Friday, November 18, 2011

Blue Wren tapping

Tap tap tap. Last week I though it was a possum trying to get into the roof. I hoped it wasn't rats in the cupboard. Turns out a cute,  little Blue Wren has decided that our window is actually a threatening male Blue Wren trying to take over his turf. So tap tap tap he keeps trying to fight his reflection in the window. He's impossible to photograph as he runs away every time I get close. I captured this photo below. Arrgh -  the Blue Wren - another pleasant distraction from writing my thesis.  

On My Mind: A Friday home photo initiative of Down To Earth. Rhonda’s blog is worth a follow, it’s full of great home and garden tips

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why do a PhD?

So many times I ask myself WHY? Actually it seems to be increasing the closer I get towards the end of this thesis. Last weekend helped answer that niggling why question.

"Life after the PhD"  

I can see a purpose. There is an emerging field of study that needs attention. Its not really emerging, it's just finally getting the attention it deserves. Geodiversity. I have another blog all about discovering geodiversity
Check it out 

The other niggling Why? is related to career progression. Whenever I get the chance I politely ask (interrogate) mothers who have grown up kids. Rarely do I find anyone who can raise children, stay married, have a worthwhile career (especially in academia) and stay sane. Hmmmm the more I ask the more I get inspired by stories of passion. So many women have openly admitted the failures. At the same time I can see the twinkle in their eye implying that they have managed to do some things on their wish list. It's becoming clearer and clearer that we can't have it all at once, somethings are going to suffer but if we plod along at a part-time rate we can raise a happy well adjusted family, enjoy our lifelong lovely partners and even contribute to the world of science (or whatever world it is that you desire).  It was lovely to meet respected women who with the aid of a PhD were listened to at meetings and regarded as having something worthwhile to say. You don't need a PhD to be respected but when it comes to a scientific debate it really does help.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peer reviewing

I've discovered a new club to join, the academic peer review process. It's a bit like the child birthing club. Everyone keeps fairly quiet until you have experienced the pain. Once the experience is there, everyone who has been there before is willing to share. The truth comes out about how harsh the process is. I've needed thick skin to survive the ordeal. Over the past few weeks many a war story has been shared about the review process. I kinda understand the end product is better. Hmmmm lets hope the second birth is easier ; )

So in honour of the review process enjoy this you-tube

I guess I'm privileged to experience the pain of a peer review process. Strange warped mind of a critical scientist.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


This picture has been doing the rounds on facebook. Sums up how I'm feeling at the momment. I'm stuck somewhere in the crazy middle bit assuming there will be a way out. I really hope there is. Did I tell everyone don't do a PhD. It's a cruel process.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Three boys and a few holidays

I have found the ideal holiday location for three boys. My suspicion has been confirmed. People moving cars(eg Kia carnival) keep arriving with a car load of kids. Walking round this place are smiling families with three boys in tow. You know the parents (especially the mother ) looks happy not exhausted. What is the secret?

  • A heated pool to dissipate all their energy
  • A beach nearby to once again dissipate their energy
  • A street of simple two or three bedroom houses
  • Two huge TVs
  • Wifi access so the kids can plug into their favourite games
  • A huge driveway for skate board riding
  • A BBQ next to the pool so hubby can help cook
  • No regular cleaner so it really doesn't matter if you can't walk into the kids room due to the mess
  • Two bathrooms so you don't have to to dodge the inevitable missed toilet mess
  • A self contained kitchen. This is a blessing as there is no need to be embarrassed when the kids destroy any nearby restaurant. Three boys are never great at sitting still at a restaurant. This self contained kitchen results in a self contained family dinner where the boys can eat, be silly, move and laugh. I love it!

In contrast we went to Bondi earlier in the holiday. We had a free night in a 4.5 star hotel that needed using up. So I took the boys. Sol was away with uni students looking at rocks. It didn't help that it rained so much we were mostly stuck  indoor. It also didn't help that one kid had a sore toe so was not up to walking far. We ate out resulting in an expensive trip with the usual crazy behaviour caused by my middle boys reaction to certain foods. The beds in small contained rooms turn into trampolines. The squeals of delight were most likely heard all over the whole fourth floor. So the 4.5 star hotel gets the thumbs down.

