A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Long Division

Sometimes I have to say, life with children plays out like a comedy. One moment they hate your guts for telling them (for the nth time) to clean up after themselves and the next moment they think you're Hercules because you squished a spider with your house slippers. From "boo hiss Mummy",  it turns into "hooray Mummy, you're our hero.

The 3 year old is... well... to put it nicely... a born contrarian but I've documented this fact from time to time on this blog. But there are moments when she's quite delightful. The other day she had one of her really endearing moments. She was studying an old, dusty wedding photo when the husband and I were 8 kgs lighter or more (in his case). She correctly identified all the major players -- Daddy, Mummy, Nana, Grandad, Grandpa except the one she didn't really know (my mother). And then she declared that she loved us all because we are "her family". For a moment there, it almost sounded like we were all part of an exclusive club.
I am convinced that these sporadic displays of cuteness are well-timed as balm to parental angst and frustration about whether anything we do sinks in.
Actually the girls are surprisingly good natured when you consider that their mother is such a grumpy o'l soul.

It's been a while since I've done any long division. Long division, times tables, algebra... fragments of my childhood that I was happy to leave behind. I was relieved to see the last of mathematics when I finished high school and started my liberal arts education. But when I watch the 9 year old plod through maths at school, all the old nightmares have come back to haunt me.

I was surprised that despite the passage of years, I could still do the whole long division thing. The husband, who did Maths at uni was impressed because, as he says, he can only "do it in my head". I suppose I should take it as a backhanded compliment that I can actually work it out on paper but can't do it mentally.

Long division assumes that one is familiar with the multiplication tables and assumes that you can add, subtract, multiply. In other words, one must know the fundamentals. Otherwise the complicated stuff doesn't make sense.
Parenting is also about getting the fundamentals right, I think. Things like loving your spouse, loving your kids, providing boundaries, teaching the kiddies to take responsibility for one's own actions and accepting the consequences of their own actions. None of us do it perfectly but I think they are the things we keep going back to over and over again.
Life in the modern age can get complicated with a myriad of choices on offer out there. But isn't it interesting that it's the simple things like make good choices and having healthy boundaries that help us steer through the moral relativism that so pervades the big bad world out there.
Just like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Buying Stuff

Most days I am only too aware that I'm losing the battle against materialism. I feel swamped in the concrete jungle of stuff... everyone wants a slice of your money and you feel obliged to give it to them once they tell you why you have to have it. Worst still, my children think that they need to have stuff too... and it's usually the sticky, sweet, bad-for-your-teeth kind of stuff. I lost count of the number of times I said "no" yesterday to the kiddies when we went to the local Asian supermarket in spite of me telling them before we left the car that they were not to ask me to buy treats or snacks or lollies. All in the space of 7 minutes.

I have a bad habit of accumulating stuff that I don't really need and then it just sits around the house collecting dust or grime or gets tossed around by the kiddies. I go through phases... one minute its kitchen stuff, the next its padding the craft collection and the next it's books.

Temptations abound. Having "stuff" readily available at one's finger tips on the internet sure doesn't help much. At least in the old days, you had to physically leave your house to get something but these days, you only need to have a phone line, a router and a computer. Shopping in the comfort of your own home.

I was driving the 9 year old to school today and she mentioned very deliberately that a classmate had been given a Smiggle bag and so I had to buy her (my daughter, that is) one too.
That leap of logic somehow escaped me. Not to mention the demanding tone of voice.
So I pointed to a car on the other side of the roundabout and said, "So does it mean that just because that person has that car over there that I have to have it too?"
The 9 year old fell silent immediately. I'm not sure if she was awestruck by my feeble, off-the-cuff reasoning powers or just spent the rest of the car trip trying to work out what I had just said.
I'm not sure that my attempt to create an equivalance between the Smiggle bag and the car was an appropriate argumentative response, it, nonetheless, had the desired effect.

Miss 9 year old is going off to camp and the checklist is nail-biting stuff. We're heading overseas in a couple of weeks and I'm already dreading the amount of money we'll be spending once we reach our destination.

