Possum's Birth Story

*** Don't forget to have a guess at the meaning of "HB" in my previous post!! ***

It is Possum's 14th Birthday today {Happy Birthday Possum!!} and I decided to write out her birth story. I did do this in the weeks following her birth, but the computer disk on which I was storing my documents won't open and can't be fixed.

So I started trying to remember the chain of events which lead up to her birth, and then continued on a little. This is mainly for my own record, but if you feel like a good long read then continue......

I fell pregnant with Possum only two months after we began trying to conceive, which was a surprise because our doctor had said it could take anything up to 12 months after stopping the oral contraceptive. I had an uneventful pregnancy, apart from one episode of unexplained bleeding at 12 weeks. I did suffer from 'unstable pelvis' during the later months and moderately severe edema in the last weeks, but I felt in no hurry for the pregnancy to be over.

I had my 38week checkup on the last day of June, which was scheduled early in the morning so I could get it out of the way before continuing on to work.

My doctor did all the usual things at the checkup .... measured my tummy, did an internal exam, checked my blood pressure etc.... It was the last day of the school term. I told him it was my last day at work, and how I was looking forward to a couple weeks at home to finish setting up the baby's room, pack my hospital bag and relax a bit before the birth. He listened politely for a few minutes, took my blood pressure again and then excused himself for a few moments.

When he came back into the room he rubbed his hands together, smiled and said "You're not going to work today - you'll be going to hospital and will have your baby today or tomorrow."

I was so surprised I just stared at him. He hurriedly sought to reassure me that there was no danger, yet. Apparently my blood pressure had skyrocketed and I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (also known as toxemia). Doctor said that as the cervix was soft and I was already about 4cm dilated, the best thing to do was induce the baby.

He also said that due to the possible complications of this disease I would have to deliver in the public hospital - which had an NICU and specialist doctors. He said I would be able to transfer to the private hospital after giving birth.

I was still in shock. I had to use the phone in reception (no mobiles then!) to call the school to say I wouldn't be in that day, call my mum to cancel all my after-school students, and call HB to ask him to pack my hospital bag for me!

Doctor told me to go straight to the hospital as they were waiting to admit me. So what did I do? I went shopping instead. I felt fine. I couldn't believe I would be meeting my baby so soon, and under such dangerous circumstances. I still had bits and pieces I wanted to buy for the baby's room, so I went to Garden City in Kotara.

After I had completed my purchases, which had entailed wandering around the shopping centre for a couple hours trying to make my brain accept what was happening, I went to the hospital.

The nurses were all so pleased to see me. They had been expecting me earlier and had even checked with Casualty in case I had been brought in by ambulance. Apparently pre-eclampsia can send a pregnant woman into convulsions and they thought I'd had a car crash on my way to hospital! I was rather embarrassed. And alarmed. The doctor hadn't told me that. I was really worried.

HB arrived shortly after I was shown to my hospital room. He had packed my bag, and had thoughtfully put in some of my favourite books too. I was glad of that as I spent the rest of the day sitting on the bed being monitored, blood pressure checks every 15 minutes, had to wee into a jug so the nurses could measure my 'output', many blood tests, and had a cannula stuck in the back of my hand. But inbetween all that, I read Pride and Prejudice.

Toward the end of the day the nurse came in and read my blood pressure results, checked the output jug and asked me a few questions. I was beginning to feel queasy and had a violent headache, which I attributed to all the reading and inactivity. The nurse just nodded calmly, pressed and button, and people started running from all over the place into my room. I was packed up onto the bed and wheeled up to the delivery room. No one told me what was happening. They just kept saying "Wait for Doctor."

Well, Doctor finally came and informed me that I would be induced first thing in the morning. My blood pressure was going even higher, which was the cause of the headache. They gave me a sleeping tablet, and I had my last full night's sleep.

HB arrived early the next morning. Doctor came soon after and broke my waters. The midwife was standing beside me with a hand on my tummy when he did so. She smiled and said "There, you just had your first contraction." I didn't even feel it!!

But I certainly felt it soon. They used a drip which helped the contractions increase in intensity quickly. It was not fun. After a few hours I couldn't take it anymore and asked the midwife for advice. She offered pethidine, and I accepted.

Not long after I remember saying to her, though tears, "It's not working!" She just smiled and patted my hand, and then offered me the gas.

I sucked on that tube of gas like there was no tomorrow, and between each contraction I told the midwife "It's not working!" She kept encouraging me by saying "You are doing so well."

As labour progressed I began to feel sleepy between contractions. I would suck and suck on the gas until the contraction eased, then I would doze off saying "HB, I love you." A few times I even laughed at the noise I was making with the gas. "I sound like a dinosaur." I chuckled to myself as I dozed off again. I heard the midwife say to HB "It's good that she is relaxing inbetween contractions. That means she is getting lots of oxygen to the uterus."

Now about 1pm the midwife called Doctor to come back as she judged it would not be long before I was ready to push this baby out. She also called the neonatologist because I had been given the pethidine not so long ago, and apparently it can affect the baby within a certain time frame. No one expected my induced labour to progress so quickly. Certainly not Doctor. He was supposed to be taking his daughters to a ballet recital rehearsal when he got the midwife's phone call. His wife left with his girls, and then he couldn't find the keys to his car. After searching for a while, during which time he received another call from the midwife, he decided to call a taxi.

