Archive for January, 2012

Can you afford to buy local? Can you afford not to?

January 25, 2012

Possum is 5 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 6 months

Little Possum is 1 year

 

We are lucky, lucky, lucky to live where we do.  Not only are we in the west, but our country, through whatever means, weathered the last GFC fairly well.

An upside is that our $ is strong.

A downside is that our $ is strong.

We are able to shop around for cheap goods, especially with the internet.  This means we can get some special or interesting things that we would never be able to afford here.

Unfortunately, this has the effect of sending our strong $ off-shore, and it is hurting our local industry.

So what do we do?  Buy locally made?  Restrict ourselves to local service providers?  Well, I would like to, but I just can’t afford to do that all the time.

Liz over at life, loves and liz (me) has come with a timely reminder:  it isn’t all or nothing.  We can all help in a small way.  I suggest reading her article and joining in her challenge:

so my challenge to each and every one of you is this: at the end of your supermarket shop this week look into your trolley, select two items and if they are not produced within australia, swap them for a similar product that is.

Easy, huh.

On a related note, I have been concerned about the milk that we buy.  I buy the cheap supermarket milk.  I do this because we go through approximately 3L of milk a day, and it costs a lot of money.  However, I have heard reports (haven’t we all) about how this is sending our dairy farmers broke and that in 10 years time, our milk will be imported (ick.  I like it fresh.  And local.)  So, I am going to try swapping out one bottle of the cheapy stuff, for one bottle of the name brand milk each week.  Only a small change, but a little help along the way.

What changes do you think you can make?

Should Parents Be Allowed to Drive?

January 24, 2012

 

or What are you REALLY thinking about???

 

Possum is 5 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 6 months

Little Princess is 1 year old

 

Today we went to the Aquarium.  We love the Aquarium, but it is a bit of a way to get there.  We need to drive to the city and then we catch the monorail train to the aquarium.  It takes us about an hour to an hour fifteen (usually depending how co-operative the kids are when I am trying to do the transfer.)

As we were driving in today, me trying to run in-flight service, carry on three conversations at once, negotiate city traffic (I am out of practice after holidays!), and stop my brain from racing through all the things I need to do, I wished again for one of those privacy screens that they have in limousines – at least in the movies – I wouldn’t know about in real life.

It made me think about how safe am I when I am driving.  To be honest, not as safe as I would like.  In fact, if someone else drove like that, I would not like them driving my kids about.

I used to be a good driver.  There was a certain amount of skill that I took great pride in nurturing, but there was also a certain base level of concentration that was required.

I guess that is why there are all those laws about mobile phone use while driving.  Of course, I am pretty sure I could chat on the phone and text with my toes and sit backwards in the drivers seat and still have more attention for driving than with a car full of kids.

So what can I do?  I can do what my DH does when he is riding his motorbike.  He has told me that as soon as he sees the tell-tale signs of babyseats strapped to the restraints in cars, he gives them a wide berth.  Perhaps those “Baby Onboard” dangly things should be compulsory, the same way L- and P-plates are for new drivers.

And in the meantime?  Well, St Christopher is working overtime….

TDU Stage 3

January 20, 2012

Possum is 5 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 6 months

Little Princess is 1 year

 

This morning we all went to the start of the Stage, again.  The kids were horrified when they discovered that we were heading to the bike race, but we assured them that it wouldn’t take so long this time.

And indeed, it did run much more smoothly.  We had worked out from previous days that although the main roads were closed off, it is quite easy to get parking in the side streets (and certainly much easier than the forced march of Stage 1).  So today we drove.

The cyclist-fans were also much more sensible today, doing really smart things like walking their bikes through the crowd instead of trying to ride them through.

AND we managed to get there much earlier, although not early enough for the goodies that are handed out by the caravan.  We thought we would manage that by going up the road a little so we could collect loot when the caravan took off.  Unfortunately, they were unable to hand anything out in that zone, so that was very disappointing.  Tomorrow….

I did however get to see Brad McGee (*hero*).  In fact, not only did I get to see him, but he came over to the barrier and posed for a photo with me and Bandicoot.  Want to see it?

Here it is:

I’m the one on the left.

