Sunday= Marathon Italian lunch

Lunch with my sister and brother in law and 4 other guests.
A fantastic, fabulous, spectacular Italian themed lunch.

Start 12.00noon Finish 6.30pm.

8 courses

Champagne with red grapefruit juice
1.Tuna wrapped with roasted capsicum.
Basil leaves filled with capers and anchovies.
Cherry tomatoes filled with pesto

Several Italian whites.
2.Duck terrine, caramelised red onion, garlic crouton
3. BBQ proscuitto wrapped asparagus

Several Italian reds.
4. Prawn, fennel and chilli risotto
5. Grilled quail , parmesan and rocket salad
6. Porchetta and beans
7. Cheese - washrind, very stinky sheep milks and blue
8. Torta della nonna and cream.


Nothing more to add really big food day, no kids, and the only unfortunate thing about the entire day was I drove and consequently didn't get to indulge in many of the wines.

Nevertheless the food was divine and offered in such good servings we didn't even feel remotely full by the 6th course.

In two words: "A privelege"


"Lil Mommy" - comes with just a lil bit of social conditioning.  Posted by Hello

Note the tea light candle - we were not organised enough for a cake candle! Posted by Hello

Thank you V for the flowers. Posted by Hello

Barbie Sofa Love Posted by Hello

Morning tea.

Well it is virtually over. Saturday that is. We held a small morning tea in honour of Gabriella's 1st birthday. I have to admit that I am really really slack when it comes to theme birthdays I just cannot go the extra mile that it takes to include, Elmo, or Toy Story or Fairies etc.

I can only manage some decent food and that's it. There was only one lollipop hunt, no pass the parcel or other party favourite. Even her cake - wasn't typical children's' fare I went to a great bakery and ordered the Tiramisu Torte - she loved it! The rest of the kids had some beautifully decorated cup cakes by my glamorous friend V (she still manages to be stunning even with braces on her teeth!) and a huge bowl of my favourite Allen's lollies and home-made pizza.

I served the adults some cabbage pastizzis (a la Kath &Kim), no I did some different flavours but I couldn't resist offering mine around as Kath's version. I made a grilled pumpkin, oregano and blue cheese tart, and a grilled zucchini, thyme and feta tart. I made lots of club sandwiches too - ham and avocado, red salmon, pesto, chicken, and egg - fairly standard fresh and appetising.

I am exhausted having held the morning tea at 10.00am I was up till midnight last night and then at the crack of dawn again today. I will post a few pictures that will tell the story a little better.

Gabriella got some beautiful girly presents. P and I have not indulged her with any new toys so it was quite lovely to get some girlie stuff just for her. The Barbie lounge which she knows is hers, not one but two baby dolls, a fantastic castle and little people to play with from the glamorous V and kiddies. A beautiful butterfly and some gorgeous books and lovely clothes.


Happy Birthday Gabriella we love you very much.  Posted by Hello


A love letter.

In retrospect it certainly seemed like a good idea. This morning while checking the lunch that P had made for Elliot I decided to write a love letter to Elliot and wrap his biscuit in it. The note said "I love you very much Elliot from Mummy with a :)ly face.

I hoped he would get a good feeling when he opened his lunch and found the note. Plus it is all part of my positive reinforcements I am trying to go over the top with lately. And it would help with his reading skills.

After I picked him up this afternoon from his Grandmother's we went to pick up his father. While waiting for P, Elliot asked me about the note. I pretended not to remember because I wanted to see if he had read it.

He found the note in his school bag and I asked him what it said so that I could test whether he actually could understand the writing. He read it back to me. Then he started to cry because he said that his friends had teased him about the note. I felt awful and said I wouldn't do it again.

Then I began the interrogation:
"Which friends were teasing you?" and
"What were they saying?"

Elliot gave me vague replies which is not unusual for him when it comes to queries about school and friends, my query "What did you do today?"
usually elicits from him the elaborative "Stuff."

By this time P had turned up and I explained the situation. We talked about it further and questioned Elliot some more, eventually he admitted that he had not been teased at all and had hidden the note from his friends for fear of being teased.

We both thought he was over reacting. Though I can acknowledge there is potential for being teased as being a "Mummy's boy" but hey he is only nearly 6 can't he be my boy for a bit longer yet?

Elliot and I talked about it again tonight and he apologised and I said that next time I write a note for him it will be a joke that he could tell his friends.


Wooden toys.  Posted by Hello

For the children's photographs. Posted by Hello

Start to Christmas. Posted by Hello
Something that anyresemblance said about admiring the Christmas decorations in DJ's in her most recent post prompted me to write this one. I am a Christmas decoration manic.

It began when we spent a Christmas in Europe and then Toronto in 1993. The most beautiful decorations were collected by my brother-in-law's parents in Toronto and I loved how there was so much history in their collection. Many of the decorations were bought while on their travels. So from then whenever I traveled near Christmas I bought something for our family tree.

Now there is less o/s travel in my life so I have to rely on the goodwill of friends and family bringing me back something for my tree. I think it is perfect little something to bring back because a Christmas decoration is hardly going to put you over on the luggage weight restrictions. My sister- in- law brought us back the most beautiful blue cracked glass ball from Paris and I have many from London and Toronto - but I need more!

Once Elliot came along I started to collect one or more for him every year and we always discuss which are his when we decorate the tree together. When he is ready to have his own Christmas tree I will give him the decorations I have collected for him over the years. Last year I began Gabriella's collection as well. And a new collection of Christmas snowballs for both of them. So kitschy I know but I can't resist. I also try to get some little Christmas ornaments to place around the house to provide some festive touches - my taste runs to the more unusual ones though within a budget.

