We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
[Marianne Williamson]

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Smart Habit Saturday

For my new habit this week, I have chosen to focus on the phrase "My work is to love."

I keep finding that on days when I remember this quote and hold it firmly in mind, everything goes smoothly & everyone around me is happy. On days when I forget it, I end up in arguments, with myself & with others, and I spread misery instead of cheer.

I would tattoo it on my forehead, but I so rarely look in the mirror these days that I don't think that would help.

I thought of buying post-it-notes and sticking it up on every surface I looked at during the day, but (a) I can't afford to be indulging my stationery addiction at the moment and (b) it would seem like false advertising to my family on the days when my ideal did not match the reality.

Hence my cunning plan - I will make remembering it (and living by it) a habit!


SMART habit progress:

Visit Lara at The Lazy Organizer to join in Smart Habit Saturday - it will change your life! (Find out more about Smart Habit Saturday here: Getting Started with Smart Habit Saturday.)

Poetry Friday

This Friday's Round Up is hosted by Shaken & Stirred.

Winter is definitely here this week, but I have no snow to show, only a lot of cold wind and rain. Wombat and I managed to get out for a bushwalk when there was a short sunny break and I am always amazed how much warmer it is among the trees. This week I am going to share my all-time favourite bush poem. I am quoting it in full as it does not appear anywhere on the internet and I only ever found it in one small anthology. I think it deserves a wider audience!

from 'MAN INTO TREES' for Caroline Kalmar
(William Hart-Smith)

Here, nothing is ever folded
and put away:

leaf, stick, twig, shards
of bark, like shed garments,

are simply dropped when finished with,
and turn to compost where they lie.

Pollen is spilled upon the glass
of a dressing-table top;

earring petals drop
and rust where they are fallen

The floors and walls are damp,
tier upon tier of shelves of stone descend

scattered with gritty pebbles
and glittering sand.

But not a tidy notion troubles
the innocent conscience of this land,

a sweet, sweet odour rises,
a lovely fragrance comes

of spilled unguents, spices,
and aromatic gums.

And now to my own offering - an Alfred Dorn sonnet...

They'll put on party frocks of red and gold,
adorn their limbs in glorious array.
A gaudy show of colour, one last fling,
then, naked, sleep away the winter cold.
In slumber deep they'll dream that soon they may
awaken to the gentle kiss of spring.

But in the bush, that's not how things are done.
Bold eucalypts embrace the winter sun.

She'll swell her trunk and split her skin, unfold
the pearly wood beneath. She'll curl and shred
the dangling, tattered ribbons of the old.
In stormy gales, she'll toss her heavy head.
Where others lose their leaves, she'll keep her hold.
This eucalypt will shed her bark instead!


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thankful Thursday

13 wishes for my newborn niece - Analiese

1. May you have a close and loving relationship with your mother and father.
2. May you have good health and a strong body.
3. May you be filled with joy when creating.
4. May you delight in all of God's creation.
5. May your heart sing with faith.
6. May you be quick to smile and slow to cry.
7. May you trust in love and never be disappointed.
8. May you be the best of friends with your sister, all your life.
9. May good friends surround you like flowers in a cottage garden.
10. May you sing and dance in the rain.
11. May you never doubt that you are loved and wanted and needed in this world.
12. May you have big dreams and chase rainbows.
13. May the world be a better place because you are here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sweet Baby

It was a quick labour - they left for the hospital around 11:00am and A was born by 3:00pm. S said she was much happier having had a good night's rest - rather than walking around a lake then laying awake all night with contractions as she did with K.

It wasn't all plain sailing, though. A was posterior! S was determined to avoid an epidural this time, and managed with just the gas... I'll leave the full story for her to tell when she gets home.

A is proving to be the opposite of K, who refused to feed and would sleep for hours. This little girl is hungry and will only sleep for 15-20 minutes at a time. S is hoping she will settle down when her milk comes in so that mummy can get some sleep as well. (Lol... Wombat was like that for the first four months!)

I am thinking of getting Wombat a fishtank for our bedroom. He is still having a lot of trouble getting to sleep at night. I have read so many stories about toddlers who refuse to sleep unless their room is pitch black - Wombat hates being in the dark!

Today he had a long nap from 2:30pm until 5:00pm. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he couldn't settle to sleep tonight, even though he seemed very tired. I finally got him to lay down with me at 9:00pm (after an hour of him bouncing around his bed, crying and pointing - I couldn't work out what he wanted - I think his tummy was a bit upset as his breath smelt like curdled milk). Then all night, he slept very lightly. If I moved even a tiny bit he would wake up looking for me. I finally turned the light off at 3:00am when my alarm went off, but it was nearly 6:00am by the time he was sound enough asleep for me to leave. I hope he sleeps in so I get some study done!

I have been looking at night lights but they are all very plastic and ugly. I think a fish tank would help to keep the room warm, and be something soothing and natural to look at. I have a few aquariums around the place, I shall have to see if one will fit on my dresser, or next to it. Then I will only need to get a light and a small filter - they seem pretty cheap on eBay.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Welcome ~ Analiese Rose!

Something different for handmade Tuesday ~ a REAL work of art!!!

It is my very great pleasure to introduce you to a very beautiful little lady ~ and one with a fantastic sense of timing ;)

My little sister, Steff, has just given birth to this lovely creature. We are very thankful that she listened to our prayers and waited until her mother had finished her study course and her grandmother arrived to watch over her big sister, Kaelyn, before making her entrance into the world.

Say hello to Analiese Rose...

Born on Monday at 2:55pm, 8 pound 5.

I just missed Steff's phone call this afternoon, but Yeti said she sounded happy and strong. I was going to call her back but received this very understandable message instead: "Please don't call tonight dead tired will chat tomorrow."

I will bring you more details as soon as I can.

Way to go, darling ~ very proud of you and my adorable nieces!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Parrot Palace and Predatory Plants

A few quick photos for Michelle at Scribbit...

When Yeti builds a parrot cage, he BUILDS a parrot cage ;)

A parrot cage that in an emergency can happily house seven full-grown chooks for a few nights! I wish I had gotten a photo of the chickens all perched together on the branches - but they were quite nervous and I didn't want to disturb them with the flash.

Mitch joined our family about 4 years ago. He is a long-billed Corella, and Yeti picked him up on the side of the road after he had been hit by a car. He must have been very young as he didn't know how to eat seed at the time. I reared him on mush and trained him to eat seed and dig for grass roots - which is what that long beak is for. He was my baby - until Wombat came along, when he developed an immense case of sibling rivalry. I am applying my positive parenting practices to Mitch as well! His wing never recovered from the original accident, and he cannot fly, so he will be with us for a very long time - I believe they live for around 30 years!