Back at the hospital the neonatalogist had come into the room. Also in attendance was the senior obstetric registrar of the hospital, seeing as Doctor was not there yet. The midwife shook me awake between contractions and these two doctors introduced themselves. I remember looking at them, and then just closing my eyes again, wondering why these two strange men wanted to chat with me while I was so obviously trying to sleep (and escape reality!) I was way beyond introductions!

Suddenly everyone decided I needed to push. I did not feel any urge, but I was dilated and my blood pressure was climbing. I tried to push but it all felt too strange. Apparently I was so confused I was blowing through my mouth instead of pushing through my ... well ... youknow. I remember the registrar saying "Close your mouth, hold your breath and push."

I finally collected enough brain cells to do as he said, and HB said the room exploded into activity. Lights were flashing, alarms were beeping, and people came rushing in. HB was told to "Stay" in the corner while this amazing team of medical professionals went to work.

They performed an episiotomy and practically pulled Possum out of me. I remember yelling a bit. HB said it was the most bloodcurdling scream he never wished to hear again.

It was at this moment that Doctor poked his head through the door and saw what HB later described as "Controlled Mayhem". I remember hearing the registrar saying "Sorry Gerald...." I don't know why he was sorry - Doctor still sent us a huge bill to pay despite the fact he didn't deliver the baby!

Anyway, Possum started screaming the moment her little head was out. Doctor pronounced her a healthy girl, and the neonatologist declared that his presence was unnecessary. HB cut the umbilical cord, and the nurse gave her a quick rub down. I remember saying to HB, "Well I hope you are happy with your daughter because there is no way in the world I am ever going to do that again." (It became a tradition: I said the same thing after delivering each of the Half-dozen.)

Then she was placed on my chest ..... a sweet heart-shaped face topped with plenty of long dark hair, tiny pink lips and dark brown eyes, a cute little nose and long slender fingers - in short, I saw the most beautiful baby girl in the history of the planet.

Weight 3.3kg (7lb 5oz) - 49cm long - head circumference 36cm - agpars 9 & 10.

While Doctor was tidying up (ie sewing about a million stitches in my ... well ... youknow) he entertained HB and I by explaining why he was not there in time to deliver the baby. After the taxi had brought him to hospital he realised he had left his wallet in his other jacket (and I suspect that's where his missing keys were too!) and it took him a few minutes to sweet-talk the driver into letting him go without paying. Then when he ran to the elevators (delivery suite is on the 3rd floor) two of them were occupied and the other was out of order. So he ran up the stairs and, as already mentioned, arrived just in time to say "It's a girl." Doctor also explained that for a first-time mother, who was also being induced 2 weeks early, I'd had the speediest delivery he had ever experienced. (Ha! He didn't experience it. I did!!) He had left the hospital that morning thinking that it would be at least 12 hours before I would even be close to giving birth. Instead, it was just over 6 hours.

Doctor also explained why the birth attendants had burst into action when I finally managed to push. My blood pressure had soared to over 200 (hypertension) and Possum had gone into distress (cord entanglement). They knew they had to get her out before I started convulsing and before she started to lose oxygen.

Possum's first visitors arrived when she was just a few hours old. They were my parents and aunt, and HB's parents' Everyone got to hold her, and photos were taken. Mum said she looked just like me when I was born. HB's mum said she looked just like he did as a baby, except for the dark eyes and hair. I thought she just looked like herself.

Possum slept for nearly 12 hours after she was born. I was so excited about my new baby I couldn't sleep at first, and then when I wanted to sleep the pain kept me awake. I finally dozed off only to be shaken awake by a nurse who was holding a crying Possum. She plonked her down in my arms and said, "Your baby is hungry" and left. I tried and tried to get her to attach, but neither one of us knew what we were doing. My breakfast arrived. The tray was placed on the table at the foot of the bed. I was holding Possum, and I could hardly move as the pain from the stitches was just awful. I couldn't even reach the buzzer to call for the nurse. So I did what any hormonal, stressed new mother would do - I rocked my crying baby and cried along with her. During this, the breakfast tray was taken away, still full of food, and I was so hungry!!

Well, soon after that my Doctor arrived and organised my transfer to the private hospital. What a relief! I stayed there for 5 days and we took our little princess home on 6th July. Unfortunately she was only home for one night before being sent back to hospital for jaundice. Luckily it was not severe, but by this stage I had what the obstetric registrar described as the worst case of cracked nipples he had ever seen. (They were cracked to the point of being non-existant. I still had scabs 2 - 3 months later!) I also had severe mastitis. As this was a teaching hospital, he kept sending his student doctors down to see me. It got to the stage that whenever someone walked into the room I started unbuttoning by blouse to show them these dreadful nipples on my rock-hard breasts. (One student even took a photo.)

Anyway, the cracked nipple problem, the severe mastitis which required heavy duty antibiotics, combined with the fact that I was not producing any milk, which was why poor Possum was partially dehydrated and jaundiced, led the doctor to suggest I bottle feed. So the next day I was sent home with a much happier little Possum, and cabbage leaves stuffed down my bra to relieve the heat and swelling from mastitis. Possum drank so much formula through the evening and night! Poor thing must have been starving.

From that point on we were all okay. HB revelled in fatherhood. He had to do everything for Possum - baths, feedings, nappy changes, nothing was too much trouble for him ..... for about the first 3 months. We used to actually argue over who would dress her or bathe her. We were like kids with a new toy and like new parents all over the world we thought everyone doted on our little darling as much as we did.

