Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Flying Visit

Posted by MANDI at 12:39 PM 3 comments

We had a flying visit from Grandpa yesterday. He was supposed to fly into Red Dirt Central in the morning, do a quick job then fly back to Perth in the afternoon. But we managed to convince him (and he in turn convinced the powers-that-be) to stay with us overnight and, as luck would have it, it was perfect timing. He was here for Offspring #1's end-of-year school concert.
This year they had a Christmas theme and the "little kids", ie the two kindy and two pre-primary classes, all sang "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" together. They had to wear their uniforms but were allowed to accessorise with a Santa hat. It was very cute to watch - half of them forgot the words, the music drowned out the rest of them and they muddled up all the carefully choreographed actions while the flashes on parents cameras lit up the amphitheatre and the whole school cheered and applauded the 'babies'.
We couldn't get a decent picture of Offspring #1 in the crowd but I think I recognise his hands (the little ones, about two thirds of the way down, right at the back) in the last picture!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Drive Time

Posted by MANDI at 6:06 PM 0 comments
I drove a five hour round trip today.
Two and a half hours up, a 6 hour meeting and forum, then two and half hours back to Red Dirt Central.
The meeting was worth the drive but it sure made for a long day. On the bright side I got to listen to a bunch of CD's I love without anyone complaining, wanting the music turned down or The Wiggles music put on instead! Gotta love that LOL.
Now I'm off to babysit for a friend. I have done a little bit of cooking during the week so I'll be back over the weekend to share some recipes.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Posted by MANDI at 9:49 PM 3 comments
I am here really, just working lots, settling into the new job, helping hubby write job applications, still tutoring three kids, not cooking anything very interesting and coping with minor childhood emergencies.
Offspring #1 closed the door a little more forcefully than was required and, unfortunately #2's thumb was in it! Much screaming, even more swelling and bruising, a quick trip to emergency, her first x-ray and home within 2 hours! I was impressed. And although it all ended well and all body part are intact she now has another cold. It's so unfair when it's hovering around 39C outside!
So, are you doing anything interesting?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

7 Random Facts

Posted by MANDI at 5:14 PM 3 comments
Mountain Mama at Careful What You Wish For has tagged me for a meme.I'm thrilled to have had the hand of blogging friendship extended to me but have had a really hard time coming up with the content required for the meme. So much so that this has sat in my draft box for a week or more.

So, here's the meme rules:

Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

And here's 7 random things about me:

1. I love lists. I write lists for everything - shopping lists, to do lists, how to lists, meal plan lists, - you name I'll write a list for it. I write a to-do list every single day. They usually have much the same thing on them (make beds, do dishes, etc) so I guess they are pretty useless but they make me feel good. On the days I don't write lists I feel like something is missing. And I usually end up forgetting to do stuff like return phone calls or pay bills that are due.
2. I suck at maths. I hate maths and numbers make my mind go kind of blank, then I have a really hard time concentrating and working out what I have to do let alone actually doing it. It's become more about my fear of getting it wrong and looking stupid than not actually being able to do it. It's annoying and dumb because it stops me doing stuff I like, like playing card games, because I get too worried about what other people will think if I don't add up the cards right.
3. I cook when I'm happy and I clean when I'm not. Of course, it's not quite that simple but that's kind of how it works. A flatmate from many many years ago worked this out quite quickly and totally used it to his advantage. It was lucky we'd been friends for a long time otherwise I think I would have had to hurt him LOL.
4. I love 80's music, the daggier the better. I tell myself it's because I was in high school in the 80's so it was when I was 'into' music but I secretly think I'd love the whole synthesizer-music and men-wearing-make-up thing no matter what decade it came from.
5. I only ever wear nail polish on my toe nails and I only wear two colours. Blood red in winter and bright blue in summer.
6. I never knew that The Village People were gay. It's true. My boyfriend-at-the-time told me when I was about 23 and I was totally shocked! He still laughs about it, as does my husband and just about everyone else who knows. Now you can all laugh too :)
7. I hate hanging washing on the line. I don't mind sorting it, loading the machine, unloading the machine or folding it when it's dry. I don't even mind ironing too much any more (once upon a time when I had money and no children I only bought 'dry clean only' clothes in order to avoid ironing) but I HATE hanging it on the line. Sadly, everyone in my house insists on wearing clothes so I have to keep washing them.
I'm supposed to tag 7 other bloggers but while I admire many, ready even more and leave comments on a few, I don't really know 7 that I could tag so, if you'd like to do the meme jump on in and let me know in the comments so I can come visit and find out all about you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Love Sydney!

