Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This fortnight I've been grateful for...

I'm still on holiday but felt like a Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post- and aren't holidays the time to do what you want? :)

No surprises here, but I'm grateful for the kindness of family who've opened their houses, curried 4 kilos of prawns, served awesome homemade mustard, given the boys (and us) lovely presents (who've thought a toy checkout could bring so many hours of entertainment?), passed on outgrown books, and done all those family things that make Christmas special. And let us do a load of washing here and there, while we wait till January for a repair to ours!

And roses- surely the most forgiving of flowers? I finally got onto my Project to deadhead them, but if I hadn't then, sure, they'd have looked a bit scrappy, but come back good as new whenever I remembered to provide a bit of lovin'.

And I'm grateful for kind neighbours who, for the umpteenth time, have dropped by to let us know that our car battery is being drained by a light somewhere.

And I'm grateful for a bit of a rest from blogging- somehow when the pressure's off the juices start to flow.

A few interesting snippets

I'm still on blog holidays, but wanted to share a couple of things I read elsewhere:

1. Further on the problems faced by Indigenous Australians came this stark story from the World Today, with depressing bits of information like

- The average 10 year old Indigenous child in Alice Springs has attended 100 funerals.

- Alice Springs, population 27000, has two taverns which are amongst the largest purchasers of beer from Fosters. These taverns are open for 4 hours a day- from 10am to 2pm (the time after which alcohol can be consumed outdoors in Alice Springs).

2. On a lighter note- three articles to interest readers with an academic background (direct from my Facebook friends to you):

- the academic heirachy as a pyramid scheme from The Economist

- how Barclays tried to silence a PhD thesis.

- and why scientists deserve more sex and other rewards from the LA Times.

3. In the last 20 years there has been a lunch box revolution. I am trying not to get overly excited, but behold the plastic containers with built-in cooling gel. In today's forecast 40 degrees we're trying one out!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday time

I didn't get ahead enough on blog posts to cover me while we were away- or even up until that point- and while the Projects A Day kept happening, as you can see the blogging about them didn't- and suddenly for every item I checked off the list, I was adding another on which to procrastinate.

While I was away I started reading the excellent Grog's Gamut (his Christmas letter post was my launching-in point, and worth a read on its own). It was there I struck his rationale for having a bloggy break over Christmas:

I reached the "I don't give a stuff" point.... "meh" overtook me.

And I realised I was at that point too. I usually look forward to posting, but at the moment there are a heap of other things I'd rather do- and I'm a bit sick of staring at my list of half-completed posts that I've lost momentum on. I blog for fun, so when I'm not having fun it's time to scale back. Consider it a sabbatical- I've just decided that for the time being I'd rather read other people's writing than write my own. Or maybe that's a holiday?

So, I'll see you when I see you!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This weekend I am grateful for... a beach holiday

Another Maxabella-inspired grateful post, and this week I've been grateful for the chance to have a few days with B and the boys on the Mornington Penninsula. Good weather, child-friendly beaches, pick-your-own cherries and strawberries, a few mazes to solve, dolphins to swim by the Queenscliff ferry, some great places to eat and eat (and when all else fails, it's hard to go wrong with the occasional fish and chips), a back yard with a play structure, and those wonderful people at information offices and taking the tour of Cape Shanck Lighthouse who are genuinely enthusiastic about answering questions they probably face fourteen times a day: yes, I'm grateful!

And refreshed!

And very overdue with APrADa posts!! It's still happening!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 15: small item, large procrastination



A Project A Day doesn't have to be about large and grand projects. I am ashamed to say it has truly been several years that I have been too lazy to get a power board from upstairs and tidy up those cords! I'm very pleased that it's done!!
A $690 donation to World Vision will help a village in the Solomon Islands to buy a solar panel- and improve their lives.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Days 9-10: home activities

I'm behind on posting my Project-A-Days so just a couple of quickies to show I'm still on the game:

Days 9-10 were sick days for Little Bro- a high fever and cough kept him velcroed to my side. It was going to be a carers' leave day from work but being stuck on the couch with him turned out to have a small silver lining- it was pretty easy to do heaps of uninterrupted computer tasks- enough to convince myself I was working from home. And, with a couple of quick nips to the shops, I was able to tick a few items off my to-do list:
- order the last Christmas book gifts from The Book Depository
- research and order personalized Christmas baubles (from Christmas 4 You) for Little Bro and my nephew (Little Bro's bauble has only taken me two years to order....)
- research and buy a ByK for Big Bro in response to his Christmas letter
- set up personalized Santa video messages for the boys from portablenorthpole.tv (winner!)
- buy Christmas chocolates for the Childcare carers (and ignore the fact that they probably get buried in chocolate at Christmas...)

