Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Playing nurse now...

Today has been another interesting day.

I was out of bed and on the road at 5:15am taking Mum to the hospital for surgery on her right wrist (for carpal tunnel syndrome). Of course, I didn't think to check my fuel gauge last night so I had to find a petrol station open at that hour of the morning (most don't open 'til 6am around here) and then hope I had enough money to pay for it because I realised I left my eftpos cards at home.

With Mum safely delivered to the hospital, it was back home to get the five boys fed and ready for school. For some reason, they all picked this morning to sleep in and to be in a 'go-slow' mood. They all made the bus (just) then it was time to wait for the phone call to pick Mum up again.

I managed to do some washing, pay some bills and even a little bit of scrapping before the phone call came at 11am. I couldn't believe it took me 55 minutes just to get there to pick her up and another 50minutes to get home! The whole round trip was done in 60 minutes this morning. (The fact that I missed the turnoff to the hospital and ended up on the freeway heading south of the city had nothing whatsoever to do with how long it took .. honest!)

Once I picked Mum up, I found out the surgeon had given her a cortisone injection into the left wrist as well as operating on the right one. Apparently the left wrist had a pain level of about 9 out of 10 but the right one didn't hurt at all. After dosing her up on major painkillers, I left her watching a DVD while I faced the joyous prospect of cleaning the boys toilet. (5 Boys, 1 toilet, very poor aim .. form your own mental picture of my level of elation!)

I went to check on Mum and found her dozing off so I talked her into going to bed. She managed a couple of hours before the painkilers wore off and by that time, the boys were home. She watched a bit more TV while I supervised homework and made dinner, then she begged for some more pain relief. I dosed her up and put her to bed in my bed where she is now curled up fast asleep. I even got to tuck her in (the joys of having both hands bandaged!)

Anyway, I'm going to go make the couch into my bed for the night and hope I get some sleep too. If I don't, work will just have to function without me for one more day!

What colour crayon are you?

This quiz has been doing the rounds of some of the blogs I read and I thought I'd give it a go.

You Are a Blue Crayon

Your world is colored in calm, understated, deep colors.

You are a loyal person, and the truest friend anyone could hope to find.

On the inside, you tend to be emotional and even a bit moody.

However, you know that people depend on you. So you put on a strong front.

Your color wheel opposite is orange. Orange people may be opinionated, but you feel they lack the depth to truly understand what they're saying.

So what do you reckon? True or not? What colour are you?

I'm surviving .. just!

Having this many boys in the house is actually not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

The two older ones have tried giving me attitude a couple of times, especially Alex, but I think I've pretty effectively squashed the attempted uprising, at least until they gather their minions and form the army they're always talking about.

The two middle ones are quiet most of the time, unless they're refusing to be the minions of the older two, in which case they're very loud indeed!

The younger one is happily tagging along behind the two middle ones and is trying to recruit them to be his minions instead. They, bless their little cotton socks, are loudly resisting him as well.

If I could just have the two middle ones, things would be right with the world!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

The next couple of days ...

should be interesting. I have five boys in the house at the moment, which may not seem like a lot to some, but it's most definitely a lot for me! Add in the fact that 3 of them are on the autism spectrum and it just gets better. Two attitude-filled-almost-thirteen-year-olds, two slightly quieter but just as sassy eleven-year-olds and my rather loud and unco-operative (at the moment) nine-year-old. Paradise!

A friend has had a death in the family on the other side of Australia and asked if I could look after her two boys so she could go to the funeral. Flights to the Eastern states being what they are (that is, unavailable at short notice unless you leave and arrive at dark o'clock .. aka midnight), she was planning to drop them off on her way to the airport at 10:30pm and pick them up on her way home from the airport at roughly the same time.

In a moment of inspired madness, I talked her into dropping them off at dinnertime tonight and picking them up from school as usual on Wednesday, so that I didn't have to wait up for them. (I like my sleep but I'm sure we've covered that numerous times before.) Judging by the noise level now roaring through the house, it wasn't one of my better ideas, but I seem to remember that they sleep well, when they actually go to sleep, so there's hope yet!

The noise seems mostly to be about the Wii. Four remotes and five children is never a recipe for peace especially when they're all boys, but they seem to have reached a compromise with a two player game that they are all taking turns with. It's really quite enlightening listening to all the instructions being thrown around and yet, none of them seem capable of following their own instructions. I hope the games consoles (and my eardrums) survive the onslaught!

In all seriousness though, they're all good kids (most of the time .. no-one's perfect!) and it shouldn't be too bad. As I said to their mother, "I'll get them back to you in one piece physically. You can send me the bill for the therapy later!"

I'm off to try and send them all to bed and to find the bottle of port from Margaret River. I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to need it by 9pm.

Friday, 25 July 2008

997, 998, 999, 1000!

I can't believe there's been nearly 1000 hits here since 30th April. Not bad for the ramblings of a full-time nutcase!

Are you the 1000th visitor? Please leave a comment and let me know who you are and where you're from. (Even if you're not the 1000th visitor, please leave a comment anyway! Everyone loves a response .. even us nutcases!)

The things kids ask ...

but this is more about the times and places they ask "those questions", all prompted by Andrew's question in the checkout queue at the crowded supermarket last night. (More on that in a minute).

Like the time Alex asked, at the top of his oh-so-loud-five-year-old-voice, in the middle of a very crowded McDonald's in the dinner rush, "Where do babies come from?" After looking around me to find every other person over the age of 10, and some under it too, looking right at me, waiting with bated breath to see what I was going to say, I quickly made the decision that short and sweet was good: "Out of their mother's tummy." Another quick glance around me caught several other mothers giving either approving nods, one of those 'I feel for you because I've been there too' looks, 'relief that I didn't go into more detail' looks or just squirming 'cos they knew it was coming for them too. We had just reached the counter when Alex decided to hassle me about the anatomical incorrectness of being in the mother's tummy ...
"It can't be the tummy. That's where the food goes. I thought it had something to do with ovaries and tentacles (testicles) and that other thing, you know, the room (womb) in your insides".
"Yes, it does but I'll explain more when we get home."
"OK Mum. But what I really want to know is how do they get out."
I still don't know who was trying to get us out of there quicker .. the girl behind the counter or me.

