I’m a big fan of the beach, but I’ve only come to realise it now, in my mid-30s. We were lucky enough to spend a couple of days down at Sussex Inlet with friends in their family holiday home, recently. The kids had a ball, except for Fraser, who just wasn’t keen on the waves. I’m really pushing the beach idea this summer. Now we’re in Bowral, we’re that much closer to the coast—less than one hour—so when school goes back I hope to head across for some beach swims of my own. But the kids also need more exposure to the beach, and we enjoy the short weekends away, so we’ve booked another coastal weekend away in a couple of weeks.

And speaking of school, Fraser goes back on Monday. We haven’t had a busy holidays. The boys had a few overnighters with my parents, and a day out at the aquarium and wildlife zoo with their other grandparents, a couple of swims at the local pool, trip to Shellharbour beach on Australia Day, and of course, there was Christmas. But the rest of the time they wallowed about at home, getting a bit bored, doing a bit of arguing, and watching Shrek and The Fantastic Mr Fox on high rotation.

I struggled with trying to mix work in with school holidays. It doesn’t work very well, especially when Lincoln’s pre-school is also on holidays for a few weeks, so there are two kids to referee and keep amused long enough for me to knock out some editing or essay writing. Fraser is also at an age where the age gap between him and his brother is having an impact. He’s not interested in playing with Lincoln’s little friends and he’s growing out of ABC Kids, resulting in TV-related arguments with Lincoln. So, next holidays? Insert more play dates and sporting camps.

At this end of the summer holidays I can say that it’s flown, but it was hard. And I’m learning that I need clearer boundaries for myself if I’m going to keep working from home. Anyway, let’s get back into the term routine shall we? Yes, please.

Window shopping

I went for a stroll around Bowral last weekend. I finally went and had a look inside the Crystal Palace antique store that I’d been admiring for a while. They do all their own re-upholstery.

Dog show ribbon cushion covers.

I love these cushions that have been made from dog show ribbons.

Reupholstered dining chairs

These dining chairs have all be re-upholstered in different coloured fabrics. It made me want to get rid of our dark, heavy, Indian styled dining table and chair that we currently have.

Reupholstered chairs

And these chairs refinished in a glossy black enamel and bright patchwork satin fabric.

For those of you wondering about Lincoln’s toilet training…

Things are going quite well. Lots of toilet success with #1s. Not so much with #2s, but I’m sure we’ll get there soon enough. We’re officially in undies now, anyway. Hooray!

It’s Time to Stop Financing Huggies

I’ve finally committed to toilet training Lincoln. He’s nearly 3.25yo. Fraser had it sorted out for daytimes before he was 3. But I was lucky with him—he’d picked it up from daycare.
Lincoln hasn’t had the same motivation, and I’ve been waiting for it to happen. With us going to Singapore in 6-or-so weeks I need this done. So I sent him to preschool yesterday in undies, equipped with a million spares. I did the same today. Apparently, he’s been doing very well with no accidents. At home it’s a bit different. I keep forgetting to prompt him to go and he’s still not telling me he needs to poo. So I’ve already had to deal with a few undie-poos. Nice.

Anyway, as I said, I’m committed now, so I will just have to set an alarm to remind myself to prompt him to go. Bribery has been working well. A marshmallow for every wee in the toilet and chocolate money for poo. No success on the second one yet.

Fingers crossed for speedy progress, and let me know if you’ve got any tips for this process.

In uni news, I’m excited to report I got 90% on my political issue news story I handed in a week ago, 77% for the media story before that. Obviously, I’ve learnt something in the middle there. Now I’m cramming on the theory stuff for the exam on the 1st September.

My First Junket to the Problogger Training Day

I am constantly impressed by the view of clouds from above. The most miserable day below, is still sparkling and clear above a floor carpeted in cotton wool.

An aerial, greyscale view of dark forested mountains smattered with white snow contrasts with the muted coral pink of the sunrise across the tops of the clouds.

That’s how yesterday started. I flew down to Melbourne for the day to attend the Problogger training event.

I’m such a novice flyer. I rarely do it. I don’t have “points”, I’m prone to bouts of mild anxiety between home and the airport, (though I’m not sure why), I don’t even have my own laptop bag. So yesterday, I revelled in my first junket as a self-employer.

The Problogger training day brought together the blogging entrepreneurs — Darren Rowse, Chris Garrett, Collis, Yaro Starak and Pip Lincolne — and those who are on their way.

I wasn’t expecting to learn much. I’ve been blogging for close to 10 years. The main reason I went was to meet people, but was I wrong! There was much to learn, especially for someone who hasn’t had the drive to try and derive income from blogging.

Not that I’ll ever head down that rabbit hole in this space, but it is something I am doing more and more of for clients and to support our own business.

The packed room of 150 guests was full of famous avatars and people I’ve been mingling with on Twitter. And imagine my delight to find Lady Smaggle and Mr Smaggle at the event. I positively squealed with excitement..on the inside.

