Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

However you celebrate the 25th December - religious holiday, big family bash, quiet day off - I hope it's a great day.

We'll be doing the family dinner with way too much food, lots of pressies (pretty much the only gifts the kids get all year, apart from a wee bit at birthdays), and generally a lot of laughter.

Bring on Santa!

(And for those following along at home, Ben's eye is all better. I'm still recovering, with a mildly sore throat and headache, but at least I'm functional and most of the discomfort can be dealt with with drugs.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Glimpses from Sydney hospitals

Last week, while on a school excursion, Ben got sand in his eye. It wasn't hurting by the time he got home, so I figured anything left would come out over night. The next morning it was all red and puffy, but it still wasn't hurting, so I flushed it with saline and sent him to school. By Thursday morning, it was still no better so we trundled off to the doctor. She couldn't see anything in it, and it still wasn't hurting, so she suggested anti-biotic ointment should clear it up in a day or two.

By Sunday it was apparent it wasn't getting better. Time for a hospital. Since I was also not getting any better (despite a rather pointless doctor visit), I figured I may as well take him and me to the Balmain hospital clinic at the same time.

When we were finally shown through to see a doctor, there was a conversation between doctor and nurse regarding patient names. In the course of this conversation, the nurse felt the need to explicitly point out that my surname is not the same as my son's. I note this only because it is the first time in 7 years that anyone has felt it worthy of a mention.

The doctor helped me immensely, but couldn't help Ben much. After a lot of consultation, they sent us to Kids' Hospital.

While we were waiting there, a little boy came in who induced a "oh look, a holy terror" response in me within about 35 seconds. Cos, you know, I love a lightning judgment. The prednisone I'd been given was starting to kick in, but I was still pretty dopey, so I didn't think much more about him. A bit later, he was in another waiting room near me, and I paid a little more attention. He was still exhibiting classic "holy terror" behaviour, but I was really noticing the adults around him. They were all calm, consistent and cheerful. When he ran away, they brought him back. When he started to get agitated they distracted him with craft or toys or something. He was 6 years old and at big school. I'm pretty sure he wasn't a "typical" boy, but he seemed to be living a fairly typical life with the assistance of understanding and active adults (both hospital staff and parents, as well as, presumably, teachers). Or all of this casual observation could be utterly wrong. Whatever. It was a cheerful reminder to me that you can't assess anyone with a casual glance, and that the more understanding I have of the variety of ways people live their lives, the more interesting my random, private speculations about people's lives in waiting rooms can be.

It seems that Kids' Hospital may have fixed Ben's eye, and while I would normally classify how I feel at the moment as "like shit", it's so much better than it has been, I went shopping and bought a totally unnecessary pair of red shoes.

Friday, December 18, 2009


The sore throat that was making me grumpy on Wednesday night has turned into a full-blown.... something. Constant fever that panadol is only lessening, headache and a throat so sore my whole body flinches when I swallow. And this is after codeine.

Yesterday I slept the second half of the day in an attempt to be able to see Axis of Awesome in the evening. I managed only one song and had to go home. I'd thrown up twice by that stage and just desperately wanted to be horizontal.

So today I am supposed to working all day. It isn't possible, but I still have to work from 8-10pm tonight. This is very sucky. I also don't know if I'm going to make it to the Carols tomorrow. This is shaping up for Worst Christmas Ever.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas spirit

In the interests of harmony, I offer the following advice to anyone celebrating the festive season with me.

Should you, in the course of your revelry, decide to partake of the pudding, you should note the following. Anyone who notices an anomalously strong taste of nutmeg would be best not to mention it. Likewise, if, mayhap, you find a small piece of eggshell in your seasonal dessert, move right along, and mention it not.

I cannot be responsible for the consequences of a failure to head this warning. Suffice it to say, today has been.... wearisome.

If you find I have moved to Adelaide, most of the presents are wrapped. There are some still on their way from ThinkGeek, I'm sure you'll work it out. Charlie still needs goggles and Ben could use another pair of pyjamas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Homebake 09

A touch late, but I've finally got around to writing about Homebake last weekend. It was the 15th anniversary of Homebake, and you'd think after 15 years, they'd have got the basics right. No so much. They still can't manage to get people in smoothly - the queue was about half an hour long at 2pm, when the gates opened at 11am.

The recycling policy is a farce - it means a bottle of water costs $5, and while you get a $1 voucher if you return the empty bottle, that can only be used at the bar. Oooohhhh the bar, there are 4 bars, which is vastly inadequate for the crowd. We are talking up to 45min queues to buy a beer. There is nowhere near enough security to stop people jumping the queue, and there is no-one managing the queue once people finally reach the bar. The bar staff were disorganised. They kept running out of stuff and having to go through all the available options with each person, making the whole process even slower.

