Thursday, 23 December 2010

Some things I learned about myself in 2010

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1. In a life like mine, you have got to find time for the little things and bring joy into the chaos in small ways.

2. Even busy people can find time to read. I got stuck into reading this year and loved every minute of it. The best book I read in 2010 was probably 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas, although 'Whitethorn' by Bryce Courtney, The Millenium series by Stieg Larsson and 'The Life of Pi' by Yann Martel are notable mentions.

3. I watch too much TV whilst eating M&Ms. Mad Men is without a doubt the best show on TV. Love, love, love it.

4. There is a reason people have those 'films I have seen' widgets in their sidebars. It is actually really hard to remember! I reckon Toy Story 3 was the best film I saw in 2010 (disclaimer: I am yet to see The Social Network, Animal Kingdom or the King's Speech, which I know I will love). Was the Hurt Locker out this year? That was a great film. I also really liked the Green Zone, Inception and Up.

5. It is good to have your email address on your blog. You never know who might want to contact you. CSaM if you are reading this, I cannot comment on your blog (there is a permanent error there) so I haven't been able to say 'hi'. So "Hi" and "Welcome".

6. I have gone beyond 'surviving'.

7. Being unkind to people is unforgivable.

8. You are never too old to be made feel like a 'naughty school girl'.

9. 37 year old women with 4 children can still dance the night away into the wee hours of the morn after too many bevvies with friends. I've still got it!

10. I am a crappy correspondent.

11. Salt-reduced foods also contain a lot less sugar than their salted counterparts.

I am leaving on a jet plane tomorrow morning for Fiji to spend Christmas and New Year there with my family. Squeee!!

I will be back in early January 2011 with more of And then there were four. Until then, you take care and find the joy :)

What did you learn about yourself this year?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Can't get enough of...

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As usual there has been an absolute glut of celebrity gossip in 2010. I have gotten to the stage where I am so out of it that I don't even know who most of the people in those girly mags are referring to anymore.

Like Kim Kardashian. Where did she come from? I mean she (and her family) are everywhere? But why? What makes her so special?

And that Bieber kid? Who is he? Why do we have to see so much of him about the place?

But what happened to the delightful Justin Timberland? Off the red carpet and out of the collective consciousness.

So in 2010, instead of trying to catch up on the past 6 years of goss (note the coincidence of timing? I have been gradually losing my grip on celebrity-dom since the kids made their arrival in my life. Funny that?), I fixated on a couple of people.

My first female favourite in 2010 is Nicole Ritchie (I know. I am surprised too!). From super scrag to super Mum, Nicole has really transformed her image. If she could just ditch the slightly loser-ish (now) husband, I reckon she would be on fire. She is cute. A little bit naughty. But seems to be 'keeping it real' in her designer-way. I dig her.

My other female favourite for the year is Christina Hendricks. What's not to like about that sassy red-head? She's sexy, shapely and terribly stylish. She's bringing back the curve in a major way and seems to have an effortless glamour about her. I like her voice, love her TV show and reckon she is rocking the celebrity world hard.

In the male world, I am love, love, loving Neil Patrick Harris. I always loved him as Doogie Howser and his character, Barney in How I met your mother, is one of the best on TV. The fact that he and his partner are having twins together this year has just brought us closer. A sweet gay Dad. Top NPH!

And my other male celebrity favourite this year is Leonardo Dicaprio. I feel like Leo and I have grown up together. Well he was in Growing Pains like, one of my favourite shows when I was growing up. Does that count? He lost me a bit with his "I'm the king of the world" stage, but this year I have seen maturity in his performances (Shutter Island, Inception) and because he doesn't look 12 any more I am totally loving him. His penchant for dating models is a bit meh, but otherwise I think Leo is sporting the goods these days.

And what about you? Who can't you get enough of in 2010?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Phoenix of the year... K-Rudd

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Poor old Kevin Rudd had himself a pretty crappy 2010. After his election in 2007 (who could forget the Kevin '07 campaign?), it seemed he would be unstoppable.

He started out the year as Australia's Prime Minister (PM), but the polls were beginning to reveal a slump in popularity. Maybe it was the 80 hour weeks he expected his staff to do? Maybe it was his reneging on the Emissions Trading Scheme? or the proposed Mining Tax? Maybe it was his smugness? Maybe it was because he spent more time out of the country than he did in it? Whatever it was, K-Rudd had done his dash.

On June 24th, K-Rudd stepped down from his role of party leader and PM after a leadership challenge. His nemesis deputy PM, Julia Gillard who is now Australia's PM, became the first Australian female PM (small yay!). Beaten by a rude-red. That must have hurt? K-Rudd was shuffled out of the cabinet and appeared to disappear for a little while. Yesterday's news. Sore ego. Sore loser. Over and out.

And then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, K-Rudd hit the news again during Labour's Federal Election campaign. He was articulate. All of a sudden he was front-runner for the Foreign Affairs Minister role (a role some say he was coverting the whole time). All of a sudden he was back in the Labour gang.

The boy from Nambour is now soaring. Zipping all over the world in his Foreign Ministerial portfolio. Having his way with the big players on the world stage (although the Wikileaks debacle may have taken the shine off his strong Chinese relationships). Representing Australia like a real pro.

We may not like him. But you have got to hand it to him. K-Rudd has done a full U-turn in 2010 and is king of the pops. He gets my phoenix of the year award.

Who would you nominate for Phoenix of the Year?

Monday, 20 December 2010

Newcomer of the year... Chile

Andes, Chile
Prior to 2010, my only memories of Chile hitting the news were 2001, when it banned asbestos importing/exporting and 2008, when Miss Chile took out the Miss World pageant!

