Friday, December 26, 2008


(blowing virtual dust off blog)

I haven't been here for ages. Humble apologies. I am not sure where the second half of 2008 went and the last quarter is definitely a mystery! (Facebook may be a culprit!)

It is Boxing Day and I am twiddling my thumbs. mmm ... plenty of time to spare now, go figure! Time to reflect and to plan.

We have had a wonderful Christmas and are now in holiday mode. I don't go back to work for two weeks, so now is the time to chill out and do nothing. Well, maybe do some fun stuff and some essential stuff!

One thing I will be focusing on is scrapbooking - I have been seriously off the wagon these past few months ... mmm, since Molly arrived, I think! I did scrap for Kaitlyn's 21st birthday and our silver wedding anniversary, but haven't even taken photos to upload to my gallery, so that is near the top of the To Do list. The scrap room will get a good clean up and refreshment to motivate me. I have been printing some of my back log of photos in preparation: normally I do this as I go, but I want to be able to catch my mojo when it appears, without delay!

I am also tackling Mt To Be Read! That too has gathered dust in recent months, very unlike me. Too many distractions AKA the Office, the Dog etc! I guess I put in lots of hours preparing for the party on October 25 too, so that ate some time. So now to catch up. I have made a good start this week, finishing the latest Phryne Fisher mystery by Kerry Greenwood and the latest tea-shop mystery by Laura Childs and have now started Dublin by Edward Rutherford, one of my favourite authors but a book I didn't settle with when I first bought it, despite previous addiction to his other books. I got the second in the Ireland series with a gift voucher last week, so am determined to immerse myself in the past 1500 years or so of Irish history!

I will also be treating myself to some missed TV opportunities, as Santa brought TiVo to our home! So I will be recording lots of shows that screen too late for me to watch or clash with another favourite and will not have to choose between walking the dog on the beach or watching a can't misss program! And no more bloody tapes!!!!!!!!

So, that's me, end of 2008, thereabouts. Roll on new Year! I feel ready to GO!!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Office news!

Great excitement amongst the staff here at the Vic Branch Office (yes, that means I am talking to myself again!) as plans fall into place for our imminent relocation to what we hope is our new, long term office premises!

For those new to the scene, the story so far: At Easter this year, the Victorian Branch Office Staff (me) vacated our office space within Head Office in East Malvern. This was due to expansion of Mother’s Direct into the space we rented at the rear of the warehouse. Because we were in State Government funding limbo at that time, we had no means to lease a new property, so “temporarily” set up business in my lounge room … from where the office has functioned for the past six months!

In July, we were finally advised of ongoing government funding and could begin the quest for a new premises. It had been recognised late last year that the ideal geographic location for our office would be in the Dandenong area, where ABA subscriber and volunteer numbers are low, while the need for breastfeeding support is high. Our vision became more than just an administrative office base – we planned to set up a community breastfeeding centre as a hub for not only our volunteers, but mothers and health professionals.

After a lot of red tape, we finally settled on our new address and – all being well – plan to relocate ON SATURDAY OCTOBER 4th!!!!!! Hopefully disruption to our services will be minimal, however there will be a period of a few days when Yvette will be in transit.

Phone, mail and email diversions will continue for some time, however our new street address is Suite 3/71 Robinson Street Dandenong 3175 and this will also be our new postal address. You can Google the address to see the location and if you choose street view, you can even see what it looks like!

The Office comprises a public space where we will hold meetings, classes and informal gatherings; a large office for admin activity and a smaller office which will provide storage and private breastfeeding space. Both male and female toilets are located within the suite and there is a small tea making area right in the public room. The office comes with two reserved parking spaces at the rear and access to our suite at the front is via an enclosed atrium walkway. There is no step to come from the car park to our office, apart from a small rise in the doorway. Two hour on street parking (free) is available in front of the building, while there is a paid all day cark park behind our building. This is $4 for the full day or 80c per hour between 8am and 6pm Monday to Saturday.

To enter the public car park or reserved parking area at the rear, enter Hemmings St from Robinson Street and enter Newton Lane or the car park beside it. Those travelling by foot can enter the office directly from Robinson St and there is a ramp for pram access to our door. Office hours will continue as 10am – 4pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and visitors are very welcome! The kids will love our more spacious facilities and the ever-popular toy collection! We hope to establish regular drop in days where volunteers from across the branch can visit to chat with local mums, as well as BECs, peer support training and more. Local group meetings, training sessions, breast pump hire and more will also be run from the office.

This is such an exciting time for our branch and we all look forward to showing off our new home! As always, it is an entirely separate entity from the Association’s national head office in East Malvern and we hope you will all visit. We are three minutes from the Dandenong exit on East Link and directly off Princes Highway, so nice and handy. It is walking distance to the Dandenong Market (Tues, Fri and Sat!) and we are already checking out the abundance of local cafes!

We need some extra furniture for this new venture, so if you know of a sofa, armchairs, shelving or cupboards that need a new home, give me a call! Oh, and I also need a vacuum cleaner and a kettleJ

Friday, August 22, 2008


Some people refer to it a "taking the dog for a walk"

Some people have not done this with Molly!

I am in two minds about what I am actually doing.

Sometimes it feels like I am escorting a small alien on an Earth fact-finding tour. Something gets her attention, she stops, looks questionly at me, I tell her what it is and we move on. The amusement factor for others is quite clear to me, thank you for pointing it out! Nothing so funny as woman having converstaions in public with a small dog, who is wearing a funky coat, but acting like she is atired in lab coat and serious glasses.

