Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Christmas Down


Does anyone else feel like Christmas is just one big anti-climax lately? It starts off with lots of enthusiasm and excitement and ends in a lot of spending, eating and sitting around!

I have avoided writing about my Christmas for fear of total boredom! Not that I found it particularly boring, but that it's just the same old thing, every year. But out of a total inability to think of anything else to write...here goes......

The highlight for me was probably Christmas Eve when we all went to the local church for the traditional family mass. Miss 8 decided that she was going to be in the children's choir this year and so she had been to a few practices beforehand (yep, she is the very religious one amongst us, I'm sure!). She also scored the part of an angel during the gospel reading - 3 seconds of altar fame - and sang her little heart out from up behind the priest. Naturally, like any good choir singer, she insisted on having her hair straightened beforehand so the lead up to our getting there was a bathroom makeover session for 8 year olds! *sigh* Girls!

After the obligatory ceremony of leaving out milk for santa and water and carrots for reindeer, it was off to bed....only to be woken at 6 am by delighted squeals that santa had left a pink Nintendo DS Lite. And not only that, he'd also happened to drop off a Nintendogs to go with it! Yahoo....8 year old dreams come true! The 12 year old got a truckload of cricket gear. He has now hit adult sizes so a small men's bat was needed and omg...do you know how much those suckers cost???!!! Sheesh, I hope he is earning his own money before his next size up is due! Oh and Dear Husband pulled out his work pressie and at 7am was awakening all the neighbours with a very huge and noisy remote control truck!

Christmas breakfast in our house is always seafood. Dear Husband always travels for miles at his own insistence to find the very best (according to him) seafood in town. This year, he ventured home on Christmas eve with lobster, prawns and oysters! Yummo!

After breakfast it was time to tear the kids away from their new goodies and head to my brother's place for lunch. Because Christmas is usually hot here, we have a combined hot (turkey, roast veges) and cold (ham, salad) meal. Oh, and as the pic above will tell you....we are always fully stocked on liquid refreshments as well!

The afternoon was a seriously important time when the kids played with their new toys and we adults plopped down on the lounge, exhausted, to recuperate! The bigger boys went off for a game of backyard cricket at one stage and we did all play a game of Australian trivia (12 year old's Christmas pressie) that provided a few laughs (like I knew who Australia's second prime minister was! Pft!).

By evening, we were full, fat and fatigued! And naturally, we went to bed early that night so that we could be up in time for all of the Boxing Day sales at the shops the next day! Another Christmas down and another new year lining up to face! Here's hoping that next year doesn't come around so quickly, eh!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bored With Summer Television???

Take heart! There is a fantastic new series on Channel 9 on Wednesday nights at 9.30pm called 'Moonlight'! Now, our US friends reading this will probably already know quite a bit about it as it's been on tv there for a few months now, but here we are up to episode 4 and it's all good stuff!

Now don't be completely put off by the fact that this series is about a vampire. Not being a vampire-genre lover, I was initially, but after giving it a fair viewing, I am hooked on the vampire private investigator who spends my Wednesday evenings trying to solve crimes of both the human and vampire nature.

And Australian viewers may not be surprised to find that they recognise the hunky lead on the show. He is, after all, one of us who's taken up his actor's rite of passage and voyaged over the Pacific to find fame and fortune in Hollywood. Alex O'Loughlin is his name and I have been a fan since watching him a couple of years ago in The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant (yep, that great Channel 10 convict drama that we sat glued to for two weeks running a few years back!) and the movie Oyster Farmer, amongst other things!

So, despite initial trepidations, after viewing the episodes to date (and admittedly having a few sneak peeks at o/s eps), I am a fan of this show. I know, I know, you are sitting there thinking to yourself that I am an eternal romantic and could not possibly be into such a series, but trust me, this show is full of romance and chemistry - especially between O'Loughlin's character of Mick St John and Beth Turner (played by Sophia Miles).

My only fear though, after searching a few web sites on Moonlight is that it is in jeopardy of not being picked up by its CBS network due to the on-going writer's strike, despite it's growing success on tv over there. What a pity that would be! A show with so much potential, a fantastic lead actor - not to mention other actors in the show and a really interesting plot. I know that I'll be tuning in each week to keep up with all episodes available and I hope that you do, too!

And to give you a taste of what to expect, here is a sneak look (don't forget to turn the music player off to your right before viewing!)

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Grandad Present Saga!


Do you have someone who is impossible to buy a Christmas present for? Someone whose present you have been stressing over for months? Someone who has everything and asks for nothing? That is my father! If you ask him outright what he would like his response is usually, "Oh, just buy me a shirt"! Now, there are always conditions to his 'shirts'....ie they have to be long-sleeved, must have 2 pockets only etc etc. And my mother is always complaining about his shirts that she irons! So no shirts! Now every Christmas, birthday, Father's Day etc, I stress and worry for months before about what to buy him. And this year was no exception. I had had deep discussions with mum, brother etc for ideas...none came up. I scrutinised his every move, hoping for a hint...nothing! Then, last Monday, I took my children to the shops when this conversation came up!

Me: Right kids.....look out for a pressie for Grandad for Christmas. I don't suppose you have any ideas!

The 8 year old: Nup!

The 12 year old: Buy him an approach wedge!

Stunned silence.

Me: A whaaaat?

The 12 year old: An approach wedge!

Me: What is an 'approach wedge'?

The 12 year old: You know....a golf club!

More stunned silence.

Me: How do you know that grandad needs this 'approach wedge' thingy?

The 12 year old: Well, I was asking him the other day what 'AW' meant on Mario Golf on the Gamecube and he said that it meant 'approach wedge' and then he said that he didn't have one of those.

More incredulous silence!

Me: Are you sure?

The 12 year old: Yep...that's what he said!

Me: O...m....g!!!! You may have just solved this huge pressie problem for me! If you have, I'll give you a big kiss!

The 12 year old: Humpf! What's so special about that! I can get one of them anytime. See......

And with that he puckered up in the middle of Target and kissed me on the cheek!

