last sunday percy and i attended a musical afternoon at the sutherland entertainment centre.  i complain a lot about the lack of activities that the kids can participate in or that we can do as a family out here in the ‘burbs.  i’ve been corrected, and i do see that there is plenty for them and us to do.  i think my whinge at the time should have been more that everything requires a vehicle to get to.  we’d been spoiled for options living in erko- three train stations in walking distance, buses to the beach and just being in walking distance to most everything anyways.  so, sigh, “get used to it!”

back to our sunday outing.  we had a great time (even tho we had to drive there.)  i really wasn’t sure what to expect from the concert, nor from percy.  the concert turned out to be a thirty piece brass band and two vocalists, playing a mix of pieces lasting for two and half hours!  the two and half hours is significant because that is a very long time to expect a four year old to sit thru and listen to music they have largely never heard before.  there was an intermission, at which time i introduced percy to the fun of maltesers, one of many favourite chocolates!

the program ran thus: strike up the band, puttin’ on the ritz, edelweiss (to which percy sang along dreamily), le vie en rose, mr sandman, largo al factotum, myfanwy, nella fantasia (which i, call me a musical infidel, can not remember having heard before and really enjoyed), west side story (medley), vienna marches – intermission – grand march from aida, sing sing sing, new york new york, april in paris, i dreamed a dream, bring him home (two of the saddest songs, along with ’empty chairs at empty tables’ that i know), singin’ in the rain, merry widow waltz, aspects of andrew lloyd webber (medley), my way and time to say good bye.  phew!

percy was a doll up to nearly the end.  she marched in place during the marches, sang and danced too.  we were fortunate that the remaining three seats at the end of our aisle were empty such that percy occasionally took her folded up jacket as a pillow and lay down on the floor along these seats.  she did get restless at the end.  partly because i had said we would go to the library after the concert, not realising that the concert ran well over library closing time.  she really wanted to get to the library!  so at the end, when an encore started, even tho it was waltzing matilda, a song we often sing together (don’t get me started on explaining suicide and the great depression to a four year old!) we climbed over the chairs and made our retreat.

i really do think she did a good job of displaying “concert manners.”  a concept we have learnt from our painist friend carl- “if you don’t like it curl up on your seat and go to sleep”, whose daughters have attended hundreds of concerts from birth.  those of you at our wedding may recall carl played while his elder daughter sang during parts of the ceremony.  aren’t they great?

and percy too is great.  i hope she enjoys music and movement throughout her life.

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time to begin!

July 28, 2011

time to begin the serious business of getting into our new house.  we moved into the future demolition site (current home) over the october long weekend in 2009.  time to get a wiggle on now, in my opinion.

 some leg work has been completed to date.  possibly most importantly we have decided on the type of house we want to build.  i scoped out some architects and we even had a meeting with one to discuss our desires.  long story short; we can’t afford a bespoke, architect designed house.  so then i trawled the project home websites.  now i’ve always had a dislike of project homes because they are all “cookie-cutter” designs that have no regard to the location they are built in, and generally are built in new subdivisions one after the other, ad nauseum….  macmasions without a tree or a footpath in site.  i did not have much hope.  but lo-and-behold! we did find a design that 1. fits the narrowness of our site, 2. is able to be tweaked about, 3. fits the slope of our site, 4. provides the spaces we want, and 5. might even be affordable.

 (just a little aside- i find it hilarious that after living in erko, where our terrace was 3.7m wide, our block of land now, at 12.9m wide is considered narrow!)

 importantly i think we can also work with the project home architect to change the basic design to something that suits us even more.  i’ve often heard one needs to have a good relationship with ones’ building designer/architect; now i’ll find out for myself.

 our second step was to meet with our local council town planners.  that was a barrel of laughs!  i ought to record my impressions of the meeting for posterity.  maybe I’ll get to it one day…

suffice to say to get what we want we have to bend a few of the council rules.  this is not an unusual situation to be in.  you may recall that i myself earn my living as a town planner.  for a number of years i worked in assessing development applications, funnily enough for two of those years with the very council we are now living on the other side of the fence with.  my point is the rules are bent all the time.  sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot.  we want a little bit of bending, being- remove a tree, vary a side setback, vary a front setback (twice).  in my opinion, professional opinion, not just greedy home owner opinion, the bending is logical, fair and would result in better outcomes for all.  yippee!  or not, in council’s opinion.