It was a thoroughly worthwhile event. I’ve come away with some new ideas, some wake-up calls, and I hope, some new friends.

After waking up to start the day at 4.30am, I didn’t get back home to Mum’s place (where Lincoln had been all day) until after 8.30pm. A massive day with so much information.

Now I’m waiting to catch up with Fraser because he went to Sydney with Matt last night to watch Mumford & Sons at The Enmore.

During a break Lara Solomon asked me what my one tip of the day was. I suffer from a lack of ideas – implementation I can do, ideas not so much. So, when I need to find some material to blog about I go and read other blogs. Something there will be a seed to germinate something. It could become a different way of interpreting the same thing or a whole new idea. If you were there, what’s your tip of the day? And even if you weren’t at the Problogger event, how do you keep the creative juices flowing?

Learning curves

New things

We’ve had some exciting firsts lately.

Fraser has learnt to ride his bike without training wheels. Since the long weekend he’s gained so much more confidence. He’s ridden to our friend’s house, around the corner, and regularly goes riding with Matt.

We had his parent-teacher interview last Friday, the first day of our school holidays. He has settled in well and is keeping up with the rest of his class. He got a glowing report from his drum teacher and I’ve just signed him up to start back at swimming lessons next term.

BUt that’s not all he’s been getting up to. Last weekend we spent Sunday in Manly with some friends, where we had Yum Cha with the boys for the first time. They both seemed to enjoy the different types of food, Lincoln especially.

And finally, we’ve had a busy first week of holidays, ice-skating every day for the last three days. We’ve got a temporary ice rink set up in Bowral just for three weeks. I’m so proud of Fraser, who has only been skating one other time, last year, and he persisted to a stage where he could skate without holding on to the side.

I expect my next post to be about our re-upholstered couch that just came back. It’s had a whole new lease of life. I’m so impressed with how it’s turned out, so now I’m in the midst of amassing new cushions.

The toothfairy and a giveway

I’ve been slaving away madly, wrapping up this cultural studies unit I’ve been doing through OUA. I’ve submitted the essay and now I just have to hope the best while I move on to the next one – News and Politics. I’m looking forward to this unit. It’s less intense and more practical. Not that cultural studies doesn’t have some practical use but it’s more esoteric than my day-to-day life requires.

So here I am, back in the land of the blogging. I promised pictures in my recent tweet. Behold – our first visit from the toothfairy happened on the 14th.

Lost tooth

S/he left a handwritten “thank you” on a slip of paper with tin foil stars stuck on it, along with $2.

No more than five days later TF was back again with another thank you note and $2. No thanks, to a self-inflicted basketball to the face.

I think I was more excited about it than Fraser was, as to me, it marks the next stage of growing up. I look forward to seeing what interests my children will have and what sort of people they will become. I am not so sad about memories of the babies they no longer are.

I never have been very sentimental.

Lincoln has begun to enjoy is new preschool and this week, we’ve had no tears at drop-off! He loves craft and painting, and yesterday they made pictures of robots. I’m actually thinking of setting up a craft project for the ten kids to do at his birthday party in a week or so.


Lastly, today I have a little giveaway. I’ve been sorting through boxes of things in my office. Amongst the piles of paperwork that needs filing are these delicate laser cut paper-cuts from China. There are ten, of varying designs and colours.

Chinese paper-cut

I don’t know where they originally came from but I can’t envisage ever using them. In my efforts to minimise, I’ve decided to pass them on to one of you. Leave a comment here and I will select at random next Thursday, May 3rd.

Settling in

We’ve been in our new house for 2.5 weeks now and I’m still the Mayor of Box Town. Although, the boxes are slowly receding and I’m coming to realise just how many half-finished craft projects I had shut away in cupboards.

Then there’s all the artwork I did when I was at school. Mum hung onto it for 30 years and has finally handed it over to me. I’ve just started collecting my boys’ school work and paintings with no end in sight. What to do with mine? I must admit, I’m not the most sentimental person in terms of keeping mementos. My memory has held up pretty well and the last ten years of recollections have been blogged somewhere or other. And then there’s the boxes of photo albums I have from before the age of digital cameras. So do I chuck it out, like I’m wont to do? Surely, no future civilisation will benefit from my crude drawings of caterpillars etc.

And what of boys’ artwork and school work. Do you keep all the books of handwriting and drawings that the teacher gives you at the end of each year? Do you keep a few pearlers and chuck the rest in the bin?

Fraser’s almost done with his second week in his new school. He’s taken to it well after some tears upon delivery on the first day. He’s already found a new friend and has a few others there that he already knew. Lincoln has had a harder time adapting to his new preschool environment. Today is only his second day but he was quite emotional yesterday and I can only hope it will get better with time.

Kami has settled in remarkably well. He’s been allowed outside this week and hasn’t yet run away. Perhaps the cream cheese on his paws actually did work!

