten into) university to do Teaching. I think the self-employed option will win in the end, but I can't help but wish that he would take up the teaching. You know, security, no weekend work, off for the school holidays... it doesn't sound like The Geege does it? We have already had a million arguments about all the stress associated with running your own business (especially one that is not profitable for the first 3 years!) - I hope our marriage makes it through all of this. Teaching just seems so much more suited to family life don't you think?

Mother's group has a ladies weekend away. I organised us a house at Mount Victoria. I was so looking forward to it! Six women, two babies (both mine). How good was it going to be? The house was pretty good (a little on the cold side, although there was that reverse cycle air-conditioner we discovered late on Sat night that might have improved the temperature of the house for the weekend!) But the babies were terrible. I had no sleep for two nights before we went and then they didn't sleep at all the two nights we were away. No sleep day or night. I was in tears by Sat afternoon - overtired and over it! I did get a couple of moments to myself including a walk in the bush, and we did have lunch out both days and yummy take away dinners, and the company was really good (except Lara who was obnoxious and showing concerning signs of PND) so I suppose it wasn't too bad. Just very different from the weekend I was hoping to have I suppose.

I started the babies on solids this month (one week before they were 6 months old). They have both taken to it like a duck to water. So far it has not made much difference to Dew Drop's sleeping, but the Minx has cemented her tendency to sleep through the night and is doing it 3-4 nights a week now (just not when we are away hey sweetie?). I haven't seen much reduction in the number of breast feeds either yet. We shall see...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Moving right along

five months = 152.184249 days

We have been starting to get back into life a bit more this month. The bubs are sleeping better which is allowing us to make a few plans and attend a few functions. It feels good to be out and about, although it really is bloody hard work to get out the door.

This month we had our first night out since the bubs were born! We went to M-E's 40th birthday on the 9th (house party with a backyard band! Whoo hoo! It was like old times, except a bit more sober!) and Auntie M and Ash minded the troops. It went well I think, although I can't see them putting their hands up again in a hurry. All that responsibility!

Mother's day came and went a bit. I was sick (sore throat), the Geege worked and the grandparents came and took the boys to Aunty M's for the traditional scones. I stayed home with the bubs and slept when I could. I did get some nice gifts including Icebreaker socks and a gift voucher at the local beautician's.

We spent my birthday week down at Wiseman's Ferry. It was lovely. Auntie B, Billy and their kids and C&K and their kids all came down for the weekend. We had a hoot. Good food. Good wine. Good company. You can't really go wrong can you! The bubs were complete pubes for the weekend, but even that didn't dampen the spirits too much. The weather was shite too, but that didn't even bother me that much (big house). The rain was actually horizontal on my birthday. I don't think I have ever seen anything quite like it! Bina took some family photos while we were down there too. Apart from Nugget's little tantrum (he hates being told how to smile for photos), that all went well and we have a pretty good shot of the six of us for posterity.

Gran came up for a visit in the last week of May (for my birthday) and we did some shopping. That was pretty confronting (size 16!) but great. Tragically all I wanted was some tracky dacks. We got me a couple of "dress" tracksuits and a lovely red coat. I hope I don't fit into any of them next year (except the coat)!

And today was taken up attending baby showers. Mish and the Prof's little baby girl is due towards the end of July and R&G's bub in the middle of July. We had such fun catching up with everyone at both of the functions. Mish had a traditional "girls only" do and the R&G had a family fun day. I pretty much saw all of my friends today. It was great!

So at the end of month five, things are okay. I am tired, starting to get a bit bored, but definately appreciating my lovely big family.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The month in review - April 2009

April summarised in 10 points:

1. Nugget turned four! Huh! No longer the mother of "four-under-four". We had a wonderful time celebrating. He had a Spiderman themed party and there were a sea of Spidermen playing pass-the-parcel, statues, musical mats and the like. He managed to scoop the pool with his gifts again and was very happy with his bike, Optimus Prime transformer and various Ben 10 figurines and watch.