Possum was a wonderful baby. Everywhere I went I used to be asked by everyone "Is she a good baby?" I could not understand what they meant. One day I was sitting in my GP's waiting room when the receptionist asked me the same question. I finally summoned up enough courage to say "Why does everyone want to know if she is a good baby? How can a baby be bad?" The receptionist explained that 'good' babies were those who slept when they were supposed to, ate well and grew accordingly, didn't cry for no apparent reason, and generally were a pleasure to be around. Possum fitted all this criteria, so thereafter when I was asked this strange question I could answer "Yes" without hesitation.

Except for that projectile vomiting thing she often did, usually when we were least expecting it. Up to the age of about 4 months she would violently expel the contents of her stomach, sometimes managing to hit the wall on the opposite side of the room! No one could figure out why she did this as it happened quite randomly, and thankfully she outgrew this phase. The community nurse was trying to find out the reason behind it one day when Possum put on a special performance just for her. While she was drying her desk with paper towels she commented that Possum was ".... a happy vomiter...." meaning, I was to discover, that the vomiting did not seem to upset her or cause her any pain. The nurse therefore concluded that it was nothing to worry about. I couldn't help feeling that while Possum may have been a happy vomiter, her parents were not happy vomit-cleaner-upperers.

I can still remember with crystal clear clarity the last time she ever projectiled. We had been away holidaying at the Blue Mountains with HB's parents. On the trip home we stopped at Batlow to buy some of their delicious apples. I gave Possum a bottle there and she did her super-charged formula-expulsion trick just before we were going to get back in the car. I remember laying towels and baby blankets around her car seat in case of a repeat performance, but thankfully that was the last time it ever happened.

Well I could go on, and on and on and on and on ...... but I think that's enough. I"ll just add that both HB and I are so blessed and thankful that we have our very special Possum in our lives.

Great and Powerful Oz

My friend emailed me today with a cautious inquiry as to my health...apparently I've been a little too silent.

Definitely the blog has suffered, the last few months, from a lack of action on my part. Especially the crafty stuff - it's not that I haven't been doing it, I just haven't been telling you about it.

My feet have been cold lately, so I finished a pair of "Grown-up Booties" from Ysolda's book "Whimsical Little Knits". Well, I've finished one, and the second one is half done. I am going to be about 5 grams short of yarn, so I'll pick up some more from the Farmer's Market on Sunday.

The yarn is from a flock of Border Cheviot, locally grown for wool and meat. They are raised about 25 minutes from here, and processed in a cool little mill in Alberta. The colour is natural - no bleaching or dyeing. It's a heavy aran weight.

I've finished the first skein of Shetland yarn from Aiden's flock. My long-term goal for this wool is to create a fair-isle palette of natural colours, blending the wool on the carders to make the various shades. I started with the natural grey, which started out as a three-colour fleece - the tips are warm, light brown, the middle of the lock is cool grey, and there is white next to the skin. Sadly, of course, the colour gradations are lost in the carding, but in the skein all three colours are present, giving the finished yarn depth and complexity that a single colour wouldn't have.

This is my first long-draw skein. Things get a little uneven in places but I love the overall effect - not to mention the incredibly fast process. The skein is a heavy-fingering/sport-weight 2-ply - I haven't done the wraps per inch nor the yardage yet.

I had a half-bobbin of singles left over -with this much raw fleece, I am not worried about making the singles ply out evenly. I just fill two bobbins more or less, and ply away. The process is interesting. I've developed a contemplative, long-range view for this project, due to the sheer size of it. You can't expect to have all the fleece washed in one day, and you can only spin as much as you've carded, and you can only ply as much as you've got bobbin-space for...I like it. It's impossible to hurry. I've done as much plying as I have singles, and I've spun all the rolags I've carded, so now it's time to card again.

This week is for carding, then, and next week I'll be able to spin some more singles. Once I've got another 100 grams or so of the natural grey, I'll start carding some white and grey together for blended rolags to spin an intermediate shade.

I took some garden pictures to show you, but a baffling 'internal error' has stymied me. Blogger is vague as to whether the error is internal to them, or internal to me. Perhaps next time.

Café Rio, Argentine Style

Thank you, thank you, Bille.

The "Café Rio Pork" and "Creamy Tomatilla Salad Dressing" recipes you included in Stephanie's "Tried and True" recipe book saved the day ... and night ... and day ... AGAIN.

This is the second time I made these recipes, but the first time I made them in Argentina.

Sat. night we made this when we had friends over for dinner and it was sooooo good. The next day we brought some of the leftovers to another friend's house and enjoyed it again. And yesterday, Neil fed the Missionaries more leftovers for lunch. And then we had it again for dinner! The recipe makes lots. Yummy, yummy lots.

Making it was a bit of an adventure; looking up the lb. to kg. conversion; the translation for "pork shoulder," (apparently not "hombro de cerdo") -- and that was before we even got to the grocery store.

I panicked when I realized they, of course, don't have packets of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix. No worries, two bottles of Newman's Own Ranch Dressing (in the "International Foods" aisle, haha) worked.

Then, after looking in two stores, I couldn't find tomatillas! Neil swore he would not go to Chinatown with me, though I just KNOW they would have had them there; they have everything there!

So instead, I found tomatilla sauce ("Made in Mexico," also in the "Int'l Foods" aisle). I mixed that with the ranch dressing and other ingredients and I couldn't tell the difference from the sauce I made the first time, in the U.S., with all the right ingredients.