But it has been a different story in 2010.

First there was the earthquake off the coast of the Maule Region on February 27th. It measured 8.8 on the MMS (the successor to the Richtor scale for those no in the know), lasted 90 seconds and killed 486 people.

Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed, 50% of the country was declared a 'disaster zone' and at least one prison riot ensued.

It is estimated to have cost the insurance industry 4-7 billion dollars. Humanitarian aid was plentiful from around the world, even though the Chilean government originally thought they didn't need it and, somehow, Chile survived (even the resultant Tsunamis).

And then, on August 5th, there was an accident at the San-Jose copper-gold mine near Copiapo bringing Chile into the limelight again.

A cave-in left 33 miners 700 metres underground for 69 days. While the accident may have highlighted some safety issues for the mining industry in Chile (and the rest of the world), the amazing rescue on October 13th left Chile the world leaders in mine rescue.

No-one could believe that all miners had survived. No-one could believe they managed to get the men out before their Christmas deadline. It was all smiles in Chile.

Here's hoping for a little less 'drama' in Chile in 2011.

What is your nomination for the most talked about country in 2010?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Happy birthday Doo Dah

The Doo Dah is 4 years old today.

From this...

To this...

With four years of laughter, frustration, sweetness, cleverness and pure cheekiness in between.

Happy days little mate.

I love you xx

Christmas tree in progress

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I wasn't really one for Christmas trees until we had our children. But the Geege and I agreed that we really can't be a "family" without a Christmas tree. So we got one, and have been putting it up diligently for the past 5 years now.

If I'd have had my way, we'd be using a living gum tree as our Christmas tree. We had one in a pot, ready to go, but my black thumbs resulted in a premature death before its first big gig in 2005, and that put a stop to that dream. We ended up with a faux-pine one that we can pack away in a box year after year. It goes alright.

We decorate our tree fairly sparcely (compared to others we know). I am not one for tinsel, so it has mostly been about the bauble. I did buy a little string of beads this year to wrap around the tree this year because it always looked so bare with just baubles. Something was missing, some would say, the tinsel!

After getting the general red and silver 'starter baubles' we have been buying one or two lovely ornaments a year to celebrate the milestones of the year. Mostly these have had a baby tone to them - "Baby's first Christmas" or a stork bringing a baby (usually blue)- but there have been other exciting events to celebrate in these years too (e.g. opening businesses, finishing Master's degrees).

Last year I splashed out and got "The twelve days of Christmas" ornaments, just 'cause, and we now have lords a- leaping, calling birds, french hens and of course a partridge in a pear tree all over the tree. They are cute and they help me remember the words to the song!

But my favourite ornaments are the ones that the children diligently made (at daycare) - a few of which feature their mug shots. Nugget is horrified that we don't have a 'real star' at the top, just a paper one that he made which is tied in place. It was the first thing he ever really cut out himself. How can I replace it?

Looking at it this year, it is starting to look like a 'real' tree I think. Slow and steady.

How do you go about your tree? Are you into tinsel? Who dresses the tree each year? Do you have a theme or does it just get slapped together?

To learn more about the history of the Christmas tree, check out this site. I found it really interesting!

I am linking into Twin Trials and Triumphs Ornament linky. Those American's do Christmas trees in a big way (hence no pictures of mine!)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Cough, splutter, choke

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I assessed swallowing for a living for about 10 years. I was a speech pathologist who worked in the hospital system and my specialty was dysphagia (swallowing problems).

When it comes to eating problems, I have seen it all. Chewing problems. Food that comes out the nose. Food that sits in the back of the mouth, unable to be cleared. Food that falls out the front of the mouth. Choking. Coughing. Swallows that are initiated so late that the food has already fallen into the lungs before the swallow is triggered.

I have palpated swallows, 'listened' to swallows through a stethoscope, x-rayed swallows and done endoscopic evaluations of swallows.

I have treated people who have tracheostomies, those who have had their larynxes removed, babies learning to breastfeed, dying patients and people with no tongues (glossectomies from cancer, usually).

I have fed people pureed food, minced food, soft food, hard foods, and chewy foods.

I have prescribed thickened fluids, water only or no fluids, depending on the needs of the patient.

I have withheld food because the person's swallow was not present and the only 'safe' way to feed them was through a tube.

One man died whilst I was present in his room before I even got to assess him. I always wondered about the person who referred this man to me. What were they thinking? But I was happy to be with the man when he died. The alternative was he die alone.

One woman choked when one of my rogue student's did not follow procedure and we had to perform the heimlich maneouvre.

All of this experience has meant that feeding my children has never raised a sweat for me. I don't mean the nutritional side of things (that has always been difficult), but the actual teaching them to eat bit. I have never feared when my toddler's have coughed or spluttered a bit whilst tackling their first lumps. I have never panicked when my children have gagged on their meat.

Last night whilst Dew Drop was munching on a corn chip (nachos) he managed to lodge the chip in the back of his throat. He went silent and then tried to cough it out but it was stuck. The Geege freaked out a bit but I crossed the room and calmly poked my finger to the back of his mouth in a sweeping action, dislodged the chip and gently bend Dew Drop forward so he could cough it out. No drama. No worries.

It is times like this that I am thankful for all those dysphagics I have treated, for they taught me a lot about the human swallow mechanism. There are few situations that would make me panic when it comes to choking. Experience breeds quick, sensible reactions that might just save a little person's life.

I am sure grateful for that.

Have you experienced any choking incidents with your kids? How did you manage?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Wedding Bliss

The bride was stunning, wearing a flowing Lisa Ho and a simple hair style. A classic beauty, her arrival brought a collective inhalation from the crowd. Could anyone really be that effortlessly gorgeous?

