Feb 29, 2008

Leg Pain

The Only Way My legs hurt today after yesterday's extensive cycling. Mostly in my hamstrings.

We took Eloise to her dancing class today, in her rainbow dress and ballet shoes. Next week I expect we'll have the cheesy purple leotard but it'll be a while before she can tie her hair in a bun and be a proper little stereotype clone.

Us parents were left sitting in a kind of atrium area on a big leather settee-cum-sofa-but-without-a-back affair and rather than be uncomfortable in there listening to the dull Mums trading stories about pregnancy I sat outside on a concrete step reading my freebie photography magazine from yesterday watching a toddler escape then get caught by its ever-so-polite Mother.

Nicole accused me of being stroppy. Doubtless she's right.

Feb 28, 2008

I'm Officially Orientated

Tree-Lined Avenue Oreintation Day for my Photography Course today.

Ten o'clock start, so at six o'clock in the morning I was awoken by Eloise waving a tangerine in my face with the query "Does Mummy want one?" to which I woozily replied "Probably not, she's asleep."

And after a little further fidgetting Eloise fell asleep again, and remained comatose while Nicole got up, showered, breakfasted, I got up, showered, breakfasted, fed the dogs, packed my bag, shaved, woke her up, made her toast, woke her up again, got her milk, then woke her up again.

At ten past nine we set off on the bike and were soon hurtling down the road to drop her off at nursery. The last hill to the nursery is damned steep, and was walked up. I expect to be able to manage it through pedal power alone before too long.

I arrived, hot and sweaty, after having cycled down hill and up (admittedly urbanised) dale and become only slightly lost on the way, ten minutes in advance. After writing a cheque for a horrendous but reasonable amount of money I sat down with the rest of the 24 students.

Who seem to be a quiet lot, some young, some older, many in the middle, predominantly female.

We were lectured for a couple of hours on where fire exits are, when we should turn up, and what footwear we're allowed. Thongs are out (Aussie thongs for the feet that is, obviously).

I need to get a calculator, but that's about it. On Monday I guess I'll be buying film and so on, when the lectures start for real.

I talked to a couple of people and they seem to be well-adjusted if slightly nervous.

About midday it was all over. I planned to toddle around the city for a few hours then meet Nicole at the nursery around four o'clock and pick Eloise up, but after touring the city, the Botanical Gardens and South Bank my legs started to hurt and I got hungry and I decided that grocery shopping needed to be done - so I biked home about three to collapse , sweaty and sore-legged, on the sofa in front of ABC Kids to remind me of what I have now come to regard as the "Old Times."

Feb 24, 2008

The Wind Changes

Sunset Over the City Yesterday the wind swung around to the south west and with it came warm air and soaring temperatures. A thermometer we had a look at was registering 38 degrees in the shade, but that was indoors... still it was a bit of a scorcher, I'd even go so far as to say it was quite hot, though the Queenslanders of course were moaning about it being stinking hot...

Still on balance I thought it best to get to the beach early, which was a mistake because the tide was in, so as we sat down for our coffees at half nine or so the dogs were struggling to get in the shade at the cafe.

A lot of apple and strawberry juice got eaten. A bit of sweating got done. And some gardening. We have passion fruit!

Around dusk we went down to the brook to feed the ducks, with Eloise on her bike. By the time we got there the ducks were asleep. So we woke them up by throwing bread at them. You'd think that of all the creatures on Gawd's Good Earth, a duck would be the best at ducking, wouldn't you.

Today wasn't as hot, it was quite pleasant really. We attempted the duck thing again and Eloise rode all the way down there. After assaulting the ducks with Baker's Delight heels we paddled under the bridge looking at the tadpoles and fishies, then she cycled all the way up the path to Lanham Park as far as the bridge next to the soccer field. She then declared she'd had enough and I pushed the bike back the rest of the way. Still I reckon she covered 2km which I think is pretty good.

In the evening we watched the sun set over the Story Bridge and the city and Eloise got lots of twirling, which she loved.