2. Nugget has decided to toilet train at night. This has been a bit hit and a lot miss, but we are establishing strategies now that seem to be keeping the sheets dry!

3. The babies turned 4 months! They are getting bigger, smiling and giggling, sleeping a little better (the Minx is far superior to Deew Drop at this point in time with regards to sleeping) and attempting to roll over (the Minx can from tummy to back since 8 weeks) and sit up. They are so alert now and love the attention their big brothers lavish on them (Doo Dah can get a little keen and practically lies on top of them).

4. Doo Dah is toilet training. He has been very successful for a young thing, but we are still getting days where he wees all over the house! Frustrating! And, unlike Nugget who NEVER pooed in his undies, Doo Dah is quite partial to a random poo too which is most unattractive all on levels.

5. We have been to many fun birthday parties for the Mother's Group crew. The boys have enjoyed playing the party games, riding their bikes on the bike tracks at the various parks we have been going to and especially the lolly bags they get to take home at the end of the day!

6. I enjoyed my first "High Tea" at the Sir Stamford Hotel for my friend Robyn's 30th birthday. Although there were more car dramas, resulting in me having to leave Minxy at home despite being prepared to take her with me, it was a lovely ladies afternoon of decadence.

7. Mum and Dad have been away in WA for the month.

8. The household has had many illnesses - diarrohea, colds, sore throats, coughs, and random viruses. A complete joy!

9. The Geege has still been looking for different work - with the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) there isn't much work around of course, so this has continued to be a frustrating process. He enrolled in the Certificate IV Training and Assessment to open some doors in the future, but at the moment things haven't changed much for him from a work perspective.

10. We have survived another month with four children with our sense of humour mostly in tact!

Monday, 27 April 2009

People don't eat those fish, they are for the penguins!

Why are children's thoughts so obsessive? I am sure it is a developmental thing (some don't seem to grow out of it though do they?) but it is enough to drive a person mad!

Doo Dah is currently obsessed with knowing where everyone is all the time. Including our dog Ruby who hasn't lived with us since the babies were born, so who bloody knows what she is doing at any one given moment!

He starts the day with "Where's Daddy?". My usual response is "At work". This is followed up with an, hourly request for the whereabouts of his beloved father. I started to respond with "on the moon" or "in the trees" but alas he is too quick for that. "Daddy not on the moon" he says. Followed by "Where's Daddy?". Arghhh!

Nugget is past the truly obsessive phase and into the know-it-all, righteous one. For example, yesterday whilst watching the Foxtel children's channel, a strange yellow puppet called Ollie was singing a song about healthy foods.

Nugget pipes up with "I like healthy food, but I don't like broccoli".

I respond with an encouraging comment about big boys trying new foods and growing big and strong. Next thing a series of food starts scrolling across the screen behind Ollie's head, including an image of a whole fish. Nugget begins to laugh.

I ask him what is up and he says "People don't eat those fish, penguins do!". Bless.

These same little boys, with their fixed ideas and crazy obsessions seem to be able to pick up the words of songs faster than I do. They pipe out the words of Justine Clarke's latest CD when I am still struggling with the choruses. Oh to have cerebral plasticity again! I'm guessing they must have got that ability from the Geege (as I am a known song make-r-uper-a) but the sleep deprivation is probably not letting my aging brain function at its full potential either.

It is a shame they don't seem to be able to put those good listening ears into use when I ask them to do something however. I am not sure that the skill will carry over to schoolwork or be at all useful for them in the big picture!

At least they will be able to sing along to the radio (if this medium continues in the future?) and not make idiots of themselves like their mother.

How do you cope with your children's obsessive questions?

Friday, 27 March 2009

Starting to see the sky again...