Then they didn't have pork shoulder, so they sold me what apparently was the tenderloin (after lots of gesturing, pointing to a diagram of beef cuts, and "butchered" (haha, get it?) Spanish).

And oh yeah, our crock pot was one of only two things that broke in the move. But a big pot on the gas stove worked just fine.

It turned out amazing.

Two of our Argentine friends who just moved back here from Utah, and one of the Missionaries, who is from Sandy, have been to Café Rio, and they said it tastes just like it. (Ironically, I've never been to Café Rio).

So thanks again, Bille (remember when I called you from the grocery store the first time I made this?), I can't recommend your recipe enough!

(Blog friends, maybe if you ask real nice, she'll share the recipe with you, too!)

Possum and the Platypus & The Squid Potato & 300th Post!!

While we were driving through the Brindabella Mountains to Micalong Creek the Half-dozen were playing Guessing Games in the back of the car. They were playing very nicely and taking turns.

Now, you know how the Guessing Game goes, don't you? You have to think of an object (in their case, they were guessing animals) and the aim is to get your opponents to take as many guesses as possible before they figure out what your animal is. So if it's a cat you might start by saying "I am a mammal." Or if your animal is a turtle your first clue might be "I live in the sea." You gradually narrow it down until someone guesses the correct animal. Then it is that person's turn to have a go.

The little girls weren't very good at this game. One of Teddy's first clues was "I have a very, very, very long neck." Which of course meant that Possum guessed it was a giraffe straight away.

It was Possum's turn to think of an animal and she started by saying "I am a marsupial." Then she leaned forward and whispered to me "Um, mum? Is a P-L-A-T-Y-P-U-S a marsupial?" I replied "No, it's a monotreme."

"Oh okay," said Possum as she started her first clue again. "I am a monotreme."

I burst out laughing and said "Well, that narrows it down to two!!"

"What's so funny?" Possum wanted to know.


Now for another Possum Classic - she opened the pantry door and discovered I had filled up the potato basket with a different variety of potatoes to what I normally buy. She picked up one of them and said "What's this? Is it a squid?"
HB and I both laughed and laughed at this comment.
"What?!" Possum cried, "It does look like a squid."

Do you think so?

(Later in the week we had mashed potato and HB asked me "Did you cook the squid?")


Now, this is my 300th post.

I realise I have been a very bad blogger. I did not do "100 things about me" on my 100th post. I did not even realise I was up to 200 posts, (until I happened to notice it said 202 on my dashboard.)

So in order to rectify these grave omissions I have decided to celebrate my 300th post. I wrote at the beginning of this post about The Guessing Game the Half-dozen often play in the car. I am going to have a guessing game of my own.

Those who regularly read my blog know I refer to my husband as HB. Please write in the comments your guess as to what HB stands for.

If someone guesses correctly, they will win a prize! (I'm not sure what it will be yet, but it will be something nice.)

If no one guesses what HB stands for, I will randomly choose a winner from all the comments. And if two or more guess the correct meaning of HB I'll randomly choose between them.

Rules: Only one guess each, please. If someone else has already written your guess, you write it too - it might be correct!

Have fun! I will announce the winner sometime next week.

Some Things I Enjoy

There are some things I enjoy here that I would not have the means to "back home."

They include:

Ballet class for 1.5 hours, twice a week. There are only 2-4 of us total on any given night, so we get tons of personal attention and correction. My teacher is AMAZING; he dances in a company here. I'm learning so much, though I still suck. But I don't miss my Washington Ballet classes of 40 students.

Pilates once a week. They don't do mat Pilates here, they use the self-powered machines. Really nice, I'd never seen them before moving here. Again, 4 of us per class, so it's like having a personal trainer.

Massage at home once a week. I am so spoilt. A lady brings her table to my apt. for a 1-hr. treatment. This one I may need to forego, because I seriously feel too pampered. Is that possible?

****Housekeeper.**** This is my favorite thing that I will not be able to do without. I really hate cleaning. I am super lazy when it comes to my house. Sorry, but it's true. I'm not the "homemaking" type -- so why not hire someone who is? She does everything: floors, windows, watering plants (she takes them for a field trip to the balcony for the day, waters them, and brings them back inside!), bathrooms, laundry, IRONING, etc. She would grocery shop and cook, but we do that.

If we decide to expand our family, I have already set the terms that it would ONLY be under the condition that I have a housekeeper and a nanny. Unless Neil wants to nanny, which still fills the requirement. If this means we have to live somewhere where we can find domestic help affordably, so be it. So don't be jealous when we have six beautiful children, but we live in Timbuktu.

More Than Meets The Eye

We went to the late showing of "Transformers II" last night. Let me just say I looooove Transformers!!!

The first Transformers was sick; I saw it twice in the theatre at Potomac Yards in Arlington. I went to the midnight showing on opening night, with an audience of super-enthusiastic African Americans. It was awesome, lots of audience response -- applause, shouting, laughter, "Oh, no she di'ints!" etc. OK, maybe not the last one :) but you get what I'm saying.

Last night we went to Recoleta Village Cines, which have Ticketmaster-style assigned seating, the seats and aisles are wide and comfy and it's VERY CLEAN -- your shoes don't stick to the floor.

The movie was showing in the largest theatre they have, and it was full. So it made the experience in front of the BIG screen all the more fun -- especially when it got interactive ...