Posted by MANDI at 9:40 PM 6 comments

I freely admit that the thought of flying to Sydney, leaving the kids and Hubby for a week and having to deal with luggage, airports and hotels had me FREAKING out! But... it turns out that I can handle it all just fine. Who knew? Okay, well most everyone except me, apparently LOL.

First up, the hotel in Sydney sucked big time. Considering how much the rooms cost per night I was expecting something a little better - let's just say the wallpaper was peeling, the tv didn't work, the shower didn't work properly, the maintenance people had to be called twice before they came and fixed the shower and three times before the tv was fixed and my room service dinner order was wrong. Add to that two of the most uncomfortable beds on the face of the earth - one had lumps all through it while the other while the other sunk in the middle so that I could hardly get out of it - not enough blankets and no extras in the room and you have some idea of the level of crapiness.

But... the city of Sydney was fabulous, gorgeous, bustling, friendlier than I expected and just full of life. I can't say I'd want to live there but it was a terrific place to visit and I can't wait to go back.

Here's a small sample of some of the millions of photos I snapped.

A view of the city from the harbour

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, taken from Circular Quay

And the Harbour Bridge, from out in the middle of the harbour

The Sydney Opera House, on a gorgeously sunny day

And a closer look at the Opera House, on a cold and rainy day.

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to take this trip. It was a real learning experience, obviously from the work-side of things, but also personally. I stood on my own two feet, I found my way around a strange city (and yes, I did get lost but I found my way back to where I needed to be), I did some site-seeing, and I spent some time on my own. The last is a very rare luxury and I wasn't sure how I'd go with it. It can be quite daunting when you're used to being surrounded by people and are constantly putting their needs above your own. Not that I'm selfless and saintly by any means but anyone with kids knows what I mean, you get used to putting what you want at the bottom of the list and making time for yourself is something that doesn't happen very often. And do you know what I loved the most? That in the middle of a bustling, busy, modern city I found a space to be silent. There was no children's television, no radio blaring at me at 6am, no kids fighting/screeching/singing at the top of their lung, no phone ringing, no dog barking and it was bliss. They can all be joyful and joyous sounds but sometimes it's really nice to have a break from them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Perth Was Great

Posted by MANDI at 9:26 PM 6 comments
Mum and Dad met me at the airport and took me to my hotel. They waited while I checked in and then we went for a walk in the city. We checked out the Christmas decorations, avoided the druggies in the mall, oohed and aahed over window displays and generally caught up on family news. We had dinner together in the hotel restaurant - my lamb was delicious! - and then they headed home.
I can honestly recommend the Travel Lodge in Perth. It wasn't 5 star but it was a nice place to stay and the staff were great. By the third morning the girls on the breakfast shift greeted me by name, which was really nice when I was eating on my own and feeling just the tiniest bit lonely.

Here's my hotel room.

The bed was comfy, the blankets were warm enough (and there was an extra blanket in the cupboard - gotta love that) and everything worked.

Here's the view from my balcony (yep, I had a balcony!). First the view towards the city, although it misses all the tall buildings so I realise that it hardly looks very city-like to most of you.

And then, an even less city-like pic, facing the other way:

I had dinner with my girlfriends - more delicious food, lots of wine and lots of laughing - went shopping with my Mum, had Hungry Jacks for lunch (my weakness and the one junk food I always indulge in when in Perth) and, of course, worked. It was great to start the week in my home-town where I was comfortable and in familiar surrounds.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I'm Home!