Gawd, I love that boy!!!!!

Oh and if you are reading this and know my father, it's secret squirrel until Christmas! We want him to have a big surprise!!!!

Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has visited my little blog site since its inception in May! Who would have guessed that I would have kept it going and actually have people read what I had to say! I hope that you all have a restful, joyous and safe Christmas and I look forward to having you visit in 2008!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Pudding!


I didn't make this last year as it was just too painful and I wasn't going to make it this year either. But I had started contemplating it over a week or so ago and today, after an epiphany (or message from above) on how to solve a few previous minor issues I'd had when cooking it previously, I decided to have a go at my nanna's flour bag Christmas pudding recipe.

For years I looked forward to having this pudding. When I was young, nanna used to make it and hide old style coins inside. At the Christmas (or slightly post Christmas, depending on when we made it up to see her) table, no matter how full from mains we were, we'd always make extra room for some pud in the hopes of finding one of the special coins that nanna would swap for real money. As kids, we would always chew it extra carefully so that no teeth were broken nor coins swallowed and if you found a larger size one, you got a whole ten cents and thought you'd struck gold!

Over the years, Christmas pudding has never ever been a favourite of mine but nanna's pudding was always special. That is why, at one stage some years ago, I had asked her for the recipe and somehow she'd managed to hand write it out for me and a few other pudding lovers in the family. I have made it a few times before when she was alive although never as well as nanna and never with the special silver coins that were so reminiscent of my youth.

So tonight, as I'm sitting here waiting for the pudding to boil and watching it steam away in it's own little bag, I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I don't know if it's the result of a stressful day with the kids, the build-up of a long, hard year or if perhaps...just perhaps.....while turning the spoon through the golden fruit and reading her handwritten notes, I felt just the teeniest bit closer to my nanna as I'm sure she was watching over me from somewhere above as I was doing it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is This Merely Towels and Floor Mess?


No! When you are an eight year old who has suddenly 'discovered' the High School Musical phenomenon, the towels make the perfect lounge room stage and and the large cardboard cylinder makes a great imaginary microphone! Of course, you need the dvd cover and remote handy so that you can pause the movie to fix your moves once in a while!

And this was the scene in front of my television today! I could do nothing but laugh as I caught her prancing up and down on the towels and performing to her favourite songs!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Is It Some Type of Coming Of Age..


....when you are old enough to be trusted to mow the lawn!?

Ok, Dear Husband and I were watching him the whole time and we had given him the lecture on how to mow safely etc etc, but there is something kind of special about your very first lawn mowing time!

And of course, now the 12 year old has a new way to earn money from us! ;)

Washing Machine Saga Part 3

The TEN DAY OLD and broken washing machine is now back at the dealers (where hopefully they will give it the good kick that I was longing to do!).

We now have a new Fisher & Paykel 8kg aquasmart washing machine sitting proudly in our laundry.

It hasn't come without a few glitches though. Firstly, Dear Husband came storming in to tell me that they had given him the wrong machine model. Apparently, the returned one had some type of water leveller underneath the lid (like I even saw it!!) and this one didn't. A few calls to the supplier soon sorted out that apparently F&P no longer include the water leveller because it gave too many problems. Hmmmmm....so that means that we got older stock originally anyway!!!!

Then this morning, I went to put on my first load. The water started flowing into the machine and stopped after about a minute or two. *insert shock and horror feelings here!* Dear Husband and I fled to the machine handbook and were frantically reading it for about 15 minutes when it dawned on me......we didn't have the hot water tap on (I usually wash in cold water only) and yet the machine was set to have warm water in it. The silence from the machine was only it trying to insert the hot water that wasn't connected! Phew! A quick adjustment of the settings on the machine soon had the water flowing again!

So, the saga of the washing machine has hopefully been put to rest. I will say though that I am no longer excited and proud of our new purchase and that a part of me does not trust Fisher & Paykel products, given what we've been through. Perhaps if this new machine gives us no grief, I may learn to regain that trust, but still it has been a very sorry experience all round.

Oh and can I recommend anyone who is contemplating buying an electrical product to shop at The Good Guys. They were the ones who gave us absolutely no grief and the ones who happily returned our broken ten day old machine with no stress. Well done, Good Guys!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jane Eyre


If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will note that I have mentioned the enjoyable BBC series already and how much I loved watching it.

Since then, I decided to do what every screen lover does when they can't get a show out of their heads.....they read the book!

For some reason, reading Jane Eyre was not something that I ever undertook at high school. My English teacher did insist on us reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Oedipus Rex along with numerous Shakespearean plays, to name a few, but Jane Eyre was never a pick of his.

I really think that perhaps some of these books are best left to the wisdom of middle age to read. Certainly, life experience and a want to read, rather than having to for some high school English literature essay, mean that true appreciation of the themes of these stories are of far greater value. That is certainly the case with Jane Eyre.

I really enjoyed this book. A deeper understanding of Jane's upbringing, along with the character of Rochester are gleaned through the text. The concepts of gender independence and morality are at a fore. And I was so amazed to see such modern (timeless) themes addressed. I particularly loved Bronte's intimate style of writing in the first person. I thought perhaps that I might find the older style language tedious to read when in fact the opposite was true. And I don't think that you can ever really escape the fact that Jane Eyre, at heart, is a love story....perfect for a romanticist like me!

But the perfect part of all of this is that during reading and when it is finished, I have the new dvd to watch over and over again! *sigh* Yep....seriously tragic! ;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Washing Machine Hell!!!!

Remember that new and fancy washing machine that I was gloating about a few days ago????

Well, I put a load in today, turned it on and it spits out at me 'Call for service. Error 49!' Whaaaatttttttt??????!!!!!!

Yes, my TEN DAY OLD Fisher & Paykel washing machine is kaput! It's not working and I'm seriously not happy. I haven't even done a handful of washes in it and I've done all of the right things....even went out and bought front loading washing powder for it!

