Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Spring is here!

September 28, 2011

Daylight saving has started.

Tonight when we got home, The Dad hung the washing and mowed the lawns (yes, in that order).  The children rode their bikes, Fainjin hurtling down the driveway at breakneck speeds watching for our reaction rather than looking where he was going.  The late sunshine was glorious.

It’s hard to get up in the morning, but harder to get the kids to bed on time in the evening.  We’re still getting used to the time change.

Soon we will be able to take dinner down to the beach and have a “picnic tea”, just as Pearl has been yearning for.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Chocolate crackles

September 4, 2011

Fainjin was invited to a friend’s birthday party today.  It was held at a gymnastics club, and it turned out that Babess was welcome to stay as well, which was great.

It was very well set-up, with lots of equipment for the kids to play on, plenty of supervision, and the entire floor covered in soft mats (apart from the lovely sprung floor for tumbling on).

Fainjin had a great time climbing, balancing, swinging, jumping and bouncing.  He discovered that he can do forward and backward rolls, and really enjoyed playing with the big swiss ball.

Babess wasn’t so interested in the equipment, preferring to run around in circles on the sprung floor and occasionally kick a ball.  That was perfectly ok too.

At afternoon-tea time, Fainjin was very impressed with the chocolate crackles.  “Look Mum! Chocolate rice bubbles!”  Later I noticed he had four of the little paper cases on his plate.

I suppose I know one thing I’ll have to make for his birthday party in a few months!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Relay For Life 2011

March 28, 2011

On Saturday night The Dad, Pearl and I joined our local Relay For Life in a sponsored run/walk over 17 hours to raise money for the Cancer Society of New Zealand.  Our team of mostly young people and children raised over $3000, so we are very proud of our efforts – and very grateful to everyone who sponsored us and supported us.  Thank you!

We arrived mid-afternoon, just in time to drop our bags in the beautifully-decorated marquee (well done Auntie B!) and head to the opening ceremony.  Then there was a Survivors’ Lap, and all participants followed for a starting lap.  After that, we took turns to carry a baton around and around and around until 9 o’clock on Sunday morning.

The Dad and Pearl had a couple of turns fairly early on, so that they could go home and sleep.  Unfortunately, they were the ones on the track during a torrential downpour!  Pearl didn’t really mind.

The rain turned the ground to mud – the track was asphalt, but the tents were pitched on the park – and continued long enough to make cooking slightly problematic.

Steamed sausage, anyone?

At 8:30pm there was a candle ceremony.  Anyone could purchase a paper bag from the Cancer Society and decorate it in memory of someone who had died of cancer.  Hundreds of these bags, with battery-operated candles inside, glowed in the covered carpark (moved there because of the rain) and a brief memorial service was held.  It was very moving and emotional.  Our bags were dedicated to friends and family, and it was sobering to realise how many there were to remember.

Candle bags

After the Relay, these bags are incinerated and the ashes scattered in a memorial garden.

Shortly after the ceremony, Pearl and The Dad went home.  Our wonderful babysitter had taken Fainjin and Babess to a park, brought them home, fed them, read them stories, put them to bed, done her own study, and was doing all our dishes (!) by the time they got home.  Pearl managed to strip off her wet clothes before falling asleep, but I hear it was a close-run thing.

Meanwhile, I was at the park, supporting our walkers and runners and doing a few spells myself.  There was a lot of music, noise and off-track action through the night.  One team hosted a disco from 11pm until 2pm.

As I carried the baton between 1am and 2am, the sky started to clear and we could see lots of stars.  I found myself thinking of Susan (WhyMommy) and her amazing job at NASA.  I would love for her to see our wonderful southern skies.  I thought a lot about other friends living with cancer, too – there’s a lot of time for thinking on the Relay, and you’re surrounded by plenty of thoughtful people.

I managed to get about an hour of sleep in a deck-chair in our marquee.  We were exceptionally lucky that we were somehow out of range of the sprinkler system which came on at 2:30am!  Some tents had indoor fountains and flooded.  Ours, with half-a-dozen children asleep on the ground, stayed comparatively dry.

Free massages were available to participants, and I was near the start of the queue when the morning session started at 5:30am.  After trying to sleep on a foam pad (and fearing I might never move again!), then napping in a deck-chair, those ten minutes were absolute bliss.

Breakfast was provided at 7am, and The Dad achieved the near-impossible by having all three children down at the park by 7:30.  Fainjin and Babess were very excited to see what we had all been up to, and enthusiastically joined the Relay.  Fainjin carried the baton for two full laps, and Babess for about 30m (it’s heavy for a little kid!).

The whole team walked the final lap together, then gathered for the closing ceremony.  We didn’t run the most laps, have the best-decorated tent, or win the prize for best-dressed team, but we were more than satisfied with our efforts.

There is talk about organising a team for next year.  I hope that one year, we will find that we don’t need a Cancer Society.  Until then, please support your local Relay for Life.

Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back!

Remembered with love

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Quake. Again.

February 22, 2011

This afternoon another large earthquake hit in Christchurch.  This time, it was shallower, the shaking was more violent, and people have died.

