Monday, July 30, 2012

Busy making butterfly stuff....

....for Rosie's birthday party coming up this weekend. She's been proudly telling everyone for the last few months that she's "almost three."

Thank goodness for the internet at times like this when you're a non-crafty type like me. I found both these ideas online. Tonight I spent the evening gluing tiny eyes onto clothespegs for the party bags. I was wondering whether to let the kids paint them themselves with glitter glue pens but I don't think they'll dry in time so it looks like I might get to have fun doing that bit as well. So I might let them attach the little antennae on the day with some adult assistance.

School signs spelled wrongly....

It's not quite as bad as the one pictured above, but our school's sign regularly has spelling errors on it. I think it's because the school handyman puts the messages up. I like to see how long it takes someone to mention in the office that it's incorrect and for him to then change it to the right spelling. Usually it's done within a couple of days.

The message being put up today said "Good luck athletes at the distrit carnival."  As I was driving off after dropping off the kids, I saw the guy putting the letters on and wished it wasn't too busy to wind down the window and ask one of the boys to tell him how to spell "district" as they were going past.

I am a bit of a spelling nazi, and seeing words spelled incorrectly on signage does grate on me a little. Not usually enough for me to tell anyone about it though. Obviously it annoys others more since they actually do tell someone. Or maybe one of the teachers picks it up and has a quiet word to get it all sorted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday night television revival

Usually I find Tuesday evenings on television to be a bit of a graveyard. Not such a bad thing since I've been putting aside that time to prepare whatever topic I'm tutoring about for the week.

But last night the ABC was on fire. First up was the final of Race to London, the final in a six part series about six potential Olympians. I particularly enjoyed the Paralympians they included. I discovered that the guy who coaches the wheelchair rugby team was a bloke I prescribed a wheelchair for once in a long-ago job. Prescribed is probably too generous a way to describe it really. He came to me, told me what he wanted, and I filled in the paperwork so he could get it through the government's equipment supply scheme. An easy customer in the often complex world of wheelchair prescription.

Then Foreign Correspondent had a great documentary called "Globesity" about the spread of the obesity crisis from the Western world into less developed countries. Some of the statistics on the rise of diseases like Type 2 diabetes in countries like India and Mexico were incredible. Junk food companies like to talk about "the individual's responsibility to maintain good health" but in countries where the history has been of a lack of rather than abundance of food, I think the companies need to take a good hard look at themselves and their marketing techniques.

And finally, on Artscape, a fantastic story called Margaret Olley: A Life in Paint (image above from here). Amazing insights into the way she worked. There were interviews with Margaret and with her close friends about her life and art. She died the way I think I would like to one day. She created a beautiful painting, then went to bed and passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 88. Well, I probably won't be creating the great painting. But it sounds like a lovely way to go.

Some money from her trust was donated to our local art gallery after her death and they are going to use the money to build an extension called the Margaret Olley Art Centre, which will include a recreation of her studio and include elements of her home and artworks. I think it will be amazing to see when it is all finished.

A very interesting evening, all up. And in amongst all of that quality viewing, I had to find time to learn how to use crutches for this week's Uni tutorial. In my opinion, a useless skill to teach occupational therapists because I have never worked anywhere that an OT has been allowed to prescribe and teach clients how to use them. That's what Physios are for. I would have been pretty hopeless at teaching them anything about this, but fortunately my helpful husband physio was on hand to borrow crutches from his workplace and show me what to do with them. I'm not a very co-ordinated type so I think another evening of practice lies ahead. Stairs are still challenging.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This one's not bad either

I love listening to good piano players. And the cello man's cool too.

Here's a cool cover of Adele...

This song has had so much air play, it's become a bit boring. This version makes it bearable again.

Being sick....before and after having kids....

Before having kids, being sick meant taking a day or two off work, foraging in the fridge for whatever I could handle the thought of eating, sleeping for ages, maybe even reading a book or watching a DVD or two as the fog of being unwell cleared away.

Not these days.