Sigh... Such a pity money doesn't grow on trees.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Love MOPS and other Random After Conference Thoughts

 I'm BBBAAAAAAAAACK !!! from the MOPS 2010 Australasian Conference. (A bit of a mouthful when you say it a bit too quickly) It was fantastically well-organized and the building was bursting at the seams with talent. However, (strange person that I am) I enjoy the conference more for how it helps me think about my place in the kingdom of God than how equipped I feel at the end of it all. It isn't that I don't learn anything from such things because I do... always... but when you're swimming in such big crowd teeming with giftedness, you feel your insignificance all the more acutely.

And that is a good thing.
Because I understand all too clearly that the sovereign Lord of the universe in his infinite wisdom has chosen me... a face in a sea of faces, to further his plans in some small corner of his creation. It's humbling... and humbling is good because I am far too conceited for my own good.

I joined my local MOPS group 5 years ago because I thought it was a good idea... MOPS... that is. MOPS is a great idea... a wonderful way to serve women in our community and see some come into a relationship with Christ. I wanted to help... do something for God and my local church but five years on, it seemed like God had other ideas. He wanted to help me grow and enjoy being a mother first before I could engage in the "doing" part of the equation.
Being part of MOPS has taught me to enjoy motherhood... because when you start at rock bottom, even a movement of five centimetres upwards per year is progress. When I arrived home yesterday, the 9 year old gave me a great big squeezy hug and I hugged her back in kind.
"I missed you Mum."
"I missed you too... believe it or not..."

Our culture demans motherhood... The air that we breathe tells women that if you throw yourself into your family, your life is only half full. Sacrifice and other-centredness have become quaint notions. I myself have come to think that happiness is overrated. It's so transient... fleeting... here one day and gone the next. Happiness is relief on a hard road but it isn't the governing principle by which life decisions should be made.

MOPS is a well-spring in this wilderness... but like every good thing, it is only as good as the people in it.

John Piper, a pastor-theologian that I love to listen to and read, has a governing principle that recurrs in all his books and messages. He has been gifted with amazing theological insights and is one of the most passionate Christians I have ever heard preaching the word of God. His favourite thing to say is... "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."
God wants us to enjoy him because when we do, he is glorified.

To my shame I don't know God as well as Piper... at least not enough to enjoy him on that level. God... not Piper, that is.  The reality is I didn't enjoy motherhood at first because I didn't enjoy God... I meant well and wanted to do the right thing but there was no enjoyment on a spiritual level to draw on to help me with the drudgery of day to day mothering.

The chief end of any endeavour, overtly Christian or not, should be to glorify God because if we don't, it a) becomes a chore... another thing on our to-do list or b) it degenerates into self-importance.

Christians like to bandy around the word "passion" today... and I'm generally okay with its usage as long as we don't mistake enthusiasm for passion and allow the word itself to slip into banality. Passion surely must be an affection that runs deep and so deep that it compels us to move out of our comfort zone or even to die for whatever cause we have placed our hope in. 

One thing's for sure... I ain't there yet.

Piper on Evangelism, Theology and Passion

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Printer Blues

I have two printers. Had. Have. Kinda. Sort of. One's in the morgue... I suspect the husband's given up trying to resuscitate the thing. One's in the hospital awaiting surgery and replacement parts. My lovely colour printer only over a year old... that I use for all kinds of cool church and children's stuff was tortured to death by the 3 year old. She fed the belly of the beast with chalk thinking she was doing something really stupendous. Probably thought it was a slot machine expecting something to tumble out on the other end as a reward. She hasn't seen Star Wars so she doesn't know anything about Jabba the Hutt or that dune beastie that he fed prisoners to.

I feel paralyzed by my printer-less state. Things happen kinda slowly around here... but I needed to get the school book pack back with the receipt of the bank transfer... that needed to be printed out. Yeesh... in the end I rang the husband and got him to do it. The printer people at my local shopping center are going to get a new drum for the Lexmark which apparently has been the source of my woes. Here am I thinking that it was just the toner.