Posted by MANDI at 1:48 PM 3 comments
I'm finally home and absolutely exhausted.
The plane from Sydney on Friday night had mechanical problems and while we waited to see if they could be repaired, or if Qantas could get another plane for us, the airport curfew came and went so a plane-load of people ended up being sent to hotel rooms all around Sydney. I had been up since 6.30 that morning and finally made it into bed at 1.30 on Saturday morning. Then I got up at 5.30 to get back to the airport. This morning I was up at 4.30am to be at yet another airport to catch my final flight for the week - home at last!
The week was great, interesting, exhausting, exhilarating, a challenge, an achievement and something I'm really glad I did. But I'd love some sleep.
I'll be back tomorrow with pics and stories.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm Surviving

Posted by MANDI at 8:22 AM 2 comments
Here I am in the big smoke. Okay, well Perth isn't really all that big and the smog doesn't seem too bad but hey, there are traffic lights and lots of people and cars and buildings higher than two levels so it's pretty impressive LOL.
The work has been full on. It's a lot to get my head around but I'm writing everything down and then I'll sort through it all next week while I'm trying to put it all into action.
The hotel I'm staying in is good. The staff are all lovely, I know they are supposed to be but they are just friendly and pleasant and it makes for a pleasant stay. The food has been good - I have been trying to squeeze in a walk each day to make up for the amounts of hotel food being consumed.
Dinner with the girls on Monday night was excellent. Wine, great food and terrific company. I'm sure you all know how wonderful it is to catch up with friends you have known forever who you can just relax and be yourself with. I think we laughed out way through the whole evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I have been doing okay on my own but started to REALLY miss the kids last night - just a reaction to being really tired and feeling like my head is being hammered with information and I still have several more days to go. I do wish my plane tonight was taking me home to my babies instead of to the other side of the country but Hubby and Grandma are doing a great job at home and I do get to speak to everyone each day, usually twice a day.
I'm off to Sydney tonight and probably won't check in again till I'm home. Then I'll have lots of blogs to catch up on as well as lots of housework to do.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

See You Soon

Posted by MANDI at 10:17 AM 1 comments
The suitcase is packed, instructions have been given and I'm heading out of here.
I'll be home in a week so look out for news of my adventures, and hopefully some pics too, a couple of days after that. Grandma says to tell you that she'd blog for me but she doesn't know how.
Red Dirt Mummy

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Let's Go Indian

Posted by MANDI at 9:11 PM 0 comments
First off, thankyou to all who left comments, advice and general well-wishes on my last post. Your wise words and kind thoughts are very much appreciated. Grandma has arrived and I have handed over a veritable novel with regards to who needs to be where, when and with what, who will eat what and who won't, who needs an eye kept on them while drawing (hmm, that would be #2), who isn't allowed to take peanut butter sandwiches to school no matter how much he begs (yep, that would be #1) and who needs to be reminded that it's okay to slow down and not do everything at 100mph (and that would be Hubby!).

I'm off tomorrow and have come to a fatalistic kind of calmness - it's all going to happen anyway so I just need to chill and get on with it. I still have to pack in the morning but all the washing and ironing are done and I have been stockpiling bits and pieces in a corner of the bedroom for a couple of days so it shouldn't take too long - depending on who feels a need to help, of course ;-)

And, onto some food. Offspring #1 is learning about 'other countries' at school this term and has had lots of different parents in talking to the class about growing up in another country and, in some cases, cooking food from that country for the kids to try. Having two Australian-born parents of English/Scottish/Irish/Welsh descent, along with two sets of Australian-born grandparents is apparently very boring as we have nothing to add to the content and he thinks he is very hard done by LOL.

Earlier in the week the class tried Indian samosas and were given a copy of the recipe. #1 came out of class waving it at me and suggested (that's a nice way of saying DEMANDED) that I make samosas on the weekend and "then you can take a photo and put them on your blog, Mum. I'm pretty sure other people would like them too." So, in accordance with the wishes of my 5-year old, here are photos and a recipe for samosas. They were indeed delicious and everyone, from Grandma down to Offspring #2 thoroughly enjoyed them.

Vegetable Samosas
Ingredients for four very hungry people (although I think it would have served several more!)

