preliminary drawings!!

May 31, 2012

woo hoo! very excited to have received the preliminary floor plan from our architect yesterday.  he has done a good job.  given the brief and the constraints of the project i think the house would work very well.  there was some tricky requirements in the brief that he has resolved well.

i’ve sent him some tweaks that i’d like and he’s promised to have a second go and also the elevations back to us soon.  yippee!  ‘course now we just have to figure out how to pay for it.  (all donations gratefully received!)  we had always intended to build in stages, which the design also allows for, so hopefully we can pay in stages too!  if we can do major portions of it ourselves it will of course take longer but considering labour is half the cost of a build we need to save that money.

roughly, i think this is how it might work out:

demolition, excavation and site preparation- not us, piering and slab- not us, walls-us, plumbing and electrical- not us, first floor- us, glazing- maybe us, roof- maybe us, internal plastering- not us, external cladding-us, painting- us, tiling- us, flooring- not sure yet, cabinetry- a mix, window furnishings- us, furnishing and decorating- us.  still unfortunately most of the expensive bits we don’t have the skill or the know-how or the tools, to do.    then; house warming party- everyone!  see you then!

prior to all this of course we need to get council approval.  the only big hurdle i see to that our damn neighbours.  the design is not out of keeping with the locality, or over-sized, or in breach of (many of) the rules for the zone.  but doubtless the dickheads next door will complain, and complain.  i’ll have that fight when we get to it.

what is in the design?  huge kitchen, tick.  two living areas, tick.  five bedrooms, tick.  i want lots of visitors and house guests to fill the place up.  can’t wait….!


well, with less than a week of effort i’ve given up on toilet training tally.

last friday we ran out of nappies, on purpose, and i told tally he will have to start wearing his underpants now.  he seemed fairly receptive to the idea.  so for friday, the weekend and monday we persisted.  we also had a lot of little boy trousers, undies and socks to wash.  hmmm…

it’s frustrating because i’m quite sure if he wanted to he’d be trained virtually overnite.  he ticks all the boxes about being ready, he just doesn’t want to.  we have to find the right incentivisation method.  yes i made that up.  it comes from frustration.  i’m really sick of changing nappies but i also don’t want tally to have a crying fit every time i ask him to sit on the potty.  bribing him with chocolate- which i did from the first day, isn’t really a long term solution.

on tuesday tally refused to pee, even tho he sat on the potty with lower levels of fuss.  i just couldn’t let him go to gymnastics class, at 10:30am, without having peed all morning.  i can’t afford to replace what i’m sure is thousands of dollars of gymnastics equipment should he piss all over it.  i put a nappy on him after three no-shows on the potty and toilet.  for a couple of reasons he wore this nappy ’til 4pm when i changed him back to underpants.  the nappy was sodden, and he pretty soon peed in his pants.  grrrrr….

yesterday my cold was getting more and more unbearable, reducing my tolerance to nearly everything, and after the third change of clothes he was back in a nappy in the early afternoon.  and he’s been in one since.  boo.  never mind.

i know everyone says boys are harder to toilet train and take longer than girls.  a lot of people don’t even bother trying until their boys are 3 years old.  i’ve heard of 4 yr olds still in nappies.  i’m sure he won’t be going to school in nappies.  still!  i want him toilet trained!


then and now

May 23, 2012

last week i completed an online survey for a study being conducted by some boffin out of mac uni.  it turned out to be a thought-provoking exercise.

mostly it was a bunch of ticker-box questions about the permissiveness and panic that parents get into over their kids.  questions like “do you let your child play in your front yard without you supervising?” etc, etc.  ‘course that question would have been answered very differently three years ago when we had no front yard, just a rat-run, speed-way lane three steps from our front door.  now we’ve gone to a great deal of effort and bought a padlock to make our front yeard safe and secure for tally tornado.

towards the end of the survey there were some open ended questions to be answered as you liked.  the first was something along the lines of “what activities did you do as a child that carried some risk?”  as i was writing my answer i realised the question could more accurately have been; “what damn foolish things did you get up to as a kid that you now, as a parent, would suffer palpatations over?”  i did qualify my answer with the explanation that i grew up in coastal and rural areas where adults were busy doing the stuff that kept life trundling along and kids made the fun they made pretty much only in each other’s company from sun-up to sun-down.

to illuminate… what did i do that i would have a spaz over if percy or tally tried to do the same?…

1. swim in flooded creeks with branches, logs and sometimes whole trees tumbling past at a rate of knots,

2. throw rocks at snakes to get them to move off the bloody road where we were trying to ride our pushies sans shoes and helmets,

3. dig cubbies and tunnels in soft sand cliffs,

4. spend the entire day horse-riding, sans helmet, beyond the reach of screaming for help, without anyone knowing where i was,

5. driving too fast around paddocks with dickhead friends in beat up utes, particularly fun at nite around bonfires, (do we still count as kids if we have driver’s licences?)