Lots of people are hurt, homeless, and frightened.  Some are still trapped in collapsed buildings.

There will be great stories of heroism, miraculous escapes, and heartwarming kindness to emerge in the next days and weeks.  They will comfort us in our sorrow and fear, and reassure us that people are basically decent creatures.  (I’m sure there will also be tales of looting and despicable behaviour, but they will be the minority).

Once again, we check our emergency supplies, make mental notes to improve our preparedness, talk with the children about what could, might, one day probably will happen here, and feel lucky that this time it didn’t.

My thoughts and love go out to those in Christchurch, especially the families of those hurt, trapped, or killed.

Some links:

NZ Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (quake updates) and preparedness

Red Cross NZ (donations) (news, pictures, video) (quake reports and maps)

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!  May it bring joy and laughter to all of us.

I have lots to write about from Christmas and our travels, and will start posting regularly again soon.  At the moment I have some jet-lag to fight off (mine and the children’s), and there are lots of Christmas presents to be played with, thank-yous to be written, and summer weather to be enjoyed.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.


October 26, 2010

One of Pearl’s birthday presents, from her best friend at school, was a packet of “heirloom” sunflower seeds.  Apparently they have many flower heads on each stem, with colours like red, chocolate, yellow and orange, sometimes all on the same flower.

Quite often we just sow sunflower seeds directly into the ground in our ex-vege patch (now mostly devoted to flowers), but since they’re special seeds and we’re not home to look after them, I got a seed tray and some special mix so we could do things properly.  By the time they’re big enough, we should be home again to transplant them into the garden.

The packet says there are 20 seeds, and I got a seed tray with 20 little pottles.

I sowed 2 seeds per pottle, and I think there are about 35 seeds left in the packet.  I guess the seed company didn’t want anyone to feel shortchanged!  We should have a great crop of lovely sunset-coloured flowers in a couple of months, though.

© UpsideBackwards 2010.

Oooo, it does get in!

October 11, 2010

After our discussion about the dangers of a dark kitchen the other day, Fainjin was perturbed to see me washing dishes without the light on.  There was plenty of natural light, due to the time of day, but he switched on the overhead light anyway.

“Mama, you don’t have to get burnt!” he said.

Awww.  He listened!

* the title of this post is a reference to a 1986 toothpaste commercial.  If you ever saw it, you probably remember it – Mrs Marsh and the chalk… and the strong Australian accents!

© UpsideBackwards 2010.

Anzac Day 2010

April 25, 2010

I wrote last year about what Anzac Day means to us.

We didn’t make it to Dawn Parade this year, due to circumstances beyond our control – we’ll try again next year.  We did go to an Anzac Service later in the day, though, and it was lovely.  Pearl looked very solemn in her Girls’ Brigade uniform, the children all wore or held poppies, and we sang the national anthem and recited the Ode.  The sounding of the Last Post was especially poignant in light of the helicopter crash today that claimed the lives of three of our RNZAF personnel, ironically on their way to fly-past the Anzac Day Dawn Parade in Wellington.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,

we shall remember them.

We interrupt our normal programme…

October 17, 2009

To all the women I love, and all the women I’ve never met but who read this blog.  Please read this post of Susan‘s.  It’s important.

Letter to friends I haven’t yet met

Eye-drops, or, The Power of Bribes

October 15, 2009

Poor old Fainjin has conjunctivitis. For this, I have to give him eye-drops. Two drops in each eye, four times a day. He does not appreciate my efforts in the slightest.   The protests are legion.
“No eye-dops a’day!” “All gone eye-dops!” Even, treacherously, “No Fainjin eye-dops!  Babess eye-dops!”

However, I have ways and means at my disposal.  Not least of these is the chocolate biscuit.

The best way to administer the drops is for him to lie on the floor or couch, and I sit at his head – I can hold his head still with my knees and use one hand to prise his eyelids open and the other to squeeze the eye-dropper.  So I hold up a chocolate biscuit, and he comes over to me (first step – I don’t have to catch him!).

Then I hand him the bikkie, and he lies down happily enough (second step – I don’t have to wrestle!)

Then he’s pretty much trapped.  He could eat the bikkie, but usually doesn’t until it’s all over.  When I’ve done two drops in each eye, I tell him to watch me put the lid on the bottle – that way he can see that I really have finished, and it encourages him to blink the drops in.  Usually before then I will hear “I close my eyes now!”, “Put the lid on now!”, “Finished now!” and/or “All done, Mama!” – sometimes before even one drop has gone in.

Once we’re done, it’s all smiles and he munches into his prize.  So far I’ve only needed two bribes, so it’s not like he’s overdosing on chocolate biscuits.  All I had to do for tonight’s drops was to ask him to show Daddy how good he was at getting his eye-drops.  Amazingly, that worked.  And when he stood up, I asked for – and got! – a kiss.  Then he said “I bive!”


“I bive!” and he slapped my hand.

“Oh!  High five!”  Not something we’ve ever done, he must have learnt it at daycare.  I cracked up, and he ran off laughing.  I’ll try to remember that for the morning drops.

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