The Virus Diaries: Aftermath

April 2, 2020 at 12:35 pm (Fully Sick, general life, Love and CJ, Mental illness, Mum Stuff)

I’m going to keep talking about the rejected application for Disability Support today, because it’s a big deal.

The immediate issue is that we need to get new ducted reverse cycle air conditioning (the long-term issue is, “How do we pay our bills?” but you probably guessed that). In Australia, ducted AC is considered a luxury (we didn’t have it on our list of must-haves when we bought our house, but we were pleasantly surprised that it happened to be there). Unfortunately I’m extremely sensitive to heat due to a combination of auto-immune diseases and fibromyalgia, so it’s a medical necessity for us.

Do I sound defensive? I feel defensive. Our AC broke rather badly quite a while ago, and even with my health issues I feel like a spoiled brat insisting on a system that will cost around $8000 to replace. That’s more than I usually make in a year, and of course a lot of people around me are saying, “Are you SURE you NEED it?” (That Gaslighting entry just keeps popping up, doesn’t it?)

So I feel a little better now that winter is on the horizon and our entire heating system is a tiny fan heater the size of our cat—and three hot water bottles. I actually handle cold quite well (a major advantage of being overweight) so the focus has now shifted to what Chris and the children need, which I’m much more comfortable advocating for. Louisette in particular feels the cold.

We applied for one form of financing yesterday, and were rejected. Today we’ll apply for another, our best remaining option. If we’re rejected for that, we’ll be in trouble. Thanks again, Centrelink!

There are five bits of good news:

1. I did some mid-week fiction writing last night, so I’m feeling good about The Floating City. I MIGHT be able to finish it during the school holidays, maybe.

2. TJ has decided he no longer needs company when going to the toilet. Fantastic. He’s also stopped singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and… I’m not missing it.

3. I respond well to crisis situations so at the moment I’m mostly feeling okay. I went through about forty pages of Impairment Tables last night and my impairments add up to 35 points (excluding one condition that I’m getting new meds for today), so theoretically it should be simple to get proof for at least 20 points’ worth. I’ve made a phone appointment with my doctor for tomorrow.

4. We have almost completely recovered from the various expenses of last summer’s apocalyptic events (for us, the golfball-sized hail was the most expensive part). So… yay.

5. Staying in isolation means less fuel for the car, so that’s saving some cash. And of course there are no expensive social events, which is helpful too (financially speaking) even though our friends aren’t the type to do anything more expensive than a pot luck dinner (and about one movie a year).

There’s something about concrete that makes Zipper start going belly-up.

Resource of the day: If you get regular medication, you chemist will probably arrange delivery. Mine does.

Recommended donation of the day: Make your street brighter by displaying bears and/or rainbows. The bears are for kids to spot as they walk around their suburbs. The rainbows are to say that things will get better.

Recommended hoarding item of the day: Money? Money is super useful. This isn’t one of those ‘cash-free’ apocalypses you read about.

Tomorrow: My Apocalypse Garden

PS I’m still editing the videos I took of my kids while I read Farting My ABCs. There are some classic moments in there.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Virus Diaries: Men

March 30, 2020 at 7:54 pm (Fully Sick, general life, Love and CJ, Mum Stuff)

Today Louisette’s apocalypse wear is: sitting inside a tub that she has filled with soft toys.

I’m going to keep this one brief, for my own sanity. I’m also sticking to heteronormative relationships, since that’s what I know best. And, obviously, this doesn’t apply to all men. Just most of them.

Here’s some articles that I’m deliberately not reading because they’re too close to home (lolz):

Even Breadwinning Wives Don’t Get Equality At Home.

Why Men Who Earn Less Still Do Less Housework.

Dirty Secret: Why is there still a housework gender gap?

 

Research Shows Moms With Husbands or Live-In Male Partners Do More Housework Than Single Moms

I was looking for a particular stat, but a simple google search came up with pages and pages of articles like these.

Here’s another stat: Women who have children earn less…. but men who have children earn more. Presumably because employers know that women will be bearing the brunt of the kid-related work and stress.

And another one: After becoming fathers, men do LESS housework than before. Presumably because employers are right… and because women are too tired to have to tell yet ANOTHER human being basic stuff like, “Darling, it would be nice if you did the dishes.” If we want to politely and constantly tell someone to do something they should already know they should be doing, we’d have more children.

ProTip: If you act like a child, we will not be attracted to you. Seriously. And if you are SO SMUG that you did a few dishes or vacuumed or did whatever other basic, standard chore… yeah, that’s good, but it’s not some super impressive achievement. You’re on Level 1 and we’re on Level 15. Don’t make us pretend you’re more amazing than you are.

That last article above also says that women with a live-in male partner SLEEP LESS than single mothers. Ew. So men are often worse than useless. You better be pretty, boys.

Fun fact: Above a certain IQ point, a woman’s chance of marrying falls, and keeps falling the higher her IQ. (And yes, I’m aware that IQ tests are deeply flawed. That’s not the point here.) Is it because men are so invested in the idea that they’re superior that they can’t marry someone smarter than them… or is is because smarter women know that getting married is a bad idea? You decide!

The ‘invisible’ jobs of motherhood, such as those specifically outlined above (and stuff like remembering to get the kids’ homework done, and their costume for the school play, and arranging playdates, and checking for lice, and remembering every family birthday, and noticing when the household is running low on peanut butter, and so much more) are a whole insidious realm that a shockingly high percentage of men don’t even recognise as work. Or difficult.

Every time I stand up I glance around the room looking for things (toys, dirty dishes) that need to be moved. Every time I walk through a room I see at least five jobs that need to be done, and I typically pick one and do it. Today I picked up lolly wrappers from around Chris’s computer keyboard because he doesn’t even see what’s directly in front of him (or remember that he planned to deal with it later).

I’ve mentioned before (and it’s been mentioned in the news many times) that a lot of people will be getting divorced this year. A lot of unresolved issues will be VERY MUCH in the foreground both emotionally and physically, and a lot of people will not be able to live with their partners any more.

Most of those people will be women.

Most men think they do as much or more work around the house as their partner does. Most men are wildly incorrect. Most men need to learn fast, or they won’t be married much longer. (And I’m sure you’ve forgotten how desperately you hoped your wife would love you back before she was your wife. She is still a prize that any man would be lucky to have. But other women won’t be impressed by a man that doesn’t pull his weight around the house. If you’re old enough to be married, women your age are old enough to know how to tell if a man is disrespectful to women even if he doesn’t know himself.)