The location was amazing. A park wedding followed by the reception at Icebergs Restaurant, Bondi (for those of you who are not from around here). A perfect Summer's day, made all the more so by a simply sensational backdrop. The setting sun. The lights of Bondi and stars in the sky reflected on the glistening water. It is the place of romance, and romance it did see.

Photo by GG

Our friend, the freakishly talented Jodi Martin played a brand new song (with Rusty on bass and GG as the human microphone stand). As always, she brought tears to my eyes with the clarity, texture and perfect tone of her voice. 
Photo by Paparazzi Pete

 We found ourselves unexpectedly in the orange corner...the ladies were colour co-ordinated. It is hard to pass the dominance of the orange shades at the shops at the moment and it seems we were all drawn to similar hues (that is me in the middle in case you don't recognise me in my finery with two of my favourite people).
Photo by GG

The men just looked tall and devilishly handsome (some matching going on there too). The gorgeous groom is on the far left (captured in an anxious movement before the bride arrived).

Fun and frivolity were had by all (to an '80s soundtrack) as we wittled away the night on the dancefloor, happily drunk and full of excitement and expressing our love for each other nearly as often as our happiness for the newly weds. You can't beat a slurred "I love yous" with your mates!  

A night to remember.

Joy and happiness always gorgeous people.

* Official wedding photos are 'borrowed' from Florent Vidal Photographe without permission but I am hoping I am not breaching copyright because I am not claiming they are mine?

** Paparazzi Pete is a dear friend of mine who loves to capture all of our events on film. We love her for it because, not only does she snap great photos, she is great at sharing them so that I can steal them from her Facebook account.

*** GG is another fantastic photography talent who I proudly call my friend. She is also unaware of my use of her photos but I am sure she will forgive me?

Monday, 13 December 2010

Parenting in risk averse times

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I have been thinking a lot about the Free Range Kid movement since Lenore Skenazy spruiked about it on her Australia tour earlier this year. While I am not really supportive of the name (way too 21st Century for me I think), I am definitely supportive of the concept. We have become over-protective and it can't be doing our children any good.

I agree that as parents we need to put safe risks back into our children's lives. If we don't our children's first exposure to risk will be in their adolescence and they will face these risks without any experience.

In my mind, it is better to expose our kids to risks whilst they are still under our protection and we are able to ensure the risks are 'safer'.

Controlling our children does not teach them to do the 'right' things. It teaches them to obey adults. When you guide children, they develop learned behaviour based on knowledge.

It seems to be about building resilience in children. Letting them solve their own problems. Teaching them to 'have a go'. Letting them learn to deal with disappointment. Giving them time. Encouraging them to practise. Giving them space. Giving them materials. And letting them be.

The five key concepts that come up in the literature about this are:

1. Set limits - these protect their health and safety e.g. We eat at the table (allowing for 'special occasion' variations) or couches are for sitting on, not jumping on.

2. Logical consequences - If they knock over the drink, it is an accident and should be treated as such. Try to use "when" statements e.g. When x is done we will go to the park rather than if x is done we will go to the park.

3. Provide choices - but make sure both of the choices are acceptable e.g. either put on your hat or stay in the shade. Acknowledge their feelings ("I understand that your hat makes your head hot"). Listen and validate their feelings.

4. Use positive communication - Always reinforce positive behaviour. The key ones in our household are:
  • Be gentle to your siblings
  • Stay close to me (instead of Don't run off)
  • Stop at the road
  • Walk around the puddle (instead of Don't walk through the puddle)
  • Walk inside (instead of Don't run)
  • Sit down while you are eating
Rehearse the rules children may forget like what do you have to do when Mum is on the telephone and tell me the shopping rules before we go inside the shops

5. Give acknowledgement instead of over-praising. Say thank you for specific behaviour (instead of 'you are such a good boy') as they may not know why they are good. Young children can get confused about sugary praise.

If you are interested in knowing more about this style of parenting, you can download a free e-book called "No Fear- Growing up in a risk averse society" by Tim Gill or visit the free-range kids website.

So. How free-range are you?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Grateful for... babysitters x2

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I am extremely grateful for the lovely Maxabella for babysitting the twins today so that the Geege and I can kick our heels up at our dear friend's wedding.
Grateful vibes also to my mother-in-law who has kindly taken Nugget and Doo Dah under her wing.

Can you guess who drew the short straw?

I hope you all get a little sleep. Smooch xx

Friday, 10 December 2010

The eyes have it

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I got contacted by an old friend to be "friends" on Facebook.

He was my boyfriend at the end of school. I use the world 'boyfriend' quite liberally here because it was only a couple of months between the HSC and my trip to Germany, but it was a really fun time. I was completely enamoured with him and thought he was the most attractive guy ever.

We played. Watched sunsets at the beach. Drank lots of alcohol. Laughed. And listened to music.

So after nearly 20 years, there has been contact.

I frantically languidly clicked over to the profile page to check out any available photos. What can I say? I was curious. Sadly, all of his pictures are private. So I only had his profile photo to look at.

I was surprised to discover that he is still a very handsome man. He has these gorgeous eyes, you see, and no matter how much older his face has become (not really that much it seems), his eyes are still the same. Blue. Clear. I used to get lost in those eyes.

I am not accepting his friend request. He is probably a boring old office worker with four kids just like me. I prefer the memories of us as young and foolish and learning about love and other stuff.

So I took one last look at those amazing eyes of his and passed up the opportunity to re-enter his life.

Some things are best left in the past methinks.

Are you friends with any of your ex-es on Facebook? How does that go for you?

