Thursday, August 27, 2009

A minute to stop and think...

Dad has recently taken up a new position in Angola. As a family, we've been very lucky with Dad's job. Being in the oil industry has given Dad (and as a extension us) the opportunity to see some absolutely fascinating parts of the world.

Dad's new job is in Angola. He's just arrived home today after being there for his first 6 week stint (which will become 4 weeks from now on). The very first thing he said to me was "life is cheap over there". He didn't mean the cost of living but quite literally life, human life is regarded with very little value. The cost of living is in fact particularly expensive according to him which would explain the sea of slums that exist there.

Now I'm no stranger to what slums are like. Living in Sarawak we saw them on a daily basis. In fact a large open expanse (which was to become a new housing estate) was all that separated our house from a near by slum area. I woke up each morning and could see it from my bedroom window. I've walked through slums, I've played along side the children who live there, I've even preached in slums. But to imagine 1 million people living in such a situation escapes even me. 1 million people??? Its incomprehensible. But that is the sort of situation that exists in Angola (and in so very many other parts of the world unfortunately). Dad has to go out with a guard and a driver for safety. Occasionally he has to drive through a "No Go Zone". Its a slum with over a million people which is avoided by westerners because of the threat of violence. As Dad said, "these people see westerners as rich and they are right, after all we have clothes, most of them dont. Young children, even young women have nothing to wear. The older women dont have anywhere to wash their things other than a dirty river and as you drive past you see hundreds of women on the bank washing the clothes. You wonder how they manage to get things clean, but they do".

Dad has three students who share his religion and Dad is going to be taking back literature for them. As we've just booked flights to Darwin, I've decided I'm going to be taking up lots of clothes that the kids no longer wear, so that Dad can take them to Angola and distribute them (with the help of his three students) to the families in the congregation there that need them. I'd also like to try and make up a few little bits and pieces, maybe some pencil or crayon rolls, maybe one a month or so for him to take over there as well.

Dad's seen a lot in his travels but his voice today more than anything conveyed just how appalled he is that our fellow human beings have to live in such poverty.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A day without coffee...

is still probably livable but I'm not going to take any chances.

In all the excitement, stress, angst etc of this morning (including but no limited to fabric glue not sticking feet on costume properly, not being able to find the face paint when it was specifically left on the bench last night (thanks darling - NOT!!!!) and little Miss being a right little so-and-so), I forgot to have my morning coffee. After the assembly this morning, it was a quick dash over to kindy to drop off Alex and then home. I was going to make a coffee then but got side tracked and now here we are at noon and still no coffee.

So I'm now going to go and change the situation. Afterall, it probably wouldnt be a good idea to take chances today after the way my day has been going.

Making his Fabric Addict debut, I give you....

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Hang on, not that one, this one...

(He's been on his tummy crawling around all morning LOL).

He thinks its wonderful!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Preview 1

Just for the added suspense, I'm saving the full dress rehearsal for tomorrow, but here's a sneak peak at what I've got so far.

(if you look at the cover of the book, the VHC (thanks K!!!) has blue and red spikes so I've used some wool to give my caterpillar a fuzzy look.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Two words...

which appear to be rather innocent on their own, but put together they strike fear into the hearts of many a mum, me being one of them - BOOK WEEK!!!

Now there are probably thousands of mums out there that think, no probs we'll just go to the dress up closest and pull out something appropriate but for some reason dress ups arent a big thing around here. Samuel and Alex arent fussed and heaven forbid I put some sort of fairy costume on madam, it would end up black in 5 minutes flat I swear.

Last year wasnt a problem. Good old Aunty Helen gave Samuel a Harry Potter costume and after a quick lightning blot addition with a makeup pencil we had a pretty good Harry Potter. However according to the rule (which were made up on the spot by a certain 6 year old), you cant go as the same thing twice *sigh*

OK so this has been at the back of my mind for about 3 weeks now and it would seem that just like back in my days of English Lit essays, procrastination is my friend. For some unknown reason it hit my last night - The Very Hungry Caterpillar!!! Its a classic tale and a green tracksuit with a red hood should fit the bill, no problems.

