Posted by: Fern | August 28, 2009

Zai Jian, Kai Lan

Back in January Nick Jr. started playing “Ni Hao, Kai Lan“, it was instantly a hit with Declan, and when we moved in April and decided that pay tv was something we no longer wanted he would regularly talk about how much he missed it, chat about the characters and goings on in the show. Eventually we gave in and picked up a couple of DVDs for him, which were then watched on repeat at every moment we would allow.

KTHXBYE!

KTHXBYE!

For those not down with preschool programming, the basic formula is this: Introdution to characters/what they’re doing today, one of Kai Lan’s friend’s has a negative emotional response to something, Kai Lan finds a solution and teaches it to the friend, friend has the same response but can now deal with it in a positive way thanks to Kai Lan’s assistance. All of this in interspersed with learning Mandarin and some really lovely illustration.

Sounds pretty awesome right? Particularly for Declan who has trouble dealing with his emotions and transforming negative energies into positive ones. I also think that a pre-school program with a focus on an Asian language is far more appropriate for an Australian audience than Dora or any Spanish influenced shows.

Unfortunately in those few months sans-Kai Lan something clicked in the way Declan watched the show. Since re-introducing it many of his tantrums have become monolouges of Kai Lan’s friend’s tantrums. Even if I play the game with him and do the song and dance about how he needs to sway gently if he’s getting angry, or find something he enjoys doing when waiting for something is hard, it just doesn’t sink in. I’m not sure if it’s his age or just the mode he’s in at this stage of his development, but he only seems to be taking negative lessons from what, in theory, could be a very useful show.

So we’re saying goodbye to Kai Lan for a short while, or zai jan as she would say. Give it a couple of months and hopefully Declan would be able to take something positive away from it. One of the most fabulous things about slowly removing the television from our home is that we have the power to do so, those DVDs are just going to go missing for a little bit. I’m hoping not for too long, because as far as I know there’s no where else that I can get my fix of flying rhinos and koalas with panda issues.

What have your toddler’s responses to the show been like? I’m hoping there must be something positive coming out of it, and not just my son being a nutcase!

Posted by: Fern | August 22, 2009

This Isn’t A Special Post

Happy Little VegemiteThose that keep up with Twitter will know that, lately, Declan has been feral when it comes to eating. He is insisting that he can survive soley on a diet of satsumas, peanut butter sandwiches and licorice.

It’s not that he doesn’t like the food I’m offering him, in fact I’ve gone out of my way to cook meals that I know he loves, pasta, tomatoes, sausages etc. His excuse for not eating them isn’t that he doesn’t like them, no, that would be silly, it’s because they’re not special.

Yeah, you read that right, Declan wants each meal to be a special snowflake placed delicately on a plate for his consumption.

This is our daily conversation…

F: Do you want pasta or eggs for lunch?

D: Is it special pasta?

F: Nope, just pasta.

D: Is it special eggs?

F: (thinking I can outwit him) Yes! It is special eggs.

D: (pure excitement washes over him) Yes please special eggs!

I then lovingly prepare him a ham and cheese ommellet, complete with ketchup smiley face on the top, place it down in front of him only to have him gasp, throw his hands to his face in disbelief that he’d fallen for this con again and yell “THAT’S NOT SPECIAL EGGS!!!”

Repeat three times daily with every other food you can imagine until I give in and make him a peanut butter sandwich, which apparently sit in a food category along with bananas, satsumas and sweets that do not need to be classified as special in order to be eaten.

The longer I raise my children the more I start to think that boarding school from 12 months up sounds like a fabulous plan. Someone else in some distant Hogwarts like set up with millions of toddlers at their feet can work out exactly what the magic equation to make food special is.

Until that happens I’m going to take out some shares in the peanut butter industry.

Posted by: Fern | August 20, 2009

The Sims 3 – Initial Impressions

For my birthday present Dan upgraded our desktop video card and picked up The Sims 3 for me. I’ve only had about 3-4 hours of play (inbetween running around after kids/changing bums/making breakfast etc) so I thought I’d get out my initial impressions whilst they’re fresh.