We also went on the family holiday with the cousins. Bliss! Kids love kids especially kids they grow up with. I even need to confess I loved hanging out with my big brother. He knows how to laugh and have fun.

So the Phd has not been done this holiday. My brother nicely pointed out (like all brothers do) the true reason my PhD  is not finished. Procrastination. I'd like to call it mothering. At least I'm enjoying life.

Friday, September 23, 2011


We have a lot of windows at home that create the feeling of being outside even whilst we sit inside. The main drawback to the pleasure of windows is that they get very dirty especially when little boys leave there finger prints everywhere. I also have a 7yr old that loves stirring his brothers and talking back. Hmmmm solution has been found. Every problematic fight or talk back results in a consequence of pick a window to clean. He's starting to run out of the small ones..hehehehehe
Mum's sweet revenge.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Writing retreat at Lord Howe Island

What better way to enjoy a PhD than to turn it into a holiday. If you are writing up your thesis I strongly recommend a writing retreat. The final write up stage is a hard slog that can be so easily enjoyed in beautiful settings. Removing all extraneous workloads such as cleaning, cooking and kid wrangling frees the mind for flowing words and  thoughtful ideas.

Last week Mum and I went away in style to Pinetrees at Lord Howe Island. The food was divine and tranquillity amazing. Most mornings I rode the island then settled down to write. A couple of days were devoted to island exploring by walking snorkeling and kayaking. The food was all catered so I could spend my time writing, fixing equations and walking. Lord Howe is a spectacular World Heritage destination. The scenery is dramatic with subtropical forests, rare flora and fauna, gorgeous beaches and curious marine life. So beautiful!

Mobile phones don't work at Lord Howe and internet access is tricky. Makes an amazing stop to e-procrastination of email, twittering, facebook and blogging. The word count is rising, just maybe one day this never ending PhD thesis will be finished ; )

Monday, September 5, 2011

Slow cook chook

I am starving. In an attempt to be organised and not waste food I popped on a slow cook chicken curry this morning so I can focus on my study all day long. It’s killing me. I’m sitting at my desk attempting to work on non-parametric correlations with the beautiful aroma of curry wafting around. Eating an apple to satisfy the hunger just does not do it. My only option is to escape home. Maybe I’ll go into the uni gym for a lunch break then reside at the library until quitting time. Dinner is going to be sooooo good!

Try this dinner out. Tip in a tin of diced tomatoes, add ¼ cup of madras curry paste, 1 cup of chicken stock, 1 diced onion. Give it a quick stir. Hack apart a chook or buy chicken pieces, throw them in the slow cooker, neglect for the day then come home to a superb smell and an awesome dinner. I cook it on low for how ever long the day takes (eg 10hrs). Less time is fine if you have the pleasure of sleeping in each morning. Throw some freshly chopped coriander over the meal when you serve it with rice.  Enjoy!   

ps Chook is Aussie for Chicken

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The big smoke

Currently I’m in Sydney enjoying the AFAC (Australian fire authority council) conference. I went for a walk early yesterday morning only to be amused by the sights. So many people were walking around in suits. I loved this window display- just image handbags having legs like that. Actually if you could afford handbags like that you should have amazing legs to go with them. Shame the photo is fairly average.  Give me a practical backpack anyday over these simple hand bags. 

Another great sight was this welcoming sign in front of the botanic gardens. I love that they encourage people to walk on the grass. I have so many fond memories of visiting the gardens. I even came home with a stray duck from the gardens many years ago. This duck was so tame it would follow us everywhere in the back yard. Dad had to stick it in the wheelbarrow at one stage to stop it exploring his shorts every time he bent over to garden.  

We glammed it up last night and put on our frocks for a huge dinner party. There are over 1300 conference delegates so you can imagine it's a big night out. Due to my limited purchases of makeup over the past 10 years I snuck into Myers and got my makeup done. What a treat, came away poorer but in the possession of a new lipstick and some cream. 