And yes, gentlemen, I know things are rough for you and there is a lot of uncertainty at work, and health fears (for you and your parents and friends and family), and a lot of restrictions on your usual stress-relief activities, and so on and so on. But I can almost guarantee you that your wife is going through everything you are plus the hassle of looking after YOU. Your mess, your meals, your work needs.

If your kids are at home, and your wife works the same number of hours as you (or, as in my case, works as much as they are physically able to), you better be doing your share of looking after those little disease vectors that are suddenly home full-time and needing some educating too. And yeah, your work will suffer. Hers probably already is, so if you actually see her as equal then you need to prioritise family over work right now too. Yes, even if she earns less than you. Money is important but being a good father is more than just your earning capacity. It’s also how much actual adulting you do at home.

Too many men STILL walk through the front door and utterly relax. They’re home, in their beautiful castle, and the work day is over.

Well guess what. Your work day isn’t over. Your wife isn’t relaxing. She’s been working without a break since you stepped out the door, and she’s still working now.

Here are some basic survival-level chores (what Chris does is in italics):

FOOD:

-Plan necessary food shopping (which includes meal prep, and knowing that Kid A is only eating green apples and not red apples this week, and attempting to get fruit and veggies and protein into your kids every day).

-Shopping.

-Cooking/Preparing breakfast, lunch, at least two snacks, and dinner. (Chris prepares his lunch and the kids’ lunches when they’re at school; he is continuing to make their lunches on days he is working from home. He also does kids’ breakfast every day although I prepare milk etc the night before so they can have a drink and Louisette’s medicine before we wake up.)

-Cleaning up all the food stuff, doing dishes, and wiping down surfaces.

HYGIENE:

-Shower, teeth, and brushing hair. Same for kids. Every day. I was doing the kids’ showers every day, but now that Chris doesn’t have to be on the bus for two hours a day he is taking care of that. And he’s playing wii with TJ for at least an extra hour per day.

CLEANLINESS:

-Washing, drying, sorting, and putting away clothes.

-Clean bathrooms once a week.

-Vacuum the whole house at least once a month, probably once a week.

KIDS:

-taking them to/from school

-staying on top of loads of school communication, plus school events, plus assignments and homework, plus contributing to the school community.

-play dates and birthday parties (I organise and run our kids’ birthday parties; Chris takes the kids to other peoples’ parties)

-researching and deciding on toys, keeping kids amused, spending time with kids. (Chris is ‘Primary Parent’ on weekends.)

-putting them to bed, and possibly getting them up in the morning. (Chris puts TJ to bed and I do the same for Louisette. They both wake before us in the morning and watch TV.)

SOCIAL:

-Organising gifts for people’s birthdays, weddings, and other events (we have at least one event a month just from our immediate families).

-Checking schedules and keeping a family calendar.

-Showing up to stuff. With everybody dressed and all the paraphernalia that kids need to bring.

Obviously a lot of people mop floors, clean windows, wipe down cupboards, and so on. We sometimes mop (about twice a year), and we never iron. Gardening is a thing which we’re not doing super well at (Chris does about an hour of weeding on weekends when I ask him to).

I’m a better cook than Chris, and doing dishes is physically painful for me, so we’re set in our roles there. Sometimes Chris cooks (on the weekend), but he still does the dishes those nights. Like most male cooks, his cooking typically leaves more dishes and mess than mine does.

Before we were married, I felt that the biggest threat to our relationship was that we could far too easily fall into the pattern where I took responsibility for everything around the house, and also had to constantly ask Chris to do his share. I talked to Chris about this several times and I don’t think he ever understood. But we’ve settled into it now and at least the basic stuff gets done (when I ask Chris to do it). We’ve been married 11 years, and there are a few very big important things that I don’t have to remind Chris to do every single day any more: he prepares breakfast for the kids, helps them brush their teeth morning and night, and he has learned to do the nightly dishes without being told. Oddly enough he often leaves several items (an empty bottle of milk that just needs to be rinsed and put in the recycling; not wiping down the table, etc) undone. So I do tend to check up on the kitchen every morning, and often I’ll get that sinking feeling when I realise I need to finish it off for him. This is deeply unsexy, but it’s something I can live with (I am also aware that people with ADD don’t get the “Ah, I’m finished!” satisfied feeling that most people get when finishing an unpleasant job). And yes, he reads this blog. Hello sweetheart.

Guys, women don’t actually like nagging you. In fact, we hate it more than you do.

I strongly recommend that, if you are one of two adults in your house, you sit down and AGREE on who is responsible for what jobs during isolation time. And when they should be done, and how (eg vacuuming involves moving light furniture and catching the dust bunnies under the couch). Think very carefully about what ALL the jobs are. Is someone keeping track of government guidelines as they change day by day? Is someone setting up play dates via Zoom? Is one person doing all the lesson planning (that’s fine as long as it’s compensated for elsewhere) or all the teaching (ditto)? Or all the keeping-in-touch with humanity? Or all the tech support?

Kindness, and doing more than just your assigned job is all good! But make sure you do your own jobs BEFORE you play the hero and do hers. Because otherwise what’s the point?

Resource of the day: Two articles (here and here) about domestic abuse, and how it’s getting worse. There are a (very) few suggestions on what to do. The advice, as always, is: if you’re afraid, you’re right, and you need to get OUT even though it’s terrifying and difficult. If you’re someone who has my phone number or another mode of contact, you can talk to me and I’ll see if I can find a safe place for you in your area. My email is fellissimo@hotmail.com

Yeah, it’s not a coincidence that I talked about lazy/oblivious menfolk in the same entry as domestic violence. Because they both involve men having more power than their wives, and using that to benefit themselves while treating women as second class citizens.

Recommended donation of the day: Rize up, a charity that helps victims of domestic abuse.

Personal action of the day: Is someone you know very isolated, and all the more so during this COVID-19 time? Try to connect with them, if you can. If you suspect abuse, be VERY careful as their partner may read their mail and SMSes, listen in on phone calls, etc.

Hoarding item of the day: Firewood. I think when Winter hits it’ll become a hot property, so stock up now rather than stocking up at the last minute.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Virus Diaries: Goals

March 23, 2020 at 4:38 pm (Cat pics, Fully Sick, general life, Love and CJ, Mum Stuff)

Yesterday the news broke that the state governments of the ACT (that’s me) and Victoria are closing down schools this week (effectively over-ruling the Prime Minister who is still prioritising the economy over safety).

Millions of kids rejoiced. Millions of parents trembled in their stylish yet affordable boots.

Three seconds later the internet was flooded with cries of praise for teachers everywhere.

Meanwhile, at home, Chris informed me that I apparently once said, “Not now, my husband is coming” in my sleep.

For the record, Chris Evans and I were REHEARSING. JUST REHEARSING. I swear. We are professionals.