I rang the Fisher & Paykel service line today and their response was that error 49 is an electrical fault. Had I had a power surge???? Ummmmm....NO!!!! At no time in the last 10 days has there been a power surge. All the other electrical goods in this house are working ok....including the blawdy big LCD television.....and at no time have even the digital clocks flashed (always a good indicator of an outside electrical condition affecting the house!).

My next step was to point out to the F&P service lady that I am working tomorrow and Friday and cannot take time off work at this, the busiest time of year. I also pointed out that I had a washing machine full of dirty clothes - clothes which my husband needs for work and my children need to wear, not to mention me!

So, did this Fisher & Paykel service person apologise profusely and swear to me that she would have someone out this afternoon to fix it??? No! Instead she told me that it would then have to be next week as I could not have anyone home tomorrow or Friday to let the service repairer in! She then even slightly admonished me for not having sent in my warranty yet (did I mention that I had only had the thing for TEN DAYS)!

My response to this, I think, was very controlled under the circumstances! I pointed out that in good faith we had bought a $1000 washing machine - our first ever Fisher & Paykel product - and that I was so angry with her attitude at that point in time that I could not speak to her at all and that I would get my husband to call back! She then continued that I would have to make an appointment for the service person so that I didn't miss the time that I wanted! Ummmmm...hang on...the time I wanted for their disgustingly faulty product was TODAY!!! At some point I also did mention that I had had a Simpson washing machine for 20 years and not once did it break down!

So enter Dear Husband! Not quite on his white steed, I might add, as he did ring me at one point and said that I should see their side and that we might have to do our usual 5+ loads of washing by hand this weekend just to fit in with the almighty F&P! After pointing out to Dear Husband that he would be sleeping in the shed until I got the washing machine that I paid for TEN DAYS AGO, he quickly got the message that chief clothes washer was not happy and that he'd better ring them back! A few phone calls later sent him back to the original shop that we bought it from who have now offered to replace it fully! Thank goodness someone, somewhere had some sense!

So, if you are a Fisher & Paykel employer or even employee reading this, take note! No matter what reputation your product may have, a thousand dollar washing machine should last longer than TEN DAYS! And I have since been told today by a friend that we are not the first person that she's heard of who has had difficulties with post sales service from this company! If only I'd known this earlier!

So stay tuned for the next installment of my Fisher & Paykel washing machine saga! It's pathetic really, isn't it! When all I want to do is have clean clothes!

Friday, December 7, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!



And how do I know????

* Well school has finished or is in the process of finishing! Kids are lining shopping centres everywhere hassling their parents to buy them more stuff or complaining that they are bored!

* It's become hot! And I mean hot! Not quite into the February 40s but still, we have passed 30 degrees celsius (no idea what that is for you overseas fahrenheit people, sorry!) a couple of times this week. I haven't quite turned the air conditioner on yet, but no doubt, it isn't far off!

* Mangoes are everywhere! Christmas in Australia means mango season! Yum, yum!!! We buy them by the tray load here and they get eaten faster than we can buy them!

* The Christmas lights are out. Take a look at the gorgeous street, a short drive from me, which wins awards every year for best lighting display. Every house in the street has lights on it usually and as it gets closer to Christmas, the traffic around there is chaotic. They even hire people to direct traffic at the bottom of the street and many people park streets away and walk up it! (And yes, wish I was a better photographer, too!)

* It's time to dust off the Christmas tree. Well, in our case, we broke open the box with the new Christmas tree in that I bought in the post-Christmas sales last year. This year I also abandoned messy tinsel for elegant beads. Sweet!

* Australia Post is unreachable! Don't bother going down to buy a few stamps unless you are prepared to take a cut lunch and water bag to consume in the huge queue snaking outside of it full of people waiting to buy Christmas stamps!

* Television peaks then rapidly declines so that we are left with utter rubbish on tv in the 'off' season! Mind you, I do like the look of The Starter Wife but then again, I love Debra Messing! She's so sassy! And I'd love to have her hair!

* And I'm stuffed....full of chocolates and candy canes and stuffed as in exhausted!

Roll on holidays, I say! Full steam ahead to roast turkey, prawns and Christmas pudding!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Is It A Sign of My Tragic Life?


Is it a sign of my tragic life that I am very excited over a new washing machine? I have been looking at them for ages but finally decided that I could put up with the clunking, grinding and non-washing of the 20 year old one no longer!

Certainly, the old one had done its duty....had been averaging 5-6 loads of dirty clothes each week for many years now. But recently, it was telling us that it was time to put it out to retirement....the noisy wash cycle, the leaking water from underneath, the way it refused to actually spin the clothes so that most of the water was out of them! Yes....it was definitely time! In fact, when Dear Husband actually looked underneath it, apart from finding lots of dust bunnies and a few odd socks (yep, had been looking for those suckers for ages and had long since abandoned their lonely companions!) he found cracks and rust! Goodbye old washer...you have served us well!

But my, how washing machines have changed over 20 years! Not only do they spit written words out at you and tell you to 'have a nice day', they also lock their own lids (jayzzzz....no more tossing almost forgotten items in at the last minute!), they sense how high the water should be, they are 'eco-smart' enough to save water, they tell you how long they are going to take to wash the clothes and mine doesn't have one of those big stick thingies in the middle of the drum! So how on earth I empty the lint filter, I have no idea....hmmmm...may have to actually go and read the instruction book!

Oh and for the curious among you, it is a Fisher & Paykel 8kg Aquasmart! As much as I was tempted by a front loader for water saving, I just cannot bring myself to be patient enough for long cycles and I also have back issues so the upright water saver was the way to go! And woo-hoo....as it is a water saving washing machine, we are also eligible for a small government rebate! Double woo-hoo!

Now, when I work out how to work the thing properly (I have fluked one load so far!), I'll let you know how it goes!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fairytale Day


The 8 year old had a dress up Fairytale Day at school! She was so excited that she was dressed and ready to go by 8 am.....an unusual feat for her! But all along she has insisted that she would not go as a princess. No matter how much I tried to coerce her into it, she did not want to prissie up! So we settled on the old witch and with a bit of help from left over Halloween costumes, we managed to put this together. Princesses are just so common anyway!!!! ;)

Monday, November 26, 2007

There Is Nothing Better Than....