Tomorrow I present my research. Rather nervous of course. The slides look gorgeous to me. My big concern is how to make 30 slides of erosion interesting for the normal audience whilst still sounding intelligent. I love the slides but maybe not everyone else thinks soil erosion post-fire is a beautiful sight… Tomorrow night I get to see my family again. As lovely as it is to escape the normal daily routine I really do miss my hubby, the little men and Alex the dog.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Once again the PhD is so like a developing baby. When my boys were just about to crawl they were so frustrated. Objects were just within reach yet the effort seemed too much and a grizzle was so much easier. As the parent I noticed time and time again just before they reached a milestone they were horrid, then when the milestone was reached peace and harmony was restored. Such milestones included crawling, teething, talking and walking. Well my PhD is so similar. Today I had a win with an equation featuring the letter “e”. Binary logistic regression and probability for those statistically and mathematically inclined. My maths is not really at this level so it’s been a huge milestone to reach with much grumbling and cursing by me. Today I felt alive with happiness at reaching this huge milestone. I ran along the beach at lunch unable to wipe away my smile. My poor family might finally have a dancing happy Mum again. Who would think the letter “e” could bring such delight.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Icing on the finger bun

I'm thinking of writing a book. All this blogging and PhD writing has actually made me enjoy writing. Originally I started blogging to improve my writing skills.  Back in school I found english shocking  until a tutor explained creative writing wasn't about being creative but rather about writing with fluent grammar and correct spelling. Word software has been wonderful at teaching me spelling and hinting that my grammar is all wrong. Luckily there are people called editors!

The book I'm dreaming up is inspired by the school canteen. Today I picked up 25 finger buns for the canteen. Oh so yummy looking with pink icing. Our committee spent a long time discussing where to buy the finger buns and what icing to have due to kids with allergies and intolerances. How could I not choose the title "the icing on the finger bun". I could cover many parenting themes of our generation. Topics such as  food additives, artifical colours, family juggling, time managment, getting ready for school, homework, after school sports, man flu, holidays, sick kids, exercise and the list goes on. One of my characters would be a vegetarian mum whose son only orders meat pies. Feel free to add some ideas for me. Of course I must finish the PhD first. The book would be a hobby when we travel around Oz looking at rocks.  Hmm three boys, hubby, dog and myself in a caravan for six months. Now that might be a more interesting story to write about ; )


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Blood giving

Finishing this PhD is squeezing all the life and blood out of me. So what better way to review my latest manuscript than by sitting at the mobile blood bank located at uni and literally let them drain my blood. Last time I gave blood was pre children.  Hmmm that was a while ago.

I laughed when the lady suggested I took it easy on Friday and let some else cook my dinner after I had donated blood. I assured her I would. Little did she know I intended to ride my bike home, review my paper, cook dinner for the family, watch the school concert band, drive an hour to reach a meeting, discuss management stuff, eat dinner, drive home late at night and feel great. Well I did and it did feel great. For ages I've been watching those adds on the buses that show pictures of people that can't give blood. I no longer fit any of those categories, it was time to brave up and release the precious stuff. Feels great to just maybe help someone in need. Every year since having children I've caught the flu and various other winter illnesses. This year I have had nothing, not even a cold. Its great to be healthy. Fingers crossed it lasts. Go on, if you're feeling well go share your blood.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pinch and Punch

Its 1 August and somehow we all forgot pinch and punch for the first of the month until about 8am. My family, including the extended family, have played this game ever since I can remember. When my brothers and I left home we still played using the phone. Text messages and emails complicated the game. We got married and now the spouses play hard. In fact my sister in law does most of the winning. Getting up to babies early in the morning has its advantages. Mums is a close rival. This tradition was continued when we lived interstate. Even overseas holiday desintation have been fair game.

It has been 80 games of pinch and punch since I started this PhD. How many more to go...   

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday morning

I love a friday morning, even in the rain. Alex (the dog) and I head off to the beach for a morning walk. Alex has been part of our family for over a year now. We collected him from the pound when he was just over one in age. His first visit to the beach was an experience. The sand was strange to him and the sea was scary. Obviously he had not been taken to the beach before. Now he runs like mad, chasing the sea gulls in eternal hope he may catch one. So far the sea gulls are winning and Alex is staying fit. We had the beach entirely to ourselves today. The sea was wild and the rain mild. Beach dune erosion was making those great walls that kids adore jumping off.

Friday morning is market morning at home. I go each week to buy our vegies off the local growers. I love knowing where our food comes from and who grew it. The farmers share stories about their farm such as the green houses being destroyed in the recent winds and the trick of actually feeding the vegies nutrients to make them so superb. My home grown vegies never look as good as theirs.

