Sunday, April 27, 2008

So I am a comma

With thanks to Jay.

You Are a Comma

You are open minded and extremely optimistic.

You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.

You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.

You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.

(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Charlie truth modifier

More unfinished posts - this one from 6 months ago!

Charlie is never wrong. Never. Of course, at 2, nearly 3, this philosophy can be a little limiting at times. So Charlie has developed a solution to it. I call it the Charlie truth modifier. Tonight's example was the gravy for dinner which was in a coffee cup. Charlie said "I want some, coffee." I explained that it isn't coffee, it's gravy. Charlie said "It's coffee." I said, "It's gravy." Charlie said "Yeah, it's gravy coffee."

Other such truth modifiers include "four wheel drive truck", "tiger bear", "kite balloon" and "hail snow"

I am posting it, because he still does this at 3 and a half and I still think it's funny.

It's also related to our current problem. Charlie doesn't want to eat dinner. Ever. Regardless of what it is. And since Charlie is never wrong, he can't change his mind. A few days ago, he clearly decided dinner looked good, so he said he didn't want dinner, he wanted lunch. Since then he has been eating lunch at 6pm with the rest of us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Only 2 days to go

I am currently writing a 2500 word essay on the Knowledge Problem in cognitive science (no, I don't know why it needs to be capitalised either). I am, honestly. Blogging? Me? Nooooooo.

Nor am I watching the Lifestyle channel, waiting for Spicks and Specks to come on, drinking a glass of red wine. I wouldn't drink wine whilst breastfeeding, unlike those other white parents.

In case you were wondering what the Knowledge Problem is (yes, I know you weren't, but I'm going to tell you anyway), it is philosophers hijacking an artificial intelligence problem (which has been largely resolved), and panicking about whether or not it is possible to maintain all the information one needs to function in the real world, keep it up to date and always be able to pick out the relevant bits. Well, actually, they are panicking about whether any computing system can do it, since cognitive science is hinged on the assumption that the brain is a computer.

But it's ok, no-one really need panic, since the definition of "computing" is by no means fixed, and cognitive scientists just keep moving it so that their discipline doesn't disappear up its own fundamental orifice. So in the end, computing is clearly going to be defined as "what the brain does" plus "what we all know it does already". So the whole stupid question is "can something that is the brain actually do what the brain does?". Hmmm, let me think about that. Errr... yes?

Somebody remind why I did this ridiculous subject?

Oh, and I should just mention that I am currently hearing Muck randomly say "I can fix it" and "This is so cool" for no readily apparent reason. Perhaps I have a Bob the Builder fan for a ghost.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I wouldn't have thought it was possible

I discovered a new talent today, I can, in fact, help my 2 yr old go to the toilet whilst breastfeeding the 5 month old. Fortunately boys don't need too much close contact, even when it is only the second day of toilet training.

Did I mention before I am bad at toilet training? I really don't know how this is going to go. If only life didn't have to carry on while attempting this monumental transformation. Tomorrow we have to go to the eye specialist and Wednesday he is off to a play centre. Pull-ups may be necessary.

Crash left for Singapore at sparrow fart yesterday and doesn't get back until Friday night. Women who choose to be single parents are either blissfully ignorant when they embark, or way better women than me. Possibly both.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Twooo Wuvvvvv

I was at a kid's birthday party this afternoon (yeah, ha ha, give the two boys musical instruments in their party bags for the trip home, thanks Toni :) ) and we were discussing our next girl's night out. Toni mentioned that I traded in one husband whose musical taste matched mine very well for one that... well... he listens to MIX FM (pop easy listening for non-Sydneysiders). Her hubby has a penchant for ummm... bland soundtracks? Would that be unfair? Anyway, not so similar to her. :)

It makes me wonder how one goes about choosing a mate. My dearest has (mostly) crap taste in music and he hates crowds, but he is way better suited as a husband than my first one (who was a lovely guy, even lovelier now that he is shot of me). All the things that people talk about in terms of compatibility seem irrelevant.

How do you decide who can cover for your weaknesses and not be intimidated by your strengths other than random trial and error? I guess the fact that arranged marriages have about the same success rate as the other kind suggests some answer to that question.