I'm suffering from a kind of post-winter cold weather ennui... Two weeks down with a cough and I've been stricken by a kind of lethargy. The thing about children is that you can't mess around when they're around. They have a way of keeping you accountable and face up to life even when you'd rather stay in bed some days.

I woke up at 4:30 last night thinking I had missed my flight to Sydney... It was like the bad old days when I was a schoolgirl in Singapore having bad dreams about missing the school bus (which did happen from time to time during morning school). I've been a nervous wreck the past week trying to get all kinds of things done before taking off for the weekend. I gotta say that I'm impressed with Virgin... they sent me a reminder and asked me to check in online. Probably not a bad thing since I have to leave home at the crack of dawn.

I went to the Terry White's to get ear plugs and also stumbled onto these things called "Ear Planes", which are supposed to relieve inflight ear discomfort. The last time I was on a plane in descent, I thought my ears were going to implode and bleed...

Anyhow... I've got to get myself to bed... early start tomorrow.

9 Passport Tips from A Frustrated Mummy

I had no idea that making passports could be such a laborious process... but it doesn't have to be for you...

Disclaimer: This tip sheet was written from the point of view of a beleaguered mum and does not claim to be an exhaustive list of what maybe required of individuals. For more information seek advice from your local passport issuing Australia Post or the Passport Office.

Tip 1: The Passport People are very, very nitpicky...  Understandably so... perhaps but still irritating. Don't shoot the messengers ie. don't get stroppy with Australia Post... they're just the workhorses. But we live in a post 9/11 era, paranoia is at its peak, everything's oh so hi-tech and all information given has to be just so.

Tip 2: If the good people at Australia Post offer you a form, ask for another. Better still get 3. Just in case you make mistakes.You can also download them from the interweb.

Tip 3: Don't get your photos done at K-Mart or Ted's Cameras. There's a good chance they'll get knock back. Apparently the quality of the prints don't cut it. Good news is that Australia Post provides a photo service at around $15 for 8 photos.

Tip 4: Get your guarantor to fill in both forms and sign them. Keep all your writing within the little boxes. Neatness is the key. Don't get creative. And use a black pen.

Tip 5: Get those passports applications in at least 2 months before you travel. My local Australia Post tells me that they do 30 applications a day. Quite often there are problems and applications get sent back.

Tip 6: Make an appointment with your local Australia Post before going in. You'll have to ring a 13 number and the CSO will organize something for you ASAP. I'm not sure if it's as bad as booking in an ultrasound but it's pretty close.

Tip 7: Bring in all the documents listed and a couple of extras to the interview I thought my passport would suffice but apparently I had to have some documentation that I was a citizen before No:2 was born. Fortunately I had my citizenship certificate with me.

Tip 8: Photocopy completed form

Tip 9: If you're not sure about anything, ask ring the 13 number on the form. It's better than doing a continuous back and forth with your Australia Post CSO.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Eye Free Day

We survived yet another Pupil Free Day. It wasn't too bad and the weather was back to being fantastic. The husband did his usual spiel of bad puns and irritating male witticisms regarding students, eyes and blindness... well, after four years, it wouldn't be the same if he didn't.

My 7 year old niece has discovered Skype with the zeal of the newbie. Just so I can retain full ownership rights of the laptop, I've made me unavailable on Skype for the rest of the day. I got kicked off a couple of times today because she and the 9 year old were yabbering about chickens, knock knock jokes and other earthshattering discoveries. I don't think the microphone on this laptop works that well. It seems like everyone has to get up close and personal and holler.
Went to the library first thing in the morning. As usual we browsed the DVD racks and found some goodies... For me, a couple of Saint DVDs and one of the most recent Miss Marple. The kids found a couple of animated features... Ariel the Mermaid and the 101 Dalmatians. The 9 year old is on an Asterix fix at the moment. It's Asterix at the council library and Asterix at the school library. Asterix and Tin Tin... and the Wimpy Kid series.

