Thursday, March 31, 2011

P365 - Day 90 backup

Let's just say I've been a bit lax in backing up the external hard drive that all my movies of Juniordwarf's life are stored on. I have multiple DVD copies but, until today, only one set of files.

They are currently in the process of being backed up to my new external hard drive. I'll feel quite relieved when it's done.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

P365 Day 89 - peppermint slice

This is one of my favourite things . . . a peppermint slice from the Salamanca Bakehouse in Hobart.

When I was studying at uni, I used to love the peppermint slices from the Ref. They were huge square things with a hard biscuit type base, a lot of peppermint icing and a thin crunchy chocolate top. I think they cost about 90 cents, which probably shows how long ago my uni days were.

The delightful little treat pictured above is a lot smaller than the chunks they used to sell at the Ref. It will set you back $2.90, but it's a completely different experience to what I'd been used to. It's the 'gourmet' version, and now I've had it I can't go back to the other ones.

It has a more cakey, soft base, a generous dollop of peppermint icing and a chewy, gooey, almost fudgy, soft thick chocolate topping. It's a very rich slice, and the serving size is - well you wouldn't want it to be any bigger.

I don't have them very often, but when I do it's a real treat.

Just what I needed today after a morning of staring at spreadsheets.

P365 Day 3 - Paws at Puddleduck (3/1/2011)

Premble: This is a previously unpublished post from Day 3. I was waiting for the recipient of the book to receive it, because of the very very slim chance that she might stumble upon the project and find out about it before the surprise. Now it's all done, I can post in safety.

When my lil sis saw my Wine Dogs book with Bazil (the wine dog from Puddleduck vineyard) Brown’s signature, she thought it would be a great idea to get her sister-in-law's book signed as well.

But she didn’t want her sis-in-law to know about it, so bro-in-law (henceforth known as Mr Tall) undertook a covert mission to obtain the book from her house. Due to some transport (or relative) mix up, he didn’t make it back home in time for the book to be sent back with Mum, who was visiting at the time, so Lil Sis had to send it later.

So now we have the book, we went to Puddleduck today to get the books signed - oh and to taste some wines, did I forget to mention that - and had arranged to meet some friends. 

Bazil is getting on a bit now. He’s 15 years old, and not moving very well.  But he's still up for a book signing. He signed the book, after a little encouragement and some doggie treats, and I filmed the whole thing. 

The idea was to make a video of it for sis-in-law to go with the signed book (and I may have gone a bit overboard with it in the end; it’s now a four-minute feature titled Paws at Puddleduck to the soundtrack of Tommy Emmanuel’s Jacaranda, including the signing, both wine dogs, the puppies and, of course, the ducks. But no wine - something's missing there, I fear.)

Polly, the younger dog, who features with Bazil in Wine Dogs 2, had puppies a few weeks ago and they’re growing up and almost ready to go to their new homes. So that was another reason for us to go there as soon as possible, so we could see the pups before they go. They’re so cute, and juniordwarf and the other kids visiting there just loved them.

And we had a lovely time tasting some very fine Puddleduck wines.

Postscript: I was very sad to learn that Millie, who was the only one of Polly's pups to stay at Puddleduck, passed away today. My thoughts are with Jackie and Darren, their family and Polly.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

P365 - Day 88 thinking offline

Way back in January, I was looking for the perfect notebook to use as a journal/planner for this year. I’d seen a couple of things I liked, but that weren’t quite right, so I put a call out on twitter to see if anyone had any suggestions.

The lovely Amy pointed me in the direction of Notemaker which has a divine range of notebooks, journals, pens, pencils and much much more. 

If you like that sort of thing go and have a look. I’ll wait . . .

. . . 

Well, as I wrote back then, after spending several hours admiring all the beautiful books online, I ended up using the cute stripy notebook that Lil Sis and Mr Tall got me for my birthday as my new notebook.

Fast forward a couple of months and I found out about Notemaker’s ‘Think Offline’ competition.

The idea is quite simple – turn off the computer, get out a pen and some paper and ‘scratch scribble, doodle, draw . . . a letter, a word, a picture’. Show them how you ‘think offline’.

So an entry could be anything from a word on a scrap of paper to a full blown drawing.

You might be aware that I find it incredibly difficult to ‘create’ something, and making a mark on a lovely piece of paper, or the first page of a new book is something that I’m very reluctant to do in case I make a mistake (more on this little issue coming up). But the fact that all this competition required was a letter or a word on a scrap of paper was not intimidating at all. It was something even I could do!

In the end I came up with a concept a bit grander than a single letter or a word, sketched the initial design in pencil (can’t go stuffing it up now, can I?) and then went to town with my beautiful brown pen

The third version is the one I was happy with, so this is my entry that I finished off this morning and mailed (you have to snail mail your entries – in the spirit of being offline) this afternoon.