I could feel the crowd was almost as amped as the Potomac Yards crowd. When Optimus Prime made his first, blow-you-away screen debut, I was so excited, I started applauding. Everyone was stoked, but no one really joined in.


when Megan Fox made her first on-screen appearance looking like this,

the audience (or at least the males) erupted in unanimous, refined applause. We could've been at the Kennedy Center -- no catcalls, no comments -- just strong, appreciative applause, clearly in praise of the female form. Funny stuff. They also applauded at the end of the movie; a little more appropriate. I suppose Argentines live up to the Latin machismo thing, but they seem to have a bit of chivalry mixed in.

Putting Paid

Oh Buffy, thank you. THANK YOU.


I tried to embed this, but the blogger format cut off the entire right side of the scene. Watch it though - it's so worth it, even if you haven't seen either show.

Book Fair

I never posted about the BA book fair.

The Embassy participated in the Buenos Aires book fair, a three-week event with hundreds of booths in a convention center conveniently located next to the Embassy.

When I was asked to volunteer at the booth, I pictured a card table and a tri-fold display board.

Oh, no, no, no, was I wrong.

An architectural firm specializing in custom convention displays created this "Books to Movies" themed booth. All of the books on display had been adapted to movies. It was awesome to see the range of American authors and eras. Of course, there were also some very popular Obama books on display, too.

The booth is supposed to evoke film reels and even has flat screen displays on it.
The back of the booth:
The information desk:

The "charla" (conversation) area. Authors and speakers were scheduled every day; some spoke here:
And others spoke in a lecture hall, including featured Pulitzer Prize-winning Embassy guests Junot Diaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) and Annie Proulx (The Shipping News, Brokeback Mountain).

Pretty cool. I was impressed.


BEE-oh (noun)
1. A lovely natural foods restaurant in Buenos Aires.

Everything I've had is tasty. It has a light-filled, green atmosphere. Fresh flowers. Hand-made menu.

Here are pics from two separate outings there. If I haven't said it before, BA has the most A-M-A-Z-I-N-G restaurants. They are very into creating atmosphere here. I wish I had been chronicling all my restaurant adventures from the start.

Summer (?) Quiz

Possum tagged me to do this quiz. See her answers here.

What's your fav day of summer(June 1-Sept 1)?
We have summer between 1st Dec and 28th Feb. But if you want to give me a summer day between June and Sept, hmmmmm ..... can I take all of them!

What's your fav indoor activity during summer?
Anything other than ironing or cooking!

Fav outdoor activity?
Swimming at the pool or beach.

The pool or the beach?
I like the beach better, but the pool is much less messy (no sand!)

Have you ever camped in a tent during the summer heat?
Yes, and I'd rather do that than camp in the cold.

Popsicles or ice cream?

What flavor?
Old English Toffee

Do you help in your church's VBS?
Our church doesn't do Vacation Bible School. I don't think there are very many in Australia that do any more.

Do you get bored during summer?
Not usually because all the children are home from school and if we aren't going somewhere or doing things together I always have heaps of cleaning and washing to catch up.

Are you going anywhere this summer?
We always go somewhere in summer, and that 'somewhere' always includes the coast. This summer there is a possibility we may be traveling to a new posting location - but we don't know for sure yet. If only the ADF would get its act together and organise the posting schedule!!!

Is summer your fav season?
Oh yes! I don't agree with the theory that in cold weather you can always 'rug up' and keep warm. There are times (like now) when I just can't seem to stay warm regardless of how many layers of clothing, or how many blankets. I do not like those days in summer where the temperature stays over 35C for days on end, but I can endure a 35+C day as long as a cooler change comes in overnight.

As with all these meme type things I am supposed to 'tag' several other people. So if I have ever commented on your blog - you're tagged!

I'm a skittle

These two videos make me giggle helplessly every time. Yes, I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old.

I had an awesome lesson on Willow yesterday. We have another tomorrow, and then it's off to D.C.!

A Little of the Everyday in Buenos Aires

Neil made coconut mochi for dessert when we had friends over a few weeks ago. It was excellent! It kinda looked like raw chicken, but it tasted awesome. We served it with mousse de maracuya (passionfruit) ice cream. Delicioso ... or, I should say, ono! The recipe is from a book my cousin's wife, Stephanie, compiled. (Don't mind the giant heads of cabbage-like things in a vase -- I couldn't resist!)

We live a few blocks from this school. I like the doorway.

The shopping here is INCREDIBLE. The stores themselves are pretty cool -- one of my favorite things is that the clothes are usually displayed by color, and they only have one or two of each item on the rack, which makes each store look like a haute couture boutique.

If you like a shirt you see in the "blue" section, but you want it in green, go look over at the green clothes and it's probably over there (rather than displaying all colors of the same shirt together, the way it's usually done in the U.S.). Like I said, they only have a few on display, and those are the floor models, you don't buy them.

If you decide you want to buy an item after trying it on, the salesperson goes to the back and gets a fresh one, still wrapped in the plastic shipping bag, and that's the one you buy.

This is an Ayres chain store, but it's one of the more architecturally interesting stores I've seen here.

Some of my friends and I went to this natural deli/market for lunch and it was really good. Outdoor seating is very common here. It's winter here in June -- as you can tell by the way people are dressed, it was a little cool to eat outside that day (sorry I captured that one guy with his finger in his nose).

I like the skylight ceiling.
This is a cafe near where I work. Neil met me for submarinos (chocolate bars melted in steamed milk) after work.