In other news, TJ had a shower yesterday (that’s not the news part). During said shower, he blew a raspberry on the shower glass. I told him not to let his face touch the glass. So he licked it. So I said NOT to let his FACE touch the GLASS. So he spat on it. So I said NO SPITTING and that’s when he mooned me. Buttcheeks pressed right up against that glass.

Then he sang his latest version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”:

In the eyeball, the creepy eyeball, the eyeball sleeps toniiiight!

Hush my eyeball, my creepy eyeball, the eyeball eats you toniiiiight!

In case you haven’t heard the original:

Here’s a pic of TJ pushing me on the hammock. As you can see, he is actively trying to tip me out of it. Little punk.

 

It’s good to have goals.

My daily goal is to make sure the kids eat three meals (and fruit), and shower each day, with some kind of schoolwork happening for each kid on each weekday (even if it’s a drawing activity—great for hand-eye coordination—or playing with lego, or whatever). For myself, to shower and blog each day and to keep enough spoons that I can be nice to my family even when they’re annoying.

I wrote about my writing goals yesterday. Then I finished dealing with the comments on “The Floating City” and decided to aim to add 1000 words to each of the final chapters. I added over 500 to Chapter Eleven yesterday, which I’m extremely proud of. It’s a relief to do some of my ‘real’ work for a change. I feel much more myself (and I promptly had a manic episode and stayed up, full of ideas, until 4am).

I also aim to convince my extremely cautious cat Zipper to one day jump into the hammock with me. She has put her paws up on the side of the hammock three times in the last six months (only ever when it was just me and her in the yard), so I know she’s thought about it. But for the most part she reacts to my entreaties (“Zipper? Zip Zip? Prrowr?”) with a Dignified Indifference.

 

I also aim to try and achieve the following gardening tasks:

a) To propagate the purple-leaved bush out the front of our house. It looks good and weeds don’t grow under it, so I plan to eventually have it cover most of our weed-prone front garden. So far I’ve had two cuttings in water for several weeks. They didn’t grow roots but they didn’t die either, so today I stuck them in some dirt. We’ll see how they go.

b) To keep my basil plant alive. The stalks are so fragile I’ve destroyed many basil plants due to either rinsing the leaves or just adding water too hastily. It’s also very touchy about direct sunlight, and will immediately die if it’s put in a window (let alone outside). This one has a few half-brown leaves but still looks pretty good. Have I finally cracked the code to keeping basil from dying? We’ll see. . .

c) To grow potatoes. NOT because Australia is going to run out of potatoes, but because everyone needs a postapocalyptic hobby. First I gotta clear some of those weeds, though (and by “I” I obviously mean “Chris”). At the moment our front garden is perilously close to being a lawn.

I COULD aim to have a tidy house, but that’s too far out of the realm of possibility.

And I definitely aim to have proper air conditioning before winter, but that’s a very difficult task and I don’t yet have a solid plan (other than “wait for some disability support cash” which is by no means guaranteed even if it’s our only plausible option right now). At least we have a (very loud and clanking) portable air conditioner now, so combined with milder temperatures I have a chance at regaining a little health (maybe).

This week, I have a goal to do an EPIC and GENIUS obstacle course for my kids (I think I mentioned I had a manic episode last night). More on that later!

Resource of the day:

A hypothetical home schooling timetable (which I definitely don’t follow):

Recommended donation of the day:

Give me money. I’d love some. My PayPal is fellissimo@hotmail.com

Recommended personal action of the day:

Hide all your kids’ noise-making toys.

Recommended Hoarding item of the day:

DVDs (they have novelty value, and you can still watch them if the worst happens and Netflix crashes)

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Virus Diaries: Rationing

March 17, 2020 at 1:53 pm (Food, Fully Sick, general life, Love and CJ, Mental illness, Mum Stuff, recipes)

[Day zero and day 1 of the Virus Diaries.]

We had our first ration rage incident last night.

For context, you should know that 8 year-old Louisette has inattentive ADD and she takes Ritalin. She barely eats as a rule—here is the aftermath of a typical breakfast:

That is lemon butter and honey on white bread. Most kids would kill for that. She has eaten one bite and then declared herself full.

Obviously, we’re long since given up on the idea of a healthy breakfast and we just try to get her to eat SOMETHING. Ritalin is known to suppress appetite but this is a typical breakfast even when she hasn’t taken her tablet yet.

One thing that DOES happen in the late afternoon/evening is that the effect of the Ritalin wears off and she is suddenly very cranky and starving. And also super duper vague (as in, you can tell her there’s a new toy for her on the kitchen bench and she won’t be able to hold the thought in her head long enough to walk through the house and get it).

A meal that’s easy enough for me to make and that she consistently likes is frozen chicken nuggets and fish (it’s a victory if we can even get her to have hot chips). She has 3 nuggets and one battered fish fillet, with tomato sauce, mayo, and lemon juice.  I have stocked up on nuggets but we only have two fish fillets left. So last night I added a nugget to the usual tally but only gave her half a fish. While it was cooking I told her that I had done so and explained why, and she seemed fine with it.

When she collected the cooked meal, however, she screamed and sobbed because her piece of fish was so small. Chris calmed her down and she ate her dinner in the end. But that was our first rationing experience and it sure wasn’t pretty. Poor Louisette. She is an extremely sweet and gentle girl but coming down off Ritalin severely heightens her emotions. She and TJ are both slightly flagged (not tested yet but Louisette is on a waiting list) for being on the autism/asperges spectrum as they’re very very particular about certain things, especially Louisette eg how her shoes feel when she puts them on, and ALWAYS having a hat on outside even if it’s literally just to walk to the car. (The one exception is when swimming.)

 

I don’t cope well with rationing either, so there are fun times ahead. In fact, I’m so bad at rational that I often drink a full glass of water right before bed, knowing full well it’ll make me get up to pee at 2am. Just the thought of, “I shouldn’t drink anything now because it’s too late at night” is enough to make me desperate for a drink. So desperate I can’t sleep. Brilliant.

Yesterday Chris and Tim were both feeling much better and I had some errands to run (picking up and dropping stuff outside people’s houses). My junk food supply is very strong but low on non-chocolate lollies (I’m intolerant of pretty much everything but if I eat a variety of things I think the effects are less). I really love Kool Fruits (they’re like round mentos) and there is a particular local shop that usually has them, but didn’t have them the last two times I went there. So I thought I’d go in real quick and see if they had any, since no one is making me quarantine myself and it would be a very quick visit with theoretically less people than a big supermarket.