6. slaughtering and butchering animals, actually i took a role here that might best be described as “superivising!”

7. swimming in bass strait,

8. climbing rocks and cliffs barefoot and fancy-free…

you get the idea.  is this a case of “then and now?”  were these things inherently less dangerous 25 – 30 years ago?  i don’t really think so.  i also think our parents grew up with parents that were too busy doing the grown-up stuff to mind them 24/7, hence they didn’t do it to us.  do we, the parents of the 21st century have more time on our hands?  certainly i’d say from our grandparents we now have more time/labour saving devices (dishwashers etc.) but not so much from our parents.  or is it a country/city thing?  between the ages of 7 and 9 we lived in a rather remote part of rural nsw, known as “up the gulf” aka, the gulf road, angling north-west out of a little town once known as vegetable creek, renamed emmaville after the mayors’ or doctors’ or some other such dignitary’s wife.  population of emmaville when i lived there, circa 500.  up the gulf our second nearest neighbour was five kilometres along the dusty, worn-out, potted road.  lucky happenstance was that these neighbours included a girl of my own age (hi cheron) and we became friends.  it was in the creek behind her house that we dared the downed trees to drown us, flung noxious weeds on each other, scampered after the goats and tried to influence the behaviour of snakes.  the gulf road was inhabited by perhaps 10 families and just wore out to bush by the end of it.  hence the five clicks between us was so untravelled grass grew between the tyre tracks and animals used it as a convenient by-way.  what i’m getting at is there was no danger of us being driven over or coming across strangers.  our current address is in a street of over sixty houses less than 600 metres long, visited constantly by cars, in the midst of an international city of over 4 million permanent residents.  it’s not comparing apples to apples, is it?  i wouldn’t let percy ride her bike immediately outside our house without me in grabbing distance, my parents thought nothing of sending my brother and i five kilometres away entirely unattended.  (perhaps when she’s 8, i’ll just need to be in shouting distance.)

the second open-ended question in the survey asked what i got out of engaging in those risky behaviours.  my answer was something like “independance, a sense of adventure, a lot of scars, sunburn, life-long friends, a desire to see what’s always over the next hill and an uncanny and unfailing sense of direction.”

obviously i think these are things worth having, minus perhaps the scars!  my knees weren’t destined to be un-scabbed and rubbingly smooth.  you don’t list the things you don’t want to remember, or be remembered by- loneliness, stubborness.  so do i want these worthwhile things for my kids?  yes, of course i do.  do i think they won’t be able to achieve or attain them because i won’t let them swim in deadly bass strait without life guards and a rope nearby?  well, maybe…  i do think risk-taking and unsupervised activities and even shenanigans that i won’t ever be told about are important to develop the individual and unique strengths of my children.  i worry life in suburbia won’t give them thousands of hectares of wild to stretch and push themselves in.  can the experiences that will do that be found in physically constrained places?  i suppose so, i just have no personal history to prove it to me.  i do know many brave, adventurous, battle-scarred people raised in suburban settings… it must be possible!

a final question in the survey was “what do you fear most for your children?”  gawd, talk about stop you in your tracks!  do the people that compiled this survey have kids?  i sat and i thought, and i thought a bit more… and finally i answered:

“in descending order;

1. loss of life, 2. loss of ability (mental and physical), 3. loss of freedom, 4. loss of desire, 5. loss of opportunity”

i didn’t elaborate in the survey but i think i will here.  loss of life is obvious.  loss of ability nearly as obvious; i fear for them to have to live their life hampered by disability.  loss of freedom encompasses from “wake-in-the-nite-in-a-cold-sweat-from-a-bad-dream psycho kidnapping them to losing the freedoms we associate with democratic systems.  loss of desire means the loss of the love of learning, seeing, doing, asking, reaching, exploring, adventuring, turning the corner, cresting the hill, poking your nose in, caring, anything ending in an ‘ing’ really, as well as the loss of love.  and loss of opportunity to me means losing the chance or the right to try something even if you are willing and able.  for instance living in a dictatorship or a war zone or a religiously dominated society, or being barred from climbing to the top of uluru or not hugging old growth forest trees because they’ve all been chopped down.

are these pretty standard fears and hopes?  would each generation answer much the same?  i suspect as much may change between “then and now”, a good deal of it will stay the same.