I just continually count my blessings than me and mine managed our trial and error without adding kids to the mix (assuming this one continues not to be an error!). I know it's far more about good luck than good management.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Official pregnancy ailment log

This post is merely self indulgence combined with a desire to be able to accurately torture my children with the hardships I endured to bring them into the world. Feel free to move on.
  • morning sickness from 5 weeks til 16-18 weeks
  • heartburn from 16-18 weeks til delivery
  • complete revulsion for seafood (normally high on my fav food list)
  • wine tastes like vinegar - all of it for the first trimester (granted this is probably a good thing) and then just most of it (definitely all white wine) for the second half. The worst bit is that my palate is still useless. Talking to other mothers at the dinner recently, apparently it is common for your palate not to go back to normal until after you stop breastfeeding. I notice this is not something the Breastfeeding Association mentions.
  • my left wrist manages to click into an injury state via some indeterminate process at least once a week.
  • corns on my feet, like 20 of them, that disappear within 2 weeks of the birth.
  • symphysitis. Towards the end of pregnancy, utterly crippling.
  • 15 toilet trips a night. Well, ok, maybe only 3 or 4, but it still makes for chronic sleep deprivation.
  • haemorrhoids - say no more
  • gingivitis
  • at least 5kg that weren't baby
  • rosacea - this one I get to keep
  • a weird pain in my rib cage that I think may be referred from somewhere else
There were a couple of positives:
  • my hair was much thicker - of course it all fell out again once the baby was delivered
  • my fingernails were strong enough to look like real nails - they also disintegrated post partum
If I think of anything else I'll add it later

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The pros and cons of ulterior motives

The most recent World Vision newsletter has a brief article about a mother in Uganda. It managed to flag up my concerns about organisations like World Vision.

The first paragraph mentions that this mother was "married in the traditional way and then we were married again at the St Maria Catholic Church". The third paragraph is this:
On the matter of names for our children, my husband is the one who decides. We named our first children after his relatives. Then he gave me permission to name our last child after my mother Abeda, so our last child is called Catherine Abeda.
I know that World Vision is a Christian organisation, but I have always figured that helping a family have enough to eat, and basic medical and education facilities was way more significant than any religious indoctrination that might come with it.

This article, however, throws sharp relief on the hypocrisy of these organisations. Apparently it is ok to change their religion and have people marry twice, but it isn't ok to address sexism in the culture.

On the other hand, I don't see many non-Christian organisations doing this sort of thing. Clearly, successfully raising 7 of 11 children with Christian overtones in a sexist society is better than losing 7 of 11 children without Christian overtones in a sexist society.

We have been sponsoring a child for a few years now. The first little girl we sponsored died just after her 4th birthday of malaria. This is, of course, the reality check. Philosophy matters very little when your daughter's life is in such peril. Sadly our sponsorship was not enough. I cried for a night, and still tear up when I think of her.

We have another little girl now, one month younger than Ben. It annoys me that World Vision seem to think religious aspects of these people's lives are fair game, but it isn't appropriate to mess with other aspects of their culture. I don't think you can have it both ways.

Then again, this may be nitpicking. When saving lives, maybe a little philosophical indulgence is permissible. I won't stop sponsoring her because World Vision allows her to be raised in a sexist society - at least she is being raised.

Maybe when she gets bigger I can start some subtle indoctrination by letter...

Monday, April 14, 2008

The good life

We spent this past weekend indulging in pure hedonism. With another couple and their 6 month old baby boy, we stayed in an enormous, luxuriously appointed house, so that we could go to a dinner held by one of our favourite wineries in the Hunter Valley.

Macquariedale is a biodynamic winery, and the dinner was made of organic, locally grown produce (as far as possible - whatever that means). It was divine. The entree in particular was very special - snapper with fennel in parcels. Just awesome.

The wine was, as expected, all good. The speaker was Max Allen, a wine writer and biodynamic convert. I don't know that I am entirely convinced by some of the biodynamic principles, but since it is grounded in sustainability, I am not dissing it. Besides, the wine tastes great. I can be disgustingly self indulgent and smugly superior about helping the environment at the same time.

We went to a couple of wineries, but we basically chilled out and hung around in the house. Griffin, the 6 month old, is very high on the adorable scale, and of course we rather like his parents too. :)

And for the essential Charlie story of the weekend - Ben came in this morning in full on dibber dobber mode, saying "Charlie's not having an apple, he's having chocolate." So I drag my butt out of bed into the lounge room to find Charlie with a family block of dark chocolate, wrapper folded down, chomping his way though it. He looked at me with the indignation of the falsely accused when I took it from him.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The gods were smiling on us

This post has been sitting in my drafts since Tuesday, I couldn't quite bring myself to post it, but here it is...