It was unusually crowded, so clearly I wasn’t the only one targeting a smaller shop in hopes of getting some food supplies. I bought a LOT of lollies and 1 litre of lactose free milk. I’m quite anxious about running out of lactose free milk because it’s one thing I’m NOT intolerant to. I have enough for about a week, and it’s extremely hard to get at the moment.

Chris has actually gone to work today, so I’ll most likely ask him to attempt to do some shopping too. I would rather he stayed at home, but at the same time I can see that it’s important to not abandon society altogether just yet. And I want more STUFF.

We have settled into our coronapocalypse outfits. I wear pajamas; TJ wears undies and nothing else; Louisette wears undies, a dressing gown, and gumboots.

With the exception of hangry Louisette, everything is quite peaceful. My kids love staying at home doing nothing. You should have seen the joy on TJ’s face when I told him we’d skip school for at least the rest of this week. Here’s an approximation:

 

I’m doing some school work with the kids each day (less than half an hour, which is actually plenty for most primary schoolers). TJ is in Kindy, which like many schools is doing Jolly Phonics, in which letters are introduced in roughly the order of usefulness, and each letter comes with a song and a dance move. I was able to quickly figure out where he’s up to (‘h’) and do that with him. The only hard part is that he desperately wanted to keep going. Adorable, non?

Today is ‘r’.

Louisette is in Year 3. We’ve already been practising Spanish numbers as her class has been doing Spanish for years whereas she’s only just started. I only got around to doing school stuff with her quite late yesterday, so I stuck to Spanish because I knew that even hangry Louisette would enjoy that. Today we’re doing clocks—every time I get up, I adjust the hands of a clock and ask her what time it is on my way past.

Uh oh. Tim just had diarrhea. Still no sign of fever, but that’s ominous. Or not. He had dried fruit on his breakfast, which is a classic diarrhea-inducing food.

Speaking of my cute little disease vector, here’s a fun fact: he always insists on having company when he goes to the toilet. He then sings songs (“The Lion Sleep Tonight” is a favourite at the moment; I love hearing him sing it around the house… Louisette does not), asks maths questions (“Mum, what’s 7 half of?”) and talks about computer games (yeah, that’s gonna be a thing forever I think). Last time he went to the toilet he decided it would be funny if he threw his undies around and played with them like a kitten with string.

And now he’s singing, “Peach is a stinky butt-butt” over and over. (He’s playing Mario Kart.)

Kids are gross, is what I’m saying.

Chris and I decided long ago that if any member of the family got covid-19, we would separate the house into two zones: diabetic me in the master bedroom and ensuite; Chris and the kids in the rest of the house. At the moment we’re doing a soft version of that. Chris sleeps in his study and only uses the main bathroom. I only use the ensuite. This is great for me, because I get the biggest bed to myself. (This of course inspired the classic pre-divorce question, “Daddy, why don’t you and Mum sleep in the same bed any more?” which amused me because I’m odd. And because we’re actually not getting divorced. Side note: I bet divorce rates go up after mandatory quarantining. I recommend quarantining your house in sections, for both health and sanity.)

Hmm. Tim just had diarrhea again. It’s a rare symptom of covid-19 and there’s still no fever in any members of the household, but it is a bit suggestive that he’s had a sore throat and diarrhea.

Now that I’ve told you that my 8 year-old still has tantrums and my 5 year-old is just a windmill of gastro, here’s a little dialogue I overheard yesterday:

Louisette: TJ, is it all right if I go into your room and play with your blue monkey toy?

TJ: Sure. Actually you can keep it forever.

What little angels, right?

Last night I dreamed that I ended up with twelve orphaned kittens that I oh so graciously offered to find homes for—hoping, of course, to get Chris to agree to keep at least one.

I have dreams about getting another kitten at least once a week. If I can think of a decent excuse to get a second kitten in real life, I will grab it with both hands. But of course we have Zipper, and one cat is sufficient for survival. With a cat, my immediate family, chocolate, books, and the internet, I can survive most things.

Here’s Zipper yesterday, annoyed as usual that I’ve gotten the camera out.

And I noticed yesterday that my potatoes have sprouted. Which is good!

About two weeks ago I set aside three potatoes (ie one of my rare safe foods) to plant a “The Martian”-style food source in our front garden. We’ve actually grown potatoes there before, so I feel mildly confident that I can make them grow. Of course, things escalated a lot sooner than I expected so it’s unlikely they’ll have time to grow before all of Canberra is on lockdown. Still, I’m proud of them. Especially since the basil plant I bought a week ago is already looking melancholy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway…

Resource of the day:

Fried Rice

Ingredients:

Cooked rice

Any vegetable you got, cut up small.

Any meat/eggs/tofu you got, cooked and cut up small.

Soy sauce if you have some.

A dessert spoon full of sugar.

Any oil you got.

  1. Fry in a pan.
  2. Eat.

Tim is currently liking fried rice with peas, corn, egg, and soy sauce. (Can you tell that that’s what he eats when Chris and I are eating maple marinated salmon?)

Recommended donation of the day:

Order some Chinese delivery or takeaway food. Restaurants may well close soon, and apparently some Chinese restaurants are being avoided due to people being racist. Eat that yummy yummy food while you can! Order lots, and freeze some for later. I know meat (and for that matter potatoes) are in short supply at the moment, so this is a handy way to stock up on protein.

Recommended personal action of the day: Disinfect (but don’t wet) your phone and keyboards.

Recommended hoarding item of the day: Order hot water bottles online. If a lot of people are staying home with heaters on (when the weather gets colder), we may have power outages. Save electricity and protect your family by having something that only requires ten minutes of electricity (to heat the water) every coupla hours. In fact, most hot water taps are sufficient for a hot water bottle even after the electricity is off (as you have hot water stored up in your water heater).

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Virus Diaries: Day Zero

March 15, 2020 at 12:01 pm (Fully Sick, general life, Love and CJ, Mental illness, Mum Stuff)

Here in Canberra we’ve had fire, toxic air, floods, and record-breaking hail (pictured). Now it’s pandemic time.

Trigger warning: discussion of severe depression

I’m immuno-compromised in a few different ways, the most obvious of which is that I’m diabetic. At the moment, that means my chance of dying if I get the covid-19 virus is around 7% (without allowing for fibromyalgia or any of my other health issues).

Things escalated quickly here in Australia over the last few days as thousands of events were cancelled and people continued to panic over toilet paper. Now’s as good a time as any to mention that I have a pretty severe anxiety disorder. Sometimes the experience of anxiety can actually be helpful at a time like this, because I’ve spent many years sorting rational from irrational thoughts (people with anxiety KNOW they’re stressing excessively over minor things, but our bodies continue to send panicked messages through physiological symptoms, which is super fun) and in many ways it’s like I’ve trained for this moment. In other ways, not so much.

