Monday, September 24, 2007

Eleven No More!

I no longer have an eleven year old! In fact, I now have a big twelve year old living in my house. It's hard to believe that 12 years ago I was facing my first foray into motherhood with a screaming, unhappy baby that made me question why on earth I volunteered for the job! It's hard to believe, not only that we got through that very difficult time but that I now have a capable, intelligent, handsome young man as a part of my family. Ok, I know that there are times that his attitude and actions frustrate me - let's face it, we probably wouldn't be 'normal' if there weren't times of frustration and provocation (all from his side of course! Lol!) - but I do consider myself to be completely fortunate to have given birth to my beautiful son.

So happy birthday my big twelve year old. Enjoy!

Oh, and note the new birthday pressie shirt that he is wearing in the photo!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

One To Watch

I am a fussy movie and tv watcher. I will only watch things that really take my interest. But when I love anything, I watch it endlessly. So with my renewed interest in my family history and the questions and images of times gone past that that has provoked, I decided to dust off one of my all time favourite discs from my dvd collection.

It is called North & South. Not the Patrick Swayze version, but a classy, elegant and beautifully filmed UK BBC mini series from 2004. I stumbled across it a couple of years ago when it was recommended to me after I spoke of my love of Pride & Prejudice. Interestingly enough, it has since usurped my P&P passion and is now my all time favourite historical romance!

Based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell, it is set in 19th century England and tells the story of Margaret Hale who moves from the south to a northern industrial town with her family and learns how very different an environment driven by commerce can be. It also features an absolutely stunning performance by Richard Armitage as the serious Mr Thornton - not a person who you would consider to have classic 'romantic lead' type looks, his presence on the screen comes as a delightful surprise and is well supported by Daniela Denby-Ashe as the sweet but strong-willed Margaret Hale. Also watch out for Brendan Coyle who plays Nicholas Higgins.

Now, the one thing that I cannot understand is why this mini-series was not given the air time and support that it deserves here. I have read that after it was aired in the UK, the BBC's on-line chat board melted due to such a high demand. I'm not surprised. Sadly though, here it seems to only be getting recognition from word-of-mouth recommendations. So consider this my 'word-of-mouth' recommendation as one of the best historical romances of its genre and look out for your own copy. I have watched mine endlessly and still am not over it.

And just to whet your appetite, enjoy this youtube homage. There are a lot more like it on there, but watching them will only make you want to go out and watch the whole thing!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What is the World Coming To?

I recently read an article in the paper regarding the Madeline McCann disappearance. Now while I haven't followed this case to any extreme and I have no opinion on who's guilty or innocent, the article I read disturbed me in so many ways. In it, the journalist commented on the stress that Madeline's mother found in raising her children. It said that she found that "...her chidren were hysterical and exhausted her" and continued to point out that apparently Mrs McCann said that "Her husband gave her little help with chores".

Now excuse me if I'm wrong, but since when does that make news worthy print and since when does that automatically add fuel to the fire of her questionable guilt? Show me any mother who, at one time or another doesn't feel this way? In fact, if anyone can produce any woman who finds motherhood an easy and constantly fulfilling life choice then I'd say that they were either delusional or they had the perfect system and I want to know how they do it! In this day and age, when we, as women try to juggle motherhood, housework, paid careers and all other aspects of life, I am astounded that not more women are putting their hands up and saying that they feel stressed and overburdened with responsibility.

The reality is that children are so very different from the dream that we expected them to be. This is in absolutely no way saying that we don't adore them, love them, care for them and even like them. What it is saying is that the dream is not the reality and no one ever tells us that beforehand. From the moment that we give birth and burden our bodies through pregnancy and labour we know that this is going to be difficult. The stages change of course....from sleepless nights to trying to manage tantrums to watching them grow, worrying about their diets, hobbies, study, clothes choices etc, to breaking up sibling fights, to fronting up to parent teacher interviews, to driving them everywhere, to hoping that they make good friends, to trying to decide what school they should go to and what career path they should choose to praying that they don't use drugs or get into trouble or make bad choices....good grief...the list is endless! And the day-to-day practicalities of this are that we often feel exhausted and overwhelmed. I have often reached out to my own support network at times like this and sometimes, just knowing that other mothers are going through exactly the same thing is enough to help realise that motherhood is a hard hard job that absolutely nothing in life prepares you for. Would we give it up if we had a chance? Never in a million years! But struggling through without a handbook on how to do it is damn hard!