My idea was pretty simple: a single letter, filled with symbols that start with that letter and then surrounded by words that start with that letter.

I quite like it.

And yes, I quite appreciate the irony of posting my offline project online ;)

Monday, March 28, 2011

P365 - Day 87 lunch

The night I went to see Paul Kelly, I treated myself to dinner. I had no idea where I wanted to go, so decided to go into the first place that took my fancy. That happened to be the Sapa Rose, in Harrington Street.

It's a Vietnamese Restaurant that had only recently opened, and I was really impressed by the food. (Yes, I did go by myself, and yes I rather enjoy solo dining.)

I told Slabs about it, and said we'd have to go there one day. Today that opportunity came up - we were both free at lunch time and there was nothing in the house that we felt like having for a packed lunch. (I'm really not into vegemite and cheese sandwiches, even if it's Juniordwarf's favourite.)

They have a great lunch specials menu - $11.50 for a sizzling dish with your choice of meat and one of five or six sauces, vegetables and rice.

Yum! (That's the extent of my restaurant reviewing skills - Google if you want to see some proper ones.)

If you're in Hobart and you like Vietnamese food, go and check it out.

By the way, I meant to take a photo of our lunch for the picture of the day, but I was so hungry by lunch time that I completely forgot, so this was a bit of a compromise.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

P365 - Day 86 i'm riding a horse, mum!

From dinosaurs to horses . . .

Today we went to the Hamilton Show. It's a fantastic country show, held at the end of March every year. It's one of the local shows that we attend regularly.

This year they had pony rides for the kids.

Juniordwarf had a great time - quite a contrast to yesterday.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

P365 - Day 85 i learned a thing or two today

I thought it would be fun to go to the Dinosaur Petting Zoo today. It’s part of the Ten Days on the Island arts festival, which is held every two years in Tasmania.

I thought Juniordwarf would love the opportunity to get up close and personal with some dinosaurs, even if they weren’t ‘real’ dinosaurs. When I asked him during the week, he said that no he didn’t want to go and see the dinosaurs.

Well, thought I, he doesn’t really mean it, and once he gets there and sees them, he’ll have a great time. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it. What kid doesn’t like dinosaurs?

Besides, I wanted to see them too. It sounded like fun.

My mum went to the first show last night and she had a great time, and said all the kids loved it. So we were confident Juniordwarf would too, even though he said a couple of times he didn’t want to go.

(I think you can see where this is going and why I’ve said I learned something today . . .)

We got there early, since Mum said there had been heaps of people there last night and it might be hard to be able to see if we weren’t near the front. When we got there, kids were running round in the ‘stage’ area, throwing hay around and Juniordwarf had a look around, but he wasn’t that interested.

The show was on at 12.30, and Juniorwarf was hungry, so we went to get some food. Lesson 1: Take food and have an early lunch.

Mum and I convinced him to move closer to where the show was going to be, and he went into the sitting area, while we stood just behind him. It was going to be a pretty good place to be, with a good view, until Juniordwarf decided he didn’t want to stay in there any more and made a quick exit to sit down on the grass behind everyone to finish his lunch.

There was no way we were getting our spot back, even with Mum still in the throng. I managed to squeeze Juniordwarf back in to stand with her, while I stood at the back leaning on a lamp-post, unable to see a thing, sulking that I’d come all this way and I couldn’t see anything, and he wasn’t interested. I could hear what was going on and it sounded great, which made me even more pissed off that I was missing it.

My photo of the day was going to be Juniordwarf patting a dinosaur, or something from the show. Instead, all I have is a picture from the back. This was my view:

After about 15 minutes, Juniordwarf and Mum emerged from the crowd, and that was pretty much it for our dinosaur experience, except for right at the end when we caught a glimpse from behind the performance area, and he got a chance to briefly pat one of the baby dinosaurs after the show.

Afterwards, on the way home, I asked him why he didn’t like it. He said it was too noisy and there were too many people.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. He didn’t enjoy the Wiggles last week because that was too loud and too crowded.

I suppose when I think about it, I’m not really comfortable in noisy environments. I find I get quite irritated and anxious, and the same goes when I’m in crowds. I'm a classic introvert and need my alone time. Spending time with other people, which I do enjoy for short periods, and which I need to do to stop me from becoming completely withdrawn, is physically and mentally draining for me. So if this is true for me, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be true for Juniordwarf as well. Especially for him, as he’s so small. Being surrounded by masses of adults (as well as herds of noisy kids) if you aren’t comfortable in that kind of situation must be really quite intimidating.