So far I have bought these two snow balls for the children plus two other decorations which I am going to post a picture of next -there was a sale and I couldn't resist. I often buy my godchildren a Christmas decoration to put on the ribbon around their Christmas gifts I think everyone should have special ones.

After I post the next pictures I will wait till my tree is up and then post a picture of that once and for all.


Time spent in quiet contemplation.


We decided to hit the park early this morning for the family photos. We all have to contribute to a family page for Paul's Grandmother's 90th present - a family album. I am pretty happy with the samples I have posted today I hope my sisters SLRs turn out much better though. I could only get 12 photos on the digital then the batteries went flat and the spares hadn't been charged properly. The park is magnificant at the moment, after the rain the purple of the jacarandas and the brown of the tree trunks and the green of the lawn are much more vivid. It is time well spent when you are there.

I have a habit of closing my eyes and kids what can I say a family photograph would be very easy to take without them. There was virtually no cooperation from Gabriella but what do you expect from an almost 12 month old...but Elliot. He decided to put on the cheesiest fakest smiles which we asked him to refrain from doing. I would rather not have him smile than the fake smiles he puts on. The non-smiles quickly turned into full blown pouting and then he was as non-cooperative as possible after that. It was just infuriating. We coaxed and then we threatened. What works best with him though is to completely ignore him. I have worked out with a little help from my book that he thrives on negative attention from P and me. My sister even found herself drawn into an argument with him. I decided because he loves to argue that I have to have the last word which today was "Stop talking nonsense I am no longer going to speak to you". After that he came around very nicely.

I took my sister to Yum Cha for late lunch to thank her for her help with the photographs - no kids and P. It was great I love the steamed seafood dumplings and we always keep room for the Mango and Cream Crepes. After that I decided to indulge in a child-free video with my sister at her place and watched "Mona Lisa" smile. I think that's what got me in the mood for this evening.

I was supposed to go to my sister's return performance tonight while P, Elliot and Gabriella went to my brother-in-laws place for dinner. I decided to stay home instead. A bit of a piker on both counts I suppose. I really wanted some time to myself. Not to sit with a glass of wine and contemplate life but to sort out all of our clean laundry and get a good start on the ironing. Mundane I suppose, but I love my home life to have some semblance of order I feel like I can then cope with whatever the week throws at me, in case of sick children, sick husband, sick me, lots of work and meetings, school for Elliot and then by the end of the week a birthday party for Gabriella. Plus I just really wanted to potter around in my own space.

I finished putting away all the laundry that doesn't need ironing and gave myself a much needed face mask. I think it has been six months since I last found the time to do that must have been before I returned to work in May.

Now a bit of Australian Idol in the background, a long shower and then onto the ironing... Bliss.

Black & White Posted by Hello

Elliot before he started to lose it. Posted by Hello

Sunday - family photo shoot Powerhouse New Farm Park.  Posted by Hello


Alcohol and what it means.

Its been fun the last couple of nights playing the vinyl.

Friday night.
P bought a record player and we dusted off the records. Memories of when we first met in the late 80s B.C (Before Compact discs). We had the advantage of his parents 60s & 70s collection (Mama and the Papas and the complete Beatles) and he and his brother and sisters' 80's collection. What brings back the best memories: late nights, playing vinyl, lots of wine, sometimes an occasional smoke and Rodriguez, Edie Brickell, Don McLean, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd and the Hunters and Collectors.

We had a cocktail party at our place last night to farewell some of P's colleagues- it went pretty well. I paced myself and retired with the baby around 10.30pm, it didn't help that I was up at 5.00am that morning tracking down some flowers for the house.

A good time was had by all - at least thats what it sounded like. It helps that we have a four player fooz ball table and everyone had a turn at spinning the vinyl too and there were cocktails galore, pineapple daiquiris, strawberries ones too, golden dreams, Japanese slippers, cosmopolitan's, pina coladas, and black russians, etc.

I rose again at 2.30am and found P sipping a baileys on ice on our deck after a huge clean up. What a sweetheart he knows I never leave cleaning up till the next morning. Considering it was just over 20 people drinking it was a lot of glassware and reorganising of the dining room to get rid of the bar.

Next time I up it was off to the farmer's markets, more herbs to plant, free range eggs, ciabatta, organic brownies and vienese biscuits for morning tea. The high point was the return of the smoked trout sellers, the low point, my favourite yoghurt seller wasn't there.

P & I spent the rest of the day putting our house back in order and doing our domestic duties together . I decided on mussels in tomato and white wine sauce for dinner and some prawns in the same sauce for P. We decided to indulge in some cocktails again - without the pressure of guests. From 5pm a strawberry and melon daiquiri, a Golden dream, a cosmopolitan, and then we opened a bottle of champagne for dinner. At which point after 1 and a half glasses I said sorry that is it for me and was about to go to sleep when I found myself here!

I am starting to get a second wind which I would prefer rather than passing out at 8.30pm. I rarely rarely lose control on alcohol. I like to have a drink on occasion and sometimes to the extent that I would probably be over the limit but never so that I can't handle my responsibilities with the children.

I am sure there are some people who would say is she a Lush! I assure you I don't think I am. Over the years I have discussed and given thought to drinking and the concept of alcoholism and in particular whether I was one. A lot of thought has been given particularly because my father was a shocking alcoholic.