Other times, I feel I am but a humble servant accompanying royalty on a tour of her realm. My job is to keep her from harm while she meets and greets her public.It is her opniion - and life experience - that everyone in her presence adores her. As she struts by in her purple coat and matching harness, which delightfully coordinate with her baby pink collar and lead, I endlessly advise her vital statistics to her people. As I am trying to familiarise her with the local shops in walking distance and said shops have high human traffic, my public humiliation is just about complete!

There is, however, a third version of walking, perhaps the most humiliating of all. It is the reluctant walk. This is where the short one isn't so keen after all and requires the taller one to take one of two actions: coax her step by step with foul-smelling liver treats or pick up the whole package and complete the bracing walk in the winter air for all to see.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another one bites the dust

Before I even took the new edition of Notebook: magazine out of its wrapper, I knew it had changed and not for the better. Sigh. It was too good to be true after all. A magazine which featured beautiful flowers on the cover instead of impossibly gorgeous skinny women. One which featured the real life stories of real life women instead of the reflections of those so far removed from the everyday to be totally irrelevant.

To say I am disappointed is an understatement. Inclined to unsubscribe is a better description.

So, is it me? I hope not. I have always been a magazine tragic. It started with Dolly and evolved through Cleo and Cosmo, then the Womens' - Weekly and Day and New Idea (back when they were informative, not vomit-inducing). As life progressed, I migrated to the parenting magazines: all of them! As my children grew, Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle were the order of the day. Then as my life has increasingly become my own again, I turned to scrapbooking magazines, Good Reading, photography magazines and - surprisingly - O Magazine (as in Oprah!) which I demanded the library subscribe to as I could never justify the price!

And nestled in since its inception was Notebook:magazine.

So is it me that has changed? Gee, I only turned 45 three weeks ago and while I accept I am now in the next demographic (women aged 45-50) I didn't expect the change to be so abrupt! I thought I had found my niche and now the niche has decided it doesn't like its image and wants to change it. But in the words of the email I recieved from them today (in response to mine): We really needed to change the picture to represent better what was in the magazine. So many women didn't even pick it up because they thought it was just a gardening or craft magazine and therefore not relevant to them.

I can only deduce that I and my lifestyle are not relevant to them!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Decluttering: Puppy style!

Ah there is nothing like a mobile baby to point out all the overlooked hazards and temptations your home offers below knee level :)

Molly is settling in well and gaining confidence in her new environment. Her retrieiving genes are revealing themselves hysterically: any treasure she finds is destined for her bed and she is an eternal optimist when it comes to size! Yesterday she was trying to drag a single bed blanket that the kids snuggle up with on the family room couch! Earlier, it was the bathmat while I brushed my teeth! Thankfully, she is just as happy to retrieve her own stuff, so will let you throw all her toys out of the bed and then retrieve them one by one - finally a child who puts her toys away!

She is a girly-girl. She is obsessed with my Lush hand cream and I have to fend her off after I use it, otherwise she tries to lick it off! And she shares my love of 'nice things' - when she finally got the lid off the storage box under my bed, it wasn't my summer skirts she wanted, but the lavender bag she found amongst them! When she suddenly smelled of lavender, I removed it, so she merrily went back and found another one. The box - and anything else that was also under the bed - were packed off to the storage unit yesterday :)

Molly is a very quiet dog: she barked once yesterday while attacking an innocent pink teddy (who misguidely thought his new home would involve a sweet baby, not a vicious puppy!) but apart from that, their have only been a couple of yikes brought on by surpise cat attacks! She is a great listener and keen to learn, so training will hopefully be smooth going. She loves her bed and will happily sit in it and watch the world go by on the rare occasion she is not the centre of the universe! Yesterday, she came along for the ride whe I picked Kieran up and she travels calmly and happily in the car, so that is a relief too! She worked out quickly that the kitchen is the place to be and very cutely sits the instant she sees you with a plate or cup in hand!

Frodo is coming around and I reckon they will be friends by the end of the week. Merry, always more cautious, is staying well out the way and Molly gives her a wide berth - on her first day, she poked half her body through the cat flap and encountered a very surprised cat on the other side! She hasn't gone near the cat flap again, which is a good thing, as the cats' food is on he other side!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good golly, Miss Molly!

WARNING: the following may contain material unsuitable for non-pet people. Proceed with caution.

We have a new member of our family - Molly AKA "Chalsmae Marina"

Molly is 14 weeks old, born 19 April 2008 and came to our home yesterday. I found Molly online - sort of canine internet ding, I guess! You can see more about her breeders here and see her Mum and Dad. It is our fortune that the slight mismarking around her left eye rules her out of being the show dog she is otherwise qualified to be! So the little princess gets to be our companion instead of a supermodel :)

Resident cats, Frodo and Merry - barely recovered from Shadow the stray cat - are doing their best to be outraged. Frodo is also intensely curious, even sneaking up close when he thought Molly and I were asleep! Yes - I must confess: the simplest way to manage new puppy nighttime is to just pop them into bed with you! No crying, more sleep all round.

Needless to say, Molly is stealing hearts one by one as she meets the family in person and th extended circle of friends online in her very own photo album (scrapbook coming soon!!)

