We have a new Dark Overlord.

I thought there was nothing a child could throw at me that I couldn’t take, if there is a mum that can probably take on anyone with combat training it’d be me.  Oh yeah, I reckon I’m a hardcore mum.  Crap on the carpet and vomit on the wall, plus dinner to get on the table and all at the same time, oh yeah I got this – totally all over it.

But then there was Charlie.

Our youngest is beginning to exhibit behaviour that leaves us wondering, if not somewhat nervous (and hiding the matches).  We thought we’d seen it all, after all Henry did once blow up our kitchen.

Charlie is adorable.  Clearly this is all part of his cover.  The signs were there, I just didn’t pay attention… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Take last summers holiday for instance, I had decided in my wisdom to take the six kids over the coast on my own (because I’m totally a combat mummy right?) the Hubster was going to come later when he was on days off.   We arrive at the holiday house and Austin (the town crier) let the neighbourhood know he wanted a drink, I was about to remind him how to ask politely when I heard Charlie tell him “Don’t worry Austin I’ll get you a drink”.  I wondered how Charlie would get it, since he is too little to reach a tap yet.  So I decided to check.  There he was cup in hand, his little willy in the other peeing in the cup and about to hand it too his brother to drink. HOW DID HE EVEN THINK OF THAT?! (I’m fairly sure we haven’t let him watch any Bear Grylls).

Part of me nearly didn’t stop him, and I hear you judging, but come on you can’t tell me isn’t there just a little part of you that is thinking it would be SO funny if he actually took a sip.  I fought off the temptation to laugh my arse off at my child’s expense, and stopped the drink being handed over.

I now regard anything given to me by the small one with suspicion and a good sniff.

Little brothers, evil incarnate.  They’ve sat and watched their elder siblings, and while they were still figuring stuff out and getting in trouble, little brothers are taking notice working out the loop holes.

And then there is Charlie… you never know when he’ll strike either.  I took him to the loo at the shops recently, and on this day I had chosen to wear a skirt, a mistake I won’t make again.

Sharing a public toilet cubicle with a small child is always a bit interesting at the best of times, Mummy are you doing poos?! (He sticks head under the gap to look at your neighbour) Are they doing poos? Or they open the door while your pants are halfway down, being the helpful little people that they are.

On this day Charlie had done his thing and then I needed to do mine, and while he observed the proceedings he noticed I was wearing a skirt.  Clearly in his mind this observation had to be made in the form of a public announcement “Mummy you ain’t got no pants on!”  I hear a stifled giggle in the cubicle next to me and I explain loud enough so I could be heard by my neighbour “No honey, mummy has a skirt on and here are my pants SEE?!”  Nope, not good enough for him “No, you ain’t got no pants on!”  As I try to convince him otherwise, people in the toilets are just laughing out loud now, and I realise that at some point I’m going to have to go out there and face women who think I’ve gone shopping sans panties.  Maybe I’m more of a commando mum than I thought?

So I wait until I think everyone is gone (“What are you doing mummy? Can we go now? What’s in that bin? Can I play with it?”) and sneak out, but oh no there had to be someone still at the sink.  She laughed and said how funny little boys are, but I could tell she was checking me out for visible panty lines.   I drag the boy out to his father who was waiting near the food court, and there was a brief lull in which Charlie decided was the best moment to tell his father “Mummy ain’t got no pants on!”  Fifty heads turned simultaneously and looked at me (agog, food halfway to their faces), all of them clearly wondering if I had indeed gone shopping without pants.  To which the Hubster responded, with a glimmer of surprise/hope in his eyes “Really?”  Yeah sure Hun we’re how old now?!

It seems I have a challenge before me.

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Filed under Kids Say the Darndest Things, Moments, The Kids, Too Much Information

Funny how things work out.

My red curtain of rage over my car accident has been swept aside, well not totally but tweaked open at least.  Actually I don’t like to call it an accident, that implies it wasn’t on purpose, so we’ll call it an incident eh?  Anyways, things are finally starting to come together a little after the chaos of the last few months, and I had a bit of time to think about it and I recalled something.

Something a bit silly but it made me stop and think, and do a bit of a Bill & Ted Woah…

When I had my incident I was doing the school run, which I do a few times a day five days a week, and for some months the council was doing roadworks that I had to go through. I would go through these roadworks several times a day, there was no other route around them.  One morning only around a week after they’d started a stout looking bloke on site stood up and gave me a big cheerful wave, it was clear that halfway through his wave he worked out I wasn’t who he thought I was. Don’t you hate that, always a bit awkward.  Still I returned his wave, he just looked so cheerful.  This appeared to confuse him, was he wondering if maybe he did know me now? Who knows.