Mummy from the Heart is hosting the Multiples Mayhem carnival, so if you are into the world of multiples, click over and check it out. You might find a familiar face in the crowd :)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Oprah does The Sound of Music

This is a picture of the glorious Mondsee
Did you catch Oprah's interview with The Sound of Music cast?

God I love that movie. So many great songs, the voice of Julie Andrews and the countryside... sensational. 45 years on, I think it would still make a lot of people's favourite movie lists.

It was cute to hear a few of the stories from behind the scenes.

I always doubted that Leisel was "16 going on 17" (she said she was 21 at the time of filming) but I think that was probably my favourite song from the movie.

Christopher Plummer was so busily drinking in Austria that he had to have his costumes taken out! And one of the boys grew 6 inches during the 6 months of filming so they had to put Liesel on a box in lots of the scenes so that she remained taller than him. And two of the girls lost their front teeth. And Gretel couldn't swim so was scared senseless during the falling out of the boat scene.

Apparently "Favourite things" was the first scene that they shot.
Apparently the seven von Trapp kids are putting out a book next year.

I spent a couple of weeks in The Sound of Music territory whilst an Exchange Student in Germany. One of my host families took me on holidays to Mondsee (where the church Maria and The Captain married is) and when I wasn't busily lazing around the gorgeous lake, going to the Salzbuger Festspiele (where I had the pleasure of seeing The Magic Flute opera) I was exploring the countryside looking for Eidelweiss (not realising that it is a protected plant).

And yes, I did my own version of "The Hills are Alive". It is an incredibly beautiful part of the world. Breathtaking. Lush.

Oprah is a pretty cool chick (welcome to Australia!) and I loved the skip down memory lane I had on Tuesday night whilst watching her show.

Are you into The Sound of Music? What is your favourite scene?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

100 books to read before you die?

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This is bound to bore the pants off some of you, but because I love books and because Tat from Mum in Search put up her list and I wanted to be able to keep a copy and work my way through some of the books on it (it is my NYR after all), here is a list of the BBC top 100 books.

The instructions are to bold all books you have read and italicise the ones you’ve started but haven’t finished.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I have sure read a few of his works, but all of it? Has anyone?)

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien (double points because I read it in German?)

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (In spanish!)

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton (Not 100% sure I have read them all but have definitely covered a few)

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

32 down, 68 to go (although some of the Sci-Fi's I won't be rushing to read).

I must confess that I read some of them at school and I can’t remember a thing other than the title. Hence, the scarce commentary along the way. But a few I am still re-reading today (e.g Memoirs of a Geisha as we speak).

How many have you read? What would you recommend I tackle next?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Plans for 2011

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I am starting to plan my New Year's Resolutions (NYR) a bit early this year. Most of the time I have these grand plans to crank out 3 NSRs on the gong of midnight on Jan 1 but invariably this never happens. And then I feel a bit like I have missed the start of the race, so no NYRs come to fruition.

There's nothing amazing on my list. And nothing to do with being a parent. It is all about me as a person.

In 2011, I am going to learn to touch-type properly. I am a bit of a hack at the moment (not a two finger typist or anything) and my hands get tired when I have been typing all day long. Which I seem to do a lot in my current job role. So that is my number one hope for 2011.

I am also going to run the Mother's Day Classic (10km).

And I will have at least one full weekend to myself.

I will also read my way through 2 books per month.

Other than that I am anyone's.

Do you have goals for 2011?

Monday, 6 December 2010

The bombsite

This is not my place!
I am not much of a housewife. I confess that I am rather appalling. When I mentioned the word 'clean' yesterday, my daughter piped up "K" (the name of our over-worked fortnightly, life-saving cleaner). Like she's never seen me do it or something. It was a sobering moment in parenting.

I claim that it is the repetitiveness of it that kills me. I claim that it is the relentlessness that puts me off. I claim that it is the thanklessness of it that prevents me from learning to love it.

I do the bare essentials; as infrequently as possible.

When I am out of the house for the day and get home and there are literally toys strewn everywhere, dishes piled up, washing folded the night before still in neat little piles waiting to be put away, children's pyjamas still sitting in the pile they were discarded in when they got dressed in the morning, it makes me realise that I do actually have an impact on the daily life around here.

I am bad at it, but I still make a difference.

That is reassuring in its own way.

What are you like as a housewife? Any kindred spirits out there?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Theory of anxiety disorders

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Have you noticed the incidence of anxiety disorders seems to have increased? Is it that more people are anxious? Or are more people getting help with their anxiety?

A friend of mine has had trouble with anxiety for a little over a year. It comes and goes a bit but she takes medication and struggles with that. It seems she would like to be drug-free, but when she tries to reduce the dose, the anxiety creeps back in.

I reckon anti-anxiety meds are just like meds for any other physical ailment. If you need them to titrate your body back to 'normal', you need them. Mental health conditions just seem to have a stigma attached (even to the sufferer) and when you say you are taking anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-whatever-the-condition-you-suffer, there is a perceived 'weakness'. It doesn't come from me, but it is there I think.

My friend's theory about why anxiety is on the increase is that with the rapid change that we have to deal with day-to-day now and over the past century, evolution is struggling to keep up. People whose hereditary lines have already hit overload, tend to cope better now. Thanks to their gene-pool their brains have adjusted their chemical balance.

In other cases, their ancestors haven't handed on the essential skills in coping and as such, they lack the appropriate amounts of serotonin and other happy hormones. These people are showing the cracks in today's crazy world.