And if you want to know WHY I call him the mad parrot... check out this video of Mitch playing with one of Wombat's discarded rubber teething bears!

Michelle also recently posted about her family's newest pet - a Venus Fly Trap.

With all the rain we have had lately, I was very happy to see that our own carnivorous plants are back! These are Drosera, or Sundews - variations of them grow all over the world, and I think they are gorgeous!

Unlike the closing jaws of the Fly Traps, the Sundews secrete a sweet, sticky nectar which attracts insects and then glues them in place while they are digested. (Wombat & I took these photos this morning.)

They have the prettiest, most delicate pale pink or white flowers... I will keep watching and may get lucky enough to get a photo.

Finally, here is a gratuitous photo of Wombat taking his bath turtle out to enjoy the water running into the dam. We collected so much run off in the recent storms that the dam is now full to overflowing. WOOOHOOOO! Wombat really loved stomping around in his little gumboots and listening to all the frogs... until he tried sitting down and discovered it was way too cold to be wearing soggy clothes!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Smart Habit Saturday

My SMART habit this week is daily prayer. I have had this link saved for a while but only ever used it sporadically - I will now want to make a habit of using it daily:


This site is run by Irish Jesuits and provides on-screen guided meditations and a short passage of specially chosen scripture each day. It only takes about 10 minutes to do and always makes me feel wonderful afterwards. Here is an excerpt from the end of today's reading, which turned out to be very appropriate:

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.

At the end of the reading, the guided meditation prompts you to ask: "What are you saying to me, Lord?" Sometimes I really have to puzzle over the answer to that - but not today :D

The rest of this post is WAY too longwinded and contains WAY too much information. You are very welcome not to read it!

Positive Parenting: Good. This week I have been concentrating on giving positive feedback and rewards (hugs and kisses) for all the little things Wombat does well, ignoring minor misbehaviour, asking for his cooperation (that really works! It's amazing how much Wombat understands, and how much nicer things can be if I explain what I'm doing and why, and then do it WITH him instead of TO him.)

It hasn't been all smooth sailing - he has suddenly become afraid of the dark - or perhaps it is just the awful teething making it harder for him to settle? We have had some screaming tantrums at bedtime but it seems better for him if I don't turn the light off until after he has been asleep for a few hours. I am going to invest in a night light & see if that helps.

I have sidestepped napping battles by watching for his 'sleep window' instead of insisting on two naps a day (and am getting hardly any work done as a result). I have also sidestepped the nappy changing battle by using a cloth nappy folded into a pad in a pair of training pants - it doesn't work for sleeptimes, but it makes him feel more grown up during the day - and this week he is finally using sign language for potty! (I have been trying to teach it to him for 6 months - ever since he decided he didn't like pooping in his nappy.) All poop goes in the potty now - and he makes the potty sign when he is sitting on it - now the next step is to get him used to the idea of telling me when he feels the need to pee.

(EDIT: When am I EVER going to learn??? Every single time I have made a comment online about my wonderful Wombat consistently pooping in the potty, I will spend that day changing dirty nappies. Every Single Time. I think that boy can read my thoughts...)

One thing I have found in my reading which has really helped is not actually to do with positive parenting, but it has made a big difference. A while ago I read about St Therese and her 'Little Way'. I immediately sorted out some beads from my stash to make a set of sacrifice beads, but never went any further. This week I found myself reading about St Therese again, and discovered we had something in common:

Every time Therese even imagined that someone was criticizing her or didn't appreciate her, she burst into tears. Then she would cry because she had cried! Any inner wall she built to contain her wild emotions crumpled immediately before the tiniest comment.
(Catholic Online: Saint Therese of Lisieux)

I can SO relate to that! I read further and rediscovered her concept of using beads to count her 'little acts of love'. Nothing heroic, nothing huge, just everyday good deeds - making Wombat smile... cleaning up a mess... smiling at my mother-in-law... it doesn't even have to be something you don't like doing - just something God would approve of!

Basically, when you do a good deed, or offer up some little sacrifice to Jesus, you move a bead towards the crucifix. When you do something wrong (grumbling to myself about hanging the washing... losing my temper... leaving a mess for someone else to clean...)* you move a bead back the other way (towards a Miraculous medal of Mary, or a medal of St Therese, or some other saint/inspiration to do better). I have found this really helps me keep track of my day - I don't despair after a bad day, because I know I have done good things as well, and if I am having had a good day, I am also more aware of the little things I do that hurt others. The beads are very easy to make - here are some clear instructions and here is some more information on how to use them.

*(to quote Sandra Boynton's song 'I like to Fuss': "I like to fuss, I like to moan. I like to stand on my chair and say leave me alone... I like to gripe, I like to brood, I like to stomp all around in a truly terrible mood..." - that's the main bad habit that has me pushing beads in reverse ;P )

Exercise: excellent! WOOHOOOOO! I was so inspired and feeling so good about exercise this week that whenever I missed a session, I did double the next time so I could still tick it off. The secret is in setting such small, manageable ten minute sessions! Having said that, I am on hold for this week. It is that time of the month, and I have discovered an unexpected and unwelcome side effect of weaning. While I was breastfeeding, it seemed that my body had finally settled down into having normal manageable periods instead of my usual bloodbath. I was incredibly happy! Now that I have stopped, I am suddenly plunged back into the dark ages of a huge mess and cramps. *sigh* If I'd known that was going to happen... oh well, I guess it's just more incentive to get pregnant again :P (though Yeti insists on us waiting until I am under less study stress...)

The end result is that my exercise plans have ground to a shuddering halt. I have been reaching for the chocolate, and the second spoonful of sugar that I had happily been doing without has somehow crept back into my tea. The big challenge will be taking up where I left off once this week is over - and that is the challenge I have failed in the past. Still, I was really enjoying the exercise this time, and definitely feeling the benefits of it, even if they weren't externally visible. Rather than push myself in a weakened state, I am going to spend a week doing less strenuous stretching activities and make that part of the exercise habit so I can cope with times like this.

