Sunday, November 30, 2008

So this is Christmas

This was my "make Christmas happen" weekend. I am sore, but I have a glass of champagne.

I did about half of my shopping yesterday. At least some of what remains can be done online.

So today we started operation decoration. After about an hour getting the room and the front of the house clean enough to put up the tree and lights, we started. Crash and Solomon did the outside lights, I did the tree with the boys.

Half way through tree construction. It was somewhere around here that I explained that real live dead trees often come complete with colonies of spiders. We love plastic trees.

And so construction phase is over.

These are the tree decorations - the box at the back on the left is several inches deep and represents the old, crappy, don't make the grade decorations. They go in the middle.

And these are the non-tree decorations. They got distributed later.

Those who know me will be amazed to learn that I actually let the boys help. Really. Even let them put lots of stuff on the tree. Only moved about half of it after them too. So all that remains is to put the star on top.

Note the chair in front. Even standing on a chair, I can't reach the top of the tree, Crash has to put the star on top.

Happy families.

The tree is not really finished. Last year I had candy cane LED lights on the tree, but they died before the end of the season. I am determined to find something similar again.

The lights out the front look way better than I expected too. I'll try to get a photo soon.

All of this has left me aching and tired, and has sadly not diminished the panic. Still haven't ordered the meat for Christmas, most of the rest of the house is still a demilitarised zone and I have at least 16 kids coming for Ben's birthday next Sunday. And I'm spending Saturday at Homebake. Should be a doddle.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Closer and closer

Elissa has taken her first very, very wobbly steps and is actively trying to stand. The record is about 5 seconds so far.

I have been hanging out for this for two reasons:

First, babies are so much happier when they walk. Well, at least mine have been. The new found independence is wonderful for everyone involved.

Second, she will be able to wear all those beautiful dresses hanging in her cupboard, just in time for summer, when dresses are at their most useful. She will also once again be able to wear things that cover her knees without destroying them in a single day.

Whatever the consequences, the process itself is absolutely delightful. Every attempt at steps or standing is accompanied by hysterical giggling and hand clapping. Nobody can resist a 12 month old in full giggle - there may be nothing cuter in existence.

Looks like we'll be having an upright Christmas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Easy political action

GetUp have taken up the Internet censorship issue, and because GetUp was designed by lazy people, for lazy people, if you want to be politically active but just don't have time/don't know how/can't be arsed, you can just go here and type in your email address to add your name to the petition.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

OK, so I was wrong

I argued that K-2 kids didn't have much experience of racism. But it seems I may have been wrong. It was the last scripture lesson for the year, and to celebrate Christmas, their scripture teacher taught them all about the spiritual significance of candy canes. Yes, candy canes. To be fair, she did acknowledge that this wasn't from the Bible.

So, you ask, what IS the spiritual significance of a candy cane? Well, upside down (and the appropriate way around) it is a J for Jesus. The right way up it is the crook of the shepherds. So far so good. The red signifies the blood and pain of Christ (wrong holiday, but OK) and the white signifies our clean skin. Ummm....

After clarifying that this was really what was said, and then recovering from a mild case of apoplexy, I pointed out that this was really rather racist, and asked how he thought [first kid's name I could think of that isn't anglo at his school] would feel about white signifying clean skin. An hour later, he volunteered that it might make [another non-anglo kid] feel pretty bad too. At least he tells me the loony stuff he hears, so I can embark on re-indoctrination immediately.

I had pretty much already decided that Ben wasn't doing scripture next year, this has sealed the deal. And completely ameliorated any guilt I may have felt in not getting Ben to write a thank you note to the teacher.

The wonderful world of home renovation

We are currently having our deck repaired and waterproofed, which unfortunately meant jack hammering up our rather beautiful tessellated tiles. I went back the place we bought them originally, and the price has increased somewhere between 2 and 3 fold in the last 6 years. That has pretty much put paid to the idea of replacing them. We already have around $5k (at the old price) of tessellated tiles to do the barbecue area should we ever find a tiler prepared to do it and have the money at the same time. You can see the barbecue area from the deck in question, so whatever tiles I use up there need to blend sensibly.