On the back of this question of motherhood and the stresses involved in it, I cannot help but despise the attitude of Greg Norman towards his ex-wife. According to current news articles, Mr Norman's legal team filed a petition saying that his ex wife '....did not teach the husband to swing a golf club....did not teach the husband to win". Hmmmmmmmm! Now, I'm sorry but regardless of how much money she is asking for, the fact is that after 25 years of marriage and supporting her husband in his chosen career and giving birth to and co-raising his two children, is this what her contribution has come down to? Nasty!!!! And herein lies another example of how to devalue the efforts of wives and mothers everywhere!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

He's Growing Up!

The 11 year old had a high school orientation day last week. Dear Husband dropped him off in the morning and I had to leave work early to pick him up in the afternoon. As I walked across the fields to the designated meeting spot, I must admit I felt like it was a bit like walking into Hogwarts.......expanse of land, large imposing old buildings, children in uniform everywhere, etc. But it was the address to the parents that really got to me. The person on the microphone referred to the group as the 'graduates of 2012'! Omg! Immediately, I felt tears fill my eyes so I pulled out my glasses to cover them. How embarrassing would it be to burst into tears just because your child has taken his first step to beginning high school? Ok, I admit it.....I howled like a baby after I dropped him off on his very first day of school. They didn't call the post grade one drop off 'Tea and Tears' for nothing, I suppose! But now he is a preteen with attitude and the huge need for his mother to not humiliate him in public, you would think that I would be able to hold it together! Right?

So I'm now thinking that perhaps next year when high school begins, he may have to have his father take him on his first morning. I don't know if I could control my emotions! After all, he is still my baby, no matter how old he is!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's All In the History!

I admit it! I've become an addict! A geneology addict! Years ago (ie before husband and children) I dabbled in the world of family history. I know that to some this sounds boring but when you are isolated in a small town and don't have much social life, then it filled in the hours of my spare time. Back in those days, I would sit in a little library viewing microfiche files for hours trying to piece together the jigsaw that is my own family's history.

Recently a certain family member (you know who you are!) has reignited my interest in this hobby. And what a difference the last 15 years have made. Now, with computers so prevalent, so much more information is on line and accessible from your own home.

And as I delve further into the depths of this great family puzzle, I can't help but be in awe of the pioneers who settled on this land. Many of them were convicts....forced to leave their own homeland because of petty crimes and were transported to a completely foreign and mostly untamed place on the other side of the world. Some were free settlers who ventured on a journey with whole-hearted belief that they would have an improved life in new lands. And one or more were the original founders of this land who watched as the big ships entered their waters.

Many of the women on these voyages, whether convict or free settler, had to make do with primitive conditions - often as the servants of rich property owners or the wives of dream-filled or desperate men. They were the unsung heroes of their time....working dawn till dusk and mostly ending up with the even harder task of raising an incredibly large brood of children in the process.

Now I cannot fathom how on earth I could give birth in the bush with (if you were lucky) some type of midwife only present. I couldn't even imagine how horrendous a leaky bark hut or dirt floor or hay filled mattress would be. I love my running hot shower (albeit 4 minute one!) and flushing toilet, thanks very much. I can't imagine what it would be like to be a woman living thousands of miles from home and not even having a local shop to buy bread from; not even an electric oven to cook in or a light switch to turn on!

So as I ponder how my ancestors made that torturous journey across seas to start a new life in this country I marvel at the strength and stamina of the womenfolk and their men. And I thank goodness for their spirit of adventure because without it, I probably wouldn't be sitting here, typing this today!

Currently researching in Australia:

Beilby - NSW - circa 1842+
Batten - Qld - circa 1860+
Carter + Moon - Kiama district - circa 1840+
Rollan - Kangaroo Valley - circa 1836+
Matthew Carter - Collector - circa 1834+
Hinde + Batten - Qld - 1864+
Gilbert - Melbourne - 1838+

Currently researching in Ireland:

Atkinson - Co Armagh
Quain - Co Cork
Tennyson - Co Tyrone
McNally - Co Tyrone

Currently researching in the UK:

Stephens - Herefordshire

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Somewhere To Park!

Dear Husband has decided that we need to get back to basics and do 'family time' in the local park! So today he dragged all of us down to the local park for a bit of fun. Now this park, maintained by the local council, really is a whole lot more than a swing set and a slippery slide. They have a flying fox, a huge climbing frame that seemed to attract more big boys than little kids, all sorts of swinging, climbing, rocking contraptions, a garden hedge maze and a peddle car thing that sits on a track.