In my view I believe that I would have a problem with alcohol if I:
a) drank more than 3 or more standard drinks per day;
b) missed work because of alcohol related activity;
c) drank so I could go to work;
d) drank because I am unhappy;
e) noticed it when I didn't have a drink
f) alcohol is the last thought when I go to sleep;
g) the first thought the next morning and
h) on most occasions drank alone.

I like a social drink and I can go to a social event without the need to have a drink (I gave it up for the gestation of two children even!). So I am quite sure I am not in a battle with alcohol. It is not to suggest that I drink 3 drinks or less per day - I happen to think it is acceptable to have at least one drink per day and even two if one drink was consumed on arrival at home and say the next some time later over dinner. Personally given my tastes I can't afford to indulge in alcohol any more than I do now.

I like good wine and my one of my favourite sayings is"

"Life is too short for cheap wine"


Congratulations Suga lu

After the winner was announced on Sunday night for the Fretfest competition the organisers than presented a certificate to each performer and got them to say something. My sister was given her certificate within the first three. We spoke about it after and considered whether it was given in order and that perhaps she had come third but given it was done rather ambiguously we decided there had been no intent in the way the certificates had been presented.

Well today I confirmed via the website that she had in fact come 2nd!I rang and told her straight away we were both thrilled that she rated so highly amongst such a talented field. Well she is talented! Given that there were no more than 10 supporters we knew would vote for her she must have solicited quite a bit of support from the crowd. This is such an
achievement given she has only been living in Brisbane for 10 weeks and
never performed here and many of the performers did have a considerable amount of local support with them.

Finding out now what the result actually was, is just as good a feeling as winning might have been!



that I shouldn't be so judgmental about women and their bra straps - I feel positively Victorian now that I have said it out loud.


What is it about Carrie on Sex And The City - why do we have to see her bra straps in every scene - either she is wearing it out - or putting them up to dry in her bathroom. I guess its a sign that its now okay to show your bra straps. Though I think that might be okay for the under 30's but for the 30's plus its just plain tacky in my books.

Going out.

I actually went to a club last night. I cannot remember the last time I have been to a club. I went to support my sister in the Fretfest competition. I was pleasantly surprised by everything except the amount of second hand smoke in the club.

It was a very stimulating evening, I got to watch 10 acoustic vocalist in the 25plus age group perform original material at very high standard. I was amazed by some of the material though for various reasons. I recall saying last week that my sister's friends who supported her in the last round of the competition thought that the other competitors were quite depressing - so much of the material was so full on angst, I have to concur.

Some of the depressing song topics that I can recall - 9/11, death, genetic engineering, being overweight, domestic violence to name but a few. One fellow slowed the mood down so much I closed my eyes. I thought it was because of my previous two days, but after that singer the tempo picked up and so did I.

My sister did not win but she was clearly well received by the audience and I was very proud of her she has a fantastic voice. For Gabriella's naming day I had her sing "In the arms of an angel" by Sarah Maclaughlin - she made Gabriella's aunty cry. It is a hauntingly beautiful song and she certainly did it justice.

I felt quite peculiar being out on a Sunday night in a smoke filled club listening to live music instead of being home with P and the kids enjoying some youngsters doing their "Young Talent Time" best on Australian Idol.

I chatted to some people at the club about what was on and where to go - except I felt like such a fraud and had to admit that being out tonight was just out of my character as the only going out that I tend to do involves dining out with the same people I have for many years or just the family at the local curry place - I think I sound pathetic. But I really don't want to go to clubs every week and having a 12month old baby a six year old son and a full-time job in a responsible position puts me in a totally different reality to many of the people that were in that club last night. I enjoyed last night and may do it again just not every week, maybe not even every month just every now and then will suit me fine.


I wish

that there was a retailer who would buy some of the clothes from http://www.hautebabies.com/collections.html.

I would love to buy Gabriella some clothes from this designer. I emailed the owner Aimee to say how thrilled I was that her website had come back on line as it had been under construction for many months. I stumbled upon it when I was searching for pearls for Gabriella.

Aimee very kindly emailed me to thank me for my email which I thought very sweet. I just need someone to pick up her line now so I can have access to a few pieces for Gabriella. Aimee's daughter is the Milla of Milla Plum and she is just gorgeous I hope that Gabriella's hair grows like that I love the idea of putting orchids in her pony tails.

Another outfit I would love for Gabi. Posted by Hello

Little Milla in one of outfits I would love for Gabriella. Posted by Hello


It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Its been a while. It has become such a habit for me to write almost every day lately that not writing has been quite difficult. I probably gave it a rest subconsciously because my husband mentioned that it was starting to dominate my and our life I suppose. He doesn't really know why I do this although I have tried to explain.

We never talk about the details of each others work by mutual agreement. He is a 3D animator and his work bores me and vice versa. We talk about the people and the events but never the detail of the problems we might encounter I guess the fields are just too diverse.

Apart from the comment he made the other night his behaviour in the last 48 hours is a main reason why I haven't written.

Thursday night - Animation festival
On Thursday night he went with some work colleagues to an animation festival. I stayed home with the children and worked till midnight (and took a break to watch Kath & Kim) I had been home since 2pm Thursday afternoon working from home. One of my work colleagues told me to get myself home because I am actually not feeling well rather than infect them.

I have some chesty head cold which makes you just lurve your life in summer - nose dripping like a tap, sneezing and hacking etc etc. I have a voice that sounds like I have been eating gravel which happened when my throat became raw from the coughing.