......a clean, tidy floor with no toys on it!!!!!

A picture speaks a thousand words, I think!!!!

I had a whole lot of spiel written about how we worked our little butts off yesterday and cleaned long forgotten places and spaces but then I thought....geez.....the picture says it all really!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and is recovering from post election hangovers! I have never ever seen so many people lined up on an election day as I did at our polling booth on Saturday. There was traffic chaos around it to match, too. Seriously scary!

And the highlight of my weekend...apart from cleaning...was watching the fantastic new version of Jane Eyre on the ABC last night. So I guess that kinda gives you a feeling of my weekend overall!!! Lol!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What Do You Collect?

I love and respect old-style things! I find them fascinating and absolutely adore the beauty that they hold. Recently my aunt gave me some beautiful china cups that belonged to my nanna. Not only are they special but I just love admiring them. Isn't this one sweet?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

For some years now I have also been collecting old tins. I probably don't have a lot that would grab the attention of a serious collector but if I find one that interests me, I try to add it to my collection. I particularly love the old biscuit and chocolate tins that have photographs of animals and children on them. So cute! These are only a few that I own. I bought the larger tin at the back because it is exactly the same as one that my maternal grandmother once had and used to stash all of her baking in!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And my love of aged trinkets does not stop at kitchenware. I love old silky oak furniture. Unforunately, I don't have nearly as much as I'd like but I do have a few lovely pieces and I recently bought this gorgeous plant stand on ebay:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now, looking at all of these, I can't help but wonder if their original owners knew that one day they would become treasured pieces in a modern home. Or did they just use them as everyday items and considered them a bit ho-hum?! And it makes you wonder what one earth future generations will be treasuring in their own display cupboards from our era? Will old ipods one day be museum items?

Now, what do you collect????

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Men!!!!


There was an email doing the rounds recently that told the story of a woman and a man getting ready for bed and compared the difference in work load between the two. It was humorous but it highlighted a very poignant difference between the expectations of the two and I'm sure, had a lot of women nodding their heads at the computer screen as they recognised an aspect of their own lives immoralised in that story.

So in an attempt to help Dear Husband realise exactly how stressed I have been feeling recently with the enormous workload that I have and the expectations placed upon me by myself and those around me, I decided to use the framework of this email to compare exactly how simple his lifestyle is compared to mine and to try and get him to help out more around the house without having to be asked.

The two lists went something like this:

His Day:

* Wake up
*Have breakfast
*Get dressed etc
* Go to work
*Work all day
*Come home
*Watch tv
*Eat tea
*Watch more tv
*Put dishes in dishwasher
*Go to bed

My Day:

*Wake up
*Get dressed etc
*Make lunches
*Iron uniforms
*Get kids up
*Feed dog
*Eat breakfast
*Get kids etc in car and drop them off to school
*Go to work
*Work all day
*Pick up kids
*Come home
*Take washing off line
*Cook tea
*Spend time on computer
*Eat tea
*Put a load of washing in machine
*Do paperwork for paid work the next day
*Put kids to bed
*Hang washing out
*Do more paperwork
*Pay bills
*Go to bed

So you see my point!!!

Upon showing Dear Husband the comparative lists, he looked blankly at me and said:

"I'm surprised that you had time to go on the computer! Your problem is that you need to delegate more!!!!!"

Needless to say that he was lucky to escape with his testicles intact!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Marvel Of Parental Love!



I knew instinctively that it was never going to be easy. From the moment I held him in my arms, a few minutes after he was born, I knew that life with him would be a tumultuous path. Call it intuition or the exhaustion of a woman who'd just gone through childbirth or call it a psychic moment, I don't know, but as I cradled the long, chubby and screaming baby in my arms, that was the first thought that came to mind. His birth was not easy.....a long, long labor followed by an emergency caesarian. I can still visualise the image of the doctor yanking on forceps unsuccessfully trying to get him out. I was scared and the baby was screaming. So much so, in fact that the other vivid memory of the day was of one doctor commenting that he was screaming before they had even taken him from my womb. Yes....I heard him before I even laid eyes on him!

I remember lying next to him in bed, with the stark hospital room as a backdrop and trying to take it all in. An unsettled, unhappy baby was not what I had expected. I was in shock....this is not how babies appeared on tv. This was not what the books told me that I was going to get. They brushed over the topic of colic and reflux like it was just a blip. They hardly mentioned newborns who didn't sleep, who cried all of the time and who would not breast feed. They didn't mention the pain following a caesarian and how agonising it would be to even get up out of bed. But despite all of this, as I gazed at my newborn in the afterglow of the knowledge that I'd helped to create this human life, I vowed to him that I would do everything in my power to care for him, protect him, and guide him on his life's journey and I loved him, no matter what! The marvel of a mother's unconditional love in all circumstances is obviously beyond explanation, I think.

So fast forward twelve years. My predictions have generally been true. He has not been an easy child, preferring to skim along the edges of respect and following rules. He questions everything and everyone if he doesn't agree with them. He has become moody and sullen. His daily breakfast conversation (when he actually eats breakfast without fighting me over the 'I'm not hungry' argument) consists of monosyllabic answers and grunts. He sneers and glares at anyone who comes within a metre of him and anyone who requests that he leave his 'funk' for a few moments to lend a hand. He snarls at his sister and complains about her singing or being happy. He lolls all over the table or lounge until it is time to leave for school. Then he complains that we are running late!

I know that when I pick him up in the afternoon, he will be happier, friendlier. But mornings are a time when I remind myself of my intrinsic need to nurture and mother him - remind myself of my parental worry for a preteen who is going through another 'stage' and the fact that I love him, no matter what!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Love To Burn!!


