Monday, December 14, 2009


Mr. 16 graduated from Year 10 last week. The photo above was taken at The Nepean River just before his celebratory formal dinner. All of his classmates were out of their usual head-to-toe school uniform. I hardly recognised any of them. The girls looked a little older than usual, the boys a little younger; all looked beautiful, innocent.

Mr. 16. driving to the venue (with Learner's plates firmly attached to the car!):

Beneath the cool exterior he was cooking: it was 38 degrees celcius!:

Mr. 16 strikes a 1940's-style pose:

Proud sister and brother:

A group shot:

Loving Aunty:

Proud Dad:

Doting Mum:

One of Mr 16's best mates ended the night singing That's Amore and all joined in with a sing-along:

I wish every one of these lovely people all the very best in their chosen path, be it a further two years of senior school study (as in Mr. 16's case) or a new start in their future career.

Bless you all, Class of 2009.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


My baby brother and his beautiful wife now have their own baby, a handsome little boy whom they named Karim, after our Dad (whose 69th Birthday was yesterday).
Below is a little poem I wrote and have dedicated to the newest member of our extended family, baby Karim.


The world is your oyster
You are so young, so new,
You will have much to offer it,
And the world, you.

I see you traversing
Its extraordinary lands,
Countries and cities,
Farms and fields.

I see you climbing
Its dizzying heights,
Mountains and valleys
Plateaus and alps.

I see you sailing
Its vast, great seas
Rivers and oceans,
Antarctic to the Nile.

But most of all,
May you grow to be,
Like your namesake,
So generous, so skillful
Fun-loving and kind.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Job colours

Prison greens:

Hospital Blues - maybe this Doctor can cure your blues (or rather, freak you out):

Surgical greens:

Chef Whites:
What next...
Bank 0fficer's Beige?

Teacher's Tartans?

How about Secretary's Scarlet?
Can you make any suggestions?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Will a brick wall work magic?

Do you hit one of these often? No, not head-on, smack-bang-into-the-middle-of-a-brick-wall-leaving-you-with-a-bleeding-forehead sort of hit (tempting as that may sound) but, metaphorically speaking.
I feel like I have.
My words are all clogged up, rammed into the backs of each other, in the deep chasm that is my mind. I have paper, I have pen, I have laptop. But nothing gels no matter how hard I try. Somewhat ironic that my jumbled-mind has hit an ordered and neatly structured object. Maybe the force of the impact will somehow throw all the words, that are waiting to be written, into the air where they will miraculously work themselves out and settle into perfectly structured sentences one after the other, waiting to exit via the conveyer belts that are my hands and the motor that is my mind?
On the other hand, perhaps a bout of cake baking and house cleaning (in that order, please) are the solution?
We'll see.

Honest Scrap about Me

Tell 10 honest things about myself.

Pick 10 honest bloggers to pass it on to.

Boots from
two cats in the yard, was the lovely blogger who chose to share this with me! I will break one little itty bitty rule and that is rather than choosing 10 bloggers, I ask you to please copy and paste the details if you would like to participate.

10 Honest Things about me (in no particular order):

1. I am ambidextrous, a trait which a year 10 teacher told me is shared by dyslexics; I have since then always wondered if I am one but am hesitant to get it checked out, not that it would make any difference.

2. My paternal grandmother taught me to crochet and knit when I was three; I still remember how to do both.

3. I have never had a manicure or a pedicure and I am often reminded by those who have them what a great thing it is I am missing out on.

4. I love to cook but can get a little obsessed with one recipe if it proves popular...and then it isn't so popular!

5. I cherish time I can spend on my own thinking/making notes about all the books/plots I want to write...

6. I am woman enough to admit that I can get very passionate (bordering on the visceral) about the things that I deeply believe in.

7. I love Spring cleaning...(sick mind = sick habits!)

8. I have an obsessive compulsive streak and have been known to return home to check that the oven is off and that the doors are locked and to check that the oven is off, again...
9. My dear hubby and I never really had a honeymoon but plan to change this next year...Paris, here we come!

10. I love dunking my biscuits into my coffee, and then spooning up the soggy remains at the bottom of the cup - only if I am alone of course! And, you will definitely not be seeing me do this at the bottom of Le Tour Eiffel!

Thank you Boots and to You for reading.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Like a spider weaving its glistening web

In preparation for what is to come,

Like an excited couple

In anticipation of their special day,

Like a patient mother-to-be

Counting down to the day of birth,

Like a naive child

On Christmas eve,

Like a potential author with a deadline in their hand...

I am jittery, I consider, I start to type...

I log on to my blog.

Why is it that the longer away I am from my blog, the more difficult it is to start again?

I wait for my friends for I have missed them. I long to visit their blogs too, and will.

Can't wait!

The photo above was taken by me on the morning after my husband went away for a few days with our youngest son, Mr. 7 . This is a habit we started with our eldest son where we each spend one-on-one time away with one of our children at some stage of their development (admittedly it has only happened a couple of times so far with Mr. 16 and only once with Miss 12., but they remember these breaks away so distinctly). It is a little hard for the parent not away, but well worth it in the long term, we believe.

Do you do something similar with your loved ones?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dedication to you

This short post is dedicated to all of my dear readers. Thank you again, for your support. I recently told my mum of all the wonderful well-wishers, some of whom are across the other side of the world, and she smiled brilliantly. A smile I do not remember seeing in a long, long time. And furthermore the elimination of her back and leg pain has made her absolutely radiant.

As a result of me doing all I can to help her, I have less time to post and to visit your blogs, so I apologise.

See you soon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Absentee Note...

Dear Sir/Madame,

I hope this note finds you in the best of health. I miss posting regularly and really miss visiting all of the lovely blogs I have grown to love. I have had the busiest month in a long time. Our renovations are coming along (although there was a bit of a lull there for a while). As Project Manager (I truly believe this title deserves capitalisation) for our built-in pool and attached cabbana/pool-house, I have been busier than a bee on the first day of Spring (which, incidently has come and gone for us in the southern hemisphere). However we are now booking tradespeople (and paying tradespeople), booking supplies (and paying for supplies) as well as making last minute decisions about things I had not even considered. And I thought I was so, so organised! I have also had to make many decisions on my own as my darling hubby had two overseas conferences in a row (poor sweety had to go to Singapore one week and then Spain the next). Consequently, he underwent many sessions of therapy...retail therapy that is, to allay his feelings of guilt, of course. Admittedly however, the results worked like a charm. He has excellent taste and brought back some lovely goodies for me.

I have uploaded some images of our project, below, for your perusal.

Yours sincerely,

Project Manager extraordinaire!

Concrete jungle:

The pool-house aka lego:
Lego in motion:
One door-frame successfully erected:
Working, working (my wonderful brother aka Head Foreman!)
Thinking, thinking...
After a few weekends, walls and roof come together (lots and lots of family help: thank you to each and every one of you)
The windows go in: NB: The half-head (!) and gloved hand on the left in this last image are mine...
See you on your blogs soon, I promise!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Some Science: A Plastic Brain

Image courtesy of

Background: Brain plasticity (also referred to as neuroplasticity, cortical plasticity or cortical re-mapping) is the changing of our brain cells (neurons) and their organization. Our brains ability to be altered in this way by environmental stimulation is at its strongest during infancy. Prior to the 20th century, it was thought that most areas of the adult brain were fixed and incapable of change.

How: In the 1990's researchers from the University of Kansas demonstrated that spider monkeys, who had suffered a stroke (and resultant death of a cluster of brain cells and partial loss of body function) could be made to repeatedly extract food from a small container using their non-functioning hand. This showed that even adult brains were capable of re-wiring themselves. In other words healthy brain cells could bypass the dead cells and make new connections with other healthy neurons. That is, brain plasticity, which could be physically proven by brain dissection after death of the animal.

More info: Proving this same level of brain plasticity in humans has been difficult as you can't exactly dissect a living human. However, recent advances in brain imaging has meant that there is mounting evidence for human brain plasticity. Intensive, repetitive exercise to the non-functioning body part is accompanied by brain re-mapping.

In a recent study seven patients, blind in part of their visual field as a result of stroke, were asked to guess the direction in which a small dot was moving with an accompanying chime if they guessed correctly. The patients guessed that they had seen the dot all the while convinced that they indeed did not see it. Initially they guessed correctly 50% of the time but after weeks of training this increased to 80-90%. The signals reaching the brain are possibly bypassing the damaged brain cells and taking visual information to higher visual centres in the brain. Intensive training would be aimed at expanding and stimulating the re-routing of brain pathways.

This is such exciting news considering how devastating stroke is on the sufferer and their families. Let us hope that this research continues so that all stroke patients can have a chance of recovery.

Science 1996; 272:1791-94.
Journal of Neuroscience 2009; 29:3981-91.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Mr Almost-16 is now 16!

Our darling eldest son is now officially 16. Sixteen. And 16 years ago like many other expectant mothers in my situation, I imagined what the end of my pregnancy and labour would be like.

I had visions of my water breaking. I had images of my husband rushing because I was getting one contraction after the other and delivery would be imminent. I would then be whisked off into the delivery room, and a couple (maybe three, at most) pushes later, there my baby would be, clean, smooth-skinned, bright eyed and cooing, with maybe a squeal of delight to meet his dad and I.

But no. At 42 weeks and counting, it felt like I was going to be pregnant for a whole year, or even forever. You see three months out from my delivery date (which, by 42 weeks had been and gone as quickly as a Ferrari on a racing track, ruffling my hair as it went by!) I had decided that I wanted a 'natural' deliver. Minimal drugs, homely surroundings and an absolutely spontaneous labour, no medical intervention whatsoever.

But at 42 weeks and one day my baby was still sitting snuggly inside. He even decided (in the last week no less!) that he was going to be breech. No amount of cajoling (ie resting on my shoulders while my legs were up against a wall...hang on a minute please while I wipe a tear or two of regret and loss as I consider that I was more flexible whilst heavily pregnant at the age of 22 than now, non-pregnant and 38!). My hubby and I tried everything to kick-start those contractions (and I mean everything), but to no avail. And on he held while I told people who asked how far along I was, that I was getting onto 43 weeks of pregnancy, and how their response was that this really suited the gestation period of an elephant. Ha ha.

On Friday 13th August at 1am, I woke up from a dream where I was screaming in pain in a way depicted in labour scenes in 1970's Egyptian Soap Operas. Just to give you an idea, the labouring woman would be on her bed (head on a flat pillow!) holding onto the bed rails, screaming in agony, head moving left to right and back again repeatedly, whilst supporting women (everyone from her sister and mother-in-law to the neighbour down the street) would be there looking on in her 'delivery room' (aka her bedroom) drinking thick, heavily brewed coffee, gossiping, singing and belly-dancing awaiting the child-in-utero to appear...

With a nasty jolt, I woke up to an empty room (my hubby was watching cricket in the lounge room). I soon realised that my two contractions had been 15 minutes apart. I yelled out to hubby who (not realising what the fuss was about...he had obviously become quite used to me being pregnant) casually helped me out of bed and called the midwife at our hospital's birthing centre. The third contraction came 20 minutes later. No none of that rushing, whisking, edge-of-your-seat stuff! Oh how unbaby-like, how undramatic! We casually walked out of our second floor unit. As I loudly contemplated my overly swollen being finally coming to an end, my darling hubby looked at me and said that because he didn't remember what I looked like before pregnancy it didn't matter what I look like after and anyway "it'll be smaller than this" gesticulating with his hands almost one metre apart. My only thought, through gritted teeth and sharp eyes, was: I love you too darling!

After a calm labour (except for the odd comment or two to my hubby whilst I was in close to delivery which equals maximum pain!) and on all fours, I delivered our eldest son. He was born at 4:40 pm and was 4.4 kilograms (9.7 lbs) and 56 cm (22.4 in) long. He was wrinkly, dry-skinned, puffy-eyed and his fingernails were so overgrown they curved down the tips of his fingers. He was perfect.

Happy Birthday our sweet (and he really is sweet) 16.
Postscript: Darling hubby and I are still married!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I don't want you anymore

We had a passion like no other,
You were my first
And could have been my last,
But alas, that was not to be.

Your scent once sent me wild with desire
Now off-putting, nay revolting even
Your sweet tenderness overflowed from your oh so soft heart,
Now all I feel is gut-wrenching pain, misery

Early on in our relationship,
I needed from you only the very basic and simple
Pure white sweet nourishment, love
Oh you gave that to me, more.

As the years went on
Our love progressed
To something so sophisticated
So deep, rich.

To think that you were there
So early and for so long
I would not admit the pain you caused
I could not deny myself the pleasure, of you.

But now after years,
I know and accept
I cannot let myself be tortured
I release myself of all the hurt, deception.

I can live without you,
I have moved on
There are others although not you,
Valid replacements, acceptable, they will have to do.

You have just read about my love and loss with all things containing lactose: milk and every single variety of cheese and their by-products.
Forgive me, dear friend, if I led you to believe otherwise... ;)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some Science: Lycopene

Background: I was recently asked to write an article about lycopene. I knew lycopene was found in tomatoes but that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge on it. My search for the topic has taught me that lycopene can be found in any red fruit (watermelon, beetroot, even apricots, peaches and guava). However, lycopene is at its highest concentration in tomatoes (the riper the tomato the higher its lycopene content).

Why: General scientific belief is that lycopene (directly ingested as opposed to taken as a supplement) has anti-cancer properties particularly against prostate cancer.

More info please: Lycopenes are the strongest known ingestible anti-oxidants with a superior 0xygen-binding capability. This means that the DNA in our cells is protected from oxygen damage and possibly cancerous changes. Processed tomatoes (such as canned tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato purees even tomato sauce/ketchup) have the greatest concentration of lycopenes. The effect of lycopene is enhanced with heating and is more easily absorbed when a fat is ingested with it (e.g. olive oil).

Now, I think lasagne, pizza or even a hearty vegetable bake might be on the menu tonight!

NB: If 'Some Science' is an interesting segment to you, please let me know and I will make it regular.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A trip to the snow: Part 2

Some more photos from our trip to the snow:

The snow beneath this tree was extremely soft and shortly after this photo was taken I got that sinking feeling and ended up thigh-deep in snow:

The village from a distance:

Mr. Almost-16 being rescued by Dad:

Me playing around whilst the kids were at their lessons:

Thanks for viewing!

Monday, July 13, 2009

A trip to the snow: Part 1

Last week we drove to the Snowy Mountains in southern New South Wales to spend a few days in the snow. The night before we left I slept like a babe, believing I had conquered the art of packing. Well, of course I had. I had made lists and even lists of all the various lists (hubby's stuff, my stuff, each of the children's stuff, a list of the snacks along the way to keep the troops as happy as can be for the five hour trip etc). It was all perfectly planned. And after having been on the road for a good hour and a half, we saw the landscape of our great southern land, the resistance of evergeens with their leaves intact versus the grey trunks and naked limbs of the deciduous ones. I had better get my camera out, I thought to myself. That was when I realised I had done what no self-respecting blogger could do...I forgot my camera! After what felt like an aeon of panicking, Mr Almost-16 quickly reminded me that I did indeed have a camera on me, the one on my mobile phone.

I'd like to share some of these with you. Just click on photo of choice to enlarge.
On our way to Canberra, our nation's capital which is in the Australian Capital Territory:

Poplars as we approach Canberra:

Views from Telstra Tower, overlooking Canberra:

Lake Burley Griffin, named after Canberra's designer:

On our way to the Snowy Mountains:

Approaching Bredbo, the village of Poplars:

Grey gums, some dead and some alive:

Rock- and boulder-covered landscape:

Our first glimpse of the snow-sprinkled mountains:

A light covering of snow at Thredbo:

Keeping busy at Thredbo:

Hey, this is Australia, it's not that cold:

And all from a mobile phone camera!

There will be another part to this series.

Copyright Mervat @ The Writing Instinct


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