Then there was the time Bradley, also in a rather loud and penetrating tone of voice, asked why one of my boobs was bigger than the other, while we were waiting in a long line at the petrol station to pay for our petrol. The fact that I was the only woman in the whole place was just a bonus. I wasn't just blushing; I was the colour of tomato sauce!

But to get back to the question that started all of this, Andrew was helping me unload the shopping onto the conveyor belt when he suddenly turned and asked, "Mum, what's a condom?" Now the question in itself is fairly harmless as public questions go and the answer I gave was very matter-of-fact, ("It's something a man puts on his penis so the woman doesn't get pregnant when they have sex"), but you know how you have those moments when everything seems to just stop and get very, very quiet just as you say something you don't want overheard? This was one of those moments. I'm sure the entire supermarket had picked just that moment to cease making any and all noise. All I could hear was my own voice saying the word 'penis' very loudly at the exact time everyone else stopped talking.

The checkout girl nearly dropped the first dozen eggs as she went bright red; the lady at the checkout next to me just stood there with her mouth open staring at me; the guy at the checkout on the other side of me was trying really hard not to crack up laughing and I was just wishing the floor would open up and swallow me whole. All the while Andrew was still unloading the trolley, completely oblivious to the reactions of people around him. In fact, he just ploughed on with his train of thought ... "So why do they make pink ones if they're for guys? Guys don't wear pink undies so why would they wear pink condoms?"

I then had to wait to get the other dozen eggs replaced because the guy at the next checkout laughed so loud, it startled the checkout girl, who dropped the eggs, which bounced once then smashed. I also had to explain the whole situation to the checkout supervisor who was ready to yell at the poor checkout girl, who I'm sure will run and hide the next time she sees me walking into the supermarket.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love taking my kids out in public?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Moving worries ... again!

I know you're probably all sticking your hands over your ears .. I mean your eyes .. and yelling "no more with the talk about moving already!" but 'the elephant in the corner of the room' just won't go away. (I'm still not moving to Red Dirt Central though!)

Little bit of background: Our block was originally part of a bigger block that had a church and our house on it. The church wanted to amalgamate parishes (and make some money) so they subdivided the bigger block into two; one large block (3000sqm) with the building that was a church and one smaller block (1000sqm) with our house on it. It was originally an almost square block, but due to regulations about lot sizes for public buildings, both blocks ended up being odd shapes.

The building next door is currently being used as a daycare centre and the owner has decided to sell it to fund another development project he has in the works. As a result, it's now up for auction at the end of this month. Due to the current trend of building as many units on one block as possible and therefore making a huge profit, the agent selling next door asked if we would be willing to sell our house to whoever wins the auction. He then went on to state he has several very interested parties so the chances of us selling are fairly high.

Now I have to admit, as much as I love the idea of living next to a major construction site, on a main road, on a block that only has one access point that is often blocked due to idiots and their insane parking habits, I think I would rather move. (In case you hadn't gathered, this is where the talk of moving starts again. Just so you know and can run screaming from the computer.)

After another brief conversation with Peter about moving, we still haven't come any closer to an acceptable-to-both-parties compromise. He's still looking at places about 2 to 2.5 hours drive away, in prime red dirt country, whereas I'm looking at something a lot closer to where we are now so the boys can stay in the school they're in. Yes, it's more expensive now but it will be worth a lot more in the long run, especially if things keep expanding the way they are now. (And no, I am not referring to my butt and its nasty habit of expanding. I meant the edges of the suburban sprawl, so be nice!)

I really think I should be looking at rooms in the local mental hospital at the rate I'm going. I wonder if they do discounts for advance bookings?

I've added some photos...

to some of the holiday posts but they take so long to upload, I'll have to do the rest another time. Just thought I'd let you know there's pictures of fudge, fudge and more fudge ...

Sunday, 20 July 2008

I have come to realise...

I 'stole' this from clovergirl. Thanks Brandi!

I Have Come to Realize...

1. I've come to realize that my boobs... are being affected by gravity more and more each day.

2. I've come to realize that my job... is nowhere near as important as my family.

3. I've come to realize that when I'm driving... I like the radio up loud and the kids to be quiet!

4. I've come to realize that I need... to take better care of myself.

5. I've come to realize that I have lost... the chance to make amends for some of the things I did and said when I was young and stupid.

6. I've come to realize that I hate it when... I spend too much time worrying about what could be instead of appreciating what is.

7. I've come to realize that if I'm drunk...I'm going to be really sorry the day after!

8. I've come to realize that money... is only a tool; not a measure of who I am.

9. I've come to realize that certain people... will always be 'that' way and it's not my fault.

10. I've come to realize that I'll always be... capable of more than I think I am.

11. I've come to realise that I really wish I could... play a musical instrument properly.

12. I've come to realize that my mum... is just another imperfect human being who loves me in spite of my own imperfections.

13. I've come to realize my cell phone... is not really necessary.

14. I've come to realize that when I woke up this morning... I was looking forward to facing the day and the challenges it would bring.

15. I've come to realize that last night before I went to sleep... I was glad to be home.

16. I've come to realize that right now I am thinking about... where on earth will I move to if my house sells.

17. I've come to realize that my dad... wasn't perfect but was a good person all the same.

18. I've come to realize that when I get on the computer... I lose track of time!

19. I've come to realize that today... is another chance to start again.

20. I've come to realize that tonight... I have to 'remind' Alex about his homework.

21. I've come to realize that tomorrow I will... have to move faster to achieve more.

22. I've come to realize that I really want to... find a happy compromise.

23.I've come to realize that the person who is most likely to repost is... um, er, no idea!

24. I've come to realize that life... is what you make of it.

25. I've come to realize that this weekend... shows how much my kids do love me.

26. I've realized the best music to listen to when I am upset... is the music my parents listened to in my childhood.

27. I've come to realize that friends... are extremely important to my mental health.

28. I've come to realize that this year... I am finally accepting the fact that "if it is to be, it's up to me."

Saturday, 19 July 2008

I'm Home

So that’s my holiday in 12 or so entries. I had a good time while I was away but couldn’t get over how quiet it was. Sometimes it was nice to just sit and enjoy the ‘serenity’ but at other times, I had to go and put the radio on just to have something going on in the background.