We already love this littl girl, wh is discovering things like floor heating ducts, split level floors and cats for the very first time :)

No doubt, you will see more here soon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

In the Doldrums

It is deepest,darkest winter and I find myself in my deepest, darkest place once again.

I really do need to acknowledge that this time of the year is down time for me. While the height of summer knocks me for six from an MS perspective (the heat and humidity sap my energy), winter is the peak time for my fibromyalgia symptoms to rule the day. I seem to crash mid winter each year. Every joint protests the changes in the weather pattern - I am some sort of living barometer! That is a job I could happily do without, but I seem to have no say in the matter.

My yoga class last night - the Rest and Renew class - saw my body protesting at every stretch. Today, despite selfish plans to use my day off to do stuff I wanted to do, I stayed under the doona until just now and the only reason I am up is because the one plan for today that was essential is to buy food! I have been putting off the big shop for days now, but the family will turn cannibal if I don't restock! I have bribed Kaitlyn to come with me.

I guess that is the part that peeves me most. I can try to ignore the pain and fatigue for only so long, then my body claims ownership and sends me running for cover.

Excuse me, but I was actually using that body!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Amazing journey

It sounds like the most basic of Disney storylines, yet it is a true story!

You will have read a couple of weeks ago that a cat arrived on our doorstep one night. Afer putting notices around the neighbourhood and a false hope along the way, we had given up hope of reuniting cat and owner and began wondering how to intergrate the animal into our husehold.

So imagine my surprise when my voice mail revealed a most likely owner! Even more surprised to hear that the woman, living only a five minute walk from our house, had actually given the cat to friend in Mornington two years ago and it was fom ther he disappeared six months ago! Was it even possible this could be the same well-fed, seek feline currently reposed on my bed?

The instant she walked in our door and spotted her old friend - Shadow - Deb burst into tears! Although Shadow showed no reall sign of recognition, it was obvious Deb did! She showed us photos of Shadow and it was certainly the same cat. She showed also a photo of Shadow and his canine pal Rikki, who she broght in from the car to reunite with his cat friend. Obviously, dogs had not continued to be friendly during Shadow's adventure and he didn't take kindly to the visitation!

Deb, Shadow and Rikki then travelled home around the corner, leavig us hoping we had done the right thing. Today, I spoke with Deb and found Shadow had spent last night snuggled up to her in bed and at the first opportunity, had crossed the fence to beat up the neighbour's cat: the very act that got him rehoused in the first place!

A search with Google maps shows us Shadow travelled 16kms during his half-year o the road, an amazing feat. He obviously befriended others along the way, as he wa in perfect condition at the end of the journey.

No doubt, we will see him again!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Full Nesters

Who knew?

During all those years of raising babies and toddlers and school kids, those who had gone before us warned how important it was to maintain our own interests as women, to avoid the dreaded "Empty Nest Syndrome", when mothers of adult children feel loss of purpose when their children leave home and establish independent lives of their own.

So we who spent the 1980s pregnant and breastfeeding, the 1990s supervising homework and coordinating the after school run and the 2000s aticipating an impending empty nest ... are a little shell-shocked to realise OUR babies aren't leaving home!

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE my young adult kids and it is fantastic that we must have made all the right parenting choices after all, because they like us so much as people that they have NO NEED TO ESCAPE!

Its just, houses like ours - built in the mid 70s - were never intended to house five adults! Let alone their friends, electronic life essentials, cars etc. Far from wondering what to do with all this empty space, we face the challenge of sharing a lot of unempty space. Instead of downsizing, we find ourselves resizing.

Once again, I feel the Baby Boomers in the background laughing at us ... except THEY are all too busy being Grey Nomads and SKI Club members!

Miss Melissa's Outing

Melissa recently created this dress for a friend. It is based on a costume in the movie Sweeney Todd. Before it gets handed over to its new owner, we gave it an outing to some local places of similar era.

Photographed at Ballam Park Homestead, Frankston; Mornington Historical Railway and Oak Hill Gallery, Mornington
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My faith is restored!!!!

It is with great relief that I can tell you that the past 24 hours has seen the Minister's office under a DELUGE of emails asking for ABA Vic Branch to be funded and - restoring my faith - we have been advised late this afternoon, that we will get our funding!!!!

Thank you to everyone who supported our call for support!

Now - we need a new office, have to relocate all our stuff back out of storage, tell everyone we are there ...

... I think I am in for a busy couple of months!

Don't believe everything you read in the paper

As I lobby to get the funding from the State Government to continue funding our office (and therefore my paid job, however that is a secondary concern!), re-reading an article published in the Herald-Sun in May this year make me even crosser than it did at the time!

You see, as we have been waiting since January to hear the decision we were then advised we would be given after the May State budget, we were confused to read the following, only to be told by the department that the article had nothing to do with them and must be referring to monies we had recieved previously!

Mums to get guides

Peter Rolfe
May 25, 2008 12:00am

BREASTFEEDING guides will be hired to encourage mothers to feed their babies naturally, under a Brumby Government plan.

In a bid to boost breastfeeding rates, the guides will work across the state.
Breastfeeding education classes are being developed, with more than $60,000 given to the Victorian branch of the Australian Breastfeeding Association to carry out the plan.
New figures reveal big variations in breastfeeding rates.

West Wimmera, Mansfield and Queenscliff have the highest breastfeeding rates in the state, according to a Department of Education and Early Childhood Development report.
But the City of Casey, which takes in Berwick, Cranbourne and Narre Warren, has by far the state's lowest rate.

