Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's meeee!!

Ok, where was I?

That's right. The Olympics had finished and Little Man had just had his third birthday. Yep, the little guy made it! It was touch and go there for a minute. It still amazes me that he has been around for three years. Of course, sometimes it seems much longer than that and other times it seems to have flown by. But it never feels like, "Yeah, three years sounds about right."

So what is little man up to you may ask? Well, for starters, his imagination has really kicked in. He loves playing games and anthropomorphizing his toys. For example, I watched him the other day pick up a toy and introduce it to another.

"Hello. I'm dinosaur. I'm ephalent."
"Hello. I'm lion. I'm dinosaur. I'm ephalent."
"Hello. I'm tiger. I'm lion. I'm dinosaur. I'm ephalent."

This went on until he had lined up around twenty little plastic animals. Every animal was introduced to every other one. Then the T-Rex beat all the other animals up, sending them scattering around the room. But apparently the T-Rex really has it in for the tiger, because he got a right seeing to.

I tried to film the happenings without him knowing but he got wise to me. He used to ignore the camera but now, he is just like his sister, he has to perform. Only problem is, its his natural performance that is the most interesting.

DW told me she was watching Little Man a few days ago and he was looking at the back of a Little Golden Book, and naming the animals, but he ran into trouble with the pelican.

LM: "Pecilan"
DW: "Pelican"
LM: "Pecilan"
DW: "Pel..i..can"
LM: "Pec..i..lan"
DW: "Say Pel..."
LM: "Pel"
DW: "..i.."
LM: "..i.."
DW: "can"
LM: "can"
DW: "Pel..i..can"
LM: "Pec..i..lan"
DW: "Nearly. Pel..i..can"
LM: "Pel..ic..clan. Pec.. Pelc.. Pec... Nah! It's a duck."

He just skipped it the next time round.

Princess is enjoying some "home-time" after a busy third term at school. The first week of the break were fun-filled adventures of swimming and parties and outings galore. She is finding the second week a little dull. I think this is how school holidays are designed. The first week is great but by the end of the second week, they are pretty ready to be back at school.

It's interesting to consider what Princess was like when I started doing this blog and what she is like now. She is growing up so fast. Her reading is coming along very well, she is much taller and her sensibilities are maturing. She still loves to talk and talk and talk and is always ready to show every single emotion on her face. But she is fast becoming a young girl, as opposed to a little girl.

After our local football team managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on the weekend, Princess couldn't understand why we weren't still celebrating the fact that they had tried their best. I tried to explain that our team were a bunch of witless losers for being the losingest, losery losers of loserville, but DW stopped me. Apparently we are proud of the fact that Princess still thinks effort is worth celebrating for its own sake. DW thinks we should foster this naive notion in the kids. DW also thinks Princess may have recently surpassed me in the maturity rankings in our house, but I said I don't care, 'cos I'm still the tallest.


Thought for the Day:
(sung to the Geelong Football Club theme)

We are Geelong, we bowed before the Hawks.
We are Geelong, they made us look like dorks.
We played, as though we had been spayed.
We could..n't make the grade!
We canna' fly high, we lost the game
Down at "new sponsor's name"

P.S. Just venting. I still barrack for the Cats.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Olympics are over! Ta-ta! Bye Bye! See you later!

Yep, no more Olympics for four years, unless you count the Winter Olympics, then its two years. I have a slightly odd view of the Games. I quite like that Australia does well, though I contribute to that success in no way at all. I find it annoying that it takes over the TV for two weeks, unless the football is on, which I find slightly more annoying. Unless its Geelong playing, who I barrack for and contribute nothing towards their success either. Its not like the other stations don't have stuff on, its just that I'm not allowed to watch them. Not during the Olympics. I have discovered that my ranking in the "television watching decision making" is a lowly fourth. The top spot is pretty much held by DW, followed by Little Man, Princess and then me. I need to get another dog, just so I'm not last.

Then the Olympics finishes and it all changes. Well, at least it might. DW says we'll see.

Princess has loved watching the Games. She has really gotten into the spirit and if nothing else, she has learned that the medals are awarded AFTER the race has been run, not before. Those exciting numbers at the start of the race are just the lane numbers for the competitors. Princess is trying to decide which sport she would like to compete in and is currently hoping that the dodecathlon (12 events) becomes part of the Games in when she is old enough.

Little Man on the other hand likes cars. Not just the movie - which he watches obsessively - but anything with wheels. This includes trucks, buses, aeroplanes and wheelbarrows. His idea of the perfect movie would be dinosaurs battling monster trucks. He also loves dinosaurs, but mostly its cars at the moment. I don't think I'll let him watch Speedracer just yet.

Speaking of Little Man, you might be amazed to hear he has finally turned three. Yep, the little guy made it, and believe me, no one was more surprised than DW and I. To celebrate, he got an attitude. Strictly speaking, he had the attitude for several weeks before he turned three, but he has really refined it. He also received lots of presents and had a party at which he showed everyone his attitude.