I’m glad to be home, but already it’s like I’d never been away. I’ll have to plan another trip in six months …, make that three months … actually next week sound good. Any takers?

Holiday Update #12

Friday 18th July

The stormy weather really picked up overnight so I didn’t get much sleep. Too many weird noises in a strange house ensured that I was up and packed ready to go by 9:30am and ended up leaving at 9:45am. (I thought that I’d better take it nice and easy on the way home due to the severe weather warnings). It was really quite upsetting to drive away from the little home-away-from-home but I’ve promised myself I will do it again … someday.

First stop on the way home was the Candy Cow … again! I even managed to get some photos of the inside of the shop this time as well as more fudge (for the boys this time!) and I bought them a stuffed toy each … a cow of course!

Next stop was the Busselton jetty which was getting quite a lashing from the waves. There was so much sand being stirred up in the water, the waves looked like chocolate foam. As well as being really windy, it was actually quite cold so I had a quick look around, then went back to warmth of the car before going on to Bunbury.

I grabbed some takeaway food for lunch in Bunbury and decided to just keep on going. The wind had really picked up so I slowed down to make it a bit easier to stay in a straight line. (That’s one of the problems with driving a small, lightweight car … the wind can really push it around). Slow and steady wins the race and gets you home in one piece!

When I reached Harvey, I stopped in at their Tourist Bureau as I hadn’t been in there before. It was quite interesting wandering around the exhibits as well as perusing all the souvenirs (as if I hadn’t spent enough already!) I might take the boys down there for a weekend away if I can scrounge some more time off work.

Then it was back into the car for the last leg of the journey. The weather was getting progressively worse the closer I got to Perth but I made it home in one piece at about 2:20pm. As soon as the kids heard my key in the door, they were all over me like a rash. So nice to be loved … and they didn’t even ask if I brought anything home for them! Alex did say, very seriously, that I was allowed to go away again, just not for a very long time, because even he missed me!

Holiday Update #11

Thursday 17th July

I tried to do some more scrapping this morning but it just wasn’t working so I went into town to buy the boys a souvenir of my time away. Of course, I couldn’t find anything that I considered reasonable, so I spent a lot of time just wandering and even took a drive out to Caveworks. I had seen some grow-your-own-crystal kits there that I thought would be great but they only had them in one colour … white. Pretty boring! I already had a few little things so after that I gave up and went back to the house to start getting things organized for the trip home. Well, that was the plan anyway!

I ended up spending all afternoon and half the night reading the Janet Evanovich series about Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter. What a laugh! I like reading crime novels that have a bit of humour in them and the mental images she manages to create are absolutely hilarious. And the grandma .. what a hoot! Now I just have to raid the library to see if they’ve got the last couple I haven’t read.

In case you hadn’t figured … another late night!

Holiday Update #10

Wednesday 16th July

Another lazy morning of pottering around before jumping in the car to go and check out some of the galleries. The weather had cleared a bit so the drive along the scenic route was quite pleasant. I stopped at a couple of different galleries but nothing really much interested me and, once again, the prices were aimed at the considerably more affluent tourists.

The one place I did want to see, called ‘Wood be Good’, was a gallery of handmade wooden furniture with a sculpture maze. After driving up and down the stretch of road it was supposed to be on, I finally noticed a very small sign for ‘Wood be Good’ with any even smaller sign underneath it saying ‘closed’. Apparently it had closed the week before I got down to Margaret River. At least there were other things to look at.

I ended up driving to Yallingup to have a look around. There was a lookout with a bench overlooking one of the beaches, so I sat up there for a while and just watched the ocean. It was very calming but at the same time rather overwhelming to think about the power of the waves and the vastness of the ocean. It made me feel very small in the grand scheme of things, which was actually kind of good in a way, because it helped me to regain a bit of perspective on the things that are troubling me.

After it had rained on me one too many times for my liking, I went to Dunsborough for some lunch, some much-needed petrol (182.9 per litre!) and a drive out to the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. It’s another thing that has changed heaps. The last time I can remember going to this particular lighthouse, I was about 10 or 11 years old. (I suppose you have to expect things to change in 25 years!) I decided against doing the lighthouse climb... my knees were still recovering from the Jewel Cave … and the whale watching platforms were a 3.5km hike away in the rain. Call me a wuss but I didn’t want to get soaking wet on the off chance that there were some whales way out to sea.

I went back into Dunsborough township for a wander around the shops and found a lovely little bookshop. I happily browsed in there for a while and found a book full of retro (1950’s) pictures with some rather more modern sayings attached:

“You remind me of my husband, except you’re not buried in the backyard.”

“Your proctologist called. They found your head.”

“My mother doesn’t just enjoy guilt trips; she runs the travel agency.”

“If size doesn’t matter, why aren’t there any four-inch dildos?”

“Does my fat ass make my ass look fat?”

“I understand the concept of cooking and cleaning. Just not as it applies to me.”

And my personal favourite:

“What we have here is a failure to give a s***.”

After deciding not to buy the book, as I had already memorized the ones that appealed to my warped sense of humour, I checked out a couple of other stores where I got a head start on my Christmas shopping. By the time I had finished paying for everything, it was getting rather dark and the rain had started again, so I headed off to check out one last gallery. Unfortunately I missed the turnoff to it so I just kept going until I got back to the house. Not bad for a little afternoon jaunt … only 110km round trip.

Soup for tea and another late night.

Holiday update #9

Tuesday 15th July

The weather was rather stormy this morning and is apparently going to continue this way for the rest of the week. Perfect scrapping weather if I could just find some mojo!

I decided to have “PJ day” and do very little. I think I managed to achieve that. It’s all in the expectations isn’t it? Did some washing, updated this diary, some scrapping, some lounging around, some reading and not much else. Just what holidays are supposed to be ... relaxing. I even had another nanna nap on the couch which of course meant that I stayed up late because I couldn’t get to sleep at a reasonable hour. Oh well … it’s not like I have to do anything in the morning is it? The joys of holidays!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Holiday update #8

Monday 14th July

I woke about 6am, looked at the clock, groaned and rolled over. Before I knew it, it was after 8am. I must have really needed the catch up sleep. Debbie was already up and around so I had a shower then had a chat before she left at 9:45am.