I guess sometimes I forget that I’ve had a lifetime of experience in being in these situations and have developed ways to manage them as best as I can. He hasn’t, and it’s all new and scary to him.

I feel a bit like I let him down, because I allowed what I wanted to do get in the way of what Juniordwarf needed. He had a miserable day, and consequently so did I.

Of course I know he needs to get exposed to new situations and different experiences so that he can develop and grow, but in hindsight, this was something he just wasn’t ready for.

I also know that sometimes he says he doesn’t want to do something, so we don’t do it, only to find after the time has passed, he wants to do it. Tantrums then follow because he realises he can’t do whatever it was he actually wanted to do. Talk about frustrating!

So what have I learned?

One. Not all kids are into dinosaurs.

Two. Juniordwarf likes crowded, noisy places about as much as I do. (I shall steer him away from a career that involves working in an open plan office.)

Three. If I suggest an event and he says he doesn’t want to go, consider whether it’s really really worth it to go – it’s hard to make that call. Today I honestly thought he’d love the dinosaurs. I didn’t take into account the crowds. It needs to be a balancing act decision I guess. Which leads to . . .

Four. There is never a right decision. If we hadn’t gone because Juniordwarf had said he didn’t want to go, I would have sat at home and been annoyed that I’d missed the dinosaurs – I would have had no idea that it wouldn’t have been fun for either of us.

Five. Perhaps my mother is right sometimes. While I was sulking and grumbling about how I might as well have stayed home and cleaned the lounge room, she said that we’d had a nice walk down by the waterfront and didn’t seem worried at all. Though she did get to see the dinosaurs . . .

Friday, March 25, 2011

P365 - Day 84 assembly and the special steps

Today Juniordwarf’s kinder class participated in its first school assembly.

Parents were welcome to attend, so there was no way I was going to miss this. Last night there was a wine and cheese evening at the school to welcome new kinder parents and give us a chance to ask all the stupid questions we wanted to ask in a very relaxed atmosphere – although I have to say it was a little bit weird drinking wine in my child’s classroom!

Anyway, last night we were encouraged to go to the assembly, so I had a little chuckle when I arrived today and most of the mums I met last night were already sitting in a little group at the back of the hall. It felt like we were all in a little club.

We weren’t sure exactly what our kids were going to be doing, but we couldn’t wait to see their performance.

It was great to see them all file into the hall and sit down in their allocated spot. My thoughts went back to a bus trip a couple of months ago where all the kids were pushing their way onto the bus, trying to get on as quickly as possible. I remember one of the staff members saying to give them about six weeks at school and they’d be lining up quietly, waiting their turn to get on.

She proved to be spot on.

When it was the kinder kids’ turn to go on, they all made their way up onto the stage, which was tiered, so there were two rows of kids. One of the girls started off the show by saying that they wanted to show some of their work.

Then another girl introduced the parrot pictures and, with a little prompting, all the kids who had bought their parrot pictures held them up. One of the others introduced the pirate pictures, and the kids who had brought pirate pictures held them up. Juniordwarf had his pirate picture.

At the end they all held their pictures up and everyone applauded.

It was really cool!

Then a surprise! When they gave out the awards a bit later on, I was so pleased that Juniordwarf got an award for ‘trying so hard to hold his pencils and scissors properly’. A lovely reward for all the hard work he’s been putting in at home practising his cutting and his writing.

When we got home tonight, Juniordwarf started replaying some of what he had done at school today. Friday is music day, so I got a blow by blow report on how music class panned out. He takes the role of Mrs J, the music teacher, and gives the instructions and plays the keyboard. (My favourite is his version of ‘tip toe music’.)

Once he’d done that, he drew the tiers on the stage on his chalkboard. ‘These are Mrs J’s special steps,’ he said. 

Then he replayed the kinder class’s presentation.

‘Here are some of our parrots.’

‘Here are our pirates.’

It was just great to see him enjoying reliving the moment.

Oh and he had his hair cut this afternoon (school photos next week) – he wanted it spiked up, so that’s what he got.

(And aren’t phone photos with the flash just appalling. Someone needs to learn how to use Photoshop properly to fix this kind of thing!)

P365 - Day 83 feeling kinda arty* (aka 'on art & writing' part 2) 24/03/2011

Part 1.

Writing is a major part of my work, and has been in pretty much all of the positions that I’ve held during public service jobs in various departments, both federal and state government.

But it’s not the type of writing I enjoyed as a child, so even though I get job satisfaction from finishing a report or discussion paper, writing for work doesn’t fulfil my desire to create.