My favourite thing about the covid-19 virus is that it doesn’t tend to hit kids very hard. So it hasn’t triggered a full-on Mama Bear reaction, or you know I’d be crash-tackling anyone who coughed in a public place and pouring bleach over them. [It’s worth noting here that I have been coughing in public plenty, due to one of my various non-infectious complaints. Please don’t crash-tackle me or pour bleach over me.]

Obviously, if someone hurts one of my kids, they die. That’s just science.

Anyway.

So Chris (my husband) told me last night that he had a sore throat and felt “heavy” in the chest. We slept in separate beds, having long since agreed that if anyone in our house was sick we’d separate me from the rest (which is now an official recommendation for anyone immunocompromised). He only just woke up (it’s 11am) so we haven’t taken his temperature yet today, but we have already checked him for fever (last night) so it’s a good thing I thought ahead and bought thermometer covers. He didn’t have a fever last night, so he’s almost certainly fine, but of course we’re being careful. I’m not the only immunocompromised person in the world.

I wouldn’t call myself a panic buyer, but I would definitely call myself a covid prepper. (You can judge me or admire me, as you like.) I expected to have more time to slowly build up supplies of long-life milk (and yes, toilet paper) but I do have quite a bit of food. If this is the moment when our family starts a period of self-isolation, we’re pretty well set up.

Last night I found out that some hospitals in Italy are not letting older patients have respirators, because there simply aren’t enough to go around and older patients are less likely to recover and more likely to need respirators for longer. That is absolutely horrifying, and for more than simple human decency. Like I said, I’m diabetic. That means every infection takes longer to heal. And I’m a ‘bad’ diabetic, too. I’m very very overweight, and my eating habits are enough to make any diabetes specialist swoon in horror. There are several surprisingly rational reasons for me to cheerfully continue eating like an Oompa Loompa.

First, chocolate and lollies are delicious.

Second, I’m not coping. With anything, really. I’m literally afraid of spending more than a few hours with my own children (due mainly to fibromyalgia and my average stress level being at around 90% so it’s hard for me to be nice about the 25th request for something the kids are perfectly capable of fetching on their own). I’m afraid to leave my house (heat makes me sick), to see people (I sweat and stink), to stand up (it hurts). I spend most of my waking hours in both pain and fear, mostly fear of more pain. Chocolate and lollies are an essential crutch that helps me do some of the things I really should do each day. I never do everything that I should (eat well, exercise, spend some actual time with my kids, give kids healthy food, deliver kids to school and home again, maybe say/do something nice for my husband, do something that earns money, shower, dress appropriately, brush teeth, brush hair, maintain a moderately clean house) but I do generally manage to shower and to take the kids to and from school, and to not yell or scream or swear directly at anyone, and to organise some kind of dinner for all four of us.

Third, junk food keeps the worse of my depression at bay. If I cut down on junk food, even a little, I get suicidal within 24 hours and homicidal within 48 hours. I lost a little weight before I got married to Chris, and I had to concentrate while driving to remind myself to NOT deliberately cause an accident—and that was when I was physically healthy, childless, not on any weight-increasing medications, and engaged to the love of my life.

Fourth, I’m intolerant of FODMAPS and Salyicylates. Which is to say, dairy, most fruit, most vegetables, any artificial sweeteners, and processed meat. I eat about one serve of fruit a week and one serve of vegetables a day (one or two a week if you don’t count potatoes). That mostly leaves carbs and meat.

So. I won’t be dieting unless I’m also in a padded room with a vitamin drip.

And I’m a little scared that if I get sick at the wrong time, or if ventilators are in short supply, that I will be judged unworthy of full treatment, and will be left to die. And my kids will find out that Mummy apparently cared more about chocolate than being alive to raise them.

That’s a pretty intense worst-case scenario.

(Chris has an extremely calm, naturally content personality. I think he’d cope okay emotionally if I dropped dead, although in practical terms he’s at his best with someone looking over his shoulder a lot because he’s a little TOO calm and content at times. Obviously, for all my faults, the kids are way better off with both of us.)

I’m feeling super panicky today, in case you can’t tell. A part of me just wants to start self-isolating the whole family immediately (partly just to dive into the not-so-nice experiences that are likely to happen sooner or later, instead of waiting in suspense).

Here’s another picture of our cat, Zipper.

Resource of the day: A meal that you can make with rice, frozen salmon, frozen peas, frozen corn, maple syrup, sesame seeds, and sesame oil (ie all stuff that can be stored for months before they’re cooked):

Ingredients:

cooked rice

salmon fillets

peas and corn

sesame oil

maple syrup

sesame seeds

1. Defrost salmon and marinate it in the maple syrup and sesame oil (about a tablespoon of each). Anytime between ten minutes and a day is fine. Line a tray with aluminium foil and chuck the salmon on it in a moderate/hot over for 5-15 minutes depending on how you like it.

2. Put leftover marinade in a fry pan with rice and vegetables, and mix/fry it until salmon is done.

3. Put rice on plates with salmon on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Eat.

 

Recommended donation of the day:

Buy a book by an Australian small press. I recommend Odyssey Books or Shooting Star Press. They will post it to you, so you don’t need to leave the house. A lot of small businesses and small authors are suffering as our fairs and festivals are cancelled.

You can buy stuff from me directly here. I still haven’t recovered financially from the events of last summer (and we were relatively unscathed).

Recommended personal action of the day:

Wash your hands for 20 seconds before leaving the house and after returning home. (If you’re doing that already, good!)

Today’s recommended item to hoard:

Easter eggs. Go ahead and hoard some Easter eggs, since the shops are likely to close at some point (possibly causing a shortage and/or sudden panic buying) and if you have kids stuck at home at Easter, you can easily hide eggs around the house and yard and that will definitely satisfy the little monsters.

[Editor: Shops aren’t going to close. Not even if we go on full nation-wide lockdown.]

Permalink 2 Comments

About My Boy

June 12, 2019 at 10:17 am (Love and CJ)

I have a son.

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 9.25.07 AM

I still remember how odd it felt, when pregnant, to be carrying a boy. Obviously, boys are born all the time—but it felt instinctively strange to me to go through such an intensely female experience to produce something masculine.

(When we were told Louisette was a girl—again, at the 20 week ultrasound—Chris said to me in the car on the way home, “Don’t die, please, because I have no idea how to raise a girl.” I understood that sentiment a little better when I found out TJ was a boy.)