Kitcat Cooks

Teddy attends pre-school twice a week, which means on Wednesday and Thursday it's just me and Kitcat at home. We both enjoy these days. I get to play with Kitcat without interruptions. Kitcat gets to play on her own without any bigger siblings butting in 'helping'.

One day I was trying to get the housework done and Kitcat just wanted to play with the tea-set/kitchen toys. I told her I would come and play when I had finished mopping the floor, and she told me she would cook me some lunch. This is a photo of all the 'lunch' Kitcat was preparing. Looks good, doesn't it?But when she called me to come and eat my lunch I was a bit puzzled. After viewing my 'meal 'I could feel a song coming on, a la Sesame Street :-

..... ♪♫♪ ..... One of these things is not like the other ..... ♪♫♪♫ ..... One of these things just doesn't belong.... ♪♫♪Well apart from the fact that Kitcat had obviously decided I needed to go on a diet, she also must have thought a good after-lunch dessert would be a Disney Princess toy.

The next morning I had the urge to sing that Sesame Street song again.
Ducky came and asked me to take a photo of all her ducks which she'd set up for a group portrait in the family room. I told her to go get her school shoes on and I'd go take the photo, as we needed to leave for the bus stop. Looks like Kitcat and Miow-Miow sabotaged this photo shoot!

Here's a random photo of Kitcat riding on the back of her big toy cat "Horse" (she named it herself) and doing it's hair/fur at the same time. See, there is a pretty hair/fur clip on it's ear.
And last, a cute photo of Kitcat loving her wonderful big, big, big, big, big sister. She started hugging Possum's leg one morning and wouldn't let go!


If I showed you a picture of the bottoms of my feet, you'd know what we needed the Swiffer for. Public hall floors are disgusting.

People had cameras, so you might get to see a photo if any of them turn out (doubtful - it's hard to take good photos of dancers) but I took one self portrait for the blog header anyway, to give you a teeny glimpse.

It was a great night - lots of dancers in the audience, which is always energizing. Thanks, everybody who showed up - Rona, Brenda, Alison, Kate and her mum, my friends Sandy Leanne Teralee Renee AND my lovely mother - it was great to have you there, girlies.

We're finished for the year now - this was our last show - but as usual, post-performance, I'm buzzing and can't go to sleep. So I'm going to watch some Buffy and drink another Stella Artois...party time!

Upper Trestle Falls

Last weekend a friend and I hiked to Upper Trestle Falls. To get to it, you have to hike about a mile and a half up the side of a mountain. (The next day, my buns let me know they are not made of steel.) I would have gone three times as far to see these falls, though. They are just gorgeous. Completely secluded, and something about the deep canyon setting made everything feel prehistoric. I kept expecting a brontosaurus to wander by. The first photo (i.e., the good one) was taken by my friend, who had a nice digital SLR and a tripod. The other two are the result of my mediocre point and shoot. As you can see, the trail actually takes you behind the upper part of the falls. Neato!

Thursday's lesson got shifted to this coming Sunday, and then we also have a lesson on Tuesday. Willow's going to think she's at boot camp. (But then I'm off to D.C. for a week, so I think she'll live.) Tonight I believe I got an on-demand flying change. I had thrown in a few attempts randomly during the ride, and got the usual step or two of trot before the change. On my final try, she gave a huge lunge, and by the time I got myself back upright I realized she was on the new lead. And I don't think I felt any trot. In any case, I praised her up and down for the effort and called it a night.

Tomorrow I'm scribing at a local schooling show. Four hours of intro- and training-level tests, here I come!


My list for today:

false eyelashes + adhesive
fake piercings
safety pins
large red faux flower + hairpin

clothing adhesive/double-faced tape
stick-on rhinestones
beaded fringe
Witch Hazel
ankle bells
outfit X 4
Rescue Remedy

Three guesses what I'm doing tonight.

Ducky Learns A Lesson - I Hope!

This was the conversation I had on Friday afternoon immediately after the 4 older children stepped off the school bus -

Dragon: Mum, Ms J asked me today if Ducky had had breakfast.
Ducky: Shhh!
Mum: Why was that?
Dragon: I guess she was in the breakfast room this morning.
Ducky: NO!
Mum: Ducky I have told you all not to go to the breakfast room before school. It's only for those children who don't get breakfast at home.
Ducky: I didn't!
Mum: Well why did Ms J ask if you had breakfast?
Ducky: I was eating my morning tea.
Mum: Before school? In the breakfast room?
Ducky: Weeeell, no.
Mum: You and I need to have a talk.

So Ducky and I had a serious talk, and it turned out that she and a friend had told their teacher (Mr H) they had not had breakfast, and he had allowed them to go outside the classroom and eat some of their morning tea.

While they were sitting outside eating their 'breakfast' Ms J (Deputy Principal) had walked past and asked them why they were outside, eating.

They lied to Ms J as well, telling her they had not had breakfast. Ms J had been understandably surprised and suspicious and said she would be asking Ducky and friend's parents if they were telling the truth. In Ducky's case, Ms J had asked Dragon.

I was glad Ducky admitted to lying (even though she tried to blame it all on her friend who 'made her do it') but I was unprepared for the anxious hours that were to follow. Ducky kept telling me throughout the evening, "I hope Ms J doesn't tell Mr H."

Ducky really likes her teacher this year. Mr H is a young man fresh out of Uni, full of enthusiasm and new ideas. Ducky's reading has improved dramatically under his guidance and encouragement, and all the students think he is wonderful. I can understand why Ducky was worried about losing his approval.