I like her thinking (I am calling it the Nachbaren Theory of Anxiety). I'd like to explore it more because it seems like it could explain the increased prevalence of anxiety disorders better than the "Keeping up with the Jones'' theory you often hear bandied about the place. Whether you agree with the Nachbaren Theory or not, it is an interesting way at looking at things don't you think?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

It is beginning to feel a bit like Christmas

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Usually I am all about Scrooge at this time of year. Bah Humbug and all that.

But I am actually a little bit excited already.

Maybe it is the planned trip to Fiji with the fam, my in-laws and s-i-l and kids? (It has to help I know).

Maybe it is the fact that Nugget and Doo Dah are getting older and more into the Christmas spirit?

Maybe it is because I took my own advice and have barred all things "Christmas catch-up" this year and have deferred seeing some people until the new year? What's a few weeks?

Whatever it is, I am liking it.

We kicked off December with the unveiling of the Advent calendars yesterday morning. This year I just bought some from Aldi but I usually do a home made one for each of the kids. The kids are loving the hit of chocolate circa 7am.

Last night we broke open the money-box we have been saving change in for the year, counted the loot and Doo Dah and I are heading off to the shops tonight to get a present for Nugget and the Minx. Next week, Nugget and I will buy for Doo Dah and Dew Drop. They are so excited and have been glued to the toy catalogues for weeks in preparation. Maybe that is why Nugget still can't sleep?

Doo Dah, the twins and I went to the shops this morning (brave I know) to get some final decorations for the Christmas tree as well as some essential groceries. We are tackling the tree erection tomorrow night once the Geege is home from work.

There's a whole lot of Chrismassy goodness going on at our place. What have you been up to?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

I didn't mean to eavesdrop but they were talking about paedophiles

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I overheard a conversation today. I didn't *mean* to eavesdrop but the topic was so interesting that I couldn't help myself.

The women were discussing their habits in relation to leaving their children in the care of others.

They were all very particular about who could look after their kids (fair enough), but the conversation was very much centred on the gender of the carer.

They were debating the 'safety issues' of allowing their children to be babysat by men. And leaving their children in the care of men who work in childcare centres. Each had examples of their children being left alone with men. Each reported feeling incredibly uncomfortable with the situations they found their children in.

I can honestly say I have never considered this. That male babysitters or childcare workers *could* pose a greater threat to my children. I mean, I have certainly gently warned my children about talking to strangers and keeping their clothes on in public, but I haven't ever been concerned if my friend's husbands have taken on the 'minding' duties if their wife had to step out. Should I be more concerned or is it reasonable to assume that my friend's are married to 'good men'?

The conversation took another turn when they discussed overseas childcare centres. One woman reported that she had read an article about children who had contracted STIs whilst in the care of a 'Kid's Club' in a resort overseas. My ears pricked up. The very thought of that makes me feel sick to the stomach. Those poor children.

I hadn't even considered that these facilities are not governed by the same rules and regulations that ours are in Australia. Will my kids be at risk on our trip to Fiji if we use the Kids Club?

I am of two minds (surprise, surprise!). Half of me thinks I am very happy that my first thoughts about humanity are good. All men are not paedophiles. Why should they all be tarred with the same brush?

But my other half thinks that I would absolutely hate to put my children in a situation that turns out to be less than ideal. I can only imagine how horrendous the parents of those children with their STIs feel, both for themselves and their precious children.

So what are your thoughts? Do you treat all men as 'paedophiles' unless proven innocent*? If you are a man (I know there are a couple of you who read this blog), what are your thoughts on this kind of thinking?

* I am quoting one of the women from the conversation (that particular remark made me gag a little).

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Living a contented life

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It is so easy at this time of year to do too much. There are so many tasks to complete and people to see and functions to attend. The need to squeeze the life out of the last few weeks of 2010 is a compulsion.

What better time then to re-assess our priorities?

To look at what we are doing and why we are doing it?

"Whatever the tasks, do them slowly with ease,
in mindfulness,
do not do any tasks with the goal of getting them over with.
Resolve to each job in a relaxed way,
with all your attention.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master

We often complete things so that we can tackle the next thing on our list of things-to-do. We rush from one destination to the next, only to hurry along to the next. We are often so tired from the grind, that we don't have the energy to do the things we love. Things we are passionate about.

So when you find yourself wrapped up in the busy-ness this season, try to spare a moment to hold onto the things that help us lead a contented life. To dance in the rain.

Keep things simple.

Look after your relationships.

Find the funny side.

Find joy in the mundane, the routine.

Never stop learning.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Little girl's shoes

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Now that the warmer weather has arrived for more than 10 minutes, I thought it time I investigated the shoe situation for the kids.

I have spoken before about my fortunes with hand-me-downs and shoes have not escaped. I have a whole plastic tub full of barely-worn, possible shoes for the kids to wear in all different sizes.

So on Saturday, with four sets of eyes looking on, I went through the current shoe piles for signs of fatigue, measured the kids feet and looked to fill the gaps. I managed to bag up about 6 pairs for the charity shop, but still have enough shoes hanging around to fit-out a centipede!

Nugget's feet don't seem to have grown much in the past year (I hope he hasn't peaked at size 12? With the Geege's gene pool this is a possibility). He is good to go.

Doo Dah has cast off last year's shoes but has a whole host of appropriately sized shoes to choose from. Game, set, match.

Dew Drop fits a size 6 snugly and has a selection of 3 pairs of sandals (perfect for Summer), but no enclosed shoes to speak of. I will have to review thishis footwear needs into the New Year.

But the Minx. She has the tinniest feet and even though her feet have grown a little she is still only a size 5. We have no girl's size 5 sandals in the stash, just a pair of sneakers, which she loves as long as she doesn't have to wear any socks! I hope she doesn't have her mother's stinky feet.