 since the meeting with council, over a month ago now, we’ve done nothing.   a little flummoxed and disappointed i think.  council saw no reason for any bending.  hmmmm…

 anyways, time to climb back in the saddle and try a little trot again.  we need four things at present, the first; a favourable arborist’s report that encourages the removal of the tree, the second; a geoscientist’s report that states the site is “fit for purpose”- ie. there is no contamination on the site that would make residential development inappropriate, third; a complete topographical survey of the site, and fourth; a set of plans and an SEE (statement of environmental effects) that shows clearly what we want and makes the case for it.

 we have previously employed an arborist on another matter.  we just have to find a mutually suitable time for him to inspect said tree.  tick- can do.

 we have had a geoscientist visually inspect the site and detail the work and expense in getting a “fit for purpose” report.  the investigation and report could cost up to 10k, it might be less but i’m a pessimist (so i’ve been told!)  again a mutually suitable time for the investigation to be done needs to be found.  tick – can do.

 shortly after purchase we had a boundary survey made of the site.  (no encroachments i was happy to learn.)  we can engage the same company to bulk up the survey to include all the detail necessary.  tick – can do.

 working with the architect i’m sure we can compile plans and the SEE.  to engage him tho we’d have to sign the contract to buy the project home.  i think we’ll do the other steps first and i’ll get started on writing the SEE myself beforehand.  tick – WILL do.

 can you be bored enough to want to hear what variations we want and therefore what I need to address in the SEE?  perhaps.  or perhaps when i’ve finished it i’ll just post it in here.

 keep reading… i intend to regularly update our progress- and there WILL BE progress!

some bad things

July 28, 2011

i’m intending to record these bad things so i can remind myself to never take our new house for granted.  when putting yet another load of dirty clothes into the washing machine in my pristine white laundry i’ll remember that i didn’t have go outside, in a rain storm, down some slippery steps, in the dark to a “laundry” with a dirty bare concrete floor with possum shit on it to do so.  when i load yet more dirty dishes into a humungous dishwasher in my big, custom designed and built, pristine white kitchen i’ll remember that one step in either direction would have meant running into a murky yellow coloured, cupboard or a wall previously.  when i’m doing my business on one of four toilets in clean, pristine white bathrooms i’ll remember that i’m not knocking my knees on the antiquated (not in a good way) blue basin positioned so close to the toilet that sitting sideways is a viable option for comfort.  when i step between the three levels of my architect designed house i’ll remember that i’m using stairs now, not compensating for different floor levels between rooms due to uneven-ness or a change of floor covering.  when i set a fire in the hydronic in-floor heating linked wood fireplace, i’ll remind myself that my house is insulated to within an inch of its life, has double glazed windows in insulated frames, pelmets and radiating heat sinks and remember without any fondness whatsoever shivering thru layers of clothes over a useless wood heater that dribbled out a little heat after six hours of effort.  when i play with my children and our friends on a well-drained lawn and go adventuring and building cubby houses in our forested back yard i’ll remember that there are no pools of stagnant water and a cramped porch to be our only outside experiences.  when i hang our clothes away in pristine white wardrobes and have a spot for the vacuum cleaner that isn’t anywhere near my dresses i’ll remember getting everything tangled and be happy that’s over.  when we have guests visiting every day and sleeping in new beds in large bedrooms, laughing without care while we, as hosts relax and lay out the “my home is your home” welcome, i’ll remember never inviting anyone to stay because they simply wouldn’t fit.

did you notice my fixation with pristine white rooms?  oh yes, wait and see…

some good things

July 28, 2011

here are some of the good things about living in an old house.  by old house i mean one that is crappy and due for demolition.  i don’t mean old, beautiful, well cared for, well maintained and full of character.  no, we don’t live in one of those, we live in a poorly built and poorly designed, added-on to waste of space.