I have spent the week feeling like a pinball in a pinball machine....going here, there and everywhere in a mad rush. It seems to be the same old story each week, but I'm hoping that it will come to an end soon and I can get some relaxing moments where I do absolutely nothing (and don't feel guilty!!! Hmmmm...do you think that that could ever happen?) The culmination of all of this madness was Friday evening when we had the 8 year old's birthday party and the school music concert one after the other. So mad was it, in fact that I left home at 8 in the morning and got back at 10 pm that night. Scary stuff!

My only point of sanity this week, however, has been when I've managed to sneak a few moments in front of the dvd player very late at night, catching up with Series 2 of Love My Way. I have bought and watched Series 3 already but decided to go back and revisit Series 2 to jog a bit of memory loss over the intricacies of the storyline. I am a huge fan of this series and am kinda grumpy that it looks to be the end of the show at the final episode in Season 3. If only all drama was this good!

Now, whilst watching Series 3 on dvd, I came across the most fantastic song that was used on the soundtrack. They say that sometimes we love music because we have some type of emotive reaction to it...well, for me, I think that this was one of those times. So I sat as controller of the pause button when the credits rolled up to discover the performer. After that, it was a quick internet search and an order placed to my local JB store to order this amazing EP called 'The Unbeat' by Melbourne singer and songwriter, Brendan Welch. The song is called Burn and I just love it. And.....to add to my shock....so does Dear Husband. Wow! Two cds in our collection now that we agree on! And, I believe that there is another EP out by this singer, too, which I'm trying to track down.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

No More Miss 7!!!!


I cannot call her Miss 7 anymore for today she is Miss 8!!! She woke us up at 5.30 this morning in search of her presents. I did what any loving mother would do at that hour, of course.....gave her a happy birthday kiss and told her to go back to bed and wake me in a couple of hours if she wanted presents!!! ;) At 7.30 she returned and said that she couldn't sleep so she watched tv while she waited! Okaaaayyyy....I know....'bad mother' again!!!!

So all day today we have been in Littlest Pet Shop heaven and have been receiving guests to help us celebrate. Naturally, while she played with her newest toys, I madly raced around and tried to clear the clutter before the guests arrived. I also whipped up a batch of scones, so I was pretty impressed with myself. I have been having some issues with swelling behind my left knee over the last few days so doing the vacuum cleaner dance was a pretty big effort and I'm proud of the fact that I didn't just give up and call it all off before lunch!

We also had the 8 year old's bestie over for the afternoon along with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins so the house has been pretty chaotic since lunch time.

So while all this has been going on, I haven't had much time to reflect on how I feel about my baby turning 8. My memories of her birth are all pleasant. She was the child who entered the world sleeping and didn't make a sound until they took her away to wash. In fact, I called her 'my little koala' when she was a baby because she loved to sleep and snuggle in like a baby koala! She has always been the one who floats along in the world, thinking happy thoughts, loving everyone around her, adoring animals and all things girlie and trying to do the right thing in most situations! Geez....I hope she stays that way. Her conversation in the car this afternoon, when we were taking her friend home really sums up what type of a person she is. The two girls were sitting in the back seat whispering. I asked them what they were whispering about and Miss 8 pipes up and says, 'We were just saying how much we love each other. But we don't love each other in a kissy-kissy way, of course. We just love each other!!!!' That's my big 8 year old girl!!!!

Note new birthday cowgirl hat in picture! And cake is of the cheap Coles mud variety as this is one of the few cakes that she will eat! Have you ever heard of a child who doesn't like cake before!!!??? And she insisted on decorating it herself!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Week That Was and The One That Is!!!!


I am tired....no....let me rephrase that....I am stuffed!!! Why oh why does everything that is 'a set date' have to happen at this time of year. I have explained my exhaustion to anyone who'll listen (and give sympathy) like this.....in 13 days straight, I have 12 'other' things on. By 'other' I mean things that either a) I don't usually do or b) occur after my usual work hours.

These 'other' things are vast and varied. They include high school information night, parent dinner, a certain birthday, music concert night, sport and parties amongst other school and work commitments.

The result of all of this is that I am not even thinking straight at the moment. I know that I'll look back on these two weeks and feel excited and proud of the memories of all of these events, but right now I am typing through glassy eyes and thinking through a foggy brain!!! In fact, I even win 'bad mother' award this week for forgetting to put a band concert excursion into my diary and dropped the twelve year old to school on Friday in the wrong uniform just as they were packing the instruments onto the bus! Whoops!!! Oh, the shame!!! I begged forgiveness and borrowed a uniform from the second hand shop, claimed that my life was a total disaster at the moment and waved the bus off as I dashed off to work!

Oh, and let's not forget that I still have to work and maintain the usual household chores in the midst of it all!!

So right now, the only thing that I can think is 'Thank God for.....':

* slow cookers
* take away dinners
* parents who babysit
* early nights that I might one day get
* sleep in Sundays
* clothes that still miraculously fit (and grrr to the ones that don't!!!)
* a husband who discovers and repairs flat tyres (yep...that also added to the stress this week!)
* washing that dries on the line overnight
* children who appreciate all the running around that you do for them (ok, I threw that one in as a part of my wishful thinking!)
* and friends who understand that spotlessly clean houses are not a direct indicator of your strength of character!!!!!

As a follow-on from last week, I can also update the cricket match from this morning. The twelve year old was captain of today's match and did an excellent job of cheering his players on and setting a great field (so much so that I overheard the coach of the other team commenting on it!). In the end of the first innings, the other team had 8 runs to win and one wicket to spare. The twelve year old went on to bowl for his first bowling stint of the day. His first ball was plum lbw (that is 'leg-before-wicket' for the uninitiated...one of those tricky cricket terms that basically means that the batsman didn't play a shot and if his leg hadn't been there, the ball would have knocked the stumps over....a rule brought into the game, I think to stop batsman standing around all day and not really playing but rather wasting time). So the lbw was not given out as the umpire 'gave the batsman the benefit of the doubt'. The twelve year old was so annoyed that he bowled the next ball faster and at the wickets once again and took out middle stump!!! Woo hoo!!! A match-saving play.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Don't Like Cricket-ah....I Love It- ah!!!!!!


Congratulations to my 12 year old who, last Saturday scored his personal best at batting......25 runs, not out! Although this may not seem like much compared to the big boys, when you are 12 and still trying to decide if you are a batsman or a bowler, it is a big achievement! And as well as the 25 runs, he actually contributed to a lot more with great calling, running between wickets and taking every opportunity when overthrows or byes occurred!

It was a stinking hot day, too....well over 30 degrees celcius at the crease and the poor boy was so hot that when he came off at the drinks break, it looked like he had been under the shower when he took his helmet off!

And to top it all off, he got a wicket in bowling as well although I am not sure how many runs were taken off his bowling...a few, I think....I wasn't game to look!

So the game continues this Saturday as well.....hopefully I won't forget to take my camera this weekend!!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Apple For the Teacher


Happy International Teachers Day!


THANKS FOR…

making the difference
long, long hours
creating a sense of family
being the keeper of dreams
pleasing a lot
using good judgment
teaching for learning
making reading fun
forgiving
being the wind beneath my wings
that sensitive touch
teaching class
never giving up on anybody
believing in miracles
respecting each other
taking responsibility for all students
keeping a tight rein on discipline
striving for excellence, not perfection
being brave
smiling a lot
never depriving our children of hope
being tough minded but tender hearted
showing enthusiasm even when you don't feel like it
keeping your promises
giving your best
your wisdom and courage
being punctual and insisting on it in others
providing creative solutions
avoiding the negative and seeking out the good
being there when students need you
listening
doing more than is expected
never giving up on what you really want
remaining open, flexible, and curious
being a friend
sharing
keeping several irons in the fire
being a child's hero
going the distance
having a good sense of humor
being a dream maker
giving your heart


Author unknown

You touch the future.....you teach!

(and before anyone posts to say that it is actually officially celebrated on October 5th, apparently in Qld we recognise it today! Go figure!)


Photo courtesy of freefoto.com

Monday, October 22, 2007

There Is Nothing Sweeter.....!


There is nothing sweeter than a little girl in a whirly, twirly skirt!

Many thanks K for getting it for us. It was definitely worth the wait!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Week of Nothing!


It is indicative of what sort of week I've had, that I'm sitting here on a Saturday night alone in front of the computer! The rest of the family are outside doing their own thing and I am here reading and writing!

Now, if you asked me what I've done all week, my stock-standard response is 'Nothing much'. But on reflection, I have, in fact, done a whole lot. For a start, I've worked! I hate work days as they mean getting up earlier and rushing to get everyone ready and out the door by 8am. I've also cooked, cleaned, washed and all of that other stuff that mothers and wives do without even giving it all a second thought. I've run around after my children....the 12 year old went to a school disco last night and was off to cricket today. The 7 year old had her weekly swimming lesson which I drove her to. I've had work meetings which have lasted until late in the afternoon. I have visited family and rushed to the shops to buy the new Josh Groban Noel cd which finally appeared in Australian stores today (a couple of weeks after its US release...sad that we are often behind!).

So...blah, blah, blah kind of sums up my life atm!

That said, I also spent a good deal of last week watching an absolutely fabulous version of Robin Hood done by the BBC as a tv series. Of course, I missed it when it was on tv here so I was fortunate enough to secure a copy on ebay and spent most of my spare time watching it. In fact, it was so enjoyable that even Dear Husband snitched it to view. I think that he finished the final thirteenth episode at about midnight last night and so we are now both keen to see the second series aired here! We've both seen many Robin Hood versions over the years, but this one is great....good acting, good storyline and excellent quality!

So it has been a week of nothing much....nothing much but filled with a bit of everything!

Also, thanks to all for your enquiries about Ruby. I am pleased to report that she is bouncing around as healthy as ever although still has the lampshade on. She is so keen to get at her stitches that she has scratched her belly near it raw...the only part she can reach. Thankfully, stitches are out this week!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Poor Ruby!


It must be hard being a pet and being dragged, unsuspectingly, off to the local vet for your 'little operation'! One day you are happy, healthy and jumping up and down on the furniture (which you aren't, of course supposed to do!) and the next moment you are drowsy, sore and have awful, painful stitches in your belly.

Yep, Ruby is no longer a prospective breeder and now is the proud owner of four nice, neat stitches on her belly. She, of course, is co-ordinating all of this activity with her new look...the 'lampshade on the head' fashion for dogs who can't pull out stitches! Obviously, she isn't happy but in the long term is probably better off. We were advised by the vet that potential puppy-bearing could kill her (unless she bred with chihuahuas!) as she has such a small abdomen! So, the deed is done and now it is recovery time! Poor, poor, sore girl!

And on a completely different note....did any catch the Colin Hay interview with Andrew Denton on Enough Rope last night? Completely hilarious....what a talented man Colin Hay is! He can sing, he can act, he is funny and very entertaining. My husband and I both love listening to his cd (one of the few we both agree on!). If you missed it, it can be seen on the Enough Rope website: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/enoughrope/

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Belated Birthday Party and Other Weekend News


You know, there is something inside me that cringes when I think that boys get a kick out of dressing up in camo gear and shooting each other with fake guns....but that's what we did today for the twelve year old's birthday party and he had such a great time. Eight wild boys were thrown into soldier style clothes and sent off into the bush for some extraordinary fun.

The idea was that the 2 teams used these laser guns to shoot tags on the hats of the opposition team and if they managed to knock the other team out by cancelling their laser shots in their guns, they got to 'steal' a flag.
The organisers were great...they didn't put up with any nonsense....and the boys were really really well behaved. They had such a good time - there was no swearing, fighting, arguing or anything...they just reveled in working as a team to win a common goal.

This was all set in a slightly country backdrop and with fine weather so we grown ups set up a table with party food, headed off for pizzas just before then end (well one of us did this) and sat reading the paper and sipping cups of tea whilst watching the action and waiting. I was terrified that someone would spot a snake (it's the right weather for it) but thankfully all snakes in the area had enough common sense to keep out of their way. Phew!

So one birthday down for this year and one to go! Time flies, doesn't it!

Oh and the twelve year old is back to Saturday cricket! 8 am starts - yuck - and a grand total of 3 runs this week with apparently a totally unfair dismissal that should have been called a no-ball but wasn't by the bias umpire from the other team! Lol! At least that was the story I got when they came home!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

You Raise Me Up!


Last night I had the privilege of being able to go to see Josh Groban in concert. I have been an admirer of this great singer for a few years now.....ever since I saw him sing on an Oprah show.....and do have a few of his cds in my collection so you can imagine my excitement at having the opportunity to purchase tickets to see him in concert.

Now, our tickets were what I like to call the 'oxygen' seats (ie the air is a bit thinner up there!) but we were centered to the stage at the front section of the balcony and although Josh was a distance away, we could still see him adequately. Now his voice was simply amazing and if ever anyone could be described as having a 'gift', it is him! Not only was his singing brilliant but he was humorous and entertaining as well. He joked about the fact that some of his songs were love ballads, about his ability to 'take off' other artists (with a few hilarious impersonations thrown in to boot) and even about his tight jeans causing his voice to be higher! At one time he disappeared from the stage while the band played a musical interlude, only to pop up right at the back section of the balcony - microphone in hand - to sing to we shocked audience members way up there! In fact, he stopped and sang almost in front of me as I took out my phone cam and shakily snapped this pic! And it wasn't just the screaming female fans that he impressed. I watched a number of men in the audience jump up to shake his hand as he ran past them. And I must say that to run up and down all of those steps at the Concert Hall, he must be pretty fit! Lol!

Now the two biggest highlights of the show for me were his live versions of To Where You Are and the amazing You Raise Me Up. Both of these songs have personal significance and to hear him do them live was just an honour.

Do I sound like I'm a real fan now? Lol! I think that I am! I still love my rock music but I can totally understand why I overheard some heavily accented woman telling someone else in the foyer about how she was following him around the country and had tickets to all of his shows!

Fantastic concert, fantastic bloke and I highly recommend a listen! If you haven't heard him sing (as one now informed friend told me!) try these youtube links out:

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Men Can't Read Maps Either!


A famous Australian body language expert has written a book titled, "Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps". Now whilst I have never read this book, its title always amused me as I just want to beg to differ everytime I read it! You see, I have a man here who definitely can't read maps! Hmmmmm....or maybe I should say.....he thinks he knows every exact route without having to read a map! Does this sound familiar to anyone out there?

Now while I admit that he is good at other things (he cooks a mighty mean bbq, for example!) his sense of direction seems to have been completely lost on its own! He always seems to want to drive around some destination and then back-track to get there.....in effect, taking the long route to get anywhere. His theory is that if you avoid 'all the traffic' then distance shouldn't matter. This theory, needless to say, has been the cause of many in-car arguments between the two of us over the years and has meant that in our family, I am the expert map reader!

So with that in mind, you would think that I would have known better when we set off for our jaunt to Toowoomba. For a number of reasons, it was decided that I would drive. Dear Husband sat in the passenger seat and proudly announced that he knew which way to go as he'd traveled along this road on a work mission so I should take heed of his expert navigational advice. Ok, I admit it....I should have tuned out then and there, but when he insisted that it was fine to pass the sign that said 'Toowoomba next right' as the way he was directing me to was 'much quicker as it is a new road' I really should have done a U-turn and followed my own instincts. I started to get suspicious, of course, when his fantastic quick route ended up detouring past a shopping centre (Springfield, for all you Brissie people playing at home!) and even though I kept asking him if he was sure that he knew where he was going, his response was that this way was bypassing Ipswich!

Now for those of you who don't know the area, it is suffice to say that we were supposed to take the Warrego Highway, which is north of Ipswich. Of course, we ended up motoring along the Cunningham Highway, which is south of Ipswich. And you can imagine my reaction when we ended up having to back track through the city of Ipswich to get back onto the correct road. And yes, it was me who ended up having to pull over and pull out the referdex (map) to study it and work out where on earth he'd taken us to....all this making our trip a good half hour longer!

So now, everytime I see that book about '....Women Can't Read Maps', I know that in this house anyway, it is all a load of rubbish. In fact, I think it should read, 'Women Can Read Maps - Especially When Their Husbands Have Gotten Them Lost!'

Monday, October 1, 2007

Holidays, Toowoomba and Other Such Stuff!


I have been quiet this last week because - you guessed it - it's holiday season! There is nothing better than sleeping in and lazing around the house but this last weekend, we also went on a trip to Toowoomba to visit friends.

Now, at this point I should be going on about all the wonderful things that we did in Toowoomba. No doubt that we did catch up with lovely friends and we did have a nice time...up until last night. I went out with our friend to run a few errands. Upon return I found a very stressed husband who met me at the car to tell me that there had been an accident. It seems that Miss 7 was (stupidly, I might add) walking downstairs with a toothbrush in her mouth when a certain child who shall remain nameless (also stupidly) threw a ball at her which hit the toothbrush, which in turn bore a huge hole in the back cavity of her mouth. The hole was so big in fact that originally we thought it was the actual hole that food went down.

Yes, it was disgusting and yes, I went weak at the knees from shock just looking at it and yes, we rushed her to the hospital. Now I have my hesitation about hospitals having heard so many terrible stories, but this one was great. They, in turn contacted an ENT doctor who recommended a course of antibiotics and self-healing. Apparently, she had hit just above the tonsils and actually exposed them to the naked eye. Ewwwwww! Had she actually ruptured the tonsil, her prognosis would have been worse but after lots of painkillers, a dose of antibiotics and cuddles she fell asleep. Naturally, I didn't let her out my sight for the whole night but it really is amazing how children heal quickly. Today the huge gaping hole has closed over although it is still swollen and red and she is on a soft food diet.