I found 2 completely new pairs of boys size 5 sandals.

So I have a couple of questions for you. Do I hand on the boy's sandals in the correct size only to go out and buy a couple of pairs of girl's size 5s (pink and blingy)?

Or does the Minx don the Bob the Builder sandals this Summer?

What would you do?

Friday, 26 November 2010

Once a bad sleeper...

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Nugget was not a good sleeper as a baby.

He was happy to sleep on me, in the sling, in the pram (for 40 minutes as long as it was moving) or next to me in the bed. But never on his own. And never for long.

When Doo Dah came along, I was already sleep deprived. Nugget still wasn't consistently sleeping through the night and he was trying very hard to drop his day sleeps too. I won that battle until he was 2 years and 8 months old when we all got sick of pretending.

Doo Dah was a happy little sleeper. He settled well and woke only for feeds. He took his sweet time to drop the 10pm feed (he was more than a year old), but once he did, he just slept. Night after night.

Nugget was about three and a half when I first realised that I no longer wondered if I would see him during the night once he had fallen asleep. But even though he been a consistent sleeper since then, he is still not a 'good sleeper'.

He is often found sleeping at the end of our bed. It seems he has realised that we don't come when he calls out (unless he is obviously distressed) and will take him back to his bed if he wakes us trying to get in, so he has devised a means of 'being with us' without waking us. I often wake in the morning with his little hand wrapped around my foot. It would be cute if he weren't five and a half!

He has a string of nightly excuses. I am thirsty. I need to go to the toilet. I have sore legs. Doo Dah is snoring too loudly. It is too dark. It is too light. There is something in the cupboard. I am not tired.

It is truly exhausting.

As we are nearing the end of the school year and life is super-busy and we are all getting tired and grumpy, Nugget has developed what can only be described as 'insomnia'. He is exhausted, and yet he cannot sleep. He still goes to bed by about 7.30, our night-time routine hasn't changed, and yet he is often still lying, wide awake in bed at 10pm when I check on him.

Night after night.

For at least the last 4 weeks.

That is a very late night for a kindergarten child, and you can imagine how his behaviour is as a consequence. Diabolical.

I just don't seem to know how to help him 'switch off'.

His latest problem has confirmed for me that once a bad sleeper, always a bad sleeper.

Anyone experienced this themselves or with one of their children? Any ideas?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Variety Santa Fun Run

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As you know, I developd a relationship with running this year. Lately, I have been pretty slack and failed miserably to get myself out pounding the pavement. I have a million excuses (that seems to run in the family this week), but still keep my eye out for challenges and I happened upon this.

Variety Australia has an upcoming Santa Fun Run (in capital cities this Sunday, 28th November). Although I can't enter this year as I have prior commitments, it is a damned cute idea. A whole bunch of Santa's running 5K all in the name of fundraising for a cause.

Reg is the main man behind the event and you can take a look for yourself if you Check this video link out!

So if you are not doing anything this weekend, why not register in this year’s fun run?

Variety is a national not-for-profit organisation empowering children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs. With the help of dedicated volunteers and generous individual and corporate supporters, Variety, the Children’s Charity is able to offer three core programs: freedom, care and future. You can read more about these programs on the variety website.

I wish I had known about it earlier.
*Reg’s Facebook page:

Would you don a Santa suit and run for a cause?

PS: Happy Birthday to Mum! I hope you have another bumper day of recovery :)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Musical Heights

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On Saturday, after another gruelling morning of Little As (just me and the kids), Nugget performed in his school's annual concert. Sister B babysat the twins (thanks Maxabella!) and Doo Dah and I went along with my in-laws, while the Geege kicked up his heels at Stage 1 of the full-day Buck's Party.

We had front row, middle position seats. A great start!

It was a very professional show. Great costumes (with no parental input - phew!). Great lighting, decorations and stage props. It ran on time and everyone seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Impressive.

Every class performed a dance routine, with the level of complexity matching the age of the children. Nugget's class did a gorgeous Christmas routine featuring little girls in glittery skirts and boys in Santa hats. Nugget was all business (he barely cracked a smile) but he knew all the moves and sang along to the song.

There were three levels of bands (Senior, Training and Stage) - mostly in tune and featuring a very accomplished trumpeter (who just happens to have been Nugget's Sixth Grade 'Buddy', S).

There was a school choir with a very well-articulated set of identical boy twins who were both delightful and amusing in their earnest commitment to the songs.

The school Eisteddford dance ensemble did a dance routine that told the story of The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy was a stand-out, as was the boy in 4th Grade who played Michael Jackson in his class routine (I haven't seen a Moon Walk that good since about 1984).

Doo Dah was exceptionally well behaved. He got bored about Act 13, but I had food bribes to get him through to the end (19 Acts).

The Grand Finale was the whole school singing together. 307 students singing in harmony to Come Play your Part. Nugget was all smiles and seemed to really enjoy himself during that 'number'.

All in all it was a fantastic afternoon that exceeded my expectations.

I was a doubting Thomas that a Kindy kid would get anything out of 'weekly dance lessons' at school.

Eating my humble pie now.

Does your school have an annual concert? How did it go for you?

Monday, 22 November 2010

Random act of kindness

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My husband went to a full-day Buck's party on Saturday. Needless to say, he was in no state to drive by the end of the night so he caught a cab back from the city (it is about 30km to our place so I truly do not want to know what that little extravagance set us back!). His car was left near a train station in the inner North Shore.

Yesterday afternoon, the family packed into the VW and headed off on a little road trip to retrieve the Geege's car.

It started out well. We had a lovely game of I-spy. And then, out of the blue, Dew Drop had a massive vomit. We pulled over, cleaned up to the best of our ability, stripped him off and, once some colour had returned to his face, we continued on our mission.