SMART habit progress:

Visit Lara at The Lazy Organizer to join in Smart Habit Saturday - it will change your life! (Find out more about Smart Habit Saturday here: Getting Started with Smart Habit Saturday.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Poetry Friday

Sorry for my absence around here lately - it's been a very cold, very wet week. We've had the chickens living in the parrot cage on the verandah because their shed flooded (good thing Yeti built a huge cage)... the parrot has been living inside because he's scared of the chooks... Wombat is now only napping once a day, and is either exhausted & floppy or overtired & hyper as a result... I am three days late with one assignment and have another due on Monday... and I am still leaking milk & uncomfortable (Wombat, however, seems to have adjusted perfectly well to bottle milk.) But what does that matter now that it is:

I first read this poem in Francis and Clare in Poetry: An Anthology (eds Janet McCann & David Craig).

Saint Francis and the Sow
... sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow...

(Galway Kinnell)

And since I am using Poetry Friday as a personal inspiration as well, here is one from me... My Dad sent me a pile of his nature photos and suggested I write poems for them so we could publish a book together. That was several years ago. I am hoping that Poetry Friday will provide the regular incentive I need to finish writing the project. This is my favourite so far:

Brother Tree Frog ~
no saintly caress needed
to remind you of your innate glory.
Clad in emerald splendour
you squat in plump contentment,
a closer relationship with
Sister Mosquito.


Today's Poetry Friday Round-up is thanks to cloudscome at a wrung sponge.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Handmade Tuesday - crocheted hat

Those who have followed Baby Wombat's adventures from the start will be more than familiar with his crocheted hat. We bought it for him during the closing down sale of a local teddybear store, so there was no chance of replacing it. Wombat LOVED this hat. He always wore it without complaint, it won him many many smiles and compliments - particularly from little old ladies - and it was his faithful companion on all his adventures - warm enough for his first winter, with just enough brim to keep the sun out of his eyes.

But little boys, as we all know, GROW. And crocheted hats unfortunately do not. The sad day came when Wombat's hat would no longer fit. It was summer at the time, and he had plenty of replacement sun hats, so it didn't matter much. Then winter came along and I decided that I would put my limited crocheting skills to the test, and MAKE him a new hat. I studied the construction of the old one, counted all the stitches, and set to work. It took a long time to get the crown right - I had to unravel it about 20 times and start afresh before I was completely satisfied, but finally I worked it out. Once the crown was right, the rest was pretty smooth going - just a case of getting it long enough, and Wombat was reasonably cooperative about trying it on. He did get a little annoyed with me crocheting when I was supposed to be playing with him though - but that is part of my plan to encourage him in independent play. Here is the finished product:

The blue/green shells worked well at first, but started to look a little dull and boring by the time I got to the bottom, so I added in some of Wombat's favourite red. I had made blue and green flowers as well, but ended up discarding them and making two red flowers instead.

The perfect accessory for a young boy's leaf collecting!

He is not quite as happy wearing it as the original - this one is made of Tasmanian merino wool, whereas that one was a softer acrylic yarn. Mine is also a little big for him at the moment (so it will last a while) and therefore doesn't fit as snugly and swivels around a bit, which he dislikes. I didn't bother making a brim, because my version is mainly for winter. However, the way it rolls up at the edge is enough to keep the sun out of his eyes.

I am not entirely satisfied with it either - I would have liked to work out how to add ear flaps to it, as it doesn't keep his ears as warm or protected from the wind - which he needs this year. As a result he tends to wear a bonnet with a hoodie over the top instead of his new hat when we are around the house - we save this one for wearing out!

All in all, though, I am quite pleased with my first major crocheting project. Anyone who wants the pattern let me know - I didn't have time to type it in this morning.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

SMART Habit Saturday

My score for exercising this past week has been 'good' - the goal is 4 hrs 40 mins a week (10 minutes per hour, four hours a day between 3am & 7am - my study time). I managed 3 hrs 40 mins. 'Very good' would be 4 hrs or over, and 'excellent' would be the whole 4 hrs 40 mins. I won't count it as a habit until I can write down 'excellent' for three weeks in a row! But I am pleased with the effort I have put in and I feel better for it.

For this week's habit I had planned something reasonably simple - personal grooming. However, a more urgent need has arisen. I am very hesitant to write further, and I should warn that what follows may be disturbing. I don't know what you will think of me after this, but it is a dangerous tendency and I need to write it out into the open so I can combat it. (Please don't send me hate mail!)

My level of aggression towards Wombat is unacceptable. Most of the time I am his loving, cheerful, entertaining, comforting mummy who will read endless stories, sing endless songs and generally try to be understanding. He is a typical toddler - sweet, loving, cheerful and entertaining, with a stubborn streak a mile wide, a desperate desire to have his own way without actually knowing what he wants, and the ability to push all mummy's buttons at once. I have found myself withdrawing and behaving coldly in response, and when that doesn't work, I have lashed out at him.

After a rainy day together with only one half-hour nap for him in the morning (despite yawning his little head off and rubbing his eyes raw, he wouldn't couldn't fall asleep this afternoon) he was tired, I was tired, his teeth hurt, I had a sore throat from singing lullabies over and over again. He asked me to read a book by pushing it hard into my face. I told him I would, after I changed his nappy. He cooperated with the change, then started crying when I went to put the wet nappy in the bucket. Without thinking, I slapped him in the face with it. That is SO far from how I believe a mother should behave that I am ashamed to type it. What kind of psychological trauma could that cause? Here I am celebrating how much he remembers from his books and the words I teach him, and I go and behave like a cruel bully towards him. It took me a long time to cheer him up afterwards, and this morning he woke up at 2:30 and despite lots of reassuring cuddles, I couldn't get him back to sleep until 4.

He has four pre-molars cutting through at once, and I am sure he is in a lot of pain. He is adjusting to the loss of our breastfeeding relationship. I am under a huge amount of stress from all sorts of directions, and on top of that I am dealing with the hormonal effects of weaning. That's no excuse. A few months ago I read in the newspaper about a couple who had whipped their 4 year old daughter with electrical cord and then shoved her into a boiling hot shower, giving her third degree burns. They were so ashamed of themselves, they didn't take her to hospital until six hours afterwards. All because she was 'refusing' to be potty-trained.

This horrific story stuck in my mind, because at times I can feel how easy it would be to snap like that. I have never gone close, and I think I would never ever ever do such a thing to my beautiful boy. But today scared me. It made me realise that I'm much closer to the edge than I think and that if I don't start stepping back from it now, when things get really challenging I won't be able to cope. Then Wombat will be the one to suffer, not me, and that's a thought I can't bear.

