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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Australia - An introduction

A while ago I asked what non-Australian people wanted to know about us. Then I got to wondering - how much do I know? I mean, I haven't been many places. I shaded a map to see just how far travelled I am, and I was shocked at the result:

On square mileage, I reckon I've seen more of Britain! But I will persevere. I've been as far north as Brisbane (Expo 1988) and as south as Tasmania (1987). Both when I was very little, and my recollection is shady at best and fabricated at worst. In between is New South Wales, my homestate, and even there I've only been as far west as Cobar, but I daresay that's a lot further than most people get. Because, once you hit there, you can pretty confidently claim you're in dry, tough terrain. Not 'The Outback', because (I think) you only really hit that once you reach the named deserts.

In between is also my current homestate of Victoria, a place I've barely seen, apart from the car window along the Hume Highway on the many car trips we've made to Sydney. This is shameful as I've lived here seven years now! As you read this, I will be flying over a good proportion of the shaded map I've just described, trying not to look out of the window too much (I am not a good flyer), but will do so anyway, to point out landmarks and such to Keira and Riley, such is my motherly duty.

So there you have it. Whetted your apetite? Put you to sleep?

Stay tuned for Part Two: Australia - the inhabitants.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Entrepreneurship 101

Keira has taken to 'setting up shop' in our walk-in-wardrobe. Her wares are exclusively our shoes, and it could be any part of the day when I walk by our bedroom to hear her muffled cries within of, "Shoes for sale! Come and try my shoes!"

So I oblige, and walk in to see her waving a hand, very 'Price is Right' style, saying, "What would you like to try?"

I must say I am rather pleased she has taken to playing with non-techno toys or games, but I really don't think my humble collection of shoes quite meets up to her enthusiasm.

I put on shoes that must be at least ten years old. I dangle my foot around in the light, trying to be objective, but when Keira asks, "Do you like it?" more often than not I have to admit to myself, "No, not really."

They are all tired. The leather is scuffed. The soles are uneven or bald. They all have a history, too. I put on my wedding shoes and can barely pull the straps over my barnacled, scabby, flesh. I would never wear them in public again because my feet look so ugly. I don't see why I bought them in the first place, to be honest.

Adam also must try on his old shoes. We look at each other, and we (well, I do) wonder at her creativity, but also at our lack of style and sophistication. Imelda Marcus or David Beckham, we are not.

But I don't think I'd want it any other way.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

1001 Book Challenge - The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

You think terrorism, strapping explosives to the chest and walking into a public area is a modern phenomenon? Joseph Conrad was writing about it 100 years ago.

Published in 1907, at what most critics consider the early part of the modernist era, the book does admittedly contain pessimistic, almost apocalyptic, critiques of society. It is also a very black comedy and this irony helps disarm the reader from any hellish visions of the future.

One of Conrad’s most dramatic ironies in the novel is that the novel's 'villains' - anarchists- are full of bravado but no action, yet it is the personalised characters, those with the most to lose, who are most capable of violence.

A must read. It is fabulous.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer) - a Public Health Announcement

When I was 17, something strange happened to my left breast. It got red. It suddenly got very itchy, especially around the nipple; which then began to excrete a mysterious, clear liquid. As you'd expect, this was enough for my mother to take me to the doctor.

I had a mammogram - a procedure uncomfortable enough at the best of times, I hear, but especially so for 'younger' breasts, because there's so much more tissue to splodge together. It was all very bewildering.

The doctor had Serious Face: at the time, I believe, the 'C' word was even floated as a worse case scenario. I couldn't see how.

I'm no expert, but I think what whymommy describes in the below post (reproduced with her blessing) was what the doctors had in mind for me. I was lucky; whymommy hasn't been. Bravely fighting off her disease, she's asked anyone willing to become educated. Here's her story:

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

P.S. Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.

I hope you're all paying attention.

Friday, July 27, 2007

In upsy-down town...

[Children's bedtime. That charming part of the day when they're tired, you're tired, and you're just pretending to be all calm and natural when ushering them off to bed, but all you're really doing is stopping yourself buying a human-sized slingshot to get the job done quicker.]

Adam (rushing about): Where is Keira's toothbrush?

Me (bastion of wisdom): On the CD cabinet.

Adam: Naturally! Of course it is. When I think of brushing my teeth I immediately go to choose what musical selection to accompany the job. Where is the toothpaste?

Me: On the bookshelf.

Adam (beyond patience): You do it...you just do it....

There's a saying 'everything in its place': we liberally interpret that around here......