We arrived at Daddy's parked car without further ado (we think he must of suffered car sickness because there has been no further problems) and Nugget and I promptly jumped into the small car and followed the rest of the family back up the highway.

When we were a little way into our journey, I realised that Nugget's car door wasn't properly closed. We had a couple of attempts to fix it but, due to a pesky child-lock, we had no success.

We pulled up at a red traffic light. We had one more unsuccessful attempt and I was taking off my seatbelt to race around to close it, when from seemingly nowhere a lady quickly opened and closed the door for us.

I turned my head long enough to see her jump back into her people mover packed with at least four kids of her own. I mouthed 'thank you' as we both drove off in the traffic.

Random act of kindness.

Totally made my day.

Did you have any nice little surprises at the weekend?

Friday, 19 November 2010

When will it end?

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Four children.

Four nappy-clad bottoms.

Every night.


When will it end?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The bowling bug

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It seems my household has caught the 10 Pin Bowling bug (although I note is is now just called bowling. Showing my age and dagginess with that there reference).

First the Geege came home from work a month or so ago and declared that he and his colleagues were entering a Bowling Comp on Tuesday nights. I must say that I had a snigger and replied that was very 'Homer Simpson' of him, but I was happy for him to be having some down-time with the fellas.

He is loving himself. He hasn't missed a week. Personally, I think it is the beers and disco lights that make his night, but despite his mediocre form, he reports his scorecard with a note of pride in his voice. It is cute.

And now, Nugget has caught the bug too.

He was invited to a Bowling Party from one of his school-friends and he had the 'best time ever' and hasn't stopped raving about it. Apparently so did his BFF and his Mum has been conned into hosting said BFF's 6th Birthday function at the Bowling Alley. Nugget is beside himself with excitement.

We have another two weeks to go until the big day but not an hour goes by that the word 'bowling' or 'racing car games' or 'strike' doesn't slip into the conversation. Excited much? At least it has replaced the daily banter about Fiji (still ready to throttle the Geege for that one!).

As for me, well I have to say I was a little keen to bowl a ball or two when I was supervising at the Birthday Party. And the shoes, what's not to love about a pair of bowling shoes?

I reckon I could happily catch the bug too given half the chance.

Are you a Bowling fan? What is your best bowling memory?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Through lying eyes - Final Part

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When we last heard from my friend and guest post writer, she had started her long road to recovery from anorexia. In this post she completes her remarkable story and brings us up to the here and now. 

After my bout of hospital admissions, denials, and acceptances, my journey seemed to go nowhere for a few years. I just cruised along at my safe leisurely pace of "recovery". I left hospital for the final time accepting of my illness, accepting of the need for recovery, and accepting that life would be better once I was better. Yet that pull of yes, no, yes, no, was still ingrained in my behavioural process.

Four years after my first admission to hospital with anorexia, depression became my primary diagnosis.

 Depression for me was always there, but the professionals never knew with me, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Once I was accepting of treatment, my past unraveled, and yes, I had suffered depression, or the markers for depression, for most of my young life. Hindsight is a fabulous thing.

After four hospital admissions, my dislike for hospital intensified, and it was somewhere I never wanted to return to. And not because it's a place where they make you eat and you lose control of your anorexia, but because of the feelings that arose whilst there. The competitiveness, bitchiness, anger, and full-on hellish emotions you've suppressed for the previous however many years that when in treatment, come raging to the surface in a flurry.

I'd "outgrown" all the behavioural aspects of anorexia. The vying for attention, the food games and rituals, the effort needed to starve and lose weight.....Now my task was to work on the emotional side of things. The real journey to recovery began!

I was now 27 and had another 6 years of recovery to go. If I'd known that at the time, I would have felt this was never going to end...
I stumbled across the person whom I feel has been the most significant person in my whole treatment process, and who has done the hard yards with me. My counsellor of 11 years - she's seen me at my best, worst, and everything in between!! (If she were a friend, she would have bolted long ago, unable to cope with the fluctuations of my life). Together we have worked tirelessly - and exhaustively!

People often ask me, "What was it? What caused your anorexia, what made you get better?". That's something I can't easily answer. Everyone who suffers an eating disorder is different, but for me the cause was an accumulation of childhood anxieties, insecurities, parental influence, and my own fragile personality.

What made me get better was an accumulation also, of events, self-growth, understanding and acceptance, and forming a solid, stable, loving relationship with my, now, fiance - love of which I'd never experienced before. This one came last, the end of my rough ride, beginning the best years of my life.

I've learnt that until you love yourself, you can't expect anyone else to love you.

I now have strength I thought I'd never have. I still have insecurities, shyness, and like every woman, days when I look in the mirror and cringe, but I would now say I'm normal. I have no food hangups, I love life, and I wish more than anything that I'd allowed myself to enjoy my younger years as much as I'm enjoying life now!!
My journey with anorexia feels like it happened a lifetime ago, and to someone else. I look back and feel I am watching a movie. I don't remember a lot, but that has to be my subconscious protecting me. BUT being the meticulous detail person I am, I have it all recorded in almost 20 years of diaries! Diaries of which I can't quite bring myself to read and re-live yet. The first time round was more than enough thank you!

I will leave you with the knowledge that no matter what life throws at you, if your drive to get through it is there, the light at the end of the tunnel will eventually be blinding! Never never never give up. We all suffer adversity and traumas in life, but it's how we come out the other end that matters.

Indeed dear friend. Indeed.