Being alone again was rather unsettling at first. I wandered around the house trying to decide what to do with myself before curling up on the lounge with one of the books I brought with me. While reading the book, my tears reminded me that it would probably be a good idea to take my “happy pills” as I had forgotten to take them for nearly a week! Realistically, I think it was more a sensory thing of being more aware of being on my own … no sound of anyone else in the house and even the neighbourhood was quiet. The fact that the book was pretty sad in parts didn’t help!

I know it may seem strange to some people but I like to read stories about people who have lived with children who have difficulties of one sort or another. (My eldest son is autistic, only very mildly so, but enough to make life interesting at times. He is slowly learning more of the unwritten social rules but as his two closest friends are very similar to him, it’s taking longer than it would if his friends were neurologically typical/”normal”). I even read these sorts of books as a child, specifically about autistic children which must have been the universe trying to prepare me for what was to come. On another train of thought, reading these books helps me appreciate how good I do have it and that it could have been much, much worse.

The book I was reading today is called “A Friend Like Henry” and is about a severely autistic boy who is slowly and lovingly brought out of his own world by his very determined and patient parents and a Golden Retriever puppy called Henry. It was just astounding to realize how bad they had it and how much blame was squarely placed on the parent’s shoulders. You would have thought this book was written about someone born at the beginning of the 1900’s, not a child born in the 1990’s. I experienced some of the same attitudes when we were trying to get Alex diagnosed but luckily not to anywhere near the same extent as the parents in the book. (Their son is now functioning well as an adult but the parents are going through it all over again with their daughter who is also autistic).

After I’d wiped all the tears away, I went into town to try and update my blog. Unfortunately the cybercafé doesn’t have Word on any of their computers so I couldn't use my diary to quickly update the blog. I surfed the net for a while, then went back to the house for a bit more sloth-like behaviour. Scrapping, reading, watching TV, contemplating my navel (figuratively of course!), making delicious toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches for lunch at 4pm, more reading, more scrapping, more TV … you get the picture!

I had decided to have an early night, but at 9:30pm my brain was still racing so I stayed up a bit later … midnight. Your body uses less energy watching TV than sleeping so I figured I was resting while perving on the Tour de France riders! Ooh la la … magnifique! (Apologies to all the French speakers out there! That’s about the limit of my very bad French).

Holiday update #7

Sunday 13th July

Even though I went to bed early, I was still awake at 10:30pm so I figured I may as well do something instead of tossing and turning. I ended up finishing an entire That’s Life puzzles section in an hour before I finally crashed and slept through to 8am. By the time we’d both had our morning wake-up shower, a lovely cooked breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast and decided what we were doing for the day, it was after 10am.

The rain didn’t seem to be too bad and I’d heard reports of whales down in Augusta, so we headed down that way. Debbie even let me drive her car. (I so want to get an automatic for my next car and one with cruise control would be even better!) It only took 35 minutes to get to Augusta and driving down the main street was an eye-opener. It’s nearly twice as long as the last time I was there with three times as many shops as there were before.

I was trying to work out where the whale viewing platforms were but couldn’t find them so we ended up taking a little scenic drive along the waterfront before stopping at a craft shop which was right next to the Tourist Bureau. After having a look around at all the souvenirs and asking where the best place to spot the whales was, we went out to the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. Another place that had changed heaps since the last time I was there. You used to be able to just walk into the grounds and have a look around and you only had to pay if you wanted to go into the lighthouse itself. Now you have to pay just to get into the grounds, which is where the whale viewing platform is, and then pay extra for the lighthouse tour and the viewing platform binoculars. Oh well ... literally the price of change!

We decided to have some of the yummy smelling soup from the tearooms for lunch (we didn’t have to pay to get in there … just for the food!). It was so nice to able to sit there, eat lunch and not have to worry about the kids fighting or getting bored or disturbing anyone else. There were plenty of kids there but none of them were ours so we didn’t mind!

When we ordered our soup, the staff were trying to talk us into having some of their freshly baked scones. We finished lunch, sat and chatted for a while then thought we’d try them. One of the guys had even said they were “The best in the West”. Unfortunately, he was sadly mistaken! The Berry Farm’s scones are still the best I’ve ever had by a long shot. Once we’d finished what we could of the scones, we went outside to get some pictures of the lighthouse over the fences and then went to look at the old water wheel.

The water wheel used to draw water from a local freshwater spring and pump it to the lighthouse. It’s not used anymore and the wheel has calcified but it still made for some pretty photos, especially with the banded rocks in the background. I also tried to take some photos of the hundreds of shells stuck to the rocks but didn’t release I was standing in the wavezone. When the waves came in, the rock I was standing on got covered in water so I ended up with wet jeans legs again! Luckily not too bad so I could still get in the car without dripping everywhere.

We were both pretty windblown by this stage so we headed back to the house for an afternoon of scrapping. Amy rang Debbie several times during the afternoon for instructions on how to make a white sauce for the lasagna she was trying to cook, so Deb didn’t get much done and I only managed to finish a couple of the kids’ school pages but it was the perfect afternoon. Scrapping, cuppas, bikkies and great company … what more could a girl ask for?

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because the boys hadn’t rung me once the whole time I was away and I thought it must have been because they didn’t miss me. Amy proved that wrong in one of her phone calls by telling Debbie that the boys were really missing me (they’d been out to Wayne and Debbie’s for dinner on Saturday night) so then I started feeling guilty for not ringing them more. Mother guilt is a wonderful thing isn’t it? After a phone call to them I felt a bit better and hope they did too. Apparently they’re helping Peter clean up his (very messy) side of the backyard and are having a ball playing the new PS2 games he bought them. A bit of bribery never goes astray!

At about 6:15 both Debbie and I developed a craving for Chinese food and went out to get some. The lady at the Chinese restaurant is rather odd to say the least! We fronted up to the counter where she informed us to “come back in hour” to place our order that would then take another 20-30 minutes to be ready. I think Debbie’s response of “Chooks it is then” changed her mind because all of a sudden she was quite happy to take our order. What a strange way to run a business!

When we eventually got our Chinese food, we came back to watch TV for a while before we both headed for bed at 9:45pm. Another great day in paradise!!