Thursday, July 26, 2007

We're going on a (ball) hunt

We recently joined our local toy library. It is run by a members co-operative, which means I have to volunteer my time to run sessions and such during the year. This doesn't really bother me; in fact, I'm looking forward to this kind of parent:

They come through the door, two toddlers in tow, screaming they don't want to return 'their' toys, can't they keep them a little longer? Despite mother's assertion that, look around them!, there are plenty of other toys we can get now instead.

This placates the children and they run off to see what they can get.

Mother then goes up to the counter, and painstakingly counts out all 80 pieces of a puzzle they've borrowed, only for the counter-attendant to lose track at 57, where which she starts all over again......

[....mother suppresses a sudden need for that sweet, sweet lick of Jack Daniels and turns around to see her children tearing around, pulling toys down of the shelves willy-nilly. ]

...count is finally tallied and it is discovered that there is a puzzle piece missing. Dammit. Busted. That's the second time in a row. Mother meekly accepts the fine and hopes she doesn't get black-listed forevermore.

She turns around to see her Houdini-esque son has somehow managed to escape from the room and she tears outside to find him, trailed by a wailing daughter who is shouting, "I want more toys. WHY AREN'T WE GETTING THE TOYS NOW??!!"

But that could just totally me.

Actually that is totally me, and will be again next week, because I've (no THEY'VE) lost a ball we've borrowed and I've turned the house upside down looking for it.

I've even looked underneath the cavity under the dishwasher, and have needed to take an aspirin and lie down after the trauma of discovering what evil, dirty and loathsome creatures lay there.... (Bratz dolls head anyone? joking...no they've sunk to a deeper level of hell)

...but no ball.

Wish me luck finding it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

WW - The Wonders of Sleep

This is Keira five or six days after she was born.

This is Keira now. I can still see the similarities in her face. Note if you will the Hi-5 hairstyle, which I talked about the other week! I mastered only one....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Eating my words - Cheerios vs Froot Loops smackdown

Adam was most aggrieved the other day when he read my post about Cheerios and Froot Loops.

"They do not taste the same, and I'm going to go buy a box of both to prove it!"

So yesterday I was subjected to a blind taste-test, where which I learned that, indeed, they do not taste the same. Froot Loops are just as evil tasting as I remember (but with not much more sugar than Cheerios, actually, if you take the time to read the box).

However, ever since Keira has clasped eyes on those synthetic colourful balls of diabetes-waiting-to-happen, she's wanted to eat them. So this morning we gave her a extra-special treat, but I'm going to have to find a hiding space in the cupboard for the box, because 'extra-special treat' in her eyes equals 'extra-special for only so long as I want to eat them again, whereupon I will pester you until your eyeballs dry out so I can eat them again.'

Fun times.

What foods do you wish your kids had never discovered?


Note: Last night I finished Harry Potter. I have removed the poll I had on my left sidebar now because, now I'm done, I cannot trust myself not to spoil it for others, by leaving temptation there for commentary.

If anyone has finished it and wants to discuss, however, feel free to email me and we can discuss it privately. For I have a lot to say!

Monday, July 23, 2007

There's a kind of hush all over the world....and some aren't happy!

[scene: bedroom. Sometime after 9pm.]

Adam (shuffling closer under the sheets): Hello there little lady....

Karen (gently edging away, book in hand): Go away, I'm busy.

Adam (trailing a finger up my forearm): Guess what I'm in the mood for.....?

Karen (irritated): I'm reading Harry Potter. It's getting good.

Adam (growling): I wonder just how many sex lives that J. K. Rowling has ruined?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

1001 Book Challenge - Saturday by Ian McEwan

*warning - spoilers*

This is the 1000th title on the 1001 list. It's odd reviewing a newer book, because all of my reviews so far have been pretty much from the middle of the lot. It's also the first book I've read so far specifically for this challenge, although I have been fully aware of its existence before now.

I think McEwan is a formidable writer. Anyone familiar with his work would agree. In fact, when I come to teaching my writing class, I will very possibly use Part One and, maybe, Two as examples of 'how to' create tone, foreshadowing and character in a text.

But I did have problems with it for a while. It does get bogged down a little in the middle. I did come to a point of frustration, where I was tempted to put it down, and I'm glad I didn't. Suddenly, before I'd realised, I'd read 100 pages in a stretch (when the main character, and his family, suffer a hostage situation) and it all came together.

Set in post 9-11 political times, McEwan blends the over-arching politcal climate in which we find ourselves drenched, where we cannot escape the media, to the more private decisions, made with our own moral comapasses, and how devastating they both can be.

At least, that's what I thought.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

The day has arrived!

There's less than an hour until Harry Potter #7 is released.