As a result, I have to take responsibility right here and now - and what better way than to make positive parenting a habit? I will try to read something on positive parenting every day & put it into practice. I will also give myself a parenting score out of 5 each day, since I find having a quantifiable goal helps to keep me on track. I have tried to adopt positive parenting in the past, but seem to forget the principles and backslide when the stress builds up. Now it is time to make it a way of life, not just a nice idea! I will remember:
My work is to love.

Here are some links I have found to start my reading:
- Positive
- Positive
- Encouraging better behaviour
- Positive Routine Management (this is the Australian 'baby whisperer' - she has a lot of interesting things to say about communication... I can see I am going to be spending a lot of time re-reading this page & trying to put it into practice.)

Time to go, or I won't get my exercise done this hour. It is cold, pouring with rain, and I don't feel like it, but I do want it to be a habit, so I will "just do it". Hopefully I can apply the same technique to being a better mum.

SMART habit progress:

Visit Lara at The Lazy Organizer to join in Smart Habit Saturday - it will change your life!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Poetry Friday

I have read some really fantastic poems by following Poetry Friday links... poems I never would have known existed but which I am so glad to have read. I have decided to join in, but when I went looking for a poem I couldn't decide among my many many favourites.

Then out of the blue, I sat down and wrote one. It has been a long time since the last... I have been in a poetry drought for a while and had thought myself deserted by the muse.

This was especially troubling as my attempts to celebrate Wombat in words had all been quickly consigned to the wastepaper bin, deemed unworthy of keeping.

I kind of like this one - it is not brilliant, but it contains the emotions I want to capture of this time in our lives. I hope you don't mind me sharing it. I'm just happy to finally have a Wombat poem ;D

Resistance is futile

When I finally lose my temper
you laugh.

Flick of fingers
on well-padded backside
just another game no pain.

My tears of frustration
music for your amusement.

I'm not really upset.
Mummies don't cry.
When I try
to lay you down, insisting
on naptime, you cling
to the bedside, a furious limpet
resisting all arrest.

(Your daddy and I
thought we defined stubborn
until we met you.)

Give up.

Turn my back.

Pretend to be asleep. You tug
your special blanket over
tucking me in. I croon
Snuggle puppy.

Eventually you flop
exhausted in my arms.

Sunshine scented, your hair
tickles my nose.

This week's Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted by The Simple and the Ordinary.

(After reading some of the beautiful poems from real poets posted this Friday, I am tempted to delete this as lamentably amateurish. I am leaving it, but only so I remember I need to work on it a lot more!)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thankful Thursday

I would have made this an official Thursday Thirteen, but I couldn't be bothered working out all the blogroll & reciprocal commenting requirements... I just want to start making a list of positives each week!

1. it is now three days since I last breastfed Wombat. He is officially weaned. He listened to me telling him about babies (& puppies & kittens & calves & foals) drinking mummymilk, and looked at the pictures I showed him, and the pictures of older animals drinking from bowls etc, and he listened while I told him he was my big boy now & would only drink bottle milk from now on, until he was able to drink from a cup like Mummy & Daddy... he loved looking at the photo album that contains weekly photos of him from birth onwards (there are lots of gaps which I must print photos to fill in for him)... I thought he hadn't understood, but when I took him for his first non-feeding nap, he didn't even try to nurse... he didn't sleep either, but I was impressed at his understanding. When I pretended to be asleep to see if he's join me, he tugged his special blankey over & tucked me in (big grin!!!) I think he thought it was just for that nap though, because he got quite upset when there was no feed offered at the afternoon nap. I repeated my explanation of how much I loved my big boy and he wasn't a baby any more, and he stopped crying straight away! It hasn't been smooth sailing by any means, but I think we're over the worst, and it was nowhere near as traumatic as I'd feared.

2. it is raining

3. When I was feeling very sick on Tuesday, Yeti sent me to the doctor (and stayed home looking after a Wombat screaming with separation anxiety while I spent two hours reading Ulysses in the doctor's waiting room - my doc is never on time). Doc gave me fluid tablets - basically they help dry up the milk by pulling any excess stores of water to the kidneys for excretion. It may not sound very delicate, but it's an awful lot more comfortable than engorged boobs (and I want to be able to remember it for next time/advising friends)! It also reduces the chance of infection, which I was worried about - the last thing I need is another bout of mastitis (the way he explained it, imagine a dish of powdered formula and a dish of made-up formula - bacteria is going to grow in the wet stuff, but not in the dry.)

4. Wombat is napping! So he's only having one nap a day, and he's more teary than usual (which is also due to the teeth) but he went to sleep without feeding - only took singing Away in a Manger, Good King Wenceslas, and Morningtown Ride as lullabies! (He really likes Christmas Carols ;P)

5. Wombat is sleeping through the night. He wakes up crying in the mornings while I'm studying, but goes back to sleep before I go in to him.

6. the electricity bill arrived - at $925 it is more than I hoped, but less than I feared - and at least now I know the damage and can pay it & concentrate on saving for the accommodation we'll need for the onsite school.

7. Wombat had a perfect potty day yesterday - dry nappies & full potties all day! (Today has not been so good - but then, I was out teaching this morning & that always mucks up his routine, plus being cooped up inside doesn't help).

8. did I mention it's raining? (we are still technically in drought - though there has been flooding all up the coast in the last week... anyway, washing nappies on tank water means we need all the rain we can get)

9. Wombat discovered that - in the absence of a sandpit - he likes digging in the dirt. I was able to redirect him away from the tree root he was trying to dig out near the chook pen, and convince him to play in my garden - while I weeded! Doesn't sound like much, but the last time I had a chance to weed was before I fell pregnant, so a LONG time ago (while pregnant I was paranoid about coming into contact with cat poop). I had resigned myself to losing my garden completely beneath the jungle of weeds & grass... now I am resurrecting it a little at a time

10. my boxes from officeworks arrived - 20 lovely big archive boxes to play with... now I only have to find time to fill them with all the uni notes stored under the house, and the sewing stuff in the caravan... and find somewhere to stack them... hopefully I can get more organized before we are ready to move house (which may happen in a year or so) - I was going to separate Wombat's toys into daily boxes & rotate them like my sister does, but I realised Wombat doesn't really have enough toys to do that - and he knows all his toys and goes searching through for the one he wants - it is amazing the connections he makes now. He sees a horse in a book and collects together all his toy horses... sees a rooster and points towards our chook pen (from inside, which shows he has a great sense of direction!)...