Im pretty pleased with that haul! Little Bro is on the mend now, but I must say I didn't mind my few days of cuddles and "seatwork".

And yep, IOU a Christmas unwrapped gift idea... Coming soon...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This weekend I'm grateful for... excursions, Wiggles and Santa

I'm away from my photos so you'll have to be grateful for a Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post without illustrations. Little Bro would not be impressed- he flicks through my books asking "where's'a pictures?"

So this week I've been grateful for...

1. An excursion into the corporate world, if only for two hours. I'm sure the grass is always greener and the cubicles are probably smaller, and academics like to think the work is boring, but having a waitress for your meetings and a staircase between floors 18 and 19... not something i've seen in my blue-stockinged existence! When the coffee shop at the bottom offered me a frequent-shopper card I didn't say no.

2. The Wiggles- not only did they get my kids ready in record time last Saturday, they put on a fab concert! For performers who must sing Hot Potato more than 365 times a year, they put on a good show of still enjoying it! Three little boys and two mums had an awesome hour of bopping, twinkling and the rest.

3. Santa- ok, I'm a bad mum, but the Santa-is-watching threat has been used this week. I even taught Big Bro Santa Claus is coming to town so he could hear for himself "he sees you when you're sleeping/he knows when you're awake/he knows if you've been bad or good". And there's nothing like a reminder that Santa likes helpers to get some focus in a four year old. Am I bad or bad? ;-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Days 7-8: Christmas Decorations

Before we had children, B and I never bothered about Christmas decorations. Our two US Christmases were spent away from home, so we enjoyed other peoples' decorations. Or, in 2005, we enjoyed Mother Nature's:

Maroon Bells, from Aspen Highlands (if you look closely there is a ski sign in the bottom right corner). It was an awesome day for skiing- and apart from a few probably-Jewish families, we had the ski fields almost to ourselves. Who needs turkey?

Now that we share our family with certain people with a vested interest in Christmas, we've started to decorate a bit. Of course there are important receptacles to be hung by the chimney with care:

And the all-important tree. Last year we had a plastic one (with built in fibre optic lights, no less!) given to us which, amongst post-Sweden craziness I decided "would do". But... it wasn't quite me. I had grown up with a living Christmas tree- the perennial sort, in a pot- so I had been keen to go down that path. After realising Sunday afternoons in December aren't a good time to look for a tree any bigger than your hand, we found a specimen about a metre tall- just right for little people to decorate.

As we decorated, Big Bro enthusiastically wanted "more!" but thankfully listened to the principle of "less is more". I managed to keep the tree to our meaningful ornaments- mostly things we've collected on our travels.

There are a few Swedish mementos, like the Dalarna horses, the glass balls we saw being blown at Skansen, and the stockings, and a gold Aspen leaf, to remind us of our Aspen Christmas.

On the topic of trees, you can donate a tree to the Murray Darling through Carbon Catchers. For $8.80 you receive GPS coordinates for your tree, and can follow its progress for the next 30 years.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 6: Letter to Santa

No, I haven't been consumed by the voracious locusts: just trying to shake off a chesty bug, so rest has had a higher priority than reporting on A Project A Day. This was one of the items on my list:

Getting Big Bro to write his first Santa letter (we discussed what he wanted to say, then I dictated the letters which he wrote). It wasn't too hard- he likes both the idea of Santa and he likes writing letters- especially with a purpose! I feel a little bad that I suggested he say "I have tried hard to be a big helper" rather than the more positive "I have been a big helper"- I was feeling rather frazzled at the time- but there we are. So now "new bike research" is on the list!

We posted a photocopy of the letter (well, Big Bro thinks the original went...) to Santa, North Pole 9999 so we're looking forward to a reply...

Today I wanted to mention children in Australia whose family situations are such that Santa may miss their house- with a $40 donation, the Wesley Mission can provide provide these children with a gifts to make their Christmas brighter.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hungry locusts descending on Melbourne?

Hungry locusts are descending on Melbourne, "migrating south by the trillions" according to The Age today. It includes this picture from 730am..... eww!

There is not a lot available about small-scale destruction of locusts- from what I've gleaned
- they don't like chilli or garlic (so I will be drenching my garden in Beat-a-bug spray)
- chooks and boots are the best defence
- they're attracted to green, so protecting vulnerable plants with green shadecloth or netting shouldn't be green (could you temporarily paint vulnerable plants a different colour?)
- they're attracted to yellow, so that's a good colour for traps. Or yellow objects floating in swimming pools is a good way to drown them (cancel that pool party...)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Days 4 and 5: changing seasons

It was a hectic weekend with lots to do that didn't quite fit with my Project a Day rules: Wiggles concert (watching excited kids=heaps of fun!), play group Christmas barbecue (watching excited kids=heaps of fun!), plus the usual run around of weekend activites. But in between all that I managed to pull out the broad beans, salvaging 1.5kg of pods.