Two hours later I drove by again, and the stout man waves. I see the ‘ah crap‘ look cross his face, as he realises he has waved to some stranger again, but I still wave back.  Three hours later I drive by (yes I do some milage during school terms), this time I was looking for him and ready with a big double thumbs up for stout man.  He laughed and waved back.

And so it began, everyday I drove by and the stout man would wave. After a few days his coworkers started to wave with him, who knows what they were thinking. Who is this crazy waving woman?  It became something to smile about on the boring school run, sometimes they even called out a big ‘Hey there’ as I went by in my dirty black van (filthy from driving through the roadworks many times a day).  Even the kids started waving.  I made a mental note that one of these days I should stop and drop them all off a cold drink, and say a real hello, but as things do around here they get busy. By the time I was organised to do that, the job was done.  Waving stout man had moved a few streets over, and I only saw him once a day, the hello wave stopped. Oh well I thought.

Little did I know that on the day of my ‘incident’ a few weeks later, that these blokes would matter.  Because they happened to be in their truck behind me when the collision occurred. Stout waving man got straight out and checked we were ok, another worker got out his lollipop sign and stopped traffic until the cops got there.  They all waited like burly bodyguards with me, as the husband of the other driver arrived and started carrying on.  The stout man and his coworkers once again there to make things a little better, and I don’t think they even knew it.  I still didn’t get a chance to say to them, hey guys its me the nutter in black van!  Thanks guys.

See, a little bit of friendly does go a long way.  Ok in a somewhat silly way but hey now that I think about it… it’s well woah.

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Filed under Awesomeness, Goulburn, Moments

Review – the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2

I got my hands on the Olympus TG-2 Stylus Tough series digital compact camera.  This is Olympus’s flagship tough waterproof camera, so this baby is definitely going to see some action in this messy family, and with any luck won’t see me having to get sand cleaned out of lens threads.

Waterproof to 15 metres, 2.1m shock proof (didn’t test that out though) and 100kg crush proof (also not testing that out, unless the Husband sits on it). Also freeze proof to -10 which doesn’t help those enduring a polar vortex right now, but still good to know I can take it skiing. But most importantly for me is its dust proof.  Keeping dust out of my larger DSLR set up really gets to be a pain in the arse when you are down on the ground trying to get ‘that shot’.

You can pretty much charge and go with the Tough, beginners can just leave it on auto and the iHS technology on the inside will figure out the settings for you.  If you put the camera on auto and just stand in one spot and move the camera around, and up and down, you will see the settings change from portrait to macro to whatever you need for the shot. It does this very quickly using tech from its big DSLR brothers, and its low light shots will surprise you with their clarity. It focuses in a heartbeat, with a 4x wide angle lens and an effective 12 megapixels.

We took it out for its first run, on a miserable day over the coast.  I can imagine that if the sun was out these shots would’ve been even better.  It also has a built in GPS, giro and compass which I’m yet to use to its full capability, but from first impressions it looks to be a useful traveling tool.   I forgot to mention it has a macro, an advanced super macro to be precise.  This has to be the best macro I’ve ever come across in a compact, especially a waterproof one.

There is software onboard for special effects, pop art (great to bring out colour in a hazy looking landscape), pin hole, fish eye (this effect looks very good, almost like you have the actual lens for it), soft focus, punk (which is a weird one that just makes everything hot pink), water colour, reflection (you can get very arty farty with this one, people will think you rock at photography after seeing this shot), miniature and dramatic.

It doesn’t have a secondary viewfinder or a shoe for a secondary flash, but it’s a waterproof camera so you can appreciate why not.  Actually I’ve rarely needed the flash because the bright lens copes with low light so well.  Battery life has proven itself to be good so far, specs say it’ll do 350 shots before a charge. The only little annoyance for me is the pictures are only saved in one format being jpeg, I’d like a RAW option.  I’m still looking into the FlashAir card option that apparently makes it so I can bluetooth pictures to my smartphone, which sounds awesome if I can get it.