Feb 22, 2008

Bzzzzt Bzzzzt Phhhhhttt

Light Falls Into a Forest Glade Thursday morning we awoke at six thirty or so, or at least the ladies did, from what I remember, but I was soon up to as the electrics had tripped and the Frankenswitch needed to be flicked.

Flicking the Frankenswitch was a futile exercise however as the safety continued to cut in.

And continued to do so if the fridge, microwave, kettle, computer or hoover were switched on.

And with yesterday's sun continuing to shine and a warm day in prospect, refrigeration seemed to me to be an Important Thing.

So an email to Ric and a phone call to Mick set the ball rolling and Mick came round this morning strongly advocating the theory that it was all down to the fridge.

Of course, with a sparky coming round, when I tried out the fridge this morning, it worked, as Nicole has pointed out.

The theory turned out in the end not to be the case, and after much ferreting around it seems that there's a fault in the wiring which has been introduced by the teeth of a rodent.

So while we have some grace in that the electrics are working it's probably only a matter of time before we hit the problem again, and remedial action will be needed.

The dancing queen ballerina shop in which Eloise decided to follow the crowd and wear the uniform and generally conform was quite near my new favourite creek so we went up there the three of us and paddled around in it.

Some brave Aussies took Eloise for a little swim in the deep part too. But then we had to go.

Cedar Creek

The Edge of the Pool With Eloise at nursery and the dogs walked, and Nicole at work, I decided to go on a little explore on one of my last days off, sob sob.

I saw some nice photos on flickr of a place called Cedar Creek so I tracked down where it probably was, not too far from here in the Samford Valley, and toddled off up there.

Cedar Creek Road is off the road to Dayboro which we follow when we go to Mount Mee, and as you drive down it, it meanders around dancing a little dance with the creek as it in turn meanders down the valley, crossing over on little bridges with little dirt laybys and parks along the way.

I drove down to the end of the road to find a waterhole there that looked eminently swimmable, judging by the fact that there were people swimming in it, and a beautiful stream there flowing freely and gurgingly after the recent rain.

As I was there the sun came out and all in all I spent a nice couple of hours there exploring the rocky stream and seeing what there was to be seen. No leeches either, which was a bonus.

Unfortunately I left my tripod bag there so after picking up Eloise we had to go back and fetch it, which made me very unpopular.

Dancing queen

Now as many of you might know I have been desperate to send Eloise to ballet lessons. I have waited patiently for her to turn three. Whilst she was having her nap on her birthday I called a dance school and booked her in for a trial lesson. Neil couldn't come today as Mick, the handyman, was here taking a look at the electrics as we had been without a supply of electricity to the fridge, microwave, radio or anything we wished to plug into the wall on a circuit for 36 hours which then mysteriously started working an hour before Mick turned up. Anyway I digress. I got the impression from Neil that dance lessons are to be my domain so imagine my suspicion when he said he was sorry he could't come along. Anyway Eloise and I went alone. On the way in the car I explained that the lesson was only a trial and that it wouldn't be a problem if Eloise didn't like the lesson. Lucky she couldn't see my face.

The lesson is called Creative Movement, as ballet starts when they go to primary school. There were five other girls in the class all in matching leotards with an integral skirt. The dance room has a floor to ceiling mirror at one end, which of course all the little girls love. There is a bar on one side of the room which Eloise thought was for swinging on. The lesson was based on teddy bears this week. Halfway through the lesson Eloise realised she was dressed differently to all the other girls and asked for a purple dress. She loved the lesson to my delight. I would have been devastated if she hadn't. This afternoon we went to a dance shop and Eloise tried on a leotard and we were told was far too big for her so they are ordering the next size down. I thought Eloise was going to have a very public temper tantrum when we asked her to take it off but luckily the lady in the shop explained she needed to change in order to try on the ballet shoes. It was an effort getting the leotard off her but there was only low grade whinging. The ballet shoes are the smallest they stock and should last her for quite some time.

The other exciting theng that happened today was Eloise took herself off to the toilet for a wee and a poo before her bath. Also she is sleeping nappy free for her lunchtime naps.

Things seem to be getting to a head on the permanent residency front. We have had an email from Immigration telling us to organise to be out of Australia. We have booked flights to Auckland and are trying to find some accommodation that will suit our needs.