I walk back into the home at 8am all relaxed having seen the sea, chatted to the food providers and breathed fresh air only to be greeted by the school morning crazies. It took no time to start bellowing stop fighting over the footy cards or I'm throwing them in the bin!, have you brushed your teeth, go make your bed, where is your homework folder... Then the bus arrives, it takes the little monkeys away then its just Alex and I. Alex sits by my side as I try to muster up the motivation to sit at this computer and work on the PhD. Luckily the house is such a mess from the morning chaos I give my self an hour to feed the chooks, have brekky, clean the kitchen, pop on the clothes washing, bring in a load, have a tea and check the emails/facebook/blogs.

Alex is now fast asleep, its time to study, no more procrastination excuses (except maybe hang the washing on the line).

On My Mind: A Friday home photo initiative of Down To Earth.  Check it out.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Dress

Retail therapy has been a theme this holiday. I escaped to the camping shop one afternoon to purchase hiking boots, a new backpack and a polar fleece. My sister in-law enjoyed pointing out my warped view on retail therapy compared to lipsticks, handbags or jewellery. My boots were at the end of their life. Last time my boots died was during field work in Adelaide tramping up and down the burnt loose slopes. I'm missing the field work component of study. Conferences are bringing on a new dimension to shopping requirements.  Its not OK to attend a conference in ugg boots and an old sloppy jo. Actually the annual fire conference has been a great incentive to actually buy some new clothes. The last conference was with a bunch of geographers. Slightly simpler dress requirements. Sandals with socks were fine ; )

Its the last day of school holidays today so I need to find a new procrastination excuse. Actually the scholarship funding runs out in a week, I'm really fed up with the whole PhD so hopefully this will encourage me to get a MOVE ALONG! and finish. A great job came up a few weeks ago. I weighed up the choice between balancing work family versus the cram as much into life as possible approach. I decided for a blend of the two. I did not apply for the job. So many PhD advice books suggest not starting a new  job until the PhD is finished.  So back to the old mantra
Family, self-care, thesis, friends

Monday, July 11, 2011


Last week I was at the Institute of Geography conference. In an experimental mood, I tried a newish sofware package called Prezi. It's a bit like powerpoint but involves zooming. I'm guessing its what Hungry Beast used in their TV show. Prezi has real potential to give the audience sea sickness. In case I stuffed up with the software I also wrote my talk out. A written talk is not my style and resulted in a nervous delivery. I'm going back to the safe one page dot points accompanied with simple, photo rich, reliable powerpoint. I'll  leave the zooming and whirling for motivational speakers.  

You are welcomed to have a look at the prezi I made. Its shows various photos and computer modelling I do as part of the PhD research

Prezi was easier for uploading videos compared to powerpoint. This video below is a model of the eroded slope after the Mount Bold wildfire. We captured this data using terrestrial laser scanners in Feb then again in May. Red is erosion, blue is deposition.

There is a chicken at my back door demanding to be fed. Better get on with the day. Hanging out washing, feeding the chooks, writing a thesis, a bit of stats, home-cooking and lots of mothering.

Friday, July 1, 2011

School holidays

Holidays are here. Last day of school for over two weeks. Hmmm what to do with the lion cubs. So far there is a sports camp for a day, soccer camp for three mornings, local production of Peter Pan, some play dates, Bastille party with cousins. I reckon that's enough for two weeks. The big question is whether to squeeze in uni work, clean out the house cupboards or just play with the kids.  I'm facing some serious sorting of the clothes, time for the hand-me-downs to trickle down the line. I guess you can see one of my time saving methods. Clothes are not exactly folded very well.

We've been using the family fun day Sunday $2.50 all you can travel on public transport lately. Geez its great. Sunny days at Manly, aquariums and lego shows in Sydney, BBQ at Neutral Bay. Life is so much easier now the kids are getting older.