I'm still not feeling great. I've been mildly unwell for several days, but yesterday afternoon my sore throat and stuffy head took a nosedive into something more full-on. As in struggling to move off the couch, unable to face the thought of the afternoon round of jobs kind of sick. And Rowan was sick too. As in not keen to feed, constantly whingeing and miserable kind of sick.

The difference between being sick before kids and being sick now is that somehow, you still need to keep functioning so the rest of the family can stay afloat. When I finally summoned the strength to get outside to bring the washing in yesterday afternoon (three days worth because we're catching up from being away over the weekend, and a lot of it needing the tumble dryer), Rowan pulled the folded up playpen over on top of him while he was crawling around exploring and whingeing. He needed a lengthy cuddle to sort that out, plus another few minutes to offload him onto one of the bigger kids to stop him from getting into anything else. Having to put some kind of semi-healthy meal together for all the less sick people still had to be done even though most food is tasting like cardboard to me at the moment. Fortunately my husband arrived home from work as the dinner was almost ready to put in the oven, so he could take over with the evening routine (much appreciated, Chris, if you're reading!).

It's hard to stay patient when your head feels like it's about to explode. Not that it's all that easy for me even when I'm not sick. But that pre-kids ability to crawl off into the cosy cave under the doona and recover is a distant memory now. Now if I'm lucky enough to manage to get into bed when I'm sick to start with, I'm likely to be clinging the whole time to the 8 month old's ankle to stop him escaping. And keeping an ear out for what the two year old might be getting into.

Deb wrote a great post about being angry with your kids

Read it here.

I feel like this. Often. But I love the way she points out that dealing with this issue isn't about us becoming a more competent parent. It's about acknowledging our dependence on God:

"I am dismayed when I think of the stupidity of my anger and temper. But the solution is not going to come from me. I thank God that I’ve found a source of grace that covers all my failings. In the end, I want my patience to come not from me becoming a stronger and more competent person because the truth is that is always going to be a shallow pool from which to draw. I want instead to become a much more dependent person, drawing whenever I need it from the ocean that is God’s grace and patience. Then I’ll never run dry."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tim Winton take 27....

I posted a while ago about the difficulty I have had reading Tim Winton's books. A friend told me Dirt Music was pretty good. So I'm giving it a go. Anyone else read it and enjoyed it?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tim Freedman live

What a great night. He's an absolute magician on the piano.

He was performing at the Old Museum in Brisbane. It was my first visit there since back in the 1970s when it was the only Brisbane museum. Now it makes a pretty cool concert venue. The only downside was having to queue for ages to get in because there was only one person to check that all 500 of us had tickets in our hands (or on our phone screens).  And the woman who came on stage during the interval between the support act and Tim to ask what people were doing leaning on the back wall of the concert hall because there were seats available down the front. That reminded me a bit too much of high school assemblies.

But the singing was excellent. I could have easily kept on listening all night. Missed out on an autograph at the end because I was worried about the late hour and how our not too well baby might be coping back at Grandma's house. As it turned out, he was fine, and only woke up because we walked into the room and disturbed him.

Listened to The Whitlams all the way back home to church this morning in the car. Exhausted but happy. We don't get to do this kind of thing too often so it's pretty special when we manage to pull it off. We even made it there in less than 100% health ourselves (not to mention the kids with three snotty noses among the four of them) so it's nice to know we can do it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A bit sick and tired

That's all. Not much brain space to think of stuff to blog.

I'll just hang around other people's blogs commenting for a bit. See you when I'm feeling better.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Getting our lighthouse fix

Half the people in our house are sick at the moment. One of the others was sick last week. I'm hoping that breastfeeding might give the baby a less severe bout of whatever bug it is (he's still hanging in there staying well, I think, but he has been a bit whingey in the past day or two). I haven't gotten it yet but  the odds would suggest it's only a matter of time before I get sick too.

So to escape the germs, I took the well child out for some one on one time this afternoon while Dad, the baby, the toddler and the ten year old were sleeping. We went off to the library together to pick up a book that he had waiting for him. Then, because we are the two lighthouse-lovers in our family, we headed down for a visit to one of the local lighthouses. Recently, they've done a bit of restoration work on the foundations of the old lighthouse keeper's cottage so you can now have a look at a floor plan of what it looked like once, and you can see the foundations of each of the rooms. We'd been and seen it once before, but it didn't matter. He was fascinated by it again. It's always amazing to see how little space was required for a large family to live in, compared with the oversized homes of today.