For a lot of the time, I followed the kids around, carrying the football that of course we 'had to' bring but never actually threw. Don't you love it when you become the carry-horse for your kids! After a while though, Miss 7 managed to grab one of the peddle cars. This has got to be one of the most popular rides in the park. It sits on a rail circuit and has 2 parts to each car. Each part has its own set of pedals to help the riders move themselves around the rail track. Sounds complicated, doesn't it?! But it actually looked easy and like a whole lot of fun so I jumped on the back part of the car.

Now, how difficult is it to pedal a little fibreglass car thing around a track when you have a 7 year old in the front doing some of the work? Well, I thought it would be easy. But half way around the track I realised that I was in trouble. In fact, I was seriously being outdone by the 7 year old in the front! At about three quarters of the way around the circuit, when the lactic acid had so intensely built pain into my thighs, Miss 7 and I came to an agreement that she would be better off if I jumped off.

So as I stood there, huffing and puffing and bending over to catch my breath, I watched as she peddled herself off for the rest of the circuit without even skipping a beat! Of course, as I still huffed and puffed she then ran off to play chase in the garden maze!

So now I know that despite my brain thinking it's young and energetic, my body is actually that of an old old woman who was completely outclassed by a 7 year old on a child's play peddle car!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

He Cooks!

The 11 year old had been nagging me for over a week to buy him some chicken breasts so that he could create some amazing masterpiece that he'd seen made on a children's television show. Now, call me a slack mum, but I must confess here that I wasn't overly thrilled with the thought of him taking over my kitchen but I finally relented and let him on his way. As he does show an interest in cooking and has been known to whip up a mean cake or two, I guess that once the handover of ingredients was complete, I really let him go off on his way!

Well, the results were a huge success! In fact they were so successful that we had them for dinner last night. Take note of the amazingly healthy chicken nuggets that he concocted! They are delicious and low in fat. This is the recipe he used.

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

Cut chicken breast up into nugget size pieces. Dip in a mix of 2 eggs and milk then dip into crushed cornflakes. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce (ie bbq).

Enjoy! Oh, and the kids loved them! ;)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ruby's New Jacket!

I've heard that it's common to feed maternal instincts with your pets once your kids are past that baby stage. Hmmmm....if that's the case, then my recent doggie jacket buying must be testimony to this! Lol! Ummmm...actually, here is where I confess that I actually bought her 3 new jackets, but this one is by far the cutest! And yes, it is a hoodie! Rofpmsl!

Monday, September 3, 2007

And Still We Ask 'Why'??!!

It's one year tomorrow since the death of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter. What a sad time! I think that everyone I know will always remember the exact place they were at the moment they heard that he had passed. For me, it was at work - a little after 3 in the afternoon. I had a person waiting to talk to me, sort of hanging around. I asked her if she wanted something and she just looked at me strangely and said, "I didn't think that you would know yet.....Steve Irwin is dead! It was a stingray." The seconds after are a bit blurry, but I think it's best described as an invisible wall of shock that hit me in the face. I remember calling out to a co-worker and asking her if she'd heard (she hadn't). Together we raced to the computer to do a google search, part of me hoping that it had all been a big mistake. How could someone who wrestled crocodiles for a living be killed by a stingray?! Sadly, the rest is history but I do remember at the time that only one news site on the internet had picked up on the story. I just kept refreshing the page, watching as other sites quickly followed and the incredible became a reality.

Many times over this period it was easy to ask what it was about this man that had a nation - probably the world - showing such public displays of grief. What was it about him that touched everyone of us? Certainly, he was incredible. He believed in something so strongly and was so passionate about his wildlife cause in a way that was infectious. He was brave, too. No way would I be jumping on the back potentially man-eating crocodiles and then describing how beautiful they were! And he was real- there was no whispering about wildlife from a safe viewing distance. He was up there and in your face when he presented. And on top of everything else, he was a great husband and dad! He was always with his kids. He was always talking about his family. And his family's actions and reactions over the last year are testimony to what a great family man he was.