I often joke that [ahem, cough] years in the public service has completely stifled my creativity and my ability to write anything other than bureaucratese. It also seems to have changed me from someone who prefers spontaneity to someone who kind of prefers routine. (If you are a Myers-Briggs aficionado, what I mean is I’ve moved along the Perception-Judgment spectrum from a strong P preference to a much weaker P preference, or even a weak J preference.) Although maybe that’s just something that would have happened anyway as I got older and gained more responsibility. It’s more fun to blame work though. People blame the government for everything else, so why not that?

So in a roundabout way, I am making my living from writing, just as I imagined I’d do when I was a child. An open plan office in a CBD office block is not the environment I’d imagined and certainly not the environment I prefer.

(Speaking of the environment I’d prefer, there is a tiny town in country NSW called Majors Creek.  When we lived in NSW, we used to love calling in to the pub any time we were in the area.

Every time we went there I imagined that it would be the perfect place to set up a creative writing hideaway. I imagined a small cottage, with polished wooden floors, floor to ceiling bookshelves to house my library, a window seat with a lift-up lid for reading in the sun (inside the window seat would be the entrance to a secret passageway, a la the Famous Five), a big cosy chair to curl up in when it got cold, a big old desk, a rather impressive computer with a mega screen so I could edit my photos. 

Outside would be the garden of my dreams (where oxalis never grows and snails are atomised as soon as they hit the border of my property), with a random interplanting of vegetables and flowers and a magnificent herb garden.)

But I digress . . .

Sitting in an open plan office at a grey formica desk up against a garish red partition that clashes stunningly with the orange speckled carpet, snippets of overheard conversations and phone calls . . . it’s definitely not my preferred environment.

I once heard someone say ‘a grey formica desk inspires grey formica ideas’. That quote always comes into my mind whenever I’m confronted with a grey formica desk (which, let’s face it, when you work for the government is pretty often).

So where does that leave me?

On the one hand I could say that I’m stuck in an uninspiring environment doing uninspiring work, wishing I was in my little dream cottage.

The problem with that is that I need a day job. The ‘starving artist’ stereotype might seem romantic and initially quite attractive, but if I really think about it, I quite like my lifestyle and there’s not much I’m really prepared to give up to pursue a vague dream of working (doing I know not what) in my little cottage.

(And to be fair to work, I have done some interesting things, been involved in some great projects and am always appreciative of them letting me design my own work hours to suit my family responsibilities. A lot of people don’t get to do that, so this is not a complaint about my work.)

But sleepydwarf, I hear you say, surely you have spare time? You don’t work 24/7. You seem to have enough time to write your blog. You take photos, you scrapbook. If you wanted to write or draw or something like that without giving up your day job, what’s stopping you?

If you really wanted to do this, you’d find a way. So why don’t you stop moaning about how much you wish you could do this stuff and go out and do it? Seriously! Get over yourself!

Um, yes. And you, my glorious inner voice, have just reminded me of yet another quote I picked up from somewhere – maybe a movie – where one character laments that he can’t play the piano (or whatever it was that the other character did brilliantly), and says to the character who can, ‘I wish I could do that’. To which the artist replies, ‘no you don’t. If you wanted to do it, you’d be doing it.’

Simple words, but so powerful. ‘If you really wanted to, you would.’

So does the fact that I don’t draw mean I don’t want to draw? Because I don’t sit down and write a story, does this mean I don’t really want to write? Is kidding myself that I have a creative block just another way of saying I really don’t want to do this?


I look at sketches that other people do, or paintings, or even doodles or beautiful handwriting, and I wish I could be as artistic as them.

‘I wish I could draw’. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that. Yet I never pick up a pen or a pencil.

So the other way of interpreting that quote is if I really want to draw (or write), I should just do it. Here and now. Who cares what it looks like? The very act of making marks on a piece of paper is drawing (or writing, if that’s what I want to do). Sure, I might not like the result. It might be terrible. In fact, I’m pretty sure it will be. But I don’t have to show it to anyone. It might be full of ‘mistakes’, but that’s how you learn – by doing it, making mistakes and learning from them.

But then if I don’t want to draw (or write) – if I’m only saying I want to because I think I should want to, or I wanted to a long time ago but I don’t any more - then I need to give myself permission to let go of the idea that I want to draw (or write, or both). If I don’t want to, I don’t want to - simple. And then I can stop wanting to.**

(You may need to read that paragraph again. I know I did.)

So with that in mind, I've been wondering which way I'll go.

Well today I did draw something. (No I'm not going to put it on here.)

I was at my mother's place and she has a rather large collection of pencils that belonged to my father, who, we have already established, did have some pretty good artistic skills. She also has - and I never knew this until today - an old wooden drawing board that belonged to her mother. She dates it at 1915 or thereabouts. When Juniordwarf wants to draw at my mum's place he uses the drawing board.

It's a thing of great beauty and history with pen marks and ink stains as testament to my grandmother's work.