I'm reporting to you live from the place I'm to pick it up from. I'm sipping an extra large coffee and feeling slightly giddy because I am here sans husband and children. They opted out at the last minute; begging off due to the cold weather, but I have a slight suspicion there may be more reasons as to their reluctance.

You see, I am dressed up as Hermione Granger.

I've struck a sort of middle ground: wizard-like loyalty proven with a less daggy appearance. But my costume is rather haphazard: my university robes have again come in use; last time I wore them was in my final week of pregnancy with Riley and literally nothing else fit. Made from a woolen blend, they're surprisingly warm and might be enough to ward off draughts of wind coming underneath the cafe's door and looks of suspicion and - dare I say it? - derision from my fellow breakfasting peers.

It might have begun when I swept in, replete with my brown wig: which, as there is no real patented 'Hermione Granger-brown crimped locks' (yet), I've had to go with a Jon Bon Jovi mullet circa 1987. It's not a bad alternative actually, and the waitress may have been struck by my visible similarity to my magical friend. She was certainly dumbfounded. But that may have had to do more with my following sentence.

"Hello!" I said, adopting Hermione's customary haughty tone. "A macchiato if you please."

The waitress stared.

To get my point across, I withdrew my wand - sticky-taped toilet rolls together, with stripes alongside, thanks to Keira's help - and said. "What? Are you accursed by a Stupefy spell?"

"No, no. A machiatto coming up."

"No, you don't pronounce it a match-ee-ah-to! It's mach, as in mac-truck--- mach-ee-ah-to."

"Sorry," she mumbled.

"No problem."

Despite my doing what I thought was best - edifying my fellow humans on the importance of proper pronunciation - I soon discovered my help was not wanted. Fellow customers have turned their backs to me. So I'm sitting here typing, waiting, for the time to tick down. And since I have been, more people have been filling up the place; and, thankfully, another woman has come in in a positively Muggle-ean inspired creation of a spotty purple cape, and pointed witches cap with black spots. Velveteen everything else. Egghhhh. I think I win points for authenticity. I win, I win!

Half an hour to go. I best go do some work now.

*Like Harry Potter, much of this post was fiction. I'll let you try to figure out which part(s) that was.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Getting in the spirit of the occasion

Karen: Do you want to get dressed up when we pick up the new Harry Potter book on Saturday morning? Would you like to be a wizard?

Keira (wrinkling her nose): I don't like wizards. I want to be a fairy.

Karen (secretly dismayed, but putting on a brave face): How about you dress up as a fairy-wizard?


Karen: Oh. *pouts*

Keira: How about you and dad dress up as wizards, I can be a fairy and Riley can be a teletubby?

Looks like that'll have to do.

Anyone else going to be camping out to get their copy? Ours is reserved at a cafe/bookshop, so we might go have a coffee while we wait. Our 'opening time' for the book is a very sensible 9.01am. I don't think I'm that keen to wait to midnight, if I had to!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

13 things that have preoccupied my brain this week when I haven't otherwise been in agonising pain

    Is it just me.........

  1. Or do Cheerios taste the same as Froot Loops?

  2. Or does Robin McGraw (Dr Phil's wife) need elocution lessons, because dammit she can't read a teleprompter to save her life. It infuriates me. I hate watching the episodes she's on (although I'm sure she's a swell lady).

  3. But when the housemates in Big Brother, upon eviction, say to each other, "Keep it real!" I feel like saying, "Do you honestly feel you're keeping it real on a reality show? Don't you realise you're living an oxymoron?"

  4. Does this sound like the coolest place to buy?

  5. But I am glad I took Keira to the dentist recently

  6. Or is most part of the pleasure of seeing the latest Harry Potter movie is to drool over Daniel Radcliffe enjoy the scenery?

  7. Or does anyone who has a crush appreciation of an actor/actress/singer/whatever younger than themselves suddenly feel like Humbert Humbert? (Or a lesser unsavoury equivalent?)

  8. But then you think to yourself, hang on hang on! It's not like I'm old enough to be his mother (Thank God). Groovy older sister, maybe. I could 'pull him' if I wanted too. I'm not over the hill yet....

  9. You then dare a glance at the kids, one who is brandishing a toy hammer like he is Thor and we are to get out of his way! Or the other, who can be seen at any given hour deliberating over whether she should wear the stripy-candy stockings or the cream ones. You realise you'd have no chance--unless he is really interested in weaponry (and let's face it, he's had a bit of experience so far) or in the fashion preoccupations of preschool girls and might consider a romantic tussle with a woman with kids.