If is a very sad fact of life that green tracksuits dont come with red hoods. Its also a sad fact of life that behaviour of two children will decrease in direct proportion to the increased urgency of the errand you are undertaking. Such is life. Fortunately the green tracksuit situation was easily fixed, although tracking one down proved a little harder.

I managed to find a tracksuit top at Big W. Given that its the tale end of winter, it was being thrown out for $5. So as you can imagine I wasnt going to argue when it rang up at the cash register for $3 BONUS!!!

Kmart yielded nothing in the bottoms department but Target had some albeit in sizes 14 and 16. Still that was all we had to work with and at another bargain price (this time $6.88 down from $15.99) I figured we'd just chop them up.

So green tracksuit safely bought (plus 2 pairs of shoes and a bonus free handbag - yes it was my lucky day, then again something had to make up for the two little devils I had with me), a trip to Spotlight got me some cheap red fleece for the hood, blue and black felt for the antennae and feet and some milliners elastic to create that chubby caterpillar look.

Ottobre 1/2004 pattern 14 had the perfect hood pattern which was quickly traced off, cut out and attached. The antennae have been cut out, stuffed and are waiting to be attached and I'm currently running the elastic through at intervals in order to create the caterpillar bands. Then its onto the feet and then the pants. Slap on a bit of red face paint Wednesday morning and I reckon we'll have a fairly passable Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Its coming together so quickly and easily that I'm very much afraid something is going to go wrong, probably something along the lines of "I dont want to be a caterpillar" on Wednesday morning (I did make sure he was ok with the caterpillar idea but 6 year old minds are subject to change without warning).

Look forward to providing the first dress rehearsal once Mr 6 is home from school.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

S.A.D. makes me sad

I know, I know, SAD is something that you would normally associate with a country shrouded in darkness for half the year, not a country like Australia. Although its not prevalent here, its still estimated that 1 in 300 Australians experience "winter blues" to some extent.

Beyond Blue has this to say about Seasonal Affective Disorder:

Seasonal Affective Disorder - More than the Winter Blues

It's not unusual for people to dread the passing of summer and the onset of winter. Balmy nights spent outdoors are replaced by colder, darker evenings which force people to spend more time indoors.

For some people however, disliking winter can be much more than simply missing warm weather and summer activities. Winter can become a severely debilitating and isolating time as they try to manage symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - but is it depression?

Associate Professor Michael Baigent, Clinical Advisor to beyondblue says SAD is a depressive illness that has a seasonal pattern. It's characterised by mood disturbances that begin in winter and subside when the season ends. It's usually diagnosed after the person has had the same symptoms during winter for a couple of years.

"The behaviour associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder is quite different from the mood changes a lot of people feel because of the change of season and the disruptions to their summer lifestyle. With SAD, the depression symptoms are more about 'slowing down'. People sleep more, eat more and usually crave carbohydrates which leads to weight gain. They'll have a lot less energy and won't want to spend time with others. SAD has a cluster of symptoms that makes the person look like they are going into 'hibernation'," Dr Baigent said.

The cause of the disorder is believed to be a lack of exposure to light. There is a much higher prevalence of SAD in countries with shorter days and longer periods of darkness such as Finland, Alaska and northern parts of Russia.

The pineal gland, located in the middle of the brain responds to darkness by secreting melatonin which regulates daily biorhythms including the sleep/wake cycle. It's believed that when this is out of balance, SAD can occur.

"It's important for people to get up in the morning and get some exposure to sunlight, ideally before 8am. Dawn and morning light is believed to be integral in regulating our biorhythms. Combining this with exercise is really important. If people feel this is not helping they should go to their doctor for more advice," Dr Baigent said.

On the whole I dont have too much of a problem with SAD. I try to spend time outside everyday but when its cold and uncomfortable outside its not really something you want to do. I also find that by about July my body has simply had enough and hibernation mode really takes over. I find it incredibly difficult to do just about anything. I find that even after a good nights sleep I'm still tired. And lets not talk about weight gain shall we...

So this is why I've had a month off so to speak. As spring gradually starts to take over I'm finding that my enthusiasm is once again on the up, starting in the garden (how could it not with all the beautiful spring blossoms starting to come out) but now progressing to inside activities too. And nothing beats waking up to daylight, absolutely nothing!!!