Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sooky la-la list.

Here's Molly when she got her new bandana collar. Sadly, Murphy ripped off the scarf part when he stayed... he's such a pup still. She's got a lot more coat now; I haven't bred or shown Cavaliers in fifteen years, but it still bugs me when my dogs are lacking in any 'show-y' area. She's got too much black on her body, and she's got ticking on her neck ruff. How awful. But she's the gentlest, sweetest thing in the world, and she loves us totally, which is what cavaliers do best.

Actually, it's unusual for us to have just one dog. (When I was breeding them, sometimes I'd have up to 20, including puppies. That was before I started breeding my own species.) Sometime after we get back from the holiday we're going to have to get a puppy. I think that dogs are happiest when they've got a mate to hang around with during the day. Molly and Murphy are always rapt when holidays come and they get to live with each other for a while. They snore as a duet, which is always charming, except when the tv gets drowned out and you have to wake them up. Selfishly though, I've enjoyed just having Molly. She's absolutely no trouble, knows the ropes and I have one area in my life that I don't have to juggle. She simply fits in, whereas a puppy will be work-- at least for a while. Sigh.

Our bags are pretty well packed, some of the cooking has been done, (no baking though... I'll do that today) and by tonight we'll be at the airport. Molly is wandering around, running towards the laundry whenever I look at her. The cats are still in there. I threw them their chicken necks and then slammed the door, (actually, that sounds more dramatic than it was. I gave them their chicken necks on saucers, as always, and then gently closed the door on them. You'd think I slammed it in their faces by the shocked looks they gave me, though!) I want to drop them off at the vets early, and if the kids forget and let them out they'll probably disappear for most of the day. They saw Jack bring in the pet crate from the garage last night, and that always means that they're off to live in the cat room for a while!

This holiday..... here's a list of scary things that might happen.....
  • I don't have transfers from the airport organised. What if there's trouble getting us to the Marriott, and we have to live at the airport for a week like Tom Hanks did? Maybe we could walk. Phuket's an island... how big can it be?
  • What if the elephant we're riding suddenly runs amok and squashes one of the boys?
  • What if there's nothing I want to buy? Or worse, nothing the boys want to buy?
  • Wouldn't it be awful if the boys find what they're getting for Christmas? I bought a padlock to put on the bag, but I won't rest until we're home and the presents are stashed away safely.
  • What if I get home and my vegie garden has shrivelled into nothingness?
  • What if we somehow drink the water and spend all week writhing in agony, unable to stray more than three feet from a loo? We could do this at home... could've saved myself 6K on airfares....
  • What if someone drags Jack and Jordan off the street and into a strip club? This happened to a kid in Jack's class. The boys are tall now.... I know they're male, with everything that entails, but I'd prefer that some doors remain closed for them for a little while longer.....
  • What if my skull gets sunburned? Thommo at work told me to rub sunblock through my stubble. He says that's what he does. It'd be ironic if I initially shaved my head to raise $$ for cancer research, and end up dying of it myself.
  • Maybe Phuket is boring, and Bali is the best trip ever, so this'll be an anticlimax. I've only ever been to Bali, when I was 19 at uni, and last year. Perhaps people are lying about how much fun it'll be.
  • What if we get seasick going to Phi Phi island? (Is that how it's spelled?) We'll be there all day, throwing up and wishing for death...
  • What if I don't have enough spending money? Maybe there'll be too many good things to buy.
  • What if I come home with fewer kids than when I left? I'm reasonably fond of all of them. I don't want to spend the rest of my life missing someone. No tsunamis, mad terrorists or runaway donkeys please.
  • And the scariest one of all... what if I run out of books to read? (That's a fear I have every day, not just for when I'm overseas.)

There. I think that about covers it. This list is written with the hope that if I write them down, then Murphy's law will dictate that they won't happen. Unless I've jinxed it by writing this paragraph down...

See you when we get back!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One more sleep...