Lego Management

Plush lego man

Lego is big in our house, finally. Fraser got two new Lego kits from his fairy godparents Bindy and Dan for his birthday and since then, Lincoln has been championing the Lego cause. He started taking Lego men everywhere with him and we’ve lost one in the car somewhere, as a result. It’s the Bermuda triangle in there because I’ve cleaned out the car and still can’t find the “spaceman”. To combat Lego men disappearances I bought this supersized plush Lego man from Kmart. He has a velcro removable hat and articulated arms. He’s about 40 cm tall and comes in four different varieties? characters?, from the Lego City range.

Anyway, cute..and highly visible. Much less likley to get lost or lose a hand or, God forbid, a head.

So the Duplo is being retired to the shed for the next baby in the family and the Megabloks are being given away to a neighbour for her fledgling daycare business. That leaves us with Fraser’s collection of Lego City in one small tub and Matt’s original Lego collection in another tub.

I’m now wondering how to manage all of it. Do I continue keeping them separate? Should I combine it all? Do you split yours into different colours, keep your Lego ranges separated, or merge the lot into one big knobby, kaleidoscopic mountain?

It doesn’t take much

It doesn’t take much for me to have a great weekend.

I got the sunlounge out of the shed on Friday and cleaned it off. By Saturday it was dry and ready for my lazy arse to be parked on it with a book–or in these Modern Times, the Kindle. At 10 am I slip-slop-slap’ed the kids and sent them outside for recreation while I lay on the sunlounge, on the lawn, in the shade of the solitary wattle tree. Fraser was bored in about five minutes and said “I don’t like outside”. I advised him to take a look around.

Look at this view! The fluffy white clouds, the blue sky. There’s a tiny plane flying across the sky! The green patch work quilt of the paddocks. Oh! there’s a ladybug. Did you see that huge mushroom under the stairs to the cubbyhouse? It’s huge! When we move house we won’t have all this to look at, son, so take it in while you can.

Eventually, they started amusing themselves and I got around an hour of quality reading time in.

Sunday was just as good with a family picnic in Mittagong. We found a refurbished park area with new play equipment, a lake, cycle paths, and plenty of shade trees. We took the scooters, ate vegemite rolls and read the paper. Read the paper! It’s been an age since I could sit and read the paper while the kids are up and around. As the kids get older there’s a sense of freedom and liberation gradually welling up within me.

Earlier today, I was repacking Lincoln’s daycare bag and noticed he was running low on summer clothes. So I pulled down the storage bag of Fraser’s old size 3 clothes and we’re all set. I looked at him and how he’s getting taller, wondered with amazement at how much his language has improved since we ditched the dummies and considered the size 2 clothes that will have to be passed on soon. I was wistful…for thirty seconds.

2010: The year of Big Things

Christmas 09
Christmas 09

I think we’re just about all back on deck and back to work by now. I hope you had a smashing Christmas or, at least, a lovely break from mundane routine.

We had a small family gathering prior to Christmas with lots of fresh seafood and sunshine followed by the last couple of days at work and then we hit the road for Batemans Bay. We had a holiday rental house at Long Beach, five minutes north—great for a couple of families. We had a view right out to the water and just a bit of backyard before the beach. Fabulous position! It was a quiet, unpatrolled beach with small waves and shallow water.

Our Christmas Eve was another feast of fresh seafood on the balcony and then we prepped for Christmas morning. Dummies were surrendered into a bowl for Santa to collect and redistribute to all the new babies, cookies were put out on a plate, kids put to bed (with a few tears from a dummy-less Lincoln) and presents were wrapped and placed around the coffee table under the plastic Christmas tree.

The kids woke up super early every single morning, (that’ll happen when they share a room), so we were awake before 6am and cloistered the boys in our room until a more respectable 7am. Santa made an extra special visit on the local RFS fire truck, throwing bags of lollies out to the kids, Matt and Fraser played with their new remote control cars, Lincoln and Zara tried out their scooters, I charged up my new Kindle, wore my new necklace, and Bindy and I waited until a more respectable 10 am before we popped the champagne.

I bought a half leg of ham thinking we’d be bringing home leftovers but would you believe we had to buy an emergency portion of ham a few days later?! I guess we just love ham. And who doesn’t?

The first few days were rainy so we fit in a visit to Mogo zoo, a trip to Moruya to catch up with some ex-neighbours and some mini golf. Finally, on the second half of the week we hit the beach. The boys loved it and I loved it, not having had a proper swim at the beach for years. (Loved it so much we’re already planning our next resort holiday!) The men got some fishing time in on a few nights but didn’t manage to bring any fish home and I managed to get most of my uni essay done. At least I was productive.

On New Year’s Eve we tidied up, swept up, locked up, said our goodbyes to Bindy and co. and headed back home via lunch at Nowra and a NYE bbq and sleepover in Bowral.

Am I glad I took an extra couple of days off work before going back on Wednesday! I needed a bit of wind down time after all the unpacking and washing. And the celebrating. (I slept off all New Year’s day.)

So here I am at the start of another year. A new year with grand plans.