Despite feeling like crap - I still have to meet my work deadlines and managed to put the effort in Thursday to do so and got into bed around midnight. P turned up around then with some company. I promptly fell asleep and then was awoken by him around 2.30am. We then tried to have a conversation which involved me asking him who had come home and he denying that anyone had come home and giggling. I soon realised he was completely trashed no he was worse than that he was wasted and non compis mentis. I have only seen him like this a couple of times in 14 years and while he is a happy jovial drunk he is a complete pest and I could not get him to be quiet or make any sense until eventually I went to sleep with Elliot around 4amish.

I then had trouble sleeping because P was wandering and crashing around the house and I was sure he would wake Gabriella so I had to lead him back to bed.

Friday morning - home life.
Around 6am Gabriella woke up. By now I was completely trashed too - from lack of sleep and my head cold but I had to get up and deal with getting Elliot ready for school.

We had a fairly interesting morning when the tree guys rang to say they would be around in 15mins to chop down the palm trees that P had arranged with them to do earlier in the week. I had to try and get P up to deal with them - and he was still inebriated - when I was trying to get him up he kept saying "Get Heidi (person from work) to deal with it". I managed to get him up and focused on doing his part to enable the tree chopping business to occur.

Luckily my sister turned up and left with the children. After the tree men left - I put P back to bed and finished my work on my paper around midday - and that was just some final editing and sending it but it all took time.

I texted P's office manager to ask him what he did to my husband last night - because it was the worse I had seen him. He said that P and another colleague (the head animator) had trashed themselves it was something they both needed to do given all the tension at their work over the last 3 weeks. Several of the animators were retrenched and P was one of the very few retained - and for the past few weeks he had been helping quite a few of them with their resumes. Many of them would have to move to Sydney for work and the head animator hoped to go to Pixar in San Franciso.

Luckily because P's manager had been babysitting them last night (he was one of my late night visitors) he wasn't overly concerned that P wouldn't be coming in to work that day.

Friday afternoon - out and about.
P got up around midday and we decided to go for lunch and went and had some Indian. This was actually quite enjoyable having lunch out without the kids and checking out a one of my favourite bookstores called Riverbend . I managed to find a great book to help us with Elliot called "4 weeks to a Better Behaved Child" . I told Elliot today that I was reading it so I could be a better parent. Plus I ordered Elliot a Roald Dahl CD rom.

When we got the children back in the afternoon I decided to finally get a few hours sleep so that we could be ready to go next door to the neighbours for a meet and greet with some of the other neighbours.

We very nearly backed out of going - between my lack of sleep and the cold and P's hangover we thought we would be less than sparkling company.

Friday night - out again
Ultimately however probably due to the wine and the company we ended up having a very good time and we left there at 12.30am. Basically Paul did a quinella and backed up quite well all things considered. The people we met were absolutely great - I am sure we will have lots to do with them - there were lots of laughs and many things in common. I am sure we will invite them all over for christmas drinks this year. We have a very good neighbourhood.

A&D who hosted last night showed me that they are extremely decent neighbours despite the fact that their house and ours once upon a time had some great city views. A&D are not bitter that their neighbour (a prominent ex local govt councilor) built this huge concrete and rendered building (and it is monstrous) beside them and took their views. A&D now basically look onto bare taupe coloured walls that I would say reach up about 3 storeys. A&D decided not to be bitter about it and move on and get along well with their new neighbours. I would have to say they are very very generous as I would find it very difficult if I were in their position given that last night I saw for myself first hand what it is like to live in the shadow of that monstrous house.

The remainder of my night though was worse than the previous night because Elliot developed earaches and Gabriella did her usual wake up several times I had my hacking cough. P was of no use to me at all and throughout the night whenever I tried (without success) to get him to help Elliot I ended up cursing P a few times and threatened to divorce him at least once. Naturally I was even more tired than ever.

Then luckily for P he made up for his lack of action last night and this morning he took the children at 6 am and let me sleep till 10am - so today I feel remotely human again.

P and I have had a pleasant afternoon cooking together - I made Ma Po Tofu and he made a Lamb Vindaloo and Lamb Rogan Josh and then we ate our lovely dinner together (without the children).

We also watched "Kill Bill Volume 1" - what can I say a blood spurting killing spree of a movie - I get so desensitized to Tarantinos use of violence and blood that absoutely nothing shocks me in his movies. I become quite blaze about it all. In fact it is almost laughable - not that I found amusement in the movie story just amusement in the movie making.

Thank God Elliot was not home - though its not like I ever would have let him watch it that's why it has taken us so long to watch it -we have had it here for months I would never subject him to a movie like that given his fears at the moment.


A hard days work

I spent over 10 hours at work today. I got in at 7.15am and left around 5.45pm. I am writing another consultation paper and I have had to put a concerted effort in to get it into a decent shape by Friday no mean feat considering I basically only started it on Monday. It is so time consuming some things you would think should take half an hour you can spend hours pouring over - footnotes,paraphasing, formulating arguments without unnecessary repetition and being succinct not one of my fortes - I am a rambler as many would have guessed no doubt.

My biggest problem is how to "borrow" the context of the discussion when I have found it perfectly expressed in a review from 1996. It will take me absolutely ages to paraphrase the extract and make it my own - even if I footnote some of the discussion.