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 9.12.30 AM

There’s plenty I still don’t know about boys, but spending every day looking after someone eventually makes a parent feel moderately competent. (Which is probably quite silly, because children are changing constantly, so you’re never an expert on the person that they are at this exact second…. but as a parent you’re the closest thing to an expert that exists.)

TJ was immensely strong from birth, able to lift his head immediately, and scream bloody murder for a good twenty minutes without pause (which is pretty much when we gave up on breastfeeding, although I kept trying for another day or so). As a baby, we marvelled at his ability to amuse himself, without needing anyone else in the room. I was able to shower and go to the bathroom freely.

But if we left the house, he would not leave our arms. He knew who his parents were (and soon learned his grandparents) but anyone else was a Stranger To Be Shunned. He was about 9 months old when he started actually enjoying venturing away from us in public, and the whole world of playgrounds opened up. From that point, we took precautions to make sure he didn’t simply wander away from us (because he was confident enough to do so, and as usual he didn’t need company to have adventures).

For a long, long time he would only sleep either in our arms or with my arm draped over him. We had one of those bassinets that hook onto the side of the parents’ bed, and that was an absolute lifesaver.

TJ was born with an introvert’s disdain for social pressure (from either peers or parents). While Louisette’s automatic answer is “Yes” (“Do you want to go to the playground?” “Do you want to wear this shirt?”), TJ’s automatic answer is “No”, even to questions like, “Do you want some ice cream?”

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 9.24.33 AM

He’ll often pause and then say, “Actually, yes” but sometimes he’ll stick to his decision no matter how irrational. This trait by itself would make him a strong-willed child but it’s extremely modified by his calm and cheerful nature.

TJ is, in many ways, the perfect little boy. He has SO MANY BEANS and takes so much joy in life, and is so delightfully sure of himself.

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 9.24.54 AM

He’s also very, very smart academically. He knows all the letter sounds and several words, can count and add and do some multiplication, and he can tell a really good story, invent great imaginary friends (usually superheroes, with an awesome range of powers), and build amazing creations (either following step by step instructions—he can accurately follow incredibly complex lego instructions—or inventing his own things).

He and Louisette both make great engineers, inventors, and storytellers. TJ’s intelligence is much more obvious than Louisette’s, because a lot of Louisette’s ability is hidden behind her ADD. TJ doesn’t seem to have any health issues other than dry skin in Winter, so that’s awesome for him (and us).

TJ is incredibly entertaining. He loves to make sound effects (eg rocket sounds for when he’s running up the hallway), is extremely expressive, and is the class comedian.

 

 

When he goes to his regular class, other kids are happy to see him and call out for him to sit with them. There are two girls in particular who come up to him and try to make him laugh. Both girls are very pretty and popular in their own right, but they clearly enjoy TJ’s humour (which mostly consists of nonsense words, silly faces, and falling over). In their interactions I see foreshadowing of TJ’s likely popularity with pretty girls in his teen years. He’s pretty good looking himself, and everyone likes a laugh. He also gets on well with nearly everyone, because he’s very good at backing down over confrontation (eg two kids fighting over a toy). TJ is the main reason our kids mostly get on and play well together.

Having said that, he takes a while to warm up to new people or situations. I generally stay with him quite a while after drop-off, because (a) I get lots of hugs that way, and (b) It means he will eventually let me leave without crying. (Also it means I can observe his classmates a little—I want them to consider me a safe adult/friend in their teens.)

Sometimes, his humour and strong sense of self combine in ways that I don’t like as much. It’s well established that he prefers his dad to me, and he’ll often be quite rude to me. (By “quite rude” I mean things like this picture, which includes his aunt and uncle, cousin, sister, and Dad—but not me. When questioned by Chris, he said, “I didn’t want Mum in this one.” He also almost never hugs me goodnight—although if Chris encourages him to do a “surprise hug” involving a long creep across the floor followed by jumping up and hugging me, that usually works.)

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 9.39.27 AM

Other times he’ll be sweet and lovely. When I was at IronFest this year, talking to the kids on the phone before they went to bed, he told me, “I love you times a googol.” (Eat that, Iron Man.) But he’s ALWAYS sweet and lovely to Chris, and I’m so jealous! (Which of course puts pressure on TJ, which makes him less likely to show affection…)

He’s also discovered the delightful world of poo-related insults lately. Since I feel a rebel needs something to push against, I always react sternly if he calls someone “poopy pants”. I suspect his humour will always be edgy (calling someone a poo is 100% edgy at age 5), and I hope it never turns truly mean or hurtful.

TJ is, most likely, an able-bodied straight white male (he’s definitely able-bodied, white, and male). That automatically gives him power, and my job as a parent is to teach him to use his power for good and not for evil (or pure selfishness). As the youngest in our family, he has very little power thus far, and I think having a pet is absolutely essential for his development. “Be careful of those smaller, younger, or weaker than you” is such a crucial message (along with consent, which is why I don’t force him to hug me), and TJ’s best practical application is our cat(s).

 

 

I have a bazillion photos of TJ with our cats (the fluffy one in the pics above died last year), and at a certain point cats can teach boundaries themselves—if you mess with a well-trained cat, they will show physical signs of distress, then hiss and/or swat you, then scratch you.

Zipper (new cat) likes TJ, but he sometimes yells at/near her, or runs around too much, or teases her—so Zipper prefers Louisette (the person in our house most likely to sit still for a decent amount of time). I keep a sharp eye on TJ’s treatment of Zipper, because it shows any bullying tendencies that I wouldn’t otherwise see.

TJ is so darn full of life and joy and enthusiasm. He’s an absolute delight. He and Louisette both have an issue of shutting down when their emotions are running high, which makes it hard to solve a problem (since it can take a long time to get essential info out of them, like “I hurt my toe” or “I wanted the blue spoon”), so we’ll continue to work on emotional resilience with both of them. They don’t get much good modelling on that score because Chris is extremely calm and I am borderline manic depressive.

Sorry kids :/

TJ turned five last week, which is what inspired these reflections on his character. When Louisette turned five and I was talking on facebook about what a big milestone it is, the Aussie author Pamela Freeman (who writes historical fantasy as Pamela Hart) commented that if they’re a decent person at five years of age they’ll most likely be a fairly similar person as an adult.

I could definitely handle that. They’re pretty great human beings.

 

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 9.47.46 AM

To sum up: TJ is smart, funny, happy, introverted/socially independent, energetic, curious, and strong-willed. I hope he finds healthy ways to channel his need to push boundaries. I’m pretty sure he’ll do just fine in life, and will earn more than any other member of his family. Hopefully he’ll look after the rest of us when we need it.

