Category Archives: family

And three weeks zipped by ..

Last time I counted, it was 6 weeks till we left.

Ah, heaps of time.

Now, it is three-and-a-half.

Just to put that in perspective:

  • The girls and I have three weekends left in Australia. This weekend, Fraser and I will be at BorderCon in Albury – so there are really only two weekends left before we go. And we want to have a party the week before we leave – so really only one weekend to pack things up.
  • I have a project to finish for a client. It involves writing a whole battery of PRINCE2 documents. That will be achievable.
  • I have another project to finish for another client. It involves lots more writing. That will be partially achievable, but I will probably have work to do when I get to Germany. The client is not happy with some of the work that I didn’t do, and has asked for me to work on that area. While her faith in me is touching and flattering, I am nervous that it might be misplaced.
  • I have two games to translate. The urgent part of one is half-done. I’m hoping to finish the urgent bits by the middle of the week.
  • I have all sorts of things to organise for our trip. More on this elsewhere. I need to stop overthinking the small stuff.
  • Mum and dad’s house has its first Open-For-Inspection on Thursday. I have not been there for a week. I need to find time to go there.
  • I still do not have a British passport. Nor do the girls have Australian passports (long story). Lots of chasing things up to happen on Monday morning.
  • Fraser and I need to get international drivers permits. We tried to do this on Saturday, but the RACV shop closes at 12 noon (where every other shop in the centre closes at 5pm).
  • I have to go to the luggage shop and ask if they can order the new model of Trunki for Otto. Failing that, I need to order one online. This is becoming urgent.
  • We need to organise parent-teacher meetings with the girls’ teachers. These would normally happen at the end of this term but they have been delayed to early next term.
  • Fraser and I need to move back to our “2 boxes a night” packing philosophy.
  • I need to do invoicing and tax. Urgently.

What I did today :)

Woke up.

Thought, hmm, I need to do some work.

Decided to turn on the eee first to check email etc in bed.

La, la, la. Read the paper, checked email, wandered around on bgg. Then decided to do what I usually do on Mondays – check the Qantas website and sob that airfares to Germany are around the $2700 mark during June-July.


$1409 RETURN!!!

gmail and gtalk Fraser. Possibly before he was even at work. Wait impatiently for him to respond.

Three options. Let’s go through them and eliminate some. OK, let’s eliminate one and change one. We now have dates we will be in Europe

Run to bathroom, shower, dress. Makeup? Nah, no time.

Me, on gtalk: Fraser, this is your last chance to change anything

Fraser, on gtalk: Go for it.

Drive to shopping centre. OMG my travel agent has a client with him. Make appointment to see him in 20 minutes, run to kmart to pick up easter egg for niece.

Back to travel agent. He’s free.


Our preferred dates are booked out. Wotthehell, we’ll go a bit earlier.

Travel insurance? You beaut. No problems there either. 


We are booked. I must pay today. $6200 for 4 return airfares to Europe. Expected price was over $9800. Holy frijole that’s a cheap plane ride.

And so, ’twas done. 

We leave Australia in late June, and Fraser will join us in late July. We return at the end of November, leaving time for a trans-atlantic hop to BGGcon if we decide the kids are up for it. Or if Fraser decides to go on his own.

The Bigster might even, if she is very lucky, get to see a German christmas market.

I am so excited. Also, a little bit terrified. But only a little bit, because that won’t really kick in until a week before I FLY TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD WITH MY KIDS. omg.

Now, apartment hunting. And trying to rent out our house. Or find a home exchange, or something. And thinking about travel. And school, and all that stuff.

And telling work, of course. Yikes.


Oh yeah – my day. Then I had a filling. This afternoon, I have a pap smear and an icky painful gynae thing. From the sublime to the ridiculous, here I go again.


Posted by on April 7, 2009 in be happy, family, grand plans, travel


Now officially planning

We arrive in Europe on or immediately after July 1st.

Outstanding questions:

  • where will we live? (I even posted something in the Germany forums on BGG)
  • will be start in the UK, then travel, then go to Germany? Or start in Germany, then pack up, travel, come back for OMGESSEN! ?
  • um, just about everything.

We have a date, though.

And I am officially looking for a flat or house to let or sublet, in Germany, for up to 3 months, from 1.July.09 or a bit after that.


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Posted by on March 29, 2009 in family, grand plans, travel


Happy birthday, Otto!