Daphne in the garden with me. I've never known an animal to enjoy smelling the garden so much. It's nice when I'm pottering around, weeding or watering. The girls seem to magically appear and just hang around near me. Companionable.

I saw this great saying, supposed to be from a comedian on 'Parkinson'. I thought I'd post it, because it puts a terrific spin on the old saying. Here 'tis:

"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. You may find that you like it, and then you can do it again tomorrow."

Today is baking and cooking day. I have a heap of fruit, onions and salad stuff to use up, so I'll be making lots of soups and stews to freeze. I want to have the first week of term's biscuits and cakes ready to go, because something tells me that I won't feel like spending my first day back chained to the oven. So I think I'll make cornflake cookies and some chocolate chip ones, and 4 or 5 cakes. That should keep body and soul together for the boys.

I was going to go to Aldi and stock up before we leave, but now I think I'll wait until the first weekend of term. I haven't been for nearly 3 months, and my stocks of flour, margarine and pasta are getting low. So we'll just eat out of the pantry, and the boys and I will take 2 trolleys and do the HUGE Aldi shop in a couple of weeks. I love having a big pantry and freezer to be able to do a main shopping trip every 3 months instead of every 3 days. The more I stay out of the supermarket the happier my wallet gets.

Young Molly needs a bath before she goes to my parents' place tomorrow, and the boys are getting haircuts this afternoon after lunch with their Dad. I'll probably get one of them to run the clippers over my head as well, just to look neat. A number 4, so it still has a little length. (Just not much.) Suitcases are coming out today, and the packing begins!! Whoopee!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sanitised potatoes.

Don't you love that overseas travel opens you up to new experiences??? This was in Bali, when all of us except Jack cuddled the snake at Tanah Lot. Hilarious video, especially Connor's face as the snake writhed around.

My Bali video has worked its magic again...

A couple of months ago, my friend Sandy came over on a Friday night after I'd dropped the boys off at their Dad's place. Well into the second bottle of champagne, after viewing the video, we hatched a plan to go to Bali in 2008...two families NOT joined at the hip, but meeting up for dinner, doing Waterbom Park together, etc. And now my sister and her girls are desperate to go to Bali next year after seeing the video. We all watched it again yesterday, and now the boys and I are all fired up for the next trip. (Finally! I was starting to think I'd never get excited about Phuket!)

It was funny, talking to my sister and showing her the vegie garden... SO not her bag! When she got here I was washing out some ziplock bags that the kids use for their lunches. They bring them home, I wash them, hang them on the line till they dry and then re-use, re-use, re-use. Good for the planet, and (over time) far cheaper to do this than continue to use Gladwrap.

Anyway, she came out with me when I was hanging them up, and said, "You know Frogdancer, this isn't normal."

I debated- what to say? Who wants to look cheap? So I simply said, "Yeah, but it's good for the planet." Which is true.

She said, "Yes, I know, but it still isn't normal."

Which is interesting, because her tone of voice would've made me stop doing it if I was at all worried about what other people think, but instead I started talking about the vegie garden.

I was showing her the little potato sprouts and she told me about when she was pulling up weeds in her new garden, and up came some little potatoes!

I said, "Did you cook them?"

She laughed and said, "NO! I threw them out."

I gasped, and she said, "I know! But you don't think that food comes out of the ground...."

I looked at her, and knew exactly what she was talking about. Food comes from the supermarket in shrink wrap. She threw out the potatoes because they were in the dirt, but would have no qualms buying brushed potatoes in a plastic bag. We laughed about it, because it's so true. We've been sanitised, homogenised and pasteurised... not just with milk but with everything.

But Guess What?? We were talking today and she said that I've rubbed off on her. She's bought a tomato plant!! This stuff is contagious.

Tony rang while I was writing this. He wants to take the kids out for lunch tomorrow, because he misses out on half his 'boys weekend' because of Phuket. He passed the phone to Vivienne, and we nattered away for nearly twenty minutes. It's so nice that he's chosen to marry someone who is down to earth and fun. The kids love her, and it's all good. Plus the boys look so good in the wedding photos (last year... they were the groomsmen), that I've got the photos up in my office. Bizarre, I know, especially to those who are still married, but it's far better than warfare.