I have many more fun years of TJ’s childhood to come. I suspect I’ll barely see him in his teens, but he’ll come through all right thanks to his strong sense of self. I think he’ll be a lot like his dad when he’s all grown up: largely content, a bit oblivious at times, and a contributing member of society with a small but solid core of nerdy friends.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Christmas: Jesus, Gifts, and Stress

December 15, 2018 at 3:26 pm (Entries that matter, Love and CJ, Mum Stuff)

So Christmas is about three things for me. (Cunning readers may guess what they are based on the title.)

This is the beginning of a three-part blog series on Christmas (aka holiday therapy for yours truly).

Fairly obviously for a Christian, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus aka the God I follow. Yes, I’m aware that the date is wrong and most of the traditions are stolen/borrowed from Pagan traditions, etc etc.

Still.

It is extraordinary that my God chose to set up a universe in which he himself would be required to be tortured and killed and condemned in order to show us in the clearest possible terms that being “saved” is a gift that he desperately wants to give us. Easter is at the heart of every Christian. It’s why we call it “Good” Friday when it’s marking the darkest day in the history of the universe.

In some ways, Christmas is even more shocking. The God of all creation had his nappy changed, was breast fed, struggled with toilet training, and probably grew up wondering in his heart of hearts why he always found the smell of manure strangely comforting.

For those just tuning in, I have two kids of my own. Currently Lousiette is 6-nearly-7 and TJ is 4 and a half. Exhibit A:

thumb_IMG_6122_1024

Exhibit B:

thumb_IMG_6143_1024

It is incredible to think about the whole “having a kid” thing. These two started off as nothing more than a goofy hypothetical notion, then Chris and I MADE them… but they were only about this big:

.

And now they walk and talk and have opinions and dreams and say all kinds of weird and wonderful things both good and bad. In the blink of an eye they’ll be as old as I am now—then older—perhaps with kids of their own, and jobs, and much stronger opinions that I may find utterly horrifying.

How can a tiny dot grow into a whole person?

It’s part of the glorious nonsense of being alive.

Even more bonkers is the idea that God could squash himself down to fit into that tiny dot.

Exhibit C:

.

And even more bonkers is… why?

Jesus spent thirty-three years on Earth, as a man. He was sweaty, and he was sometimes attracted to people he didn’t want to be attracted to, and he ate freshly-baked bread, and he sometimes disagreed with his mum and brothers, and he lived through the death of his mortal dad. Why didn’t he just skip the whole ‘being human’ thing, get crucified, and save the world over a single rather intense long weekend?

It wrecks my mind that he chose to become one of us. He really understands, from our side, what it’s like to be mortal: messy, scary, and smelly.

I love that.

I even made a little YouTube video trying to point out just how bizarre it is that God really did become a slob like one of us.

It’s a mishmash of different messages really. Is it just an excuse to show off old pics of my kids? Is it a brilliant mix of the carnal and the divine? Is it just too much fun to see babies looking wise/annoyed/gassy? You can make up your own mind. There are a couple of other baby pics in there too so go ahead and play “spot the cousin” if you like.)

 

So. When Jesus Christ, creator and saviour, was born, he probably looked not that much different from my own brown-eyed, dark-haired TJ (although being from the Middle East, Jesus would have had darker skin):

thumb_UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_7c38_1024

If you want to know what God looks like, that’s pretty similar to one part of it.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Insert Toilet Joke Here

August 11, 2018 at 11:49 am (Love and CJ)

August is an exciting month.

thumbnail_IMG_0764

GammaCon (where that pic was taken) is over for another year (it RULED by the way) but the Canberra Writers’ Festival is approaching (23-26 August) and I’ll be launching TWO books that weekend.

Murder in the Mail: A Bloody Birthday will be launched with a week-long art exhibition at The Front cafe and gallery in Lyneham.

The official launch is 3:30-5:00pm on Saturday 25th, and at least two of the visual artists plan to be there.

——–

And the final book in my steampunk fantasy trilogy, Antipodean Queen 3: Iron Lights will be launched as an official part of the Canberra Writers Festival at Old Parliament House (aka The Museum of Australian Democracy) in Kings’ Hall 2:45-3:15pm Sunday August 26.

I’ll be selling all my stuff at both launches.

They’re also in stock (including Murder in the Mail: A Bloody Birthday and Magic in the Mail: Emmeline’s Empire, which are in the games section) at Dymocks Belconnen, which means all my books/games are super easy to order into any Dymocks store (but especially Tuggeranong, which is linked to Belco).

 

But that’s not why I’m blogging today.

I’m blogging because of an event far rarer and more impressive than a book launch. I usually release a book a year… but this is something that hasn’t happened since TJ was born.

I did a proper clean of the toilet.

IMG_5328

I cleaned the whole room, including the floor and walls (there was quite a bit of blood on the wall*). Just look at how clean it is!

Chris and I are talking fairly seriously about dividing up our house so we can take a tenant (tenant rather than room-mate because they’d have a separate entrance and loo). So that’s why I was suddenly enthusiastic about cleaning… because it’s likely this will be my toilet soon.

Sidebar: I suspect any artworks that are unsold at the end of the exhibition will be in with a chance of making an impromptu gallery in this one tiny clean part of my house. A rather dubious honour, I think. But the above cleanliness is somewhat bland, don’t you agree?

Regular readers will know that we recently said goodbye to Princess Ana after ten fluffy years, and that a house without a cat is unthinkable. (As I write this, the wind is banging the cat flap, and I keep expecting Ana to walk in and glare at me in that adorable cat manner.)

That’s one of the VERY early pic of TJ and Ana. There are many more.

it is to TJ’s credit that he prefers an older cat. I am not a good enough person to adopt an older cat. I enjoy the short, playfully unco months of kittenhood, and I also like a cat that I’ve trained myself.

So at some stage soon we’ll get a kitten. Squeee!

But we’ll most likely get a tenant and kitten at around the same time, because kittens are fun and tenants are not. So dangling a future kitten in my mind keeps me motivated to continue figuring out how to fit all our stuff into smaller and smaller spaces.

I’ve donated three large garbage bags of clothes to charity/friends in the last few weeks—mostly my own. A lot of my outfits dated back to pre-Chris romances, which was quite a trip down memory lane. My general body shape has been extremely haywire for the last 8 years due to two enormous babies, various medical conditions, and an operation. Now that I’ve had the stomach op, though, I have a better idea of my proportions relative to one another. That’s helpful.

I kept some of my ‘optimistic’ clothes (including some gorgeous dresses) but put them in a box until next year.

Not for the first time, I noticed that I talk to myself a lot (and also talk to inanimate objects). Yet another reason to get a cat, amirite? That way at least I’m talking to an animal. Ana was always very helpful when a plot wasn’t working right and needed workshopping.