She pouted because she didn’t want all her birthday cupcakes to be pink. “Yellow is my favourite now.”

She liked the doll but didn’t want to play with it.

She didn’t even look in Doll’s bag of clothes.

She pouted at Biggie’s gift because “I didn’t want a book” (although she then liked the idea of putting on a play with it)

She said she prefers the old beanbag in the cubbyhouse to her new one (but then she sat on it when no-one was looking)

and she LOVED the Cuboro marble run.

Life with Otto is always special. She’ll love all these things once she’s had time to get used to them.


With thanks to A.A. Milne - The End.

With thanks to A.A. Milne - The End.

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Posted by on March 11, 2009 in children, family


The horror that was March 10th

I know that Jon at least hates this type of post, but I can’t think of any other way to express the fairly unutterable horror that was March 10th.

It went a bit like this:

1am: Bed. Oops. I can’t even claim that I was working – I was chatting with friends. Haven’t done that for ages – at least, not till that late.

7am: Wake up. Groan. Pretend to go back to sleep

8am: Finally give in and get up. Get kids ready for school, etc etc etc. Otto mucks around so we are late for school and arrive at …

9:04am: tell kids to just sneak in to whole-school Assembly as Rolls are marked afterwards and not before. Biggie disappears into the Year 5-6 building to put her bag down while I head for Assembly with Otto, who really does not want to be there. Oops – mea culpa. Important to get them there on time.

9:20am: Wonder where Biggie is. School psychologist person pops up at my elbow and asks if I have a minute. She has Biggie in her office, very unhappy. She went to sign herself in because it’s a Rule. Looooong discussion where Biggie asserts that she thinks I love Otto more than I love her. And so does dad. And so does Otto. Terribly terribly sad but why do I get the feeling she is pushing buttons? Note that she didn’t actually say she thought that, school psychologist asked her whether she thought that and she agreed. This seems to me to be a Subtle Yet Relevant Difference. Agree to meet with school psychologist in a couple of weeks. What a mess – if the Bigster really does think that, there is major damage repair to be done. If she doesn’t, grrrr.

9:55am: call the salon to cancel 10am appointment. My eyebrows will have a life of their own by the end of the week.

11:10am finally leave school psychologist’s office. Realise I still have Otto’s bag. Realise lunchtime has started. Bolt for Year 1 classroom to find Otto and teacher, puzzled. Phew.

11:25am do the quickest makeup ever, grab bag for work. Realise I will have to drive in to make 12 noon meeting. Realise client has rung this morning. Hope it was to cancel 12 noon meeting. 

11:26am Realise I am out of luck. She was confirming the meeting. Decide to drive.

11:47am Outside client’s work. See guy get into car ready to drive off. See guy talk on mobile phone. Decide to wait.

11:50am Still waiting

11:52am Decide to move round to the other side of the road so guy can see me, waiting for his parking space.

11:52:30am While I am moving, guy drives off and Other Driver takes spot. Gaaaaah.

11:57am See someone get into car parked outside client’s office. Do u-turn across tram bumps to get to spot.

12:00noon Walk into office.

blah blah meetings blah blah move car to nearer my office blah blah feed meter, leave.

15:10 arrive at school for 15:30 finish. Decide to go buy Otto a Doll.

15:24 in shop, listen to owner screaming at husband to get off the damn phone so she can process my credit card transaction for doll and dolls’ clothes. Fair Trade Organic Cotton dolls’ clothes, no less. Yikes!

15:28 back to school. Yay!

Then the girls and I bought donuts (for them and Fraser, not for me) and I went to the dentist for stage 3 of my root canal that began in Hungary. This time, I have ended up with a metal band that looks like Alfoil around my tooth (Jack Sparrow, eat your heart out). My dentist kindly cleans up my “panda eyes” after there was weeping. Stupid dental anaesthetic. Stupid pathetic mouth pain threshold.

Hmm, what next. Fraser took Otto to swimming and dropped the Bigster at home for some quiet time (at her request). Then they came back to collect me after my Exciting Tooth Experience.

Home and Biggie cooked dinner (put pre-made by me meatballs on a tray in the oven). Then the girls and I made the first batch of yummy cupcakes to take to school tomorrow for Otto’s 6th birthday. Yum!

I had a late doctor’s appointment – which was not great. I don’t have weird side-effects from the tablets I am on, I have gastroenteritis.