Busy day today. I finished knitting a scarf, went to the bank and cleaned them out of Thai money... before you start thinking I'm a millionaire-they only had $200... and then I mowed the lawns and did the edges, unearthed the passports (the kids look so young!) and filled out various bits of paperwork. Booked the car into long-term parking, tried to have a nanna nap but was interrupted by some water guys wanting access to a watery-pipe thingy on the property, did three loads of washing and was filled with guilt because we should be packing, but we'll do that tomorrow..... the usual stuff when holidays are coming.

The good news is that I texted Pitsa in Phuket. She answered, and it's raining there, but the shopping is fine.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Musing on blogs.

Here's a photo of Brennan in Bali last year. This was taken in a rice paddy when we were doing our bike ride. It poured for most of the day, but it was so warm that it turned out being really pleasant. Roll on Phuket! Only three more sleeps.

I'm going to change the name of this blog. I chose 'Smiling in the Suburbs' because I'm genuinely happy, and I wanted to get started on writing, and this was the best I could come up with at the time. But it's not a good sign when you're embarrassed to tell people the name of your blog...
It sounds really twee and old-ladyish, which would be fine if I was that sort of person, but I'm not. So I'm letting my subconscious twitter away with new names. Nothing's grabbed me yet, but it will eventually.

Another thing about starting a blog.... I was talking with my friend Scott at work, and he mentioned that he used to have a blog, but it got to be too much like hard work and so he deleted it. As a joke I said, "Did it make you realise your life was really boring?"
We laughed, but it got me to wondering....
what happens if your blog bores even yourself????

That hasn't happened to me yet, but how sad if it ever does. (It'd be kind of funny though; imagine the moment of realisation. The stunned look in the eye as you realise why people have been avoiding you for years. It wasn't your personal hygiene-it was YOU!!!!)

Let's hope everyone who reads this avoids this fate. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Duty-free madness.

Well, it's official. I've gone mental.

Nothing to do with the guy on the left. He was our waiter last year in Bali. I included him because I'm finally getting excited about our trip to Phuket. No, my slip from sanity is all to do with the duty free shopping I did this morning.

My friend Pitsa is going to Phuket with her family at the same time we are, so we were on the phone yesterday trying to work out where we could catch up. (We're staying a mere 120km away from each other. It's like from here to Ballarat, so who knows if we'll manage it?) Anyway, she told me that you don't have to go to an official Duty Free shop anymore... you can buy stuff anywhere and just take what you bought and the receipts to the airport and they post a cheque for the GST or whatever it is. So naturally I popped in to Harvey Norman to look for a Christmas present for Connor.

$1500 later I leave, staggering slightly at the thought of how much money I'd spent. $350 was for a camera for me... but the rest is all for the boys. At least Christmas is now taken care of. The only challenge ahead of me is how to take their presents to Thailand and back again without them noticing. I'd tell you what I bought for them, but then I'd have to kill you. Nothing spoils Christmas in this house. Seriously though, Connor sometimes has a read of the things I write, and I'd hate for him to scroll down and find out. Lets just say that 'Santa' (attractive woman that she is) will only be leaving one very small box for each of the boys. But I think they'll be rapt when they see what's inside.
I was going to get so much done around here today, but I was at least 2 hours in Harvey Norman, agonising over choices. They had a big sale that finishes today, so I had to get in quick. When I finish this I'll be making pet food, which will be another hour or so, and then I'll be racing around making up the boys' beds and folding all their washing before they get home from their Dad's. Jack rang last night... Port Adelaide are in the Grand Final. Just my luck! I hope for his sake that Thai tv shows it. At least we can tape it, so he can see it when we get home, but it won't be the same.
My sister and the girls are coming tomorrow, so I'd better make sure the house looks respectable. Her place always looks immaculate, so the bar is raised very high. At least I've made a start with lunch. I made 3 huge pots of chicken stock yesterday. Two are divided up in the freezer, but we're having home made chicken noodle soup tomorrow for lunch. Yum!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jack's Cookie Stall.