Holiday update #6

Saturday 12th July

Today was the day I woke the earliest … 7am! Of course this was bound to happen because last night was the latest night I’d had. (Must have an early night or five or I’ll never be able to get up for work!) I had thought I was the only one awake but then I heard the other shower start just as I was about to get into my shower. The water pressure isn’t strong enough to have both showers going at the same time so I waited until whoever it was finished, then jumped in quickly.
When I emerged, Debbie and Mina were having an in-depth discussion about the joys of raising teenage daughters. (Mina’s daughter is 13 and Debbie’s are 15 and 11). Once Mina realized I was out of the shower, she went for one, then packed up to go back to Perth. I tried to talk her into staying for the morning and going back after lunch but she had already made plans for the afternoon. Once Mina had left, Debbie and I got organized and went in search of The Berry Farm for some of their scrumptious jams.

After we had perused all the available jams, chutneys, sauces and wines, we tasted their apple vanilla port. Smelled divine but boy, did it have a kick and a burn! Then we tried the chocolate liqueur that Mina had had as part of her dessert at The Spaghetti Bowl. Another one that smelled fantastic but it had a bit of a kick as well. Debbie bought some after we worked out that we could make our own mudshakes with it! Then we headed over to the café where we had the most delicious Devonshire tea. The strawberry jam was, of course, the Berry Farm’s own and the scones were fresh out of the oven. Delish! I would even go as far as saying they were the best scones I’d ever had!

The rain had let up a bit by this time so we went out to the back verandah to check out the parterre garden. Of course, as soon as we stepped out from under the roof the rain started again, so we contented ourselves with using the zoom lens to take pictures. It’s funny how much we think alike. We both took pictures of the exact same things in the garden!

The rain was still coming down quite heavily so we moved to the front verandah where we noticed quite a few pretty little birds hanging around the railings. I had noticed some children feeding the birds on our way in and the birds seemed to be waiting for another feeding so I obliged. Debbie managed to get some photos of all the birds sitting on my hand helping themselves but they moved so quickly, most of them were just blurs. It was the strangest feeling having them moving around on my hand; almost a tickle but kind of scratchy as well. Another lot of kids had noticed what I was doing so I left them to it and had a look around the cottage garden instead.

After we finished at The Berry Farm, we went into Margaret River to check out some of the galleries and shops. I finally managed to have a look inside The Melting Pot, a glass studio and the Christian Fletcher photography studio. So many beautiful items and images to look at and I would have loved to take some home, but the prices were most definitely aimed at the more affluent tourists. Oh well, at least I got to look … that still doesn’t cost anything!

We wandered up one side of the main street and down the other, stopping at a few places to buy a couple of things, before stopping at Brumby’s for some crusty bread to go with our dinner of creamy chicken soup. A bit more wandering down the street to where we collapsed into the car (I’m sure that street gets longer every time I walk it!) and went back to the house for a quiet afternoon. Reading, puzzles, cuppas and a bit more updating of the holiday journal.

I noticed that there was a fair amount of mist outside, so I grabbed my camera and went down to the creek at the end of the street to try and get some of those lovely, misty scenery shots. I need to take the legs on my jeans up though because even though I got a couple of ‘decent’ shots, the bottoms of the legs were soaked from the wet grass and puddles. I should probably pay more attention to where I’m standing instead of just focusing on the picture!

By the time I got back, Debbie had the fire going nicely so we did another crossword puzzle then had a leisurely dinner. I settled in front of the computer to update the holiday diary while Deb watched the football before we both decided to have an early night … 9:30pm.

Holiday update #5

Friday 11th July

We had vowed to get out of the house a lot earlier this morning and we managed to leave by 9:15am. First port of call was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory (after I had looked it up on the map to make sure we didn’t miss it again!). We had a great time checking out all the different things on offer and purchased a few different things just because we could! No kids there to beg for another one of this or that … sheer bliss! We also got to watch one of the ‘chocolate artisans’ making some hazelnut whirl truffles and were mesmerized by the three vats of chocolate with their big wheels churning the chocolate around and around and around …

On the way out of the carpark, we noticed signs for another new venture called Providore. It had all sorts of jams, relishes, spice mixes, wines, homewares and interesting floral arrangements. The first arrangement had a head of cauliflower in it. I know that it has ‘flower’ in its name but I would never have thought to put it in a floral arrangement. The other arrangement had rhubarb leaves tucked in the bottom around some lovely proteas. Another unusual idea but very effective.

After we left Providore, we went off in search of some ‘Divine Nooky’. Well, not actually Divine Nooky, as that is the name of a fudge at The Candy Cow, but the main ingredient which is a port called Nooky Delight. It’s made at a winery called Woody Nook, just north of Margaret River and is the smoothest port I’ve ever tasted. After buying a bottle each, Mina wanted to find a white port so the next stop was The Grove, a winery right across the road from Woody Nook.

There is a pond out the front of The Grove’s cellar door with a sign saying “No swimming! Crocodiles!” and sure enough there were! In fact, there were three crocodiles... well their heads anyway. (Fake floating crocodile heads added for novelty value). Grove does a range of liqueurs as well as wines and ports and we had a great time checking the place out before tasting their white port. It was nowhere near as smooth as Nooky Delight but quite nice all the same.

Then the saleslady talked us into trying their white chocolate liqueur, which was really yummy. (I know that’s not a technical term for wine or alcohol appreciation but it sums it up very well!) Apparently it’s very nice poured over ice cream; you just need to make sure you’re not going to be driving afterwards! Of course, we both had to buy a bottle of that too. I don’t know when I’m going to drink all the alcohol I’ve been buying but I suppose I could always give it away as presents .. yeah right!! We’d had our legal limit of wine tasting by the time we’d finished at The Grove, so we went back to Moonhaven in Cowararmup for another look around. We’d been there fairly late the day before and we both wanted to have another look.

While Mina went inside I rang Mum to wish her a happy birthday but got her answering machine, so I left a message. (I had arranged for some flowers to be delivered Friday and had left a present for Peter and the boys to drop off). Then I tried to ring Debbie to find out what time she was due to arrive but her phone rang out. (Her daughter, Sarah, had changed the ringtone so Debbie thought it was a sound effect on the radio!)