11. I bought a new book on eBay about making cloth books for children... it looks great & I can't wait to start

12. after paying the electricity bill, & saving for accommodation, I won't have enough left over to buy new 'professional looking' clothes... but I am doing reasonably at making exercise a habit - have done at least 30 minutes every day, so far this week - and even managed the full 40 minutes on two days (that's 10 minutes each hour between 3am & 7am)... if I keep it up, I just might manage to fit into some of the clothes I had to put into storage! Especially since my appetite has decreased now I am not eating for Wombat as well! (His appetite has increased correspondingly - he is now eating almost as much as me each day - if I dropped back to what I was eating before I got pregnant, we'd be eating the same! lol... I'll have to have a highly paid job by the time he's a teenager - he'll eat us out of house & home!!!)

13. it's still raining and Wombat's still asleep (that's two hours!!! can't last much longer)! Tomorrow I will finish Trust & Office Accounting - finally - I have hardly had any time to work this week. But I am holding at only a week behind, which is great!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Handmade Tuesday & more about weaning

I have a pile of things I have made recently (while sitting with Wombat in his playpen) which I want to show off, so I will make Tuesday my day for displaying my handiwork.

Remember the Mummy Wombat I showed you a while ago? (Or guinea-pig, as my niece insisted.) I promised that a Daddy and a Baby Wombat would be forthcoming. Here they are!

I didn't have quite enough felt scraps in one colour, so Daddy Wombat is a combination - as Yeti said, male Wombats often have a darker stripe down their backs. They are still pretty guinea-piggy, though I did try to get the ears into more wombat-like positions.

My Wombat has seen neither real wombat nor guinea-pig, so he does not mind the similarity. If mummy says they are wombats, then wombats they are. (He likes to hold two of them and bump them together... and he giggles when I make them give him 'wombat kisses')

I am quite pleased with how the wombats turned out as my first felt toys, but the real star of the show is Rosie the Hen.

If she looks a little bedraggled, it is because Wombat has already chewed on both her head and her tail!

Not only is she a chew toy, she is also my first FINGER PUPPET! The elastic is a little tight on my finger, because it was made for Wombat - she pecks and 'boks' around with a very satisfying realism. Wombat puts her on his finger and wanders around showing her things ;) couldn't manage to get a photo of him with her, though - he would stop as soon as he saw the camera...

Rosie comes straight from the book Rosie's Walk. This is one of those wonderful books with hardly any text in them - where the parent/reader explains the story as they go - these kind of books are Wombat's favourites. (Another really good one is Hug - I have linked to the pages for these books as they have good reviews. If you are in Australia, I don't suggest buying from Amazon as the exchange rate is a killer - check out the Huggies book club instead - with free postage & member discounts, it is my favourite place to buy Wombat's books.)

Next, I guess Wombat will want me to make the fox! Now that will be a challenge!


In other news, tomorrow I am going to have to tell Wombat that there will be no more mummy-milk from now on.

Since I have started cutting back on feeding him, the boobs have decided enough is enough, and their days of bounteous production are over - for this baby, at least. They ache like a bruise and I feel like I've been belted in the chest. He has been really good about not biting me, but nursing is just not the pleasant experience it used to be.

I wish the timing was better, as he is already upset with his premolars erupting... but I shall just have to try to explain it to him and get his cooperation and understanding. I'm constantly amazed at how much he understands, and the connections he makes between things in his books and things in the real world. He has a number of books with pictures of baby animals drinking milk from their mummies, and slightly older animals eating & drinking from bowls, so I will spend tomorrow discussing those with him and telling him he is not a baby anymore, he is my little boy, and while I still love him very much and that will never change, it is time for us to move on to the next stage.

Of course, I will have to come up with a new way to settle him to sleep. What's your tip for getting Wombat to snooze? Do you have a tried-and-true technique for toddler naptime?

He would much prefer to be giving up nappies! He is pretty much potty-trained for poopies, but he still hasn't worked out how to tell me when he needs to pee - and he is wetting a lot, especially at night and nap time. It is a half-hour struggle to get a nappy on him now :P He cries and squirms off the bed, runs around the room, insists he needs to sit on potty instead, and then bounces off again after a few seconds. I lost my temper tonight and forcibly held him down - once the nappy was on, he was perfectly happy to be dressed in his pyjamas. I guess it's just that with winter here, he doesn't get as much nappy-free time as he would like, since it is too cold to run around with no pants on. I am investing in some fitted cloth nappies with velcro fasteners so I can do a quick change without asking him to hold still while I fuss with pins - but at $25 a nappy, I can only afford two a fortnight. I have a hemp fleece one which is great for night-time and two different brands of bamboo ones are on the way. At least buying them piecemeal I get to try out a wide range of styles.

As time goes on, I will review them - and a pile more children's books - over at What Wombat, where I shall also try and write every Tuesday. This week's review is on the Fisher Price Link-a-doos Infant to Toddler Rocker.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Smart Habit Saturday

When I noticed the judge for Scribbit's WriteAway Competition this month, I was immediately intrigued by her blog name: The Lazy Organizer. Sounds like my kind of person, I thought... so even though I don't have time to add anything more to my reading list, I went for a look.

Luckily, the first post I bumped into was for Smart Habit Saturday. (Not that the rest of her blog isn't a good read, it's just that this is what I really need - even more than I need a genuine Alaskan Moose Candy dispenser.)

I had a whole post planned in my head about traditions, and what kinds of traditions I want to start for Wombat, and how such things have to become a habit for me before they can be a tradition for him (little things, like remembering to say grace before meals)... but then my mind started overflowing with all the habits I really needed to be working on. I started to feel overwhelmed, so I got out the calendar, and wrote down one for each Saturday. I now have new habits planned to work on every week for the next three months!

The thing is, I know this works. Concentrating on one thing at a time means you can actually put some effort into it without being distracted - or it becoming a distraction from the other things you must do. Before you know it, it becomes second nature and you don't have to think about it any more. Getting up early to study is a good example. At first it took a lot of effort. Now I actually enjoy it. This morning, I even woke up at 2:50 am, ready to go - 10 minutes before my alarm went off!!!

Which brings me to my first Smart HABIT (as Lara at The Lazy Organizer explains, S.M.A.R.T. stands for "Saving Money, Associations, Resources and Time". I need to do all those things, but to begin with, there is a most important resource that needs looking after. My body.