And then we had hot chips from the local takeaway shop when we got back from our walk before returning to the illness fray.

A very pleasant way to spend an afternoon before school goes back tomorrow.

Rhubarb crumble slice

This is a really easy slice to make and it tastes very yummy served warm with a big dollop of cream on top of it.

I found the recipe in a Donna Hay newspaper column a few years ago. Great for church morning teas or any other "bring a plate" function.

Here's the recipe:

100g butter, melted
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
1 cup (150g) plain flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
1/2 cup (40g) desiccated coconut
1/4 cup (60ml) milk
1 bunch rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar, extra (you could probably get away with a bit less...)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
double cream, to serve
Crumble Topping
1 cup (150g) plain flour, sifted
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
100g cold butter, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Combine melted butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, coconut and milk in a bowl and mix well to combine. Spoon into a 17cm x27cm slice tray lined with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and firm to touch.
Combine rhubarb, extra sugar and vanilla and spoon onto base.
To make crumble topping, combine flour, sugar and cold butter, using your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it is a crumbly consistency.
Spoon onto rhubarb and bake 35-40 minutes until golden. Slice and serve with cream.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Hearing those speech sounds develop....

When I was choosing what to study at University, my second choice after Occupational Therapy was Speech Pathology. After a week of learning about standing transfers and the use of mobile hoists, and facing a week of revisiting the joys of wheelchair prescription (leading to extreme brain fatigue and inability to think of blogging material....), I'm wondering whether speech may have been the better choice.

Anyway, I've been rediscovering that it's lots of fun listening to how a toddler's speech changes as they learn all the different sounds and pronunciations. In the past couple of weeks, a "boppin" has become a "bottom." (Can you guess that there's been lots of cries of "wipe my boppin/bottom" coming from the direction of the toilet?)

It's great hearing the words become clearer. And how Rosie tries to use lots of new words when she's talking. We're in the stage of vocab explosion right now, which is really exciting.

Let's just say it seems far more exciting than the bunch of online quizzes about manual handling, no lift policies and preventing musculoskeletal injuries in workplaces that are currently waiting to be marked.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chasing that extra 0.05....

I discovered this news story yesterday online: Student loses appeal over 99.95 HSC mark, a follow up to an earlier story here.

Apparently this student has hypermobility of her wrist joint (see above photo to check out what this looks like) and was offered special provision in the form of rest breaks during the exam, and a scribe to whom she could dictate her answers. As an occupational therapist who has occasionally had to assess children with hypermobility issues in the past, my understanding is that this would be the standard form of special provision in these circumstances.

This girl declined the offer of the scribe, and challenged her score because she believed she would have achieved higher marks had she been granted a computer or extra time to complete the exam. She doesn't seem to have realised that these options would have provided her with an unfair advantage over everyone else. I'm sure most people could claim they would have scored higher marks if they had been given more time or a computer to type answers into.

I think most people get tired after writing for lengthy periods of time. People with hypermobility issues in their wrist and hand joints do fatigue more quickly than most, but to complain after having been offered assistance to prevent this seems completely over the top to me. It sounded from the article as if this girl's mother was also an extremely pushy parent.

So having achieved her not-quite-perfect HSC score, this young woman is now studying medicine at the University of Sydney. It doesn't seem she's been left at such a disadvantage by her lower than expected mark. Not sure how she'll go on some of the surgical rotations if her wrist really is as bad as she claims. And I wouldn't think her behaviour to date would leave a particularly positive impression on any potential employer.

I'm pleased that the appeal was dismissed. It was one of those stories that left me shaking my head and wondering if the world had gone mad. What kind of society are we living in, where falling 0.05 short of a perfect score is to be complained about and blamed on other people? Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A slight change in wording...