Oh, what, you can’t see it?  Yes, well, sadly, either Mr Kind General Public Man who took the photo for me didn’t quite get it, or the camera was mucking up again.  Either way, we don’t have it.

So I took a couple of other shots of him, by which stage I was starting to feel like a stalker (he had just posed for a photo with me and there I was taking more…)

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Well, Brad McGee (*hero*) might have added some serious eye-candy to the field in years gone by, and he might have been a talented athlete, and now a talented Sports Directif, but I found another bloke there who was delighted to have some photos with me, too, and really, I think this one is even more wonderful:

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Then in a strange twist of celebrity fortune:

Yesterday, Bandicoot lost his hat in the crowd (the one he is wearing in the photos above is the Saxo Bank Team hat that Brad McGee (*hero*) gave him.)  I had previously seen Bandicoot’s (old) hat for sale at a stall in the TDU cycling village in town, so today I decided to go up and get him one.

As I was walking past the hotel wear the teams stay (it is just around the corner from us, and across the road from the Village) who should walk out but Eddie Mercx!  I have been trying all week to get a decent photo of him, but have not been able to manage it.  I thought that I could just snap one, but that that was not very nice, so I asked him if I could quickly snap one (poor bloke was running late for an engagement from what I could gather).  And what do you know, Mr Joe Blow General Public jumped up and offered to take one for me, so here that one is:

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Much better when the camera works, isn’t it?  Pity I was dishevelled and dirty-haired at this stage (I had been working to do the washing and pack up the house and had really just ducked out for bread.  Oh well!)

 

 

I am linking this post to Emily over at The Anderson Crew for

Now you pop on over and check it out.

Sudanese Cuisine

January 19, 2012

Possum is 5 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 6 months

Little Princess is 1 year

So I guess after yesterday’s post, you are all chomping at the bit to find out about our Sudanese experience, right?

I have to admit that the first disappointment of the evening came when we walked into the restaurant – there was cutlery on the table!  What’s that about???  I was promised eating with my fingers!!!  *sigh*

There were a couple of other negatives, too.  The restaurant looked beautiful – wooden floors, wooden tables, wooden chairs – but oh, it was so noisy!  And, unfortunately having kids that can’t sit still, people kept glaring at us as ‘though we were making all the noise (one table even complained about it).  Can you believe it, we weren’t!  Sadly it was so noisy that it really made me feel physically uncomfortable.

The other negative was one of those bad luck things that you can’t really help. The restaurant was fully booked, but one of the waiters had failed to show up for work.  This left one poor man wearing out his shoes as he did his best to attend to everyone.  All things considered, he did a mighty job and somehow managed to remain very pleasant.

Now, to the food.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t in direct comparison to the Ethiopian the night before (AND if I had have been able to use my fingers).  The boys were in Heaven – they ate bowl after bowl of plain cous cous.  Can you imagine plain cous cous?  Doesn’t sound too appetising, does it?  They love it, ‘though.

To start we shared some dips: garaa (pumpkin dip), aswad (eggplant dip) and fol (broad bean dip) served with kisra – a kind of flat (very flat) bread.  It is funny how different people like different things.  My friend fell in love with the garaa, but personally, I didn’t like it at all.  I, however, really enjoyed the other two.  Good thing that we were sitting next to each other!

The mains were served with cous cous (if we managed to scrape a few grains from the boys) brown rice and assida, a sort of cornmeal bread.   We shared tamia – sort of like chickpea balls, a little like falafel, sudi – a stack of roasted eggplant and veges with a delicious sauce (nom, nom, nom!), maeez, a goat casserole (I don’t know what that was like – I don’t like goat – it tastes too much like lamb), digag saliga, chicken in a peanuty sauce and wasn’t that just super yum, and finally bolti, fish in a banana and coconut (and peanut) sauce – I think it was let down a little by the fish itself.  I would have liked to have tried the lahma modardama – spicy meatballs – too, but we were concerned that they would have been too spicy for the littles.  We needn’t have bothered, considering they were too busy eating their body weights in cous cous!