The babies are three months old now. It feels like the longest and shortest three months of my life. When I think about how little sleep I have managed in the time, it makes me feel extremely weary (probably even wearier than I actually am!). It is all going surprisingly well though. Some days are too frustrating for words, days when the babies refuse to sleep or tag-team all day long or decide to spend 45 minutes feeding every three hours or just decide to feed every three hours all day and night. Today is Dew Drop's turn to be awake more than he is asleep. There is always someone having a bad day!

In between all of that, there are the other two boys who have ongoing needs. Nugget is one month off four and seems to have had a personality transplant overnight. He is just such a boy now! He lives in a fantasy land of robots, aliens, super heroes and the like. He is defiant. He shuts down when things don't go his way. He struggles to express himself when he is frustrated. He fights sleep. He chucks massive tantrums when he is tired (or tired of me!). It is all so very challenging and yet so very exciting. He is growing up and with all of these difficulties comes a more mature little mind. He asks different kinds of questions and tries to link things together to find a pattern in life. You can almost see him drawing conclusions and filing information away for later use. It is wonderful to witness and contribute to.

Doo Dah is his usual self - full of sunshine and cheek! He is such a funny kid that he even finds himself amusing and spends his life laughing at his own "jokes" (rather Simon Townsend like if you ask me). He has decided to start using the potty. While I am incredibly grateful for his interest (remembering that Nugget wasn't toilet trained until he was nearly 3 and a half!), I feel that this may be stretching the friendship just a little! It is so difficult to supervise a wee on the potty whilst simultaneously breast feeding twins! We are managing okay at the moment with only the odd wee on the carpet. Hopefully it will be a short and sweet stage. At least this is reducing the use of the cloth nappies so the twins have more to use in the day!

My other challenge really is keeping the house going. I have my girls (Cassie and Laura) who come in the afternoon from 4-630 to help out. The in-laws have been helping us to pay for this little luxury since the babies were about 8 weeks old and all my voluntary helpers dried up! This enables me to get a few jobs done and sort out dinner, while they mind the boys or bum-pat the babies. They are a saving grace and I really think I would have gone mental without them! Therese, the cleaner, comes once a fortnight too. She does the heavy cleaning jobs so at least the floors and bathroom get done some of the time! Without all of these people to help out, I don't think our house would function at all! Just getting the washing done, folded and put away (at least 10 loads a week), keeping the kitchen clean and the beds made and the toys in some kind of order is a full time job! I dread the day that I am on my own, but sadly it is nearing...

We have managed to get out a couple of times this month!

March 2-6 - Tresillian! The babies and I checked in for a week's residential. It was a great rest for me, but we didn't manage to achieve the twin's goals! The whole bum-pat/shh thing isn't very helpful for a busy Mum of four! I pretty much went right back to what I was doing before I went when I got home - at least the babies sleep some of the time that way! The only down side is that The Minx still sleeps on her tummy (and sucks her thumb!) and Dew Drop spends some of the day in the hammock. Sleep is sleep though I think. I have weighed up the SIDS risk and we don't have any of the other risk factors. Hopefully she will be okay (she has been able to roll off her tummy onto her back since 8 weeks so I think she can get herself out of trouble if need be).

March 14 -We went to the Twins Plus festival at Taronga Zoo with Auntie B, Billy and co which was really great! The twins won a gift voucher for being the youngest twins in attendance. The boys really loved the animals (especially the chimps I think) and the train rides. Personally I thought we spent too much time with the seals (I hate seals) at the jeapody of the more interesting animals :)

March 21 -We had the Mothers Group 4 year old birthday party. It was at Ruddock park in Westleigh. The kids had a superb time! The babies were well behaved too - Geege and I carried one each in a Bjorn and they were very happy with themselves. I thought it was a great idea for ensuring peace and the opportunity to catch up with the other families however, failed to remember that you can't sit down on the ground when wearing a baby in a Bjorn! My back was pretty sore at the end, but nothing that an Epsom Salts bath didn't fix!

Anyway, I have babies to settle and a shower to have (it is only 1330!)

Saturday, 28 February 2009

9 weeks and exhausted!