Phew! Success!

We went to school yesterday with 10 huge ziplock bags full of cookies. He'd made 240 of them, and was planning to sell them for $1 each or three for $2. These things were as big as your hand, with M&Ms mixed through and chocolate buds on the top. Health food... in a very sugary way! So there was wow factor.

Before school I sold two bags just to the teachers in staffroom three. Lots of young staff, particularly the Phys Ed people who do far too much activity and consequently need a pick-me-up before school. I took bags to my year 12 classes and sold another bag and a half, so by the time the lunchtime stall started, Jack had made his money back. I could breathe a sigh of relief, (thank God my idea wasn't a dud!) and now the rest was up to him.

By the end of lunchtime there were only 20 left. I was so proud of them. But the best news is by the end of the day there was only ONE left! (Thanks to a group of very peckish year 12's.) Success! Success! Success! And now my spendthrift son has enough spending money for Phuket. (This is a great relief to both of us...)

Here's Jack and a satisfied customer, while the swirling mayhem of the market stalls goes on in the background. It's a shame that you can't hear the kids spruiking. Then again, maybe it isn't. Some of them got very excited as lunchtime wore on.

I'll include the recipe. I don't know who Lizzie is, but the woman's a genius. These cookies are very addictive. The amount of repeat customers Jack had yesterday are testament to that.

Lizzie's Big Batch Cookies.
750g margarine
1.5-2kg self raising flour. (When baking for home, I make half of this wholemeal flour.)
6 eggs
1.5kg brown sugar. (I suspect this is the ingredient that makes the biscuits so yummy.)
3 tsp vanilla essence.
(This mix is so large that you can separate sections out and add different things to each for variety. Chocolate chips, cornflakes, Milo, dried fruit, nuts, coconut, etc. Whatever is on hand.)
  • Preheat oven 225 degrees. (200 degrees if fan-forced.)
  • Melt margarine in the microwave. Let cool slightly.
  • Mix in all the basic ingredients, beginning with the flour. (1.5 kg). Add more flour if needed.
  • Add the extra ingredients, (chocolate, cornflakes, whatever.)
  • Make balls 20c sized. (This is too small for my boys. I like to fill them up. I make golf-ball sized balls. They spread a bit in the oven.)
  • Bake for 15 minutes or so until browned.

We made three batches of these to get 240 humungous biscuits. The finished biscuits, and the dough, freeze beautifully. I make a batch every three weeks or so, and the kids have two in their lunchboxes for recess. They, and their friends, love them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Peppermint tea in bed.

This will only be a short post this morning, as the day is already starting to slip away from under me. Jack has his business venture today at lunchtime, and I'm feeling anxious. It was my idea that he sell home-baked biscuits/cookies, and if he doesn't make any money, then I'm going to feel horribly guilty. I was awake for an hour last night worrying about it. Stupid, I know. He has made well over 200 M&M filled, chocolate buddy topped biscuits, and they're absolutely delicious, and they look fantastic. I'll post some pictures when I get home, hopefully with good news.

The picture is one I took last night of my bedside table. It sounds really twee and sentimental to say that it's a picture of love, but that's what it is. Just a little thing, but sometimes the little things speak loudest. Nearly every night 11 year old Connor makes me a peppermint tea and a glass of water and leaves it by my bed. Last night I was racing around helping Jack make some more biscuits, and by the time I got to bed the tea was cold. I had no idea he'd done it, because he went to bed earlier than he usually does. Thank goodness for microwaves. And now it's immortalised!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

When will the holidays arrive????

Is anyone else desperate for the school holidays to start?