Home again to throw out the cupcakes I had made with Otto. Doctor’s orders.

And this brings me to the point of this post.

Because Fraser, who has never done this, EVER, for any of the girls’ birthdays, rose wonderfully to the occasion. He is now the proud baker of 35 perfectly pink vanilla cupcakes, with pink icing and pink and purple sprinkles. I may have been supplanted.

And I? Did work work work, chatted with Biggie’s friend’s mother, wrapped presents, tidied and generally supervised.

And now, it is 1am once again and I have a little girl who will be completely and utterly 6 in around 20 hours. And a little bit 6 before that, even.

Her gifts are all lined up on her new daisy beanbag.

I just wonder which of us will be last out of bed.


Posted by on March 11, 2009 in children, family, food, health, to-do


Birthday wrap-up

You would think, after all this time, that I would understand that Otto really doesn’t speak – and that expecting her to say something on cue is futile. But I was pretty sad that there was no “Happy birthday” today, from her. After a stressful week, I felt that I could have done with a little pandering.

The rest of the day, though, was good. 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 15, 2009 in be happy, family


25 things I have learned

Here are 25 things that I have learned (or observed) in the past four days or so. You may learn from them, or you may just shudder. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 5, 2009 in children, family, parenting, school, work


Slowly slowly, a new game, and history repeats itself

This is my ‘interim week’ where I slowly ease us back into our busy life.

So far, I have:

  • cleaned the kitchen (again) – this was the last of the OMGURGENT things from  the Christmas-New Year break.
  • visited friends – very important. And we had a fantastic view of the Australia Day fireworks, too.
  • taught the Bigster to bake a basic cake (well, cupcakes)
  • taught Biggie and Otto to ice cakes (it’s a start – and one day they will learn that they don’t have to have 5 different colours of icing)
  • prepared meal plans for the next 4 weeks (these keep me on track, cooking meals instead of resorting to take-away. By looking at our schedules, I can see that I will want to cook real food Friday to Monday, with Tuesday to Thursday being pasta or something quick out of the freezer. That helps my planning and also shows that we need to shop on Fridays.)
  • tried 2 new family dinner recipes that will be ‘stayers’ – delicious and (relatively) inexpensive. (A chicken pasta bake thingy that the Bigster wants to have for school lunches as well, and an organic butterflied roast lamb that tasted OMGFABULOUS and was probably cheaper than a leg roast anyway).
  • booked myself back into French classes for the year (yay!) and done some revision (double yay!). I am feeling fairly sure that repeating the 2nd half of the last class I did (the busy term where I missed a few classes) is the best way forward from here, then I will plan to do another intensive class next semester.
  • Moved the Bigster’s swimming lesson. OMGYAY! I nearly kissed the woman at the pool. See, last year, Otto’s lesson was at 5 and Biggie’s at 6 – meaning that we were at the pool from about 4.45 to 6.45 every week *shudder*. Nice Pool Woman found a spot for the Bigster at 5 as well – so we’ll be in and out in around an hour, and home before 6. Honestly, I want to buy her flowers and chocolates.
  • Organised some regular meetings for work – aiming to have a similar schedule to last year, where Tuesdays and Fridays are part work-from-home, part own time. With 2 big and one small projects lined up already, that may be more work-from-home than own time, or I might need to take one more day of after-school care for the girls. Hoping to avoid that, though.
  • Napped for 3 hours this afternoon (it was hot … eek …)

I’ve also tried one new game already this week – Cranium Whoonu, which was recommended by a friend. It was fun as party games go – still not my thing, and maybe more an activity than a game? (but that tends to be my criticism of most party games). You each have 4 cards and have to select the one that another player most likes — then they rate them, and then the next player has a turn. Good with people you know well – we knew one couple well, the other not so well, which was apparent. The wives did better than the husbands at predicting what their spouses would like. 

I guess the other 2 women didn’t know me well though. At the end of the game, one of them said, “I had The Colour Pink as one of my cards!” and the otther said, “I had Valentine’s Day!” — Fraser and I snickered. I just am not quite sure which I would have given the maximum score to. Probably birthdays win over colours.

I have also been being avoidy over the last few days. With it being 3-4 weeks since I have spent any time on bgg, I know I will have lots of mail messages. So instead of being a grown up and logging in and dealing with them, I have been fretting about it and doing other stuff. I have given myself a big slap and told myself to get over it: Tomorrow is crunch time. Will there be over 1000?

