Dec 31, 2012

Year's End, 2012

Another year, another questionnaire...

This one is copied from Kath at Blurb From The Burbs, with thanks.

1.What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Broke a bone.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't make any last year. Will be making some this year (will post them separately).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! My sister had her beautiful second baby, a daughter, this month.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. My aunt passed away earlier this year, which was a shock to us all. I still can't quite believe it.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
A laundry, but I won't have it in 2013 either.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
10 June - my aunt passed away. Two days before I travelled up to the NSW Central Coast with my dad to bring my grandfather down to see her, and we didn't make it back in time. It was a very difficult time.

18 June - we arrived in Greece and I broke my arm.

10 December - my niece was born.

25 December - Christmas - lovely this year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Changing my job, working style and personal equilibrium (small part achievement, greater part luck).

9. What was your biggest failure?
Sorry to be boring, but failing to lose weight.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, I broke my arm. A bad spiral fracture in June that ended up needing surgery, and is still not fully healed.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Time off, and tickets to Greece - both with my redundancy money.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I was very proud of A, who had a difficult year at school. Starting Grade 1 without any friends in her class, she was anxious and upset for much of the first half of the year, but gradually turned it around. I heard her a few times giving herself a pep talk or talking herself out of being sad or worried, and she learned to approach new people and join in their games. I was very, very proud of her.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Mine - couple of times while my arm was broken I cried/got tantrumy in front of the kids.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage; financing a few months off work; overseas holiday.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Our trip to Greece. My first trip overseas in more than ten years, first time back in Greece since 2000, Y's first time back since 2003, and the girls' first overseas trip and first time meeting their Greek relatives. I was excited and very nervous/worried. But I needn't have worried, it was all wonderful.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
What else: Gangnam Style!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
(a) Happier
(b) Fatter
(c) Poorer
What a funny correlation.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How will you spend New Year's Eve?
At home, in front of the TV or reading a book. Excellent!

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Nah, I'm married!

22. What was your favourite TV program?

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No. Who hates?

24. What was the best book you read?
Traffic: Why we drive the way we do and what it says about us by Tom Vanderbilt. Fascinating.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Adele. Yep, I know I'm a year or so behind.

26. What did you want and get?
Part-time work!

27. What did you want and not get?
An extension and a spruced-up deck.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?
You know, I quite liked Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
On my actual birthday, home with Y and the kids. A few days later, dinner out with a couple of friends. Both lovely. I'm now 43. *sobs quietly*

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Part-time work.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

32. What kept you sane?
Part-time work.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Well, there was something about Damian Lewis in Homeland...

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Syria. WTF.
Gay marriage. Just legalise it already.

35. Who did you miss?
My aunt. Even though we didn't see her often, I loved her and she was a big personality and I still can't believe she's gone.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
This one stumps me. I don't know. Did I not meet any new people all year? I guess it's possible.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Global roaming really is very, very expensive. Set your phone to wifi only when overseas. Learned this one the hard way...

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I love that famous song about the woman who switches to part-time work, goes to Greece and breaks her arm, learns to relax and take things slower, wishes she had more money, and watches her kids grow into pre-tweens. What's it called again...?

Dec 29, 2012

Bento Box Dinners

This is a good variation on the picnic dinner for fun simple meals in a hurry.

After two weeks of eating tons of junk (birthdays, Christmas, tired parents), and M having suffered a bout of gastro, we needed some healthy and simple food.

Last night Y barbecued steak before heading out to work, and it was bloody delicious. It was tender, cooked just perfectly, and marinated in Y's standard (but effective) olive oil and salt. God damn, that was one beautiful steak.  Add some quickly chopped cucumber, spring onion, feta and tomato and that was my dinner sorted. (Well, I intended to chop the salad but I actually just sat at the bench and ate the steak on its own).

I was serving plain pasta, dry toast and grated apple for M, and wanted a simple meal for A. A is not a fan of most meat and eats very little of it, especially red meat. She has never liked steak.

But why make something extra when there was perfectly amazing and delicious cooked meat right there? I decided to try her on some steak.

Now, I know all about the idea that you shouldn't pander to kids to get them to eat healthy food, shouldn't get sucked into cutting food into fun shapes, etc. Before I had kids I too scoffed at things like dinosaur pasta.

But, for a bit of fun, and to make a healthy meal easy and enjoyable, I used some dinosaur pasta and served it all up in boxes. Why not?

I found two "bento boxes" in my chaotic plastics cupboard. One was a segmented melamine tray for serving nibbles, and one was a plastic lunchbox with a smaller plastic snack box inside.

On A's tray: dinosaur pasta, steak chopped up small, and grated apple.
In M's box: dinosaur pasta, dry toast cut up small, and grated apple.

They LOVED it. Not only did their poor ravaged little bodies crave and vacuum up the simple healthy food, but the boxes were a huge hit. Both girls loved the pasta, and both hoovered up everything in their little boxes and came back for more. And A ate all her steak!

Dinner tonight:

Crumbed fish fillets from the freezer, cooked in the oven.
Y made tomato, spring onion and cucumber salad.
I boiled up dino pasta and chopped up carrots, feta, extra tomato without salad dressing, and apple.

Everything went on the table. Y and I ate from shared plates of fish and salad, M ate her sliced tomato and A ate her feta, and the girls also ate from their "bento boxes":  cut up fish, dinosaur pasta, cut up raw carrot, and chopped apple.

Success and happiness, two nights in a row!

Dec 24, 2012

To All a Good Night

It seems a little pointless posting something right on Christmas Eve when I've not touched my computer or looked at my blog in three weeks. But I didn't want to let Christmas go by without a quick simple post wishing everyone a lovely Christmas.  Whatever you are doing, I hope it is joyful, or at least not too stressful, depressing, disappointing, lonely or sad (as Christmas can be).