Messy cupboard photo is dedicated to Down to Earth On My Mind   a lovely idea to share our homes and lives. Am I too honest about the mess of boys?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

PhD Survey and TED

For the past 12 months I've been participating in a survey about PhDs and how I felt about it. As part of the follow up survey they sent me a graph today that showed my survey response. The graph looks like this

The graph is about right for an average monthly view.  If you asked my hubby, who kindly listens each night about my studies, he might argue differently. Just like raising a child a PhD has so many highs and lows. Even on a daily, minute by minute  time-scale my feelings towards my studies alters. The graph really should look more like the one below. This graph has been inspired by the TED talk given by Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman on Let's talk parenting taboos. Any parent will understand the ups and downs, just like any third year PhD student. Should we really be talking more about it. Would you really tell someone how hard parenting is and expect them to try it. It's just the same as telling a potential PhD candidate that the PhD will leave you crying in the gutter. I like the truth but sometime ignorance is bliss allowing people to step outside their comfort zone.

Maybe I should combine both the parenting graph and my Phd graph. Hmmm scary concept, the graph would look like chaos.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Household Chores

Our 9 year old announced last night he wants to do more chores to earn more money. Wouldn't we all like more money hey! He has his eye on a 3D DS game console. Hmmm extravagent purchase really.  So of course I came up with all these useful things he could do to help. The decision was left in the air as they all sounded like too much work.

We chatted about it again this morning when my hubby got involved and nicely pointed out it would be good if Kai did something to help Mum around the home.  So I politely pointed out it is not "my house" it is our home and everyone should be contributing. We had a laugh, easier than fighting, and then tongue in check Sol suggested for Kai to help Dad out in the garden. Kai nicely replied "but Mum does the gardening too". Hmmm I think its time to rethink the domestic situation.

The boys get pocket money of $2 a week. This comes under the deal they unpack the dishwasher, make their beds, put their PJs away.  So of course this morning the PJs were all over the floor, beds not made and bionicles spread everywhere. Maybe its time to enforce the reason behind pocket money before we look at a pay rise.

It's time for a family meeting to discuss household chores. How do your families work it out? Is it a state of war or do you manage to negotiate it? Is someone the household dictator or does everyone notice and contribute to what needs to be done?

I find every six months the issue of who does the household chores in our home needs revisiting. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Crescendo in the music

When the PhD is over I have plans. One is to learn jazz piano. I started before Kai was born only to quickly find that morning sickness and piano lessons do not go hand in hand. Music stopped during the early kid rearing years. Every time I jumped on the piano the kids would destroy any resemblance of organised music by joyfully pressing the keys.  Bedtime was a disaster for playing as the little monkeys would wake up to listen in, jumping out of bed in curiosity. I gave up for so long. Recently I’ve started to play again. I play out loud now. I don’t care what people think when I make mistakes, I just play for fun.

An old memory came back today of my music exam for the HSC when the examiner asked where the main crescendo was of the Mozart score. I learnt to play the notes correctly but never thought of the music as an entire piece of work. It was played in stages as each section was mastered the next was begun. I didn’t really appreciate the music as a whole.

My thesis is starting to come together as a whole piece. It is time to pull together all the papers I’ve written and compile the work. Last week with no kids around I worked hard on the last paper of my thesis. This means there are two published papers, one draft and two rough drafts. It is still a long way away from finishing. The crescendo I played on the piano today reminded me to treat the thesis as a whole piece, not just notes joined together. Looking forward to when I can learn jazz without a lingering PhD awaiting to be finish.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I have a gorgeous friend I'm sharing this journey of parenting with. The other day I asked her for some Thyme, I could see her brain calculating the desire to help but the problem with time.  In no time we worked out the confusion and she quickly beamed with the knowledge her garden could provide thyme.

In my limited time I had failed to remembered I did plant some thyme a month ago in the neighbours yard we care for. So today I have thyme in my cooking and I've found time to cook bolognese, lamb biryani, preserve lemons and prepare for five days of glorious time with no little boys. Yes five whole days coming up to WRITE this never ending PhD. Pretty happy about that one. I'll miss my little men, but time without them is what I really need right now to keep this PhD journey ticking along. I found time to bake chocolate chip cookies at the request of Liam, however in my race against time I made the cookies too big and they grew together. Great thing about butter, brown sugar, eggs, coconut and chocolate is that it still taste great regardless of the appearance.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lemon Tree

Check out my laden lemon tree.

 We use a brick to keep it upright. Maybe I need to master the art of pruning the tree.

Looking forward to making lots of lemon puddings, lemon pancakes and lemon tarts.

This is Mums lemon pudding recipe. My Dad won't eat them as Mum has cooked it too may times. I still love it.