Tomorrow we start planning the consultation phase which will take us around Queensland. An external consultant has been appointed to ensure that we are kept at arms length from the process a good idea it seems since we heard about a consultation that went completely pear shaped when departmental staff were conducting the process. This means some travel and potentially staying over night at various places. In some ways I look forward to a evening of uninterrupted sleep but then I wonder how Gabriella will cope without me and does this mean the end of the breast feeding.

I always said when she is 12months (later this month) I would give it up but I am much more attached to the feeding than I even like to admit out loud. I feel once I give it up I will never get to do it again and I will miss this special time that Gabriella and I can only share. I know some women continue after the 12 months I just never thought I was one of them and I still can't see myself continuing really. I read some of Selkies blog and I admired how well she argued the case for continuing breast feeding until a child self weans. However well argued as she was - I am not convinced it is right for me to breast feed a child into toddlerdom. I think I feel comfortable at this point with Gabriella because she is so petite and seems quite baby-like still.

I just wish Gabriella would make the decision for me - I hate having to put a stop to something which she so obviously enjoys - although the night feeding is torture especially when I have busy and long days like today. Maybe the best time to do it is when I have to travel and she will learn to get through the night without me and me her.


News Trivia and the truth

On Tuesday mornings around 9.30am the team (the five of us) usually meet to discuss the matters raised at the Steering Committee meeting held earlier that morning.

Today first up we discussed the Australian Idol result . Only one of the team doesn't watch the show - a reality show naysayer. My standard reply to those types is "Oh don't get all high and mighty - given my job involves boring research and writing all day - give me a break and let me go home and watch something entertaining and vacuous!"

I have over time had the same to say to any person who dares to judge my desire to access a form of entertainment which is less than the standards they set for themselves. Why do I constantly have to inform myself - can't I just be amused and move on to the next piece of bubblegum. We (the women that is) also talked about the rest of our Monday night viewing that is, SATC and how strangely compelling and enigmatic Mikhail Baryishnikov is despite the fact he is close to 60.

We did eventually talk about work and then towards the end of the meeting F our boss (and my friend) pulled out the Sport lift out from the Courier Mail on Monday October 11 and read from page 19 a small article by "The Ear" with Mark Oberhardt.

" No Names Files: A popular legal eagle, junior football coach and racehorse owner described as rubbish a suggestion he sent his wife to investigate when thieves tried to break into their home. He added the way he has been punting the burglars were wasting their time."

We were all highly amused. Last week F told me she would be in to work early last Thursday so that she could leave that afternoon to head up the coast to spend the rest of the vacation with her children who she sent up earlier with her mother. F failed to appear early and when she arrived after 10am her reason was that she had been dealing with the police.

At 4am that morning she and her husband T were woken with a start when they heard an almighty crash coming from the downstairs rooms in their house. F thinking it was her brother after a very late night/early morning got up to investigate however because the noise was so alarming T in a daze and being quite short sighted had trouble finding his glasses followed her soon after. When they reached downstairs they called out and the people who were trying to smash one of their french doors in with their outside furniture took off.

We concluded that the journalist who decided to post this piece must have had very little sporting news to publish this week. A tenuous sporting connection made to T (who is a Senior Counsel) through his role as a parent supporting his children's sporting endeavours and a share in a race horse. The only thing with a ring of truth was that I could certainly see F's husband declaring "rubbish" to the suggestion that F was urged forward to investigate. Because we knew there was no urging that was just the way it happened.



I think I have mentioned my sister SugaLu in passing quite a few times now. She moved to Brisbane about 8 weeks ago and has fast made herself indispensible to my overly busy life. She is as P calls her Wife No.2. much like our friend PT was husband No.2. A welcome third wheel in our busy little lives someone extra to pick up our slack or just help pick up. As well she cooks for me, cleans my house and car when we need it, helps mind the children - makes great cocktails I don't know what on earth did I do before she came along. Plus she is great company.

SugaLu - picked up Gabriella and Elliot this afternoon and she does the drop off and pick up again for me tomorrow afternoon. How can she find the time to be so darned handy - well she is pursuing a musical career and doesn't want to work full-time and is finding time to do some volunteer work with a musical organisation do some courses and enter competitions as she did last night.

Elliot keeps saying to her - why isn't she on Australian Idol - well there is an age limit and she is from a more "mature" background so that rules her out, although she could definitely pass for around 30 or so.

She is currently competing in Fretfest which is an acoustic Find of the Year competition (Pete Murray was discovered at this competition) and was one of 18 competing last night. We used to love him till he got played on Neighbours which translates to us as plain popular and not the little gem we thought only we knew about.

P and I didn't go to see SugaLu - slack I know but a Sunday night 18 competitors 2 songs each plus the kids and her son M to mind - someone had to stay home and hold the fort.

Her friends did travel though to support her and gave her some good feedback seems she was the only one doing remotely upbeat songs everyone else was to quote her friends "relentlessly slit your wrist types."

She does one song which I think could be taken off quite well on Kath and Kim (I so enjoyed their return last week) it has a chorus "You make me feel unreal" I mentioned their version would be "You moike me feel unreyeel" Her other song is about Reality T.V. quite a witty one.

I hope the judges have a huge say in who goes through as she doesn't as yet have a following in Brisbane. If she gets through I hope I will go and support her.

New Day

Yesterday went pretty well with Elliot we all tried and that helped. P was a little hard on him for not minding Gabriella when P was in the bathroom - she came and sat outside my bedroom and cried and P was trying his best to give me a sleep in.

I didn't think it was a big deal in the scheme of things its the anger I think we need to watch. Between P and I Gabriella often gets away if we are distracted and before you know it she will be in another room of the house - ripping up a box of tissues or eating the dirt from my newly potted herbs!