Only 62 per cent of Casey mothers breastfed when they were discharged from hospital, compared with more than 93 per cent in West Wimmera and 90 per cent in Mansfield. The figure dropped to only 13.8 per cent after six months.

A department spokeswoman said culture, beliefs and a desire to return to work affected breastfeeding rates.

You can see how we thought we were getting our funding! But no, still we wait ...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Letter I wrote today ... maybe you want to send one, too?

Maxine Morand
Minister for Child and Early Childhood Development
Minister for Women’s Affairs

Dear Minister,

I am writing to you regarding the current state of funding from your department to the Victorian Branch of the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

I am most concerned that ongoing funding has not yet been allocated, leaving vital services unsupported.

Since joining this Association in 1984 I have seen the awareness grow in our community about the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies. I am proud to have contributed to our society through my work as a volunteer breastfeeding counsellor since 1992, however it is frustrating to see barriers to successful breastfeeding increasing alongside understanding of the risks associated with premature weaning.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a not-for-profit support network which began in Melbourne more than 44 years ago and has grown Australia-wide become a world renowned example of peer support and community awareness practices. In other States across Australia, and at a Federal level, our Governments recognise the value of the Association’s work, with funding of infrastructure, education and resources.

It shames me that Victoria lags embarrassingly behind in this area. Working within ABA at a national level, I find myself constantly explaining our lack of financial assets to seed projects in this State that other States receive abundant funding to establish.

We received our first funding from your Department for the calendar year of 2007. As that year came to an end, we were offered a lifeline of an additional six-months funding, to allow services to the community to remain uninterrupted while our new submission was considered. We were assured at that time that this interim funding, to cover costs until June 30th, was in recognition of the need to maintain our office services to both our volunteer workforce of more than 400 women and to the families across Victoria during a time of rapid population growth.

It is now a new financial year and we find ourselves in limbo. It is disappointing that your department has valued our work so poorly as to allow a full six months to pass by without addressing the situation. This leaves me with a poor opinion of our government and makes me consider future voting decisions: circumstances I will discuss with my partner, three adult children, family, friends and the wider community.

I urge your department to give this matter the most urgent of attention. If this government stands behind its recognition of the importance of breastfeeding to our community, then it needs to prioritise funding the organisation that has been working to this end since 1964.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Cat Who Came In From The Cold

I sometimes refer to our place as being the top of the faraway tree, because you never know what each day will bring.

Last Wednesday night, it brought high winds, low temperatures and a cat.

We have no idea where it came from, but it was defintely relieved to see some caring humans when we opened the door to check it was okay. A lovely big, silvery-grey tabby cat (originally thought to be a desexed female but now thought to be a desexed male: a lot of tail lifting and comparing bits with our highly-insulted resident cats, who provide examples of both!), this affectionate being is happy outside, happy inside and generally unpeturbed that its own human family are not around but this one is!

I put out an alert via email to everyone I know who lives locally or has family here. We made signs which have gone up in local shops and telegraph poles, but there has been no response. Merry and Frodo, at first very resistant to the newcomer's presence, have reached a stage of affected intolerance and there have been some swipes and hisses exchanged, but generally a treaty is in place.

We truly hope this lovely animal will return to her family soon, but we are happy to give shelter until that time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A pet is for life, not just for Christmas

We all know how easy it is to love a cute puppy. Loving that same dog 16 years later, when she is old and not so cute: that shows you are a true pet owner!

We drove from home to Doncaster to buy the puppy we saw advertised in the paper: a golden retriever/labrador cross. Visions of our new golden dog as a change from black crumbled when we arrived and met the tiny, black bundle who was coming home with us! But to touch, so soft - naming her was easy! She was silky-soft and Silky the Fairy (because little girls are little girls!)

Silky came home and joined the family, including our black labrador/kelpie cross Sasha, who though she might lactate for her new baby, but decided that was too hard, so just mothered her instead! We all lived happily ever after until Sasha died in her sleep one day, aged 12 and Silky became an only-dog.

We moved house in 1997 and Silky happily walked from our old home, around a couple of blocks to our new one, smiling as ever! A few months later, my father bought the house next door to ours and we knocked down the dividing fence, giving Silky the run of two backyards, to her great delight! Two watch dogs for the price of one. There is nothing quite like the deep woof of a black dog in the dark to make bad guys think twice and only we knew she would lick them to death if they climbed the fence!

A few years later, we adopted another lab: this time golden, a boy called Buddy. This was not the most successful integration and after about a year, Buddy moved on, leaving Silky older and wiser. She went from being a mostly outside dog to being a ostly inside dog quite happily! My lifestyle had also changed due to health issues and so I was now full-time at home and Silky proved the perfect companion. She was also an excellent hostess and welcomed visitors, who spent the whole time patting her despite their insistence they wouldn't! Silky was just like that. Anyone little was treated with kid gloves and she allowed babies and toddlers to climb over her body, pull her ears and use her to stand up! She asked only that they slip her a bit of morning tea .. or, if unoffered, would help herself gently!

Life went on, with annual outings to the Frankston Pets Day Out and the Pet and Pony Expo providing new people drawn to pat her! Sh would calmly enjoy the day, taking draughts from water buckets like it was sme sort of wine tasting! One year, she even tried Doga, a canine yoga class, to the great amusement of all. Last year she palyed supermodel and had her portraits taken. She was that kind of dog.

