Friday, 6 December 2013

Goodbye Madiba

Nelson Mandela died today at 95 years of age.

I am sad that a great and gracious man is gone. He held my country together when there was a good chance that it might fly apart.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Busy bee

I have been so busy lately and Christmas is almost upon us. Eeeek! How did that happen?!

In brief:

Last week I was working 11 hour days to hit a deadline. I hit it and I am very chuffed, but I am also very tired! Those sorts of hours get rough once you are in your 40s. Thank heavens for my Mom who managed the kids from dawn to dusk every day.

King has finally overcome his fear of the potty and did 2 wees on it yesterday! We credit daycare.

Princess is back in swimming lessons on Saturdays and is doing quite well. She is still very timid but will now at least put her face underwater! I couldn't get a good time for King, so we just play with him in the kids pool until Princess is finished her lesson, and then we all play for a while before heading home. From next Feb I have managed to book both kids into swimming lessons on Sundays at the same time - yay!

Milord is enjoying his job I think, although he is seriously swamped and works long hours and brings work home on the weekends too. They are already talking about a pay increase for him though, so he feels appreciated at least! When he has free time he is playing a bit of golf at last and loving it.

Milord has also started cycling to and from work several times a week - over an hour with a couple of hills each way! His belt has already come in a couple of notches.

I have just received an automated birthday card reminder for my Dad, at the same moment that my desk photoframe randomly showed me a picture of Dad holding King. Spooky. And very sad.

We have organised to housesit a friend's place in Sydney over Christmas and New Year - I get to catch up with my friends - woohoo! And we have booked a house near the beach over Easter - something to look forward to.

I have joined a gym for the first time since Princess was born. It is a women-only gym 10 minutes brisk walk from work. This means that by the time I get there I have already warmed up and can jump into things, and that I can have a gentle stroll back afterwards. So far the place has been practically empty every time I have been - a big change from the packed-out gyms in Sydney! Not sure why... but I love it.

The weather is all over the place. 30C today, 20C tomorrow, down close to freezing some nights, sometimes wet and sometimes very dry. Interesting.

Mom seems to be settling into her role of Stay-At-Home-Granny. She has the house and kids well under control during the week, and then disappears into her room or off in her van on the weekend to get some space. She seems a lot happier lately, although this childcare gig is not what she had in mind when she came to join us!

We are all staying off the booze Monday to Thursday lately. Mainly for me: my doctor is worried about the state of my liver, but any the damage is reversible provided I give the thing a decent break every week (I feel fine but tests are coming back dodgy). I can't cope with teetotal if the rest of the house is drinking though, so Mom and Milord have finally decided to cut back with me! Mom and Milord have lost weight... I haven't. wah.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

All Good

Things are going well here.

Milord likes his new job, and I am settling into mine.

The kids are at daycare twice a week and are loving it.

Mom is enjoying being primary carer and housekeeper during the week.

Now we just need payday to roll around and we will start climbing out of our financial hole!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Halloween!

So, Halloween was awesome!

I walked in the door at 6pm to be met with a cry of "Are you ready, Mummy?!".

I dressed Princess in her princess dress and crown, popped a cowboy hat on King and we were off trick-or-treating down our street. Milord stayed home to hand out candy to the kids who came to our house.

Those of you in the Northern hemisphere, try to imagine a lovely warm and sunny Halloween evening (our sun sets around 8pm at the moment).

My street is about 10 houses long (on each side), and most of them were ready for the swarm of little kids in costumes. We gathered a heap of lolly loot and were home just before 7pm. We let the kids eat a few things, and then scrubbed teeth extra well and tucked them into bed with green glowsticks.

Princess stayed up until 8:30pm and King was still playing at 9pm but finally the sugar wore off and they conked out.

This morning I left Princess and King eating Halloween candy in their pyjamas, and brought all our leftover handout sweets to work.

Sadly last night was such a rush that we didn't take any photos, but it is a memory I will certainly cherish. Our first trick-or-treat. Fun!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Canberra Cultural: Kids, Creatures and 100 Harlequins Festival

Last Saturday I took Princess to the Canberra "Kids, Creatures and 100 Harlequins" festival, in a park about as central as you can get in the city. It was awesome!