Feb 19, 2008

Birthday Number Three

First Bike After delirious present opening - Eloise says thanks - and a chat with Matt, we went to music where we did the usual silly things to the usual songs.

Eloise was quite tired so we went for an early lunch and bed and I walked the dogs.

Eloise ended up sleeping til four o'clock, and we hadn't really planned out activities for the day but when Nicole suggested taking Eloise's new bike out to feed the ducks this was met by whoops of enthusiasm and soon we were on the road and heading for the brook.

Soon it started raining though and after sheltering for a while underneath the entrance to Crusher's we headed home with our metaphorical tails between our metaphorical legs.

In the evening we went out for a pizza and threw paper planes around the restaurant and generally had a nice time, then a chat with Brendan and Shirley rounded off the day.

It's been a nice day all in all, and Eloise enjoyed it. Particularly chuffed that she likes her bike so much; after only a few hours she's pedalling around and steering around corners. "This is very excellent!" she said, just before it started raining. "I'm wet," she said then, followed by "I want to go home now, thank you. Home. Yes."

Feb 18, 2008

Rainy Day at Lake Manchester

Rainy Day at Lake Manchester On another ill-considered whim we decided to walk the dogs at Lake Manchester today while Eloise was in Nursery enjoying another birthday cake.

Not ill-considered just because the weather was looming and rainy but also because the dam was closed for upgrade work as we found half way up the miles of gravel roads you need to negotiate to get there.

So we were redirected along a path which ran by a creek which practically overflowed with the foamy scum (developing a theme over the last couple of days) and red diggings of the major construction project which hammered away on the other side of the hill.

The path then ascended said hill, and is the rain floated gently and intermittenty down we laboured to stomp up the very steep climb.

It was actually quite nice, there were some very unusual cactus trees up there and some colourful flowers. And when we reached the top of the hill the view was quite something. The lake was certainly fuller than the last time we were there.

But all things being equal we decided that we didn't fancy another climb like that so when the path began to descend again we turned around and climbed gingerly down the hill again.

In the afternoon Nicole made me go shopping for new clothes, so we went to a Factory Outlet shopping centre near the airport. Two pairs of "Walkshorts" and two "Tees" for $65. Bargain. And to our credit we resisted the urge to spend our notional savings on coffee.

Beach Non-Fun

Smeggy Beach at Point Cartwright The next day we thought it would be a great idea to go up to the beach at Mooloolaba, as we hadn't been there for ages.

The lesson to take from our exploits that day (Sunday if you're interested) was to check the weather forecast before you go.

For although the weather was bright and warm in an admittedly fragile way in Brisbane, as we progressed further North, it became increasingly gloomy and began to rain as we got onto the Sunshine Coast.

At the beach it was windy and cold. We retired to the picnic area on the other side of Point Cartwright and tucked into our leftover party food whereupon it began to rain.

After gorging ourselves we went over to the beach to find it encrusted in a layer of what can only be described as smeg, which wobbled vaguely in the wind due to it sitting on another layer of -this time foamy- smeg.

The entertaining rocks we far from entertaining for us at least as they were, well, covered in smeg.

For Matilda there was a token of enjoyment to be had as she found a steaming great turd of questionable origin and proceeded to roll in it, earning her a cold and unproductive shower on the way back.

The way back came very soon in fact as Eloise stubbed her toe and knocked off the blackened toe nail from a previous toe-stubbing and began to shriek in agony and disdain.

And who could blame her.

Pre-Birthday Party

3 Nicole, the hostess with the mostest, thought it would be a nice idea to have a party for Eloise's 3rd birthday to which we might actually invite people, including - shock horror - other children.

In order not to have to do excessive amounts of housework and render our dear abode pristine in every single way we opted to host the party at the local park.

Shelter there is there, which is a good thing because Queensland is being drenched at the moment, and to be honest the whole outside party thing was looking like a bit of a gambit, but ahead we pressed.

She and I invited the neighbours and some kiddies from Nursery and the street, and most of them to our surprise actually said they would come.