But life catches up with us all, and old age too. The past year or so saw a few health problems and treats like walks at the beach became too hard. She had to content herself with shadowing our house cleaner, watching the world walk past the windows and leading a more passive life. She missed Melissa during her two years in New Zealand, but became adept at the web cam to keep in touch! She even tried motherhood with our two hand-raised magpies, with varying success.

These past few months, the back legs weren't so good anymore and getting off the floor became an effort. Some days going down the back steps was too hard. Increasingly, stumbling and falls became part of life. Other areas at the rear end were also not always controlled and we all knew the time was approaching.

Yesterday was a bad one for Silky and overnight I knew what today had to bring. However, if there is a “good” way for this to happen, then all went well.

I ran our vet and explained, asking if they could come here, which they organised quite simply and is actually only $15 extra – I would urge anyone in the same situation to check this out, as it made an enormous difference. No need to disturb Silky, she was in her own space – and we had the privacy you just don’t get at the surgery. They asked what we wanted to do with her and when I said cremation, they said they can organise that for us. I thought I would have to do this, so another burden lifted.

The two girls – vet and nurse – were so lovely to us all and to Silky. They took it all slowly and with respect. It took ages to get a canula into a vein and there was much joking during this time, with Silky smiling away as it was all just lovely attention to her. Then she just slipped straight away, peacefully and with the girls and I touching her, with Kieran nearby. Then they simply took her into their car and allowed us to grieve.

When Silky returns, we will plant a special place in the garden and place her ashes there. Not a bad end for a little puppy who came home with us aged six weeks and lived a happy and carefree live surrounded by love. Her legacy, for me, is the number of ABA babies and toddlers who loved her and gained dog confidence with her. Quite a few kids learned to stand and walk hanging off this patient dog, who smiled and took it all as love.

The kids are coping well and there is warmth and laughter as well as tears. Ashley has been great and even rang Debbie to let her know, to reduce the shock when she comes to clean tomorrow – she so loved that dog and I am glad they had a few weeks back together.

Poor old Frodo tried to come and investigate almost at the last moment and ended up sitting close by, while Merry was in the other room. The vet said she smelled of angry cat, as her previous patient didn’t appreciate vaccination at all. After, Merry behaved very wary around Silky’s mat for a while – they know these things, cats.

So now we look forward. Not too far forward yet, but we feel happy that there is no more discomfort and loss of dignity for Silky.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

14 up!

Remember being fourteen? Thank goodness you only have to do it once! But what a great age to be.

When you are a 14 year old girl, the most important thing in your life is your friends. Not those vague figures in the background who claim to be your family, but the people who really matter! Usually you spend all day with them at school, every possible minute with them outside school hours and any remaining time tying up the phone line! (Wish we had mobiles and texting and msn and stuff!)

If you are really lucky, these friendships survive adololesent spats (and then she said...) and the inevitable distance that comes when you leave the schoolyard and establish adult lives. If you are really, really lucky, you can treasure these relationships through adult life, like a secret link to your inner teenager. The things these women know! How could you risk not keeping them in your life??

My treasures are Karen, Jackie and Sue. Sue lived across the road from me and we bonded with Karen and Jackie at high school. That was over thirty years ago and just this weekend, we had lunch together. We try to do this at least four times a year, sort of around our birthdays-ish. Although we all live reasonably close by, we have our own networks and family and friends, so this precious touching base keeps the relationship alive.

We are a very special quartet: we all married in our early twenties. Three of our four partners were at school with us and the fourth was in the picture while we were still at school! The amazing part: four intact marriages, facing up toward siver anniversaries over the next couple of years! Various combinations of bridesmaids at four weddings, eight children among three of us (and the trauma of infertilty for one), parental divorce and loss - and sibling angst!

With the legacy of 70s an 80s pop music in the background - shared lust over Leif Garret, the Bay City Rollers and more, fashion faux pas and knowledge of Old Boyfriends, our teen years hug us gently and make us smile as our own babies have reached and survived teenhood! (And the exquisite knowledge we were so much badder than them!)

So, as we nudge middle age, menopause and the next thirty years, raise a glass of blackberry nip and lemonade in memory of growing up disgracefully and surviving!

Monday, June 9, 2008


I have avoided the temptation, but I weakened this week.

I know myself too well and - yes - Facebook is just my kind of addiction! The collector in me just wants to geaher everyone I know in one place! The extrovert wants to say "Look at me!". The social butterfyl asks "What are we doing? Can I play too?" The nostalgic me asks "Are you here, I so want you to be here?". The curious me wants to know "what are you up to right now?"

I so don't need another place on the web to distract me (bright, shiny things!), however what is done, is done!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Destination: Wagga - part two

Sunday was a day of work for Aunty Becky and I. First task I took on was to photograph the large Wilder pedigree chart in sections, to make do until we can get it copied. I then entered the data for the main line into my computer, so had a reference point to work from. This takes my tree back further than before and now goes 15 generations from myself and 16 from my children! Most confusing was great, great grandfather Simon Thomas Wilder, who had made life simple for himself by marrying three women called Sarah! He wasn’t a lazy man though, as between all the Sarahs, he fathered 20 children! One of these was Joshua Frederick Wilder who came to Australia. Like his father, Joshua married three times: two Marys and an Ellen!