 I’m excited by the possibilities this little camera brings. This weekend we will take it camping which is always very muddy times with our lot, I look forward to the results. Oh and it can charge via the usb socket in my car, very handy.  I will update this post with more photos of the effects as I take them, which will probably be this weekend when I dare take this crowd camping. I know there is no way I have explored everything this camera is capable of yet.

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Filed under Photographic, Reviews, Technology/Gadgets

I’d like my walking frame in green thanks.

While I don’t like to conform, I think that a 2013 round up post is in order. It’s been a very crappy year, and feel you all need to hear why I’ve been a bit hard to find or get to do anything, or just be anything really.  I’m not quite sure how to lay it all out, an outright tally of the ugly would be an absolute bummer to read, but hey that what most blogging is about? Drama ;)  Although it could be cathartic to unload, out there to the cyberworld. Certainly cheaper than therapy. From what I hear 2013 has been a pretty crappy year for most people I know, and just when one shit event is done with another one comes along.  Karma it seems, has taken the year off.

We all have our crap threshold. However big or small, we all have limits. There is only so much a person can take before they crack  it. I have lost count of how many times this year I wanted to chuck an Eric Cartman, “screw you guys I’m going home”.

Flash back to February when I got the up the notion of obtaining some part time employment, I decided I wanted to be a firefighter. I lost a pot load of weight and got fit, and I got the job.  Dropped a ladder on my head during an assessment, and found out that I have neck bones that will no longer take a beating.  Bugger.  Back on went the weight while I tried to rest it, yeah even the doctor laughed at that idea of me ‘resting’.

Meanwhile I was working on the assessment stuff for our latest autistic addition, the paperwork just gets bigger and bigger as the years go by. I think I spent at six months sorting his stuff out alone. For our very first diagnosis we got one report and that was it, I miss the days when a paediatricians word was good enough.  Also had to get the Future Dark Overlord reassessed so he could keep his place at school.  I really need a PA just to keep a handle on all these assessments and reports for me.  It’s been a busy damn year for kid corro that’s for sure.

And then my doggies died.   Followed by a rather spectacular car smash, in which my mum and eldest son sustained head injuries and end up airlifted in different directions. Thankfully they pulled up ok, the car didn’t and mum learnt a valuable lesson about the insurance (that she really should have had some!).

The much narrower Ford

We carried on. We kept seeking out the good stuff. Taking the kids camping and looking for the fun stuff. As far as the kids are concerned this has been a rocking year, thank god the parental smoke screen is holding.  We even adopted another dog, a Greyhuahua (which is totally a real duel breed name).

And then I got sick.  Really sick with an antibiotic resistant infection, after being treated with the biggest anti’b tablets you’ll ever see I slowly got better.  But, and you saw that big ol’ but coming didn’t you, the treatment damaged my hearing permanently.   So before I turn 40 I’m wearing hearing aides, yes that deaf.  I knew I was having trouble hearing the kids, but I thought that was only because they all have to talk at once.  Interesting side note here is my audiologist can download the levels of noise I am exposed to while wearing them, she said she has never seen any patient with so much everyday noise. She no longer scolds me for not wearing them as much as I should.

In the background leg work for my autie kids continued.  Never ending and always keeping me busy, how did I think I was going to have time to do a job?!  I don’t think I can adequately convey just how much ‘stuff’ my kids generated this year, it was almost overwhelming.

We decided we needed to relax, the worst was over right?  And we went over to the coast and one day we had fish and chips at our favourite take away.  When I had an allergic reaction to fish. Having never reacted to it before, I was unprepared but lived to tell the tale.  Remember the big ass antibiotics?  Turns out they’ve messed with my bodies ability to process histamines and a whole bag of other really awesome foods.  Suddenly I can’t eat a lot of things. So I now have an audiologist and an immunologist. Uh huh.  But it was this or kidney failure, so you know…

Just today I bought myself some glucosamine for the arthritic joints, and made a mental note of what colour walking frame I’d like. A green one in case you’re wondering, it would’ve been red but that colour just gives way to the expectation that I can go faster and you and I both know with my luck I’ll have a hip replacement next year.

As a sense of normal finally seemed to settle on the house our eldest autie boy decided to spice things up with a seizure. A big one. So big his heart stopped. We are racking up the frequent flyer miles in the careflight helicopters.

Getting ready for his airlift. Poor Tom.

The pilot remembered us from the last trip, he didn’t even have to tell me how to work my headset. This time I kept my phone handy to take some aerial shots, as you do.