The tessellated tiles are a red terracotta, with a border and some feature patterns. I figured if I used large red terracotta tiles and a couple of pre-fab mosaics, it should look ok. Seems simple enough. But this is an area related to the building industry - nothing is ever simple. Almost no-one makes red terracotta tiles. You walk into any tile shop, and you can find 496 shades of beige and 279 shades of grey, but that's it. Even more baffling, I can buy red terracotta coping. So you can edge your pool area (or whatever) in red terracotta, but not actually tile it.

Incidentally, the pre-fab mosaics are a doddle, found some lovely ones at an auction place for just over $100 a piece and at 600x600mm I would probably only need 2.

Anybody harbouring between 20 and 25 square metres of 300x300mm (or even 600x600mm) red terracotta tiles? (She asked hopefully - despite the futility.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Conversation with Ben

Ben: (Looking at a small plastic dinosaur - not Bobgreen) What kind of dinosaur is this?

Me: I'm not sure, give me a look. (Notices that it is tall with useless little arms) Is it a T Rex?

Ben: No, it's not a T-Rex.

Me: Why isn't it a T-Rex? It has little arms and lots of teeth.

Ben: Because we've been learning about dinosaurs at school and I'm sure T'Rex's aren't purple and yellow.

Well, quite.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Schoolboy nastiness

This afternoon when I picked Ben up from school, he went to the toilet in the park before we walked home. As he ran back over to me, one of the kids from his school deliberately tripped him and he landed flat on his face on the grass. On the plus side, Ben falls down a lot, so he is pretty good at minimising the damage when he falls. I walked straight over to him, and the kid walked off with the other boys he was playing with.

I don't know what the appropriate response is from me. If I had been within earshot as it happened, I'd have said something, but I would have to have pursued him across the park to speak to him, so I glared at him instead, and made sure I knew who it was.

To me there is a qualitative difference between calling out a kid as they do something and chasing them across a park to reprimand them. At the same time, I feel like I have been complicit in nasty behaviour because I didn't speak to him. And then there is the problems I create for my child by being an overly interfering mother if I step too far over the line.

When do you intervene and speak to other people's kids? I suspect this is a theme everyone who has kids old enough has had to deal with.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tell me people aren't this stupid

While sifting through the ABC news feed tonight, I found this. Another twat suggesting that nuclear power is the solution to the global warming problem.

His basic argument is that if we send uranium to other countries, it isn't our problem to work out what to do with the waste. If we use it ourselves, he seems to think it is trivial to deal with the waste. Jesus Christ, we have spent several decades establishing the enormous cost of nuclear power, global warming doesn't negate that one iota. How does someone with such a lack of clue end up in such a position?

Sympathy or empathy

In the course I have just finished on developmental psychology, there was a discussion about sympathy and empathy. The text book and lectures were at odds about which was more useful in a societal construct. The text book suggested that sympathy was better, producing discomfort upon hearing of injustice, while empathy caused the feeling of distress, which immobilised the person. The lectures sort of implied the reverse. My instinctive definition agrees with the text book. Sympathy is feeling because, empathy is feeling as if. I suspect I am hopelessly empathic. I read the last chapter on death, and cried and cried. I heard the news today about the man who died trying (and failing) to save his two sons from drowning, and I cried. I don't think I am very sympathetic. If I can't put me there, I'm not so useful. But if I can put me there - I am way too good at that. So I suck at being helpful, which is definitely not what I want. I don't know how to scale down the empathic response to be able to cope with the sympathetic. If anyone has any good suggestions, I'm all ears.


Now, I know that other people's dreams are just too boring for words, so I'm just going to have to bore you. These two dreams seemed to need recording.

The first involved a reciprocal profession of love between myself and someone I haven't seen for years (and don't harbour a heartfelt love for), promptly followed by him disappearing from my life forever. This is not amazing. What was strange is that this emotional drama played out over the backdrop of getting ready for a pole dancing party organised by Mim. A very sophisticated pole dancing party I might add - even with red feather boas. Don't ask me how forever fits into getting ready for a party, but there you go. It was a very fine party as well.