So I couldn't help but line up a few old pencils on the board and take a photo, to remind me that there is talent in my family, and that yes, maybe I can do this.

* with apologies to Dave Graney.

** Gretchen Rubin came to a similar conclusion in The Happiness Project. Somewhere.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

P365 - Day 81 clink clink!

When Juniordwarf was younger, Slabs used to be at home with him on Mondays. And as long as we've lived here, Monday was garbage collection day. So it used to be a bit of a ritual, as I imagine it is for many little kids, to watch the garbage truck out the window each Monday morning (actually, I think it was the recycling truck, the garbage truck came later in the day).

After he got a new job, Slabs had to work on Mondays, and said one of the things he missed was watching the truck in the mornings with Juniordwarf.

Well two weeks ago, Slabs was putting out the garbage and the recycling on Sunday night as normal, and the girl who lives next door said that garbage day had changed to Tuesday. Apparently there had been a notice in the local paper, but we hadn't got the paper that week. The council website hadn't been updated and their after hours number knew nothing about it either, but since no one else in the street had put their garbage out, we had no reason to disbelieve our neighbour (unless the whole street was conspiring against us!).

The good thing about this is that Juniordwarf is home on Tuesdays, so he gets to watch the trucks again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

P365 - Day 80 supermoon

So, Saturday night was full moon, and it was the so-called supermoon. Apparently the full moon was the closest it has been to earth since 1993, so it was supposed to appear bigger than normal.

Well, we had an overcast night didn't we, so moon viewing was far from optimal.

Here are a couple of photos that I did manage to get on Saturday night.

Looking for the moon

There it is!

I really didn't notice any difference between this full moon and any other one, so it wasn't a real disappointment to have missed it. In fact, last Friday night I thought the moon looked much more interesting, as I saw it hovering over the river, very low in the sky, bright yellow, on my way home from scrapbooking. I really wished I'd had my camera with me that night.

So what has this got to do with today? Well this morning I was looking out the window and saw the moon, just past full, on its way to setting.

You don't get very good moon photos on a phone camera, but here's what it looked like this morning

And here's a couple of Instagram versions:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

P365 - Day 79 wiggling

Juniordwarf and I went to the Wiggles concert today.

Excellent quality phone photo!
I'm not sure what else there is to say. We were a long way back from the stage, but directly in front, so we had a good view. None of the pictures turned out very well but here are a few.

Juniordwarf watching from our excellent vantage point
Ukulele Baby
Rocking out!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

P365 - Day 78 my little piece of paradise

Regular visitors to pastpresentfuture might remember my post about the jungle down the side of Slabs' shed.

To recap, our back yard has a fenced off section behind Slabs’ home brew shed that is ‘mine’. I have my own tin shed, a sort of paved area out the front and a small garden space at the back between the shed and the neighbour's back fence.

My original plan for the area was to have a culinary herb garden in front of the shed, a walkway between the shed and the fence lined with different varieties of thyme leading to another herb garden behind the shed.

This is what the area in front of the shed looks like today.

What you can see is: my shed, Juniordwarf standing in front of what was supposed to be the container mint garden, but has been taken over by the lemon balm.

Lemon balm is also the plant you see in amongst the pots and the green bucket. 

A rather large lemon verbena plant to the right. It has taken over what was the 'culinary' herb garden and is huge. I keep expecting it to die completely in the winter, because I thought it wasn't frost tolerant, but it has just gotten bigger and bigger. It has the most glorious lemon smell.

Unfortunately it has started to be taken over by this insidious creeping vine thing, that I believe is called 'morning glory'. It sends out runners underground, crops up everywhere and twists around plants that it climbs up, strangling the life out of them.

Ugly, horrible stuff. It's everywhere around here. 

Moving right along, as I said before, the gap between the shed and the fence was to be lined with thyme. I used to call it the 'thyme line', and I originally planted several different varieties along the fence, about five or six years ago.

Only the original thyme has survived, but it's gotten very old and woody now, with new bits sprouting out here and there.

The other side of the thyme line (the shed side) was supposed to be a chamomile lawn, with some honeysuckle climbing over the shed. The chamomile has gone and the honeysuckle has become a ground creeper.

Another part of the plan was a climbing 'Black Boy' rose to be planted at the back of the shed and intended to climb over the shed's roof. Unfortunately I had no idea about how one would get a climbing rose to climb a tin shed and everything I tried failed. 

Then the garden got somewhat neglected due to other priorities (aka Juniordwarf) and the rose went in completely wrong direction, away from the shed and over the neighbour's fence.

So my first task, after hacking my way through what had been the thyme line, was to try (again) to train the Black Boy over the shed. 