After a break for a quick lunch, we cleared the table and Becky opened the small case of photos we hadn’t had time for on Friday and we went through these. So many treasures, including some wonderful old postcards, dating back 100 years or more. One photo Becky moved to put aside as she didn’t know the couple whose wedding photo is was caught my eye: the flowergirl was very familiar: myself, aged about six! The couple were friends of my father and mother and this photo, plus another we also found, were unseen by myself before! Becky gave them to me and I will treasure them. I was also given a few other photos of myself as a baby, my mum and my dad and a wonderful old postcard promoting a lecture for ladies in Bethungra which alluded to teaching them the facts of life … family planning perhaps?

Some treasured china that had belonged to Gran came out of the cabinet for a photo shoot and then it was time for Becky and I to add some new photos to the collection. After spending so much time handling photos from the early days of photography, it was surreal to set up my digital SLR on its mini tripod, set the self timer and snap as many photos as we liked until we got the image we wanted!!!!
All too soon it was time for my esteemed driver Bruce to collect me to go back to the Piper palace for dinner of tacos and an evening watching the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on TV, while checking emails on our lap tops. Another wonderful night’s sleep and then Linda and I hit the Wagga shops for the morning before my train home.

First stop was Spotlight, where a few scrapbooking goodies decided to come home with me and then we visited the newsagents to buy a thank you card for the family in Kincaid St. We then had a glorious time at the second hand bookshop, where I bought Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella which Linda had suggested I read and a copy of The Midwives of Tumbarumba, which Janet and Becky had mentioned the day before! A little more shopping and then back to Linda’s for lunch and to gather my bags.

We parked at the station, confirmed the expected arrival of my train (25 minutes late) and then took a lengthy walk up hill and down dale to the local scrapbook shop. A lovely time hunting and gathering, then back to the station, to be told the train was now 40 minutes behind schedule … then an hour … then 50 mins ….

Eventually the train arrived (the waiting time spent complaining about the drink machine which swiped my money) and then whoosh, I was on my way home!!!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Destination: Wagga Wagga - part one

It is Sunday morning and I am back at my aunty’s house for the day. A few minutes to catch up, so I thought I would journal my trip so far!

Friday morning began early, with a taxi at 6am to get me to Frankston station for the train to Southern Cross station (you know, Spencer Street!). Because of track work, the Sydney train was a coach for the first five kms, then transfer over to the train. After an efficient start, it all went pear shaped before were much north of Melbourne, where we came to a standstill, sat for quite some time and it was then announced that there was engine trouble, so we had to go back and turn the train around to use the other engine! So, after an hour and a half, we finally hit Broadmeadows and were out of Melbourne! However, only an hour and a half behind schedule in a six hour trip! The train ride was wonderful: I think I have mentioned I love train travel! I had loaded up the PDA with podcasts to keep me entertained and I had a brand new book about photo organisation to savour! We made good time and finally arrived in Wagga only 40 minutes late!!

My Aunty Becky collected me and we went to her house where talk quickly turned to family history … until were headed to bed after midnight! My thoughts that I am anywhere near finished scrapbooking family photos on this side was revealed as folly when Becky brought out masses of photos I have never laid eyes on in my life! Thankfully, my 76yo aunt is computer savvy and has been scanning away, so a lot of them are on CD and I can copy them.

We were up not so bright and early on Saturday, for Bruce and Linda to collect us for our great adventure. Bruce the Wonder drove us out to Temora, about an hour from Wagga. We managed to fill the time chatting (!) and then arrived in the gorgeous Temora. We got as far as Becky’ sfavourite dress shop, where her eyes galzed over at the sale sign, so she aired her credit card while Bruce, Linda and I took a turn about town and probably tripled the morning’s sales at the Rotary market (was it five or six stalls???). The patchwork shop was a heavenly retreat and I bought some tiny buttons. Then we retrieved Becky and her shopping and headed to the bakery for a lovely lunch.

As you do, after lunch we went to the cemetery and visited family. Our Sinclairs are there, reassuringly watching over a group of infants, so sad.

Then it was time to visit Janet and her brood!

We had a wonderful afternoon! At one point, Becky had to clarify that we had not spent many hours physically together, claiming we behaved as though we had been together since school! She is an honorary Buddy and – bemused at first by the whole bath thing – soon came to the decision we were all wonderful!!! Bruce is also an honorary Buddy: I could have popped him in my suitcase along with the gorgeous kitten Merlot! Janet had to frisk me on the way out, I loves that cat so much!!!! Sarah was a joy and did things with pink icing that no group of first time mums would ever have tolerated!!!! Milly the Naked one entertained us until the boys arrived home and then played hard with them – I was exhausted and envy her energy. Janet is the most patient mum, I take my hat of to her.

We did have to leave, sadly (and without kitten) and got home to Wagga for the most extraordinary, unexpected experience.

Bruce our driver took us up Kincaid St, to wave at Gran’s house as we went by. It was beautifully lit and the first time I had seen it at night, so we pulled over and I jumped out with my camera. A twist of fate slipped the flash ON, rather than OFF as I intended and a couple of paparazzi flashes later, a small Maltese was barking up a storm and a person came to investigate. Oh Lord, they think I am a prowler! I hurriedly explained as Linda came to my side and the lady was so lovely and INVITED US IN! We grabbed Becky from the car and I was shaking as I walked through the gate of memories! And then, we went in the front door and OMG!!!! Never mind the family connection, this house is wonderful! They have restored it so beautifully, Linda and I were oohing and ahhing over the wallpaper! I can’t begin to describe the beauty of it all. This wonderful woman was in the midst of having people over for dinner and they all welcomed us (“there is a man outside near a car: is he with you???”) and she showed us every room (all immaculate … strangers would not find my house in such a state unannounced!). We finally left them to their dinner and went to have ours at the local club, where Bruce shouted us all massive serves of various crumbed chicken delights! Completely over-fed, we waddled out to the car and dropped Becky home and collected my bags.