Tried a new gingerbread man recipe this afternoon and boy, did these babies grow. Too much bicarb most likely. Fortunately, it didn't grow big enough to jump out of the oven and take off at full speed waxing repetitive taunts. That, however, would be the least of my problems. After reading Jasper Fforde's The Fourth Bear, I've become a little paranoid about serial killing Gingerbread Men.
The 3 year old desperately wanted to help... did she ever... Her little hands were in the flour, the bicarb, on the oven knobs, kitchen scale... trays. And when I put the brown sugar away, she threw a fit worthy of Katherine the Shrew. Finally I let her play with the cookie cutters and the dough... with much wariness. That girl is like a government assassin... anything can turn into a weapon in her hands.
The odd thing was she actually had a nap despite earlier protests that she wasn't tired. These days I just send her to her room and hope for the best.

Did 3 loads of washing today. The weather was too good to pass up the opportunity. Just in case we have rain the rest of the week. Tomorrow looks to be good so I may do another 2 loads. I can't see much washing done while I'm away.

I'm going to the Australasia MOPS conference this weekend. I am looking forward to have some childfree time but I'm a bit worried about the children. Will they survive their father's cooking?
OK... I'm being a tad facetious... they'll be fine and the husband isn't too bad if he knows what he's doing.

Anyway, I'm tired and I need a shower. More of the usual tomorrow, I expect.

Justin Who? The Lost Art of Singing Hymns

It's probably a sign of impending old age setting in that I don't care much for contemporary pop music. Much of it I find dull, bland and soulless. And after a while your eyes start to bleed from all the latest perky young things doing their best to be more risque than their rivals. I realise that it's fashionable to make fun of the eighties but at least many of those who dominated the music scene at the time were actually talented. Even the 80s icon Michael Jackson had talent although I think he is rather overrated by his worshippers. So you can probably imagine how much I wanted to roll my eyes when the 9 year old told me a couple of weeks ago that she was officially into Justin Bieber and starts regurgitating... "Baby, baby..." in low tones.

Instead I remarked sagely that I hoped that she would learn to love other kinds of music.

I'd never even heard of Justin Bieber until about six months ago. And while I don't object to Justin Bieber's so-called squeaky clean image, I object to the commercialism driving his popularity that masquerades as musical talent. The girls think he's something of a heartthrob and I kind of get that. I went through a similar phase in my adolescence with a whole host of vocalists and bands. But one of the benefits of having piano lessons as a child is that you learn to appreciate all kinds of music, especially western classical music.

Throughout the years I've come to embrace the great truth that there is music and there is Music. In my twenties I took the egalitarian view of music. That somehow Michael Jackson, the musician, exists on the same plain as Beethoven. I was indoctrinted with the crazy tired post-modern mantra that there's no "better" just "different".
Is it possible to say with a straight face that Mozart is not better but just different from Justin Bieber? I am seriously doubtful that anyone in their right mind can make that argument without torturing the English language or any language for that better.

I don't doubt that there's a place for the Justin Biebers of this world and I suppose it may help some teenage girls get through the inevitable growing angst. Maybe it's just a phase that they go through and outgrow at some point in their lives. But it doesn't mean we have to be satisfied with mediocrity.

I've been reading a rather provocative book called Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns. Personally I can't see why it's provocative as the author makes a number of valid points. More than anything, it's helped me understand why kids today have trouble singing hymns. In just two generations, hymn singing has been relegated to the province of the geriatric, which is odd considering that I grew up singing hymns as a child and a mini-adult. I am not an Anglican like T. David Gordon so we're not of one mind as to what constitutes appropriate church music or how services should be conducted. But I have to agree that children today are so attached to their iPods, CD players, MP3 players that they don't really listen to or have to listen to anything outside of what they have on their iPod playlists.