 

It had been a year exactly since he’d had one, so I’m not booking anything for this coming september just in case its a seasonal thing ;)   It took about a month to get him back on track and we are continuing to treat it as a seizure disorder.

We got home from the hospital just in time for the Husband to fly out to Vietnam, as it is his turn for a holiday this year.  Probably a good thing it was his turn, because I’m pretty sure had I had some plane tickets, you may not have seen me on these shores again for some time.  But things did settle, aside from the usual chaos, and we set off on holiday to celebrate fifteen years married. Rented ourselves a flash beach house at Narooma, and quite probably had the best time we’ve had all year, even if we did take all the children ;)

We saw a seal colony for the first time at Narooma. Loved it!

The very next day after we get home, I had a head on car smash with a lady who had decided to drive off her face on drugs, past a school.  Probably a good thing she ran into to me really, but still I really didn’t need my new car written off or my shoulder all hurty.

MY BABY!!!!

While the car was insured and replaceable, we encountered untold drama getting the paperwork sorted.  If something could be sent in the wrong direction, it would be. But the biggest drama was our autie kids dealing with the car being gone, I didn’t expect them to cry for days about it.  In the middle of all this drama, the Husband received an award for Life Saving from the Governor General, and we’re all just a little bit proud of that. And my eldest made it through his first lot of army training and is now an official soldier, I’m very happy he is such a together kid who reminds me everyday just how old I am getting.

My big boy :)

A month on we finally have cars in the driveway and money back in the bank, a very trying christmas looked to be on the cards.  However the one intelligent thing I did this year was lay-by the kids christmas gifts in March, Ms Santa came to one and all.  Even if she did get the parcels in the post a little late ;)

Our crowd, sans my eldest.

Now here we are it’s new years eve, the end of this yucky ass year, but we’re still all here!  I have expectations of 2014, and while they say expectation is the root of all disappointment, we all need to have something to hope for right? Even if it’s just for the year to be a none event.  So if the apocalypse could just hold out until 2015 that’d be great, I’ll be too tired to deal with it next year.

I’ll leave you all with this quote from Doctor Who to end the year on.  I think it fits us nicely.  Thank you all for reading this far, and to those of you who have supported us this year we thank you xxx

I'm sorry I don't know who to credit for this, please let me know if it's you're fabulous drawing.

It hasn’t been all bad, just bad enough to keep us too busy ;)

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Filed under Autism, Complaints Dept, Health, Holidays, Husbands, Rants & Stuff, Too Much Information

Olympus Pen Mini – a review

I went travelling and decided that my big beast of a camera was too heavy to carry, and my pocket one was not going to produce the images I had in my minds eye.  So I went hunting for a baby DSLR, not knowing if there was such a thing, turned out there was.  I found the Olympus Pen Mini with a twin lens kit.

It is a camera that would suit those going from a point and shoot camera to their first DSLR, introducing you to interchangeable lens.  The mini has everything the larger PEN cameras have onboard, to look at it you wouldn’t know given it is able to sit in the palm of your hand.

With the zoom lens on.

I carted this around China, and the hubster took it to Vietnam last month. It was much lighter in our day packs that is for sure.  If you are a photographer who prefers to let the camera do the thinking for you when it comes to the settings, then this camera will make you look like an expert.  It does everything for you, in fact using manual on this camera is near on impossible.  There were a few occasions where I wanted to alter the depth of field and it just wouldn’t do it quick enough.  The manual control are there but you have to scroll through a few menu options to get them going, I’m more of a one switch person, especially if your trying to grab a moment.

It does however have very fast auto focus and HD video recording, and 12.3 megapixel live MOS sensor.  It has few buttons, excellent for the beginner, but a very shiny back display which is hard to see in direct sunlight.  I fixed this using a matt finish screen overlay cut down to size (meant for a smartphone).  It has some speccy build in effects too.

It can do this.

Out of the box you can get going very quickly and the battery life is pretty good, I can get a days touristy shooting done on one battery. I can rate the after sales service pretty high so far.  I cracked the LCD screen and needed it fixed, they did that and updated the software with just a weeks turnaround. And if you’re wondering what results you’ll get, check these out (click on the images to be taken to a larger version):

Lake George

 

 

 

Interested in my other camera type thoughts? I reviewed the latest Polaroid here.

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Filed under Photographic, Reviews, Technology/Gadgets, Travel