Tuesday, August 30, 2011

P365 - Day 242 - lava lamp

Juniordwarf is the official turner on and off of the lights in the house, as well as the official raiser and lowerer of the blinds.

Tonight he decided, in this capacity, that we were going to turn on the old lava lamp in the lounge room and, because that light was on, we wouldn’t need the main room light on.

Sure Juniordwarf, whatever you say!

Just warming up

Monday, August 29, 2011

P365 - Day 241 - Dear Inner Critic,

I think we need to have a talk, you and me.

Until recently I’ve been letting you get away with being pretty mean to me. I’ve let you undermine my confidence in my ability to do things. I’ve let you set ridiculously high standards and then beat me up when I haven’t met them. I’ve let you have a go at my appearance, my intelligence and my social skills.

I’ve even let you have a go at me for letting you do all this stuff to me.

All this has been happening without me taking much notice. You’ve been going on and on at me for so long that your words have become ingrained in my mind, are part of my everyday thinking and influence the way I behave.

But now I’ve started to become aware of you, and I’m starting to understand why you’re doing this. I’m catching you in the act. I’m telling you to shut up, and I'm making some progress in counteracting what you say, and you don’t like it one little bit.

Today you started to fight back.

You knew I was nervous about the briefing today. You knew I was worried I’d screw it up and make a fool of myself. And you didn’t like me telling you that I was going to be fine. That I knew my stuff and that the person I was meeting with wasn’t going to attack me or make fun of me.

And I didn’t screw up, and they didn’t make fun of me or attack me.

But what did you do? You chose to focus on the one time I said something that wasn’t appropriate, and to make a judgement that the whole briefing went badly because of that one thing I said.

And I battled with you for hours on this. You tried to make me feel bad about it. I tried to block you out and focus on the things I did well, which there were a lot of, thank you very much. You continued to beat me up about it.

I didn’t have to do this briefing. I could have said no, but I wanted to test myself in a situation that was outside my comfort zone, but was still safe. I knew I could handle it, or I wouldn’t have agreed to do it.

I told you that the briefing went fine and that the screw-up didn’t matter. I told you that I was going to focus on the things that went well and not blow that one sentence out of proportion. I told you that I was going to consider it a success, and a learning experience, and that it wasn’t the end of the world.

And you told me that you always knew it would go badly, that I can’t think on my feet and that I always say stupid things in the heat of the moment. You told me that little things like that incident can ruin even the best of meetings. You told me that I should have done better, that yet again I failed to live up to expectations.

I know what you’re doing.

You’re trying to prepare me from the fallout from the briefing, so that when something happens as a result of what I said, I’ll be prepared for it. I’ll be expecting punishment and, as you’ve already tried to beat me up about it, anything that anyone else says won’t be so bad.

Strange as it seems, you think that by having a go at me, you're actually trying to protect me.

But I can see right through you and I don’t like it.

What you’re really doing is setting me up to fail. You are holding me back and you’re making me afraid to live my life.

It’s taken me a long time to realise the true cost of giving you such free reign over my thoughts and my life, and it’s going to take a long time to wind you back in, but you’ve forgotten one thing. In amongst all the things you hold up as my ‘weaknesses’, I know there are some strengths, and one of them is determination.

I won’t give up until something is done. Perfectly. You know that because you insist on it.

So guess what? I intend to overcome you. It will take time. There will be days like today when I’m fighting with you tooth and nail. But that’s good, because the more I do this, the better I’ll get at it and the easier it will be to shut you up.

I will overcome you. Not perfectly, because I suspect you’ll always be there. But this hold you have on me, I’ve started to prise it loose and I’m not going to give up.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

P365 - Day 240 - some of what we did today

This morning I looked into Juniordwarf's room and this is what I saw:

He said he was lining up all the numbers. He'd obviously run out of room at the bed and had to continue the sequence under his bed. He was taking one number or one picture under his bed at a time, then emerging (backwards) to get the next one.

Today was a pretty quiet Sunday, so I decided to post a few pictures of what we did.

Inspired by an Instagram friend, we did chalk shadow drawings.

Slabs created his own artwork.