60g ghee or butter (I used butter)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds (I only had leaves so used them)
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of salt (I forgot it and didn't miss it)
1/4 teaspoon of chilli powder (I left this out and they were still great)
2 medium potatoes, finely shopped
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 heaped teaspoons of tomato paste
1 cup water
2 teaspoons of plain flour
1/4 cup of water
2 sheets of ready rolled short-crust pastry (see the note at the end*)

Heat ghee or butter in a frypan. Add onion, garlic, spices. Cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the potatoes, peas, cup of water and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover.
Cook for 15 minutes.
Blend the flour with the 1/4 cup water. Pour this into the mix to thicken it. Allow mix to cool.
Cut each pastry sheet into four equal strips. When the mix is cool, ladle one teaspoon of mix onto the top of each strip.
Fold each strip of pastry in triangles, about four times, sealing the mix inside. Seal the last edge with water.
Deep fry the samosas, a few at a time until golden. Drain on absorbent towels. Alternatively, brush with oil and bake on a tray in a medium-hot oven (180C) for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve the samosas with yoghurt, sauce or chutney for dipping. (We had pots of yoghurt, tomato sauce and sweet chilli sauce to choose from and, as this was our dinner I also served a salad.)

*I ended up using 6 sheets of pastry. The recipe makes a huge amount of filling - I used two sheets of pastry as directed by the recipe and then made larger samosas with the other sheets, quartering the sheets. I ended up with 12 small samosas and 16 larger ones. Guess what my lot are having for tomorrow's dinner?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Full Steam Ahead

Posted by MANDI at 11:58 AM 9 comments
So, finally some news about my new job. A not-for profit organisation is opening a branch in Red Dirt Central and I'm going to be leading the branch. Actually, at the moment I don't have a team to lead so I am the branch but that's not a bad way to start. It's an organisation that aims to help disadvantaged children and young people access education and, among other things, I'll be setting up and overseeing scholarships, liaising with local schools with regards to programmes that they would like run (eg literacy and numeracy programmes, etc), working within the community to provide other programmes such as homework clubs and breakfast clubs, and doing lots of networking with lots of different organisations, businesses and anyone else I can think of!
It's an area I enjoy working in (way better than doing relief teaching!) and something I'm quite passionate about so I'm really looking forward to that. It's a step up from my old job in terms of leading a team, rather than having the deputy kind of role, and I'm really looking forward to that too.
And I'm totally terrified. I'm freaking out about everything I have to do and I'm especially freaking out about next week. I'm spending a couple of days in Perth for induction at a state level then I'm off to Sydney for a couple more for national induction. Because of all the travelling and the flight times I end up being away for seven days (oh and I did sneak in one day just for me, though since I get in at midnight the night before I don't feel too guilty about that one). I have had the odd night away from Offspring #1 - most noticeably when I was in hospital having #2, but I still got to see him everyday - but I've never spent a night away from #2. Luckily mum-in-law, aka Grandma, has agreed to come and help out with the offspring which is quite a relief. I know that Hubby can cope just fine with the kids and all that is needed but it's nice to know he has some back-up and that the kids have some-one to fall back on. Plus they get to spend a week with Grandma which is pretty exciting.
Offspring #1 had just one request - could I please go to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and take a photo of it? I'm not sure that will be doable but I will definitely bring him back a picture of it, even if it's a postcard from the hotel lobby. Offspring #2 doesn't quite get it and we're not making a big deal of it - I figure next week will be hard enough for her without us talking it up before it all happens although we have told her that I'm going on a plane and that Grandma's coming to visit.
I have some pretty new work clothes which make me feel very grown up and responsible. I do love me some office-y type clothes and big heels.
I have a new suitcase. The old one was falling apart and would not have made it there, let along back again! It was also huge, and when full I couldn't lift it, so a suitcase I can wrangle on my own was required.
I've been to the library and got some books to read for the plane and at night in my hotel room(s).
I have started writing a billion lists for Hubby and Grandma for next week with details of who should be where, when, and what items they will need.
I've made huge batch of spaghetti sauce and frozen it in two lots. I've also made berry muffins for the freezer. I'll do a couple more things too before I go.
I've organised to have dinner with my bestest girlfriends while I'm in Perth.
I have started my list of 'what to take'. Yeah, the list making is genetic (hi Dad!) and part of the OCD too.
In the last couple of day I have lost nearly two kg's through sheer stress. This means my pretty new clothes will fit just perfectly and it also means that eating in restaurants and from room service for nearly a week shouldn't cause too many problems to my waistline!
So, any advice for someone who hasn't been on a plane by herself since about 15 years ago? Any advice for someone who hasn't been away from her husband for longer than about 3 days in over 11 years? Any advice for someone who has never really been away from her kids and certainly never far away? Any advice for someone who is not-so-slowly going out of her mind?
What have I forgotten? What do I need to know? Anything at all would be good.

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