My first smart habit is:


All my life (or at least for as long as I have been aware) I have deplored my mother's habit of pushing herself to get things done - working on without taking time to look after her physical needs. When she was young it wasn't a problem, but now, at just over 60, she is facing hip surgery and is in constant agony from her back. Despite this, she keeps doing what she has always done and nothing changes. (She is a cake decorator, so her work involves long hours bent over a table with nothing moving but her fingers.... hmmm... not unlike someone who works constantly at a computer...)

The thing is, this tendency must be heriditary, because I am turning out to be just as bad. I sink myself into my work, and hours pass by without me moving. (I am including all computer time under the title 'work' there - but I should admit much of it is play - blog reading, website building, other writing, editing photographs - however, that is a topic for another habit some other Saturday - except that if I spend too much time playing & too little time working, I am even less inclined to take time off to exercise, as I have too much catching up to do...) Despite my good start this morning, I have now been sitting at the computer for two hours, have not opened a law book, have certainly not exercised, have not thought about my posture and have not even gotten around to putting my slippers on - I am sitting here in bare feet and it is 5 degrees celsius.

This year is proving to be worse than normal, due to my increased workload, and the fact that I am busy with Wombat the rest of the time, so I can't just go for a long walk or hop on the elliptical whenever I feel like it (which admittedly wasn't all that often anyway.) There are so many things I need want to get done... who has time to exercise???

The answer, spoken very firmly to myself, must be "MAKE TIME OR ELSE".

I am overweight and unfit. My posture is terrible. I need to do something about it asap, or my most important resource (me) will not last my lifetime.

I have pulled out my elastic home gym for stretching & isometric exercise and will use that for warm-ups, and then I will hop on the elliptical and cycle as fast as I can for 5 minutes. I aim to start by doing this once every hour as a study break, and hopefully increase to every half hour once it becomes a habit.

Being a glutton for punishment, I am even going to take Ulysses out with me & read while I cycle ;) may as well get a mental and physical workout at the same time (and hopefully finish the darn thing some time this year)! I will report back on my progress and list a new habit to work on next Saturday. (As Lara points out, it takes 21 days for something to become a habit, so I don't expect instant results... but having publically declared my intentions, and having to review my progress & report back each week should help keep me on track towards my goals.)

In case I needed more incentive - when I was 14 I had an operation on my knee... lately, that knee has been going to sleep or getting painful pins and needles after I have been working for a few hours... my attempts to get the blood flowing to it again at least allow me to bring you this pretty photo - so now I have no excuse at all not to make exercise a habit - there's even a blue moon!

Today is a good day to start making a brand new ending.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A (revie)wing and a prayer

Many months ago, my sister lent me her copy of Tracy Hogg's The Baby Whisperer. I want to return it to her before she gives birth - and since little Analiese is now "deeply engaged" and only 15 days away from entering the world, I figured it was time to get my act together and finally write my review.

It is posted over at What, Wombat? if you are interested.

Overall, my reaction was pretty negative, but Steff, please don't feel bad about suggesting I read it. It has had the beneficial effect of making me view my parenting decisions in a much more analytical manner, and while I may have rejected most of the book's methods, I have gained a new confidence in my own abilities to know what is right for Wombat.

Today, I have also started praying a nine day "Novena for Impossible Requests".

My first intention is for my sister to have an easy & relaxed labour - which also requires Analiese to wait until her due date, so my mother can be there to care for my nearly-two-year-old niece and goddaughter, Kaelyn.

My second intention is for me to learn the art of being gentle. I am too rough with Wombat, both physically and with his emotions.

My third intention is for me to find the accommodation we need for my onsite school, and for those two weeks (July 30 - August 10) to go smoothly.

I think those are some pretty impossible requests, and well worth entrusting to Our Lady ;D

I read a quote this morning which immediately was copied out and added to my collection. I love the childlike tone to it, similar to my "Mother of Good Counsel" hymn:

Ah, my Lady! If you do not carry me in your arms to God, do not expect me to walk there. Carry me, and if I resist, carry me by force.
(St Alphonse di Liguori)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I did not study this morning - despite Wombat having not napped at all yesterday, and my not getting anything done. I did not write the entry on traditions for Scribbit's June Write Away Contest that I had planned. I did not have to go in to Wombat, even once - he slept the whole night straight through (having had no naps...) I did not even waste the morning reading blogs.

Instead, I tidied.

My family would not believe this, but I have an immense desire for a nice house - to have a place for everything, and everything in its place. That is so far from my reality that I can hear my sister laughing so hard she almost goes into early labour (in fact, I can hear her through several hours of time and over 800kms of distance).

It all started when I remembered I have an important form to fill out that MUST be posted on Thursday, and that I will need to get Yeti to add his information to it tomorrow. I was happily filling in my part at 4am when I realised I needed a detail from another document. I started looking for it in the small cardboard box that is my current "important documents & waiting to file" storage place. The box was almost full, and an inordinate amount of brochures and other rubbish had crept in, so I started to sort it out. Once I started, I couldn't stop.

You see, once I'd pulled all the rubbish out of the box (and found the documents I wanted) I was left with a pile of rubbish. I went to put it in my desk bin (a plastic bag), and realised it was full to overflowing, and I hadn't emptied it in weeks because I was waiting to sort out the garbage from the paper. So I did that. And then I looked at my desk and realised half the paper on it could also go in the recycling, so I started on that.

Every so often I would stop, filled with a feeling of accomplishment, and then my shoulders would sag as I looked around and realised how much more clutter there was still to deal with.

Two hours later, I am finally finished. My desk area may not be clean, but at least it is neat - I can see the layers of dust, instead of vaguely believing they exist under the piles of paper (lol, now I can see Scribbit shuddering - all the way from Alaska).

All the random sewing supplies that were scattered around are in a bag on the floor and I have a box of "stuff" to put back into the bedroom. I have found Wombat's missing shoe, and some jewellery I haven't seen for over six months. Paperclips, erasers, post it notes, stickers, pencils, drawing pins, hair ties, pens and all the things I use on a daily basis now have their own separate jars instead of overflowing from miscellaneous bowls. I have taken two bags of paper and one of garbage out and put them in their respective bins.

I still haven't finished filling out that form... the bill of costs I started preparing two days ago for my tutorial is still staring accusingly at me from the bar at the bottom of my screen... Wombat is about to wake up any minute and I need to go and feed the chooks... but despite it all, I feel happy.

Of course, I have done this before... many times. I dread the thought of doing it again, but I know I will - over and over. To do otherwise, I would have to make decluttering a habit. I intend to do so, but it is only one of a thousand new habits I am dreaming of... and that's a topic for another day...