The second one involved me being invited to one of my clients' corporate functions. When Crash found out about it, he gatecrashed it as well. It was worth gatecrashing - it was in a bar which was a floating vortex. You floated in the outer parts of the vortex, and tipped your drink into the air and drank it as it floated past in tasty, wobbly, globules. Once you got sucked to the middle, there was a funky escalator to take you back to the top of the vortex. Unfortunately I couldn't stay long because I had to get home before the kids woke up (since Crash was there too).

So Mim, a theme for next year's Christmas party? :)

And I want to go to that bar.

But really, what's with still having to go home and look after the kids in a dream???? Good thing DOCS don't monitor your dreams, since I had left them at home all night alone...

Monday, November 17, 2008

A quick hit

I love this xkcd cartoon. I don't know why, maybe it's all the moral development I've been studying in psych this week...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I know how they all went extinct

There was no meteorite half the size of a continent, there was no ice age, it wasn't even smoking. The dinosaurs simply disappeared into thin air. This is clearly imprinted on their very image. Bobgreen is nowhere. I have hunted, on and off, for three days. I have looked through all the toy boxes, I have found two odd socks, a multitude of cars, a petrified apple core and several species of dust bunny, but no Bobgreen. It is sending me quite strange - when I found a toy car ditched off the edge of the rug under the entertainment unit, I actually thought "I don't suppose Bobgreen could be in there" before I regained some control of myself. I even looked in the toilet brush holder.

I have had Ben looking too - he sorted through a toy box, with instructions to put all the toys back into the places where they belonged. I have quizzed him repeatedly on Bobgreen's last movements, but I have to admit, my suspicions lie with Charlie. Or perhaps Crash.

And of course, K Mart sell the bleedin' things, but in a different colour. How many more years of school do we have?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pulling my head out of the sand

I have been steadfastly ignoring the Internet censorship thing, because I was living in "it's too stupid to ever get up" fantasy land. Mim started to pull my head out of the sand with her post on the senate discussion of it, and now Hoyden have posted a great long transcript of (of all things!) a Spoon Man (from MMM) discussion on the topic.

It defies all logic. How can anyone think this is either technically plausible or anything but morally repugnant? Yes, I get the "won't somebody please think of the children?" argument, but it won't work, and it is not limited to kiddy porn. I might well find myself blocked, since variations on kiddy porn are a common theme of search strings that bring people here (they must be a tad disappointed when they get here).

I have to say, given my understanding of the ALP, I am quite prepared to apply the "never assume malice where stupidity will do" principle. I am not inclined to assume a deliberate attempt at political censorship, but I doubt that anyone can convince me that this will ever achieve its stated aim, and I suspect there will be a massive amount of collateral damage. And who knows what some future government will do? The ALP should think long and hard about what this could do to them next time they are in opposition. I doubt Howard would have blinked before using it to block anti-Howard web sites.

I'm not sure what the point of this post is. If you have a Labor member, write to them. Call them on their emotional blackmail. Make it clear that you object to kiddy porn, but there are multiple ways of avoiding the planned scheme, none of which require much effort. It's not like peer-to-peer or email are complex technologies. And when you get the form letter response, write back. Don't accept it. We all know it's bullshit.

Stupid is stupid, and if it slows down my Internet, it's evilly stupid, and if it lets some future Howard control what I can see, it's an abomination worthy of a jihad (at least an electronic one).

Missing dinosaur

A photo may be all we have left of Bobgreen. He was on the dining room table when I left for the P&C meeting on Wednesday evening, but by breakfast time Thursday, he was gone. I have done some hunting, and so has Ben, but so far there is no sign. It is all very sad.

I guess the next step is to move all the lounges. *sigh* School is really making my life so much easier just at the moment...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Anti-racism week

Last week at school was anti-racism week. When I heard the announcement, I felt a twinge of irritation, something I didn't like about it, much like when people talk about feminism as a movement. But not something I feel compelled to act upon, it's not like I object to feminism or anti-racism. But then we got the cardboard home to make the anti-racism poster.