The next day Ducky seemed miserable. I thought she must be coming down with a cold or the flu. She actually asked if she could go to bed after lunch. When I walked past her room I heard muffled sobs coming from beneath the bedclothes. Lifting the covers I asked "What's wrong? Are you feeling very sick?"

"Yes," said Ducky, "But not from a cold or a sore tummy. My chest feels all hurty and my head won't stop thinking that Ms J will tell Mr H about the lie."

So we had another talk about how important it is not to lie to anyone, especially parents or teachers. Ducky asked God to forgive her for lying, and I recommended she go straight to Mr H and Ms J on Monday morning, confess her lie and apologize for it. She wasn't convinced that this was a good idea. Apparently both Ms J and Mr H can be a bit scary when their anger is aroused, but I explained that they probably won't be angry if she confesses and says sorry.

Then Ducky said, "But they might not like me anymore!"

Poor Ducky has realized that while we can ask God for forgiveness and He instantly removes the offence (Psalm 103:12), people don't have such a conveniently erased memory. Yes she will have to earn back trust from these two teachers and it may take some time, but I think the fact that she owned up to her lie will make that time considerably shorter.

How have other readers dealt with this issue of lying and trust with their children?

Modeling Dragon - Part 2

Dragon is a great model. Usually I have to ask him to pose, but lately (as explained in my previous post) he has been the one asking me to take photos of him.

During our afternoon at Weston Park, Yarralumla, Dragon found a couple great places to pose for a photo. "Hey mum! How about a photo with this tree?"Here's a closer view."Now I'll sit on the bridge, okay mum?" It was a lovely spot, and a lovely shot.A closer view with a contemplative look on his face. (Maybe he was just bored?)"Hey mum! Now I'll stand up on the bridge. Take a photo of me again."
A week or so later we went to Black Mountain Peninsula, and I started to take silhouette photos as the sun began to set. Once again Dragon was a willing model. Here is his 'action' silhouette.
And this is his 'serious' silhouette pose.
Here's Dragon in full colour again, this time at Micalong Creek in the Brindabella Mountains.The modeling trend has continued to the very last time we went for a family day out, on the Queen's Birthday Long weekend. After driving around the Namadgi National Park for a while, in our new-to-us Landcruiser, we pulled up to Honeysuckle campground. NASA once had a space-tracking station here, a huge satellite dish which was partly instrumental in transmitting the photos of the first man on the moon. Anyway, since it was rather drizzly I didn't bother to take the camera out of the car. We walked up to the old satellite dish site and Dragon started saying "Hey mum .... do you think that if I go stand on that rock it would be a good photo?"

Mum-me's Birthday Boasts

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 21 ...... again. (I love it that my younger girls still believe me when I tell them that!) I have several birthday boasts to share with you all ...........

1) It was the coldest birthday I have ever had. A thick fog hung over the city all day long. There is usually a valley and a hill out the front of our house, but this is all we could see the entire day. The valley came back about 10am this morning, but the hill did not reappear until lunchtime.It was -6C overnight and still -3C at 9am when I took the children to school. There were icicles hanging from the benches and railings in the school courtyard! The temperature did not break 3C all day long. It hovered around 2C.
2) This birthday has confirmed my suspicion that someone in the higher ranks at the ADF really hates me. Yes, HB was away again! He has missed most of my birthdays and Mother's Days ever since he joined the army, as well as quite a few other important family celebrations

3) Despite being away HB still managed to make my birthday special. The night before he left he bought dinner, and then brought out of hiding a lovely chocolate sponge cake from Michels.
He left me a beautiful birthday card, two blocks of chocolate, and let me know that if/when a parcel arrived addressed to him I could open it. It arrived right on my birthday, and it was the complete set of the BBC television versions of Jane Austen's novels. I already had most of them on video, but now I have a lovely, compact set on DVD. I can feel an Austen-fest coming on soon.

4) All expected cards and telephone calls were received. I was wished a happy birthday in several different ways - regular mail, email, SMS, via blog message, phone calls, and of course there were the in-person birthday wishes from my Half-dozen and various local friends. Out of these my absolute favourite has to be the message left on my answering machine from my Grandma. Here's the transcript (imagine an 88 year old lady with severe dementia being prompted to leave a phone message by her frustrated and exasperated daughter, my mum.)

Grandma: Hi Mum-me {pause}

My mum, whispering in the background: Say it's Grandma.

Grandma, over her shoulder:What was that? Nobody's there!

My mum, a bit louder: It's Grandma .... tell her it's Grandma.

Grandma, starting to shout over her shoulder: There's nobody there!

My mum, voice getting louder and more frustrated: Leave a message!

Grandma: WHAT!


Grandma, more quietly now: Oh. Oh, Hi Mum-me.

My mum, more quietly too: It's Grandma.

Grandma: What? Oh, it's me Grandma. I'm just ringing to wish you a happy birthday but you didn't answer the phone {getting louder} so now I'm getting told off for being SO STUPID.

My mum, in an exasperated voice: Hang up now.

Grandma, in a cheery voice: Okay! Bye bye.

Possum has banned me from erasing this message from our answering machine because she thinks it's so hilarious.

5) All my girls made me lovely cards. Ducky wrote, with no assistance from anyone else ... "Dear Mum, I hop your birtdaiy is ow kay love from Ducky and the ducks."