His cousin came over to play in the afternoon and they both got along as well.

I just thought I would clarify that if I was going to see a child behaviouralist or psychologist it would be for P and me not neccessarily for Elliot. I think we don't know, not having done this before, where his emotions are coming from and I think a professional could help us understand how to deal with the situations as they arise. We feel that we are just muddling through and wonder if we are not going to make the situation worse than it has to be. I am going to ask one of my "experts" today my friend and boss F she has 3 boys - so would have seen and read quite a bit about bringing up boys.


Wits End

We are at our wits end with our son. It has been happening on and off for the last couple of months that he will get really really angry when things don't go his way. Just yesterday he punched his cousin in the nose because his cousin wouldn't play a game the way Elliot insisted that he play a game. I didn't see it though I can believe it happened. Though I do have to balance Elliot's behaviour towards his cousin (who is 5 years older than him) with the fact that his cousin will sometimes mercilessly tease him.

When I spoke to Elliot about his behaviour he was angry with me for talking to him about it. It seems to me that he just doesn't like his behaviour to be questioned by me at all particularly if he knows he is already in the wrong - so how do I bring it up with him?

He back-answers both P and me nearly all the time when we say that his behaviour is unacceptable. He usually likes to blame other objects and people for his bad behaviour. One night he told me if I gave him a different dinner than he would behave better. When I explained that he was in control of his emotions and behaviour he insisted that I controlled him. I replied if that were true than he would be a perfectly behaved boy all the time.

He says that I get mad at him every day - which is probably true much to my regret.I replied that it is because he misbehaves every day. I think the reason I do get mad with him is because of the fact it is so difficult to talk to him about his behaviour - he will argue black is white to the very end and never acknowledge fault and try to blame everyone and everything including me.

Tonight was very very hard - we felt we couldn't keep doing anything nice things for him when it appears that he does not appreciate our efforts. We talked to him about his behaviour being disappointing and that we wanted to be proud of him like we usually are. To this Elliot says he is an idiot - he is stupid and his teachers says his homework is bad. We told him that saying things like this is absolutely ludicrous. We know he is a very good reader, his last report was fantastic, he gets well done stickers on his homework, our parent teacher interview went very well, he was voted class captain in his class which is a composite class and is predominantly made up of year 2's and he is only 1 of 8 year ones - so we know he is held in high regard by his peer. Plus he has always told me he would never misbehave like other boys and girls at school.

Perhaps he makes such an effort at school to be good that he stores up all of his bad behaviour for P and me at home - maybe the fact that he is six at the end of the year is too much of a strain as well given that most of his class are up to two years older than him. When I pick him up from school it often seems that every kid in both grade one and two makes of point of saying goodbye to him in the afternoon. It appears to me that he is very friendly with older boys who are quite sporty and do well scholastically does this make it harder for Elliot given his age? Is this why he denigrates himself to us because compared to the older children he feels inadequate?

I have decided that before we consult a child psychologist or behaviorialist I will try a book on raising boys. Perhaps P and I do not understand what a young boy needs - more empathy more sympathy less of one more of the other.

I have spoken to him about learning hard lessons being a good loser, a good winner, jealousy, I don't think we have done unfairness and natural justice and persistence we have such a long way to go.

(Damn it I just can't listen to that little man and his victory speech tonight! I just switched him off)

At the end of the evening I had a quiet talk with El before he went to sleep and asked him if he actually liked us - this made him cry - which wasn't the intention of my question. I asked him to think about improving his behaviour and trying and thinking before he acts or speaks and if we can see he is trying we can start giving him back some of his privileges . I also told him that Mum and Dad need to try everyday to be good parents and sometimes we make mistakes too and that no matter what arguments we have that he is our son and we love him.

If you have two parents who love each other and their two children and there is no alcoholism, no major arguments (yes to disagreements) no drugs or violence in our family - can we still really go so wrong?

The city from New Farm park at 6am this morning despite the haze from the surrounding bush fires it is still remarkably beautiful. Thank goodness New Farm tend to their flowers our back yard is a desert by comparison.  Posted by Hello

The markets were too much for her.

Posted by Hello

ahhhhh the jacarandas at New Farm Park
See a previous post for the significance of jacarandas in Brisbane at this time of year. Posted by Hello

My bounty from this mornings markets.
Hmm what have we here: The Weekend Australian, lemons, limes, asparagus, basil, mint, oregano and italian parsley to plant, a rockmelon (Gabriella spat that out for breakfast) the best Brancourts passionfruit yoghurt, my favourite The Grainge boysenberry jam, free range eggs, ciabatta from Wild Breads, red onions and pumpkin and a bag of greens! Posted by Hello

Brisbane Farmers Markets 6am.
As usual a big line up to buy our salad greens, my sister SugaLu is in the lineup while Gabriella and I wait. We walked past this stall a half an hour earlier and they were just setting up. Posted by Hello

Last nights vegetarian pizzas Posted by Hello


My babies and food.

I am completely perplexed by the change in my daughter. Her once good eating habits which were extolled to all and sundry have diminished and I am at a complete loss to make them return. She has decided not to eat her vegetables and virtually anything else I offer - well not entirely, but just how complete is a diet of water, pureed fruit, yoghurt and the occasion corn and rice thin and less than 150mls of formula today.