I started this blog on 11.01.09 and am just getting back to it now! Life is pretty crazy here since the arrival of the twins on Xmas day (that is not them in the photo BTW). They were 36 weeks and 5 days gestation (so technically a little premature). Firstly the (impressive) birth stats:

Dew Drop was born first and weighed 3.24kg, was 50cm long.
Minx was born next and weighed 3.365kg, was 50.5cm long.

I went into labour on Xmas morning and had a C-section at 3pm. Because of my previous labours they didn't let me try for a natural delivery. Dew Drop was breech anyway so there was little hope of him coming out! The labour was very managable but I was a little annoyed to have to have any contractions at all! It was all sorted - i was meant to be having them on 5 Jan. The best laid plans... and now we have twins with birthdays on Christmas day. That will make Christmas festivities interesting forever more!

The first 6 weeks were absolute hell! Neither baby would sleep at night. They had 3 hourly feeds, day and night, but often didn't settle at all between feeds. I had about 2 hours sleep a day and was running on adrenalin. I think I thought I might die at times and found myself thinking of ways to "sell" my children in the wee hours of the night. I thought I had ruined my lovely life with these screaming babies giving me no joy and taking so much from me! Fortunately these feelings have passed...

I had lots of support from the family and the Geege (always had someone around to help) which was completely necessary given that I needed to recover from the C-section and couldn't lift any of the kids. Sometimes I felt like I just needed my own space, but on the whole I was totally grateful to have others there. Mum was a real trooper - she had as little sleep as I did, often sleeping with one or other of the twins in her bed. I really couldn't have asked for more from my Mum. I am one lucky girl to have such a special Mum :)

Our friends have been super generous with their time and energy too - we have had regular meals delivered and more clothes/gifts than 2 little babies could ever need. All the love and support has been a little overwhelming really. Geege and I must be doing something right for our friends and family to care so much! It is something that I will remember forever!

The last few of weeks have been considerably better. The twins have started to get the day and night thing better and have been sleeping a lot better too. I still find that I have one or the other screaming for a good few hours a day, but this is a lot better than the constant screaming we were dealing with. They are both smiling as of 6 weeks too, so that makes it more worthwhile. The breastfeeding is still 3 hourly during the day, but has pushed out to 4-5 hourly at night, so if I am lucky enough to get them both settled after a feed, i now get some 3-4 hour stretches of sleep at a time. This makes me a much happier Mum!

Nugget and Doo Dah are in love with their new brother and sister. Sometimes they are a little too enamored and can get too hands on with them (Doo Dah stomped on Minxy this morning trying to kiss Dew Drop on the head for example). They have both adapted fairly well although Nugget had some regression with the toilet training (since fixed) and Doo Dah is very clingy. We are lucky they are both good natured and fairly well disciplined because they have been pushing the boundaries but we are still managing okay with them.

Geege and I are both exhausted but can see a light at the end of the tunnel now. I think our family will be awesome in a few years, but until then we are just in for hard work! At least everyone is happy and healthy. I am off to Tresillian next week with the twins and feel this may be an opportunity to recharge the batteries a bit too. I hope to improve the twins routine, learn more about twin breastfeeding (especially how to do this in other places than my couch!) and discuss bathing! The poor twins don't get bathed very often at the moment!

I have also managed to get some "staff". We have two girls that come - Cassie on Monday - Wednesday and Laura, Thurs and Fridays from 4-6.45pm. They help me with the boys and keep the night time routine on track. The In-laws are helping us finance these girls, so we are truly grateful to them for that too!

There has been other stress in our world too - Geege lost his full-time job (he is still working casually) - a by-product of the economic downturn. We have also been having big (expensive) problems with our new (used) car. We bought a 2004 VW Caravelle in August to transport the troops and it is currently off the road with automatic transmission problems. We are having fights with the car dealership over honouring the warranty because it is estimated to need about $10 000 worth of work! It has certainly been challenging to be stuck without a car.
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