When you and I were growing up we were exposed to a whole range of musical genres. In my case, I had piano lessons up to Grade 3 and was exposed to classical music by default. There were at least four people in the household I grew up in who played classical piano. My aunt, who lived with us loved Air Supply, Simon and Garfunkel and Johnny English. In the school bus I was exposed to the Bee Gees, Abba, and later Michael Jackson, Madonna, Aha, Wham, Duran Duran, Bananarama and other misc Stock, Aiken and Waterman pop hits. During our school music sessions, we sang folk songs from around the world and songs from musicals like The Sound of Music. School chapel sessions saw us singing "To God Be the Glory" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". My father liked his classical records, his Mantovani stuff, and his gospel music. I grew up watching Hollywood musicals which I love to this day. As I got older, I discovered Nat King Cole, Sinatra, the Gershwins, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. On Sundays, I learnt to sing "Jesus Love Me", "Amazing Grace" and "He Lives".
With my particular upbringing, I learn to listen to a wide range of musical genres and so for me to switch from 18th century music to 80s pop music was fairly seamless as I was doing it as a matter of course. Although I will confess that I don't think of heavy metal as music.

The problem with the church is that we have allowed ourselves to buy into the notion that hymns are boring or outdated. We exacerbate the problem by having different types of services catering to different age groups and different "tastes". The good hymns are never outdated but what has changed is our general music literacy. Our children suffer from a lack of exposure to a wide variety of musical genres from a young age. If all that our children listen to are the Justin Biebers, Lady Gagas and what's number 1 on the billboard charts, that is all that they are going to know.

So why should we care about hymns?
I am not one of those who think that just because some thing is over a hundred years old that it is necessarily better. However, there are compelling reasons why certain hymns have stood the test of time. Those that have are better. Hymns are part of our Christian tradition... written by men and women who understood the great truths of the Christian faith and have written songs to celebrate them.
I think we lose something when we ignore some of these great songs of faith. Hymns aren't just about the music but words also. When we sing in church we are not singing to ourselves or even to each other, we are singing to God. Shouldn't we be singing the best words, the most accurate truths to the God of all creation?
I don't have a wholesale dislike of contemporary worship songs in fact, there are a number I'm particularly fond of. Nonetheless I don't want to sing them exclusively to the detriment of other good stuff.

If children can be trained to memorize Bible verses, they can definitely to be trained to sing hymns.
Starting in the home.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's So Elementary... dear Mummy

A couple of weeks ago, I found a whole heap of Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes at our local library. I was tempted to take them all out but my better side kicked in, so I settled for 2. Now, if you've ever seen the series, you'll know that Jeremy Brett is a superb Sherlock Holmes. (It's an amazing performance and Brett pays incredible attention to Holmes' eccentricities -- hard to believe that he's the cheesy Freddy Eynsford-Hill from My Fair Lady) Many people smarter than myself think he's the best incarnation. I don't disagree but I'm exceedingly fond of Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes too even if those films were products of the Hollywood machine. Anyway, I let the 9 year old watch a couple of episodes (the one where Holmes and Moriarty battle it out at Reichenbach Falls and another where he nabs Col Moran) with me that time and today she informed me that she's become "very interested" in Sherlock Holmes and if it alright for her to watch some more.

I'm now racking my brains as to whether I should let her watch any more. Victorian/Edwardian England was pretty bleak and there's a bit of violence. But egad...  a quick search of the web and I note from the VideoEzy website that these shows are rated MA 15+ so it's probably a no brainer.

I don't have trouble saying "no"... I've become quite proficient at doing it... But I feel a tad guilty for leading her astray this time.
I am somewhat surprised at the high rating... but some stories in the Doyle canon do have strong adult themes and violence. Frankly, I've seen far more objectionable things in music videos and PG13 films than in these Sherlock Holmes stories.

Methinks it's time to get out the old Enid Blyton adventure series.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Cool Change

Just when you think it's safe to put away the flannel pyjamas... and the jeans... and the winter woollens... Brrrrrrr...
What a windy day... makes me think of that old Bob Dylan song. Went to a birthday party at Rocks Riverside park this morning and got there fairly early. After watching the plastic tablecloths flap around for half an hour, I offered my masking tape services. The 3 year old was in a helpful mood because she got to use a pair of scissors and currently she's in her cutting fetish period. All in all, it was a pretty blustery sort of day.
Rocks is a great place... but it does take me about 30 odd minutes to get to from where I am. Unfortunately that doesn't tempt me to venture out there too frequently. It was a great morning out... I ate exceedingly well, the 3 year played well and enjoyed Brisbane city council funded face painting. I got home, felt sleepy and tucked myself into bed immediately. Had a nice little siesta...