She is already petite I am worried she will waste away. She still loves to breast feed - in fact so much whenever I feed her and I have time to give her as much as she wants I call the time "breastfest" much like Octoberfest except with milk and no lederhosen. Gabriella gets all giddy with delight at the opportunity to have uninterrupted access to her favourite drink she almost acts like a drunk in a beer hall.

I have tried serving her chicken, pork, minced beef, lamb, smoked chicken, vegetables, rice, pasta, baked beans, scrambled eggs, cheese, toast and sandwiches and she won't eat more than 2 or 3 mouthfuls per meal. I now face every meal with trepidation because the fun of watching the food disappear spoonful after spoonful has gone.

The joy I had preparing her meals has dissipated too and I try not to be anxious prior to feeding her and quite nonchalant just in case she is picking up some negative vibe, but I just can't help but feel so discouraged and annoyed when she shakes her head vigorously from side to side and swats at the spoon with her little hands every time the spoon comes close to her mouth.

Sometimes I hope she will open her mouth and scream just so I can sneak a mouthful of something in.

Her previous good habits were obviously too good to last it was initially such a relief given the dinnertime battles still rage with Elliot. We often have to monitor that he will eat his dinner up to an hour after we have finished ours. Its not like we want him to eat a huge plate of food a standard meal might consist of 2 small pieces of broccoli, 4 small sticks of carrot, half a potato, peas and a sausage surely not too much to ask from a nearly 6 year old. And we always offer variety this is an example of dinners on offer for a typical week i.e. this week:

Sunday: Eye fillet, Belgian endive and blue cheese salad
Monday: Marinated lamb chops and rice
Tuesday: Thai beef salad
Wednesday:Nachos with guacamole, sour cream, refried beans and salsa
Thursday: Sauteed turkey thigh chops with greek potatoes and vegetables
Friday: Home-made lebanese pizzas topped with char-grilled vegetables, a baby spinach pesto, mozzarella and bacon.

No takeaway or greasy food - those things I suppose he would consider a treat. I hope one day he realises and appreciates the cultural diversity offered in his diet. But until then....

Please come back my good eating little Gabriella I miss you.



Jacarandas are in bloom. If you have ever been a university student in Brisbane you would know what I mean when I say the “Jacarandas are in bloom.”

Happily at this point in my life the mention of blooming jacarandas means I should go to New Farm park for a picnic with the children and enjoy the sight of a cavalcade of jacarandas in bloom.

But when I was a student blooming jacarandas meant the onset of mild panic and anxiety which would in the coming months fully blossom into complete panic and anxiety as the end of the academic year drew to its inevitable conclusion – EXAMS.

The significance of the jacarandas as many a current and ex-student of any facility of higher learning in Brisbane well knows is that if you don’t know what it is you should know by this point of the year, there may be little hope that you will know it by the time the exams begin. Having lived through 4 years of Jacarandas I cannot help but think of the prospect of exams every year and now spare a thought for those poor wretched souls who are entering the final stretch for the academic year.

A superstition related to Brisbane students and jacarandas again is that if a jacaranda flower should fall on you – you may fail your exams. This superstition is not considered as highly as the cautionary message with jacarandas in bloom – I add that part for completeness.

Spring in Brisbane is an absolutely marvellous time of year – fresh light mornings and mildish days though it was 29 degrees yesterday but none of the suffocating humidity which we are probably a little more than 4 weeks away from.

Summer though as we all remember only too well last January when two days reached 40- 42 degrees the whole family stayed in one air conditioned bedroom watching DVDs. Luckily Gabriella was only 8 weeks old so she didn’t need much entertaining. We would leave the bedroom to make some lunch and dinner and check the internet to watch the temperature rise over the course of the day and wait till it became darker and slightly cooler or was that really less hot.

This year one air-conditioned bedroom wouldn’t cut it for 48 hours with an active nearly one year old. We may just book into a city hotel this season if there is going to be a really bad weekend.

Thai beef salad Tuesday

Inspired by some left over eye fillet from Saturday nights barbecue we decided that I would make a Thai beef salad, or at least my version of it for dinner last night. I thinly sliced the eye fillet and marinated it in some low salt soy, sesame oil, lime juice, oil, fish sauce and grated fresh ginger for an hour or so.

Then I prepared some beans and asparagus in the microwave and let them cool. On a long platter I spread some mesclin salad leaves and mixed in some finely chopped coriander and red onion. Interspersed throughout I added thin slices of cucumber with some green skin left on the pieces. I then added the asparagus and beans. Finally I placed the beef throughout the salad.

I thought about having some vermicelli glass noodles on the side but alas my cupboard was bare. (Vermicelli noodles, prawns, sauteed marinated tofu and coriander on a bed of lettuce is another of my favourite summer salads)

I made a dressing very similar to the marinade but added some fresh chopped chillies. Voila a beef salad with Thai flavours – I think next time I will add a touch of red curry paste to the dressing to reinforce the thai inspiration. Damn I forgot to take a photo and I have a new digital camera - hopefully this will prompt me for next time.


Tired Tuesday.

I had a considerable amount of trouble keeping my eyes open today. I am sure it is because of my television regime on a Tuesday night – Idol, SATC (the new one and the repeat) and then I am always sorely tempted to stay up for the entire Six Feet Under but made myself retreat to bed at 11pm. This combined with the requisite 4-5 wake ups for Gabriella means that today I am struggling to be alert.

I also wonder if it is the weather today – it is quite overcast and there are no glimpses of sun or blue sky at all. I am sure this atmosphere is influencing my lack of energy and general malaise.