Well that was an enjoyable 24hrs. Yesterday was going pretty well. My tutorial preparation was on track to be submitted on time, and I had averted a major crisis all before lunch.

The major crisis was all about Ben. I had organised for him to go to a trial gymnastics class at 4pm to see if he liked it, and if so, enrol him for next term. When I rang yesterday morning they told me the 4pm class was full, and he couldn't attend. After a moment's panic, the woman confirmed that the 5pm class was available - inconvenient but this child was so excited we had to take what we could get. Then they told me there would be no trial classes at all that day. I think the desperation in my voice was sufficient and the woman whispered into the phone "If you just turn up they won't have any choice" and hung up. OK.

We averted the "I have to wait a whole extra hour!" crisis by heading to the shops to spend his hard earned cash on a new Captain Underpants book, and then the class was proclaimed as "Excellent!" and we duly enrolled him. Went home to a late but absolutely delicious dinner involving steak and mash and other good veg.

But then it all went awry. Bath time proceeded mostly as normal, but the boys managed to create some kind of distraction when Elissa was on the change table. Crash heard two thumps and she was no longer on the change table. She had gone backwards, head first off the end of the change table, managing to squeeze between the wall and the table. (The floor is tiled.) By the time I got upstairs (I was washing), she was on our bed with Crash, screaming. A 2 or 3 minute breastfeed calmed her instantly and she stayed calm. In fact she was laughing at me. She looked fine, but since that seemed implausible given what had happened, I took her to the hospital.

I naively thought they would just give her a CT scan and tell me all was good. Yeah, right. Just think that through a moment Ariane, a 5 month old who is rapidly getting over tired, but seems otherwise fine will lie perfectly still for a CT scan. Notsomuch.

The doctors were all a bit baffled about the disparity between what happened to my beautiful baby girl, and this bubbly happy baby they were presented with. So they poked, and listened and manipulated but couldn't find any evidence of damage. Not even a bump on the head. So down to paeds we went and waited for 4 hours with one or two sets of obs done in that time. Still no evidence of anything wrong, so I was sent home with a depressing green card saying "Your child has suffered a head injury." One of the things I was to look out for was nausea and vomiting. As I got her out of the car at home (at midnight) she threw up. God. I rang the hospital and the doctor spoke to me, spoke to a more senior doctor and they decided it was probably a one-off baby thing, but that anything else at all would have her back there immediately. I stayed up for another hour and a half, but nothing happened. She slept through except when I was obliged to wake her at 3am. I figured the fact that she was very angry was a good sign, and let her go back to sleep.

So now 24hrs out I still have an overtired baby who is struggling a bit to sleep tonight, but it seems that she is fine. My best guess is that she slid slowly between the table and the wall, and only frightened herself. And us. A lot. I have been a useless article today.


Now three days later,it is clear that she really is fine, and I've remembered a few stories I have heard about people having near misses with their kids and I have never thought badly of them, so maybe I should cut myself the same slack. We were lucky, our moment of negligence had no consequences to speak of, the gods really were smiling on us.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My turn

Well, we survived 3 rounds at school, but I knew it was only a matter of time. Secretly I was hoping that our family might have repellent blood, but it was only ever a pipe dream. So here they are. Lice.

I trudged to the shops to get the lice comb, bought some "No More Tears" conditioner and came home and attacked Ben. I have no idea what the eggs look like. I think in the end I was removing dandruff, not nits, but I really don't know. Charlie still needs to be done tonight.

And when all was said and done and Ben was dressed again, he said "I hope we didn't hurt the mother." "Which mother?" "The mother of the eggs in my hair." "Yes Ben, we killed the mother, that's kinda the point."

Crash was volunteering at Bunnings today to sell sausages for the P&C and was talking to the other parents. Apparently in living memory there has been one child at Yeo Park that has made it through lice-free, and his mother put lavender oil in his hair. I think I'd rather the lice...


"I will not come inside."

"No, I will not."

"What if I just wander off this way..."
The gate to the house is <---- thataway.

It'd be nice if just once we could go out without coming home to a tantrum. *sigh*.

And as you can see, we are in desperate need of a new front fence. If anyone knows a good fencing contractor...