The husband noted a couple of days ago that we haven't seen this much rain since... whenever...  Myself... I think it's almost like living in NZ, which is a beautiful, lush, green place but by golly it doesn't stop raining... for long.
It's terrific that our dams are filling up and overflowing but after four or five days of dark clouds and continuous precipitation, I feel afflicted by cabin fever... a weather-inflicted claustrophobia.

You've probably wondered where I've been. Nowhere... really. Unfortunately. It would've been nice to say that we've been on a cruise to Fiji or even snorkelling at the Whitsundays. But no... just doing the mundane stuff like cleaning. I'm dabbling with fiction again which I used to do a couple of years ago but struggled to find time to do it. I'm also a very obsessive and isolationist writer. Neither of which are good qualities for parenting. A couple of years ago, I also went through an insomniac phase while I was at the peak of my prowess and became exceedingly hard to live with. I was bursting with ideas and would be up till all hours thinking through plot threads and dialogue and all kinds of impractical scenarios.
I'd like to do what Bryce Courtney does and just disappear from civilization for 10 months and do nothing but write during that time... That would be such great fun for my husband... (poor man) and the kids. Probably more so for the kids than for the husband, who might take the opportunity to misbehave with abandon.

Last night we started to sort the children's clothes... partially because we're having a recycle boutique at MOPS next month and partially because the shared wardrobe is busting at the seams with plastic bags. The drawer system we have is really not working because all the 9 year old does is stuff her clothes into the drawer through a permanent one inch gap. To be fair, the drawers in the tallboy are heavy and she's a skinny thing.
My friend Sandy, who has 8 kids, mentioned at MOPS the other day that she uses boxes for her children's clothes so I thought I might try the same thing for the 9 year old. I bought the biggest plastic box I could find in Crazy Clark's and we've transferred all her wearable stuff into it. From the tallboy, I pulled out all her old clothes, worn clothes and still useable clothes and bits of paper wedged in between all of the above. I found several single partnerless socks which are still in relatively good condition.

Some days I think I live with feral cats and dogs who wallow in perpetual messiness. I'll let you into a secret... just wishing that it goes away doesn't make it so. I wished so hard but alas nothing has happened. Annoying, ain't it? This is why I 'm sure Bewitched (tv show not the film) became a mega hit. It's every housewife's fantasy. Just wriggle your nose and everything straightens itself. Who wouldn't want such an ability? Frankly speaking, I'd rather be writing, on the internet, making cards, watching tv and reading a book than cleaning and tidying. I haven't yet dared pray for the stuff to disappear... Even I haven't descended to that level of arrogance yet. There's a reason why Paul admonishes Titus to admonish the older women in the chuch to encourage the young mums to be busy at home.
I don't mind being busy at home... but cleaning up after the kids can get wearisome after a while especially if you feel like you're doing every couple of hours.

I've been kicked off my 'puter... a cousin has just Skyped in so the kids think they can just take over mummy's computer. Sheesh...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Slacko Mama Makes an Effort

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and it's a glorious day outside...
And I think I even managed to sleep for more than 4 hours last night.
You know, I might actually get a few things done today.

Got out of bed this morning and put on a load of washing. The laundry, in Kindergarten Cop parlance, is like the ocean, it piles up when you turn your back for a brief moment. The 3 year old thinks that she's a real life princess with access to maids and manservants ie. upper class laundry service. It's bad enough she's strewn the bedroom floor with mouldy mandarins, toys and soiled laundry, she expects room service too. Children's bedrooms are terrifying places to venture into at the best of times if you don't look too hard under the beds. I get the girls to dive in from time to time since it's a problem of their making. Pity there are no oyster shells to be harvesting in this location.

With that bout of rain we've been having the past week, the garden looks properly greened up. The weeds look like they're having a good time of it too. The parsleys have gone berserk and the mint has been raised from the dead. I can't take any credit for this revival... I'm the sort of non-gardening individual that believes in letting nature take it course.