But for me, the most amazing part of Steve Irwin was that he was genuine. I, like many other Queenslanders, had visited Australia Zoo. And I, like many other people, had seen Steve there. Not presenting (unfortunately) on that particular day, but riding his trail bike around the back of a building....checking out some new development that was going on. And like many before me I waved and thought how amazing it was that although he was famous he still did ordinary things like that. He really was an ordinary bloke who had an amazing zest for life and was a good guy to the core!

I think the hardest thing for me, in the days following Steve's death, was watching the reaction of children, grappling to understand how their hero could have so easily been taken from them. Kids like my own who grew up watching The Crocodile Hunter in action; kids who he taught to not fear dangerous animals but to respect them. And living within a short drive to Australia Zoo meant that most children I know had been there....many of them had seen him in real life.

We watched some of the television special on the weekend presented by Bindi Irwin. My 7 year old, upon seeing Bindi do her special rap for her dad at the end of the show, turned to me and said, "He would be really proud of her". I agreed. She was thoughtful for a minute and then said, "You know what mummy, I really miss him"!

And you know do I! The world still has a big hole in it that Steve left!

Pictures takenby us at Australia Zoo in the weeks following Steve's death

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Happy father's day to all dads and grandads!

Ours began with being woken by kids who prepared Dear Husband breakfast in bed (cereal, toast, cup of tea!) and then onto pressie opening (mug, chocolates, Bunnings gift voucher)

From then on it was all systems go...into cleaning and cooking and preparing for family arrivals at lunch involving a side of marinated lamb done on the bbq, salads (tossed, pumpkin and pine nut, coleslaw, corn), cauliflower/broccoli au gratin and sour dough bread. Yum!

Dessert was a lemon myrtle cheesecake made from a recipe supplied on the back of a packet from this company. I first made it last Father's Day and it was a huge hit! The lemon taste is distinct enough but not overbearing although be warned...once you have one piece, you'll want to go back for more! I also love the fact that it is utilising an Australian native ingredient...something that I believe is a relatively untapped and unappreciated aspect of our heritage.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Night of Powder-Chair!

Yes, last night was the big night when I ventured to see the much talked about Powderfinger and Silverchair concert.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know how much I love Powderfinger's music (and the fact that my son was in their recent video!) but Silverchair was a bit of an unknown quantity. I had bought their latest cd and I'm afraid to say that my listens to it were few and far between.

The night started having a few drinkies with friends (you know who you are! Waving at ya!) so we missed the support act.

We ventured to our really fantastic side-view seats about ten minutes before Silverchair were supposed to come on stage and waited...and waited! Apparently, they delayed the start as there was an accident on the nearby Gateway Arterial Road. This was supposed to give ticket holders a chance to see the start of the concert although I did see quite a few people sneaking in after Silverchair had started.

Now, while I don't want to offend Silverchair fans, I must admit that after watching them, they are just not my cup of tea. I did hear and see some people comment about how delighted they were in their performance, but they are just not to my tastes. Firstly, I had trouble hearing Daniel John's voice over the music. Secondly, there were songs that they performed that I just sat there and watched. They didn't move me to want to get up and dance and I don't think I was alone as most people in the seating area were like me....just sitting and watching. In fact, at one stage, I went to the toilet...something I'd never contemplate doing if I was truly into the performance. That said, I loved Reflections of a Sound and Straight Lines and Greatest View. Those performances really had the crowd going and me singing along!

Powderfinger didn't come on stage until 10 due to the traffic delay. From the moment they got on stage, the whole room erupted. They played songs from their Dream Days album as well and some fantastic past hits. Already Gone was just brilliant live as was My Happiness and I Don't Remember. Bernard Fanning sang a beautiful performance of the controversial Black Tears which was amazing to see. Ian, DZ and Bernard did an acoustic of Sunsets which was absolutely beautiful. And the highlight for me was the final number of These all time favourite song of theirs.

Bernard interacted with the audience well, at one stage telling of his memories of being an audience member at the Entertainment Centre (and pointing to the approximate spot where he sat) back in 1986 to see John Cougar Mellancamp in concert. He then told the audience that most of them wouldn't have even remembered that time as they were too young. Well Bernard, I remember fact, I was at the same concert! Sad to think I'm getting old!

There were many highlights of the Powderfinger performance. The telling factor for me though was that almost every person in my sitting area was up dancing and having a great time. In the end everyone rose and gave them a standing ovation! Well done to the Brissie boys.

Unfortunately no cameras were allowed in the auditorium (although I did spot some people snapping...grrrrr!) so I had to use my little phone cam. Carp pics but you get the idea.