We got there about an hour after things began and the place was heaving. I let Princess set the pace and she:
  • Went on the jumping castle twice. It was a lovely big castle, with a lady managing the kids and sending them all off every 5 minutes so that other kids could get on.
  • Went into a huge dark tent for an Aboriginal "Creation Story" play/puppet show/something. Princess found it too dark, loud, slow and creepy though, so we left after 15 minutes.
  • Went into another tent where they were doing a sort of panto play about water and a frog (you had to be there) which Princess enjoyed.
  • Watched a Punch and Judy show.
  • Had her face painted.
  • Got made a balloon poodle.
  • Had her first slushie and shared a cheeseburger and chips with me.
  • Watched a brilliant circus act about the Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  • Joined in a drumming circle.
  • Danced to a band.
  • Decorated a money box
  • Goggled at clowns, walking flower people and a talking tree.




There were more story tellers and craft tents and performers that we didn't quite get to, and a rather odd monster-giving-birth-to-monsters final interactive scene which we didn't understand but that looked like fun.



We stayed until the very end, and Princess' only meltdown came when I couldn't quite remember how to get back to the car and she was hungry and tired. Finally a nice man pointed me in the right direction, we bought a huge chocolate cookie, and I carried Princess and her cookie the final 200 feet to the carpark and she watched Peppa Pig all the way home in time for dinner.



What a day! She had a blast and I enjoyed spending the day with her. 4 is a lovely age.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Almost Halloween!

2 weeks until Milord starts his new job. 5 weeks until his first paycheck...

It will be Halloween in a few days. Until now it hasn't really featured on my radar except to make sure I have a bag of sweets handy for any trick-or-treaters who might come by.

But, now Princess is 4 and she is old enough to "get it". She is very excited and counting the sleeps until she can go trick-or-treating dressed as a fairy princess.



Yesterday I made my first Halloween pumpkin ever! It was quite tricky - the pumpkin was much harder to cut than I expected. Mom and Princess watched me scoop the innards out with my fingers and declined to have a go. "Go on - it's cool and wet and slimy!"



I cut a friendly face on one side and a scarey face on the other.



I managed to find LED candles at the bargain shop, so Princess and King were able to play with the pumpkin and the candles safely. Princess insisted on having the pumpkin in her room going to sleep - although we made sure the friendly face was facing outward!



I am very chuffed with myself!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

StepMom's Visit

A week or so ago my StepMom came to us for a week for a visit. She had been in Australia for a couple of months visiting an old friend, and made a huge effort to come and see us too! She is now back home in South Africa loving her own space again...

StepMom bonded brilliantly with the kids and Milord. She is an awesome Granny ;-)



I couldn't take any leave but StepMom managed to come to us over a long weekend so I was able to spend 3 days with her. While I was working she and Milord took the kids out to see the sights and to walk around the lake. On the weekend we all went to nearby lake with a "beach" where you can feed the ducks and paddle.

My kids are so lucky to have 2 brilliant Grannies!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Milord has a Job!

It is going to be a very good weekend ;-)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Canberra Cultural: Floriade

Floriade is an annual spring flower celebration in a very central Canberra park. We went along for a couple of hours on Saturday and it was very pleasant. There is also a small funfair and a petting zoo and lakes and lawns for the kids, who have had enough of flowers after about 5 minutes!

Friday, 20 September 2013

New Jobs

A new job is a tricky beast. No matter where I've started anew it has always been a learning curve of code, systems and workplace culture.

I've been really struggling with this new job. The code is awful, systems non-existent, and workplace culture a bit uncaring and critical. It got to the point where I couldn't sleep at night and Milord was encouraging me to look for something else.

I work for a bit of a cowboy outfit. The deadlines are completely unrealistic to the point where you almost can't be bothered trying to meet them. There are no team leaders or project managers and therefore no support and no reporting processes. And then, when I need a couple of hours off for a medical test, I get treated like some sort of Gen Y slacker trying to take the piss.

...and it pays badly.

The big boss sat me down for a chat a week ago though and we worked through a few of my issues. I think I've just been spoiled in my last few roles and I am struggling to degrade my expectations and performance to fall in line with the comany's needs.

So I will write nasty uncommented and undocumented get-it-done code to meet my deadlines. I will write my own status reports. I will work without specifications. And I will get the hell out of here after a couple of years before all these bad habits stick.

*sigh*

In other news Mom has been off travelling for almost 2 weeks in her little campervan. She hasn't been able to go too far in case Milord lands a job interview (none yet) but there is lots of coast and mountains not many hours away. Mom has been to the Snowy Mountains and seen snow, and to the coast for a mix of sunshine and wild weather.