Any idea how to make pickled lemons?

On My Mind: A Friday home photo initiative of Down To Earth. Rhonda’s blog is worth a follow, it’s very helpful for homemakers in training such as myself.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I had a dream

I was playing some music this morning for some writing inspiration. I find that music can take away that writers block and and settle me into a productive mental state. Well, this morning I ended up in tears. Not from misery but pure happiness at an inspirational woman. I was checking out some musicals we played many years ago and came across a gorgeous performance.  I'm a bit behind the times as Susan Boyle became famous from her show on Britain's Got Talent a while ago. I had not got around to watching the episode on TV or following any of her journey into stardom. Well talk about a great story. The audience went from laughing at this contestants dream of becoming a famous singer to standing in ovation when she sang. The judges spoke about it being a privilege to listen to her. Give it a watch and feel the inspiration. She had a dream to become a professional singer and she well and truly is now. Check out her success in Wikipedia. Susan achieved Guinness World Record status with her success.

I'd stick the Youtube in but its been disabled. Use this link it'll get you there

This was her second performance of the same song. Wow.


Do I put my kids on the CV?

I spent the morning updating my Curriculum Vitae including my publication list to apply for a Honorary Fellow.  I thought for a while do I add my children as they one of my greatest achievements. It does explains why the PhD takes forever. My family comes first. Kids are a normal part of life, why don't people add their children to resumes? I remember my Mum nicely arguing with Dad about this issue years ago. At the time I wondered why would you bother to mention the kids. Now I've been a Mum I want to tell the whole world of this amazing accomplishment. My children are unique, one off creations. I'm sure putting them on my CV won't help me obtain work in the field of erosion studies. It might help if I applied for childcare or school teaching. In reality I think it does help in the working world. Since having children I'm more patient, understanding, open minded and I'm really good at juggling time. Somehow I still don't feel right listing my kids on a CV.  Any views?

Ultrasound of Isaac

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Emma Jane

Emma Jane wrote a very relevant article in The Australian today.

I love the quote

"Endless postponements of study in lieu of tea preparation and house cleaning"

I so agree

The article is called

Giving birth or delivering a doctorate, they're both labours of love

The agony, ecstasy, exhaustion and exhilaration of making babies or studying for a PhD.

Here is a link to it. Have read!

Love it

She also has a web page at

My favourite tea mug for procrastinating

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Today I bought a pressure cooker. I'm soooo excited. I remember my granny using one. Aldi had them for sale and it was just too good an opportunity to miss. The guide claims I can cook a risotto in 10 minutes. The question is will my hubby let me after our Townsville maggot infestation. The maggots came via the chicken risotto we made. He hasn't been the same ever since...

Food is a big issue in our house. Partly cause I LOVE food but also because it makes such a difference to our kids health and behaviour. Juggling the art of creating a healthy meal and studying is no easy feat. Actually tonight we had a gorgeous Guinness Beef Stew as I was keen to procrastinate rather than study.

I'm hoping just maybe the pressure cooker will save some time and create some gorgeous meals. I'm motivated to try.  

Last year I read the book by Juanita Phillips (2010) "A pressure cooker saved my life". Essential reading for all families.

If you know any good pressure cooking recipes let me know.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Exploring the earth with kids

I’m the product of a scientist mother. Mum taught me that housework can wait; exploring the world is much more fun. As a mum myself I’ve discovered housework can’t wait but let’s skip ironing in order to bend time and space. Mum was a trailing spouse but managed to carve out a career as a uni tutor, biology teacher and eventually a uni Lecturer in Horticulture. As a little person she took me to Macquarie uni where I loved the big bear and the atmosphere of the tutorial rooms. When I was an independent moody teenager she made herself scarce by lecturing at uni then coming home with stories of plants and science. She taught me that mothering and science can be combined.

Roll forward many years and now I take my three boys to Wollongong Uni. They adore the mineral collection in the Earth Science Department and imagine the Ninja Turtles using the crystals. Hubby and I take the kids on field trips such as Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Tasmania and Adelaide. In the future we plan to travel around Oz with the kids researching and promoting geodiversity. Kids make great scales for photos and useful images for conference presentations. We have learnt that conferences are more fun without the kids so we enjoy the mini all expenses paid holiday and leave them behind. I always miss them desperately and love coming home to their smiley faces.