I heard during the week that the Girl Guide Association of Australia has decided to update the Guide promise by removing references to God and the Queen. Instead, a Guide will now pledge to be "true to myself and to develop my beliefs," presumably to reflect the range of religious and cultural beliefs which exist in current Australian society.

One thing most people in my life now probably don't know about me is that I was a Girl Guide once, back in the 1980s when God and the Queen were still in favour. I went right through from Brownies to Guides and then on to Ranger Guides and Rangers. I even did all the badges I needed to become a Queen's Guide when I was in the Ranger section. It involved a pretty hefty chunk of community service activities.

So I was a bit concerned that the bit about "helping other people" that was also a key part of our promise might have been ditched along with God and the Queen. Fortunately, it hasn't been. The pillar of community service remains.

I am disappointed to see God relegated to the sideline though. And I think the timing of removing the Queen could have been better too. That could have waited until the Diamond Jubilee year was over.

And I'm unconvinced by the words "true to myself." True to my (sinful, selfish) self? I think the words are fairly meaningless. It implies a view in which societal, moral or ethical (not to mention Biblical) standards don't really matter much. As long as you're happy with yourself, that's all that matters.

It all just sounds a bit too inward-looking.

When the blogosphere and the real world intersect

Yesterday I was really excited to meet Wendy in person for the very first time. You can check out her blog about missionary life in Japan here. She is here in Australia at the moment with her family, as they are doing a little bit of work connecting with their supporting churches, and also having some rest and relaxation time exploring central Australia in a motor home. Our family met up with them at a group picnic event, where we also met some of their other friends (including some other bloggers!).

I was a little bit nervous beforehand, to be honest. But it was a lovely time spent chatting and getting to know a bunch of new people. It's a bit strange meeting people face to face for the first time, but feeling like you already know them so well after having read their blogs for ages. So the initial nervousness wore off very quickly, which was great.

So thanks to all for a great day yesterday. Lovely to finally meet you Wendy, and to meet Mel, Sandy, Mrs Q as well!

Have I mentioned before how much I love blogging? So many new friends out there to be made.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Finding gold on other blogs

Cathy has written a fantastic post about lifestyle coveting on her blog Women Bible Life. You should read it. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately but haven't been able to put it into the right words. I'm glad there are people like Cathy out there who can do it much better than me.

In today's online world of reading about people's apparently wonderful lives on blogs, looking at photos full of family fun posted on Facebook, and the immaculate interiors, perfectly styled food, and up to the minute fashion tips you can pin on your Pinterest boards, her description of these as "socially endorsed sin" was painful for me to read. But there is so much truth in this description.

Please read it. I need to pray about a lot of what she says.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Just hanging around

Our two bigger children are visiting their grandparents for the first week of the school holidays. Whenever there are less children in our house than normal, life suddenly seems a whole lot easier. It makes me wonder why I thought I had such a busy life when I only had two kids.

We've also had no car yesterday and today, because it's having a final paint job after my crash in it a while back.

So we've had to stay home for a couple of days. Not so bad when you have books to read, plants to get watered, recipes to try out and a little bit of work to get done.

Yesterday I dragged out our hammock for the first time in ages. So Rosie has spent yesterday and today swinging in it, climbing in and out, and having a wonderful time.

And then, in the afternoons, while she is asleep, I have been having an afternoon sleep and reading my books in it. The place where we hang it up gets sun for most of the day, so I have been soaking up the winter sunshine and admiring the view over the surrounding area. It even has an ocean glimpse from my reclining position.

Absolute bliss.

Note...this is not me nor our hammock in the photo, but it does look pretty close to the type of hammock we have!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Listening to...

A bit of Ben Folds as I revisit the joys of learning all about bed mobility and chair transfers.

This is an amazing song. It's an awesome piano arrangement.

Winter chill sets in...bring on the comfort food

Not so cold in relation to other areas of Australia, I'm sure, but for us it is a little cooler than normal.

So the winter comfort food is being devoured in earnest here. Tonight's dinner is going to be a chicken pot roast with apples and cider, and I am currently deliberating over which flavour of self-saucing pudding I should make for dessert. Butterscotch or chocolate....