  10. You think you're thinking way too much about this subject and hope that your husband doesn't find out - - even when you conveniently forget his constant pontificating about "that hot chick" in the Transformers movie.

  11. (On a more serious note...) Or is anyone else going to buy the new Harry Potter on Saturday at your local, independent bookstore, those struggling to get by in this day-in-age, like I am? Or are you going to save a quick buck by going to one of the big chains? Come on, this last time, support the little guys!

  12. I think my stream of headaches has seriously warped the chemical equilibrium of my brain!

  13. So if anyone thinks this is a pretty silly list, that's okay. I forgive you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

WW- Getting jipped for advice

(You might need to click on picture to read better)

Well, you can't say Miriam wasn't being....helpful. In some way....

The morning after the day(s) before

From late Sunday afternoon, after we left Harry Potter, until sometime yesterday afternoon, I suffered a near migraine.

I say near because I didn't have the following:
1) double vision
2) crying (I cry whenever I have one. I did come close this time, but)

But I did have the following:
1) carb cravings
2) vomiting
3) blinding pain

Once the pain finally ebbed away, I was left in my post-traumatised, lobotomised state, which is almost as bad as the pain. Adam had to come home and help me because all I could do was lie on the couch, order commands (well, the household and kids-stuff hardly stops when I do!) and get him to bring food to me. Because food, for some reason, usually helps.

What do you do to get over migraines, or headaches that are almost as bad? How do you cope?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why Children's Literature isn't to be taken lightly

Adam: (sniffing in near-disgust) "Why bother studying children's literature? It's for kids. It's not meant to be interpreted as deeply as adult texts."

Karen and her sister: "WHAT?!"

Karen's sister is doing her Masters in Children's Literature. In fairness to my husband, he was saying that just to get a rise-up. We took the bait.

Here's one reason why children's texts are important.

John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat is one year older than me. Published in 1977, it won the 1978 Picture Book of the Year from the Children's Book Council of Australia. I think it is in every school library in the country. I sure remember reading it first at school anyway, then I saw it the other day in our library and borrowed it for Keira.

Here's a synopsis:

This classic picture book is about jealousy, but is also about learning to give over through love. Rose and her Old English Sheepdog, John Brown, live contentedly together. They need only each other. When the midnight cat appears outside their home, John Brown refuses even to admit its existence. He comes to realise that the cat is important to Rose and to allow it in the house, even though it makes him sad. The cat is mysterious and possibly sinister, and John Brown's reactions may even have been right the first time. Nevertheless, his love for Rose prevails, and he puts her needs first. A strange little fable, but quite beautiful in both words and pictures. (Source)

That just didn't sit right with me. I mean, yes, that's what the book is about, but I was sure there was something deeper. You finish the story and there's something haunting about it. I mentioned this to my sister, who, with her expertise, was able to fill me in.

"Yes, I remember reading about this," she said. "Listen to the names. John Brown - he was Queen Victoria's kinsman/saddler/companion after the Prince Regent died. So, the dog is him.
Rose, who was Victoria's nickname of sorts, is her. So John Brown is protecting her."

"So what does the midnight cat represent?"

We thought about this.

"I think it's death," I said. "At the end, right, she wants to let death inside but John Brown won't let it come in until he too realises he can't protect her from death forever. So the cat comes in and sits by the fire, waiting."

Get it guys. Read it. See if you agree.

This is why kids need to read. To grasp onto a narrative; come to their own interpretation, to become active thinkers and logicians. Just because our reading might (I admit) be a bit much for others to swallow doesn't de-legitimise the deduction in the first place.

It's also for the eternal child in all of us. In the screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on the weekend, it was the adults at the back of the theatre who cheered loudly for Gary Oldman as Sirius as he boldly jumped out into the fray at the climax, and I admit, I was one of them too. I wanted to be a member of the Order. I want access to, and placement at, Hogwarts.

I want us all that chance to keep dreaming.

And it starts with those few words on the page; a powerful picture accompaniment; for the magic to begin.

Lucky Keira is okay with Sun...

Because Kathleen is going bye-bye. Somehow I'm not surprised.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

YouTube Time - Live Earth Highlights

I'll give you the background. We were driving in the car and the radio was playing live feed from the Live Earth concerts, and the DJ announced, "And here's Keith Urban and Alicia Keys!". I turned to Adam and said, "Did I hear that right? That's got to be the oddest pairing I've ever heard of."

Then they said they were going to cover a Rolling Stones song, and I thought, "Uh-oh. This is going to be ugly."

But, no. In fact, I really enjoyed it. I hope you do too.