Don't get me wrong; I'm a dedicated educationalist with my whole being focussed towards my students, their wellbeing and their VCE results. I think of nothing else.
But I want this term to stop dragging its feet and just END! Here's a shot of Jack in school uniform, looking how I feel.....
It's not because we're flying off to Phuket in a week, to spend 9 days in another country with elephants, green foliage and ultra-cheap shopping. I'm so busy racing around that the reality of Phuket hasn't quite surfaced. My brain knows that it's coming soon, but my stomach is lagging behind. When I feel the butterflies I'll know that I'm excited. But at the moment it's all school.
I'm trying to get all of my year 12 essays marked before the holidays. That on its own would be no problem. It's the fact of cross-marking. To make sure the marks the year 12s get are fair, every essay is marked by two teachers, and if those marks differ by more than 3... then they're set aside to be marked by a third teacher. (And occasionally a fourth, if opinions are passionate.... doesn't happen often, thankfully!) To sum up... at certain times of the year there's a bucketful of work to mark.

My ESL (English as a Second Language... ie. migrant kids) have been marked/cross marked and are OFF the radar (yay! I was up at 4.30am on Monday to get those ones out of the way), and now I'm grimly chipping away at the English ones. Though I have to say it's lovely when you get a good one to read... when the student really engages with the novel/film and writes beautifully; it makes it all worthwhile. I won't comment on the ones that are an excercise in endurance for me to get through, (and probably the writer as well.) I've got 12 more to mark for other teachers, then I'll tackle my class of 22, and then I'll be FREE!!!!!!
Today and tomorrow to go...... counting down.....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Connor and the camera.

Isn't it fantastic how much fun kids can have with a camera?

Connor is a bit of a dag, and he loves wandering around with a camera and taking stills or videos. These are a couple of 'self portraits'. (I couldn't be more proud.....) He and Jordan love to make us laugh, and these shots did it!

He's the only one of the four who has his own folder full of photos on the computer. Something about the camera just appeals to him. That's the really interesting thing about having a large family... seeing how all the kids peel off and discover their own interests and passions. It's fascinating. They're all from the same genetic stock, brought up in the same house, the same schools, etc, and yet they're all so different.

Life is many things here, but it's rarely boring.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Remembering Mum.

Not that she's dead or anything!!
But she could've been...
It's interesting (to me at any rate) how things in the garden that people have given you remind you of that person. The best ones are the ones like these irises. They flower at this time of the year, and for the rest they're just some spiky leaves that the eye glides over. So every year they're like a nice gift that the giver has... well... given you. (What a masterly sentence that was.) Mum gave me these about four years ago, and there was a spare spot at the front of the garden bed, so I plonked them in. They've fended for themselves ever since.

When Mum was in the hospital for her quadruple bypass, it was very touch and go. Scared us all. A few weeks after that I was racing out of the front door to get to work and there were the irises in bloom. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared, and thought how lucky we were that Mum was still with us. I knew that if things had ended differently I would've been standing there sobbing at the sight of them, and I was so thankful I wasn't doing that. (I was running late, and I couldn't afford the time. Plus I was wearing mascara that day, and I would've looked a mess.)

Now they're blooming again, and they make me smile. Mum and Dad were here on the weekend, and she looked so pretty and happy in pale pink after their Bali trip. Dad was full of stories and was mucking around with the kids, and it was all good.

