Mama Chameleon

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Stop Press!

Isn't this just the cutest thing? diva has lost her first top front tooth. I find it so adorable.
Even in the middle of telling her off for something, I'm like "You are so cute!!!"

Posted by michelle :: 9:20 pm :: 13 comments links to this post

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mother Guilt and other Bits and Bobs
Why the title?
I sent my Diva to school this morning without administering her cold and flu medication, and without tissues.
So she will probably have the sniffles all day with only a sleeve to catch the drips!
And I really hope no one notices that her hair band is dark purple instead of the uniformally a uniform, it saves a lot of time and agony we would spend deciding what to wear, but this is one of the few drawbacks.

Big Mama, Hubby and the Car Update: While we come to a decision about what to do about a car (seeing as mine is no longer functioning! Arrggh!), friends have loaned us their 3rd car (they live on a farm with another family) for as long as we need it. Such a blessing.
Roly said this morning: "I could hardly sleep 'cause of you guys arguing last night about the car!"
We had been discussing our options, the pros and cons. And we thought the kidlets were all asleep!
Voices were not raised, though we did have a couple of differences of opinion.
My hubby likes a good debate and I have learned to verbally joust with him! I am not nearly as good, but I can hold my own.
My poor Roly had really been concerned, as he often sneaks into the kitchen for a drink etc and must have overheard us.
So I said:
"Well, did you see the two big hugs Mum and Dad gave each other after we talked??
Roly : No...
Me: Did you see Dad race Mum to bed, and see how Dad cheated by shutting the kitchen door so he could get there first?
Roly (with wide eyes at Dad's lack of sportsmanship): No.
Me: Imagine that! What a good sleep you must have had!
Post Script: Apparantly Hubby had lots of ribbing about poor sportsmanship on the way in to school today

Roly update: Roly is going on an excursion with his stage (all of grades 5 &6) on Thursday. It is a two day bonding excursion with adventure sports and group tasks. For those who pray, we dearly hope he has a straight forward time away with no niggling concerns to overshadow the fun he can potentially have. He is so looking forward to it!

Spindles update: A while back I mentioned that Spindle's naturally easy going nature had changed a little, with burst of unexplainable tears and anger. That has all calmed down. In retrospect, I think timing and my approach to him had a lot to do with it. Timing works for all of us and I need to improve in that regard. When Spindles starts something he gets so immersed in it, and probably needs a five minute warning that we are about to do homework etc, so it doesn't come as a rude shock.
Whatever the cause, he is back to easygoing Spindles.

Diva update: Like I earlier mentioned Diva has a cold. She is presently enjoying reading anything she possibly can, which is fun to watch. She has her own library card now and finds going over to the library to choose a book exciting. Reading is such a huge part of the boy's' lives (and their parents') so I am happy to see that she might be morphing into a bookworm too.
Apart from that, Diva still loves being outdoors more than anything,' taming' the chookies, trining Lucy the dog and taking pics of them.

Topsy Update:
His favorite animal sounds to make: elephant and rooster
Favorite games: Peekaboo and'is this a hat?" where one trys on all sorts of crazy items as a hat, only to have them fall off one's head while Topsy giggles uncontrollably. He then attempts his version of the game (which means he holds those same objects over his head, refuses to drop them, or maybe does not know how, and still chuckles proudly.
Most exciting advancement: he now comes running for cuddles! Yeah! He likes me!
An Outing
We went out for lunch yesterday. It was with some people that I really wanted to be able to chat with in a relaxed way.
We ate outside in their gorgeous patio, surrounded by the wife's handmade mosaics and well-tended plants set in stunning pots. It was like a mini Morocco !
A very simple but delicious lunch was set on a crisp blue and white tablecloth.
Topsy had just had a long nap and was ready for lunch.
Everything was going swimmingly...