For a bit of background, I’m a massive sims fan, this has been the longest I’ve actually waited for a game (due to knowing that our previous video card wouldn’t have played it) but I’ve been there queuing up and in line for the previous editions and most of the expansions. My main focus is the gameplay/story telling, I’m certainly no builder and although I like a bit of custom content, I’m also quite happy to play the base game. I generally play without cheats, but I do have households which I “KACHING” and “boolprop_” to my hearts content.

I either play Legacy or SimSelf. Whenever I get a new game or expansion I like to create a fresh family with just one member and aging turned off and just try out any new gameplay. Dan was my initial “Alpha Sim”.

Create A Sim

  • Took some getting used to. Once I’d figured it out it’s fairly easy. I like that they’ve separated the basic and advanced customisation features. Noses for example are split into “pick a nose” type options with a varity of images, then an additonal optional screen where you can change the bridge shape, tip position, nostril flare.
  • I managed to get a fairly good sim-dan using the tools, which I now wish I’d taken a screen cap of because he doesn’t look the same now (see below!). I did notice that the “Young Adult” age group – meant to be 18-30 was very babyfaced, aging him into middle age created lines and wrinkles and a much more “Dan-like” image. Although they don’t quite have the “Cabbage Patch Doll Look” that everyone was concerned about, there is a hint of it when you look around the town.
  • I played a little with Create A Style, I was concerned that every single thing I did there would be a million options asking me how I want to make it look, but there are plenty of choices premade without resorting to CAS every single time. The actual meshes weren’t particularly varied, but I wouldn’t expect much more from a base game.
  • I LOVE the “Traits” that you can now assign your Sim. Daniel is a book-loving, heavy sleeping, computer geek genius with evil tendencies. I couldn’t find a better description of my husband if I tried! His lifetime wish is to become an evil genius.

 Sim Dan

Gameplay:

  • I don’t understand the drama regarding the new navigation. Yes, it took a few minutes to get used to, but I don’t think holding down your scroll wheel instead of the right mouse button is enough to be as up in arms as a good chuck of the community seems to be.
  • I’m still on the fence on the seamless navigation. I love the fact that I can pop down to buy some groceries without waiting five minutes listening to elevator music on a loading screen, but I also miss seeing inside the grocery store, or seeing interactions in restaurants. It seems a little weird when Dan is spending half his time hanging out in the doorway to a restaurant trying to pick up chicks.
  • I like the wish fulfillment, Sim Dan, who’s working his way up the criminal track informed me that he wanted to focus more on using his criminal skills for evil as opposed to the whole Robin Hood thing, I have promised to fulfill the wish as soon as I get a chance. The list of rewards for your wish point is fairly good, so far I have “bought” Office Hero, which has made promotions very easy, and “Observant” which is making him a hit with the ladies.
  • I really like the revamp of the careers, instead of the “you need to have XYZ skill points to level up” it’s now more spread over various (and more lifelike) situations. You may not be the most skilled in the workplace, but you’re close and you’re pretty chummy with your boss, so you’re a shoe in for that promotion :)
  • I don’t feel as connected to my Sim as I did with the previous games. Not sure what it is, but I’m fairly certain that if a satellite fell on Dan’s head tomorrow I would be more bothered by losing all that work, not upset because the character had been obliterated by falling space-junk. Maybe because of the wider perspective I’m not getting quite so attached, who knows.
  • Animations are lacking, particularly social. Dan currently has two young ladies who he is busy seducing and watching the interactions is fairly dull, there’s no ridiculously animated body language and responses, no hysterical laughing when he tells a funny joke, no blushing when they’re complimented. The voices also aren’t as good (IMO) as TS2, once again, lacking in excitement and animation. And for those concerned, yes, Dan will meet a lovely woman with purple hair by the name of Fern, eventually, but I figure I’ll let the poor sim have some fun first.
  • I really like the moodlets. Not much to say on them, other than the fact that I love that a crappy nights sleep makes you stroppy for the next 24 hours. I can totally relate.
  • I’m impressed with the body morphing. As I said, I made Dan to look fairly similar to his IRL Self, and this includes a little bit of a gut. But after just one trip down there Dan became obsessed with the gym, he has no athletic traits, but for some reason he behaves like he’s on steroids. That gut is gone and he’s now ripped to the point that you can see veins in his arms. He’s clocked up 50 hours of cardio workout in his short life and runs several KM a day. He’s won several Sim City Olympics now and is currently being begged to join the SCFC, The Llamas.
  • I also very much like the option to earn a second income from home, in his spare time (when he’s not showing off down the gym) Dan writes fairly popular sci-fi novels which are bringing him in royalties each week.
  • I also think the in game challenges are awesome. Reading about them I was concerned that these were minigames, but that’s not the case. Once a week or so a box pops up, almost like a chance card in monopoly offering Dan the opportunity to earn some extra money and reward points for completing a task.