Other things in my garden that make me happy:
The silver birch in the front yard.
When we bought this place twelve years ago (I was still married! It seems like another life..) I mentioned to my friend Sandy that I needed to get a silver birch for the front. The house I grew up in has one, and it symbolises a home to me. The next weekend she and Andrew dropped in with a tree. It's been moved twice as we've moved power lines, but it's going strong and it's here to stay. Dad reckons that I'll regret it when it gets big enough to drop catkins in the gutters, but so far that hasn't happened yet. I'll worry about that when I'm an old lady.
The treefern in the back corner.
My friend Madeleine and I saved this from being chewed up by machinery clearing out a block for a new house. The guy wouldn't let us on the block to salvage it, so we sat on the front fence of the neighbour's and chatted while we waited for him to go. He delayed for nearly an hour, but we made friends with the other women in the street and outlasted him. It was a challenge. It was ridiculous. But fun. The fern's still alive, and I think about that afternoon every time I water it.
The big tree in the back, and the silver birch in the back.
Both gifts from Dad. The silver birch is from the one at their house, so it's a nice link from the past. (And the catkins will go in the guttering of the unit on my back fence line, so old-lady-me won't have to worry about it. The tree was there first, anyway.)
Most of the plants in the front yard.
Madeleine the mad gardener was still living here when she infected me with her obsession with the garden. I was still a SAHM at that point, so had no money, but she helped me remodel the front yard. Dad helped with SO much digging... I extended the garden beds in a curve out by metres and metres... many many metres... and Mad gave me bucketfuls of plants to put in. Most of them are still thriving, even in this drought, so she obviously knows her stuff! She's moved to an acreage in Keysborough, so I hardly ever see her anymore. We're both so busy.

Lastly, things like these freesias.
Old things that the lady who built this house and raised her family of seven kids (and people think MY family is too big for this house!) obviously planted and cared for. The garden's bones are the trees and shrubs and things that have been here before us. I like the thought that I'm carrying on with the work that she started (though I've ripped out some shocking plants... sentimentality will only carry so far....!). I love to see how far these flowers have spread each year. They smell divine. I had freesias in my wedding bouquet, and even though that didn't end well, it's still a little reminder of younger days.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Daphne and Maris.

Great photo, isn't it?

Nowadays the cats are a good bit bigger. This was taken at Christmas, nearly two years ago. Maris is on the left, and Daphne on the right. You can tell we're huge 'Frasier' fans.

The reason the cats are on here is because of something that happened today. I was doing a quiet spot of weeding and the animals were out in the yard with me. Now I know that Cavaliers are not renowned for being brave and savage creatures, but it's getting a bit pathetic when Maris can leap out from behind a bush, whack Molly on the rump, and then chase her yelping up the path. Then... she did the same thing to Murphy. He was just as useless. I couldn't believe my eyes. The dogs got told off about chasing the cats when they were kittens, but the pendulum has swung a bit too far.

I yelled at Maris and scared her off. She sat under the clothesline and pretended that I hadn't had any effect on her at all. The dogs then came up for a cuddle to calm their nerves. I don't know who I was more disgusted with... the cat or the dogs.

But having said that.... one of the best things I ever did was go to Lort Smith to buy the kittens. Jordan wanted a cat for Christmas after our previous cat, Daisy, was killed, so I went kitten shopping a week before Christmas. The best thing about Lort Smith is the price. It cost only $55 for a kitten, and that price includes desexing, microchipping and vaccinations. How amazing is that?? The second best thing is that you're saving little lives who would otherwise be in a very desperate situation. (Maris was found up a very high tree in Collingwood when she was around 8 weeks old, and Daphne was dumped in a park with the rest of her litter.) The third best thing is how well the people socialise the kittens. They bring them home, litter train them and get them used to being around people. Well worth a phone call if you're looking for a pet and you're not fussed about pedigrees. (For dogs I am, but not for cats...)

I carefully chose Maris after half an hour of evaluating the kittens. She was elegant and her coat went with my decor, so what else could we want? When I was filling in the paperwork for her they brought another litter in. Daphne's little face was peering at me from under the woman's arm, and I fell in love. I squealed with delight at how cute the kitten was and they grabbed her and brought her over. (They're not stupid!)

"Your grey one needs a friend", they said.

"Is it a boy or a girl?" I said, hoping it was male. (We have a rule that we only have female pets. Too many males already without adding more.)

When I was informed it was female, I said "Shit!" like any lady would do.

"Did you want a boy?" they asked.

"NO!" I wailed, and they immediately started filling in the paperwork. If it was a pet shop, where they sell moggies for ridiculous amounts of money (I've seen them for $140) then there's no way I would've come home with two. But for only $55, it was do-able, so I did it.