The bad news? I think there might be a Smell in the living room. And as I *know* it is clean, that means we might be back to the old cause. Like last time, I have been able to smell it for 3 or 4 days – almost since we got home – whereas Fraser and the kids only noticed it late yesterday.

For those who are not familiar with The Smell:

OMG. What if it is the Other Half of the possum that was in our back yard when we got back?

It is going to be over 40 degrees every day for the rest of the week. This does not bear thinking about.


Posted by on January 27, 2009 in family, food, games, house, to-do


back to the fray

Six loads of laundry down, one to go. We did well, this year. We’re almost completely unpacked already, too.

Our one unwelcome guest was a dead possum in the back yard – I guess that the neighbourhood cats have been making the most of our being away. I am a traitor to my feminist values – I played the “girl” card and made Fraser move it.

We headed out this morning with the best of intentions. We’d get the children’s new school shoes, get some school uniform essentials, buy the Bigster a new school bag, do our grocery shopping and buy a new lunchbox for Otto. All before coming home, getting changed, and heading to the Ballet.


We managed to get to the shoe shop (new runners and school shoes for Otto, replaced Bigster’s last set of school shoes where the stitching split – hooray for the people in the shop  who didn’t charge us for the new shoes). Then I picked up a new pair of cargo pants for Biggie, on the way to the chicken shop for lunch (Otto’s request/reward for behaving at shoe shop).

I can’t really blame the kids for the next bit. See, the shoe shop and chicken shop are just near one of three (AFAIK) foreign language specialist bookshops in Melbourne. So while the kids and Fraser finished lunch, I snuck out.

It’s a funny thing. Every year, I see lots and lots of books at Lorne Beach Books that I absolutely lust over and long for. And every year, I buy one or two and request the others for my birthday. (See, for example, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Lore of the Land, Mrs Woolf and the Servants and Being Elizabeth Bennet: Create your own Jane Austen adventure.) 

This year, Fraser decided to go back to our old habits and only buy a token gift for one another at Christmas. The pay-off was that we ‘notionally’ allocated some money for each of us to spend on whatever we wanted, no guilt, no questions asked. I immediately thought of Lorne Beach Books and mentally set aside my money.

Now their range is as good as ever, their books as desirable as they always were. But somehow, having a sum of money set aside for buying them made me more picky? – at any rate, I found it easier to resist, even without trying, and in the 2 weeks we were there I spent a total of $30 on books for myself. Weird.

Anyway, it is possible that I made up for my restraint today at Language International. I’ve been working on French grammar exercises, but only having one real grammar workbook means I do one set of exercises on one point and then move on. So today I bought 2 more:

  • French Grammar Drills (“Perfect for Beginning and Intermediate Learners!” “Practice with More than 150 Exercises!” (I hope their French grammar is better than their English)); and
  • Schaum’s French Grammar 5th edition.

Then I bought a French verb wheel (because it is OMGadorable) and another book (with CD) about Alex Leroc, journaliste. This one is called L’ange gardien: À Perpignan, un justicier masqué protège les citoyens en danger. Il apparaît toujours au bon moment pour défendre les victimes contre leursagresseurs. Comment fait-il pour être si bien informé et qu’est-ce qui le motive ? Alex leroc, qui se trouve à Perpignann pour le mariage de sa sœur, a très peu de temps pour découvrir l’identité de ce Zorro du vingt et unième siécle. hee!

Meanwhile, I found a DVD of German-English songs for children and a rather good book about Germany for the Bigster. (I see there are also books about France and Spain in this series).

Then we were too tired to be bothered going hunting for school clothes, so we came home. Biggie’s practising her recorder, Fraser’s doing something on the PC in the study, and I am on the armchair watching Otto play with the dollshouse that I cleared out just before we went away (it was used to store “random paper junk” before then – she’s never really played with it before). That means we have lots to do tomorrow – but for now, I have to either restrain Otto from getting TOO frocked up to go to the ballet (she wants to wear the tulle and satin number she had for my cousin’s wedding) or suck it up and find a pink hair ribbon to match.

I guess I’ll try my sewing box first…

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Posted by on January 24, 2009 in books, family, shopping


holiday day 13 – Friday 23rd January

We are home!


More later. For now … mmmm, home.

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Posted by on January 23, 2009 in be happy, family, travel