It required considerable effort, and there is some more fixing work to be done, but at least I could get into what was supposed to be my relaxation garden. 

I expected it to be overgrown, but was shattered to find that the whole area had been overtaken by stickyweed, which had died. So there was just masses and masses of this dead brown sticky, seedy evil plant.

As I started to pull it out, I got more and more covered in the foul little seeds to the extent that I decided I had to keep going and get it all out, so I'd only had to de-seed my clothes once.

This is what my clothes looked like at the end of the session:

The seeds were everywhere: in my hair, my hat, all over my clothes, underneath my clothes, in my shoes . . .  it was gross. And my arms looked like this.

But even though it really hurts and I don't know how I'm going to get my clothes clean, I keep reminding myself that it's all gone, so next time I'm in there I can get to the real job of pruning everything back, pulling out old plants and putting in new ones if I have to.

I want to reclaim my space. I started it almost six years ago and now I want to finish it.

Oh and as a total distraction, I spend a few minutes watching this little guy.

I've never watched one closely before, and found it quite fascinating to watch him breathe and see how alert he was, how bright his eyes were, and how at one point he had both his front and back legs pointing backwards, instead of actually standing on them. 

It was a very relaxing break in the middle of a hard afternoon's work.

Friday, March 18, 2011

P365 - Day 77 the butty

Well now, where do I begin? I’m not sure how to explain this one.

Months and months ago, maybe even years ago – I can’t remember how long – Juniordwarf started talking about ‘the butty’. Originally it sounded a bit like one of those pommie accents where they don’t quite say the ‘t’ sound, so more like ‘bu [almost silent t] – ee’. (if that makes sense! If I knew the phonetic alphabet I could spell it that way, but I don’t, so this is the best I can do).

He used to say things like ‘I’m going to the buttee’ or ‘I’m in the buttee’ or ‘[someone] is going to the buttee to [do something]’ and so on. We never knew what the butty was, where it was, and most certainly why one would go there to get eggs.

Down the track, the butty evolved into the dutty, the ditty, the bitty [**closes eyes and tries not to think of Little Britain**], and more recently the zucky and the zitty.

We still have no idea what it is, or where it is, but when he comes into our bed in the morning, he announces he is going to the butty (or the zucky, or whatever it’s called), crawls under the covers and squirms around.

It’s very entertaining, even if the bed gets totally wrecked.

Sometimes he doesn’t go because the ‘butty is closed’ (once the dutty was closed and was in the microwave), and his visits have tapered off. A couple of times he's said he doesn't go there any more.

Today he did, which is the first time for a while. 

When I asked him this evening if he still went to the butty, he said ‘I still go to the dutty on Sunday, but not every day.’

So I don’t know what it’s future is. I just wanted to write down the story before it closes for good.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

P365 - Day 76 cutting it

A while ago, when it became apparent that Juniordwarf was left-handed, I bought some left-handed scissors for him, but he was never interested in cutting anything. Even when he had the opportunity at play group, he never made any attempt to use scissors.

Now that they are doing cutting at school, he’s been coming home and trying out the scissors. Specifically my fancy-edged scrapbooking scisssors. So I said I’d get him the left-handed ones so he could practise at home.

Of course I couldn’t find them. So when I dropped him off at school today, I told him I’d buy him some another pair today, which I managed to do in my tiny window of a lunch break.

When we got home, the first thing he wanted to do was cutting, so I got out the new scissors and told him they were to use with his left hand.

No, he said, my right hand. Because I think that’s how they’re learning in school. (He also seems to be learning to write with his right hand, which looks so weird because I’ve only ever seen him pick up a pen with his left hand. I assume this is because he’s copying what the teacher does and not because of any forcing on their part to change his handedness. I need to check this out. I can’t imagine that system is still around though.)

I showed him how to use the left-handed scissors and he was quite happy with that. He said he’d use these ones at home and the right-handed ones at school.

What a great idea! As a lefty said to me it’s always handy for a left-hander (if indeed he is) to be able to use right-handed scissors, as scissors for lefties aren’t always around when you need them.

So, that matter decided, he settled down for an afternoon of cutting. 

Each time he finished cutting something out he went off to take the scrap paper to the recycling box. 


I’ve been amazed at how much he’s learned in only a month at school – well 13 days to be exact. He’s picking out letters in books. He’s trying to hold a pencil properly, he’s cutting, he’s (apparently) eating fruit. He's so chatty now too. All of this is stuff I’ve been trying to encourage him to do at home, but he’s never been interested. 

Yet it’s only taken 13 days in school and he has come on in leaps and bounds. 