It's been fantastic having two kittens growing up together. They play together, sleep together, have their little spats and then make up.... it sounds like they're married, doesn't it? But the weird thing is that they really suit their names. Maris can be an absolute .... (w)itch. She's thin, elegant and very into herself. So like Niles' first wife. Daphne, on the other hand, is just like Daphne Moon.... chatty, friendly and always up for a snuggle. I can't take credit for being a brilliant namer... I named them before they came home.

Mum and Dad are home from Bali, so Murph has gone. Jack has been in full biscuit production this afternoon. I think he's up to 120 biscuits and he's still going. It cost him $30 for the makings, including chocolate buds and mini m& m's. These biscuits are HUGE, and very chocolate-y. He wants to charge $1 each, or 3 for $2. He should make a killing. They look fantastic and they taste delicious. Currently I'm flash freezing them before I pack them away in big snap lock bags in the freezer awaiting Friday. I hope he does well.

Pottering around.

A busy day yesterday. Nothing was accomplished that was earth-shatteringly huge, but I kept moving all day and got a lot done, particularly in the garden. Weeded the vegie patches, then fertilised them. I've decided that Saturday is going to be 'Fertilise Day'. At the moment I've only got green leafy things in, so I wandered around with a bucket of water, some Thrive and a cup. It took about 20 minutes, but its nice and quiet, and I can really see if anything needs doing. (That's when the weeding thing happened!)

Mum and Dad are coming back from Bali today, so yesterday I gave Murphy (and Molly) a bath so he can look beautiful and smell deodorised and homogenised when he goes home. The picture is him enjoying the sunny spot by the back door. He's such a funny boy. He is Molly's half-brother. She's so quiet and he's so gregarious. For the last couple of days every time I see him he's had a toy in his mouth. It's fantastic. I'm not a soft toy person, and as the boys slowly outgrow their affection for the toys, Murphy does his bit by taking them out to the backyard where they're never seen again..............................

It was Jordan's birthday as well. I gave him a bathrobe, (yes, I know it doesn't sound exciting, but he loved it), and we just had a quiet day at home. He's going to Chadstone with a couple of mates today.... the whole teenage social life thing has started. Connor's birthday is tomorrow... I have no idea what to get him. A gift certificate for a present from Phukhet might be the answer??? Bit boring on your actual birthday, though.....

One of today's jobs is to make an obscenely large batch of cookies, for a couple of reasons. I promised both the birthday kids that they could take enough for their classes. It's funny, but we're all told by advertising that kids prefer bought packaged stuff in their lunchboxes. It's just not true. Brennan says that his friends say that I should open a biscuit shop because his playlunches are so yummy, and Jordan says that every recess he has to take to his heels to be able to eat the biscuits without everyone circling him asking for a bite or trying to pinch them.
Jack is doing Business Studies this semester, and one of their tasks is to have a business venture, where they have a stall and sell things to the year 7s on the last day of term. He's going to sell the biscuits. Today we're going down to the supermarket for him to buy his materials (it all has to be costed out just like a regular business), then we'll go into production and freeze them until Friday. I'm really pleased that he's chosen to do this. His original idea was to sell fish and chips, but when I asked how he was going to keep them warm, and suggested that maybe the biscuit route was the way to go, he took my suggestion. For those of you who know Jack.... you'll know that this is (almost) unprecedented, at least without an argument. He must like the taste of the biccies too!

For the last two nights we've been playing board games. Connor loves them, and both nights he appeared clutching Monopoly with a pleading look in his eye. No-one else could face the thought of a three hour commitment, so Friday night we played Trouble, (my all time favourite board game) and last night we played Upwords. We had so much fun. Jack and Jordan played with us both nights, while Brennan stayed in the back room battling for a high score on some playstation game or other. I have to state that my kids are complete idiots. I haven't laughed so much in a long time. They're such good company, and they've got a quick wit that keeps the conversation scudding along.

