Category Archives: Books

Comparison of different childhoods

New Yorker article on “Why Are American Kids So Spoilt?”

Read this article this morning – oy vey. What an eye-opener!

Somewhat relieved that I make Miss 6-y-o, my DD, do chores. It’s expected that she can get herself dressed and that she can pack her schoolbag (granted, with a little nudging some mornings). She feeds the kitten and I clean the kitty litter. Those sorts of things. If she sat back and expected me to pander to every requirement, I would go nuts pretty quickly and doing everything for her would do her no service whatsoever. I want her to grow into a resilient, reliable, thoughtful adult.


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Decluttering the back shed

Back home after a weekend away and I’ve started my holidays – just a short week.

Of course, the way to celebrate bright winter sunshine is to put on a coat and old shoes and enter the dark cave of stinkiness, um, the back shed, in order to get through more darn boxes of who knows what.

Well, there was a reward for my persistence. I found a vase that I’d been looking for (never unwrapped after we moved here in 2002) and a Staffordshire cat which was given to me as a birthday present by my employers in London in 1992. I’d been looking for that cat. No wonder I couldn’t find it – the box was clearly marked “Vases”. Memo to self: put better labels on boxes when we move next year. *Detailed* labels.

I also found balsa wood tulips (for the person who never remembers to put water in vases), and a copy of The Kama Sutra for Cats by Burton Silver. The tulips can go to the charity shop, ditto the glass bowls and paperback books from another box. If I’m serious about removing the clutter from this house and sheds, I’ve got to be ruthless about unwanted, unneeded possessions.

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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Books, cats, decluttering project


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New Year’s Resolutions

I’m not making any.

Last year’s were depressing or not worth it or completely derailed by life sucking massively.

There’s an article by Peter Gorski in The Sydney Morning Herald about trying to be a better parent which is definitely a good thing to try, whether it be the start of a new year or the middle of the year or any time at all.

So what do I take from his 10 tips? Firstly, there’s a lot packed in those 10 tips. While he has briefly covered them, I think that musing over the points and then working out how to apply them would easily take a full year – and what a year it would be! Challenging ideas, some are not new, some I’m already doing and want to continue.

I was reminded about number 4, Set consistent, secure boundaries, or rather, the fact that DD has variable boundaries depending upon who is looking after her. DD knows what my boundaries are. She knows the boundaries for behaviour and care at childcare and preschool last year. This school year she’ll learn what it’s like in kindergarten (how did my little darling suddenly become so big and ready for primary school so quickly?). But like every other 4, nearly 5 year-old, she pushes boundaries and some people cave in faster than others. So, yeah, it’s easy for some other parents to have a go at me because I’m a single mother and I share my child’s care with her teacher and others. I should add, I look after other children who come over to play with DD and I’m happy to do that. (Should add, my friends do not comment like that, for which I am enormously grateful.) DD would have probably loved to have a brother or sister, but having time to play with other kids and learn how to get along with people is very important.

What about number 5, Know and respect your own emotional thresholds and physical limits? I found my physical and emotional limits were variable last year. I was far sicker than I thought I would be, never anticipating how badly I would be shaken with asthma and viruses. It felt like my body was a battleground for emotional battles fought out in my immune system. How can I make things better this year? I have to be strong and well to provide the best care for DD and me.

First up, I’m fixing my messed-up ankle so that I can continue my regular walking for pleasure and health at lunchtime and on the weekends with DD, as well as using the exercise bike in the evening after DD has gone to bed. I want to increase my aerobic capacity bit by bit. Secondly, I also saw an immunologist last year about my allergies and asthma and I am getting better at managing the allergies, with asthma problems decreasing a bit. Thirdly, I’m seeing a GP regularly if I am ill and that is helping me to keep on top of the illnesses rather than suffering in silence and becoming worse. Yes, it costs more but it’s better than ending up feeling revolting and not being able to be there for DD.

I don’t see these as resolutions. I’m currently doing these things so it doesn’t come under the heading of “New things for torturing myself”. By the way I’m still doing a resolution that I made for New Year in 2009. I’m not watching repeats of television episodes. I still have to work harder on reading more and more books but I’m getting to the point where I’m having difficulty finding more hours in the day.


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Where did the week go?

I think that I should make a resolution – at least a resolution to write here more often!