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We only got a couple of desserts between us, but they were both fantastic – hilpaa, a fenugreek pudding (we thought it might be a bit strong, but it was a beautiful, delicate balance of spices giving you that warm fuzzy feeling inside they way only Arabian spice mixes seem to do) and zalabia, honey balls with ice cream.  We also tried the Sudanese coffee.  It is nothing like the rich, smooth coffee of Ethiopia.  Instead it was quite heavily spiced.  It smelled so lovely and aromatic when it came out.  I could smell cardamom (confirmed by the waiter) and I have since learnt that it also contains cinnamon, but when we sipped it, the cloves were the dominating flavour.

So all in all?  It was nice, but not nice enough.  I would like to try Sudanese again, but probably not at that restaurant – the noise level put me off completely.

Wibble Wobble

January 18, 2012

Possum is 5 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 6 months

Little Princess is 1 year

Can you guess what my little Possum is doing?

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Yup.  He has a loose tooth!  Actually, he has two loose teeth, but one is looser than the other.

It is exciting and fascinating and (apparently) painful.  It is really annoying when one of your favourite things to eat is apples.  We have had lots of tears when he can’t eat things that he would really like to eat.

It is funny.  Possum is wobbling the two teeth at the front on the bottom jaw.  These are still the only two teeth that Little Princess has!  (And, something I have always wondered about, yes the one that is loosest is the one that he grew first.)

In one way I am feeling a bit sad – there he is, growing up even more.  In another I am excited (a loose tooth!  I remember how excited I was when I got my first one, at about the same age.)  But I am also relieved.

I read once that in many cultures, children are not allowed to start school until they start getting their grown-up teeth.  I have a real issue with the institutionalisation of children in our society, and personally feel that 7 is the age they should start school.  However, Possum will be starting school in a few weeks, the oldest he can as per the law in our state, and, it seemed, with no signs on the tooth front.  But here it is, and somehow it just makes me feel a little better.

So now we have a few questions:

Why does it have to hurt when you are getting your new teeth?

Does the tooth fairy come and put your grown-up teeth in?

I love my Possum!

TDU Stage 1 – FAIL

January 18, 2012

Possum is 5 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 6 months

Little Princess is 1 year

 

Oh dear.  This morning did not go well at all.

Today the Tour DownUnder started for real (not the Classic Criterian, but the real stage race).  We had planned to just go to the start of the race – the kids are definitely not to up to chasing the riders all day, and I am not sure that I am either (shh!  Don’t tell!)  But things did not go quite as planned.

I wanted to get there about an hour before so as to catch the caravan (they DO have a caravan for the TDU, don’t they?) or at least, hopefully, the promoters and sponsors stalls (surely they do that…)  Unfortunately, DH had booked the car in for a service and after he left to drop it off I, oops, fell asleep again.

We still would have made it in decent time except for one thing we forgot about and another thing that we could do nothing about.

It was hot.  Really hot.  It was mid 30s before 10am.  Blerr.

The other thing was, we had looked up how to catch the bus to the start line, but had forgot to check the route diversions for the road closures.  This meant that we had to walk about 1.5km in scorching heat with some boys with very little legs.

We got to where all the riders were (is it a starting grid?) not long before the race and in time for this photo:

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Stuey O’Grady *hero*

which was about the highlight of the experience.

We then continued to do battle to get to the starting line, hampered greatly by all the spectators on bicycles riding up and down the footpath, and many of them none-to-carefully.  Look, I totally get that this is a bike race, and that they are cyclists, and that they should be able to ride their bikes there and that is really a very important part of it for them, but I think for safety’s sake there should be a bicycle parking area outside the really crowded bit.  I found it difficult for me, and I was scared the kids would get hurt.  That is my 2c worth.

Anyway, we got to the start line as they were about 8 seconds to the start (they were counting down the last 10 seconds) and whizz they were gone.  I didn’t even get to see Eddie Mercx, even though he started the race!

It makes me wonder if next time we go to the start of the race we should go to the end of the neutral zone instead.  Hmmm. 