Initially I had feelings of inadequacy. That I didn’t try hard enough to ‘teach’ him stuff and that I should have. That I missed all these opportunities as he was growing to shape his brain – after all they keep telling us that the early years are critical for kids’ development and if they miss out on stuff during those years there are bits that just won’t develop.

And a few years ago I might have been beating myself up about this, comparing him to other kids who can already read stuff and write a bit and blaming myself for not getting him to that same level.

But . . .

I know that it’s not my ‘job’ to educate him. I don’t have to ‘teach’ him. That’s the job of his teachers. Sure I have to help him, encourage him and give him opportunities at home to do what he’s learned at school, but I'm not a teacher. I have very little idea of how children learn nor of the best way to present things to them so they’ll learn.

My job is to be his mum.

That’s probably the hardest job of all, which is why I didn’t say ‘just’ be his mum.

My job is to love him unconditionally, to show him the world, to model the sort of person I hope he'll become, to be there for him when he’s sad, to listen when he wants to talk, to be quiet when he wants to be quiet. My job is to help him learn respect for himself and for others and how to be a good person.

As he grows up, that job will get harder, the issues he faces will get more complicated, and there will continue to be days when I feel completely out of my depth. I’ll have to help him get ready to make his own way in the world - to continue that process of letting go, which has already started by him starting school last month.

So I refuse to feel inadequate for not having taught him any ‘school stuff’. Instead, I'm going to share in the joy and excitement and interest he has in learning all these new things at school – because there will only ever be one time he learns any of this stuff. I am going to take an interest in what he’s doing, to be happy for him when he masters a new skill and encourage him to use it.

Above all I am going to be his mum, and I am going to love him just because he’s my little boy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

P365 - Day 75 athletic carnival

Today was the Kinder to Grade 2 Athletic Carnival at Juniordwarf's school.

He'd been very excited about it for the last week. From what I can tell, the Phys Ed teacher had been practising with the kinder kids what they needed to do in a running race. Juniordwarf had been practising what he'd done in Phys Ed in our hallway.

It went like this:

'Mrs S says "1-2-3-eeeep" and I run to P (the Kinder Aide)'. Then he takes off and runs down the hallway.

('Eeeep', we finally figured out, was the whistle blowing.)

So he was fully prepared for the day.

Slabs and I both took the afternoon off work to go to the carnival. I had no idea what would happen (other than Mrs S would blow the whistle and the kids would run to the finish line). The last athletics carnival I went to was when I was at school, some time last century. My own experiences of primary school athletics carnivals were participating in the ball games that the kids who weren't fast enough to qualify for the races played, and once I was in high school, failing at every single trial and being forced to spectate for the entire day. I know this will come as a complete surprise to my readers, considering my athletic physique .... ;)

Anyway enough about me, this was Juniordwarf's day.

For those of you unfamiliar with little kids sports carnivals, here's how it panned out.

We received a program of events from one of the big kids, and were lucky enough to score a seat on the sidelines opposite where Juniordwarf's class would sit. The events basically worked their way down from Grade 2 to the Kinders for their running races. Then that was followed by the same thing with the teddy bear race, followed by the friend races for the younger grades and obstacle courses for the older ones. Then there were to be some novelty races - toddler and parent races, siblings and sack races.

The kinder kids aren't allocated to a house, so they don't score any points.

It all ran very smoothly. The Grade 2s went up first. There were six lanes, so six kids got to run in each race. The first six of the age group lined up first, the next six lined up behind them and so on until all the girls had lined up (some of the races had fewer than six as the numbers ran out). The first race was run, then the next six girls would step up and run their race. Then it was the boys' turn. And as each group raced, the next group would stand in line ready to take their places behind the start line.

The kinders went last, which was great, as they could see what the other kids did.

Juniordwarf was in the last group of kinder boys and, let's just say he has probably inherited his mother's athletic ability. Not to worry. He had a fantastic time and we loved cheering for him as he ran past. I managed to get the whole race on film, so he'll forever have a record of his first running race.

He was very excited about the whole thing, but slowed down quite a bit at the end, and spent more time looking around than actually trying to get to the finish line (or in their case, to the Kinder Aide).

Then the whole process was repeated with the Teddy Bear Race, where the kids had to put their teddy bears down on the ground a few metres in front of them, then when the race started, run to the bears, pick them up and race to the end.

It was quite entertaining as some kids over-ran their teddies, or dropped them, but they all looked like they were having a lot of fun. There were a few dilemmas - whether it was better to have a bigger bear that would be easier to pick up as you didn't have to bend down so far to get it, or a smaller bear that would weigh you down less, or a bear that could sit up by itself, thus being higher than the lying down bears. One boy had a giant chicken, which looked hilarious and not conducive to effective running, but he ran an excellent race.