I haven't yet found broad beans in shops or markets that look as good as the home grown version, so it was definitely a sad farewell to an old friend- the broad beans had been planted way back in autumn, so for an annual plant they have stuck around for ages, touching every season. But as Pen said about her broad bean crop, its demise is bittersweet- they need to move on to make room for the summer crops. And certainly we did seize that opportunity- today Little Bro and I started to plant out our tomatoes that have been patiently waiting in the seed house. Welcome, summer.

Images to come...
Providing the training and resources for a community to establish a vegetable garden to supply its own needs and sell the surplus can lift that community out of poverty. A donation of $45 to World Vision can do this, or for $125, a community can establish a market garden as well as receive the skills and tools to maintain their environment for future generations.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This weekend I'm grateful for.... choosing my own path

I'm back! The double-header party last week left me without the energy for a Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post, but believe me that I was grateful for lovely people- minor and major- who helped the party run smoothly. Aren't friends great?

I sometimes get the guilts about skipping posts I was planning to do. But you know what? It's my blog and I can choose when and what I write... I just can't choose who reads it! :)

The other thing I'm grateful for this week are real bookshops. Y'know, the ones you have to walk into? I thought I was a complete online convert, but Lucy at The Hill of Content Bookshop on Bourke Street made me realise that when I don't know exactly what I want, having someone in the children's section who apparently remembers the details of every book is worth the extra cost of the book , plus the extra books I was incited to buy. ("Apparently" not referring to her memory, but the fact that I can only judge on the basis of the 4 or so books she suggested that I had read) And she knew the difference between the real Enid Blytons and the modern spin offs.

Oh, and I'm grateful to the Wiggles, whose 930am concert was enough incentive for the boys to eat and get dressed with enough time to spare that I had time for an early Grateful Post!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 3: moving on

Today's Project was to prepare our high chair, folding change table and solid (unfolding? fixture?) change tables for passing on to a pregnant colleague. It wasn't really one of those tasks I have been procrastinating about for ages, because it came about because the recipient was passing by this way. Either way, it was a project in itself to get things looking a bit less used with only a day's notice.

Fortunately, my cleaning assistants were as willing as ever.

The change table is a bit of a Melbourne Research Institute heirloom, requiring a quick modern history lesson to explain its genealogy. When I started my PhD I took over the desk of a former student, L, sharing my bay with a scientist, H. H played soccer with another scientist, C, who had worked next door to us. When I started in my current position, C and his wife both worked with me. Where this all relates to the change table is that it was made by L about 20 years ago then passed to H, who passed it to C, who passed it to me, who now passes it to the next link in the chain. I told her that the only deal in receiving the change table was that it has to be passed to another researcher!

Somewhere on blog.crojack.org (sorry, can't find the specific post) is the observation that economics courses always cite blood donation as the only completely altruistic industries of modern society*- meaning the donor receives no benefit- yet the hand-me-down system of baby clothes and equipment is just as altruistic. Except that, in this case, the donor (=me) received the double benefit of decluttering and a topic for APrADa!

*except if you live in the USA where in places like Denver homeless people queue for $20 to donate their blood plasma....

While there are plenty of things we "need" to get during pregnancy, pre-natal education is one of the few which is positively correlated with improving outcomes for mothers and children. A $55 donation to Oxfam can support the training of community members who will provide pre- and post-natal education for women living in rural Cambodia.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 2: Christmas cards

Today's project was one of those Christmas tasks I always procrastinate about... but not this year!! A Project a Day reaps rewards!! I polished off about 90% of my Christmas card list with an evening home alone with Nigella and two sleeping boys. As you can see from my stocks of last-year's 50c Christmas stamps (and even a good stash of 45c stamps from who-knows-when), I don't normally live up to my card hopes. I'm sure there will be a few last minute remembers, but I'm definitely over the hump.


Thinking of writing links up with thinking of families who can't afford to buy writing materials for their children- and how can you learn to read and write without having the basic tools?

A $5 donation to World Vision can buy pencils for a family, while $15 will add books to the package. Closer to home, with $20 the Wesley Mission will provide children with a stationery set so they can complete their schoolwork like everyone else.

Thanks for your comments so far! I will be donating $1 for each comment in December to a gift that will help another family.

A plug for Suburban Sonnet

I have been quietly enjoying my cousin's private blog on babies, gardens and miscellany for quite a few months now so I'm pleased that she has gone public with A Suburban Sonnet, and I can finally mention things she is saying!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar

As well as being Day 1 of A Project A Day, it's the first of December, which means the first day of our Advent Calendar- a beautiful Made in Germany creation from J. (Thanks!)
Big Bro quickly got the idea- today we open Door Number 1, tomorrow it's Door Number 2. We only open the door for today. Door 1 was the little girl at bottom right- who is now holding a drum. Yep, holding a drum, not a chocolate. The way it should be on an Advent calendar.