Took off to the shops after doing a little vacuuming and got the 3 year old a new bagpack. Cautiously maneouvering the makeshift roundabout, I'm wondering when the traffic-retarding roadworks further up the road from us are going to end. Seems like it's been going on forever. Some of us preferred the old roundabout and now things have got to the stage when the powers-that-be deem it necessary for us to have lights.
Down the road from us are more roadworks... courtesy of another smaller shopping complex coming up at the end of the year. I didn't think we needed another supermarket or a McDonald's quite so close really.
Good news is that we're getting an Aldi closer to home (not down the road unfortunately)... yeeha... don't know when... but I've seen the "coming soon" signs. Not soon enough.
Finally... after 1 year of hearing rumours of "will they won't they", it looks like they're finally committed. Whatever their limitations, there are some things worth going to Aldi for. For everything else... we have the duopoly.

Speaking of groceries I found a new kind of cooking oil a week or so ago at Woolies called Rice Bran oil. It claims to be cholesterol free and has a high smoke point. I made my last batch of wontons with them and so far it lives up to its hype. It was on special at Woolies for about $13 for a 4 litre can. My mother-in-law who's something of an expert in this area gave her stamp of approval so all round I think it's something worth looking into.

Okay... I'm in a coughing frenzy once again. It's my cue to take a break from ze internet and life in general.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Greatest American Hero Remembered

Stephen J Cannell, writer-creator of hit tv shows like The Rockford Files, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, and The Greatest American Hero succumbed in his battle with melanoma some time in the last two days. Tributes are pouring in for this most prolific of television producers and many of us Gen Xers can remember being glued to our tv sets in our impressionable years watching something or other created by Stephen J Cannell.

The Greatest American Hero brings back pleasant childhood memories. TGAH was a likeable, funny tv series about an ordinary man, Ralph Hinkley, who is unexpectedly given a superhero suit by space aliens that imbues its wearer with extraordinary abilities. As no superhero works alone, Hinkley has an FBI agent and Hinkley's gorgeous lawyer girlfriend, Pam to help him nab the bad guys. The show had a catchy and almost souful theme song which my classmates and I cheerfully learnt and committed to memory... as silly schoolgirls do. There was no internet in those days so we had to, as you can imagine, do it the hard way. Yeah, we were committed. Shallow but committed.
The slapstick moments of the show came largely from attempts by our eponymous hero to use the suit. Unlike Kal-El from Krypton, Ralph Hinkley, the school teacher, lacks dexterity and finesse. One of the major arcs/running gags of the series sees him learning how to do superhero stuff, flying in particular, without doing permanent damage to important body parts or his manhood. Unfortunately for our man, he inconveniently misplaced the accompanying instructional manual in the desert and part of the character builiding aspects of the show has him work out the kinks by trial and error.
Greatest American Hero invokes the superhero themes and turns them on their head. My favourite runnning gag saw Hinkley searching desperately for inconspicuous locations to get in and/out his outer garments. Bedroom, bathrooms, toilets, broom cupboards, cars, nooks, crannies... that sort of stuff.

If you don't object too strongly to 80s style hairdos and fashion, it's a very entertaining, witty show.

Coughing Like a Hag

One of the toughest things about being a mum is having to deal with demanding, irascible children when you're feeling like death. I haven't done a poll lately but I don't think too many people, in general, enjoy being ill unless hypochondria is something that floats your boat.
No doubt I whine and whinge a lot about my colds and allergies. It is my lot in life and I've accepted it as a friend that has overstayed her welcome that seems unlikely to leave anytime soon. But throw a cough into the mix and it's like reliving the first two months of the first year of having a baby. Colds are tiresome... but coughs encroaches into sleep time and saps you into a zombie.

Today, as I write this, I feel very sleep deprived. Sleep has eluded me much of the past week and with that any energy to do much during the school hols. I've been a horrible mummy and still I've managed to drag myself to places and things and even survived a 12-hour vomitting child. I am guilt-ridden about using the DVD as babysitter but...

I'm relieved it's the weekend... and that the school hols are almost over.

Only by the grace of God... etc etc