DW did most of the work preparing the party but I got to make the cake. Ok, so it was a packet mix, but I must say, the mix we use is easy and turns out great almost always. In this particular case, it turned out nicely. The design was based on an idea given to DW by one of her Mum's Group friends, let's call her Shlinda (she should make a list - Shlinda's List). Because of Little Man's love of all things automotive, I designed an outdoor road scene, and the cake was my canvas. I needed a large canvas so I made a great big cake. DW suggested I make butter icing and in retrospect, plain coloured icing would probably have been easier to work with and neater. Anyway, I split up the icing and got hold of all the food colouring I could find. I made a grass coloured icing and a water coloured icing and even a bitumen coloured icing. The last took careful measuring of several, nay, all the food colours I had. As for the precision measurements, I was just lucky that the precise amount needed was also the precise amount that I had of each colour. What are the odds? As it happened, the colour turned out a perfect shade of "road", and also had a slightly authentic taste as well. On this I put tic-tacs for road lines and a couple of small cars DW bought. In the centre, was a Lightning McQueen candle. Ok, it didn't turn out perfectly, but everyone said it looked like I tried REALLY hard. Damn butter icing.


Thought for the Day: I am, you am, we am...Australi...am

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Brace yourself!

Are you braced? Well do it then! I have discovered that I may in fact be some sort of superhero! The catch is... I don't know what my superpower is! Ok, we can all agree it's not my word-creation ability (cf. "kobberish" still has not entered common usage). Also I am not super strong and I can't fly. I can set things on fire using only my mind and a box of matches but technically willing things to be on fire by setting them on fire is pyromania, and not really super.

Now you might be wondering what makes me think I'm a superhero and not a pyromaniac. Well, for starters, if there's a pyromaniac in my family, its DW, but that's another story. No, I arrived at my conclusion using LOGIC! And no, logic is not my superpower as you will see.

Ok, we all know that superheros have super powers but they also have significant flaws. Either a terrible vulnerability (such as SuperMan and kryptonite) or a moral weakness (such as Batman and hookers). Now, although I haven't discovered my super power, I have discovered...an evil little piggy toenail on my right foot!

Now you might think I'm an idiot and you might be right but hear me out. This little bugger is evil, I tell you. It haunts me during the day, it wakes me up at night, it torments me in my dreams. It sits in the back of my mind whispering things like "whir, buzz, zzwweeee, whhooo". I mean, how frikken unclear is that? At least if it were telling me to "kill, kill!" I could make an objective assessment of the merits of the suggestion depending on where I was. It makes me have crazy dreams! I'd tell you about them but you'd think I was crazy.

I've toyed with the idea of pulling it out but it would just grow back, 'cos that's what evil toenails do! I wondered if I should just chop off the whole toe but that would hurt and I'd be worried about falling over every second step. Also, the power might simply be transferred to another nail. I should mention that I do not actually believe that the toe itself bears me any ill will or is in fact evil itself, just its diabolical spawn.

I don't really know how it happened. Maybe I said something wrong or ate the last cupcake or kicked a wilderbeast in the nuts. It could have been caused by anything. There's no real way of know for sure now. Its just a burden that I have to live with. But it doesn't have to be long. The toenail I mean. I've cut the little bugger down to size, which has only really succeeded in raising the pitch of the whispering in my head, but I know how to hurt it, and it knows I know. And so on.

The most disconcerting thing was, when I cut it's little head off and looked at the piece, it seemed, almost innocent... until I realised it was smiling! On the plus side, I'm still waiting for my super powers to kick in.


Thought for the Day: Great writers are truly original. Good writers cleverly plagiarise great writers. Hack writers aren't so clever, but there are so many hack writers that no one considers it plagiarism.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wallow free zone...right here.

Ok, so I've wallowed enough and today I am going to choose a new agent. Wish me luck.

For long time readers of this blog (lol) I should provide a quick update of the goings on in the lives of my children, Princess and Little Man (not their real names). Well, Princess absolutely loves school and its extremely gratifying to see how well she has taken to it. Her reading is going ahead in leaps and bounds and she is soaking up knowledge like the proverbial sponge. Is there a proverbial sponge? None of the proverbs I know have sponges in them. I'll fix that in my Thought for the Day. So Princess loves to learn and while the topics are far and wide, the current favourite is the Olympic Games.

Princess has a new computer game that she loves. Its called Google Earth and with her new found enthusiasm for the Olympics, she can actually find not only China, but also Beijing. Once she has found these targets, she then likes to search the oceans for the tiniest islands she can find. I don't know why exactly, but she seems a little obsessed. Still, its better than playing Duke Nuke'em or some other "blow-things-up" type of game. That's best left to the professionals.

That also reminds me. She was watching a kids education program the other day when the main character relayed a fallacy as fact. She said that the Great Wall of China is the only man made object that can be seen from space. Apparently many people believe this to be true. It is not, I tell you. The Great Wall of China is an engineering feat to be sure, but it is mostly bloody long, and while it is pretty damn solid, it is not more so than a dam or major freeway. Also, I'm pretty sure dirty great big shopping malls don't grow in the wild. So I did some research and found Wikipedia had some interesting things to say about the subject (other sites too but mostly Wikipedia). Being able to see the Great Wall of China from space would be like being able to see a single strand of human hair from 2 miles away. It MAY be possible, and I stress the "may" part here, to see the Wall from a low Earth orbit (which is technically not "space") but the seeing conditions would have to be nearly perfect. So far there have not been any confirmed sightings from those in such a position (though there have been a few claims - see the Wikipedia page), it is technically possible. Aha! you might say. It is possible depending on your definition. Not really. The main point of interest is the uniqueness of the Great Wall of China's visibility from space and from a low Earth orbit, there are lots of man-made objects that could be seen. Sure, none of them are as long as the Wall, but that wasn't the claim, now was it.