Sim Dan's House

So that’s my initial impressions at this stage I would give it 7/10, but I still have a hell of a lot to explore and look into.

Posted by: Fern | June 16, 2009

Time To Say Goodbye

Daily Snapshot 26-6-2009

This is me.

Declan got stuck into a bit of drawing this morning and was very proud to show me this portrait. He pointed out Mummy’s eyes, Mummy’s mouth (I’m angry apparently, in most of his pictures Mummy is either angry or sad… I promise I’m not QUITE that unstable!), Mummy’s hair, nose, and tumor.

The “tumor” is the large lump on my forehead, best shown in this picture, that everyone glances at and won’t actually mention until I mention it first, usually met with  them telling me that they’ve been dying to ask what the hell the large forehead growth that I’m sporting is. Dan and I refer to it as a tumor, so that whenever it comes up in conversation I can put my best Austrian accent on and say “IT”S NOT A TOOMAR!”. The sheer amusement we get from this is probably the primary reason that Dan and I were destined to be with each other. It really isn’t a TOOMAR, it’s just a cyst that I developed when I was pregnant with Declan that I’ve been putting off getting removed.

Declan loves the tumor, he’s even rewritten songs just for my benefit, “Eyes and ears and mouth and tumor” is now a Treacy standard, if he’s giving the family high fives then the tumor gets one all for itself, and he has now decided to immortalise it in his artwork in the form of a large squiggle in between my eyes.

You know how I was putting off getting it removed… suddenly it seems so much more urgent, it’s crossed from cute into “kinda creepy” territory. Give it a couple more months and I can see him getting really attached, naming it and asking to take it into preschool for show and tell.

Posted by: Fern | May 31, 2009

Highs And Lows

This week has had it all, ant invasions, canine footwear and my eldest giving me the fright of my life. Daily Snapshot Week 3

  • Life up the coast is going well, other than having the dreaded lurgi for an entire week, and of course, the rain, what’s up with that? I’m starting to think that this whole drought thing is just a government conspiracy to keep the country stinky from short showers.
  • Declan had a febrile convulsion brought on from a fever caused by the dreaded lurgi, I put the full story up on flickr if you’re interested, but the bottom line is that he is fine, I’m more shaken over it that he is infact. We’ve been told to probably expect some more over the coming years.
  • Dan cried. I have seen Dan cry probably five times in the entire time we have been together and to this day I can still list every one of them. To see him crying over Declan shook me to the core, the image of Declan laying lifeless on the floor isn’t what is burned into my head, it’s Dan crying.
  • We still have no phone and no reliable internet connection, it’s getting to the point where I am going to crack skulls.
  • The job is going well and I have been introducing the family to all sorts of wonderful goodies from the UK, this coming week I’m going to buy some Bisto Chip Shop Curry Sauce, buy some chips and a battered sav and see how that goes down. Gastric distress FTW! Having lots of fun with my coworkers and the customers.
  • It’s Fake Mothers Day today, that’s a day that isn’t the usual Mother’s day as opposed to a day dedicated to Fake Mothers. We delayed it so that it didn’t interfere with moving, and after last years debacle (remind me to tell you that story sometime!) there was no way that Dan wasn’t going to do anything this year. I woke up to a card from the boys and Queen Singstar. NEIGHBOURS BEWARE! Once I can finally find the box the PS2 is packed in I will be assulting your ear drums with Bohemian Rhapsody.
Posted by: Fern | May 25, 2009

And The Beat Goes On

Tomorrow we hit fourteen days in the new house. It feels like we’ve been here a decade and have just been super slack unpacking. Yesterday I managed to sort out the majority of the toys, on Thursday (my next day off) I’m hoping to get the office sorted out and then the final thing will be the sewing and craft stuff – because you know once I have access to my sewing machine again then not much is going to get done! I have a list about a mile long of things I want to work on, quilt for my soon to be arriving nephew and another for Dan’s Cousin’s not so soon to be arriving baby, and a bag so I can go to work with a grownup bag instead of carting around Declan’s dinosaur bag.