So that’s where life is at the moment. How about you?

*Louisette has really dramatic blood noses. I couldn’t tell you how long ago that particular stain happened; I rarely use that toilet so if you’ve visited us in the last three months… sorry ’bout that. You’ll also be pleased to hear that we changed the toilet seat to an adult sized version instead of the miniature one that we’ve been making people-who-are-not-us use for the last five years.

Permalink Leave a Comment

How to Make an Epic Dino Cake

June 9, 2018 at 4:10 pm (Food, Love and CJ, Videos)

My son turned four this week, and asked for a dinosaur cake. Once I had the revelation that (a) I don’t like cake, so (b) Why bother making it? but (c) I do like creating peculiar things, and (d) The only thing they’ll eat is a horrifying amount of icing anyway… It all fell into place.

Or at least, it fell.

TJ is a winter baby (which means parties must be inside), and his father, grandfather, uncle, and oldest cousin all have birthdays within about a week. So I arranged to have two parties today: one for TJ’s friends (at an inside playground with a dino room), and one for his numerous relations (at my house).

That meant I could make a single giant cake and use leftovers for party #2.

There are two basic schools of thought for dinosaur cakes: One big dinosaur, or a scene with several dinosaurs. In my opinion, the one big dino cake takes more skill. Sure, there are dino-shaped cake tins out there, but you still need to be able to have smooth icing. Not gonna happen.

I was clever enough to assemble the cake at the location of the party, rather than attempting to carry it safely in a vehicle (and to take my own knives and large containers in which to bring home the leftovers). I was also clever enough to order the base from Woolworths. I ordered a basic slab cake, two layers, no icing. It was $20. I took three layers off part of it, and moved them to the top at the back. Voila! A cliff face ready for a waterfall.

IMG_0622

At Woolies I’d previously bought various items: edible glue (which I couldn’t figure out how to open, so I hacked it open with a knife; used it to stick cupcake topper sheets around the sides), writing icing (used for the blue lines in the water), Natural Confectionary dinosaurs, and a full roll of “ready rolled icing” suitable for a 22cm round cake, which I sliced into shapes with a butter knife for the water.

IMG_0623

I’d made a double portion of chocolate buttercream icing at home (it needs to either be made or re-mixed on the day or the butter hardens and it’s useless), which had a pleasantly different texture to my “water”. I spread it in a hurry, and quite thick, so it just covered the top. I was using my hands and laughing maniacally at this stage, rather aware of my deadline as one of the kids had to leave early and there was another party using the room at 12, etc etc. The buttercream icing had enough stickiness to draw up some of the cake, and it also struggled a bit to hold onto the “cliff”. But it worked well enough. As you can see, smooth flat icing is not my forte (not that I was particularly trying this time).

This icing was easy to shove about, and it was great for standing up little dinosaurs later.

 

IMG_0624

I had prepared some desiccated coconut ages earlier with food dye, intending it to be green grass but it was too blue so I chucked it in the water.

The trees didn’t really work (but who cares? They’re made of Tim Tams, mint leaves, and lolly bananas), although leaning them against the cliff helped (the edible glue didn’t—using icing might have worked a little).

The mountains and volcanoes are “chocolate” waffle cones. I’ll go into more detail about the volcanoes in a bit…

The flowers were a pack of edible flowers I impulse bought at Woolies when I was examining sundry icing/sprinkle products for inspiration.

IMG_0625

 

I also used:

-Green and yellow sprinkles for grass/sand. (If your child is very scientific, this is not the cake for them… grass is a relatively recent plant.)

-Edible white balls from the same pack to be dino eggs (quite a stretch).

-Dino candles (they are parading across the water at the top of the waterfall. I presume this is how they became extinct. That, and being on fire). Ebay.

-Lots of fondant dinosaurs from ebay (actually, I was pretty happy with them despite how fragile they are. They mostly survived the post and last a long while (weeks), and taste better than anything rice paper-ish).

-Dino sprinkles around the edge of the water (SO not necessary… AND mixed with other sprinkles… but TJ was rather taken with the idea of dino sprinkles).

-Strawberry topping carefully applied around the edges of the volcanoes for lava (it was important that none of the topping got inside the volcanoes).

-Mini plastic dinos (tube of 20 or so for $4 from Kmart and I dropped some in each party bag afterwards), and two wind-up dinos ($3 each at Kmart).

-Dino cupcake toppers for the sides of the cake (stuck on with “edible glue” from Woolies), and Tim Tams.

As you can see, the aesthetic I was going for was: I bought a whole lotta vaguely cake-related stuff and I aim to use it ALL.

IMG_0628

 

So there it is in all its glory.

Now let’s talk volcanoes.

I dug two holes in the cake, and inserted small empty (clean) coke bottles (I experimented with other shapes and the mini soft drink bottle worked best). Then I broke a hole in the pointy end of two waffle cones and placed them over the top.

I was careful to make the bottle hole and cone hole match up as well as possible. You can see one of the bottles in the top of this pic:

IMG_0627

The cones did shatter a fair bit, but they fundamentally worked.

Bring a SEALED bottle of DIET red (the colour doesn’t matter; a lot of people use Coke because the dark colour is more dramatic but obviously red was better here).

At the last moment, fill both bottles. Then drop two MINT MENTOS into each one.

NB: The red diet drink I used uses stevia (considered a more ‘natural’ sweetener than the old chemical ones that have a number and/or a multisyllabic name). A LESS natural drink is likely to cause a greater explosion.

 

My daughter and her friend held the wind-up dinosaurs and let them go when I said, “Now!” and dropped the mentos into the volcanoes.

I lit the candles before pouring the diet soft drink into the bottles.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The familarrr

February 18, 2018 at 5:45 pm (Interactive Fiction Tutorials, Love and CJ, Mum Stuff, My Novels, Pirates, Rahana Stories)

Edit: For those of you who keep telling me you wish you could make it to one of my Interactive Fiction workshops (I generally run one at Conflux every October long weekend), here’s a video course I made on udemy: Introduction to Interactive Fiction. It’s $20.


 

IMG_4203

This was, of course, taken at the Pirate Ball & Book Launch last night.

Here’s some more:

 

Time for a rest!

My next public event is a talk/workshop on Interactive Fiction at the University of Canberra on Friday 2 March 5:30-7:30pm. It’s a rare opportunity to talk IF with me for free, and it’s open to the public.

If you read the dedication to Silver and Stone you’ll know that this group took me in when I was scrambling to write the second Antipodean Queen book. They’re a smart & friendly crowd and I recommend checking them out.

Their facebook page is here.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »