Saturday, March 31, 2007

Melbourne Int'l Flower & Garden Show

We went to the Melbourne Garden & Flower show today and had a great time! We've gone every year and it's (technically) the 3rd year L's gone even if the 1st year he was just a mid-sized bump in my tummy. I had to restrain myself from buying a lot of things because I know I'll need time to design a garden for where we end up if I want it to really look nice and that'd mean that buying a lot of little delicate tubes would result in dead plants. I indulged (quite a bit actually) instead in bulbs and tubers for plants I wanted to bring with us from this place but couldn't and in child-hood favorites that grew around my home and I have a lot of fond memories of. The downside is that my wallet is firmly lodged in ICU on life-support! ~_~'
Here's the haul:
Tempo Two Iris ('Natch... cuz we couldn't go and NOT come back with some TTI!)
Tall Bearded - Owyhee Desert (white top, speckled tan falls), Classic Suede (rusty-brown and honey-gold), Coffee Whispers (white top, coffee pink falls edged white), Santa (cream and salmon-buff), Milk on Apricots (white top, pink-apricot falls); Median Bearded - Mania (apricot tan, rose tan signal on falls), Furioso (bright mid pink and orange apricot); Dwarf Bearded - Spicery (tan brown stitching on lemon)
Daffodils - Yellow Trumpet (x45!), Potluck (x25), Erlicheer (x20)
Fressias (x80, classic whites!)
Lily of the Valley (x12)
Chinese Peony 'Double Combination' - outer pale pink, inner cream
Tiger Lily
Queen of the Night Tulips x10
Anemone De Caen (x50)
Orange Asiatic Lilium (v. Golf... hideous name for a pretty flower, x3)
Chocolate Cosmos
Coreopsis tinctoria "Mahogany Midget"

Since we quickly filled up the prams carry-rack and L was not loving sitting in the pram, he rode in the sling most of the day... muuuuucchhhh better! Thank gods for slings!

Some of the beautiful flowers...

Yummy orchid... I've photographed this variety 3 years in a row... I ought to just BUY it!

Loved the colours on this! My fav colours for flowers are red, yellow and orange!

Randome pretty orchid!

And at the end of the day, we still thank the gods for slings! L completely zonked and when Nic went to get his hair cut, Mary had to ask, 'Is he comfortable in there?'... 'Gee... dunno, what do you think?' (*blinks innocently*)

I also got the ace news that L's new pants were ready annnnd Sif, being the ace person she is, also made a matching hat to go with them that is just TOO cute! I'd commissioned her to knit up a set of soakers (okay, so we're just using them as pants) for L with the request that we really wanted GREEN ones! She told me the other day to go check her blog and this is what we found!
Now here's the insane part - she knitted these up in a day all up! X_X I started a hat for L on the same day she did... except mine is about 20 rows in, instead of finished!

I've got all these feelings churning about as well, chiefly about moving but I feel like such a whiner and like everyone must surely be sick hearing it, secretly thinking, 'OMG... would she just MOVE and SHUT UP about it already!?!' Okay, so my friends are too polite to say it but really... I've been angsting over it for how long now? It's nuts, it really is!

I want a crystal ball to show me I'm wrong and this is the right choice despite how I feel. I want Nic's mum to have tea with me and be the voice of widsom and experience. I want anything but to make a choice that goes against my instinct by myself. I think ultimately that is my problem... from the second my foot hit the dirt stepping out of the car I felt very iffy about this place and I haven't been able to shake it... but I'm being pressured on every side to just ignore that. Everyone is sort of saying, 'look you don't have options, this place is decent even if it's not what you wanted, so what if it's too expensive and doesn't have enough bedrooms, you should just buy this place and be happy - what more can you want, you're not being realistic!' I even tried meditating and asking the land and my guardian angels to send me a sign if it was the right place for us because I didn't 'click' with it, I just felt a sense of sadness from visiting it and thought maybe I was picking up residual energy/emotions from the owners. Not only hasn't that happened (funky arse dream yes but none that make any sense! anyone want to intrepret my weird arse dream?) but that knot in my stomach won't go away.

I mean, I decided to move from one COUNTRY to another on the 3rd day visiting, got engaged the next day to a guy I'd first met in person 4 days prior (though I'd known him online before that!) and never batted an eyelash or questioned myself. It felt 100% right and while I've had challenges, I've never doubted it was the correct choice. I've made 6 other moves, never questioned them. And I'd have signed the document to the other house in a moment because it felt right. This though? I just can't seem to get rid of the nagging feeling... especially with regards to how much it'll cost to fix properly and I waver between feeling like I should obey it and feeling like it's just my damn nerves and I should stop being so silly. I'm absolutely, mortally terrified that buying this house will result in our money all being sucked up, leaving us in debt, preventing us from doing the things we want to and ultimately the bills and stress will end up causing us to fight until our family just disintigrates from it. I know it sounds irrational but I just can't shake it from my head.

I ended up panicing about the move the other night and also thinking how damn lucky I really am to have the beautiful family I do... a loving husband and a beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful bubba who makes me laugh from the center of my soul... my gorgeous dogs, my little white spirit cat... I am more lucky than any one person deserves. Nic has said (with this rather put upon and pained voice but genuinely meaning it all the same) 'if you feel that bad about this place we'll just pull out' and I'm stuck with, 'but then what will we do.... what if we can't find a place to rent; if we rent, how long; if we can't find it in a year, do we keep going until we've spent all our money on rent; what if the only thing we can find is even worse and this would have been the right choice; maybe my dream place doesn't exist etc.

See? Whiney. I'm being the kind of person who generally annoys the crap out of me, so I'm getting it all out so I can shake off the fear and be me again.

I really do want that crystal ball and a cuppa with Nic's mum though. *sigh*

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So the other day I decided to try my hand at dyeing... hey, I'm going to have sheep and I want to spin their wool (hey, dog hair too!) and I try to knit (even if I'm not so good at it atm) so I figured dyeing was really pretty logical extension and Sif said it was easy after all. I pondered over what colours I wanted, looked at pictures for inspiration and then looked at the dyes I HAD and revised my plans. We're not broke but we do have to be careful and not invest a lot of money in something I might not want to do again. So I promised myself I'd do this IF I could do it with materials I already had. I also do cake decorating on a hobby level so that meant Wilton icing dyes.
I decided to go with one that was firey, one that was more subdued autumn leaf colours and one that was muted moss colours like the dappled growth under the canopy because knitting and wool always reminds me of the autumn. I wanted to go real blendy so the colours would softly segue into the next instead of clear colourways. Here's the results!

Hank 1: 8 Ply 100% Merino (NZ) This is my sunset one - shades of pink, orange and yellow-gold. It came out less intense than I wanted and have seen Wilton dyes turn out nicer on the web but since it was the first one I didn't know how much to use to get intense colour.

Skein 2: Handspun Merino Silk blend. Dyed with Tea and mixes of Wilton in reds, coppery oranges and hints of soft yellow with golden-brown overtones. Ohhhhh this turned out pretty! This is the autumn leaves one!

Skein 3: 8 Ply 100% Merino (NZ) Dyed with Tea and mixes of Wilton. My forest floor one, various shades of green, yellow, blue-green and brown.

Now I've got to figure out something to make with them! Probably I'll go with something simple for myself.

Having success in this, I also decided to try working on the "problem" I'd had with knitting. Last year I really wanted to have a go at making stuff for La because I liked the idea making stuff that was sweet (vs. the "boys must only wear blue things with trucks or other macho crap on it" variety) and I really loved the idea of him "wearing" the love and thoughts I've put into making it wherever he went. That said I'm not very good and got stuck. Every few months, I'd pick it back up, reread the book attempting to figure where I was going wrong, get frusterated and put it back down.

I *knew* it was something SO super simple I'd kick myself once I figured it but darn it I was doing everything my Very Expensive Pattern Book (Debbie Bliss) said step by step, word for word and it just didn't WORK. So at any rate, I finally figured it out and yeah... it's so SIMPLE and OBVIOUS! Der! I'd gotten the individual steps correct but put them together as every other STITCH instead of every other ROW. To be fair, my darn book didn't actually specify that - just that the steps were alternating. *SIGH*

So. Onto pics! I have heaps!

Comfy critters... you don't think they like each other or anything, do you?

Hugs all around!

Riding out...

... and rounding 'em up! ("I got 'em boss!" says Hope!) La's steed is Bijou, who incidentally used to belong to his daddy when he was knee high.

We're pretending the bread basket is a car. "Brrooooooooommmmm!!!"

Why co-sleeping is the best... waking up to a happy giggling bubba, playing hide and seek!

More pics coming tomorrow. We're also down to our final day or two where we have to decide to leave the offer on the table for the Tremont house or not. My biggest concern at this point is the cost... we got $620,000 for this house, of which $20,000 went to the agents/lawyers/advertizing, leaving us with $600,000. Now $10,000 of that needed to go back to La's school investment fund because we'd borrowed out of it to fix this house up to sell. Then we needed to have money for the house and some left over to invest for ourselves and buy some furniture because what we have, aside from a few nice pieces Nic and I have got together, is very old (30 yrs+) and not terribly sturdy stuff we've inherited from his grandfather and mom. Doing the math on this house...
$510,000.00 for the house
$ 26,260.00 stamp duty
$ 3,756.00 electric
$ 50,000.00 fixing up, fencing etc.
$ 20,000.00 for add'l bedroom

So we're over what we have available without even being able to put the money back into La's account, invest some for ourselves or get any furniture to put in the house. Now granted we don't NEED the 3rd bedroom straight away - not for another year or two but it's still money that would go to that instead of to investments for school or such. Both Nic and I want to go back to school, want La to be able to go to a good school and want to be able to occasionally afford to take trips to see family in France etc. Nic has sort of gone, "Yeah, yeah..." and figured I'm exadgerating and worrying over money excessively, surly it's not that bad and I'm exadgerating when I say we won't have ANY left over etc. But figures don't lie really. And even without the 3rd bedroom right away that's still $590,016.00 which means the only thing of the rest of our plans would be to pay back La's account.

OTOH it's one of the only houses with land on the market, Nic likes it (which I have to give weight considering he's even willing to move out this far at all), it's close enough for La's schools etc. and there's the question of how much we'll spend renting before we find another place and IF we can even find a place to rent. I need a crystal ball to see the future!

Friday, March 23, 2007

A pic of La... very typical of the ones I get of him recently: off and running! (And this is why I like natural light so much better... I suck at indoor photos!)

Way bleached out and the red value is funky but check that cheeky grin!

I have a bajillion and one things to do, here's the ones that need doing from now till Monday I'm hoping writing this out will give me the motivation to get it done because I've been very frusterated with how little I've gotten accomplished the past few days, inbetween child and dog underfoot un-cleaning behind me!

Oh! Also very excited to be trying to dye my yarn after reading heaps about how to do it with the supplies and yarn I have on hand, which are different than the ones usually talked about on how-to websites. So I have my vinegar, wiltons FC's, citric acid powder and am currently soaking the hank for another 1.5 days in a warm water/vinegar bath because silk (it's silk/merino) supposedly needs to really soak before it takes dyes well. I really wanted to use autumn leave colours and found a picture for inspiration of colours. Here's sort of what I want it to look like when I'm done! No idea if it actually WILL because supposedly reds are hard to do but we'll see! (ETA: Deleted for space since I finished!)

I also have about a dozen things I'm trying to save for that I need to look at and decide what's a priority. Nothing huge and amazing but the list goes:
  • the aforementioned T-touch seminar
  • a full basic agility equipment set up ($$$$ KACHING! *sigh*)
  • an iPod/MP3 player, a basic one probably 2nd hand (need to research to figure out what one I want)
  • classes - I want to start a spinning course, a photography course and an art course (lost-wax bronze sculpting actually)
  • a tattoo, a design based on a necklace of mine which I decided I wanted as a tattoo at 11 years old and really need to do instead of just talking about (cuz I'm a big whimp)
  • yoga classes - I miiiissssssss them and DVD's just aren't the same!
  • a family vacation for all of us somewhere within Australia - next years will be international, hopefully to France! :-)
  • a trip to the US for Clickerexpo and to visit some of the dogs I really like and am considering as eventual studs for Hope. (Pending health clearances etc etc etc and that's one to save for over the next year really but a goal so I wanted to put it here)
I won't even touch the umpteen books I want... the sum total of which is probably more than the national debt. LOL

Nic and I have also been talking about Bubba #2 and so far what we've hashed out is:
  • yes, we both want at least one more though I expect all up I'll probably have 3... #3 being much later in life though. I have had such a strong feeling our family is meant to be 2 boys and a girl.
  • we do want La to be able to understand "wait a minute" in case the pregnancy is difficult like last time and perhaps be going to kinder when the baby is a newborn so I can have that one-on-one time with the new baby... so this would be when he's 3 or so
  • My clucky-hormones don't like it but I do want to get at least started on my courses... I really don't care if it takes longer for me to finish everything but I want to at least get started and have spent more time working the dogs but I want to do it well before I'd have ever breeding Hope because I don't want to contend with a litter/doggy adolescence with a newborn.
Since dreaming is cheap however - we played the name game. Girls were pretty easy since we both want our picks from if Laurent had been a girl. I like mine better because Chloe is in the top 10 in both countries, whereas my pick is not freakishly uncommon but not overly common either. Boy names are more up for debate! Voilà ma toute nouvelle liste! Filles: Amélie Mirielle, Chloe Mirielle. Gars: Mathieu Thomas, Mathieu Élian, Mathieu Célian If you didn't catch it, Mathieu is actually my fav for a boy but what goes with it or in what order... eh. Who knows!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Clicker is the new word

Today Laurent rolls out of bed, nabs my i-Click from the floor (it was sticking half-out my jean pocket) holds it up under my nose just below my bleary eyes and pronounced, "Mum, clicker!"

I rolled over and uttered an intelligent, "hm?"


I rolled over, my brain trickles the information of the state of affairs slowly through until I jump up. La has my clicker. LA has my CLICKER. Baaddd things happen when La has my clicker. Namely he'll click it madly for minutes which sends the dogs into a state of fenzy that can only be surpassed by a mob of pirahnahs before he pries the clicker apart into small little pieces. I rolled up and out of bed, intending to grab something attractive to trade and it had to be something GOOD as the clicker, being something I so jealously guard from him, is also his holy grail.

As I roll up, I hear *click click click click* He grins at me. "Mum!" he chirps. "Yes La?" I reply, only half paying attention as I'm still looking at stuff in the room for something attractive to trade that isn't even more untoddlerproof than the clicker. "MUM GOO GUUL!!"

Complete with a piece of kibble from the pocket the clicker came from held up for me.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

You would think, after shaving my hair off yesterday, that would be the biggest thing on my mind! It's not but we'll get to what the biggest thing is after since I know everyone is more curious about the hair-thing.

As I predicted, my hairdresser did flip a bit when I told her what she was doing ("No. I'm not doing it! What do you want to do this for?!?") but when she heard the cause she was beautiful and ended up not charging for it. Mary's the best!

I found out after that while La was watching he was sucking his hand looking like he was going to cry the whole time. I can't see without my glasses so when I saw after, he'd sucking so hard from the upset he left a big puffy red welt on his hand. He refused to look at me, ducking his head or putting his hands over his eyes, clinging to everyone and whimpering when I tried to pick him up and hiding his face in my shoulder for about 2 hours. Poor bubba. He's switching between okay and upset this morning so we went to Puffing Billy as a treat.

At any rate, here are the pics of Before


and AFTER...

After comforting him and carrying him around (w/ his face in my jacket the whole time) we took a bit of a shopping spree around the city. I got a 1GB SD card for my camera for $30, went to Lyncraft and got some funky fiber for "fur" to embroider La's scarf, Gamesworkshop for Nic really quick, Breadtop (red bean bun NUM!),t he Queen Vic Market, Clegs and Myer. We got some beautiful china from Myer, which I'd wanted since seeing 3 months ago... a 3 tier
stand, a cake stand, a snack plate and footed compote on sale for what would have been the original price of the 3 tier stand! While there we saw one of Nic's friends mum who is one of natures beautiful souls and found out his friends wife is pregnant! I'm sooo happy for them!

That is actually the biggest thing on my mind. Babies. I've been seriously horribly, terribly, awfully, completely baby mad and clucky as all get out for the past 2-3 weeks. It's started because there are all these lovely pregnant people around me and bumped up a few notches when I spent a few hours cuddling a young baby the other weekend. Two bubbas in my arms was just lovely! Now I am very nostaligic about pregnancy (this is how you KNOW I've lost it, as I spent most of La's pregnancy swearing after he was born I was going to spay myself with a rusty spork), having a bump, giving birth (as much as pregnancy sucked, birth was nice) and having a newborn. If I could, I'd be pregnant tomorrow. I logically do want to wait until La will be old enough to understand "just a minute" and at least developmentally starting to "get" the concept of empathy and others having different desires than his own in case the PG is another bad one and definitely for after when I'd have my hands full dealing with a new bubba but MAN... it's a bloody good thing I physically can't at the moment or temptation would probably win!

Other than that, I'm generally just feeling eager to get my farm together and have been very "up" in general over that. We've had a, hopefully minor, spanner thrown in the works. Since this house was sourced for us by our agent, the legal papers weren't pre-drawn up and wouldn't be till we put in a verbal offer and they accepted. This was done last week, offer was put in, bickered over, accepted verbally at $510 WITH the provision they were to put in electricity underground and pending inspections of Archicenter, pest inspection and termite inspection showing no major structural faults. I was -very- specific about both those terms because I didn't want it unclear and us getting trapped in a muddy contract when it was drawn up.

The next step was to draw up the "official" offer, the one in writing. We did that, using the EXACT same terms used in the verbal offer word for word. At any rate, we get a call back from our VERY brassed off real estate agent saying that one of the owners of the house (the widow, her daughter and the step-son all inherited equal shares when her husband passed) is claiming he didn't understand the offer was with them paying to put in the electricity. Our RE Agent spent the day telling them if they wanted us to pay it they were going to have to come down in price which they refused, so the best he's been able to get them to is if we split the cost, which is estimated at $7000 and over which I'm flipping BRASSED.

I'm halfway tempted to walk. I know that probably sounds extreme but as I've said all along: this house is nice, I could deal with it as a compromise but it's NOT what I was looking for. My view is that this isn't a place I'm looking to live for 5 years and move on. This is a place I'm planning on living till they haul me to granny lock-up, so I'm not interested in compromising my "must haves" and am better off waiting than spending . I'm better off waiting than putting up with something that wasn't right for the next 50+ years.

Nic doesn't like this and has been shitty with me (he says shitty about the situation but it gets directed at me...) and is rather sulky I've pointed out the facts. I've also made no bones that I've had reserves about it since 5 minutes after we pulled up, both about the money they want for it and the layout of the land being not child friendly and crap for agility.

I look at it as the other house needed no repairs, no replacments, no fencing, nothing but move in and relax at $500K and the layout was doable for the sheep and the agility. That was what I was looking for! This one OTOH, is $510 for a house I'm going to have to sink$50K into, is questionable about the sheep (size is okay but 1 out of only 2 pastures is bottom of the hill and may flood seasonally - a recipe for unusable pasture, mosquitos and hoof rot!) and doesn't have space for agility. Despite this, Nic liked it a lot and it was close to FTG Train station and it's nice enough I could deal with that because of how much he liked it but now they're trying to jerk us around for more money? WTF!

So when Nic told me what RE Dude told him, I told him I really didn't like it. It just gave me a really hinky feeling, I was very uncomfortable with where it seemed to be going. Then tonight I came back and told him again,"You know, the more I think about it, the more it really doesn't sit well with me. I really don't like this. I'm VERY uncomfortable with it, I've got a hinky gut feeling."

I have a lot of questions about how much money is being put into this and feel like $510 is already too much because we've got to FIX EVERYTHING. I also have a bad feeling that if the inspections show other damage (beyond what we know about) and we have to ask them to either come down in price or fix it, they're going to cause problems, be unreasonable and difficult to deal with.

At any rate there is nothing to do for it till Monday, so today we went to Puffing Billy and had a gorgeous ride. La is a big train nut so he looovvvvveeeddd it and charged about like a mad creature yelling "CHOOO CHOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Mumma YOOK! Chooooooooooooo choooooooo!!!!" (Yook = Look) At Emerald there was a neat little market going on and I got a bunch of stuff again! First I got myself an awesome hand-spun, hand-knitted cap... so pretty and nice and warm! (Hey, my head gets COLD now!)
I also bought a hank of handspun wool from them - I think it's a blend of merino and silk? Pale white/cream. I want to dye it and make something for ME for a change (vs. 101 Scarfs For La) but trying to decide what colours! I also found an (can you BELIEVE IT?!?) Aussie Shepherd mug... out in the middle of Emerald no less! Colour me shocked!!! And three bars of handmade soap: 1 patchouli, ylang ylang and lavender, 1 patchouli, frankincense, cocoa and organic coffee and my fav... fresh goats milk and calendula petals. Looooooveeee goatsmilk soaps! So. Pics!

Lala and Daddy at Emerald station watching the trains be set up for the return ride

Cheeky Lala LOVING the fact he's on a real train, bopping up and down chanting "choo choo TAIN CHOO CHOO!!!"

More giggling, bouncing, bubbly Bubby Lala. (Stupid whimpy Panasonic flash though...)

Watching out the windows, looking at the engine as it curves around the track.

Nic has been coming to Puffing Billy since he was La's age so there is a lot of fond memories here and he's loving showing the experience to La. These two aren't the best photos I've ever taken, especially the second which is reeeealllllllyyyyy soft but I'm keeping them as "expression" pictures.

Yawn. Now I'm going to ploink my bum in front of the Smallville DVD we rented and vege.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

We got a text from RE Dude the other day saying the family are considering our offer and he'll get back to us. He knows where our maximum is, so if he accepts it, we'll sign the contract and if not... oh well, we'll keep looking. Feeling really philosophical about it all at the moment and moving ahead with my plans for what we'll do with the place we get in terms of animals. Having been researching breeds for the past 2.5 years, now it's a matter of researching where I want to get mine from, so I've been doing that lately, as well.

Saturday, we went to see some Anglo Nubian goats.

This is mum with two kids (one on either side) having a sip. Mum and kids are the colour/markings I like best on these guys! Brown, black and white with white spotting on the coloured bits.

This is one La liked.

It IS eatting a rose. Eyes don't decieve on this one!

Now how can anyone resist this charming invite? After getting a lot of enjoyment out of feeding the goats and watching La interact with them, he was tuckered and we went home quite happy with the day.

Then today (Saturday) was the ASCV's newly instituted herding! I was really looking forward to it but wish these things didn't start so early! Thankfully Sir Lala seems to be feeling better and actually slept the night through, after a week of tossing, turning and being miserable!

(The hairy hooligans waiting and watching the sheep.)

Sierra got another lesson of sorts, which she didn't do as nicely as she has in the past imo. There is a clicker-herding list I reallllyy want to get onto as I think that'd work great for her! I know from experience when she doesn't know what you're asking of her (ie asking a behaviour that's not yet taught) she gets very stressed and worries about getting it 'wrong' or takes it as a correction (no, don't do that it's wrong!) instead of a cue for a different behaviour (that was great, now do this!). She is way more sensitive to approval or disapproval than either Cade or Hope, so even though she's never been punished she stuggles when put in situations like this and I feel a bit unfair asking it of her when I know she does have a hard time with it. (Asking her to stopping or turn hasn't been taught, so instead of looking like another behaviour that's being asked for after she did the first bit perfectly well, it looks like I'm upset/correcting her/telling her the first bit was wrong. When the first bit was moving the sheep, she stops moving the sheep which kind of makes herding difficult! Instead I need to be able to explain "moving them that way is great, can you now move THIS way? Thanks! Good girl!") I have a distinct feeling if I do break the behaviours down, teach them and use access to the sheep as the reward, I'd have a lot more success and that's what I'm hoping to do with my own sheep when I get them. She's SHOWN me this is a pattern in the past (she did the same at agility, freestyle etc but was brilliant once she knew what the cues/behaviours were) and that she has natural talent, eye, ability to assess etc. At any rate, here's a few of the nicer shots of Sierra from today:

This is my favorite shot. :-)

Nubby bums all around!

My good girl at the end.

Now for Hope!

It was also Miss Hope's first time seeing sheep and she got her first two introductions. The first round, after watching the sheep very intently from outside the pen, she alternated between moving after them when they moved and looking rather baffled how she was supposed to get the buggers MOVING in the first place because they ploinked themselves on the side of the fence and did not want to move for love, money or my attempts to haul them off the fence.

The second round she seemed to settle in a bit better and was starting to get it a lot nicer. Started to take a couple of directions, turning, starting to get some idea of balance and not rushing up to them... working at a bit of a distance, instead of straight up the sheeps bums! Was probably most happy with the last part, since I don't like it when they run right up on the sheep and jam them into my knees! ;-) She's more confident overall than Sierra and is able to stay back and assesss things a bit better because of it.

I'd been really wondering how she'd do as I've seen her do things that our pups growing up would do that we had to channel their instinct so it didn't get out of control (eg bumping legs, herding cats, feinting/heeling when you run) and they were working farm bred dogs (NOT trial dogs) that were always mixes with Aussies. (All were Aussie/Blueheelers except one who was Aussie/BC, which was prefered in our area as they were all over. They were great dogs!) At any rate, I think with a bit more training she will probably be my useful chore dog I'm looking for and am really happy with that!

I also got to spend much of the time cuddling a cute little bubba who is much tinier than my own right now! So gorgeous! When I wasn't cuddling (or chasing...) La of course! (Thank gods for slings!) There was also a gorgeous little chocolate Border Collie that was stunning on the sheep... wow-o-wow... not normally a BC fan but that one was a pretty sight to see - keen but not over the top, nice balance, rating, responsiveness etc. So, that said, here's Hope's photos!

Walking up together. Showing nice control but also attention!

My favorite of the lot, just because it's a cute shot!

(Moving the sheep but far enough back they're NOT jamming up my knees!!! LOL Ahhh!)

I don't have a reliable distance down on her yet (haven't taught it) so we simply used a bit of body blocking and firm, "stop!" to halt her. Then when she stopped sent her back the other way.

Good girl, you stop when I ask and I let you go work them again! Yay Hopie Puppy! Again, very nice, moving at a good pace - not too fast, not too slow, enough pressure the sheep were going with me (walking backwards fast is hard!) but not rushing! All in all I was delighted with the little booger! For a 6 month old hooligan girlie she is such a little sweetheart!

We're finishing out the night with a big treat of a movie, Red Rooster and then having Nic's friend Justin over as it's his birthday! That and we haven't seen him in foooorreeeevvverrr!!!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Well as expected, our offer was flatly refused. The real estate agent said he has a feeling they're not willing to move for anything less than their asking price and gosh but wasn't that a huge shock. (Not!) My vote was to simply give them a reasonable offer ($485 simply isn't...) instead of doing a dummy-opener we all knew they were going to turn down but apparently, according to both RE Dude and Nic, this is simply my Midwestern sensibilites arcing up and this is just how business is done here. *rolls eyes*

Be that as it may, I am what I am and this back-n-forth business in an attempt for each party to screw each other over as best they can simply leaves a bad taste in my mouth. An offer you and everyone know is unacceptable seems just plain insulting to everyone involved. If that's because I'm a small town Midwesterner and as the steriotype goes tend toward straight-up, plain-spoken pragmaticness, disdaining beating around the bush, I'm sure I can think of worse cultural traits to have. So I asked Nic to call him (RE Dude) up and tell him that I really didn't want to play games with anyone and would he please just tell the people we'd like the house, here's our best offer (which the guy knew as our best from the previous house, to see if it'd change their minds after they took it off the market) and if it's acceptable great, if not, there's nothing for it and we'll keep looking. Simple eh? Nic still managed to take that single sentence and turn it into a 7 minute spiel. Can you hear me rolling my eyes?

I've also been thinking a lot about courses as this has been something I've wanted to pursue since I came over here and had targeted myself to start when La is old enough that he can stay alone with Nic for more than a few hours. (So I have time to go to classes and time to study.) He is coming up on that age, several more months yet but enough that I've got the itch to start my planning again. Still no joy in finding a place that offers a program like what I'm looking for. The land we'll be able to get will be too small to do a full scale opperation but I am looking into niche markets with small amounts of handspun wool, roving and fleece cuttings for various purposes (knitting, felting, stuffing, arts and crafts), lambs seasonally for sale and possibly using the milk for soaps as I knew someone who made *the* most gorgeous soaps out of excess ewe and goats milk! I also need to avail myself of the in's and out's of pasture improvement/management for Australia since I'm sure it's different, especially with different native vegetation and the drought going on. For that, there is an online/coorespondance course I might take but I'm not sure if it's worth the money or just stuff I could learn indepedantly you know?

This will be something that starts off very small, very slowly but hopefully turns into a nice little cottage industry at some point, probably over 5-6 years or so. Looking at the land as I did the other day, I think we're also set on having a goat to take care of the bracken. Hey, the goat can help with milk soap too! ;-)

I have to say that looking back into this stuff usually gets me feeling a little bit unsettled because most people my age have already done the serious-college-student bit if they intend to go after certain types of careers. Me? I'd be basically starting at scratch again. I'd have to build my GPA up because right now it's crap, which was my own doing since I signed onto a ASL course after loosing my hearing and decided I was too sick to keep going and risking the next car wreck I was inviting taking more than just my hearing. This was of course midway into the term, as I'm too darn stubborn to give up when I probalby should have, so it was either take an incomplete (which trounced my GPA) or keep going. Bllllleeehhhh. So long term goals but I can only really worry about the small, immediate steps I can actually control in getting them I suppose. I amuse myself picturing me doing my homework and fretting over my teachers while La is sitting there doing the same. Lends a new image to "study buddies"! *snerk*

While I was busy doing all this sooking over the fact that I've left this till "late" to do (yeah, I know, not really... indulge me in my dramatics, it feels later than I'd have liked anyhow) and maybe I should pick a smaller goal instead of something quite so lofty. As I was mulling that over, I was flipping through the newspaper (which I normally don't get but it had an article on a place we visit frequently) and here is my horoscope:

"You can't be what you are not, any more than you can stop being what you are. You can, though, stop being what you only ever thought you were supposed to be and you can be, instead, what you have always wanted to be. And you have to be very careful about defining what it is that you were not born to be. All too often, we restrict ourselves unnecessarily. We tell ourselves that this or that can never be because it was simply never meant to be. Your future is soon due to be much better than you ever thought it would be."
Hm. Interestingly applicable!

And at some point in all this, I *am* going to get my vacation! Me, Nic, La, three dogs for a nice long weekend at some small town with interesting stuff to do, antique shops to poke my nose through and a big farm where I can run around in circles with La, take in the sights, meander about and enjoy it all. Now I just need to find out where...

First though, this sleeplessness needs dealing with. Sir Bubby Lala is finally feeling close to well again after getting into some dairy last week. He manifested this by being clingy, whingy, unsettled and not sleeping a bloody wink, while nursing 24-7 to the point I'm reealllyyyy rather sore and over it at the moment!