what are the good things after that bad rap?  we don’t care if the kids draw on the walls.  we don’t care how many stickers are stuck to every wall and all over the floor.  we don’t worry about blu-tac marks or nail holes.  we don’t mind moving furniture about, hitting things with hammers, pulling out built in bits of furniture or scratching the floor.  it’s all going to go soon.  the sooner the better.  that is another story that i’ll get to soon too (hopefully.)

 we don’t worry about marks on the walls, scuffs on the skirting boards, i don’t even care to climb up and clean out the cobwebs on the kitchen ceiling.  i find it funny that the expanding foam i’ve squirted into gaps to try to stop draughts has puffed out of the gaps in bulging, unattractive ways.  i’ve never cleaned the windows, isn’t that what rain is for?  i’ve never washed the exterior, the gutters have never been cleaned out.  why waste the time on these things when i’m going to take gleeful photos of a big machine knocking the whole bastard thing over in a year or two?

so, yes there are some good points to living in a future demolition site.  i’m not chasing the kids to look after the place and scrubbing up the mess half my life- yippee to that!  i’m happy to kick dropped food under the stove and let it rot there for a year or two, rather than sweep it up.  cleaning with a toddler in the house is nightmarish enough anyways.  yeah, we vacuum, we clean the bathroom, occasionally the floor gets mopped, when it’s really bad i swipe one of tally’s wet wipes over dusty surfaces… it’s not a total dump.  as an added benefit percy and tally’s immune system should be getting robust practice runs at all sorts of bugs.

 the house is also quite small.  two steps and i’m across the hall from our room to the kids, four steps and i’m thru the dining area into the bathroom.  six steps down the hall from kitchen to living room (an enclosed verandah) and three steps from kitchen to computer.  tt’s quick and convenient.  christ, i want a huge house!! i want to get lost and be inconvenienced!

no more cots

July 11, 2011

on saturday we talked with tally about taking the side off his cot.  he seemed happy with the idea so we proceeded.  and so far with success!  there are no cots in our house any more.  which is kind of sad; no more babies, tiny hugs, itsy-bitsy clothes, scrunched faces, breastfeeding, muslin wraps and in tally’s case no more sleeping bags.  not only has he grown out of the ones we have but i figure if he does get himself out of bed he’ll need his legs to get back in.  so we are steadily leaving our baby years behind us (barring the unforeseen!)  i’m sad but i’m also really looking forward to the future.  unless you’ve grown a baby inside you you’ll never know the sheer gob-smacking amazement of it.  unless you’ve given birth you’ll never know the earth-moving power of it.  of course if you’ve never gotten up nite after nite after nite, four, five, six times, possibly for more than two hours each time you’ll never know the life-sapping exhaustion that undieing, pure love can drive you thru- and that’s a good thing!  hurrah to all the families that have good sleeping babies.  and hurrah to us for now getting much more sleep than we have in the past four years.  i do not want to return to that numbing half life.

talvin will next month, turn two years old.  wow.  he’s such an adorable little guy.  he says “hug” and grips his little arms around you as far as he can reach and burrows his face into you hard.  so lovely.  despite not walking until he was 15 months he’s tearing around like a mad thing most days now.  he is talking more too, mostly we can understand him.  even a couple of two or three word sentences.  we were concerned his speech was delayed and contemplating therapy but i think we can leave him alone to get on with it in his own time for a while now.  his carers at day care say they love to ask him questions because of the way he answers “yesh.”  in general tally is doing well.  last measurement (a few months ago now) he was bang on average for height, back in the scale (lowest 20th) for weight and has a big head.  i call him my lollipop!

so no more cots and babies for us.  soon tally will grow too big for the converted cot/bed too.  i’ve heard horror stories of kids that continuously climb out of their beds and take many hours and many days or weeks to convince to stay in their bed and sleep.  so far, so good with tally.  he doesn’t seem inclined to climb out at all.  once he’s too big for the little bed we’ll move on to putting he and percy to sleep together in percy’s double bed- now that could prove interesting!