There is trouble on the horizon though.....
When I booked our holiday for Phuket, the thought of the AFL Grand Final didn't enter my head. Why would it? It's just footie, and Carlton were never going to make it anyway. But now, after last night's game.... Jack's team (Port Adelaide) and Brennan's team (Kangaroos) play next week for a spot in the Grand Final. And whoever wins will be playing for the ultimate prize the following week..... while we're out of the country. Oops.

(The funny thing is that last year when we went to Bali we left while the Commonwealth games were on. Jack was disgusted. Now he's beginning to think I'm doing this on purpose!)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My perspective on a sustainable,balanced life.

I'm trying to get started with this, but I've got a very interested 11 year old bobbing around behind me, looking over my shoulder and telling me what to write. It's very distracting. (And no, Connor. I'm NOT going to write 'me as a happy mum.' !)

I've been reading other blogs over the last few days, and it's been very inspiring. Women are really making a difference, in their own small ways, and it's been fascinating to read of the things people are doing to simplify the lives of their families. The handcrafts, cooking and gardening are amazing to see, and (now he's doing the Oompa Loompa song beside me. He's not helping!!!) it's a truly humbling thing to see women from all over the world quietly going about the day to day business of nurturing the people who are important to us. I guess it's what we've always done, but it's nice to see proof that we're not alone....

However, one thing I've noticed, and that most of the blogs I've read have been written by people who are either retired or are SAHMs. I suppose this makes sense in one respect... you are the the ones with a tad more disposable time. But what about people like me?

I work full time, I have no partner, and I want to provide the fullest, healthiest and happiest life I can for my family. (Without turning them into spoiled brats.) I want my kids to enjoy their childhood, but I certainly want the rest of us to enjoy it too, if you know what I mean! I am fortunate enough to have earned my degree , so I have a reasonable wage to support us, but it isn't enough to provide everything. Again, I'm sure you know what I mean!

I feel like I've got a foot in both camps. I'm moving towards simpler living, but I'm not going to go overboard about it. There's got to be a balance of quality of life, time and money.

I work, and I love it. I wouldn't give up my career (such as it is!) for anything. The kids I teach are funny, smart people... and gee they make me laugh! Every day is different, and my work in the classroom is entertaining and fulfilling. We learn a bit, we have a laugh, and it's all good. The people I work with are (generally) great, and I've made some close friends from here. I feel very lucky I fell into this profession because given the size of my mortgage, I'll probably be working at the school till I'm 92. (I'm 44 now.)


I love pottering around at home on the weekends and the holidays..... I do all of our baking and I love that the kids have my biscuits in their lunch boxes, and they come home and demolish a quarter of a home-made cake each after school. We have take-away maybe once a month if I'm really tired, and I'm making more and more things from scratch and eliminating powdered packaged chemically garbage from our diet. I've never been a 'foodie', but over the past year or so I've broadened my horizons. (And dragged the kids along with me.)

We started a vegie garden last year, and my enthusiasm for it has only grown. My oldest son was sure I'd get sick of it, so it's nice to prove him wrong!! I enjoy planting new things and trialling how they go, havesting produce and eating it (anyone want some silverbeet???) and feeling good about feeding the kids organic food.


forget about buying organic produce... who can afford to feed a family organically??? We'd go broke! My challenge is to conserve our finances to be able to spend $$ on the things that are important to us.

So, I find it interesting that in my quest to be frugal, I'm quietly picking up many environmentally responsible habits. Who would've guessed that being 'tight' would be helping the earth? I'm happy that I'm doing lots of little things to improve the quality of our little corner of the world, but the bottom line is that I won't do 'environmentally' things just for the sake of it. I can't afford to throw the balance of quality of life, finances and time out of whack.

Does this make me shallow? Or merely practical?

Anyway, this blog is written from the perspective of a suburban girl juggling a fair few plates, racing from one thing to another and trying to do her best in everything she does.

Sounds like every other woman out there, doesn't it?