The research I am attempting today would deplete anybody’s energy levels it involves the internet and searching for the legislation for the parole boards around the country. I feel no more enthusiastic as the day has worn on.

I have struggled to the point of going cross-eyed trying to stay awake. I am a woman on the verge - the verge of falling asleep at my desk. A berroca at 10.30 am did little to boost my energy levels though a short walk around the block and an early lunch have given me enough enthusiasm to begin writing this entry.

One good thing - a review of a restaurant in a suburb not far from ours looks very promising. P and I as usual completely forgot our wedding anniversary last week. We were both aware of it prior to the date however it wasn’t until the day after P rang me and said "Happy Anniversary Darling". We want to go out to dinner but were waiting for Suga Lu to return so we could leave the children at home and go somewhere local.

Actually last year we had a wonderful Anniversary on the actual day which was a Sunday. We went for lunch to an Italian restaurant Café Del Ugo in Newfarm which is owned by some good friends of ours who came to our wedding in 1996. As I was 8 months pregnant we also took Elliot to the lunch that is - not the wedding! We shared a beautiful lunch of veal, scampi and salad along with champagne and Italian white wine (I had no more than a glass of wine) and then shared some Tiramisu. Elliot had a bowl of pasta and loved the Tiramisu. It was a very lovely lunch and Elliot enjoyed the restaurant experience.

Its amazing how quickly this last year has gone I can't believe I was so close to having Gabriella and now she is such a routine part of our lives. P said the other day we have at least one more year of lack of sleep. I am so torn between wanting more sleep because she is growing up and dealing with the lack of sleep and keeping my baby. Then again it will be lovely when all of us can enjoy a leisurely family lunch at Del Ugo's too.


Saturday night with several relative strangers

Tonight we hosted a barbecue for Elliot's soccer team. P was the manager so he felt it was up to him to have a break-up party. It started at 3pm and finished around 9.30pm or so. It went fairly well actually - though eight 6-7 years old and a couple of younger siblings trashing my house can be stressful at times. Nevertheless it was all good happy children noise not much bickering and only a few minor injuries - a cricket bat in the nose and one Mum falling over the makeshift fence we erected to keep the dog around the back.

Once again - P and I organised people to bring dessert, nibbles and salad and we did the terriyaki chicken, some eye fillet steak with a Maitre d hotel butter and sausages ostensibly for the children. The butter we make is a variation on the recipes I found on the net. I think ours is much better and goes perfectly with steak. The ingredients and the recipe are as follows:

half cup chopped parsley
1 spanish onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
2 tsp curry powder
15g drained capers finely chopped
50 ml worcestershire sauce
50ml lemon juice
2 tsp chopped basil
2 tsp chopped thyme
2 tsp ground ginger
5 egg yolks
1 tbsp rich beef stock
500g soft unsalted butter chopped
To make, simply combine all ingredients in food processor, season to taste and process until well combined. Shape into sausage shape in greaseproof paper, and refrigerate.

We are happy to supply the meat side of things and get the best we can because I would never serve my guests something I wouldn't be happy to eat myself. I also dislike it if everyone has to bring their own meat and then having to work out which steak is which- it makes it easier if we all have the same. I also think it more than makes up for the fact that I don't have to prepare much at all and my day is really quite stress free just getting every nook and cranny of the house nice and clean organising glassware, tables, flowers and ourselves.

Usually we have always invited people we know quite well and tonight it was different because the couples we were inviting were only connected to us by 1-2 hours for the last 12 Saturdays and the occassional "hello" at school. It turned out they were all quite entertaining people especially after a few drinks.

Not being able to drink as much (being a good host) I noticed that the parents were quite enjoying the opportunity to sit on the deck and have a drink while I alone at times tried to keep a modicum of decorum with the kids playing and arguing over the foos ball table, X-Box or just running around when they weren't in the back yard. Though I didn't mind - our place is pretty good for kids they don't need much attention from the parents and you can actually relax without being harangued by bored children.

After dinner it was time for some "truths" and one couple were telling everyone how they met and typically whenever the wife would try to tell the romantic version of their relationship the husband would tell the story from a more base perspective - all in good fun though. This meant we ended up all having to tell the table how we met. Which I thought quite a coincidence given I was going to write something about it anyway.

I think I will have to write about that tomorrow night though - after everyone left apart from cleaning and washing up I decided to vaccuum and wash the floors (Enjo mops are fantastic if you want to do the floors quickly !) and now write and its past midnight already.

Suffice to say I met some people I hope we will be able to socialise with again. P and I enjoyed the post event roundup discussing the various couples and the social perspective as opposed to the Saturday morning soccer mum and dad view and it was quite favourable. Quite a few people mentioned that we catch up socially again as one couple are going to Melbourne for a year so it would be an opportunity to farewell them and maybe this time without the kids because it really was getting even more interesting finding out about each other when the smaller children started to crack up given the later hour.

To tell you the truth I sometimes wonder why we feel we do need more social friends I feel we have enough already on top of the family events - we are hosting P's grandmothers 90th next month plus Elliot's birthday, we have Gabriella's small birthday morning tea this month (thats 15 adults and 15 children as small as we could possibly make it) and two couples (and 5 kids between them) who are good friends coming over early November to play bowls and then barbecue (we live strolling distance from a bowls club so we sometimes combine them both). And a host of other promises we have made lately to various friends and family we haven't seen for some time to have them over too. Why do we do it? In the end it has to be because we love being the best hosts we can I suppose and seeing people enjoy themselves.