Hey, now that I have cleaned up a bit, I might actually get the chance to give Wombat to his Daddy for an hour and VACUUM... wooohoooooo!

Monday, June 04, 2007

A day in the life of a weaning Wombat

Weaning is actually going better than expected - I guess since I am not making him go totally "cold turkey" and since even he must have noticed there was a problem. I have never had trouble with milk supply - when he was little I used to produce too much, rather than too little - but lately I just haven't been able to keep up with his demands. It seems to be Mother Nature's way of moving us on to the next step.

Here's a 'snapshot' of our day (funny - I can't seem to work out where to start, so I'll just dive in! The times are of course just general indications - anyone with experience of toddlers knows they can't be predicted like clockwork... but the times are generally accurate give or take an hour or two, and some parent-controlled times, like dinner and bedtime, are always the same.)

At 6:30 pm, Daddy Yeti starts cooking dinner. Mummy and Wombat play in Valco playpen which has now been opened up and used as a barrier across quarter of the loungeroom. Wombat wanders around playing with his toys & pulling book after book from his bookshelf for me to read. I do a little handsewing, or if he is particular engrossed in some activity, I sneak a quick read of my own book (still slogging slowly through Ulysses... more comments about that when I finally finish it!) I keep a bottle of milk with us, and offer it to him at any opportunity.

7:00 pm is dinner. Wombat sits with his highchair pulled up to the table between Mummy & Daddy & eats off his tray. He has the same meal as we do - generally lamb chops and veggies. He particularly loves his corn-on-the-cob. For sweets he has yoghurt or home-made green apple jelly. More bottle milk or some juice to drink.

7:30 pm after dinner, I release him from his highchair and he "attacks" Daddy while I rinse his dishes, wipe the chair & put any scraps in the bucket for the chooks. Then Mummy and Wombat go into the bedroom for a potty-sit and pyjama dressing. Nana washes the other dinner dishes.

7:45 pm back to the playpen, all snuggly warm in his pjs. I help him choose four books and lay them out - he tells me which order to read them in, and we have quiet bedtime reading, with perhaps a little more bottle milk or water. When we finish the four books, it is time to find Daddy for his goodnight hug. I hand him over, visit the "big person's potty" & give my teeth a quick brush while he and Daddy say good night to Nana, and then to Mitch (the mad parrot). Mummy kisses Daddy goodnight and carries Wombat into bedroom. He waves to Daddy and shuts the door. (Yeti is still sleeping in the loungeroom, partly because it is more comfortable to have a heater on his back, and partly because he is a real night owl & so keeps different hours to a Baby Wombat :P we tend to meet like ships passing in the night which is a bit difficult on us both, but I hope things will get back to normal eventually)

8:00 pm Wombat and Mummy say their prayers, I put him into his bed (a king-single mattress with custom built "cot" sides) where he chews on his blanket. I change into my pyjamas, check my alarm clock, start the lullaby cd, rub some bonjella on his gums, give him paracetemol if needed (Nurofen works better, but Yeti suspects it contains opiates which would make him more sensitive to pain, so we have stopped using it), turn off the light and climb in with him. I breastfeed him to sleep, but he is generally so sleepy & full of milk & dinner by now that we both fall asleep before the lullaby cd is half over.

Around midnight he usually wakes up for another feed. This is when the weaning starts. I will give him lots of cuddles and reassurance, but I refuse to feed him. He howls in protest and I tell him, "I know, it's frustrating, but you're growing up and things have to change." He might cry and complain for more than half an hour, but eventually he will fall asleep again. If his crying gets too frantic to the point where he is really upset, rather than just complaining, we get up and visit Daddy for a few minutes distraction. When he is calm, we go back to bed and start the cuddling and reassuring again. It seems to go on forever at times, but just when I am about to give in, he will suddenly fall asleep, so I am learning to stick to my guns, and it seems to get a little bit easier each night.

2:15 am he generally wakes up again for another feed. The same process - lots of cuddles and reassurance, but no mummy milk. This morning he complained for half an hour then eventually fell asleep with his head buried in my tummy.

3:00 am Mummy gets up to study. Wombat often wakes up again, and every hour or so after that, but I listen to him on the monitor & judge his level of awakeness. He tends to give one or two cries and then go back to sleep, so I just keep typing (like right now!) and wait for him to settle. If his cries are very upset rather than just whinging, or if he doesn't go quiet after a few minutes, I go and give him a cuddle. Sometimes just a hand on his shoulder or leg will help him settle, sometimes it will take nearly an hour of cuddling. I guess it depends on how sore his teeth are. Before I start studying, I boil the kettle, wash his dishes properly, sterilise his bottles, wash the highchair again, and make a cup of tea! A quick email read & any blogging - and try to be actually studying by 4:30.

6:00 am When Wombat wakes up this time, I know he won't settle himself. I warm a bottle of milk and go in to him. He will refuse the bottle if offered and start to get very upset, so I give him his morning breastfeed. As soon as he stops sucking, I "detach" myself from him (often with great difficulty!) When he howls and tries to get back on the nipple I offer him the bottle again. He is usually still very sleepy, so he will take it and chew/suck on it for a while until his tummy is full, and then he will go back to sleep.

How long he sleeps after that depends on how awake he has been during the night - yesterday he slept in until 9am!!!

7:00 am I go out and hang any washing & give the chooks their breakfast (Wombat likes to do this with me, but it is generally well under 10 degrees celsius lately, and too cold for a just-woken-up Wombat, so I do it before he wakes up)

7:30 am he usually wakes up crying, but stops quickly and I can hear him talking to his toys and reading the cloth books I keep at the end of his bed. I let him play by himself for a few minutes while I quickly finish off what I am working on, then I go in, singing brightly "Good morning, Good morning, how is my boy today? Good morning, good morning to you!" I open the curtains and talk to him about what we are going to do today. Before the weaning started, he would often pat his blanket very charmingly and refuse to get up until Mummy climbed in to give him a cuddle and some Mummy milk. This was a highlight of our day and we both miss it - but he has suddenly started cuddling and patting his stuffed toys instead, so I join him in that. I get him up and get him dressed.

8:00 am Into the highchair for breakfast - a slice of raisin toast with peanut butter, then a weetbix, or a bowl of porridge (often with raisins, tinned peaches & yoghurt). Milk, water or juice. While he is eating his breakfast, I run a bath and put the immersion heater in to warm it up (we still haven't managed to replace the hot water system. It worked for a little while, but has kicked the bucket again.)