Milord has been housedad properly for the first time since I started work. The first week drove him crazy but he seems to be settling into it. He is very much looking forward to Mom coming home and helping him though!

The kids are fine, although Princess counts down to the weekends when I am home all day.

This weekend we hope to get to Floriade, an annual celebration of spring flowers in Canberra. And then I shall send the kids home with Mom and take my man down the pub for a well-deserved piss-up!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Canberra Cultural: Dinosaur Museum

They say Canberra is the most cultural and kid-friendly city in the country. We are going to test that hypothesis...

This weekend we went to the Dinosaur Museum just down the road. Both kids loved it, and the grownups thought it was pretty great too.







Sunday, 1 September 2013

Birthday Bash!

We held the kid's birthday party before we left Sydney. I have finally caught up with the photos!

It was very informal we invited everyone we knew with kids and supplied junk food and a pinata.













We had 22 kids turn up with as many adults. Amazing what you can squeeze into our old place! It was a blast and I don't want to see another pinata again for a long time...

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Week 4

So, it is my 4th week of working in Canberra, it is Mom and the kid's second week of living here and Milord's first week (he arrived on Friday night). I'm enjoying Canberra, it's very laidback.

We have had all sorts of weather: A fair bit of rain. A couple of days ago I scraped ice off my windscreen for the first time since leaving England! And today it is warm and sunny and at lunchtime I took a walk in a nearby strip of wooded parkland and picked tiny alpine-type flowers from the bright green grass under the pines, conifers and oak trees. Very un-Australian!

We are settling in nicely to our pristine 4-bedroom rental house. My Mom loves having her own room, and we are all loving the space! It is so good to be living in a rather new house that needs nothing done to it. The heating is very effective and we are extremely comfortable.

There are just a few boxes left to unpack and each day when I get home from work the place is a little more organised. Mom and Milord are handling the house and kids, and while I sense that they have not figured out their roles in the new place yet and things might be a bit tense when I am not there, it is coming right.

Work is going well, they are a nice bunch and the work is plentiful if not very challenging. Of course, the places with challenging work didn't want to hire someone who had been at home for 4 years, so I am trying to relax and enjoy the lack of stress. The commute (20min to half an hour) is a doddle in my little car. I cherish the time on my own, listening to my choice of radio station! My office is close enough to the center of town to be able to walk there at lunchtime, but still far enough out that I can get a parking space.

Milord has finished off the Sydney house and we have an agent showing it to prospective tenants. Hopefully someone will snap it up soon! We may have to drop the price if no one applies within the coming week.

Milord is running a few errands and getting our new place shipshape and then he intends to jobhunt most seriously as he haaaates being a housedad! Somehow I can't seem to muster much sympathy for his plight though...

Mom isn't all that thrilled about being fulltime Granny-Daycare either, but until Milord has a job we can't afford to place the kids anywhere. I keep getting told to put the kids on waiting lists at all the local daycares, but right now having them home saves me $500 per week. That's almost our rent!

In other news I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago for a cold that I couldn't shake. While she couldn't help me with the cold (it's a virus, go to bed), she did become concerned with my blood pressure which was very high.

A week later it was still high, and I spent this Monday wearing a 24 hour blood pressure monitor. OMG was that annoying! Every half hour in the day and every hour in the night the pressure cuff would inflate painfully tight while the monitor took a reading. While sleeping it would startle me wide awake and I was very happy to get the damn thing off the next day.

I see my doctor on Friday for the results. As my Mom and her Mom are/were on medication for high blood pressure I assume I'm going to have to start taking some too. Of course, the doctor has already told me to stop drinking wine, cut out salt and lose weight. But that's not going to happen!

Stepmom is in Australia right now, up the coast about 7 hours away. She has rekindled a very old flame who now lives in Oz and she is over here for a couple of months to check him out. The anniversary of Dad's death was a week ago. Life goes on, right?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Old House New House

Okay, just for my curious cousin!

This is what our little Sydney house looks like when it is dressed for inspection:

Front:



Bedroom:



Bathroom:



Living Room:



Kitchen:



Backyard:





And this is the new rental in Canberra:

Front:



Main Bedroom:



Family Room:



Main Bathroom:



Kitchen:



Backyard:



I won't be blogging much about my office at all, because I'd hate for them to find my blog!

Otherwise, all is going very well over here. the kids and Mom and I are living in a holiday house while the contents of the Sydney house travel to us. Milord is surrounded by boxes and eating takeaways back in Sydney. It is coming together slowly!