Back in the lovely Piper Palace, we checked our emails and watched Starsky and Hutch, until I called it a night before ten and headed for bed.

After a wonderful night’s sleep, Bruce gave me pancakes for breaky. Linda and I compared jammies and I admired her slippers, before she and Bruce got ready for church. They dropped me here and we are just starting to load images onto memory sticks! I have taken photos of each section of the poster sized pedigree chart of one family line, back to 1500!!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008


Finally feeling on the improve after weeks of feeling less than great! I think yoga helps - well, it certainly doesn't harm!

I am really pleased with this new school and teacher - Sue at . I am doing the easy does it class on Monday mornings and last week I also did a Rest and Renew class on the Thursday night, to make up for the one I missed. I enjoyed that so much I shall try and get to it regularly.

What is great is the fact that individual needs are not just recognised but are a key focus of the class. There are plenty of props to help you achieve the asanas, but if you cannot, then alternatives are offered just for you. I like that respect. My last class was more focused on keeping up.

So another of my 2008 goals can be ticked off! Now to maintain it :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sick and tired

I came down with a virus a few weeks ago ... and am still fighting it! Rodney had it first and we have all taken it in turns. Kaitlyn is battling swollen glands and a sore throat, even though she has been on two courses of antibiotics for an ear infection (the doctor is muttering about glandular fever) and now Kieran has been struck down with it. I keep thinking I must be on the improve, then another round of sysmptoms arise. Totally and utterly fed up. I missed yoga class last week but made it yesterday, that really showed up how fatigued my body is. I haven't felt like this for ages. Of course, the MS and fibromyalgia both love a run down body and take their pleasure in flaring up, so the whole cycle rolls on. I am almost living on fresh fruit and vitamins to help fight it!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Catching up

March? Already? Who took my February - I'm not finished with that yet! And it had an extra day!!!

Okay, March. Right. Melissa turns 24 on the 9th (cough, splutter ... 24???) and that is the labour day long weekend. Then it gets busy! Over the following two weeks, my workplace will get packed up (by me!) and put into cold storage for a few months, while I work from home as we await new funding from the State government. I love packing and moving! Well, I do a little - it is the ultimate organising opportunity. The timing is a little skewed, as it is a really busy time work-wise, but I like a challenge!

Then barely recovered from one long weekend, we get the super-duper Easter weekend thrown in just for fun! March will march on across our lives, without doubt.

Working from home sounds so lovely, doesn't it? Visions of magazine layouts about the perfect SoHo ... Small Office, Home Office. Those layouts don't seem to feature four adult kids and an arthritic dog and house bound cats, but I am sure it will look just like the pictures, won't it? A nice cross of Ikea mixed with Officeworks. Now, if I could just find that spare room ...

So, the office phone will divert to home, as will to the mail and the email and I have organised an extra broadband service that will allow me to work from home away from home! mmm ... just like all those magazine articles about work/life balance, LOL!

The next couple of weeks At Home will involve a good culling of shelves and cupboard space, to allow me to house the bare minimum of work stuff. Actually, this has been my mission for a little while now and the end is in sight. Somehow, an unplanned bathroom makeover - replacing the ancient vanity cupboard - has happened over the past few days, throwing my organising just a little. My nerves were rattled when the cleaner quit suddenly just over a week ago, but we have a much better replacement now, so domestic bliss is a viable option!

Creatively, I am keeping up with my photographic and scrapbooking challenges, although having to put limits on the next few weeks. I have lots planned for easter and beyond, though!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

You know, I love a good To Do list! And this looks great!

You can even enter this competition to win one!
I love the way it sets up every different task on your to do list. Very impressed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kieran is 17!

You used to cry if we put you down.
You used to breastfeed 24/7.
You used to sleep in our bed.
You used to spend hours in the baby sling.
You used to be my baby.
You still are my baby, even though you hate me saying that!
You are my only son.
You are 17 years old today.
You are my friend.
Happy Birthday Kieran Patrick!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Okay, so ...

Over the past two or three days (which have been really busy) I have been observing a loss of sensation … not unusual for my MS, but this is a brand new variation.

I can’t taste salt!

Makes for very blah eating, I might add. Still okay for sweet and I can taste lemon, so that is sour and/or bitter. But no salt. Meals so far have included stir fry, pizza, vegemite on toast … nada. Bland and sort of bicarb soda-ish. Like it needs … salt! Ever had unsalty vegemite? Don’t bother! Toothpaste tastes weird … does it have salt???

My whole mouth feels weird too, I suspect there are some numb patches forming. My tongue feels burned, but without the pain.

This will be transitory, probably get worse over a week or so, plateau for a couple of weeks and then gradually revert to normal. That is, if it is a MS episode. I need to see my doctor soon anyway, so will mention it, but it is too minor to go the steroid treatment path.