Then, at the end of the night, they don't open up the fences, everyone has to file out a small exit, which took 10 or 15 minutes. The whole experience is one of unnecessary control and inconvenience.

Still, the music was good. Tim Finn was the surprise standout for me. I've seen him on TV a few times in the last few years and he hasn't inspired me, but he had everyone dancing and I loved it. Sarah Blasko was lovely, the music was beautiful and her voice was divine, but for all that, it didn't grab me and I wandered off. I don't really know why.

Earlier Eskimo Joe were as good as they always were, the only real surprise being a bit of swearing. They're normally so nice!

Powderfinger were also predictably good, but they played mostly stuff off the two most recent albums. Neither of those albums have really inspired me, so I enjoyed it, but wasn't overly enthused with it.

It was a good day, but I think it will be my last Homebake. I'm over the bad organisation, and paying $7 for crappy, often warm, festival beer. I'm over spending a significant proportion of my day in queues. I'm over being regarded as a problem that needs to be controlled by the organisers.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Apropos of nothing

You know, being in the sun today reminded me how much I really need a new hat.

That is all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Ben

Ben's seven years old today. Somehow seven sounds much older than six. He's a pretty easy kid to get along with most of the time, and I'm pretty pleased we kept him*. He has also reached an important milestone - as of today I will no longer be folding and putting his washing away - I'll put it in a pile on his desk and he can do it.

He traded a real birthday party for a DSi this year, so we just have 2 friends from school and a family friend coming for pizza and movies tonight. Still, even pseudo parties need a cake, so here it is:

As you can see from the side on shot - I won't be bothering any of the folks who feature on Sunday Sweets, but it's done, a whole hour before I pick them all up from school.

Those red stripes took some serious food colouring. This is after I washed my hands about 3 times.

I think I may have a cup of tea before I go get him.

*No, we never considered giving him away, just a variation on running gag in my extended family.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You teach people how to treat you

One of Dr Phil's catch phrases is "You teach people how to treat you". I've always found some of the connotations of that deeply troubling, but recently the element of truth in it has been hitting me in the face.

A long time ago, I worked in the public service. Any request to anyone was prefaced with "I'm really sorry to ask this, I'm hoping you can help me out". The only way to get anything done was to be incredibly nice to people, to apologise for asking them to do their jobs and to thank them profusely when they did. I was OK with that, although I found it mildly amusing that I was required to beg people to do what they were paid to do.

Then I moved into telco, and found that the only way to get anyone to do anything was to yell and scream and threaten and be otherwise rude and obnoxious. After many years of this, I realised that I'd almost forgotten how to make friendly, positive, apologetic requests and I was pretty disgusted with myself.

I then spent a bit of time doing odds and sods and re-learned the sweet-talking approach to getting things done. I felt better about it, and the bad habits were starting to break down (although I can't claim they'd gone altogether). Recently, I've been back in the land of Big Telco and Big Corporate. And suddenly, I'm having to yell, to be sarcastic, to be withering and condescending to get anything done. These people are teaching me how to treat them. They won't do anything when I ask nicely. When I'm jovial and friendly and ask for favours I am dismissed. When I rant and bitch and complain things happen.

This isn't just process driven. It's not just the result of dealing with faceless corporations. Many of the people I've experienced this with have been the only witness to my behaviour. They could have chosen to work with me when I was being nice and to ignore me when I was being a bitch, but they did the opposite. In every case I tried nice first. I am sick of being the loud mouthed arsehole just so I can get stuff done. It leaves me feeling drained and shitty. If I do exactly the same amount of phone calling, juggling and cajoling in a "Please help me out, mate" kind of way, I feel enthused, energised and chuffed with my achievements.

So please, teach people how to treat you, and teach them to be nice to you! Expedite the polite requests and lose the rude ones. Don't make me yell at you, I don't want to, and it makes both of our days shitty.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The bundle has been dropped

I have officially dropped my bundle. Today I have put 2 loads of washing on, hung one load on the line, put the dishwasher on, cleaned the kitchen, sent 19 emails, fielded at least as many phone calls, attempted twice to install the scanner software so I can send an order, but have been interrupted both times, fed Elissa 4 times and it's not lunch time yet, made brownies, kept Elissa entertained and filled out two forms.

That was before midday - at midday I got another phone call telling me that Charlie has a fever of 38.1 deg C (100.6 F) and I need to pick him up. He is not at all ill, and is demanding to be taken to the park. I did not need this today. I want to throw a tantrum and refuse to do anything else, but I have to be at the school to serve up cake day at 2pm, I still need to feed the kids lunch and there are about 10 more emails I need to send. I have the shits.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Have I mentioned I like Christmas?