After the Teddy Bear Race came the Friends Race for the littlies. A variation of the three-legged race, they had to hold hands and run. Juniordwarf paired up with the little boy who came second last in their running race and they came, well, last.

He had a fantastic time, and as soon as I'd downloaded the footage of his race onto the computer at home, he watched it over and over and over again. He loved it! And once he'd finished watching it, he re-enacted his races down the hallway, including '1-2-3-eeeep . . . run!' and as he was running, 'go Juniordwarf!'

I got enlisted to participate in the hallway running carnival as well, and had to run my own race, as well as being his 'friend' in the friend race. We didn't get to the Teddy Bear Race though.

It was great fun. Almost as much fun as the actual carnival!

I'd like to post a photo, but mindful of the fact that there are other people's kids in my pictures, I won't. Plus I took all the photos on my camera, not my phone, so the best I could do today was this:

It's the running track, taken from where we were sitting. Yes, I know, there are tonnes of ways I could have improved it to make a lightly interesting image: perspective, angles, inclusion of some running shoes, or even Juniordwarf's feet . . . but I didn't think of any of it at the time. Just wanted to take a picture and capture the memory.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

P365 - Day 74 brushing the dog

While I was brushing Sleepydog this morning, Juniordwarf said he wanted to help.

So he did.

I was thinking today how nice it is that he can, and does, help with some tasks around the house (brushing the dog being an exception).

He's been helping with the washing for a long time now. He puts the clothes in the machine, puts the powder in and presses the start button once I've programmed the machine. Then at the end of the cycle he gets all the clothes out and puts them in the basket.

He used to carry the recycling crate back into the yard after it had been emptied. As of last week, he takes the wheelie bin as well. 

As you saw yesterday, he's started to help out in the kitchen. In fact, whenever I go to cook something, he gets his stepladder out to 'help'. He likes to stir things and tip things in. He also likes to eat the work in progress (what kid doesn't?).

He feeds Sleepydog, and she's even starting to listen to him when he tells her to sit, and then when it's OK to eat. 

And he loves to vacuum. Mainly over and over on the same spot, but still he's getting the hang of it.

The only thing I wish he'd do is to keep his stuff packed away, or at least off the floor where we walk. 

I know people with older kids are going to tell me to enjoy the helpful phase because it won't last forever. That's fine - I'm just hoping his helpful skills will develop a bit more before they start to decline. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

P365 - Day 72 gone fishing

Slabs is a keen fisherman and one of the things that attracted him to our town was its proximity to the river and a host of great fishing spots.

So today we went fishing.

Actually we did more driving than fishing, but we ended up at a pretty spot on the Styx River right alongside the Bushy Park Showgrounds.

By the time we got there, conditions weren't particularly good for taking photos, but you can still see that it is a lovely spot (despite the proliferation of blackberries on the way down).

First up, Slabs and Juniordwarf had a few casts.

Then Slabs spotted some fish jumping in the other direction, so he headed off that way to see if he could land one (he didn't).

Juniordwarf decided that throwing rocks in the river was going to be more fun than fishing.


Action shot

I tried so hard to get a shot of a rock in the air.
This is the best one.
Here he is, looking for the next rock.

And now to photo of the day. Remember how my project is supposed to be a photo a day taken on my phone camera? Well, today would have been a great opportunity to take a picture for the project of something a bit different to our daily life.

Except I left my phone at home.

Yes, I know. How did I cope? It was an extremely difficult three hours, being without it (!!!!), even though I most likely wouldn't have had any reception where we went anyway.

Juniordwarf to the rescue! After we stopped in town on the way home, Slabs moved the rods to the back of the ute. When we got home, Juniordwarf got out his Diego car and his toy fishing rod, attached the rod to the back of the car, which was his version of the rods travelling in the back of the ute, and drove it round the lounge room to the fishing spot. 

Great! All I need to do is take a picture and link it in to the story and the problem's solved. 

Did I think of that when he was doing it?

Of course not. 

Would be do it again once I had thought of it?

No. Diego, the car and the rod were packed away (together with the fish that came with the rod, in the box that he was using as the 'river', so I'm not sure how Diego has coped with that).

So this is a recreation. It's the best I can do!

sunday selections - sunflowers

Here is this week's post for frogpondsrock's Sunday Selections project.

Since so many people said they liked the sunflowers photos, here are some more.

Most of these were taken in 2008, with a couple more recent ones.

This is the vege garden with lots of sunflowers.  Look how tall the one
in the middle (that hasn't opened yet) is!

February 2008

January 2008

January 2008

Two bees. January 2008
The next photos are the same sunflowers that you saw in this post a few days ago.

February 2011

Another bee. February 2011

This is one of the little ones. It's a funny shape.

And finally a fairly intensely coloured Instagram edit.