So I guess it will aid my weight loss plans – who wants to eat if you can’t taste? Especially as my weaknesses are things like cheese, olives etc with crackers or bread … unless I resort to chocolate in my grief! MMM … must try some really bitter dark chocolate to see if bitter is okay. So far, I can still taste the difference between my different flavoured teas – if that goes, I will just buy boring normal plain tea! I had a couple of chai lattes yesterday which were suspiously bland – not sure if it was just the mix or not, will have to do some testing! But if I lose spicy, then no point in chai either!

Just another of my weird take on MS … but she looks fine!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Baby Boy

Kieran has to be at school at 8am tomorrow, so I convinced him to put on his new uniform and let me take some photos.He always looked good in blue!This is the brand new senior uniform for Frankston High School, replacing the old VCE uniform and being phased in by this year's Year 11, including Kieran who turns 17 in three weeks. And senior students can have facial hair, so don't expect to see his upper lip anytime soon!(our second-last school year, ever!)
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Monday, January 28, 2008

We went to the Zoo!

To celebrate Australia Day 2008, Melissa, Kaitlyn, Ashley and I went to the Melbourne Zoo. Kieran and Rodney declined to join us. We hadn't been for AGES - we used to be Friends of the Zoo when the kids were little, but it has been a long time since then! Believe it or not, this was ou FIRST visit since the elephants got their new enclosure - an event we had anticipated for decades! photo gallery

Anyway, it was hot and humid (not the greatest weather for an MSer) but we packed our lunch and hats and sunblock and made the best of things.

First stop was to see our old friends the gorillas. We used to be on first name terms with them all, as Melissa was born just before the famous Mzuri, so the families grew up together. They greeted the hot weather much like we do - lazing around not doing much! Then it was off to see the tree top apes (are we watching them or are they watching us?)

We took a detour via the Meerkats (lurve the meerkats!) and the penguins to a shady lunch spot for our picnic and then down to the bears, big cats and the lions. I rested on an endangered species (ie green lawn) while the others trekked up the bridge to watch the lions. Then it was off to the reptile enclosure (first time since seeing the first Harry Potter movie!!!!) where there were the cutest baby frilled neck lizards.

We struggled through the Australian animals display - outback design matched by outback sun - and through the Great Flight Aviary. Zebras and Giraffes (including the wonderful zebra who followed me around to the sunlight after I complained he was backlit in the shade!), then we all had a much-welcomed icy pole.

Finally, we came to the elephant trail and all I can say is - WOW! Past the tigers (pacing for their dinner) and a quick trip through the even-more-humid butterfly house, we came to see a kiosk area transformed into an Indonesian village shopping centre! Best of all, though, was our lucky timing in arriving in time to see the elephants "enrichment activity" display, which included them SWIMMING in the water hole! The attendants were grinning throughout - a hard day at the office - and it was just so much FUN! We also got to see the other elephants who were resting in the other enclosures and it was wonderful to see how much space they have. Then around the corner, the transformed Orangutan enclosure, modelled on an orphanage in their home country and it was just lovely. We saw fleeting glimpses of the Orang's and the most amazing sight of the big male's long fingers appearing as he reached up from the level below us!

Then it was off to the gift shop, where Ashley and Kaitlyn stocked up pn soft toy animals and Melissa and I got some zoo-themed scrapping supplies! Then another ice cream before we got into the car for the trip home, entertained by lightening as storms moved around us.

It was a wonderful day!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The New Deck!

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This just cracked me up

How many email list members does it take to change a light bulb???..........

1 to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been changed

14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently

7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs6 to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb" ...another 6 to condemn those 6 as stupid

2 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is "lamp"

15 know-it-alls who claim they were in the industry, and that "light bulb" is perfectly correct

19 to post that this forum is not about light bulbs and to please take this discussion to a light bulb forum

11 to defend the posting to this forum saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant to this forum

36 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique and what brands are faulty

5 People to post pics of their own light bulbs

15 People to post "I can't see nothing"

7 to post URL's where one can see examples of different light bulbs

4 to post that the URL's were posted incorrectly and then post the corrected URL's

13 to link all posts to date, quote them in their entirety including all headers and signatures, and add "Me too"

5 to post to the group that they will no longer post because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy

4 to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"

13 to say "do a search on light bulbs before posting questions about light bulbs"

1 to bring politics into the discussion by adding that Johnny wasn't the brightest bulb.

4 more to get into personal attacks over their political views.

1 moderator to lock the light bulb thread.

1 forum lurker to respond to the original post 6 months from now and start it all over again.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Enjoying the holidays

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be having such a complete break from it all!

I love my work, both paid and unpaid, but this month I am not working as we close the office for January and even my volunteer jobs slow right down (well, I still get plenty of breast pump enquiries, but ... oh, and I have been on email helpine roster this week, but otherwise).

It is so nice just to sit back and smell the ... well, scrapbooking glue, I guess! As well as pottering around on the home front having a bit of a spring clean, I am getting HEAPS of scrapbooking done! It is my greatest form of stress relief and my main creative outlet and even the extreme heat still allows me to do a little each day.

There are lots of New Years challenges online in the scrapping community, so I have bitten off lots more than I can chew and am chewing madly! Having a ball, trying new things and even getting to know me better!

You can see it all, over at

And here is today's latest effort!

Just wish we could ditch these excessive heat days we have been having, as they do drain all the energy from me. The MS might being subdued at the moment, but is still there, making its presence felt.