I had pre-Christmas things I planned to write - jaunty, faux-stress complaints about shopping for presents, and the like - but then Newtown Connecticut happened, and nothing could be said.

Of course, we could say that anytime. There are atrocities happening daily in Syria, in every country, in houses in our suburbs.

What is the point?

I don't know. Or I think I do. The point is just to live, to go on as best we all can, bring up our children and nurture our relationships and families. Because we don't know how long we have them, and however long it is, is a gift and the meaning of life.

In the meantime, over the last few days and into the next few, I am taking my own advice:

Merry Christmas to you

Dec 4, 2012

Moderation, Truth and the Middle

What are the wisest and most useful words in the history of human thought?

"Moderation in all things"
- Terence, 2nd century BC 

Not only is this known by everyone to be absolutely true, many other philosophies and much of what we believe can also be summed up by this one.

It not only applies to the best way to live a life (not too much of anything, nor too little), but it can be applied to ways of thinking, and what to believe.

My own philosophy is:  

The truth is (almost) never at the extremes.

See? "almost never", not "never". Because never is an extreme. And sometimes, occasionally, an extreme position is the truth. But... not often.

Most people mistrust extremism of any kind - and rightly too.  Most of us tread a middle path, taking what we need or what seems true and uncomfortable with the bits on the edges.

It helps with critical thinking. When you read the latest statistics or PR from a lobby group in the news, or hear about some "new" theory from an "alternative" source, consider: how extreme is the position? Because those extreme positions are unlikely to be the truth.

Image by Kittisak via

As boring as it may sound, the truth, and the best way of being, is usually somewhere in the middle of things.

Some everyday, modern day examples, from parenting:

  • We all know we're spending too much time on the internet. We worry about our kids having too much "screen time", so why shouldn't we worry about ourselves? Those studies and books showing that Google has taught us new skills and Twitter means we're smarter are comforting and interesting, but our instincts that we should spend less time on social media and more time outside are completely correct
  • I think most of us reject the currently oft-repeated advice "you can't give children/people too much praise". Of course you can. Overdo it and it's meaningless, we all know that.
  • Similarly, "you can't over-feed a baby/toddler, they self-regulate." Most do, some don't.
  • I find the advice commonly heard now that you must read to babies and tiny children every day ridiculous. ("must", "every day" and "from day one" being the extremisms here)
  • I have no doubt that breast milk is the best way to feed a baby - all other things being equal. But in the real world all other things are not equal. I find the idea that every single woman's body will always produce perfect breast milk ridiculous. I find the idea that breast milk prevents obesity or raises IQ levels ridiculous. (Nature is not in the business of creating perfectly functioning individual creatures; in nature a species or system perpetuates - there is no guarantee that every individual baby will prosper under "natural" conditions. If there was why don't all animals survive?). 
  • Natural childbirth is an admirable thing to want, but no one should feel bad about going the other way. Modern obstetrics are the reason why childbirth is no longer considered dangerous - as it was, throughout all of human history. 
  • I like the philosophies behind attachment parenting, co-sleeping and "following your baby", and  I parented my babies this way to a degree. But I find the proponents of these ideas too extreme. I find their objections to controlled crying (as if leaving a baby to cry for 5 minutes is abandoning the child in a Romanian orphanage) ridiculous
  • We don't believe in "hiding vegetables" - but sometimes we do. You know, kids need their veggies, and mostly they are not too keen on eating them. Some kids love some vegetables, some kids like them sometimes. If I think they haven't had their quota in a week, I have no problem hiding spinach in spaghetti sauce or zucchini in a cake.
  • "Never ever lie to your children." Sure - as a guiding philosophy, that is right. It's what we aim for. But occasionally, you have to lie - or at least, tell a "white lie"
  • I totally reject the idea that there is a Mummy War pitting "stay-at-home" mothers against "working" mothers. Most mummies these days do a bit of both, or one followed by the other. And "working" or "having a career" doesn't mean you are holding conference calls from the labour ward or having your children raised solely by nannies.  (At least I think it doesn't. My career has not been wildly successful so I cannot personally vouch). 

So that's my life (and maybe yours too?) in the middle.

Oh, and for those who believe in these things*, I'm a Libran

* I don't, but I'm a typical Libran anyway.

What about you - are you a "middle path" person? 
Or do you prefer life on the fringes? 

Dec 3, 2012

Head Lice!!!


Photo by Gilles San Martin via Flickr

Well, we had a good run. The last time the girls had head lice was in daycare about 4 years ago.

They're baaaaack....!

There are head lice going around at school at the moment, and all the kids have been inspected. Mine were both cleared, and I've been checking their heads for the past week, and it looked like we were OK.

Then A started complaining of an itchy head, so I checked again. Nothing.

And again. Nothing.

And again last night.... ah.

A's reaction when I told her the reason for her itchy scalp:

Me fearing Y's reaction when I told him the next morning:

Could be my husband's life philosophy.

So this was 8.30pm last night.

Yes, that's right - Homeland time.

I had no lice treatment at home, because we hadn't had lice in 4 years. I looked up The Internet for home remedies then smothered A's head in olive oil followed by yoghurt, knowing it was doing BUBKUS.

She rubbed yoghurt into my hair as my own head was feeling quite itchy by now.

We had showers, combed our hair and moved M's hairbrush into her bedroom away from ours.

M forbade either of us to cuddle or kiss her or get within a foot of her.

And today, A and I are home, with a bag of reassuringly chemical-filled lice shampoo and defense spray, and Grandma is coming round to keep us company.

Antonis Kanakis - just because.

Happy Monday!


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