 

In the end, we were left with a desperately disappointed Mumma, and exhausted and tight-jawed Pappa, and three very heat-exhausted and physically exhausted kids.  After finding some air conditioning and lots of cool drinks and some ice-cream, the kids started to look a bit more normal again.  We went outside for a bit of a stretch and dear little Bandicoot ran up to one of the barriers on the side of the road.  “I’m going to watch the race!” he called out excitedly.  “I’m going to see those men ride their bikes!”  I nearly cried.  It was bad enough that I was hot and cranky and disappointed, but having to explain that after all the effort we had missed it – well that broke my heart.

Hopefully things will work out a lot better tomorrow.

Ethiopian Cuisine

January 18, 2012

Possum is 5 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 6 months

Little Princess is 1 year

Have you ever had Ethiopian food?  No, neither had I.  Or at least, not really.  DH did once try to cook ingera, but it only kind of worked out.

The city we are in at the moment is host to lots of African immigrants.  One of the advantages of that is the opportunity to try out some different foods.

Tonight we went to an Ethiopian restaurant.  DH had had Ethiopian food in Africa in his younger days (he has probably spent about a year and a bit travelling around Africa).  He was very excited to try it again.

We ordered several different dishes (unfortunately I didn’t find out all their names) – lamb (ye-bege tibs), chicken, beef (kay wot), split pea (messer wot or kik alicha, I think), potato and carrot (dinich wot?) and some other thing that was smooth and bright orange and tasted like Heaven (it might have been shiro wot).  And the best bit?  We got to eat with our fingers without being rude!

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Everyone was served up an ingera (a typ e of bread cooked a bit like a giant pancake out of a fermented dough/batter) and that pretty much serves as a plate.  You tear off bits to eat the yummy, yummy food.

The kids (yes all three of them) loved it.  Even Possum, who is forever telling us that he doesn’t like potato, whispered to me tonight that he really liked it wrapped up in that bread.  Can’t blame him at all!

I have to say that the real winner, however, was the ye-doro tibs – a super yummy chicken stew.  I am off to see if I can find it on the web.  Yum, yum.

And tomorrow night?  Well, we will get to eat with our fingers again as we try Sudanese!

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(Sorry about the pics… the camera was mucking up so we couldn’t get the flash going, despite the opportunity for some great family shots.)

Gado Gado

January 16, 2012

Possum is 5 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 6 months

Little Princess is 1 year

 

Now I have mentioned before that I am a breastfeeder.  Possum fed to the age of 20 months (4 months shy of my goal – I stopped because of morning sickness and it was a pretty traumatic thing for both of us).  Bandicoot I am hoping will wean before he gets married.  Little Possum is still going of course, too.

Now, in the olden days, when Possum was a baby, they told us not to eat peanuts while we were pregnant or breastfeeding a less than 1yo.  They don’t say that now, but it worked for him so I still do it.

Recently, Little Princess hit that magic 1 year mark.

And last night we went out for Malaysian.

Malaysian is not my favourite cuisine, which is a bit of a strange thing, as I really enjoy most South East Asian food (I live in Australia, if I didn’t, then I would starve!).  In fact, I strongly believe that you should only go to Singapore for a stop-over and not a holiday or you will eat so much the plane will never take off.  But Malaysian slightly misses the mark for me.

Not so for DH.

And I do have some favourite dishes, but mostly they have been off the menu for most of the last 6+ years.

But not any more!

The food was really nice.  It was fresh and plentiful and full of flavour (even if I find it a little too earthy).  Even Little Princess was happily hoeing into the Beef Rendang.

But for me, the highlight was Gado Gado.  A salad of sprouts, cucumber, eggs, lettuce, shallots, anchovy in a mildly spiced peanut sauce.  What’s not to like?  Except I didn’t like it.  I LOVED it!  Really, it was amazing.  I would have loved to have climbed up on that table and rolled around in it, it was that good.

And did I mention peanut sauce?  Oh YUMMO.

I’m back!

 

And for those of you that are cycling fans, on way home, I took the boys to the gelato shop to grab a take-away.  I have to admit that they looked like street urchins by this stage – dirty from head to toe, dishevelled and, in the case of Bandicoot, barefoot.  They got their ice-creams and wandered towards the door of the crowded shop without looking (as kids do) and straight into the Lotto-Belisol team.  I mean, literally, straight into them.  Marcel Sieberg patted Bandicoot on the head with an affectionate grin as Bandicoot tottered past, totally fixed on his gelato.  Wow.  (Vicente Reynes and Adam Hansen were there, too, amongst others.  Real people that like gelato on a hot day.  Freaky stuff!)