After not getting through to anyone, I went back into the shop and ended up buying some very pretty-smelling moisturizer (rose-geranium) before we headed back to Margaret River and the toy shop. Mina had spotted some funny fridge magnets that she wanted to get so we spent about an hour wandering around playing with all the toys and weird stuff. We both ended up buying a few things then realized it was after 2pm so we went back to the house for a late lunch and to wait for Debbie.

That morning I had done a load of washing and when it wasn’t anywhere near dry after 5 hours, I put my pyjamas in the dryer. There’s a note on the dryer warning that it’s loud and they weren’t kidding. I’m sure the neighbours six houses away could hear it! At least my jammies were dry before bed though!

Debbie arrived about 3:30pm just as the rain started again so we all sat down with a nice hot cuppa and a good girly chat. Before we knew it, it was after 6:30pm and our stomachs were starting to think our throats had been cut. We had decided to have a counter meal at the pub but it was full to almost overflowing, as was the next pub we tried. So we went to a lovely little restaurant called The Spaghetti Bowl where we managed to get the last available table.

Dinner was very tasty and extremely filling … but then again, the filling part might have been the desserts! Sticky date pudding with caramel sauce and homemade ice cream … yuuuummm! We were all so stuffed, we could barely move but we managed to get back out to the car around 8:30pm before going back to the house to do a fantastic impersonation of three sloths. Debbie went to bed at 10:30; Mina went at 11:15 but I managed to hang out ‘til midnight. Why I’ll never know but it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Holiday update #4

Thursday 10th July

I woke about 8am only to find Mina had already been awake for half an hour. We chatted for a bit then Mina cooked a fantastic breakfast of bacon and eggs while I just did the toast. Perfect arrangement for me!! By the time we’d both had showers and done the dishes, it was after 11:30am.

We had decided to see Jewel Cave so we hit the road for the 45 minute trip. The rain started almost as soon as we walked out the door. Thank goodness the cave is “undercover”! We stopped at the caves info centre (Caveworks) where we both bought ourselves some new jewelry... mood jewelry. I got a new ring and Mina got a bangle. Apparently I was feeling very romantic and relaxed and Mina was feeling relaxed and active (how those two go together I don’t know!)

Then we drove down to Jewel Cave where we were just in time for the 2:30pm tour … just the two of us. The tour guide was great and very patient especially considering I had forgotten how many stairs there are in Jewel Cave ... over 500! I had thought it would be easier then the 336 steps down into Lake Cave and the 336 steps back up again. Boy was I wrong! The cave was absolutely amazing. So many different things to look at and all made by Mother Nature. The guide turned the lights off when we were right at the bottom of the cave (he warned us first thank goodness!) and I have never felt anything like it. We couldn’t even see our hands in front of our faces. Together with the lack of air movement as well as the total lack of sound, it was complete sensory deprivation. Having the tour to ourselves, we could just stand there and enjoy the sensation of total peace and quiet. I can’t imagine being lowered into that environment on a rope through a narrow hole in the ground, with only a single torchlight to see by.

By the time we climbed all the stairs and got back outside, I was so red in the face Mina thought I was going to pass out. Of course I didn’t (just!) but we had a nice little rest before getting back in the car and heading off to find the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. The chocolate factory wasn’t where I thought it was (apparently I was only about 20kms off!) so we ended up at the Candy Cow and Moonhaven Soaps instead. The Candy Cow was great as usual and I had a great conversation with the new owner. He’s even going to look for the recipe for my favourite fudge … cappuccino with marshmallows. And he’s going to work on getting the mail order system back up and working. Woohoo!!

I could have spent hours in the Moonhaven shop... so many things to look at! Fairy stuff, knick knacks, crystals, jewelry, and all the different soaps and lotions. We were both fascinated with all the little things hidden at the back of the shelves. After spending an almost indecent amount of money (not really but it’s the most I’ve spent on non-food items!) we headed back to the house for some warmth, with a promise to ourselves that we would find the Chocolate Factory tomorrow morning.

Another late night … after 11pm.

Holiday update #3

Wednesday 9th July

Woke about 7:30 to the sound of some little animal scratching around in the garden so got up and had a relatively early breakfast. Didn’t have anything to read until I remembered the books Debbie had lent me so I sat and read for a while then had a shower to warm up a bit. It had rained overnight so it was quite warm to start with then got rapidly colder so I decided that getting firewood should be priority. Mina was due to arrive sometime during the late morning/early afternoon and she really feels the cold so I thought I’d better be nice!

After getting the firewood, I went to the internet café to update my blog and check on my emails. I spent about an hour and a half just surfing all my linked sites then realized it was nearly 12 so I got some more groceries and headed back to the house for lunch. I wasn’t sure what time Mina would arrive so I decided to stay ‘home’ and read for a while.

I got a phone call at about 2pm from Mina who rang me while sitting in the driveway hoping she had the right place. I didn't have the heart to mess with her after that long drive so I opened the front door and scared the daylights out of her instead! We unpacked her car and got the fire going again before going in to town for a look at the main street. I’d done more walking up and down that street than I had in the previous three months! I know I needed the exercise, but that was going a bit too far!

We checked out the Fudge Factory and Ye Old Lolly Shoppe where we went a bit crazy buying stuff. So many lollies … so little time! Then we got some “grown-up” drinks, groceries and Chinese food before we went back to the house for a girl’s night in. Mina brought her movie collection so after perusing the choices, we watched “Because I Said So” and then “The Princess Bride”. I had forgotten how funny “The Princess Bride” is. You have to have seen the movie to get these references:

“Would anyone like a peanut?”

“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”

“The cliffs of insanity!”

“Nobody would surrender to the Dread Pirate Wesley!”

After laughing ourselves stupid (the Cruisers probably helped), we watched a bit of TV then headed for bed about 11pm.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Apologies ...

to those of you who have been waiting to see what other stuff I've been up to. I've actually been kind of busy instead of relaxing so I haven't managed to get back to the cybercafe before now. I even brought my portable hard drive with me to update my blog quickly but this computer doesn't have Microsoft Word so I can't just cut and paste.

Enough whingeing for now though. I've been having a great time and can't believe that I've only got four days left. Time really does fly when you're having fun!

I'll try to get back here later today to put the full versions of my days up but it might not be until tomorrow. Don't hold your breath!!

Hope you're all having fun in the holidays!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

I'm here!!