Isaac and I on a freezing day in Adelaide collecting sediment samples for charcoal analysis. It was a family outing minus two brothers who were in childcare that day. 

The figure label in the journal is very different Figure 2 (A) The exposed profile of Wilson Bog following the erosion event in November 2005 showing the sharp contact between the lower siliciclastic gravels and sands and the upper peat unit.

Buckman S., Brownlie K., Bourman R.P., Murray-Wallace C.V., Morris R.H., Lachlan T.J., Roberts R.G., Arnold L.J and Cann J.H. (2009) Holocene palaeofire records in a high-level, proximal valley-fill (Wilsons Bog), Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia. The Holocene. 19,7,1-13.

Isaac a few years later pretending to drink contaminated water. The photo was part of the presentation I gave at the Australian Fire Authority Conference.

Morris R., Calliss S. (2009) Does an emergency response protect our water reservoirs? AFAC 2009 Conference Meeting Expectations, 21-24 Sept 2009, Surfers Paradise. 595-600

It is possible to blend a family with science but it’s not easy. I can’t read, think or do statistics when the lion cubs are wrestling in the room next door. (Yes three young boys love to wrestle). Spending time on the PhD is mostly possible when the kids are either in childcare or school. Forget study after they have gone to bed I’m way too tired. My studies are taking longer than anticipated but that’s because I like being involved in school and outer school stuff. I like to go to class reading, help with the canteen and watch the cross country. I’m always researching how to run a happy healthy home with the help of other mummy and granny bloggers. We need all types of contribution to science and mothering. I plan to enjoy the PhD journey and take a little longer so I can raise three more questioning scientist. All Mums are science Mums. Cooking a cake is one of the best chemical experiments around.

This blog is in response to Introducing #scimom

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wombeyan Caves and a PhD

Our family spent a lovely weekend at Wombeyan Caves. We cheated and stayed in a dorm to avoid packing up tents in the rain.  We all adored the caves and the lively camping ground. It reminded me of why I study geomorphology. Karst rock features in the caves were so diverse and amazing. The caves were still, damp, quiet, dark and sparkly (well I imagined they were quiet if I removed our kids screams of delight). A few bats flew around the stalagmites, stalactites, helictites, flow stones and columns (cave formations- speleothem). Bushfires even got into the story due to the smoke colouring some cave features.

My good friend who came along with her hubby and gorgeous kids asked that complex question. “Should I study a PhD whilst raising young children and working?”
Hmmm what answer do I give to that…  


But then after some thought- actually a whole night’s sleep of thought my answer was a bit longer.

Of course you should study a PhD. Sometimes it’s a wonderful journey. BUT before you start on the journey I recommend reading some books and thinking really hard about WHY you want to do a PhD. It’s not easy.

The books include

Phillips and Pugh (2010) How to get a PhD: a handbook for students and their supervisors

Evans and Grant (2008) Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life

And the website worth reading

Then after you have read all this, ask your partner if he is also ready for the ride.

Then GO FOR IT jump on that rollercoaster and enjoy the ride!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Aliens in the basement

We’ve had a wet summer and it’s brought the mould into our home. I was heading down the steps last week and was greated by an alien scene with a horrendous smell. All these cocoons were swinging from the roof threatening the release of evil creatures; actually the creatures had already been released. Honestly I have no idea what they are. They are on average 10mm in length, 3mm wide. Does anyone know what they are?

It’s likely they had been there for a while. I don’t go downstairs very often. I’m not the keenest at house cleaning so when avoidance is possible I accept it.  How else can I explore the world, raise three boys and study this never ending PhD. The smell has gone. I aired the rooms by opening the house up including all the windows, doors and garage for a few days.

If you do know what these little creatures are I’d love to know.

On My Mind: A Friday home photo initiative of Down To Earth. Rhonda’s blog is worth a follow, it’s very helpful for homemakers in training such as myself.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

To DS or Not

A peaceful car journey was completed yesterday from Port Macquarie all the way home. I’d like to say its cause my kids are awesome at travelling but that’s just lying. The truth! It’s the DS, DSi, IPod and IPhones that bought the peace. When they first came out we thought they were just another unnecessary electric gadget. Now I accept they are an essential part of the next generation. We had a gadget break and the whole car turned into an imaginary game involving a toy bat, a plastic red back spider and five super hero figurines. There was larva and various weapons but no hurling insults at the drivers for making a boring car journey. The DS inspired the kids imagination, there was no brain dead robots from playing these vivid computer games.