So Nicole baked and baked and cooked and mixed and produced a feast of healthy vegetarian goodies for all these people.

Nicky (Chris' girl, in the Michael Jackson sense of the word) came around on the day while I was walking the dogs and foisted gifts upon Eloise the likes of which she has rarely seen, they being Play Doh (cue Homer) and a book.

Eloise slept well that day and Nicole and Nicky departed to prepare the ground leaving me to wake up the scamp.

Which I duly did, and surprise surprise Eloise didn't want to go on the bike. But there was no choice! Then she decided she needed her name, whatever that was, and proceeded to begin the crescendo to a cadenza.

Sensing the signs, I let us back into the house so we could search for the mythical name, and soon we established that the item to which she had been referring was actually an "I am 3" badge.

Crisis over, sleepy Eloise was loaded onto the Bike of Doom and off we went, grousing all the way.

Her face lit up, I am told, two minutes later when her eyes alit upon the balloon-bedecked picnic area and playground.

And soon the guests began to arrive, and, to our surprise they all brought presents, and other consumables.

So Eloise had Valerie, Lewis and Lexie, Paul Carole and Jack, Sue David and Jade and Jackson, Peter and Alice, and Marianna (I meant Marion, Marion, sorry) and Hannah all flocking around with blowing of bubbles and opening of presents and dancing and playing and so on and so forth.

It all went really well in the end, with no mishaps, accidents or disagreements that I noticed. Well done to Nicole for organising it all. And to me for organising it all too. I did chop the vegetables after all.

The thing that Nicole was realy pleased about was the Karmic way in which Eloise snatched a present of Sue I think it was, having established that this was the order of things and giving in to the atavastic acquisitiveness of nascent greed, only later at the cutting of the cake to hand out slices to everyone ahead of herself in a very sweet and somewhat redemptive way.

Feb 14, 2008

What Goes Down Comes Back Up

To Sleep A sleepless night last night as the vomiting continued, a change in Eloise's bedsheets then later on in the early hours a change to ours, and a lot of wriggling and worried half-slumbering which left us pretty tired in the morning.

Nicole dragged herself into work and we had a quiet day in front of the TV, playing music, surfing youtube and tentatively trying sips of water and slices of toast. Booked a doctor's appointement at which point of course the recovery started.

And in truth, she didn't complain of feeling ill, even last night, against all the evidence. This was belied by a lot of lying around on beds, sofas and the floor.

The doctor gave her the all-clear and dispelled any concerns about the possibility of after-effects of head trauma which to be honest we didn't really think was the case.

Still she hasn't been sick since ten or so this morning so she seems to be on the mend. Just a 24 hour bug.

Feb 13, 2008

Historic Day

Woodland Glade We woke up this morning to find children's TV had been cancelled and instead we were treated to PM Kevin Rudd making an apology to the Aboriginal people of Australia who let's face it got the bum end of the colonial deal and the bum end of pretty much everything that happened since.

So I, with my pretentions to adult sensibilities, found the whole thing moving in a dignified kind of a way, and Eloise found that she wanted to switch off the telly and listen to her new CD from the music lesson people.

A historic day for my poor wide-angle lens which came with my camera which became terminally inoperable after I slipped on a wet rock at Mount Coot-tha whilst climbing adventurously around the remains of last week's (and last night's) rain. Oooops. Still, on the bright side, it was crap (it came with the camera after all) and I ordered a new one the other day anyway.

I went up to a rainforest in the afternoon and walked a few km to a nice lookout, from which I had a commanding view of a raincloud, whose load made my walk back a little difficult. On another bright side, I didn't get snagged by any spider webs on the way back. On the gloomy side, that's because I'd walked through them all on the way up. On another gloomy side, I found I had three leeches on my legs.

The strange thing about horror and the panic that goes along with it was that even as I was scrabbling away at these slippery little bastards that were apparently (but probably not really) burrowing into my leg-flesh, a voice in the back of my head was delivering very measured and sensible instructions like "if you use a sock you'll get better grip" and "a little blood goes a long way, doesn't it?"