I had planned to be on the road by 10am at the latest but by the time I'd ducked down to Big W to buy some rose bushes for Mum, dropped the kids off, had a cuppa and then got home to pack the car, it was after 11am. I finally managed to pull out of the driveway at 11:20am after checking, double-checking and triple-checking the house. Luckily the weather stayed nice all the way down to Margaret River, apart from getting a bit cloudy once I hit Bunbury, so it was a pleasant drive even with all the stops for road works.

It was quite strange being aware of how my mood was changing the further I got from Perth. At first I was nervous with a huge knot in my stomach and was feeling very selfish for driving away and leaving the kids at Mum's (especially because of the mood Alex was in ... trying to say the least!). That passed after the first hour and then I could feel my mood lifting as I turned up the music and bopped along the highway. I'm sure the truck drivers in front of and behind my car thought I was a raving lunatic, dancing along to the music in the driver's seat!

That was the stage when I became more aware of the scenery and had a good laugh at the antics of some of the animals in the fields bordering the road. There was a single lonely looking chocolate brown alpaca in a field of white sheep. He seemed to be looking around him wondering why he was there and why did he look so different from the others. I wanted to stop and take a photo, but the truck sitting right behind me doing 110kph put paid to that idea.

The next thing that made me laugh was three calves having a great time hassling each other. I got to watch them for a few minutes because I was stopped at one of the many road works sites. Funnily enough two of them had almost the same markings with the third one being a bit bigger and rather pushy. The bigger one was pushing and head butting the other two to try and get them to play, until they'd finally had enough and backed him into a corner of the field, then ran away. Sound familiar?

At another one of the road works stops, there were three Friesian bulls in a field right behind the the stop-go lady. Two of them were very disinterested and quite happy to keep grazing, but the third one was extremely curious about what these humans were doing. There was quite a backlog of vehicles to get through, so I had to wait through three stop-go changes. Every time the traffic was stopped, the one interested bull would wander over to look at each of the cars in turn, then once they started moving again, he'd go and stand behind the stop-go lady. It was like he was the inspector at some sort of checkpoint. I'm sure the stop-go lady thought I was nuts too because I was laughing so hard at the bull, I almost missed her signal to move!

Not long after that, I stopped for a quick stretch of the legs and a "comfort stop". The Getz doesn't have cruise control and I really wish it did. My right knee was quite sore form being held in the same position for nearly two hours, but the quick walk around did the trick. Then it was back into the car for the last leg and that was when I could feel my mood changing again. It probably had something to do with the cloud cover but I was starting to get tired and there were no interesting things to distract me. All the cows and sheep were on the far side of the paddocks and for about 30 minutes, I was the only vehicle I saw in either direction. Then I saw the sign for the Candy Cow. Woohoo! Instantly wide awake again but then again, the promise of a sugar fix will do that. (Free samples are a wonderful thing!)

Of course I had to stop there and bought 10 different flavours of fudge. They don't make my favourite one any more (cappucino with marshmallows), but I managed to make do with what they did have. I have yet to understand the current fascination with pairing things such as chilli and chocolate, but I suppose it must appeal to some people or they wouldn't keep making it. Then it was back into the car for the last 15kms.

I finally reached the house at 3:40pm and the first thing I saw was a parrot sitting in the grevillea bush out the front. He (she?) was having a wonderful time plucking the flowers and detroying them for the nectar inside. Then when I went to get the house keys out of their hiding spot, I disturbed some ducks (what is the collective term for a group of ducks anyway?) that were enjoying their afternoon tea of worms and snails. All this in the suburbia of Margaret River.
After doing a quick exploration of the house (it's huge!), I unpacked the car before heading off to do some food shopping. I also joined the local DVD rental place and finally managed to get a copy of "27 Dresses" along with a couple of other movies that have been out for over a year that I still haven't managed to see. "27 Dresses" had been recommended to me, but I have a problem with paying the exorbitant movie theatre prices, so I waited until it was out on DVD.

With the shopping done and some light entertainment lined up, I headed back to the house, fully intending to hibernate there for the rest of the night. Then the craving for Chinese food started. I knew there was a Chinese takeaway in town so I headed back out only to find that it's closed on Mondays. Fish and chips it was then! (Didn't feel like cooking and because there's no-one else to worry about, I didn't ... worry that is!) Went back to the house and settled in to watch "27 Dresses" with my fish and chips. It was quite a good little movie. Typical Hollywood formula but which movies aren't these days?

Started to crash about 11pm (late for me) so I headed for bed and sleep knowing that I didn't have to surface before I wanted to in the morning.

Holiday post #2


I was woken by the sound of the ducks looking for their breakfast right outside the bedroom window at about 8am. (The ducks are wild that wander wherever they please). When the other birdlife started their morning chorus in earnest, I dragged myself out of bed and had a leisurely breakfast while reading the paper and some info on the local attractions. So nice to be able to lie in bed and then to read at the table and not be told off for taking up too much room!

At 11am I headed into town to return the DVD and check out the tourist bureau and the changes to the main street shops. It was a fair bit windier than Monday and as a result a fair bit colder. I went searching for shops that sell firewood but almost everyone had sold out. Apparently they're all getting some more on Wednesday. (I hope so for Mina's sake!)

After wandering down one side of the main street, I found the tourist bureau and asked about the internet access and the local scrapbooking shop. By this time it was after 1pm so I wandered back up the other side of the street, stopping to check out "The Scrappy Cow" (tiny little shop with hardly anything in it ... good thing I bought my own supplies!) before heading back to the house to watch the other DVDs and have some lunch.

I watched "The Terminal" (ok) and "Bride and Prejudice" (quite good) and tried to watch "The Devil Wears Prada" but it kept freezing and skipping so I gave up and had a nanna nap instead. Two hours later (!) I woke up and had some dinner then watched TV before heading to bed at 11pm again.

This is the life!!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

I'm getting nervous ..

but am very excited! I leave tomorrow for my first ever all-on-my-own holiday.