The DS gave us the freedom to take the boys away on a geology field trip looking at rocks. We swam at the beach, hunted for sea creatures, climbed rocks, explored National Parks, watched a movie and spent time together. Rather than being the Mum stuck at home awaiting for my hubby to return from his uni field work we went along. Overall the DS made our adventure peaceful and possible with minimal

“are we there yet” 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Easter Hats

I love the way kids happily put on a silly hat with pride. Pride that they made it and everyone is looking. Its the Aussie tradition of wearing a hat decorated for easter and parading around the school yards. My big decision now is whether to be disciplined enough to stay at home and study or whether to sneak out for a peak at the spectical. Most likely I'll do both, study all morning then take a lunch break to watch the parade, then back home again to hit the books. Have a great Easter everyone!

This photo is for On My Mind a weekly opportunity to share an image from home. Check out Down to Earth Blog.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


What's normal?

Is my life normal?  is my extended family normal?  is my thought process normal?

Most definiately NOT.

I've spent all of today trying to make my data normal. You know what, it just isn't NORMAL. I've tried the log, the square root, the unthinkables such as Arsine (it caused SPSS to go into warning mode) and made Q-Q plots and Lilliefors Significance Corrections only to reassure me that my data and my existence is not normal. So rather than conform to the straight line I'm accepting non-parametric analysis into my stats and chilling out about the lack of normality in my home life.  

The big red circle is almost a straight line but the outliers destroy the significance of the normality. So be it, life is not normal, neither is erosion.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Soccer Mum

Recently I purged my brain of the Mount Bold erosion discussion using dot points. It only took a couple of hours of rough writing but now the details are out. Sometimes it is better to just write whatever comes to mind. Soccer training on Friday was a great setting for some simple reminiscing and editing about my research.

Maybe it’s the academic Mum in me but when my little man scored the first goal of the season on Sat I failed to notice. Thanks goodness for the other Mums giving me a quick rib to cheer. Hubby was away looking at rocks in Adelaide so I was juggling three boys all having different games at different times in two different locations with only one of me and one car. I struggle a bit with cheering at soccer. If one kid gets a goal that means another kid failed to stop the goal. Should I really cheer at another person’s failure? It’s a bit like I struggle with the negativity of academic reviewers. Maybe I just need to toughen up princess.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Earth Hour

Last night we turned out the lights and joined in with Earth Hour. Kids loved it and we all got an early night. There is something gorgeous about candle light flickering away.

I’m so glad we have energy at home. Not for the lights so much but more the telly and computer. Right now we are watching Tim Minchin versus the Sydney Symphony. He’s a legend and a Ginger. Take note I can call him that!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Orange cake, a made bed and erosion papers

Its one of those day where I need to sing out aloud
" I am woman here me roar"

or maybe I should just admit to being maniac

So assuming I'm not burning the whole orange poppy seed cake whilst I list what my day entails

1) Get up 6:30am to take the dog for a walk along the beach
2) Go shopping at the local markets for our fruit and veg
3) Feed the chooks
4) Make lunches for the boys and get them on the school bus
5) Go to the school canteen to help with training new volunteers
6) Help with the awesome mango/berry smoothie day at school
7) Race home and read over my paper thats due today. Fix a few lines then email it off (Ok so once again its half baked but at least I handed over something)
8) Check the cake is not burnt, actually I had to put it back, it was not cooked! Now it won't cool in time so I'll ice it at school after the assembly.  Fundraising for school. They are holding a cake stall for the election day.

9) Clean the kitchen (failed left it for the visitors and I came home to a sparkling kitchen- nice hey)
10) Attend the canteen meeting
11) Watch the kids school assembly
12) Make veg lasagne for the family (maybe I can offload this job too)
13) Greet my inlaws (yes I also made their beds)
14) Escape to Sydney with my hubby for a whole night with no kids

Its worth cramming a week into a day

BUT "DOWN TO EARTH" Readers wait there is MORE I made my bed this morning just like Rhonda recommend and yes its LOVELY 
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