Why I Blog

January 9, 2012

Do you ever wonder why I blog?  Sometimes I do.

I started this blog with no real idea why.  I read blogs, but I wondered who would write them.  Who would spill such details of their lives out into the public domain?  Was it a need to expose?  Or was it manufactured?

I started by asking some friends of mine who blog.  They had various reasons, but none of them seemed to suit me.  For me, it was a curious itch that wouldn’t go away, an itch that I needed to scratch.

And so I started.

If you have read much of this blog, you will know that it has no clear direction or focus.  Instead it meanders and morphs, flowing from this idea or season to that; much like the life of a mother of small children!  At first I thought it terribly disjointed, but I can now see it a bit bigger than that, it is what I first called it, A Day in the Life of a Career Mum.  And, as all you Career Mums out there know, our days can be filled with the small things like preparing 47 snacks, or with big things like sick kids, or with exciting outings and events or pondering big issues – as well as so many other things.  And on some days, the things that are on my mind will even coincide with the things on yours.

But that isn’t really why I blog (even though it is an interesting reason.)

For a while, I used this blog purely as a log of homeschool tasks.  We were doing quite a bit of homeschool preschooling at the time, and I needed to keep a record in case we were audited.  It was also a great way to keep our ideas together.

But I felt the need to write about other things – that itch again.  And over time we have decided not to formally homeschool for the present.  I still love keeping a record of our activities that fall into that kind of thing and I love being able to share them with others – so much of my inspiration has come from other mums.  But there is more.

I love to write.  I have always loved to write.  When I was in Kindergarten, I loved to write and my best friend loved to draw.  We decided that we would write books together when we grew up.  Unfortunately, that plan fell apart somewhere.  I believe she ended up as a hairdresser.  And me… well, career hasn’t been a straight path for me!

My favourite years at school were ones where I got to do lots of writing.  I particularly recall Years 4 and 6, and I still have a box of stories that I wrote then.  In high school, apart from a couple of times when I had a English teacher who loved poetry, the only thing that kept me alive in that subject was creative writing – 15% of the total mark.  I used to even write novels for my friends for their birthdays!  Alas, it was pre-computers, so I gave the originals away.

And then I studied Engineering.  Once more I have to say, “What was I thinking??”

I ventured into a different kind of writing, keeping diaries.  Myriads of them.

I have never had the confidence to become a writer.  I am a perfectionist and I also fear the judgement of those I know.  My cousin is a writer.  A very good writer.  He has won a Booker Prize (amongst other things).  I don’t enjoy his writing, but he is certainly successful.  And being a perfectionist, that is the yardstick I would measure myself against.  Silly, isn’t it?

But I have now found, that with my blog, I can write.  I can write a little and share a little, and if people don’t like it, they don’t read it.  No one gets hurt.

(Yes, I know that my writing isn’t exactly Booker Prize winning standard, but that doesn’t matter, either.)

I have also re-discovered that happy feeling inside that I get when I write.  A sort of warm, fuzzy, contentedness.

This year, I would like to write more.  I would like to be a little more organised on my blog, while still maintaining some of that eclectic-ness that makes me who I am.

Maybe one day I will be a professional writer.  Or maybe I won’t.  But right now, I like to write my blog.

Embrace the Camera – 12 Jan 2012

January 8, 2012

Possum is 5 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 6 months

Little Possum is 1 year

 

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I love, love LOVE this photo!  DH has it as the background on his mobile phone, so I am guessing he loves it, too.  It was taken at Coffin Bay, on the Eyre Peninsula. 

We have been on holidays for nearly 4 weeks, but it has been pretty hard to get family photos. 

I like that this is a pretty good shot of all of us, and that we all look like we felt at the time: happy, blown away (it is a pretty blustery place!), and well, holiday-ish.

 

 

Joining up with Emily at The Anderson Crew for