(Here's my messy-haired and messy-faced Mousie thoroughly enjoying her piece of birthday cake.)

6) My best reason to boast really had nothing to do with my birthday. It happened today. Possum played for her 1st Grade Flute exam and was awarded an A (Honours). If you squint at this photo of her result sheet you may be able to read the marvelous comment written by the examiner.And as if this boast wasn't nauseating enough - this is what the AMEB defines as the qualities required to achieve "Honours" ...... The candidate demonstrates an overall superior level of achievement in meeting the syllabus objectives in all Sections, in terms of musicianship, security of technique (including intonation, tone, phrasing, articulation, rhythm) and stylistic awareness. Go Possum! I am so proud of you!!

7) Even though this is an enormously busy time of year for birthdays (13 birthdays between 4th - 14th June) I have managed to remember, via a card in the mail or some form of electronic good wishes or in person:-
*My Dad's birthday (see here for a look at the special message we made for him)
*2 sisters-in-law
*2 local friends
*1 long distance friend
*3 long distance 'nephews' (sons of my friends)
*4 'bloggy' friends (to see the birthday message sung by Mousie, Teddy and Kitcat for Lauren, click here.)

And last, a photo of my Dragon relishing his piece of chocolate birthday cake!

Ireland watch begins

My friend Lynda and I have decided we're going to visit Ireland next spring. She's been there before; I have not. In 1990 and 1994 I spent a few weeks in Nancy, France, and while there also made short trips to Berlin the first time around and London the second time. My passport has long since expired, so I wrote away to Nebraska and requested my birth certificate, and Lynda and I trooped over to a photography store and had our passport photos taken. All that's left is for me to go to the post office and turn in the application. I needed to renew my passport anyway, because I may be going to Vancouver in February for the Winter Olympics.

Lynda and I are going to sit down in front of the internet tomorrow and start narrowing down where we want to go. We're planning on ten days and two separate locations. Most likely coastal. We're looking at smaller towns, and I'm interested in horseback riding on the beach at least once. Ireland is quite horsey. It's all very exciting.

I had a super lesson on Willow tonight. She's starting to understand how to keep her weight shifted back without constant reminders. I can't tell you how much my triceps appreciate it when she stops leaning and pulling. Trainer Leslie said we're just about ready to stop focusing so much on the basics and start adding the movements to move us up the levels. Hooray! June is a lesson-packed month: I have another one in a week and then another the following Tuesday. Then I'm off to DC for a week for a conference.


I'm a bit conflicted about Twitter. It seems like unalloyed narcissism. But then, I've been giving it a try for the last week or two and I've noticed that it comes in handy for odd one-liners that I might have turned into blog posts but which really don't deserve that much air time.

So in that way it's potentially useful, provided one doesn't become unhealthily obsessed with apprising the internet of their every eye-twitch.

There's a per-tweet entry limit of about 140 characters (160?) and I often wonder how this will affect the next generation of upper-academia: how much do you want to bet some first-year university student will some day print off a week's worth of tweets and submit it as her writing assignment? God help us all.

Modeling Dragon

One day while we were on our Easter camping holiday, at Mount Dandenong in fact, Dragon decided he would like to be my model. It was not a passing fancy. His modeling efforts continued throughout the rest of our holiday and even after we arrived home. There are so many photos featuring 'Model Dragon' that I couldn't use them all, and even then I have had to divide them into two posts. The first showcases modeling Dragon photos from our holiday.

Dragon asked for this particular jacket for his birthday last March. It had to have a hood lined with faux fur, and it had to zip up right to the top of the hood. I couldn't figure out the point of that, but being the nice mummy that I am I went out and bought the jacket for his birthday gift. I have to admit, though, that it certainly made a lot of sense when we were freezing cold on the top of Mount Dandenong. (By the way, Dragon practically lived in that jacket while we were on holiday .... as you will see.) But the modeling didn't start with this photo.
It started with this photo of my amazing Dragon. I was so pleased with it I showed HB and all the children. I told Dragon he was very photogenic. He asked me what that meant. I said "The camera loves you. You have a wonderful smile and you take a great photo." So the next thing I knew Dragon was saying things like "Hey mum, take a photo of me jumping over this little bridge.""Hey mum, do you think this would be a good photo. See me up here?""Mum, why don't you take a photo of me with this bay in the background ... hey! Wait till I stop chewing first." (Apollo Bay.)Mum-me: "I want to take a photo of that 'apostle' just there."
Dragon: "Wait until I go stand on the rock."Ask Dragon for a serious face, because this place was the scene of a serious tragedy, and this is what you get. (Muttonbird Island)On the beach at the Bay of Martyrs Dragon said "Hey mum, take a photo of me with this long piece of seaweed."Then moments later, "Hey mum! Up here. Take a photo." So I did, and then said to him "Now strike a different pose."And he did! Here's my posing Dragon gazing out to sea.Before I knew it there was another shout of "Take my photo here!" and Dragon was on another rock!As we were walking down towards this beach Dragon spied a hole in the rock from the top of the cliff. (Click to enlarge photo.)And of course once we reached that particular rock he climbed up, stuck his head through the hole and said "Hey mum, take my photo up here."Here's my handsome young man again, this time at the Bay of Islands.And lastly, for this post anyway, here is my model Dragon with a model dragon. (This was one of the quaint sculptures at the cheese factory we stopped at on our last day of holidays. I was amused that they had a cow-themed dragon in the water tank.)