9:00 am potty-sit, nappy change and then into the playpen with Mummy for a morning of reading and playing. Mummy sneaks away for a few minutes to feed the parrot & take him out in the sun once he starts squawking for breakfast.

9:30 am bath time for Mummy and Wombat. I have my bath with him to save on water & heating (we use rainwater tanks, and since we are still in drought & nappies take a lot of washing, water is always low).

10:30 am About 3 hours after he wakes up, Wombat starts to get very floppy and fall over a lot - generally a sign that it's time for a nap. I warm a bottle of milk and we climb into his bed. I start him off with breastfeeding, and try to swap for the bottle as soon as I can. Unfortunately he is generally more awake than first thing in the morning and less likely to accept the exchange. He will be dozing very peacefully and almost asleep, but wake up as soon as I take my breast back. Offering the bottle will get me nowhere, and before I know it, there is one wide awake Wombat bouncing around the bed. This used to happen quite often anyway, but it is much easier to deal with when I haven't spent half an hour pouring breast milk into him! (After that kind of investment, I used to feel quite betrayed if he didn't fall asleep and give me some time to myself! When it is only the bottle that isn't working any magic I can be much more philosophical about it.) I pretend to be asleep and let him tromp all over me and give me cuddles for an hour or so, because at least that way we get a little quiet time even if not napping. If he does fall asleep, I sneak away to study.

11:30 am He wakes up, or we both get up. Potty sit/nappy change. Play on the verandah.

12:00 midday Lunchtime in the highchair. A sandwich, milk/juice/water and fruit. All the scraps are cut up and put into the chook bucket.

1:00 pm Potty sit/nappy change. Take the chooks the scraps from lunch, play in the yard, go for a bushwalk.

2:30 pm bottle of milk and books in the playpen. Start thinking about nap - especially if he missed the morning one. Same routine with feeding as the morning nap - but if he has missed the morning nap then he will often fall asleep before we get to the bottle stage, or I will be less draconian about letting him breastfeed himself to sleep. If he has napped well in the morning he will often skip this nap instead.

3:30 pm Wake up, potty sit, nappy change. Outside to wander around and play. Mummy brings in any washing off the line & we take the veggie scraps to the chooks & make sure they are all ready for nighttime.

4:30 pm starting to get cold, so back inside in the playpen. Mummy brings in the parrot and feeds it (Mitch sleeps inside during winter). Read books and play until dinner.

There you go, in case you were wondering what a day in the life of a 14 month old Wombat was like! Every day follows the same routine except for Thursdays, when Mummy leaves Wombat with Daddy after breakfast and goes out to teach her catechist classes from 9 until 11. When I get home, we head off for naptime, and the routine goes back to normal. I would really like to add Sunday mass to this routine as well, but with Wombat teething, it generally just doesn't work out. When he is a little bit older (or if the church was closer) we will make it a regular habit. Until then I hope God understands!

Well, my blogging has taken half an hour more than allowed, so I had better fast forward into study mode - hope you all enjoyed my day, and have a good one yourselves :D

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I'm going cross-eyed focussing on this grindstone!

Well, folks, I have finished Civil Litigation and moved on to Trust and Office Accounting... no end in sight for me yet, though getting up at 3am to study is working reasonably - at least there are fewer distractions.

I don't think our eggs are going to hatch. Ruby is just too sporadic about sitting on them. I haven't decided whether to buy a new rooster yet, either. Yeti doesn't think Stevie is a boy, and I have read that Rhode Island Red Bantam cockerels take a long time to mature... but I don't want to buy a new rooster, have him fight with Stevie and have to separate them - I have enough to do looking after one pen of chooks and one mad parrot, I don't need the extra workload! Ruby is becoming quite a bully - every time another chook goes near her she raps it with her very sharp & pointy beak. I can't be too hard on her, though - she misses Rufous, and she is the only one laying at the moment.

Wombat has skipped a tooth! He has his four front upper teeth, and only three of the lower teeth - and he has started cutting his molars. This makes for a lot of interrupted naptimes, as the molars are quite painful and two or three seem to be erupting at once.

Those front teeth are exceedingly sharp, and I am beginning to think seriously about weaning him - when he is tired I can't get him to open his mouth wide enough and I have some very painful teeth marks at the moment. It is definitely NOT going to be easy because I still suckle him to sleep - naptimes & sleeptimes are so precious to me that I would rather put up with pain than turn them into screaming sessions that are exhausting for us both. My strategy at the moment is to switch back to drinking lite milk myself. This makes my milk more watery, and less appealing than whole cows milk, so he drinks less mummy milk, and hopefully I can gradually cut back to nothing. I would prefer to keep breastfeeding him until he was ready to stop, but I also want more kids and to be able to feed them in the future, so I can't afford too much damage now! An added bonus will hopefully be a bit of weight loss - I weigh more now than I did when I was pregnant, and the full cream milk is my major calorie intake. Of course, the lack of exercise sitting at the computer in every spare moment isn't helping.

Most panicking at the moment is the thought of the onsite school for my course. At the end of July/start of August, I have to spend 2 weeks doing exams and attending seminars at the College of Law, St Leonards. I have done some calculations, and a conservative estimate suggests it will take 3 hours each way to go from here by public transport. That means leaving before Wombat wakes up in the morning and getting home at his bedtime. Driving would be worse, considering peak hour traffic on Sydney's North Shore, my lack of experience driving in heavy traffic while under exam stress, and the fact there is no parking at the College. It would take even longer than the train. I can't possibly traumatize Wombat & myself by disappearing for two weeks, so my only option is to find somewhere in the city for Yeti, Wombat & myself to stay. This puts a lot of pressure on my 85 year old mother-in-law, but at least Yeti and Wombat could drive home every few days to check on her & help out, and we would only be a phonecall away (though it would still take a few hours to get back here in an emergency). There is also the point that accommodation in Sydney is going to cost me at least $100 a day *GULP* so when I am not frantically trying to catch up on my studies (I am running just over a week behind the timetable) I am searching the net trying to find somewhere in a nice location (preferably near a beach so Yeti & Wombat have something to do, even though it will still be winter) with good public transport to St Leonards (less than an hour, without having to change buses or trains) for a reasonable price. It also has to have space for me to study without waking Yeti & Wombat, so most hotel rooms are out. Wish me luck! It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack ;D

My sister, Steff, is now 8 months pregnant and starting to feel neglected by my continuing absence, so I will try to write quick updates more often.