I think Keith has been dissed a bit as being a bit of a defecter - spending the most part of recent years in the USA, and of having very floppy hair, and being Mr Nicole Kidman. But, boy, you've got to admire his guitar strumming!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

There are birthdays and then there are birthdays....

K: Can I have a birthday party next week?

Me: It's not your birthday next week.

K: Can I have a birthday party at Christmas?

Me: It isn't anyone's birthday at Christmas.

Whoa. Did I just say that? 1000 kms away, my mother would've looked up from her tea, and shivered; someone had just walked over her grave. Naughty me. Is this the time to get into religion and Jesus?

Alas, no, the moment has passed.

K: Can I have a birthday party tomorrow?

Me: No

K: Can I have one next birthday?

Me: Yes, but it's not for a long time.

So I'll be listening to pleas like this for a while....

Friday, July 13, 2007

The one when I talk about creche

I joined the gym this week. Hurrah! One New Years Resolution I've kept. Well, only half-kept this far, as I haven't started using it yet. But it's still progress!

While I was there I checked out the creche facility. This time last year, there's no way I would have ever even entertained that possibility. Uh-uh. No way. No way I'm leaving my kids with strangers. Someone could sweep along, like an evil angel out of low-lying cloud, and pluck them up and away.

Did I mention how I loathe July? I loathe it. This time last year I'd just begun counselling for my rampant anxiety attacks, which the doctor said belonged under the PND umbrella. Back then, it would've been the hormones, the new baby, the everything blah-blah-blah every new mother would understand. This year? I'm doing better, but still I reckon, like the rest of us who live in the colder climes, I am affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Maybe.

Anyway - cut the the gym. That's why we're there. I need exercise.

The creche leader was very patient with all my questions (just because I keep my anxiety in check doesn't mean I need to know all about the workers, right down to their medicare card numbers, favourite colours and horoscope, and just to get a vibe of the place.)


She set her shoulders, ready to go, "Well, its up to the parent. Some say, come and get me if they don't stop crying in five minutes. Some say, come get me after 10 minutes if they're still upset. Some say come get me right away. Some say, let 'em cry, the doctor said I need a break and I NEED A BREAK!"

I swear to God, that's what she said down to the word. "The doctor said..."

I wonder how many mums are ordered - just as I was - to get out and exercise, just get out, be active. I wonder why it's taken me this long to join.

Just because I don't like leaving my kids at creche for an hour doesn't mean I shouldn't.

It's taken me three+ years of motherhood just to figure that out.

For those of you interested, here are my stats:

Weight: 53kgs (116 pounds)
Height: 161 cms (5 ft 2in - I'm short)
BMI: 20% (please don't hate me)

We'll see if/how they change after a few months.

Update: I want to be at pains to stress, I am not feeling compelled to join the gym to lose weight. Anyone who knows my history would possibly feel worried at such a suggestion, and I emphatically state no, no, no. I do not want to lose weight. I just want to get fit. There is a difference.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How to procrastinate in 13 easy steps.

[Daytime. The kids are both napping; a rarity.]

1. You set up the laptop on the kitchen table.

2. You open your media player and play a couple of Daily Shows with Jon Stewart, even though you could've played this while children are awake -although you should think twice then even, for the swearing - but you forgot you'd even downloaded them until now.

3. You open a book you're reading desperately so you can then read the ten others you've got waiting, so you can return those to the library, to get more

4. You can't remember what work it was you were supposed to be doing.

5. You open up your documents folder on the laptop, and spend a few minutes going through a few old your old documents from a few years ago, a few novel manuscripts, because you're both a glutton for punishment and primed for desperation/ reparation of spirit. You wished you had time to work on them properly but it wasn't these you set up the computer to start with.

6. You open a file for your article/ non-fiction ideas and go on the Internet to do some research.

7. Instead of hitting 'Google' though, you open your favourites folder for, like, the 20th time that day to check your site meter. You've checked it so much, you know exactly who's visited, right down to their place of residence and what ISP they use.

8. You think, hey, while I'm doing blogging stuff, I'll do the rounds on all my favourites.

9. You spend the next half hour reading, commenting, and being taken around a linking rainbow of choice and interest.

10. You look at the clock and hate yourself for getting sidetracked.

11. You consider getting some sort of software that limits the time you can actually spend on the Internet.

12. You think that that is for people with no self-control, or for people under the age of ten, of which you are neither, so you snap yourself out of it, and shut down Explorer.

13. You then notice you've got a new email. You read that, and realise you've got a few others to respond to. You do.

You then hear one of the children is awake and you swear to yourself because your time has been frittered away. That's what procrastination looks like.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

WW - Gluttony

Our family (by which I mean: me) has eaten an entire jar of Nutella in two days.

You see why I deliberately don't buy the stuff. It's the most addictive of the sweet condiment family.

What do you not buy because you know you'll eat it too quick?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Haircuts - not for the faint-hearted.

Last Friday it was haircut day. It was Riley's first haircut, which made the occasion rather special - for me, not him. No, he spent the entire time going ballistic in my lap, a tornado of head-thrashing. Consequently, he has possibly the most uneven haircut since the Flock of Seagulls boys.

And Keira? Total opposite. Sat in the chair, knees crossed, flicking through a magazine. This girl has only just turned THREE. I was waiting for her to pipe up with the following winter fashion breakdown: "Seriously, smocks? What are they thinking? If Mischa Barton can't pull one off without looking pregnant, what hope do the rest of us have? And don't get me started on ankle-boots. Where's the rest of it? Saving the leather isn't recompense for bad taste".

Monday, July 09, 2007

Housekeeping Issues

As we're going to be away for several weeks come the end of the month, I've been thinking about how I'm going to keep Miscellaneous Mum rolling in that time.

First up - my Sunday '1001 book challenge' reviews. I've come to the end of my stockpile; a stockpile of titles which I'd put together for a writing gig which fell through a few years ago. Lucky I kept them, eh? Well, now I've resorted to going through old university essays and cutting and pasting relevant bits into reviews-of-sorts. So that will keep me going for a while until I - shock of shocks - pick up a darn book that's on the list under my volition. I kind of am now, as I am slugging my way through Ian McEwan's Saturday (one of life's irritations for me is a book without plot; that focuses purely on character. That's how it's reading to me). So, anyway, I apologise if they suddenly get a bit highbrow.

Second - I'm throwing the door open for post ideas. Any overseas readers want to know anything about Australia? Our way of life? Anything? No question is too stupid, trust me. I'm happy to answer whatever you've got to ask. I'll put that on the posts lineup too.

Third - I will still be on the Internet, but I mightn't be online compulsively checking my emails and stats as much as I'd like.

Okay, thanks, as you were!

Dialogue taken from television commercials

Keira: "Are you a folder or a scruncher?"

Me: "A scruncher. What are you?"

Keira: "A scruncher. Dad's a folder."

Any Australian will probably understand to which commerical I am referring. Toilet Paper is the subject, so the question stands: Do you fold the toilet paper when you....you know. Or are you a scruncher?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

YouTube Time - Japanese Tetris. Needs to be seen to be believed

Adam found this yesterday. I only have one thought: why did it take this long?! Here's another: I nearly choked laughing.

1001 Book Challenge - The Name of the Rose

For any murder mystery, medieval or gothic enthusiasts out there, this book is for you!

It is northern Italy in the early 1300s. The Papacy and entire Catholic religion is plagued by religious discord and upheaval. A council is arranged in an isolated Benedictine monastery to try and resolve these issues. It is here that a series of gruesome and baffling murders take place. It becomes William of Baskerville’s task to solve them, and quickly, for the monks superstitiously believe the deaths are being enacted by some divine prophecy––and any one of them could be next.

Umberto Eco is possibly the world’s most respected semiotician and this novel shows why. Crammed with symbols and signs, it is hard not to be amazed by his knowledge––of monastic life, religious cults, art, literature, to name just a few. It can be read on all these levels or just one, if one chooses, for it is Eco’s talent to weave them together as not to be alienating. And for the sensationalist he includes sex and homosexuality: no kind of taste is left out in this brilliant story!

It's not the world's easiest read by any means, but if you finish it you'll be so glad you did--even if it's because you'd then have legitimate bragging rights for saying poshly, "Oh, the book is so much better than the movie" (which it is).


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Keira strikes again

Keira has just dumped a pile of tiny elastics on the floor, because she's borrowed a book of Hi-5 hairstyles (as you do) from the library and wants to try them*. I come along, sleep-deprived, and swoop down on the mess.

"You can't have these out when Riley's awake. He can choke on them."

"Can he?"

"Keira, I hope that was a rhetorical question."

*This will result in tears and frustration on both sides, but I let her.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Question for the tech-minded people

How do I add a social-booking widget to my RSS feed? Its on my comments bar for when people visit the page, but as I've just checked my feed, its not showing up there.

As I've had a major migration of readers to my feed lately (why? "Am I not pretty enough?" - sorry, only Aussies will get that joke ;) I thought it might be useful.

I am nothing if not useful. Sometimes. I try.

Remember the banjo-penis talk from the other day?.

Oh, Google, now it seems all penis-talk people are coming my way. Nice. Not.

Rockin' Me!

Lookee, lookee!

My sincere thanks to both Jordan and Miss Frou Frou for bestowing this honour on me.

Now I'm supposed to pass this on to five more people. Hmm....so hard to choose....

  1. Izzymom - heck, you've probably gotten this a dozen times already, but I love 'ya style.

  2. Karen Cheng - an Aussie blog (a great looking one too), a mum, check Karen out. Oh, we share the same name; it's got to be good ;)

  3. Strauss - Expat Aussie returning to our shores at the end of the year. I'm keen for updates!

  4. Gingajoy - Expat Brit living in USA, about to return home too! (Must be year of the move). Hell, I love anyone who I can exchange emails with on the subject of Neighbours - my guilty sin. You make me laugh :)

  5. Crazy Trace - Old friend ('old' in the how-long- we've-known-each-other) kind of way. Bike lover extraordinaire

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A cache of good movies

Thanks for this TT must go to Michelle. I'm pinching her idea from a few weeks ago. Yes, it takes me that long to get organised. Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ;)

1. Best romantic comedy: this is the hardest one for me because it's one of my least favourite genres. Most of them are snoresville. Look, I'm going to have to go with the BBC's production of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. Anyone who's seen will know exactly what I'm talking about. I have only two words for you: Wet. Shirt.

2. Hardest cry: Braveheart I think, only because it also classifies as 'Weirdest Cry' also. I saw the movie with friends. I got to the end and I was stunned. I think my un-cried tears just got bottle necked. My mother picked me up after and asked me how the movie was. And I just started to bawl. And I bawled for about the next two hours, my tears becoming steadily worse!! But boy I felt better afterwards. It's still my favourite movie. Dead Man Walking is a close second.

3. Best "heist" movie: The Great Muppet Caper. Diamonds. Big Hair. Bike Riding through a park. Charles Grodin trying to resist the seductions of Miss Piggy. Priceless. (I am being a little tongue in cheek here)

4. Best action movie: I still enjoy Speed. For the best action sequence, however, I still thoroughly enjoy the chariot race in 'Ben Hur'. I just saw Casino Royale though. Hot Damn! let me say that again; Hot Damn!

5. Most inspirational movie: Toughie. Real toughie. For me, perhaps Good Will Hunting. Or Dead Poets Society. Strange they both have Robin Williams.

6. Best mystery: Goodness.... The Usual Suspects? I watched it knowing nothing about it, so of course was sucked in by the ending. Now, though, it's ruined, so does it classify? I'm a Hitchcock fan though, so most of his movies too (excepting possibly The Birds. I didn't get it....)

7. Funniest movie: A Fish Called Wanda and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I still giggle in Meet the Parents. I'm also in the loves Zoolander camp; as opposed to a Zoolander-hater.

8. Best animated movie: That's hard. Probably Finding Nemo.

9. Scariest movie: I don't like scary movies, so I can think of a whole bunch: the Nightmare on Elm Sts, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre etcetc.

10. Best romance: I'm going to be a bit different here, but I think The Crying Game. I like unconventional storytelling and that's about as unconventional, and moving, as it gets.

11. Best fantasy: It might be a generational thing, but I like The Princess Bride. Willow stands out ("Move along, Pec!") but hands down, best one is The Empire Strikes Back. Shouldn't that be in sci-fi? No, I've reserved that one for another.....

12. Best musical: Rocky Horror Picture Show. But then, I'm strange. Hang on, no I'm not. I refuse to defend my love of this movie for any longer!!!

13. Best sci-fi: Bladerunner. Odd choice for a movie I've only ever seen once, but it just spoke to me.

14. Best classic (pre-1980): Tie between Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

WW - Scavenging

Trust Riley to go through the most expensive cereal in the cupboard!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


On the weekend, I sat down; just sat down, no prelude, and wrote the opening paragraph to a new novel. It came to me complete and rich. As I wrote the rest of the story unfurled in my mind like a red carpet to a premiere. I got excited. I had to put the pen down and have a think.

Then Adam cleaned the house.

Now I can't find that piece of paper.

$#%&(*2 3334$*@#*@*$U@#*@!!!!!!!!!!

Let's hope I find it and it's not lining the bottom of the recycling bin.

Oh, Google, I thought we were friends

Until you sent this person to me:

should a penis banjo string break?

I honestly don't know how to feel, because Google obviously feels that I am an authority on penises, because I came second in the ranking to this baffling question. I am sure whoever it was came away from Miscellaneous Mum as unenlightened as they were when they arrived (on the subject of penises, anyway).

Don't get me wrong. I have a working (!! not that way!!) knowledge of penises. I know the difference between circumcised ones, and non-circumcised ones (don't ask me why...well, maybe you can). But this question had me stumped. And interested. So I did a search of my own. Apparently there is such a thing called the 'banjo string' on a penis and, yes, it can break and - I read - it is quite painful. Yeoch.

So there you go. Next time someone googles this topic, they may be sent here and, next time, I'll actually have something half-informative to give back to them.

I'm sorry though to the person who Googles "Love Beads How to extract? Help?"

You're on your own.

Boy, right now I'm glad my mother doesn't read my blog.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ignore the (wo)man behind the curtain

You'll probably guess, I'm tinkering here on the blog. I'm getting antsy about it again. I don't know, how can I describe it?

You know how you can fold and unfold a piece of paper so many times that although you haven't make a mark on it, just by the indentations and handling it just looks...old? That's how I'm starting to feel.

Also, I've had it with the Oprah quote. I can only take the ribbing (both good-naturedly and otherwise) about it for so long. But that's okay, because the other week I found a perfect replacement. Stay tuned!

Professional Me

Karen Andrews: BA (Cultural Studies and Cultural Policy), MA (Literature)

Email: miscmum@gmail.com

Karen Andrews has been writing professionally for a number of years, producing a variety of material, such as book reviews, newsletters, brochures and web copy.

Areas of Writing Interest:

Children’s Health; Literature and Wider Culture; Blogging, Personal Narrative and Memoir.



Browne, K (2000) A post-Freudian interpretation of Matthew Lewis’ The Monk. Masters Thesis: Macquarie University.

Recent Selected Press:

Andrews, K (2004) ‘Birth according to plan – or not!’
Andrews, K (2006) ‘Beyond Twelve Months: What are the issues of breastfeeding the older infant?’ in Coles Baby Magazine, Summer 2006/7.
Andrews, K (2007) ‘Climate Control’ in Coles Baby Magazine (Spring 2007).

Creative writing

Surprise! (unpublished manuscript)
Besieged (unpublished manuscript)
The Fingers of Mykolos (unpublished manuscript)
The White Sphere (manuscript in progress)
First Time Mother (manuscript in progress)

Perfect Post Awards - June

June 2007 Perfect Post Awards

It's that time again: Perfect Post Awards for June. This month there was one outstanding post, but more importantly I've discovered the most amazing woman, writer, mother. Her name is Kate. Her blog - see it newly installed on my sidebar? - is sweet | salty.

The perfect post? Her perfect tribute post to her son Liam, who died this month after complications from a premature birth. His twin, Ben, is still with us. I read this and literally the breath stopped in my throat. I've read many tributes and references since on other blogs because Kate's voice reverberates like a drum of strength through grief.

I am thinking of you. A stranger living on the other side of the world mightn't count for much, but I had to say it.

Go visit here and here for other awardees.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

So sad

Riley didn't have a breastfeed tonight. I think the time has come to let nursing go. He is almost 16 months now.

He did well; coped okay: until I've just put him down for bed and he's realised I'm not joking. The chest patting and the groping weren't a good enough hint. Sorry buddy, I'm getting tough.

No, I'm not. He's in there crying, I'm here crying, and I think it's time to let him be a boy and not a baby.

Discuss here! Harry Potter #7- who will die?

I think it will be Voldemort; but that could be too obvious a choice, don't you think? I think all this hoo-ha about it being Harry is just to put us readers off the scent.

What do you think? Leave your opinion in the comments

1001 Book Challenge - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

A rags-to-riches tale with both a moral and a heart.

Pip Pirrip is standing in a cemetery, visiting the graves of his parents when an escaped convict lunges at him, desperate for food and clothes. This meeting, which opens the book, will resonate in ways neither character could imagine. The convict is caught again and Pip becomes a companion for a rich, though eccentric, old lady named Miss Havisham. His position in life changes when he comes into a small living and as his benefactor prefers to remain anonymous, he assumes it is Miss Havisham. Moving to London, flushed with his change in circumstances, Pip begins to change. No longer a sweet child, but arrogant and proud, soon his past comes back to teach him that people are not always what they seem.

Dickens is a famous social and cultural commentator and sometimes his novels tend to focus on this aspect instead on character depth and roundedness. Not so in Great Expectations. There is pain and pathos, but also comedy and a gently irony. Pip as hero is often far from likeable, but his noble heart ultimately triumphs.

What's even more interesting is that I've just finished reading the highly regarded new(ish) release Mr Pip. I daresay it would be illuminating to read them conjointly. Just suggesting....