Firstly, poster competitions judged by random, non-school punters for 5-8 year olds are problematic. Said punter has no hope of recognising how much work any given child has had to do to achieve the final product, and so in the words of Ben's best friend, "Only the kids who can draw good win." I know at least one of the kids who won the last one knocked hers up in half an evening. As kids get older, I have no problem with that. I think Kindy kids should be recognised for what they have achieved as measured by their own abilities, and not compared with everyone else. After Ben's monumental effort on his first poster, he was resolutely refusing to do this one. I have devised an incredibly lazy poster design, and he has decided that he will do it now.

Secondly, I'm just not convinced that racism is an appropriate topic for kindy kids. After a week of anti-racism, Ben now notices race, where he never has before. He has learned that it is a classification schema. Good work. He also had no concept was racism is. He seemed to think it is people being a different colour in his general vicinity. Once I finally managed to get across to him what racism is, he looked at me dumbfounded and said "Why would anybody do THAT?". Yeah, I see the need for anti-racism week.

Which brings me to the discomfort I felt when they first mentioned it, and that which I feel when I hear the word "feminism". I just don't like singling out any particular prejudice. It feels a little like its own kind of prejudice. Don't get me wrong, I'm good with feminist action, or anti-racist action. I'm good with projects that focus on a specific kind of prejudice, no individual project can tackle all of them. But to identify as one kind of anti-prejudice seems odd to me. Not wrong, just... odd.

And in terms of K-2 kids, it seems that addressing prejudice of all kinds, with some examples involving disability and gender stereotypes might be more appropriate. Things they have some experience of - so that perhaps we might be reducing prejudice instead of teaching them about it.

A breakthrough perhaps?

As previously mentioned, I am bad at toilet training. In case you thought I was making this up, it took 4 months from when I started toilet training Charlie for him to do his first poo on the toilet. This was only repeated once, when I wasn't there, in all the intervening time.

Then last night, after half an hour of reading a book on the throne, we had number 3. Today, we had a re-run. 7 months from embarking on this process, we have something resembling progress. And I am still not convinced this will be the last of it. For starters the whole thing will fall in a heap when we run out of cupcakes...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An award!

With thanks to Mim, I have received my first blog award. I was suitably nervous.

Mim's blog was the first I ever read, and the next two were bluemilk and Garden Variety, so I would like to thank them for writing such interesting stuff.

These are the wonderful people who flatter me with comments and continue my delusion that I have anything interesting to say.


As well as Toni and Adam, who comment occasionally and don't blog - of course I don't know what a non-blogger does with a blog award...

My brain's a little frazzled, please forgive me if I have missed you.

We have a boarder

Allow me to introduce Bobgreen:

Ben's class is studying dinosaurs, and they have each been given one to live with them for 2 weeks. Ben named his Bobgreen. That's one word, not a first name and last name. The kids are writing in a journal each night to describe their adventures with their dinosaurs. Ben, at least, is also spending a great deal of time looking for Bobgreen - he is about 4cm long.

Charlie has also demanded his own dinosaur, and now has a collection of 3, much larger ones (with thanks to Toni who's gift it was). One of these is the same variety as Bobgreen, and has been dubbed Goggreen - Charlie's attempt at our house guest's name.

I have already been asked to buy red frogs and supply extra toast for Bobgreen. This is kindergarten. I am really looking forward to science projects in the future...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Old news

This happened a while ago, but it's only just now making it to type.

When Elissa started having her bath with the boys, Ben asked why she had two bottoms. Since no obvious "willy" equivalent sprang to mind, I told him that she didn't have two bottoms, that she had a bottom and a vulva. This was digested without comment.

Many months later, at swimming while I was on my way back from Hong Kong, to be precise, Crash was changing Elissa's dirty nappy in the men's change room when Ben helpfully reminded him to "remember to clean her vulva" in his normal fog horn voice. I gather the remark attracted a wee bit of attention from all the men in the room. Crash may forgive me one day.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Important milestones

Today we had Elissa's 1st birthday party. It must have been good - Elissa ended up black from head to toe and needed an extra sleep in the afternoon, we needed to put one kid's clothes in the dryer so that they could be worn home, mum and dad are both drunk and the house looks like it hosted a frat party.

And should anybody be in desperate need of around 10kg of meat, please let me know. I only over-catered by a factor of 3 or so.