I like Christmas. I've always liked Christmas. I never really went through a Bah Humbug phase (of course my mother would have murderated me if I'd grumped too much - nobody messes with Mum's Christmas). As soon as I moved out of home I bought a tree and started collecting (and begging for) decorations. I still don't have enough.

I started putting the tree up on Monday, as I mentioned. I finally finished it on Friday. What follows is way too many photos of it.

See, not enough decorations! (Obviously more is more in my Christmas.)

There is quite a lot of tree to decorate.

A couple of close-ups of the decorations themselves.

It is a tree of many layers. That red Santa buried half way in is one of the vintage collection (otherwise known as the decorations that were my grandmother's and my mother was going to chuck out), and then behind it is the very deep Santa card covering the trunk of the tree.

This one is one of my favourites.

And I love these little guys - there's a dozen of them hanging off the tips of the branches.


And of course, there are lights. The lights are mostly up out the front of the house too - there is one more string and a banner light to put up. I also strongly suspect a Santa or reindeer may appear on the front lawn before the real Santa comes.

Just don't talk to me about presents. I may be relying heavily on the real Santa this year.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Why Tony Abott is your worst nightmare

If you think the worst thing about Tony Abbott is that he is climate change denialist who wears Speedos in public, you need to read this. He is a terrifying prospect - he opposes legal abortion, contraception, no-fault divorce and gardasil (cervical cancer vaccine). And that's just for starters. He makes John Howard look progressive and cuddly. Seriously, read the link, this man is a real threat to our everyday lives.

Blogger Time Travel

For some reason Blogger seems to think it's yesterday. I've checked my settings, it seems I'm still in Sydney. Very odd. This post is mostly to see if it does it again. Sorry, nothing to see here. Move on.

UPDATE: Well, it seems it is now today.  Transient bug put me in the US temporarily I suspect. Oh well, nevermind.

Friday, December 04, 2009

And so it begins

This morning I asked Elissa what she wanted to wear today - t-shirt or a dress? I was waving in the general direction of a blue stretchy play dress which is usually pretty popular.

"No! I don't want that one!"

Oh goody, now I have to play 20 questions to determine what outfit will be acceptable. Why did I ask such a stupid question anyway? But before I could start the game she said, "I want Cinderbella!, I want Cinderbella!".

OK, what's Cinderbella? Ahhh - probably this one:

"This one?". "Yes."

That's fine by me, but where did Cinderbella come from? Apparently princesses are so omnipresent that they worm their way in regardless of whether a fairy tale has ever been read in our house.

So now I begin the "How do I deal with the princess obsession?" phase of our lives. I've been happy to have theories before, but they've been mostly based on talking about how pathetic most princesses are. This isn't really going to work for a 2yr old. So I guess I'll just cringe and ignore it all for a while. I'll keep all the other words of wisdom from those who've been there, done that and blogged about it in mind as well. Stuff like remembering to tell her she's beautiful no matter what she's wearing and asking other people not to make a fuss over princess dresses (although I'll probably only do this if and when it becomes an obsession rather than an occasional request).

And right now I'll enjoy watching her play a xylophone with the mallet in her mouth while holding the xylophone in both hands and dancing. It's really goddamn cute.

UPDATE: It seems I have under-estimated my 2yr old. She just came and told me the dress wasn't comfy, went and got a much more practical dress and announced "Now this is Cinderbella".

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

In car conversations

Charlie: Elissa, are you looking at the building or the car?

Elissa: I'm looking at the tree.

Charlie: Is it beautiful?

Elissa: No.

Charlie: Is it poo?

It's a binary world for Charlie.


Charlie tells me about his day at pre-school:
We sang "Baby Jesus" today. We had to sing it for Santa. We had to sing "Baby Jesus" or Santa won't come, because Santa loves baby Jesus.
It is unclear to me whether Santa loves the song, or the baby, so the absence of quotation marks may be misleading.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Fundraising can be fun

This afternoon I took Ben to claim the prize I bid on at our trivia night. One of the kindy kids had offered 2 hours' lessons on his trampoline. It was looking like no-one would bid, and Ben rather loves a trampoline, so I chucked ten bucks on it and got it. So Ben was taken through stretching exercises and all sorts (including being allowed free play) this afternoon which was utterly hysterical for me and the donating kid's mum. At the end of the day, I was obliged to provide contact details so Ben could sign up for more lessons - which Ben was keen to do.

And tonight a local toy shop had a shopping night for our school. It's outrageously expensive, but they have some cool stuff and they give us 10% off as well as a further 10% of sales to the school. The P&C provide nibblies and wine (of which I avail myself extensively) and it is a very pleasant evening, if not actually cost effective.

So you know, there is an upside to fundraising, other than the warm fuzzy feeling. And I am very grateful for the chance to meet with and connect with the kindy kid's mum - she was lovely and interesting and does fascinating things.