...until my normally gregarious and smiling baby refused to eat anything (unheard of!), opting instead to toddle around the garden, exploring with excited chirps. To my relief he just patted the plants' leaves benignly.
They were not his quarry.
Instead he grabbed up great handfuls of the horse manure-fertilized soil they were planted in.
His intention with said soil?
That became evident when he proceeded to stuff his cheeks to bursting with the stuff. It was as though he had suddenly developed a ravenous hunger and thought he was scoffing down quality chocolate.
*10 minute clean up.*
Our hostest told us not to stress because anything Topsy did around their yard, their cats and dog already do regularly, so I took a deep breath and tried to immerse myself in the conversation !
But when Topsy staggered in the general direction of the prized rose garden, both hands outstretched in gleeful anticipation, my grilled gourmet sandwhich dried up in my throat, and I had to step in.
*5 minute diversion attempt*

Our hostess (L) brought out a big basket of toys, but no!, that would have been too easy.
And of course, I could not sit and listen to a word anyone was saying while my son lurched towards the verandah steps (just a three step drop!)
*5 minute conversation halt as Big Mama places Topsy as far away from the adults as is safely possible and sprints back, so we can get a sentence in, as he barrels determindly towards us. Oh My! When did he learn to jog? That 5 minutes turned into 2! *
Eventually we formed a barricade and contained Topsy within a space. We set him up with the basket of toys, a drink and some of my grilled gourmet sandwich.

After flinging the sandwich on the ground, he screeched and whined and moaned and cried and pouted.
I kept insisting "He is never usually like this."
To which everyone nodded politely (probably thinking 'likely story' all the while)
And then without rhyme or reason, he went silent and became very occupied.
After a couple of minutes, we all visibly relaxed. Or I should say, we women relaxed. The men had been totally oblivious the whole time. (LOL!)

The sheen of sweat I had worked up from careering around our hosts' acreage like a demented Dunlop bunny, dried.
We chatted and laughed and coffeed.
It was so nice, like old times of being able to relax at someone's house.

Then inexplicably, our coffee mugs started to move. I grabbed at them before they slid past us... ...and stared in mute horror down at the tiny chimney sweep responsible.
Two blackened hands grasped the talbecloth, smearing its crisp blues and whites with inky smudges.

The next few minutes is a blur (for which I am grateful), but it seems that somehow Topsy had gotten into the mosaic glue (!!!!!) and then proceded to discover the left over soot and ash from the outdoor fireplace (!!!!!!!!).
His hands had a thick covering of dried sooty glue that would not budge. Though he had tried. Little hands had smeared smutty trails around the pale brick of the patio.
Now this is only a brief summary of the 2 half hours we were at our friend's place. It felt like a day, I tell you.
I could not have ben more relieved to say goodby to a place.
Topsy had cheered up considerably by the time we readied him to go.
Our clever boy must have known it was 'bye bye' time, cause he cheerfully waved a freshly plucked basil plant at our hosts, scattering soil from its roots all over the white tiles of the patio.
:{ (Yes I can laugh about it now, but yesterday I was pulling my hair out!)
The reason for his earlier grumps was revealed last night.
A half gallon of drool and four nappies full of runny poop later, we discovered his sore gums. It appears that his one year molars are on their way!

Posted by michelle :: 11:58 am :: 9 comments links to this post

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Monday, May 29, 2006

A not-so-brief weekend report!

Where did that weekend go?

I so enjoy reading about all of your weekends so I'll tell you about mine.
Very unexciting actually, so make sure your drinking a coffee to stay awake!

It was a quiet house this weekend with Roly gone for his two night sleepover at his best friend's house.
He called on the first night to say goodnight and also to thank us profusely for the spending money I snuck into his bag.
The second night he called from the family's toilet at about 9:00 in a bit of a state. Feeling anxious and very headachey.
Then at 10:45 he called again, still headahcy and it seemed like everyone else in the house had gone to bed. (as you do!!)
I got him to hang up and then go see if the Mum was still awake so he could get some Panadol, and then call me back.
At 11:00 he called back to say he had been medicated and was feeling very sleepy by now. So he said goodnight rather more cheerfully.

I picked him up at about 4:oo yesterday afternoon and he'd had a great weekend. Phew!!

What did the rest of us do while he was away?