Cute post script: Big Bro was especially difficult to rouse the next day- not even the usual subtle tricks like hollering "breakfast time- who's having cereal?" 5 cm from his ear were enough to wake him. I decided he must really need his sleep and left him. Three seconds later, out raced a little pyjama clad fellow. "It's time to open the number 2 door!!" Advent Calendar AND alarm clock!

Day 1: make a bed

Day 1 of A Project A Day, and I made a bed. At this stage, folks, let's establish two things:
1. I may be lame on the motivation front, but pulling up some sheets with a hospital crease does not a project make.
2. I don't mind a nicely made bed, but it's not actually one of my high priorities in the house cleaning schedule. So don't expect that sheets and hospital creases will be on my APrADay List.

My making a bed was the real deal- from flat-packed bits to the finished product, ta-da!

Big Bro had been happily sleeping in his side-less cot for ages, at least for the first part of the night. He claims that it's lonely in the dark, and has perfected the art of sneaking into a vacant patch of our bed without waking us... until sometime later we receive a heel in the eye socket from our slumbering firstborn. With a two-and-a-half year record of fighting Big Bro on the sleep front, B and I have both run out of energy for that battle. So do we think the comfy new bed (king-single, no less) with its spiffy Target linen will solve Big Bro's desire for midnight company? Not at all. The idea is that it can be a refuge for whichever parent cops the most heels to the eyesocket in one night... Lame, I know, but like I said, we're battle-weary.

This whole evolution to co-sleeping is quite bizarre for me. As a good disciple of Robin Barker's Baby Love, four years ago I was quite certain that I didn't want a co-sleeping baby. Bed-sharing was restricted to moments of extreme illness or desperation, and there was no reason to change, given that Big Bro wasn't the sort of kid to snuggle down for a cuddle and a snooze. I'm sure I had the occasional secret- and superior- snigger at people who shared beds with their kids. Something changed for all of us in the last year, and all of a sudden we have a co-sleeper. One thing parenting teaches has taught me is to never judge other parents (well, I try...), because I'll be doing whatever they're doing the next week...

The whole co-sleeping thing is a one of those middle-class dilemmas, though. I finally got around to reading the completely depressing Angela's Ashes a few months ago, and the fact of four boys sharing a bed was certainly not a novelty for Ireland of 70 years ago. Even a former colleague, now in her mid-40s, had told us that in her childhood in Scotland, she shared a bed with her sister until she was 16. So what's the big deal now?

Anyway, back to the bed upgrade, seeing the old cot empty was a little bittersweet.

Sure, it's great to see Big Bro growing up, but it's yet another step away from my little bundle at the end of the cot...

Pen and I were keen to think up sone fundraising aspect to our Project a Day Projects. Here's my version: I'll donate $1 for every comment posted in December, towards a charitable gift along the lines of Oxfam Unwrapped or World Vision's Smiles Catalogue's Donate-a-Goat.

Sticking with the theme of today's post, a $30 donation to World Vision would buy a blanket for someone affected by a natural disaster, illness, or just ("just") cold nights.

A Project A Day

Ilipilli is running "A Project a Day" for December, so I decided to hang out my procrastination in public and sign up.

Hello, I'm V and I am a serial procrastinator.

So the deal is that every day in December I tick something off my "to do" list. My very long "to do" list. For me it's about clearing up the house and garden (I'm not as crafty as Pen), with the incentive that I might feel mentally clearer when I launch into Career #2 next year. My goal is to have 30 minutes a day doing something I might otherwise put off. So far the list includes:

- clearing out a few dumping-ground cupboards around the house
- weeding or clearing various bits of the garden that I have been ignoring
- deadheading the roses
- creating albums from our zillion photos from the last four years
- putting up pictures after only 3 and a half years here
- sorting out Little Bro's outgrown clothes. And his outgrown baby equipment. And all the other remnants of having had two babies in the house.
- doing my long-promised eBay selling of this, that and the other. I buy on eBay but I've never sold... until now...
- clearing out the garage
- clearing out the freezer. There are babyfood purees somewhere in there. I know. I pretend not to, but they're there. And I'm sure I am not saving them for the grandkids.

If you have a few unfinished jobs hanging over your head, why not join in with Ilipilli's Project a Day? We're also trying to work out how to tie it in with a bit of fundraising- will have to ponder this a bit more. If nothing else, drop by to keep us honest and keep the accountability pressure on us!
Related Posts with Thumbnails