I picked up Eloise from Nursery where she was complimented on her dextrous fine-motor skills and on being able to hold a pen correctly. We then picked Nicole up, and Eloise started to complain of a sore tum.

And it turned out not to be hypochondria as she vomited copiously after supper, and then again when she went to bed. This of course caused a short-lived period of consternation as vomiting is a bad sign after a head trauma, but we decided that nine days later would be a little long.

The other historical point of note is that we found out that Matthew and Sam, mainly Sam, have had a baby girl who they have called Violet. So congratulations to them.

Auntie Nicole # 2

I have been meaning to call my cousin, Josie, who has recently started a teaching post in Melbourne to see how she is settling in for a few days. Eloise had a big vomit this evening so was in bed before 8pm so I thought I would grab the chance and call Josie before it got too late. Adam handed the phone to Josie and she announced a big "Congratualtions!". A little bemused I asked "What for?" "Oh, don't you know... you're an auntie again."

I spoke to Matthew and he reckons he sent me a text. I have an elephant memory so will never be allowed to forget this. So, down to business... Sam and Matthew have a second daughter called Violet Isabelle born on Tuesday 13 Febuary. I hope to see some photos as we won't be meeting her until her first birthday. It sounds as if Maisie is disappointed she doesn't have a brother. When I see her next I can tell her a few tales about younger brothers to change her mind.

Feb 12, 2008

Well Healed

Eloise There's still a little pufiness but a week on it seems that Eloise's eye has healed up remarkably, given that last Tuesday it was pretty closed up with a pretty good lump on the eyebrow.

Feb 11, 2008

Coondibah Lagoon

A Big Wet Kiss Well the eye is looking much better after a week. The bruising has gone down and there's just a bit of colour around the eye socket now to betray any misdeeds at all.

And Eloise's spirit remains unbowed as she charms her way around.

For instance on Sunday we went "up the coast" to Dicky Beach at Caloundra where you'll recall there's a dog-friendly lagoon just back from the beach where little tots can swim with impunity (or is that impugnity).

And swim she did, for three hours or so, on and off her little boogie board, jumping around in the deep water and introducing - or is that imposing - herself on every swimmer and dog in the pool and surrounds.

Her general strategy is to wave, approach, then place herself in the way of her target, smiling at them until they relent and engage in primitive conversation, or else forego that and just play.

Usually Nicole and I will hang back and let her get on with this, so that she can figure out for herself how to go about this meeting people thing. We don't generally need to intercede.

Tiny loved the lagoon yesterday as well, lounging around by the side under the shade of a tree, and occasionally when she got too hot, trotting down to the water and going for a swim. Matilda didn't really fancy a swim and just rooted around in the shrubbery to see what she could find. Oh.... and stole a crisp from a little boy....

Feb 8, 2008

It Raineth, It Poureth

Stream at Mount Coot-tha Water flows at Mount Coot-tha, and on Wednesday with Eloise back at nursery and eye much improved, we went up there for a quick scout around.

Water was still flowing down paths, little rivulets running into gullies and channels across the steps. And Simpson's Falls, always or at least until last week a mere trickle, was still a massive cataract roaring down the rocky mountainside.

I thought I'd drive up to Bellthorpe State Forest later on to take a look at Stony Creek which looks quite nice, but the radio warned of incoming storms from the West and further thunder and rain coming down from the North so I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and came home with my exhaust pipe between my wheels.

And, as the radio told stories of 100mm of rain in half an hour in South Brisbane and threatening looking clouds on my right hand shoulder I picked Eloise up from Nursery, making it back into the car to weather the torrent in slow traffic as the roads filled with cars and water.

And the reports came in over the airwaves of kids with inflatable dinghies on Kedron Brook, cars floating down the streets at Capalaba (I think) and roads flooded to bonnet depth at Mt Gravatt.

Of course I didn't see any of this, and by the time I got home it had stopped raining.

Still they're saying that the drought is over, perhaps prematurely, though of course the water restrictions probably won't be lifted, there's a certain amount of fuss on the Gold Coast that the restrictions there aren't being lifted even though Hinze Dam, their reservoir, is 100% full and overflowing.

Yesterday and today the weather has been lovely.

Feb 5, 2008

Ouch Ouch and a Wiggly Ouch

Accidents Will Happen I dropped Nicole off at the pub for a leaving do which she was attending, after a day during the course of which Eloise had been at Nursery and we had waded around Mount Coot-tha which was absolutely inundated to the point where Simpson's Falls was actually a raging torrent and several of the paths were now creeks.

I picked Eloise up on the way back from dropping Nicole off and we were playing bubbles in the kitchen area (for the detail-hungry and unimaginitive amongst you this is a game involving me blowing bubbles, and she catching them) when to my horror - my sphincter is contracting at the thought of it - she tripped and hurtled headlong onto the coffee table, belting herself on the eyebrow.

I picked her up in a great hurry and was aghast to see a huge swelling there already although the skin hadn't split. She was screaming her head off, which I took to be a good sign.

I'll admit to a moment of panic. I didn't want to overreact though so I took her over to see Val to get a second opinion and as I slowly calmed down took her back to apply frozen peas, fish fingers, or anything cold. She wouldn't have frozen stuff so we settled on a teatowel with cold water and arnica.

Meanwhile, having been unable to contact Nicole to get a third opinion, I decided to drive down and present her with the patient as I thought that a trip to the hospital might well be in order. So, with Val riding shotgun, off we went. Eloise by this time had gotten over her shock and seemingly also her pain, and was actually quite jolly, which I was perversely a little concerned about. If there'd been a swelling that size on my bonce I'd have been pretty upset I think.

And what better triage committee than a bunch of cancer nurses in a pub, who seemed either to think that they had no relevant expertise or that it was certainly nasty looking but not life threatening.

We ended up in hospital anyway after Nicole got through to the equivalent of NHS Direct who sent us down there because the swelling was so near the eye.

So we were in the Childrens' Hospital for an hour and a half or so during which Eloise was triaged, assessed by a nurse and seen by a doctor who sent us home with instructions to wake Eloise every two hours to make sure she was still all together.

Keeping quiet today then, because we haven't had a good night's sleep and because I really don't want to jiggle her noddle around, we skip music and go to the beach where we flit in the bay on the board and look at seaweed.

And in the afternoon - she won't sleep at lunchtime - we play with Youtube and she surfs the Wiggles. And yes, she does know how to use a mouse.

And she hasn't complained about her eye once.

Feb 2, 2008

Ambling About In the Shallows

Swimming at Dusk Eloise is getting very confident in the water now. Especially since she has a new swim suit and it seems that for her equipment may be everything.

So at the beach now she likes to crawl around in the shallows kicking her little legs, maybe trying a bit of free floating action with her roly-poly arms and then sitting around in the water for a while before she gets cold and needs to get and get dried out.

Friday Family Fun

Discovered It was a bit strange to have Eloise around on a Friday.

In the morning we went to Bunyaville Forest to see if we could get around it without being rained on. We couldn't, and Eloise cut short the walk somewhat by announcing she needed a poo. So Nicole and she headed back to the car whilst I went on an exploratory circuit route march with the dogs. And made it back first.

Later we went to the beach and had quite a nice time just ambling around in the warm water.

To Sleep, Perchance to Drive

Clear Mountain Trees On Thursday, even though Eloise swam her little heart out at her class, she wouldn't go to sleep after lunch.

So I thought we'd go up to Mount Glorious for a walk around the rainforest for a laugh.

As we drove through The Gap of course the bambinette flaked out in the back, so rather than drive around in ever decreasing circles (a difficult feat on the Northbrook Parkway) or wake her up (with unpredictable and potentially catastrophic results) I drove on.

She awoke on the other side of the D'Aguilar Mountains and by the time we were done we'd driven up past Lake Somerset, through Kilcoy and back over Mount Mee, making quite a respectable contribution towards the 15k target for mileage for the year.

On Friday a similar circumstance occurred whereby she wouldn't sleep so I thought why not drive up to Clear Mountain which I'd been to a couple of days ago in miserable weather. The weather was much nicer today though so we drove up there and explored a bit. Or rather I did, because she was fast asleep in the bach again.