The wraps up our four-part series on anorexia. I hope you have found my friend's heart-felt story and amazing insight into the illness that stole the better part of her youth, as interesting as I have. I can't help but think that she is one of the lucky ones. She survived to tell the tale. My heart goes out to all of you who may have been touched by this terrible mental health condition and to anyone who has lost a friend or sister or brother or relative or neighbour to its clutches.

Please leave my friend some of your thoughts.

I am trying to convince her to put her writing talents to work and start her own blog... maybe after the wedding :)

Please don't forget to skip over to Twin Trials and Triumphs to read my Guest Post today :)

Monday, 15 November 2010

The passage of time

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I stumbled upon my Christmas letter from 2009 while I was sorting through some stuff over the weekend.

Truth is we received another donation of hand-me-downs and, while I am forever grateful for people's generosity, I have nowhere to put the clothes anymore. So the sorting process included some donations of my own, to the local Charity bin and the curb-side Council pick-up pile. It feels so good to declutter!

I also re-discovered the missing wristband from Ben 10's Omnitrix (score!) and the missing tail from my monkey backpack, aka a toddler 'leash'. Two definate wins right there.

Anyway, amidst all the piles of things was a copy of my Christmas letter. It was the first I had written in many years and not a bad little read (even if I do say so myself).

The thing about these methods of communication is that they force you to find the good things that have happened in your year and succinctly piece them together to form a story. I wrote mine like a newsletter with the Geege and I in a box and then a box for each of the kids, with a recent photo.

I reckon if you did a Christmas letter, and only that, every year without fail you could leave a wonderful legacy about the passage of time in your life (and those of your children).

So with only 5 or 6 weeks until Christmas, I think it was fitting that I came across this little treasure because it has inspired me to put together the Second Edition for 2010. Even if I bore the pants off my friends and family with my moment of self-indulgence, I think I will be very happy that I did this time next year.

Do you write a Christmas letter? How do you do yours?

PS: I am the Aussie Mummy Bloggers 'Blogger of the Week' this week, so pop over to their site and check me out! If you haven't already, register for the Australian Bloggers Conference in March, which is being put together by the peeps from AMB. I am going to be there and I reckon it will be loads of fun.

If you are visiting from AMB, welcome and I hope you will drop me a line so I can return the favour.

PPS: At about 9pm tonight I will be a guest blogger at Twin Trials and Triumphs. The passage of time has made it difficult for us to synchronise our link-ups as there is a 16 hour time difference between Kentucky and Sydney! Please stop over and say hello at Mandy's place - I don't want to look like I have no friends!

I have written a little post about Learning to Dance in the Rain. I hope you will enjoy it! And of course, if you are visiting me from there stop long enough to say hi and let me know where to visit you at too.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Unwelcome house guests

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We have some new residents in our home.

They seem like a lovely couple. They go everywhere together and seem to kick around into the wee hours of the morning.

Lately they have been heading out for 'dates' around 10pm and disturbing the neighbours with their raucous return home.

Sometimes they cuddle up in our loungeroom (walls) and you can hear them scratching as they change positions and get themselves more comfortable.

We didn't invite these guests, but they have taken up residence anyway.

We live in a bushy suburb. We have had all sort of native wildlife in our backyard - bush turkeys, quoll-like marsupials, blue-tongued lizards and a whole family of slugs. We have even had possums before, that we managed to successfully encourage to find another home.

These newbies are not welcome.

Do not be fooled by their cute outward appearance. Brushtail Possums can cause house fires by eating through electrical wires. They can disrupt the insulation in your roof and/or walls. They can die in your house structures causing all manner of smells and issues with disposal.

And they are really hard to get rid of.

Even the professional possum catchers are only allowed to remove them and take them 50m from your home. 50m is not a great distance for a possum to travel and they find their way back 'home' quick smart.

The Geege is formulating a plan as we speak and this will involve some heroics or other as he awaits for their nightly exit and then seals up their entry point into the roof space.

I feel mean, but I really don't need to be sharing my home with a couple of noisy newly-weds do I?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Following the program

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If you almost follow the program, you almost lose weight.


How are you going with your weight loss efforts?

* I'm playing along with Diminishing Lucy's Fat to Fit blog hop

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Identity crisis

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I had an interview at the post office on Monday to get my passport (and one for each of my four children). It was a pretty awful experience as I had to take the twins with me and, let's just say, there isn't a lot for a couple of two year olds to do for an hour at a post office.


The whole experience was complicated by my documentation problem.

When I got married, I had no idea what to do about my last name. Would I take the Geege's family name or keep my maiden name?

It was a decision made difficult for me by the fact that I have always been a leftie and a feminist (in a good way) and was 31 with an established career when we married. I didn't really see the need to change my name. The Geege didn't seem worried about it either.

Then I found out I was pregnant. I realised that I wanted to share the name of my unborn child.

What to do?

My simple solution was to keep my own short name, and add my husband's too. No hyphen. Two last names.

I read a couple of posts yesterday that made comment about the hyphenated last name, and have to agree with this post that Maxabella linked to and this post that x0xJ wrote. There is something very 1970's to me about the hyphenated last name. That was my rationale for just going the two names.

But the two names has caused some trouble for me. When I went to supply my identification for my passport on Monday, I realised that my name is represented in three different ways on my credit card (hyphenated), bank account (just the Geege's name) and licence (correct)! My simple solution is a complete mess.

I got a lecture from the well intentioned post-office worker who explained that it was important to have the same name on all the identification. I didn't dare show him my Medicare card which is still in my maiden name.

I had to write a statutory declaration to the effect that all these people are actually the same person. Me. My identity is officially a complete disaster. I have more AKA's than a spy.

Have you had this problem? What has your solution to the name conundrum been?
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