I have been struggling through The Picture of Dorian Gray. I’m not in the mood for that style of prose and despite being a fast reader (tho not a speed reader per se), in one reading session I only got to page 50. If I don’t pick up my rate, that’s where it’ll stay! OTOH I hooned through a Get Fuzzy book of comic strips as relaxation before going to sleep.

That, I think, is the trouble with my reading patterns. I read before I go to sleep, and only occasionally during my lunchtime. At night, I really don’t want to read things that will agitate me and keep me awake after having to deal with insomnia and rotten sleeping patterns in 2007 and 2008.

I am intrigued by the reading order for Biggles books. There are some of my much-loved books on that list and I suspect that as an eight-year-old, I read many in the correct chronological order. It looks like the author, W.E. Johns, went through a compass stage in 1938 with Biggles flying East, West, North and South. Anyway, maybe Biggles would be suitable bedtime reading. You can stop laughing now.

One lazy summer day, I rediscovered my love of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, and another week I found I liked Malory Towers a bit more than St Clare’s. I think the monkey put me off. I say that I’m buying these books off Ebay for DD, but really, I’m kidding myself.

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Posted by on January 15, 2009 in Books, Uncategorized


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New Year’s Resolutions

I’m not making any.

It was such a success last year, not having any of those resolutions that come into force on 1st January, that I have decided to continue this year.

In 2008 I decided to make ‘resolutions’ during the year if I find that there’s something that would make a good difference in my life. One such thing was to not watch television episodes that I had already seen. There are heaps of new books, films, tv episodes etc. that I haven’t experienced yet. Honestly, half an hour spent with The Nanny is half an hour that I could spend with The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. I should add that my copy of that book, a birthday present to myself, has been read by DH and my good mate and I am now waiting for it to return so that *I* can read it.

Books seem to have won over films in 2008 and probably will continue to do so in 2009. A book can be read sneakily in between doing chores, out in the garden while pretending to weed the vegie patch, while waiting in a queue at the post office, at lunch, while waiting for lectures, and more. This, of course, is quite apart from the luxury of reading a book in bed of an evening, or deciding to read in bed instead of doing housework while DD is having a nap. She’s resting, and so am I.

More on my list:
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan.
The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters
The Letters of Noel Coward

As part of my wish to use my time better, I have started slowly, slowly downloading podcasts to my MP3 player. I love A Prairie Home Companion which my mother used to make us listen to when it was broadcast on ABC radio in Tasmania. Tales from Lake Wobegon can be downloaded from here.

ETA: I found my post from last year here. I’m still working on decluttering.

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Posted by on January 3, 2009 in Books, Entertainment, Radio, Television, Theatre


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Punish parents for smacking children

Article here.

Smacking of children by parents is currently legal under the common law, as long as reasonable force is used and the sole intention is to correct behaviour.

But Sydney University Associate Professor Judy Cashmore wants the defence struck out.

As of this moment, there are 312 comments made at the article’s page. Wow! Talk about a hot button. Most seem to think that smacking doesn’t harm children, it didn’t hurt them, and the reason the current crop of kids are horrible is because they weren’t smacked enough.

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Posted by on December 11, 2008 in Books, Child Development


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Hairy Maclary and other good dogs

Mimi has several “favourite” books. One of these is Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd, which we read before bed several times a week. Equal favourite is Scattercat, in which that naughty dog, Hairy Maclary, chases various kitties in the town, pouncing on them and chasing them, until he meets his comeuppance in the form of Scarface Claw, the toughest Tom in town! Mimi also loves Slinki Malinki, a naughty black Oriental cat who can get up to all sorts of capers, including toppling the Christmas tree fairy.

These books are not only heaps of fun for toddlers and preschoolers: they’re lots of fun for adults who read them to an appreciative audience! The rhythm and meter of the lines encourage reading aloud and kids joining in, and the alliteration and assonance add to the interest. Then, of course, there’s the loud RAWWRRRRRR of Scarface Claw (but not too loud, though, or you’ll frighten tender ears). The illustrations are a delight: the sinuous, sleek lines of Pimpernel Pugh and Slinki Malinki, the scruffiness of the terrier-mix Hairy Maclary, and the sweet fluffiness of Zachary Quack, to mention just a few.

Jamie Lee wrote about the joy of book series. Oh, how I can relate! I am very grateful that there are a number of books that feature Mimi’s favourite book characters.

BTW, if you go to Hairy Maclary’s homepage, you can try to click on the different dogs as they jump at the fence. Woof woof!

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Posted by on November 3, 2008 in Books, Child Development


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