Ok, on to Little Man. What a pain in the butt he can be. Today might not be the best day for me to write about that little punk as he played up something shocking last night before he went to sleep, and then woke me up several times during the night. Oddly enough, he seems to have had a really good day yesterday. While he has yet to start Kinder, it seems to me that he is VERY ready to go. Granted, not more than we are ready for him to go, but very ready nonetheless. His little mind is absorbing almost as much as Princess', perhaps more, and he is trying to verbalize every damn thought he has, whenever he has it. Mostly this is amusing and reminiscent of the kid on TV whose legs went one way and even his head went the other. At 2am, it is mostly annoying.

Later this month Little Man turns 3, and we are still pretty confident he will make it. The odds waver a little during the night. Still, 3 was a bit of a turning point for Princess so we are hoping it will also be so for Little Man. He needs kinder and the stimulation of other kids and while they don't really teach kids much in the way of formal lessons, a lot is learned. Its only twice a week for two hours and while that doesn't seem like much, it is a nice gentle introduction to school life. Mind you, this is only three-year-old kinder. It gets slightly more intense at four-year-old kinder. So now we just have to make it through to the end of the year. At least he will be three soon and I can buy him a whole new range of toys.


Thought for the Day: The sponge holds more water than the hand.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It's a great day!

Welcome to a new era of my life. I am officially an author! Oh, I don't mean I am getting my book published or anything trite like that. No, I am officially an author because my rejection letter starts "Dear Author". I know, pretty cool, yes?

The first rejection letter is a rite of passage for fledgling authors, even dear ones, like myself. So how does it feel to have put myself out there and been smacked in the mouth, I hear you ask. Actually, its not all that bad. The form letter they send back to tell me have decided to pass on my fantastic masterpiece starts with the aforementioned "Dear Author" and goes on to say that my writing sucks and they wouldn't represent me even if I was the last "author", so-called, on the planet, and clearly I'm a git who couldn't write a coherent story and my general formatting is that of a three-year-old. And I'm stupid most likely ugly. And they have received so many other manuscripts that are all better than mine and they have to publish every single one of them so they had to draw the line somewhere and it was easy to cut mine, 'cos it was crap. Don't call us, we'll call you (as if). Kindest regards, Not Your Future Agent.

Ok, I was reading between the lines and possibly projecting a bit, but you get the drift. Oddly enough, if I had received the above letter, it would have been better than what I did receive. Well, maybe not but at least I could have been sure that they actually read my writing. The real letter is so... empty, that they might have just decided to throw a hundred submissions in the bin and send back a politically correct and completely non-committal form letter to those "Dear Authors". Don't get me wrong though. I don't really blame the agent. I'm sure that if they thought they had a shot at selling my book, they would have called. And if they didn't like it, or didn't read it, they aren't looking to alienate themselves by telling me what they really think and causing offense. Its the nature of the publishing industry.

I'm told that I'm in good company. JK Rowling was rejected several times before she got an agent, and now she is JK Rolling In Money. Most authors get rejection letters and I knew I would get mine, and now I have. So its time to have a bit of a bitch, lick my wounds and send the book to someone else. What you are reading now is the me-having-a-bitch part of the process. Its quite cathartic. And I won't name the agent because they haven't done anything wrong. Its just the way it goes. I guess I'm lucky insofar as I can publish my rant to the world thanks to the wonderful Internet. Sure, probably only DW will read it, and clearly I'm not above playing the pity card, but it feels better than staring at a list of new agents or a blank document hoping a better novel will miraculously appear that won't make people reject me. There's that pity card again.

What would really suck would be not having any other ideas. If I had written this novel and I had quit my job to "make it as a writer", things would be pretty bleak right now. But I have more ideas than time to write them. I have a solid job and a wonderful, supportive family (OK, DW is supportive but Princess and Little Man don't yet care what I do when I'm not with them). And I can always produce an EBook.

EBooks have a bit of a stigma insofar as most people don't actually want to read a novel on their computer or EBook reader, however, I believe that this will change. With the advent of electronic ink based readers, the text looks the same as on paper (or near enough) and so doesn't cause eye strain. You can fit all your novels and newspapers and email and PDFs and Word documents on them, bookmarking as you go. Your whole library will fit in your bag, along with your entire music collection. So, an eBook is a very real possibility for my novel, but I will try a few more agents first. Another good thing about eBooks is you can actually afford to sell them for a tiny amount, like one dollar, because it costs nothing to produce. Unlike a published book which has a significant upfront cost. But the stigma remains - you are not a "real" author until your book is on the shelf at Borders or can be ordered through Amazon. Well, the year is not over yet and there are several agents that haven't had the chance to reject me so I had better get cracking.


Thought for the Day: Poor me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Welcome to the Dark Side. Now when I say "Dark Side" I am not implying that you are evil, or that I am evil, or that reading this blog in any way endorses evil. Its just that, in this part of the world, we are coming up to the shortest day of the year. For me, that means two weeks when I don't see my home town in daylight - except for the weekend. I like daylight. I like my home town. I like to see these things together. But with my train departing just as the sun starts to rise, and arriving home well past sunset, these are dark days indeed. Not bad days, just dark. Its about this time of year that I start to really look forward to spring. I have to get my Vitamin D hit at lunch time. Fortunately, winter in Victoria often affords beautifully cool yet sunny days. Today is one such day.

I finally finished my novel last year and put off the inevitably first edit, but after many delays completed that as well. This year I resolved to further refine the first few chapters with a view to sending it off to potential agents. After procrastinating for several more months, I managed to crawl across that imaginary deadline as well. Now they tell me I have to write a bloody five page synopsis and a cover letter! Don't they know how good I am at procrastinating?!? I'm actually writing this blog instead of writing the synopsis. And I'm supposed to give away the ending without all the pretty words that get you there. What's that about? Agents, publishers, editors! Its like they want you to write the book AND make it good or something.

My problem is I wax and wane in my own feelings toward the manuscript. Sometimes I think its great; other times I'm pretty sure I could wallpaper the house with the number of rejection slips I can expect. Obviously the publishing houses would have to send me several rejection slips each but I guess they have to be thorough. They wouldn't want me thinking there was hope because I only got the one rejection slip. Actually, my real problem is that I haven't gotten any rejection slips. That would be because no publisher has seen the novel because I don't have an agent because I have approached an agent because I haven't written the bloody synopsis yet. This could on a while.

One of the many things I use to distract myself from writing said synopsis is my new obsession, photography. I am trying to teach myself the finer art of using the manual controls. I read lots. I look at lots of pictures taken by people who know lots. I read some more. I take my camera into the field and promptly forget everything. I then take five or six hundred shots of one flower and then trawl through to find the one shot that doesn't look like I fell over while the shutter was open. I am finding my retention of crucial information such as f-stops and film speeds and how they relate to each other and the shutter speed to produce an exposure to be somewhat lacking. Also, I can't frame to save myself. If someone pointed a gun at me and told me to take a picture of a barn I was standing in, there is no guarantee the barn would actually appear in the picture. But I am getting better, and that's important.

I still haven't had a decent night to do much astrophotography but I think I've figured out a better way to mount the camera. My moon shots turned out kind of ok, but as I mentioned before, I forget all the basics as soon as I start taking shots, so I had the ISO speed wrong - again! Oh well. I guess I'll just keep going until I either become proficient or I fill up all the available hard drives I have. At this rate, I've got until the end of next week.


Thought for the Day: All is not lost! I just misplaced it a little.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back so soon, eh?

Ok, so I kind of glossed over the whole ten years of marriage but I would like to jump back to that now. DW and I got married on the 28th of March, 1998. It was a cool, late Autumn day and the morning was pretty bleak. It was raining and I had a hangover from my impromptu second bucks night the night before, courtesy of my groomsmen and my sister, whom I shall call Air, to protect her identity. Fortunately it wasn't one of those stick-your-arm-down-your-throat-because-even-that-will-feel-better-than-this kind of hangovers, just a regular one. We had a few things to do before the wedding, which was scheduled for after lunch, so I had time to recover. The rain dissipated and we headed out to the church. As is customary, we arrived before DW and her entourage, though technically she wasn't DW then. Amusingly, her nickname up to that point was "Butch", but I won't go into that. Suffice it to say, she prefers DW.

While we were waiting and people were arriving and looking nervous for me, my groomsmen kept shoving chocolate and lollies and OJ at me. DW had apparently worded them up on my little "low-blood-sugar" problem. Its not really a super-power as such, but it does allow me to faint spectacularly at precisely the most inappropriate time. Combined with the copious amount of coffee I had consumed earlier, the sugar rush had me humming. I don't mean humming as in singing with my mouth shut, rather I was vibrating so fast I was slightly blurry to the naked eye.

When DW finally arrived, she looked decidedly upset, but she told me that she was just so happy, and it wasn't because she was only marrying me because I was her last option. She assured me I wasn't, which I have taken as a compliment.

Though it was pretty cold and quite windy, the day went very well. We headed off to have some photos taken by our "professional" (so-called) photographer and then over to the reception, which was also very nice, though I don't remember much of it. I organized three video cameras to film the event and I had every intention to cut a nice, concise wedding video together before our first anniversary. As it happens, that became my 10th wedding anniversary present to DW, though I must say, while ten years to edit a wedding video does seem a little on the long side, the technological improvements that have occurred during that time have meant a far better video in the end. Still, I got it done, for better or worse.

So here we are, ten years and two kids later, and we still like each other. Certainly enough to bother celebrating our ten years. It has been a lot of fun, and has had all the hallmarks of a good marriage. We laugh, cry, fight, make-up, work, play, relax and go crazy together still. And that's a good thing.


Thought for the Day: I wanted a sign that says "Beware of the guard squirrel. It goes for the nuts" but DW said not unless we actually get a guard squirrel, which she knows I will never do.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Good morning. Time to start blogging again.

I noticed this morning that it was February when I last posted a blog. It is now nearly the middle of the year. Looking back over the last few months, I can see why I haven't been blogging. So much has been happening, both at work and at home, that I haven't been taking the time to focus on my writing - at least with respect to this blog.

So, what in the world has happened?

Well, Princess is learning to read. Little Man has truly committed himself to the role of "two-year-old terror". DW and I made it to the big "Ten Years of Marriage". And I developed a brand new obsession. Now I know what you are thinking. Learning to read is pretty cool.

Its been a very interesting journey for Princess. She absolutely loves school and has really immersed herself in the joys of learning. Her reading has dramatically improved and she even explained to us recently how cannibals used special forks to eat the brains from their victims. I suspect she is learning as much from her classmates as from her teachers. At least Santa and the Easter Bunny are still safe.

Despite the new routine and excitement each school day brings, Princess is finding our less stimulating home environment something of a bore. She nags either for food or for interactive entertainment. This doesn't mean she wants to play on the computer or our non-existent PlayStation 3. No, she wants DW or I to jump about like an idiot for her amusement. DW steadfastly refuses and fair enough.

One of the games the two kids LOVE to play is Tickle-monster. Its a pretty simple game which involves me lying on my back on the floor and occasionally grabbing them when they get close enough and growling "tttttiiiiiiccccckkkkkkklllelllele MMOOONNNSSSTTEEERRRRRRR!!!!" We have been forced to establish the toilet rule which involves Princess going to the toilet BEFORE we start. As soon as Little Man forgoes his nappies, he to will be subject to this rule.

Mostly Princess is too nervous to come near me very often so it actually takes a bit of cunning to catch her. She WANTS to be tickled but can't bring herself to be subjected to it easily. Little Man has a slightly different approach which involves him jumping up and down on my chest or stomach until I get sick of it and tickle him. I have learned to keep my knees up to protect my groin - it mostly works. The only other rule is that the game ends when one or both kids start crying. The game doesn't last very long.

Little Man has gone through that dramatic phase of discovering the power of language. I don't mean its over and he now talks like an adult. But he has gone past the simple expression of emotions and words, to communicating far more complex thoughts, even if they are a little disjoint. I suspect there is probably a technical psychological term for it but if you have seen a child go through it, you would know what I mean. Princess went through it and it was a joy then too. While even babies have personality, it seems quite muted in comparison to this sudden burst of self expression. Of course, now he has so much personality we can't shut him up.

DW cops the brunt of Little Man's new found enthusiasm for expressing every damn thought in his head, along with Princess' need for entertainment as well as her near exhaustion from running around entertaining everyone at school. Little Man is still deciding if he is going to give up his day sleep or not but I suspect it will happen soon. But DW keeps it all together and keeps the house running. Next year Little Man starts kinder. Seven months seems like a long time.

Well, that's it for today. If you want to know about my new obsession, hop over to http://splutterbang.blogspot.com/ and check it out. For those that can't be bothered, my new obsession is photography. DW and I purchased a digital SLR for our ten year wedding anniversary (we bought the analogue equivalent when we got married). I have selfishly dominated the use of this new toy and some of the photos will go up on SplutterBang!.


Thought for the Day: Yesterday is tomorrow's day before yesterday. Does it know that?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Step right up folks, the show is about to begin!

Ok, now where was I? That's right. Blogging.

Princess has been at school for a few weeks now and she is absolutely loving it. She has already impressed the teachers with her exuberance, vitality and ability to speak while running, jumping, eating and drinking. She has also been quick to make friends and to hear her tell it, her entire class, plus several of the other classes, are her very best friends. The school she attends is quite large and there are four Prep classes of nearly 20 kids in each. Princess has already been nominated as the class representative on the Junior School Council for her class, though she has no idea what that actually entails.

Probably the most pleasing thing to hear is how ready Princess is to help out her class mates. Some of the other kids have had a hard time adjusting to school life and Princess is always ready to jump in and try to make them feel at home. She worries about how other kids feel. I guess no matter how we might feel as parents in terms of success, we can always just look at how our little girl is turning out to get a fair idea of how we are doing. Obviously there is still along way to go, but so far, I must say I'm very proud of her.

Princess has not only embraced the social side of school, but also the academic side. Every night when I come home she has something new to show or tell me that she learned that day. In only a few weeks her writing has shown remarkable improvement and I am confident she will be reading fluently very soon. All in all she is growing up very quickly.

While I remember I should mention a little conversation I overheard between Princess and Little Man a few days ago. A TV show about dinosaurs came on and Princess and Little Man were very excited.

Princess: Wow! This show has dinosaurs. We haven't seen this one for ages!
Little Man: Yay! Dinosaurs!
Princess: But those dinosaurs are bad. We don't like them.
Little Man: I like them.
Princess: Shut up, you fool.

It was like my children were channelling the A-Team.


Thought for the Day: If I am a blogger, are you the bloggee??

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chutney! Too few blogs start with it.

Ok, so its time to tell the world about Princess' first day at school. In the days leading up to that wonderful event, DW had made sure that ALL the little things had been taken care of. Labels, books, pencils, lunch boxes, drink bottles, hair ties, school logos, more labels, hats, shoes, haircuts, textas, school bag and even more labels. We even coaxed Princess to bed at a reasonable time, though she was so excited that I'm sure she lay awake for a long time. But fortunately she was so worried that something might happen to prevent her going to school, such as being naughty and told she would have to wait another year, she was as quiet as a mouse. Little did she realise that we were just as excited as she was, and naughty or not, she was going to school come hell or high water.

Well, perhaps we were not quite as excited as she was. At 6:22am she came into our room fully dressed with her hat and bag on and her lunchbox and drink bottle already packed. There was no food or water in them yet but she didn't care. In her loudest whisper she hissed,"I'M READY TO GO."

Well that was how our morning started. Eventually, after she had eaten as much breakfast as her excited little tummy could handle, the time finally came to leave. Little Man was a little confused as to the commotion but he's pretty laid back about things so we got his little "school bag" ready, opened the front door and let Princess loose on the world. We headed off on our three minute walk to the school about 27 minutes earlier than we needed to. Needless to say we arrived very early. But we were not the only ones. Many of Princess' friends from Kinder and Mum's Group were also attending the same school so there was lots of catching up amongst the mums, and the kids, but mostly Princess just wanted to get in there and start the learnin'.

Eventually the doors opened and we were swept up in the flow of people like water going down the plug hole. We found Princess' room and bag hook and somehow found our way through the quagmire and into her classroom. The teacher was all ready taking photos of the new arrivals and we had our "first day" family photo taken. Once that was over, we found Princess' name card on a table and she settled in and started drawing a picture. Other kids were hugging their parents goodbye, clinging on to legs, or being strangled by weeping mothers. Some had decided to run around and jump they were so excited and some parents were already yelling at their kids to calm down because they hadn't even been in the school for five minutes and already they were acting like idiots. But Princess was already sitting down and working. She was there for the learning and it was time to start. She took a moment for a quick hug goodbye and got straight back to it. She barely looked up as we left. She had already finished her first picture and was starting her second. She was ready. Let the learning begin.

I was able to have the day off so that I could be with Princess on her first day. DW and I walked Little Man home and then sat and had a coffee. We had made it. We got Princess into the school system in one piece. It had been touch and go there for a while. So we sat and had a quiet moment while Little Man ate his snack. When DW had made Princess' lunch, Little Man insisted that he too should have a lunch box, so she prepare something for him. As soon as we got inside, he sat himself down in the entry and proceed to eat his snack. After the walk and something to eat, he was tired and went down for his nap so finally, it was completely quiet at our house. Little Man slept for two hours. It was amazing, not because it was quiet, but more because this kind of quiet would happen every school day. That was the most amazing thing of all.

But all too soon the peace had to come to an end. Little man woke up and had to be fed and the first three days of school for Princess ended at 1pm so we all headed back down to the school and found the same collection of parents waiting patiently outside the classrooms. I think some of them actually waited there. Anyway, eventually Princess came racing out and proceeded to try to tell us everything she had done while simultaneously showing us all the new playground skills she had developed while simultaneously running a separate conversation with each and every other child in the playground at the time. Eventually I convinced her to come home for some lunch and then had to convince DW to come home as well, because she got caught up chatting with the other mums. A couple of Princess' friends also walk the same way we do so our little contingent headed off, the first day of school over.

I think Princess spent those first few days thinking that maybe school was going to suddenly stop or something, and she'd be home again, forever. She was desperate to get back there and still takes some encouragement to leave. At least now she is starting to realise that she only has to stay home on weekends, holidays and when she is sick. And she is really loving it. But more on that next time.


Thought for the Day: Also chutney. Too few blogs end with it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ahh, Valentine's Day. Once again that line is drawn in the sand and men everywhere must jump across it. Sure some men will belittle the day by calling it a trumped up money spinner for card makers, chocolatiers, jewellers, florists and other greedy purveyors of Love's affectations, and grudgingly drag their feet across. Some will hurl themselves across in a desperate hope to break the dry spell between intimate encounters. Some poor fools will be facing the wrong way and not even realise the line has been drawn. But most men will simply step across that sandy line, buy some flowers or chocolates or both and not worry about why Valentine's Day exists. It just does, ok.

I am of the latter camp, though I bought neither chocolates or flowers. I didn't buy chocolate because we already have a lot of chocolate in the house. That's a story for another blog. I also didn't buy flowers because I like to give flowers as a special surprise, so the one day I am least likely to buy them is on Valentine's Day. Also, February 14th was on a Thursday so I was coming home from work and flowers don't enjoy the commute. So, instead I bought DW a couple of CDs that I knew she would enjoy.

DW on the other hand, prepared a wonderful candlelit dinner with a bottle of wine and an early dinner for the kids. She cooked a delicious meal and followed it with a dessert to match. But what made the evening really special was that we actually sat and chatted. We just don't get the time to do that as much these days. I don't mean we don't talk, because we do, but we don't get to just chat away without the usually worries of the world constantly drifting to the fore. DW and I chat really well. We do some other things EXTREMELY well, but we also chat really well. Despite the fact that we are passionate about very different things, we still find common ground. I guess that's why we work so well. Having shared interests can give some couples stuff to talk about, and in other cases its the opposites that attract, but for us, we have a bit of both. And we really like each other. That seems important somehow.

So another Valentine's Day has passed and the next one is but a distant speck on the horizon, with a whole lot of year between. One thing I have learned, no matter what a year might hold, sharing it with DW makes the tough parts bearable and the great parts spectacular. So for all you guys out there that are just drifting along in your relationships, I suggest you dive right in and thoroughly enjoy your significant other, even if it means celebrating "Your-wife-or-girlfriend-will-love-you-more-if-you-give-us-money" Day. Valentine's Day is easier to say.


Valentine's Thought for the Day: "Je tiendrai votre coeur dans des mes mains" (English - "I will hold your heart in my hands."). Also makes a great battle cry.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Welcome to today's episode of "The Waiting Game", starring Princess (in all 48 roles).

Yep, this is another trip down recent memory lane, to the month of January (I'm slowly catching up) when all thoughts of Christmas were but a faint memory. For much of last year we had been telling Princess that she would start school soon after Christmas. We should have expressly mentioned that it would be more than a few hours post Yule celebrations. As soon as we settled back home, she started. "When do I go to school?" "Is it nearly time to go to school?" "Is it morning tea time?" "Will there be morning tea at school?" "Is it nearly time?" "Why does it take so long for school time to come?"

So DW and I had to implement delaying tactics. We tried such gems as "Who's at the door?" and then run and hide, and the all-time parenting classic, "If I give you a jelly bean will you shut up for five minutes." We bought DVDs, we encouraged the kids to play together, outside, in another room, any where that was away. We read books and played board games and it was all to no avail. Princess wanted to go to school and she was determined to drive us mad, no matter what it took. However, we devised a clever plan.

Little Man still needs a sleep during the day and Princess would probably benefit from having one as well, but she flatly refuses. Anyway, we decided that we would "play" school each day, where I would sit with Princess and go through her "school" books (activity books) with her. This is how I spent my hard earned long service leave. But the playing of "school" was contingent on her having "quiet" time, for a whole hour. This meant no questions, no singing opera, no giggling like an idiot, no playing with toys that made ANY sort of noise and we were also forced to add, no made up sign language or interpretive dance. It took a bit of convincing but Princess was so desperate to go to school, that "pretend school" became the drug of choice. And so, for an hour each day, Princess was completely quiet and Little Man slept. DW and I had successfully negotiated a Peace treaty, and that silence was truly golden.

It mostly worked, but it was torture for the poor girl who hadn't actually stopped talking, even to take a breathe or sleep, since she was conceived. Yep, she was a womb talker, but at least then all the fluid in her lungs dulled the whining. However, to her credit, Princess gave it a red hot go and rose to the occasion, slipping up only a few times. We were so impressed we gave her a jelly bean out of shock.

Anyway, as the "Blessed Day" drew closer, quiet time became harder and harder, but just as Christmas had done, the day finally arrived. I always knew Christmas would come but I admit I had begun to doubt the the first day of school would. So we all made it through January relatively intact, barely. Princess has now begun a new phase in her life. She informed DW on the night before school started that she would no longer be giving us Little Girl hugs, because tomorrow she would be a Big Girl. And for the briefest moment we thought about how our beautiful little girl was growing up so fast, and about how she would need us less and less. DW cried a little. I even felt the weight of that moment until I remembered the last 2084.6 days and thought "School...Bring it on!" DW made up a jaunty little song called, "She's going to school, she's going to school, she's finally going to school! Hoo-f*#@king-ray!!" while skipping.

So what was Day 1 of my new life like, I hear you ask? Well, more on that soon. Right now, I have a song in my head.


Thought for the Day: Before I got fit, I couldn't run 10 metres. Now I nearly can.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hi Ho!

That's not meant to sound rude. Just festive.

Ah, Christmas. It's different when you have kids. I remember being a kid and being desperate to see the presents on Christmas morning. I remember being sent back to bed on more than one occasion because, well, the sun wasn't up. In fact, I don't think it had finished going down. I can appreciate the excitement that Princess was feeling. DW and I do have an extra weapon to manage over-excited children that my parents didn't have. Santa!

Yep. We wield the jolly fat guy like a red and white, present giving sabre. Oh, we don't play the "Santa only gives presents to good children" card because Princess knows just as well as we do that she doesn't behave and she still gets presents. She always has and she always will. However, she is a pretty smart kid and aside from the falling for the whole Santa caper in the first place, she has a bit of reasoning about her that we duly exploit. For example, Santa won't visit if he knows you are awake. And he knows, so you can't fool him.

Funnily enough, Princess doesn't really trust Santa. Looking through her Christmas photos from Kinder, all the other kids are laughing and hugging Santa but Princess always stands away from him and doesn't even like passing him in the shopping mall. DW and I can't figure out why she doesn't like him as she hasn't had any "Bad Santa" experiences, though it is possible that she might have unwittingly seen an episode of Futurama that had an angry, judgemental Santa with an Uzi. She is also not so keen on the Easter Bunny, though I think more kids would be afraid if they knew the Easter bunny is really a Pooka (see a film called Harvey if you don't believe me).

I never believed in Santa growing up. I knew who Santa was supposed to be, but we were never told that he was real, only that he was a fictional character that supposedly took credit for the presents parents gave. Why parents would want there children to think their presents came from a strange obese man that broke into houses for a living, I'm not sure. My sister once told me that she and her husband had been particularly proud of the lavish presents they had bestowed on their children one year. When they smugly asked the kids if they were happy with the haul, the eldest replied in hurt tones that the presents were wonderful but no thanks to them, because they had forgotten to get the kids anything. Santa had done all the work.

DW and I discussed the merits of telling Princess and Little Man the truth about Santa but she was adamant that it would ruin Christmas for Princess if she knew. I'm not so sure. My own memories of Christmas were of presents and sugar hits galore, and family and holidays and fun and more sugar. I never experienced the disappointment of discovering Santa wasn't real. But DW does have a point. The Santa myth is something Princess still shares with her friends and that is part of her Christmas experience. Anyway, now she is at school, I'd be surprised if that bubble doesn't burst soon enough. Little Man doesn't really care as long as he gets presents and lots of sugar. Bring on Easter.


Thought for the (Christmas) Day: Pissled Tink

Monday, February 04, 2008


I don't know what that word means but I suspect its kobberish.

Ok, as promised I shall now continue to back date the update and jump ahead to a previous time. Christmas 2007. Yes, despite Princess' fears, it did actually arrive. As per usual, we had a few warm up events, namely my family gathering and DW's Mum's Group gathering. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have a large family and we now just hire a hall for our Christmas get together. We used to have a Kris Kringle for the adults but that has subsided over the last couple of years and we now just give presents to the kids.

Its interesting to see how much each of my nieces and nephews change each year. They seem to suddenly shoot up and become disturbingly tall and articulate. They can get their own food from the buffet and no longer need to be reminded about going to the toilet. Mind you, its still fun to remind the older ones just for the looks they give. Actually I've noticed that I still remind Princess automatically, even though she probably doesn't need it. She hasn't reached the "OhmyGodDadcouldyoubemoreembarassing?!?" stage of life so she doesn't really care.

As the years have gone by, Princess has become more and more scarce at these events. I don't mean she doesn't attend, rather, I don't have to watch her. As soon as we arrive she takes off to find an older and cooler cousin to hang out with. I barely get to see her until its time for food or presents and then the first thing I say is, "Have you been to the toilet?" I must try to stop that or she won't want me to pick her up from school any more.

Little Man on the other hand is also changing rapidly but although he can run around and play quite happily with cousins his own age, he decided he'd rather be carried around by Dad, crying and slobbering all over my shirt. He cried and slobbered on DW's shirt too, but it was my shirt I was worried about. Princess and Little Man are very different characters. Princess is very out going and even at a similar age to Little Man, she was off playing with the older kids. Little Man doesn't like to be too far from DW or me, and takes quite a while to warm up to the other kids. I suspect that next year, when he's three, he will want to play with the others more. Then perhaps DW and I can sit down and enjoy ourselves.

Hosting a Mum's Group BBQ is not for the faint-hearted, or the sensible. This group have been together for nearly six years, and with most of the mum's having not learnt from their first experience and gone ahead and had another kid, means there were a lot of small, dangerous people running about the house. And crawling. As it happens, this past Christmas DW and I were not faint-hearted or sensible and opened our home to the miniature version of a frat party. And by miniature, I don't mean to diminish the scale of the devastation, but rather to imply that the participants were shorter than your typical frat brother. There were kegs everywhere.

Actually, there were no kegs, but rather empty lolly bags and believe me, for a hyped up, 20kg engine, there is no "speed" like eating your own body weight in sugar. Unless of course you chase it with four bottles of fizzy, liquid sugar. It was like watching Gladiator in fastforward only more violent and much funnier. There were very few laughs in Gladiator. If you could have seen these kids go, and hummed the Benny Hill theme music, well... let's just say it was entertaining.

After they all left, and the fire brigade, police and the last ambulance, DW and I surveyed the damage. We decided against nuke'ing the site from space (apparently you need permission) and also, it kind of already looked like we had so we set about cleaning up. We eventually had to a point that was liveable, even if it does look like it had once been nuked from space. We've been told the radioactivity will eventually subside and the gentle green glow at night is kind of soothing. On the plus side, we think the kids may be developing super powers. Only time will tell. Still, this means it is someone else's turn this year. Any takers?


Thought for the Day: What's with the soft white walls, and roof and floor? And where's the door?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hello Stranger!

Yep, its me. I know, you hardly recognize me what with all the not posting and the beard. But don't you worry now. The beard goes on Sunday. Whoosh! Outta here! You see, I've just finished my holidays and I don't shave so very often on my holidays but now that I'm back at work - its back to once a week.

Also, I have set myself the lofty goal of posting at least twice a week. Actually, my aim is to post at least 100 times over the year so I will have to do some catch up to make up for January. But the good news is there is a ton of news. And some of the news itself is also good.

I noticed that my last post was in September last year. Quite a lot has happened as you can well imagine. For starters, I finished the first edit of my novel. It needed quite a lot of editing and it still does. But at least it's now in a fit state for others. So I passed it around a select few people. Obviously DW was the first to get a copy and she dragged herself all the way through several pages and even nodded several times. After asking me several times not to watch her while she read, I left her alone to "enjoy" the story. A few weeks later (it's not a comic) she finished and nodded several more times. Actually, she really enjoyed it and we chatted about what happens in the alluded to sequel. And despite my insecurities, I think she really did genuinely like it.

So the next person to read it was a friend who is also a writer. She also enjoyed it but had a few additional comments about structure, character arc, grammar and so on. It was very constructive feedback but all I can remember her saying is "It's great but its crap and here's why..." I suspect my mind is not remembering the event accurately. Anyway, that was before the first edit. At least the grammar and spelling have improved slightly.

More recently my sister, also a writer, reviewed the work. She had very positive feedback and also some very useful suggestions for improvements. She also went to the trouble of "marking" the first couple of chapters, to help me get ready for sending them off to a publisher/agent/whoever. Don't get me wrong, this was at my behest. She pulled those pages to pieces. Not a single sentence got away without comment. Well, maybe one or two. I'm just glad she didn't use red pen or it would have looked like the paper was actually bleeding. Still, that was only a first impression and actually reading the comments made far more sense than looking at the page as a whole. I guess its no worse than an editor would do, and perhaps a lot kinder. In fact, my sister may well make an excellent editor, should she ever wish to follow that path.

So now I have to incorporate some modifications into the second edit and start send those first few chapters out into the wild. I'll let you know how I go.

Now I know you are probably less interested in my novel and more interested in the goings on of Princess and Little Man, and possibly DW. Well, so much has happened that I will have to break it into parts. So tune in again next week for another Total Bern Out!


Thought for the Day: One down. 99 to go.