Anyhow. Sounds like Nic has him rocked down, so it's off to bed for me!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

House News

Yesterday we were supposed to go and see the property that we'd looked at a few days before. It didn't pan out so we ended up going out there today after picking Nic up from work. Since it'd been rainy and the dogs had been inside mostly, they were itching to romp - especially Sierra and I opted to take her along with me as she adores going for rides. As it turns out I'd left my round/barrel brush in the car on the back seat and when she got out, I noticed she had a "tail". Closer inspection revealed the brush was thoroughly caught and had to be scissored (*cringes*) out carefully. Hope thought this was a great new toy though and had a good chew on the end sticking out. It occurs to me this isn't something that happens to normal people!

At any rate, we got to go see the property again and I walked all over the land, up the bushy bit, down the backlot, around the pasture, and then carefully through the house. The first time I'd been there I hadn't really got a good sense of the lay of the land since it was rather rushed. While Nic was talking to Joe (aka Real Estate Dude) I wandered off and spent a moment just sitting and absorbing the place. I picked up a few leaves, a rock, a feather and a flower and dipped my fingers in the little springs of water in the fairy grove, mentally asking the house and land if it was the right place for us and wanted us to buy it and if so then helping us to do so. I have this feeling like such old places have a sense of life of their own, their own energy and echos of the people who have lived there... all of it adding up to a unique feel of the place or however you want to put it, that we need to respect for it to really be a home.

While wandered I also got a good idea of what would need replacing and was doing a mental tally in my head of what it'll cost to repair, restore and refurbish. I'm conservatively estimating an easy $40K but I expect I'll see that raise a good bit higher. Still... it is a nice property, pretty views, more grazable land than I'd originally thought (it's got 15 years of overgrown jungle, so it's hard to tell!) and a lot of rather charming rockwork and major structures in place that I think I could make this a real showpiece garden... something you'd see in a magazine! (Albeit it'd take a LOT of work to get it to reveal it's full potential.) We opted to leave a verbal offer for the owners putting the electricity in and doing so underground -and- pending a positive outcome of a Archicenter inspection, pest inspection and termite inspection. I fully expect they'll turn the offer we made tonight down and we'll work up to maybe $510-515 or so. The other good bit is that, electricity aside, since they haven't been living there in 15+ years, once we get in an industrial cleaning team (eep!) they wouldn't have a settlement date of their own, so we could move straight in rather than having to rent!
So... all in all I'm allowing myself to feel cautiously optimistic!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Most of my shots I'm not liking lately... I can and have done lots better than I've been turning out. I got this one today that I liked though... taken at our mother's group. The kids had all been playing with the sippy fountain and when the older kids ran off, L and B hung around to have a bit of fun. L is on the right, getting a sip of water, B is on the left. They're just so darn cute together! I need a better flash though, than the one that came with the camera as it's teeny-tiny and useless!

Unfortunately, the boy-o had quite a day and managed to gather a couple scratches and few bruises from tumbling, getting pushed (ah, what I have to look forward to in a few months...) and a spectacular discovery of why you don't run behind swings when he ran over to the back of an occupied swing wanting to push it (which he does with the empty ones at the playgrounds often) and I couldn't catch him in time to move him away. He caught the back of the seat in his face and was knocked down. Thankfully the swinger wasn't going as fast as she could so it wasn't too bad... ge wanted cuddles for a few minutes but no tears. Like me, La seems to be the sort to have to learn things the hard way poor mite!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Never enough hours in the day

You know, before I had a baby, I actually got all the things I had to do in a day done by the end of the day? I worked 2 jobs (1 FT and 1 PT 15-21 hrs/wk) and college and two training classes and still had time to get everything done, cook, clean, garden, watch television in the evenings, sketch, cross-stitch, scrapbook and write.

Now, I have no paid work, no college, one class and a toddler who manages to ensure I get relatively little else done. I look back at that list and wonder if I was ever that organized and had that much time?!? I have a dozen things to do tonight still and I am far too exhausted to do them.

Laurent got into some dairy a few days back and has been alternating between not sleeping and wailing most of the time since. Once again, I had a sleepless night - every few minutes he was up and unsettled. He nursed for 2-3 hours at a time, tossing and turning. He woke up this morning half-awake and half-asleep, whimpering and sobbing any time I tried to unlatch him from nursing. He spent all morning needing physical contact, curling up in my lap and holding my hand against his chest. Napped for 2.5 hrs (!) curled on top of me, whimpering any time I tried to move away. Was so upset when being set down that I put him in the sling for the rest of the day. (Shameless plug: no baby should come without a sling so go buy one from Jayne!)

I did however manage to FINALLY find a kiddie table and chairs for La! I've been looking for one since Christmas but had a hard time finding one that was wood, good quality, non-character-emblazoned and looked like furniture (ie no funky shapes, weird angles, outlandish colours) and NOT $350! Finally found this one which La loves!

Some pics from the past few days. Have been so lazy about taking shots!

Not the best shot cuz I fudged up but I love the expressions!

"CHARRRRGGEEE!!!" Typical park shot, happens every time he sees someone walking a dog. I keep having to dash after him and tell him we can't pet strange doggies without asking because some doggies might be scared. Which of course he doesn't get. *sigh*

Last but not least, a pretty duck I saw, which I'll look up exactly what it is later. He was splashing about having a great time!

Random mention: I love Colin Hay's Overkill... I've seriously got to teach my dog to slow down enough to use that beat!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A few pics and a ramble about a potential property...

I want one of those little "mood" indicators that you see on a lot of programs. You know, those ones that tell you the tone of the post and have a little corresponding smiley face icon? Mine today would be: muddled and introspective.