Work is going great, I’m amazed at the amount of Poms coming into the store, it’s been great to talk to people from ‘the old country’, I even heard a customer saying to her friend the other day “That’s the girl from Bath!”, maybe I’m not quite as forgettable as I thought ;) So far I’m really enjoying it, missing the kids like crazy, but the staff discount on Frazzles and Scottish Tablet takes the edge off that.

With not much else left to say, and a bus to go and catch, I shall leave you with this week’s daily snapshots, featuring the aforementioned Frazzles, my sulky toddler and a macro of Dan’s nostrils.

Daily Snapshot Week 2

Posted by: Fern | May 17, 2009

Ch-Ch-Changes

So, about a million years ago I made a post saying how we were off on a last minute trip to Port Macquarie and I might have some exciting news upon my return. Upon returning everything was thrown into a whirlwind of moving, arguments with our completely incompetent real-estate agent, and believe it or not, employment!

The four of us are now residing in a lovely little 3 bedroom villa in Port Macquarie, after leaving the sunny climes of Western Sydney and deciding to head up north. Our previous trip up here was for me to attend a job interview for a position working at a British Sweet shop, which I am happy to say I am starting tomorrow.

 Daily Snapshot Week 1

I’m feeling superbly positive about everything happening at the moment, things had got stale in Sydney, both Dan and I were very firmly stuck in a rut, the move is a fresh start for the whole family and it just feels right.

I would love to say that I’m back, but we’re currently on a very limited internet connection and don’t even have a phoneline yet, so until everything is sorted out there, posts will be very sporadic, I’m hoping that by the end of the month everything should be set up as it should be :)

Posted by: Fern | April 19, 2009

Ahh, The Life Of A Not-So-International Jet Setter!

DSCF2679
I haven’t even finished unpacking our bags from our previous trip when I find out that now we’re all off to Port Macquarie for a couple of days. I may (or may not) have exciting new upon our return, in the mean time I shall just cross my fingers and wait.

Posted by: Fern | April 10, 2009

Cue Headless Chicken In…3..2..1

In the next 24 hours I have to:

  • Clean my entire house to Mother In Law Standard (aka code red)
  • Finish a quilt for my upcoming niece/nephew – the piecing is done so I just have sashing, basting, quilting and binding left to do. Was thinking of some either embroidery or applique, but hah, that really isn’t going to happen.
  • Walk down the road to Aldi and get some food for our impressively bare cupboards
  • Do enough laundry to last me and both the boys for six days away
  • Write a couple of posts to schedule on CraftBlog so it won’t lose the rather nice traffic spurt it’s been having lately
  • Do the homework for Darrens 31DTBBB that I am already behind on so I will only have six days to catch up on when I get back instead of 10!
  • Run around like a headless chicken whilst trying to control my son who has just figured out how to work the computer and the ti-faux to play nursery rhymes and Roary The Racing Car 24/7.

The worse part of all this?

I have no milk. No milk means no coffee. No coffee means this list doesn’t look very likely to be completed.

Posted by: Fern | April 5, 2009

An Equation Most Parents Should Be Familiar With

1 batch of burnt CupCakes and four year old sprinkles
DSCF2561

+ 1 overly enthusiastic toddler (“CUPCAKES FOR ME! SPRINKLES!! YES!!!”)
DSCF2573

+ very poor supervision
DSCF2566
(for the record, no idea what happened with the photo, but his hair is not that ginger!)

= some somewhat over-topped cupcakes
DSCF2570

Some cupcakes with fairly significant finger dents left in them – that’s assuming you can find one of the ones that hadn’t been decorated, licked clean and then re-iced
DSCF2572

and a particularly grotty face
DSCF2602

Somedays I really dislike my job, somedays I love every minute of it, today was certainly the latter.

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