Juniordwarf and I went on a two hour walk and explored the (disused) local railway line along the way.

I wasn't sure if we should go, as the sky looked like this:

We looked at the daffodils when we got home.

And after all that collapsed on the couch.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

P365 - Day 239 - fishing days

On Monday, Slabs took Juniordwarf fishing after daycare, and Juniordwarf caught his first fish! He was very excited to show me when I got home (although he didn’t want to touch it because his hands would get dirty).

We decided we’d go on a family outing to the same spot (on the Styx River, where we went earlier in the year) on the weekend, if the weather held up.

It did, so off we went.

Last time I was at that spot, it was all underwater. Today there was still some residual water lying around on the ground. The first thing I spotted as we drove in was a temporary 'pond' with some beautiful reflections of trees in it, and I knew that in the right light, I could get some nice photos.

While Juniordwarf and Slabs fished, I wandered around with my camera trying to get some decent shots of those beautiful reflections, of the river and of some rather cool looking funghi that I saw on a tree.

The boys fishing

Styx River

Tree funghi

Reflections in a 'pond'

I also played chase with Juniordwarf, helped him climb a tree and went for a walk with him. We all played hide and seek, which was fun, but didn’t last long due to there not being any actual hiding places that might be safe for a four year old.

On his little camp chair reading.
Not real glasses!
Don't ask about the head band.

Note the seat belt is almost on

Look Mum, I'm in a tree!
The only fish that anyone landed was too small and was put back into the river, so Juniordwarf didn’t get his wish to have fish for dinner fulfilled.

But it didn’t matter. We had a nice afternoon by the river, which is the most important thing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

P365 - Day 238 - something is missing

One of the things my counsellor told me was that I have to take a little bit of time to do things purely for myself without feeling guilty about it.

So to cut a long story short, I decided to take a day off work (and not eat into the ever diminishing time I get to spend with Juniordwarf now he’s at school). The plan was to go shopping (my work wardrobe is in serious need of a makeover and my lunch break isn’t long enough to do any 'proper' shopping), drink coffee and have a massage.

Brilliant idea, right?

Actually I rather detest shopping. It’s hard to find clothes that fit me – everything in the shops seems either designed for skinny young things or the more, um, ‘matronly’ types, and I don’t identify with either. As a result, I normally find shopping a rather stressful, unpleasant experience.

A coupe of weeks ago I put a call out on Twitter to try and find places where a (ahem) ‘curvy short chick’ might find clothes that don’t fit into either of the above categories. I got a few suggestions and decided to go for it.

I figured if worst came to worst, I could call a halt to the shopping and go on a photo walk. Or drink more coffee.

It sounded like a plan. 

Only when I got into town this morning I discovered that I’d left my wallet at home!

Now who heads out for a shopping trip without their wallet? Turns out I’m not the only one, and I had a few people on Twitter tell me how they’d done exactly the same thing.

Luckily Slabs was with me when I realised what I’d done, calmed me down, escorted me to the ATM and gave me cash.

I went to the coffee shop, ordered a coffee, caught up on a few blogs (one in particular cheered me up immensely) and, revived, headed out to shop.

It was a mostly successful outing. My work wardrobe is looking slightly more professional and, without the time pressures of having to go back to work, I didn’t hate it as much as I feared I might have.

The strangest thing was paying for everything in cash. I normally card almost everything I buy, and the feeling of handing over actual money for things over about $10 or $20 was just weird. But I think it also kept me in check a bit, because I could see how much I was spending, rather than adding it up at the end of the day.

Sa here is today’s photo – the inside of my bag. Camera - check. Lip gloss - check. Pen - check. Notepad - check. Fold-up shopping bag - check. Wallet - oops  . . . 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

P365 - Day 237 - I did not speak too soon

I did not speak too soon . . . I did not speak too soon . . .

So OK, after a glorious morning, at lunchtime the weather decided it was winter time again, the temperature dropped by several degrees, the wind started blowing (up to 109 km per hour according to my handy weather app), the clouds and rain moved in . . . we had gale warnings and road weather alerts, and someone at work mentioned the words ‘highland snow’.

What a perfect opportunity to have another go at photographing a tree in a puddle, after my dismal effort last time.

This one worked a lot better.

And as for the weather, well it was a typical Tassie 'four seasons in one day' day. Well two seasons, at least.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

P365 - Day 236 - spring has sprung

Last week one of my workmates was saying how lovely it was that spring was finally here: the weather was warming up, the spring bulbs were in bloom and it was still light at 5 pm.

Another colleague insisted that it wasn’t spring yet; that there was still two weeks of winter left.

Nonsense, replied colleague 1. The weather decides when it’s spring. Not the calendar.

I fall into that camp too.

If it feels like spring, looks like spring, behaves like spring, then it’s spring. Who cares what the calendar says?

One of the things I love about spring in Hobart is the circles of daffodils and/or jonquils that are planted at the base of some of the trees in St David’s Park. I don’t know how long they’ve been there, but I think they look wonderful. 

I have no doubt that we’ll be shocked by at least one more cold snap (at least!) before the weather really warms up, but for now it’s just beautiful, and begs to be taken advantage of. I wonder if my boss would be open to the idea of having our staff meetings in the park . . .

Further proof that it’s spring is that today we got back home much later than normal, and I went outside to get something that I needed to get dry off the clothesline. I’d hung the washing out last night knowing it wouldn’t be dry when we got home today, because as soon as the sun goes down and the cold sets in, the washing starts to get damp again. Except it hadn’t. It was all totally dry.

It’s an evening you might almost describe as ‘warm’, with clear skies and a great view of the stars.

A beautiful night.

A beautiful spring night.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

P365 - Day 235 - here be dragons

A few years ago, Slabs and I watched the movie based on the book Eragon. I didn’t think much of the movie, but had a feeling that the book (or books – it’s a trilogy, with the fourth bok due out sometimes later this year – apparently there was too much to fit into the third one, so it turned into a quadrilogy) might be somewhat more enjoyable.

It was, but Slabs told me there were better books about dragons around.

That year for my birthday, one of my presents was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, the first of a series of books about the Dragonriders of the planet Pern. Dragonflight was published in 1968, and the series is still going strong, with Ms McCaffrey’s son Todd writing (and co-writing with her) some of the more recent books.

I loved it, and had to read the next in the series, and the next and the next. Fortunately the State Library has all of the books, so I’ve been able to borrow them as I’ve been ready to read them (or as quickly as the library can get them to me).

I found this reading list that lists all the books (up to 2008) both in publication order (which is the order that Ms McCaffrey suggests they be read in) and in chronological order, which is the rough order I read them in, once I’d read most of the books that followed on from Dragonflight.

I finally finished the last book, which was written by Todd McCaffrey and released in 2010, late last year.

After that, I felt a bit lost without any more new dragon stories to look forward to, so I was very excited to find out that a new book, Dragon’s Time, written by both McCaffreys, would be released this year.

As soon as it was available to order at the library, I put a hold on it, and today I finally picked it up. I can’t wait to read it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

P365 - Day 234 - bus trip

I usually catch the early bus in to work on Monday.

Here I am, attempting to take a photo of my reflection in the screen thing that separates the rear door from the nearest seat (I have no idea what it’s called).

You can see me, can’t you?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

P365 - Day 233 - dressing gown

Earlier in the week Slabs and Juniordwarf went shopping and they bought a dressing gown, which Juniordwarf was very excited about.

He took it with him to his grandmother’s place last night.

This morning we were outside doing some weeding when Juniordwarf and his grandmother arrived at our place. He got out of the car, and over the top of his clothes he was wearing his dressing gown.

Apparently he just ‘wanted to wear it’. As you do.

It conjured up images of old men in smoking jackets retiring to their oak-panelled studies, puffing on their pipes and sipping cognac.

Or Hugh Heffner.

He wandered around with it on for a while, chasing a ball that he found in the garden, calling his school friend on his toy phone and helping us with the weeding. (No, not really.)

Then he decided he wanted to take it off, and that was the end of that.

P365 - Day 232 - party! (20/08/2011)

Slabs and I went to a friend’s ‘milestone’ birthday party.

We dutifully shipped Juniordwarf off to his grandmother’s place for the night (as usual, as soon as we got there he was keen for me to leave, almost pushing me out the door. It’s so nice to feel wanted.)

The party was fun and we had a good night with our friends.

We might have had a few drinks too.

Since this isn’t a particularly interesting photo, I played around with it in one of the photo apps that I use quite a bit, PictureShow, to see what some of the effects were like. I quite like the results. The one above is called 'HoloGraphy'.






P365 - Day 231 - at work (19/08/2011)

I couldn’t go through a whole year of ‘a photo a day’ without including a photo of me hard at work.

In the past when I’ve wanted a picture of myself doing something, I’ve just set the camera up somewhere close by, set the self-timer, then quickly tried to look like I was doing whatever I wanted the picture to be of.


Except iPhone cameras don’t have self timer buttons do they?

Enter SoundSnap, a neat little app that takes a photo when you make a noise. It does have a self-timer, so all I needed to do was set a vey low trigger level, so that almost any noise would set it off, set the self-timer, arrange my phone on a fairly dodgy looking pile of folders, files and a business card holder, then make a noise distinct enough to set it off. That started the timer and gave me enough time to get back to work so that the photo would look sort of authentic.

It took a few attempts to figure out where to put the phone and what noise I needed to make to set it off. (I started by coughing, but then realised a fairly hard press of the ‘enter’ key on the keyboard would work just as well).

For 99 cents, it’s a handy app for situations like this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

P365 - Day 230 - crafty mama (UPDATED 27/08/2011)


After telling Juniordwarf I’d make him a Very Hungry Caterpillar costume for his school’s Book Week celebrations this week, I had no choice but to come through with the goods.

Fortunately my ability to operate my mother’s sewing machine hadn’t deserted me, and I managed to come up with a reasonably respectable looking pair of green stripy pants last weekend.

During the week I roughly hand stitched some dark green stripes to Juniorddwarf’s green t-shirt and created some antennae out of a headband, pipecleaners and (bought, not made) pom poms. All I'd have to do in the morning was apply some face paint and we'd have ourselves a caterpillar.

Juniordwarf was very excited about dressing up. (It was also canteen day for him and, as a once a fortnight treat, I’m actually not sure if he was more excited about having canteen or dressing up!)

It all came together very smoothly.

Slabs and I both took him to school, and we hung around until the bell rang so we cold see all the other kids’ costumes as well. There was a huge range of book characters, and they all looked fantastic. The teachers made a huge effort too, although I wondered how some of them were going to make it through the day with costumes that looked decidedly uncomfortable.

They had a parade later in the morning, where Juniordwarf said all the kids had to tell everyone who they were. He said he was ‘a caterpillar’. It sounds like he really enjoyed it.

So I survived my first foray into actually creating a costume and, as he gets older, I’m expecting Juniordwarf to get involved too.

Fun times ahead!


When I was in my early teens, I used to read Dolly magazine. I don’t remember much about it, except that a very young Nicole Kidman once featured on the cover, and she was in an ad for a hair colour, I was once tempted to write to the advice column (but never did), and it was full of bad 80s fashion, hair and articles about what you could do with boys.

One year they ran this feature on how to make a pair of shorts in an hour, with this incredibly simple one-piece pattern that was so easy even I could whip up a funky pair of summer shorts.

And now to the actual point.

Last week we found out that Juniordwarf’s school would be doing a dress up day next week for book week. He decided he wanted to be the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Sure, I can do that.

After a bit of thought and a call out for help on Twitter, I remembered how easy it had been to make the Dolly shorts, so figured I could just find a similar pattern for kids pants and make a green pair that would match his green t-shirt. Add some pipe cleaners on a head-band for antennae and bang, instant caterpillar.

I found what looks like a pretty easy pattern from Dana Made It, bought some cheap green fabric, organised with my mother to use her sewing machine on the weekend, and tonight I set about getting everything ready.

It was all going well until I came to the bit where it said ‘trace the pattern to the fabric with a fabric pen or marker'. Well I was sure I had one of those in the shed somewhere, with a lot of other sewing junk and patterns that I hadn’t looked at for years.

I headed out to the shed, found the bag of stuff, but of course there was no fabric pen in there. What really surprised me was that the original pattern from Dolly magazine, that I’d cut out of newspaper (The Australian to be precise), was there, tucked in amongst all the other paper patterns, most of which I'd never used.

The date of the paper was Tuesday September 2, 1986. I was interested to read some of the (page 3 and 4) story titles of the day:

“Unemployed on the dole take longer to find work”;

“Democrats ([remember them?] reveal uranium sale ploy”;

“Hooker legal action may stop tabling of police report”;

“SA wants fruit juice tax canned”;

“RSL national service call”; and

“Hawke tennis challenge to China leader”

A horse called High Quest, trained by John Hawkes, had won the Chanak Handicap at Moonee Valley, and shares in BHP Holdings were trading at 37 cents.

So, after that diversion into the past, now I’ve found my pattern, I have no intention of making shorts. However, if the costume making turns out to be successful, it might be the solution to the problem of never being able to find pants to fit Juniordwarf.

Crafty mama to the rescue.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

P365 - Day 229 - a little bit of self-indulgence

This book was recommended to me by a counsellor I was seeing a couple of years ago. I got a short way into it, then it all got too hard and I didn’t have enough time to devote to it. Eventually everything fell by the wayside, and I forgot all about it.

Recently I went back to a counsellor to talk about some issues I was having a hard time dealing with. We ended up talking about some of the things that I think are holding me back from . . . well I’m not sure what from, but we talked about some beliefs and behaviours that are keeping me stuck in my old habits and that occasionally rise to the surface, making me feel more down on myself than usual, and not a nice person to be around.

She gave me some reading, which seemed very familiar, and after a while I realised it was from the very same book that I had tried to work through before. So I started working through it again. 

This time, I’ve started to feel like I’m making progress and that this might be something that will actually help me, if I stick with it.

One of the problems I have with doing this sort of thing is that I start to work through some exercises that I think will ‘help’ me to deal with my issues, and I tire of it very quickly and give up because I haven’t made any obvious progress.

Another problem is that I tend to think that I can’t do anything differently until I’ve ‘fixed’ the problem. As an example, what I mean is, I think can’t speak up for myself until I’ve done all the exercises on assertiveness and have learned the right way to be assertive. So if I give up on the exercises before I get to the specific ‘assertiveness’ exercises, then whenever I’m in a situation where I have to be assertive I won’t even try because I haven’t done that work.

Quite obviously – and my logical self knows this –both of these ‘problems’ are just excuses for staying exactly where I am.

I know that I’m not going to work through a book and then wake up the day after I’ve finished and instantly be a more confident, outgoing person. It doesn’t work like that. Just like eating healthy for a day is not going to result in a 10 kilo weight loss.

You learn to drive a car by driving a car. You learn a language by speaking it. You learn to take photos by taking photos. Sure there is some theoretical stuff that you might have to learn as well, but if you don’t actually go out and do it – put the theory into practice – all the instructions in the world are useless.

So if I want to learn to handle specific situations, I have to put myself into those situations. Reading about how to handle them (or doing courses, or talking to counsellors) is important to show me what the skills I need are, but if I don’t use the skills in real situations, I’ll never learn them.

It’s pretty obvious really, isn’t it?

I’ve held certain beliefs about myself for most of my life. I’ve allowed those beliefs to affect the way I behave in some situations, which has then reinforced those beliefs in my mind. It’s a vicious circle that I’ve found very hard to break out of.

What I have to do now, as I’ve always had to do, is to challenge those beliefs, to disprove them, and to replace them with thoughts that are a more accurate reflection of the person I am and the person I want to be.  But I mustn’t wait until I’ve done that to start changing my behaviour in particular situations – in fact if I wait, my behaviour won’t change and it will continue to reinforce my ‘limiting beliefs’ and I won’t get anywhere, just like last time. And the time before. And, um, the time before that. And . . .

This is a major shift in thinking for me, because in my world, you just don’t do anything until you have prepared perfectly, have all the information you need, have everything in place, and know that you have a good chance of succeeding.

The result of this is, as you might imagine, that I never do anything – because it’s not possible to prepare perfectly or have all the information I need to proceed. And the fact that I think I need to do this is one of those limiting beliefs that I need to challenge.

It’s all starting to make sense to me now. In fact, writing this post has made it even clearer, and has made it more apparent why I’ve failed in the past.

I seriously don’t expect that if I start to feel better about myself and make some of these changes, that I’ll be a different person. I’m not going to become an outgoing, vivacious life of the party type any more than I’m going to become a hot shot lawyer. By nature I am introverted (which is not the same as shy), with particular personality traits that will always be part of me. Or as my boss put it, while I can try to improve against ‘critical competencies’, it's not possible to change my inherent thinking style and personality.

But I hope that as I progress through this work, I’ll find it easier to stand up for myself, to explain to people what I want, and to hold onto my position in a discussion instead of getting all wishy-washy and vague. There are a few other things too, but this will do for a start . . .

I also know that I’m not the only person in the world who is terrified by the thought of meeting new people, avoids certain situations because they can’t handle them, freezes up in conversations and beats themselves up when they make a mistake. And I know that a lot of people appear a lot more confident in difficult situations than they actually are. The difference between them and me might not be as great as I think it is.

But part of this work is getting myself to believe that I can do things that I’ve convinced myself that I can’t do.

It’s very much about changing my mindset and my beliefs so that I can change my behaviour.

I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m seeing more positive signs than I ever have before. I think this is a good thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

P365 Day 228 - my new toy

Seven months after our mini DV camcorder packed it in, I finally got a new camcorder.

Hurrah! I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

Monday, August 15, 2011

P365 - Day 227 - it's getting ligher

This morning, as I left the house at 6.30, I noticed it wasn’t pitch black like it has been over the past few months.

The faint glimmer of light made it ever so slightly more pleasant to be heading off to work so early.

Fast forward to this evening when I was leaving work, and it was still light.

Spring is coming, and the signs are getting more obvious every day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

P365 - Day 226 - project life

This week I was very excited to learn that pre-orders for Project Life were now open.

This is the second year I’ve done this project, and I use it for most of my photos. I still scrapbook the special occasions and the photos I love, but for most of the day-to-day stuff, this approach is so much easier.

I’ve fallen a bit behind in my 2011 Project Life album. I’ve kept fairly up to date with the photos, but need to catch up with my journalling. At the start of the week, I still had to fill in most of the journal cards from March, April, June and July.

My approach has been different to the ‘photo a day’ approach that a lot of people take with this product. This page explains what I’m doing with it.

As a result, my album is more complicated, because I don’t always know what pictures are going to make it into the album, and how many photos of an event I’m going to use. With the photo a day approach, you can write your journal cards any time and slot them in the album, even before you’ve printed the photos. My approach means I can’t really fill in any cards until I know how the page spread is going to look, and I don’t know how the spread will look until the end of the month when I can sort through all the photos I’ve taken that month and decided which ones to print. So it’s become very easy to fall behind.

However, seeing the new kits are about to be released has given me some momentum to get my album up to date. I’ve spent quite a lot of time this week filling in the cards and getting it all organised. Now all I have to do is a few days from June, one day from April and all of July. Progress indeed!

I also want to put the spreads on my blog at the end of each month. I was originally going to put them all one page and update that each month, but I can see that would get very big by the end of the year. 

Instead I’ll probably just do one post for each month’s spreads as I complete them. (Or more likely, as I get around to photographing them, which is a whole other process. So far, January is all I’ve managed to do.)

Juniordwarf loves looking at the albums. He calls last year’s album ‘the red photos’ (because the binder is red) and this year’s is ‘the blue photos’.

Today he looked through both albums, and we talked about all the pictures, who was in them and what was happening. He had lots of questions (many of which started with “why?”) about what was in the photos, what had happened afterwards, where we were, what we were doing and so on. I love how he takes such an interest in them.

That’s one of the great things about Project Life: how easy it is to display all our photos. If I’d tried to scrapbook all of the photos I wanted to since starting in 2010, I’d probably be lucky to be up to March last year. Plus I can let Juniordwarf look at them without worrying he's going to damage one of my scrapbook layouts. If a couple of photos get dislodged and wrecked, it's simple to replace them.

These albums and kits are fantastic, and I plan to continue using them for as long as Becky Higgins keeps putting them out.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

P365 - Day 225 - swimming

When Juniordwarf was a baby, and I was still on maternity leave, we started water orientation classes with some of the other mothers and babies in our mothers group.

While the other babies really took to the pool, and had a great time, Juniordwarf was very reluctant and he never really enjoyed it.

When I went back to work, my days coincided with the swimming class, so we stopped going after only a couple of months.

Up until this year, we hadn’t really done much stuff in the pool. I’d taken Juniordwarf to the local pool and the aquatic centre a few times, but we hadn't done anything on a regular basis. He loved going in the pool, but he was never very confident and I had to hold onto him in all but the very shallowest water. He didn’t want to float on his stomach, kick his legs or use a kickboard.

This year, we decided to start Juniordwarf in regular swimming lessons so that someone who knows what they’re doing can show him the right way to do things.

He’s in a group with four other boys about his own age, some of whom had been doing swimming lessons for a while and some, like Juniordwarf, for whom this year was their first time in swimming lessons.

At the beginning, Juniordwarf thought the whole thing was a bit of a laugh and that he was just going for a ride around the pool like he did when he was in the pool with me.

But his teacher has been very persistent and, as the weeks have gone by, he’s started to kick his legs, put his face in the water and blow bubbles. He’s gone from having to be guided around the pool all the time to being able to propel himself around on his own for a short time, with the help of a pool noodle and a flotation backpack.

Last week was a huge breakthrough – he put his whole face in the water to blow bubbles. He’s started kicking his legs a lot more, especially when he’s sitting on the step waiting for his turn, and he’s becoming a lot more adventurous in the water.

Today he put his head in the water, and when he lifted his head out, he said, ‘my hair’s wet!’ as if he expected it to be dry. He also jumped into the pool at the end of the class, holding onto his instructor’s hands, almost from standing – he was reluctant, but he did it in the end.

I’m not surprised at that. He’s started jumping off a lot of things lately, which scares me sometimes, when I see how close he gets to crash landing onto something that is likely to hurt him.

It’s taken six months, but I think he’s finally starting to get the hang of what he’s supposed to do.

It’s great to see.

P365 - Day 224 - parent help (12/08/2011)

Slabs and I did parent help at Juniordwarf’s school today.

Last term we both did a morning each, and I really enjoyed my time with the class, so I was looking forward to today. This time we thought it would be a fun thing for both of us to do together – a team effort!

Our first task was to cut out cardboard circles so we could help the kids make pom poms. Our other job was to help them finish off their fire fighter helmets that they’d made to go with the fire fighting theme they’d been learning about after their school was visited by a fire fighter (and we've been told an endless number of times since then, ‘water and electricity DON’T MIX!’).

We were lucky enough to go with the kids to see another class’s dress-ups for some work they’d been doing, after which the class was informed that it would be Book Week dress-up day in two weeks and that the kids should start thinking about a favourite book character to dress up as.

Time to put my Crafty Mama skills to the test!

But back to school . . . we had a great time. It was cool to see what goes on in the classroom, and to see for ourselves what Juniordwarf is actually doing when he acts out his school days at home.

Juniordwarf was a lot less clingy than he had been the first time I was there. He kept turning round to look at us while they had ‘mat time’, but didn’t sit right up against my legs like he 'd done the first time.

He’s a lot more confident in the classroom now. I think most of the kids are. They were quite fascinated by us, and most of them were very keen to work with us. Slabs called one girl over to finish her fire fighter helmet, and she was amazed that he knew her name.

‘How did you know my name?’ she said, in this absolutely flabbergasted voice. 

‘Magic,’ was his response.

She couldn’t get over it, and we both thought it was hilarious.

Slabs was fantastic with the kids. He seems to really enjoy interacting with them, and seems to know exactly how to talk to them. In contrast, I’ve got no idea what to say most of the time, and I have to try really hard not to freak out when they talk to me.

We were kept very busy, and at one point I ended up with three girls making pom poms, while I was trying to fix up Juniordwarf’s which he’d half done and left with me, saying he’d finished. I wasn't going to do it for him, so I handed it over to the teacher aide for Juniordwarf to come back to later on.

I marvel at how the teacher and the aides are able to calmly deal with the demands of so many kids all at once. They are brilliant! I enjoyed myself today, but I think part of that enjoyment came from the fact that I knew that at half past ten, I’d be out of there and back to my relatively quiet day job, where I (sort of) have some idea of what I’m actually doing.

I can’t wait to do it all again next term.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

P365 - Day 223 - spring is nearly here!

It's still pretty wintery, but the days are slowly getting longer, it's not quite as cold in the mornings and there are signs of life starting to emerge.

No doubt we're in for one or two more cold snaps before we say goodbye to winter (and then, of course, our customary freeze in December), but at least now we can see there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

P365 Day 222 - would you trust this person to do your hair?

Juniordwarf has had this thing about my hair for as long as I can remember.

He hates me wearing my hair tied up or tied back, to the extent where he will clamber all over me in an attempt to pull the band out of my hair. Usually I’m able to stop him before he can do it, but sometimes he catches me out.

Lately he’s been using the excuse that he does it so he can comb my hair.

If you think it might be a just little uncomfortable, you are correct.

P365 -Day 221 - five years (9/8/2011)

Tonight is officially Census Night. The Census is taken every five years, and the last Census was in August 2006.

So much has changed in my life – our lives – since then.

In the last five years we have lost some loved family members, and have also welcomed new people into our extended families.

This time five years ago we didn’t have Juniordwarf. I was 34 weeks pregnant, and he was called Peanut. According to the measurements the doctor made that day, Peanut was going to be about 3.4 kilos (7½ pounds) and he was going to have short legs ‘like its mother’. We hadn’t found out whether it was a boy or a girl, but Slabs said he thought if it had short legs, the baby would have to be a girl, because he said no men in his family had short legs. At least on his father’s side. Wrong!

I was looking pretty huge by this stage (that is, I was at the point where the caption on a photo in a newspaper might describe me as being ‘very pregnant’ – as if there is such a thing as a degree of pregnancy).

This time five years ago I was counting down the days to when I would start maternity leave. I was really tired, not able to get comfortable during the night and waking up constantly. I felt like I was functioning on autopilot. I kept wondering whether this was training for what it would be like when the baby came, and whether, despite the expected night wakings, actually having the baby might be better for my sleep patterns, because I might actually be able to get comfortable during the night.

What a lot I’ve learned since then.

So we have a little boy, and we had to answer questions about him on the Census form so that he can be counted as an official statistic in Australia for the first time.

The Census form also asks you what your address was five years ago. This year, our previous address is the same as it is now.

But this time five years ago, when my ‘very pregnant’ self was filling out the 2006 Census form, our address five years previously had been in another state – almost another world away. 

Slabs and I were both working in full time jobs. I was supervising staff and had even spent some time in an acting Manager’s position, something I was keen to get away from, and got my chance when we moved to Tasmania. We had over an hour’s travel every day to and from work, between our peaceful country cottage and the city. It was great, because it felt like every weekend was a weekend away, but it had started to be a grind doing the trips on a daily basis.

Now we’re both working part time, with a much shorter commute. We’re living in a bigger town, which has advantages because we’re a lot closer to shops and services – important when you have a young child – but we still miss the peace and quiet of our former life and the scarcity of neighbours. (Also, I don’t miss the freezing cold winters of our former residence.)

In some ways it’s hard to believe that so much has changed, and that we have an almost five year old son. Sometimes it seems like only yesterday that we were talking about how we might do up our old cottage to make it more like our dream house, and that having a family was not on the immediate radar.
At other times it’s hard to remember life before Juniordwarf, and what we used to do when we were child-free.

Either way, it brings home the truth of the statement ‘the days are long, but the years are short’, and I know it won’t be long before we’re filling out the 2016 Census form, reflecting on all that’s changed since today.