Saturday we went to the house in Cranbourne to check it out. 2 acres, 3 bedroom, BV, set up for horses. It wasn't what we were looking for unfortunately, though I did like the neat all weather riding arena... would be an ace agility set-up - good traction, non-slippery and lower impact on their joints. Ironically while we were looking around, we turned and noticed Nikki from ASCV, checking out the property as well.

Then we drove out to Tremont where we were looking at another property. This is one we only knew what the RE agent told us... that it was very similar to the property we'd lost out on, had 5 acres, period house, similar style of property, lightly treed, area for grazing, close to town and transport, supposedly was someones holiday home they decided to let go when he put out feelers for us. I was trying not to get over excited but it sounded too good to be true.

Having seen it, I'm not sure how I feel or what to think. No one had lived in it for 15 years. The story goes, it’s been in their family since the 1920's, the lady and her husbands holiday home but after he died she couldn’t bring herself to come touch it. No electricity at the moment. Interior is semi-gutted because when they decided to sell it much of it wasn’t in great condition. Exterior needs replacing and repainting. All 3 verandahs are partly rotted out from no care and need replacing. The gardens are a tangled, overgrown jungle but I can see the structure there that has potential to be a show-case garden. I have no idea how much of the peeling I saw on the house is just cosmetic and how much will be actually structural compromise. The land is pretty and there are a few things I *really* do like about it... but it's a major lot of work in trimming, removing/repathing, regrading, removing dead trees, major tree maintenance with dead branches etc. There are a 2 massive trees that are spectacular and would be lovely focal pieces to rival anything you'd see in the Royal Botanical Gardens. There are cute little springs that make a fairy grotto and a stream... but I'd say that under an acre is at all grazeable, you can't see it from the house and that's at the bottom of a very steep hill which water runs down to... making me suspicious of how boggy it would get. There is no fencing which means I'd have to put a lot of money into fencing off areas securely for the dogs and La, then running standard post/wire fencing for the sheep surrounding the rest of the property. The agent, our RE Dude's brother, doesn't have any of the Section 32's available. There are only 2 bedrooms and not an easy place to build a third for when we have another child. The owners are asking $500-520 for it.

On one hand, there is a lot of potential in it. If someone has the time and money to fix it, it does have it's charms. And I know myself well enough to know I'd want to personalize almost any house I'd get since it's a pretty rare thing to find someone with the exact same taste as me. (Happened once but I'm not holding breath on those odds striking 2x.) It’s a 2 minute drive from Ferntree Gully Station. However, it does need a LOT of work, potentially a lot of structural work, potentially quite costly. I don’t know at this point. So... I am feeling exceedingly cautious. It doesn't have the area for the sheep and dogs like I wanted, though it's hard to tell since it's such a tangle of growth! It does have nice features to the land though. It doesn't have enough bedrooms or space to add on since it's essentially on a sheer drop. We were looking at $500-510 for the other place, with it finished, enough bedrooms, usable land, fencing existing etc. This is going to be that, plus a lot of money outlaid for fixing it up, for less usable land.

I'd consider the place, I suppose, if it turns out to be sound structurally and financially feasible. I'm not sure I want to spend all that money fixing up a place. That was one of the big reasons we wanted to move from this house, even before I ever thought I'd convince Nic to go to the country - it'd cost too much to restore it properly. I'd wanted to invest whatever we had leftover from this place, not sink it into improvements. Nic likes it a lot, he thinks it's got an electric feel to it. I think it's nice but it's not near as nice as the other place, it doesn't resonate for me really and that's what I'm really after. Maybe that will change, maybe not.

Nic asked if I liked it. I said, yes, it's okay, it has some nice features but I can't work up an emotional response to it, it doesn’t speak to me one way or another. I half wonder if some of the ambiguous feelings aren’t residual energy from the lady who owns it, it’s such an unusual feeling to me you know? Usually I react strongly, instantly one way or another but this... I just had such a sense of melancholy sadness about. It’s not that I’m against it but neither can I really say I’m for it either.

It has a lot of things I'm feeling really reserved about. I could see me living there I suppose. I'm not sure I could picture me living there permanently which is what I'm after and willing to wait for if I have to. He asked if I would be heartbroken if they took this one off the market like I was when they took the other house off the market. I said no. I like it, it's okay but it doesn’t strike me emotionally at the moment. Other times I’ve found places I instantly felt at home. This is a nice (potentially, with renos) home but I’m not sure it’s MY home. He didn't like that much, he wants me to get what I want and it bothers him that we're not able to find it and that I wasn't reacting as he'd hoped or it wasn't as he'd hoped it would be for me to react that way, I'm not sure which.

See? Told you I needed the ambivalent, muddled and introspective smiley. ;-) Maybe a long, rambling one too. And a tired-cuz-La-got-dairy and sooked all night, waking every 20 minutes wailing and clinging one.

Now, for putting up with my ramble:

One of the goofier moments recently... we spent the day on a picnic and went to one of the little tourist shops where I hammed up the cultureless Yankee and turned him into La Dundee. Nic groaned. La thought it was hilarious!

Pic of Hope from last weeks show. This is the only point she wasn't being a total nutter!

And a rather dirty Sierra after digging in my pot a few days past. As you can see she is terrified by my grumbling how I'm going to trade her in for a nice, quiet, well behaved goldfish if she does it again. lol