Well, Hubby went to a town two hours away as part of his Army Reserve Chaplaincy job. There are so many hurting people in the Reserves, he could almost work there full time. He took the only car (mine blew up) so the rest of us stayed put.

Spindles and B during a rumble

Spindle's friend B came over for the day. Sadly neither of Diva's friends were able to come for a playday, but Spindles went out of his way to include her.
They played with their army men, with their transformers, a bit of playstation, and then in beteen all that, they basically rumbled. (what is it with boys and rumbling?)

Because Roly was on a sleepover, of course Diva and Spindles had to have a sleepover too, with each other.
The first night we told weird stories and I gave them makeovers (by putting my arms through their armholes and applying the makeup without seeing what I was doing.

Then they both got me back. For some reason Spindles lipsticked my teeth an awful lot!
Then they watched a movie with chocolate and buttered popcorn.

They created a bucking bronco of sorts....

...which very soon after this shot, defeated them!

On Saturday night they had a sleepover as well, but it was very basic.

On Sunday the kids and I didn't go to church till the evening, due to us having only one car. (the daytime service is in the next town. And the option of driving to church with the minister {hubby} half an hour early and then going home an hour and a half after the two hour service somehow didn't appeal, with a one year old in the equation!)

On the inside looking out!

I cooked the church dinner last night, and came up with my own variation of chicken and bacon carbonara, by adding a packet of frozen veggies and then serving it over rice instead of pasta. About 25 came for the dinner before the service and no one complained. :)
It was only small group for Sunday School, and with the kids that come, I have come to the conclusion that we'll need to veer towards a craft after the story and application, rather than the worksheets that work so well with the morning Sunday school.

I show this pic because generally Topsy never lies down unless he is in bed. Diva got him to do this.

It so happens that we have dinner with our Bible study tonight as well. And it also so happens that I am rostered on dinner.
So I chopped up a couple kilos of cheap steak (stewing meat only) and plonked it into the crockpot with two whole onions and some cloves of garlic. Added several potatoes and carrots and set it on high. It has been simmering all day and smells so fragrant!
My friend funny farm who I link too, comes to our study as well with her family and you should see what she brings when she is rostered on.
Let me see if I can remember last week. Oh yes. Read it and weep.
A pasta bake
Butter chicken
great big homemade potato wedges with the following toppings:
a mild chili con carne (sorry if I massacred the word all you Americans!)
a spicier chili con carne
sour cream

How does one follow an act like that?

Oh and my 'bung eye' turned out to be pink eye! Currently medicating. The drops are so cool and refreshing! (I think I am easy pleased!)

As I drove Spindle's friend B home, I rather vaguely eavesdropped on his conversation with Spindles about cars. B was telling Spindles how none of their three cars actually work.

I smiled, shrugging this off as an exaggeration and prompted gently. "Then how did your Dad get you here? (B lives a 20 minute drive away."

B replied nonchalently, "Oh he drove the car with no brakes." !!!!!

(And when we got to his house, we discovered that it is true. All three cars are not working and their Dad did coast all the way to our house going the backroads.)
I have added them to my prayer list!!!!!

Posted by michelle :: 11:26 am :: 5 comments links to this post

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Friday, May 26, 2006

A brief 'brief'

This is my brief 'brief' on our upcoming weekend, before I farewell you until Monday. By the way to all the Americans, have a great long weekend!

Roly is going away for a two night sleepover at his best friend's house. It will be just the two of them, celebrating the boy's birthday. We will miss him sorely but he is so excited. BTW Roly seems to be going quite well anxiety wise, for which we are very thankful.

Spindles is having his best friend over tomorrow for a transformer fest! He has had a hard week doing his homework, getting very teary about it etc, but he finally did it. Growing up is hard sometimes.

Diva is home today with cracked hands (excema, I can't remember how to spell the doggone word!) Went to the doctor to get some cream for her so she is considerably more comfortable now. This is why I am going to try to make some chemical and nasty- free soaps and lotions. Mama Mentor's next door neighbour inspired me! Diva is hopefully having a really good friend over as well tomorrow!

Hubby is busy as ever. Busy is good, though we a both a little stressed as Big Mama's car was towed away with engine trouble. It could be very bad!!

Topsy is enjoying his daily walk to the park. where he used to go straight towards the road, now he seems to know where the safe path leads to (play things) so he makes happy little sounds as he toddles along. Everytime I take him out of the swings so he can play on something else, he goes back and stands hopefully by the swings till I take pity on him and push him again.

Couple of pics of Topsy's dessert last night. He had had a bad day with teething, so I decided "well he hasn't had a bath yet, so he can feed himself his yoghurt".

Topsy smiles and makes satisfied lip-smacking sounds whenever I give him a bowl of something and hand him a spoon.

So he did that and proceeded to enjoy himself immensly.

Word of caution. Do not look at the pics below if you are eating!

"This little stick that Mommy gave me to eat my sweet sticky stuff with doesn't seem to be workin' so good. Maybe I can lick it up."

OK that'll work! Oh boy...*glug, glug, glug*

*choke, splutter, cough*

I SHALL vanquish you, slippery sweet stuff!

"Oh, uh, hi Mommy. Yeah, I'm just fine and dandy, thankyou. Sticky? Me? No, I'm not feeling cold and sticky at all. *nervous laugh*

"Now I'll just clean so. Then I can call my Mommy and say...."

"Mommy, I'll take that bath now !

Posted by michelle :: 1:26 pm :: 11 comments links to this post

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Kenya safari no 8:
Memories of the train to Mombasa!
Every year in the summer vacation, we would go to the coast for three weeks.
Travelling from Nairobi to Mombasa on the overnight train was an adventure in itself.
Dad liked to book us on the 5pm train so we could spot wildlife for an hour or so while we ate our packed dinner before the sun disappeared.
As night fell, our compartment's bedding would be arranged and then we went to the toilet (or choo, pronounced 'cho') one last time.
In the morning, we breakfasted in the dining carriage..
and then looked excitedly out out window for the first glimpse of coconut palms that heralded the imminent coast.

Such fantastic memories!
I would love to take MY family on the Mombasa train experience but I hear that the 5:00pm train no longer exists, *sadness*, so they wouldn't see the wildlife.
Here are some snapshots of some of my favorite Mombasa memories.

Millipedes: These were everywhere!

Mamba Village, the crocodile farm!

Travelling to Mombasa mainland on the ferry to go shopping.

You could buy lots of fantastic stuff in Mombasa. My favorite things to seek out were fancy flip flops and tiny bottles of French perfume oil. Sublime. Made me feel like a princess.

The coconut vendors...

...and the mangos!

Posted by michelle :: 12:39 pm :: 10 comments links to this post

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

(I don't even know if the title is a saying or if it even applies to this post.)

Today for kid's club I decided to do up a huge pasta bake so the kids could warm up their hands and tummies at afternoon tea. Two huge 9x13 pans I filled with cheesy chicken and veggie pasta bake. Yummy. (this is just about what it looked like)

The first disappointment was that we only got 8 kids (even ours besides Topsy were too tired to come!) so we had mountains of the pasta bake left.

I wasn't all that fazed, thinking "Phew, leftovers for dinner!"

So after kid's club I gave half of the leftovers to one of the helpers for her family's dinner. And then one of our kids (not saying who) took our pan of pasta bake to put in the house.

And this is where the second disappointment comes in.

Below is all that is left of our pasta bake.

The lesson learned is: One should never try to open a door when both one's hands are full of a pan of pasta bake.
I needed that like a hole in the head!
In the end the rest of the family had scrambled eggs.
I'm popping peanut M&Ms!!

Posted by michelle :: 7:40 pm :: 9 comments links to this post

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In the game of 'The Baby likes to Feed Himself", Big Mama is: The Ultimate Survivor.

'It was no easy feat!' the approachable brunette admitted in our candid, behind the scenes interview with her. "He threw every trick in the book at me. We were evenly matched and in the end it simply came down to the fact that I outwitted him."

In other "Survivor" news, we can today exclusively reveal that Big Mama's contender in the final two, Topsy the Independant, is as yet unaware of his defeat. He is, in fact, under the impression that the game is still being played. More on that as the story unfolds."

Ok, here's what really went down. I found out a way for Topsy to think he is feeding himself, when I really am. I will only do it for messy foods, but honestly it is so much easier to clean him up this way! I ended up giving up on a bib, because he got so much food all over himself.
I am extremely proud of Topsy for wanting to be independant, and he can eat quite well with a spoon most of the time..... it just that it is MESSY!

So Big Mama came up with a plan and put it into action!

I got a bowl of yogurt and placed it close enough for me to feed him, but out of his line of vision. Then I placed a plain bowl of spagetti and a spoon on his tray. I
f he has a bowl of food and a spoon he is happy.
If I have a bowl and a spoon, and he only has toast slices, he is not happy.
So today Topsy was happy.

He began to attempt to capture some spagetti onto his spoon, while I surrepticiously got a spoonful of yogurt ready. As he put his empty spoon into his mouth, strands of spagetti falling sadly back onto the tray, I put my full spoon near his mouth and he automatically ate it.
And in this way we got through his entire bowl of yogurt.

I do not think I have laughed so hard in a very long time. He was trying to spoon that spagetti in so earnestly and carefully, and all he was getting was yogurt from an unseen source. Every once in a while he would give up and pop a strand of spagetti into the yogurty cavern of his mouth with his clenched fist, but I think he was a little baffled.
I, of course, got the giggles, so he smiled brightly back at me throughout the whole thing.

And the outcome was that instead of looking like this at the end of his meal:

.....he looked like this!

Much cleaner!

In other cute news: Today Topsy walked around in his shoes.

And he went for his very first walk without me carrying him. He went for a walk with me to see our next door neighbours. It was very exciting!!!

I carried the great big doona that I had washed in our super-sized washing machine for them. Lucy our dog was with us, as was the stray pup, who ran around all of us in excited circles. After plenty of detours and explorations, we finally got to the neighbour's gate behind which our neighbour's boy dog was excitedly anticipating female company.

Hence it was a real struggle to get in and only bring in my dog (who their dog knows).

Of course Topsy decided that this was the perfect moment for him to show me that he could run...


towards the road!!!

So I dropped the doona in the dirt. Argggh!

The boy dog got out and all three dogs proceeded to meet and greet (ie, smell and lick each other's bottoms) all over the freshly laundered doona! EEEks!

I meantime hightailed it towards Topsy, dressed in my pants whose zipper slides down if there is the slightest exertion. Well I was exerting!! So I grabbed a giggling Topsy up, in the nick of time, then grabbed my pants up (also in the nick of time, NO JOKE!).

I ripped the doona out from under the slobbering dogs with an evil glint in my eye, and shook off what dog hairs and wormy skid marks (OK I am exaggerating now!) I could, before presenting it to my poor neighbour who is still none the wiser. And no, she does not read this blog, so don't tell her.!! Think of it as an immunization for them. I am. A sort of flu shot for germy things! Oh dear!

Posted by michelle :: 9:25 pm :: 14 comments links to this post

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Spot On

That is what I thought of the doctor this afternoon.
I think I probably mentioned a couple blogs back that Roly has been experiencing bouts of anxiety.
Roly is a larger than life character, as well as being a bit of a hypochondriac. So I find it difficult at times to walk that fine line between skepticism and compassion.
But in this case there were 3 things that made me feel like this was not just acting or an exaggeration. No, 4 things.
1) He never used the 'feeling' (which is tightness in the chest and just a real sense of things not being right) to try to get out of going to school.
2) It would occur during fun activities that usaully rivet him, and he would have to go lie down or have a bath in the middle of the fun.
3) He has never heard of anyone having symptoms like these
4) He began hyperventilating last week. Never happened before.

Nothing seemed to help it for good. A couple of stressful situations were resolved but it still crept back (the feeling, that is) Any negative influences (like scary books) have been eliminated from the equation, we've been going for walks, etc. Nothing has worked.

Hubby and I decided that it may be best to try out the local GP to rule out any physical problems, and that visit occured today.

The doctor was great. He mainly talked to Roly, and drew out quite a lot from him. Also, without meaning to, Roly ended up having him in stiches of laughter, so it was a relaxed visit, and the doc got to see the real Roly.
And his take was spot on, as far as I am concerned. I think he read the situation and Roly well.

He does not believe that Roly has anything wrong physically, after giving him an examination. The ECG and chest Xray will rule that out hopefully.
But he did say that Roly is hyper sensitive and takes things far too much to heart. And that this is normal for him.
We as parents need to give him every reassurance and encouragement. If how he is feeling gets in the way of his quality of life, some kind of professional may be able to show him how to better control his irrational anxiety.
I was really impressed. I had actually though the doc would 'poo poo' Roly's concerns but he was so understanding and respectful.

I won't ramble on any further. I am so tired. Bible Study was tonight and the leader just would not end on time. Most of the rest of us were droopy eyed, so I gave off 'Cut! Wrap it up!' signals that were totally ignored. But finally Hubby got the message and brought it all to a prayerful close. :)
It wasn't the study at all that was putting me to sleep. It was just the day in general. Complete exhaustion. Topsy teething again, so no day sleep.
There are just some times when things need to end punctually and tonight was one of those times.
Next week will be better. I will drink a coffee first.

Posted by michelle :: 8:52 pm :: 11 comments links to this post

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mama Chameleon: Kitchen Pest Detective

I love a mystery! I generally have about three whodunnits going at the same time: one in the bedroom, one in the bathroom (to read in the bath) and one in the loo *blushes*.
I love to know the WHY of the whodunnit most of all.

Well we have had our own personal mystery going on in our kitchen for a while now, and this weekend I decided that enough was enough and it was time to solve it.
We have had little black weevily things (I am about as technical as you AZ Daisy!) appearing on our microwave and near our electric jug for ages now, and have not been able to find out where they have come from.
I was actually starting to wonder if they were a wood burrowing insect, but could find no holes in any cupboards or any tell-tale saw dust.
Well, I pulled every food item from the pantry as well as every other food cupboard and started to go through it all methodically.
Some interesting finds.
A tupperware container of oatmeal that was green and full of little moths was the 'piece de resistance'. It was a sealed container too, so I was not all that impressed with Tupperware!
But no little black weevily things!
I admitted defeat and started the headache of cleaning and re-storing our food. I wiped the top of our microwave clean. I
t was then I noticed some little black weevily things climbing towards me from the back of the microwave.
I shoved my hand down there and this is what I pulled up.

What is it? Well till I cut it open and emptied it, it was a homemade heat pack.
Roly had a tummy ache months ago, and I couldn't find any heat packs so I made one with one using one of Hubby's socks and some rice. And here it was.
It smelt off and had weevil webs all over the outside.
Just about gagging, I got a pair of scissors and cut it open emptying out the rice.

This is what it looked like. Double click on the image so you can really see.
Every piece of rice was hollowed out and the whole thing was crawling with weevils. Ugh.

But in a way it was so satisfying. I love a good mystery!

In other news, Topsy got his first pair of shoes. So many people have given us hand me down shoes, (the like of which I would not be able to afford), but none of them fit him yet. So I bought him an 'el cheapo' pair till his feet get bigger.
I captured these shots shortly before he sat on the floor and grizzled while trying to pull of his shoes and socks.
He actually refuses to walk when they are on. I must be raising another little African.

Actually on that subject, I realized as we got out of the car at church this morning (a frosty spring morning) that Diva was all dressed up, but shoeless. And totally clueless, as to why I lay face down on the ground and pounded my fists into the frosty soil. (OK, well inwardly I did.)

I had a great quote from Diva in Sunday School today, but I didn't write it down so it is forgotten for now!

Posted by michelle :: 9:54 pm :: 11 comments links to this post

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