It's amazing how much I still have to do. I have to pack:

  • clothes (some are still going through the wash. I'm sure the washing machine is eating my bras 'cos I can only find two!)
  • toiletries (Have to try and stay decently presented. Never know who you're going to run over .. oops .. I mean into.)
  • scrapping stuff (this will take up the most room. Priorities people!)
  • camera (I'm a scrapper. Of course I need a camera!!)
  • phone (just in case. I went to school with him .. Justin Case. Nice guy but a bit too Boy Scout .. you know .. "be prepared" just in case!)
  • battery chargers (for camera and phone)
  • some food items (got to have nibblies for the long drive down there. The groceries can wait until I get there).
  • "grown-up" drinks (Don't have to face the kids in the mornings so I can have a drink or twelve. Just kidding .. I have a strict 11 drink limit!!)
  • laptop (to download the millions of photos I'll probably take of Jewel Cave.)
  • books (I don't do enough reading at home .. yeah right!.. so I have to take some with me.)
  • CPAP machine (to stop my snoring so I don't rattle the windows out of the frames.)

And I still have to:

  • put petrol in the car (can't go far on an empty tank!)
  • bring in all the washing on the line before it rains again
  • finish cleaning up the kitchen
  • get some cash for incidentals (still too many places that don't have EFTPOS)
  • drop the kids at Mum's place (and try not to look too happy when I'm leaving them there!)
  • make sure to wrap Mum's birthday present and take it to her when I drop the kids off

All these things to do and yet I'm still sitting here thinking of more things to do. Better get a move on or I'll be late for my holiday tomorrow!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

"You're not the boss of me!"

That is all I have heard for the last ten minutes as the oldest and the youngest fight it out over who gets to sit in the bean bag and control the TV remote. I'm just waiting for the inevitable wail of pain and one or the other screaming "I'm telling Mum!"

Alex: "I'm telling Mum you hurt me."
Brad: "Well I'm telling Mum that you're watching TV."
Alex: "So? I'm allowed to."
Brad: "No you're not. You're supposed to be doing your homework."
Alex: "It's school holidays. I don't have any homework."
Brad: "Yes you do! Your English assignment that you were supposed to hand in on Friday that you said you already finished."


Alex: "Have the stupid remote then! See if I care!!"

Bradley's got this blackmail thing down pat. The scary part is he even knows that's what it's called and the difference between blackmail and bribery!

Remind me again what I'm supposed to be teaching them or is this near enough??

(Just for the record: I know Alex hasn't finished the assignment and I know he's going to get a detention for not handing it in on time. I'm at the stage where I figure it's his lesson to learn and all the pushing and screaming from me will do absolutely no good at all. I think they call it being resigned to the situation.)

Thursday, 3 July 2008

A little prayer ...

Dear Lord,

Thank you for getting me through the first day of the Big W "Toy Spectacular" brochure without doing anyone bodily harm. (Calling them names in my head doesn't count, does it?)

Thank you for giving me the presence of mind to not swear at the lady who asked me the same stupid question 16 times hoping to get a different answer every time she asked it.
"No, we don't have any of the $2 CDs you're looking for."
"We have sold out."
"Yes that means we don't have any left."
"No, we don't have any more out the back."
"Nada, zip, zilch, zero, none, no more, all gone!"
"I'm sorry I have personally ruined your day by hiding the one thing you were looking for but that's my job today: to screw with your life!" (Not really but you know I wanted to!)

Thank you for giving me people to work with at the home entertainment counter who were, for the most part, able to follow simple instructions and not stuff the system up too badly (except for he-who-shall-not-be-named who nearly gave away a Wii console and two $60 games for 2 cents. Did you mean to make him miss out on even the most basic of common sense or was that just an oversight on your part?)

Thank you for only giving us one barfing child and one pooping child all day. I do need to have words with you about why you let the mother of that child allow it to poop in one of the toy aisles, but I suppose you have your reasons!

Thank you for keeping the store manager out of my hair for most of the day. If I was tempted to do bodily harm to anyone, it really would have been him, so thanks for that.

Thank you for giving me some workmates who were able to shed some perspective on things for the few really bad customers.
"I could understand you getting this upset if this were a life-support machine sale madam. As this is only a toy sale and you are enquiring after a five dollar piece of plastic, that will probably be broken before your child has finished unwrapping it on Christmas morning, I am having a problem understanding your rage." insert more irate screaming here.. "Would you care to rephrase your request as I'm sure that is anatomically impossible. No? Well I hope you have a nice time shopping at Kmart madam."

Thank you for only allowing the fire door alarm to go off six times. The 110 decibel siren right above my head did manage to make me jump every single time so thanks again for the adrenaline rush. (However, I'm not going to apologise for the names I called the manager once we found out it was him setting the alarm off because he was too lazy to go around the long way like everyone else.)

Thank you for giving Taya's mother the strength in her lungs and vocal chords to screech Taya's name for three hours straight. It gave us all an idea of where Taya might be in the store so we could avoid her after her first three run-ins with staff. I'm sure the bite marks will heal relatively quickly but the bruises on the shins will take a bit longer. At least the bruises are pretty colours and I'm sure we'll all recover our hearing by next week.

One small request for tomorrow: please grant me the patience to deal with the store manager's endless dissection of what could have been done differently, the inevitable squabbling over how someone's ideas were better than everyone else's and the clean-up of today's fallout. If you grant me strength I will kill them all, so patience is highly preferable!


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

I love my IRL friends!!

(For those not in the know, IRL means In Real Life)

I have just about talked their ears off over this whole moving to the country thing and the ensuing relationship dramas, yet they still make time out of their own busy lives to keep in contact and check on how I'm doing.

I'm the kind of person that goes on auto pilot and withdraw from people when things get too much to deal with and I don't think to reach out and ask for help. I really appreciate the fact that I have such great friends who know me so well that they reach out and offer help instead of waiting for me to ask for it.

So, Jackie and Deb, here's some great big cyber hugs just for you! Thanks heaps and love you both!!


Tuesday, 1 July 2008

I had to try again!

Got a little bit better. How did you do?


The things you find out afterwards...

Alex loved Thomas the Tank Engine when he was smaller and would often play with them for hours. If he wasn't playing with his own trains, he would be watching the videos/DVDs over and over again. He was never really interested in any other children's characters for long and would always come back to Thomas especially when upset about something. His Thomas trains were kind of a security blanket for him.

I have only just found out today (only about 8 years after the fact) that a fascination with Thomas (bordering on an obsession) is very common in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I found some information on this site about this interesting fact.

The things you don't realise until much later!