Now, there is nothing more terrifying than seeing your child injured and bleeding and in obvious pain. The moments that pass between the actual injury and the arrival of medical help seems like it is sickeningly slow. Thankfully, our little injury is trivial in comparison to many and will heal with time but it's a feeling that I hope I never visit again. What is more frustrating is the fact that it could all have been avoided so easily had both children acted in the way that we have told them thousands upon thousands of times to do....no walking with toothbrush in mouth and no throwing balls inside are stock standard rules that were overlooked in this calamity of errors.

And yes, unfortunately, we did postpone plans to do further travelling and came home a day early because of it. We did take in one winery tour which was lovely but these holidays will always be remembered as the 'Hole-y Mouth Vacation'!

Also, enjoy the picture of this lovely Toowoomba sunset. I really hope though that they get rain there soon. It was so dry that even my lips started cracking from lack of moisture in the air!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Eleven No More!


I no longer have an eleven year old! In fact, I now have a big twelve year old living in my house. It's hard to believe that 12 years ago I was facing my first foray into motherhood with a screaming, unhappy baby that made me question why on earth I volunteered for the job! It's hard to believe, not only that we got through that very difficult time but that I now have a capable, intelligent, handsome young man as a part of my family. Ok, I know that there are times that his attitude and actions frustrate me - let's face it, we probably wouldn't be 'normal' if there weren't times of frustration and provocation (all from his side of course! Lol!) - but I do consider myself to be completely fortunate to have given birth to my beautiful son.

So happy birthday my big twelve year old. Enjoy!

Oh, and note the new birthday pressie shirt that he is wearing in the photo!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

One To Watch

I am a fussy movie and tv watcher. I will only watch things that really take my interest. But when I love anything, I watch it endlessly. So with my renewed interest in my family history and the questions and images of times gone past that that has provoked, I decided to dust off one of my all time favourite discs from my dvd collection.

It is called North & South. Not the Patrick Swayze version, but a classy, elegant and beautifully filmed UK BBC mini series from 2004. I stumbled across it a couple of years ago when it was recommended to me after I spoke of my love of Pride & Prejudice. Interestingly enough, it has since usurped my P&P passion and is now my all time favourite historical romance!

Based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell, it is set in 19th century England and tells the story of Margaret Hale who moves from the south to a northern industrial town with her family and learns how very different an environment driven by commerce can be. It also features an absolutely stunning performance by Richard Armitage as the serious Mr Thornton - not a person who you would consider to have classic 'romantic lead' type looks, his presence on the screen comes as a delightful surprise and is well supported by Daniela Denby-Ashe as the sweet but strong-willed Margaret Hale. Also watch out for Brendan Coyle who plays Nicholas Higgins.

Now, the one thing that I cannot understand is why this mini-series was not given the air time and support that it deserves here. I have read that after it was aired in the UK, the BBC's on-line chat board melted due to such a high demand. I'm not surprised. Sadly though, here it seems to only be getting recognition from word-of-mouth recommendations. So consider this my 'word-of-mouth' recommendation as one of the best historical romances of its genre and look out for your own copy. I have watched mine endlessly and still am not over it.

And just to whet your appetite, enjoy this youtube homage. There are a lot more like it on there, but watching them will only make you want to go out and watch the whole thing!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What is the World Coming To?


I recently read an article in the paper regarding the Madeline McCann disappearance. Now while I haven't followed this case to any extreme and I have no opinion on who's guilty or innocent, the article I read disturbed me in so many ways. In it, the journalist commented on the stress that Madeline's mother found in raising her children. It said that she found that "...her chidren were hysterical and exhausted her" and continued to point out that apparently Mrs McCann said that "Her husband gave her little help with chores".

Now excuse me if I'm wrong, but since when does that make news worthy print and since when does that automatically add fuel to the fire of her questionable guilt? Show me any mother who, at one time or another doesn't feel this way? In fact, if anyone can produce any woman who finds motherhood an easy and constantly fulfilling life choice then I'd say that they were either delusional or they had the perfect system and I want to know how they do it! In this day and age, when we, as women try to juggle motherhood, housework, paid careers and all other aspects of life, I am astounded that not more women are putting their hands up and saying that they feel stressed and overburdened with responsibility.

The reality is that children are so very different from the dream that we expected them to be. This is in absolutely no way saying that we don't adore them, love them, care for them and even like them. What it is saying is that the dream is not the reality and no one ever tells us that beforehand. From the moment that we give birth and burden our bodies through pregnancy and labour we know that this is going to be difficult. The stages change of course....from sleepless nights to trying to manage tantrums to watching them grow, worrying about their diets, hobbies, study, clothes choices etc, to breaking up sibling fights, to fronting up to parent teacher interviews, to driving them everywhere, to hoping that they make good friends, to trying to decide what school they should go to and what career path they should choose to praying that they don't use drugs or get into trouble or make bad choices....good grief...the list is endless! And the day-to-day practicalities of this are that we often feel exhausted and overwhelmed. I have often reached out to my own support network at times like this and sometimes, just knowing that other mothers are going through exactly the same thing is enough to help realise that motherhood is a hard hard job that absolutely nothing in life prepares you for. Would we give it up if we had a chance? Never in a million years! But struggling through without a handbook on how to do it is damn hard!

On the back of this question of motherhood and the stresses involved in it, I cannot help but despise the attitude of Greg Norman towards his ex-wife. According to current news articles, Mr Norman's legal team filed a petition saying that his ex wife '....did not teach the husband to swing a golf club....did not teach the husband to win". Hmmmmmmmm! Now, I'm sorry but regardless of how much money she is asking for, the fact is that after 25 years of marriage and supporting her husband in his chosen career and giving birth to and co-raising his two children, is this what her contribution has come down to? Nasty!!!! And herein lies another example of how to devalue the efforts of wives and mothers everywhere!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

He's Growing Up!


The 11 year old had a high school orientation day last week. Dear Husband dropped him off in the morning and I had to leave work early to pick him up in the afternoon. As I walked across the fields to the designated meeting spot, I must admit I felt like it was a bit like walking into Hogwarts.......expanse of land, large imposing old buildings, children in uniform everywhere, etc. But it was the address to the parents that really got to me. The person on the microphone referred to the group as the 'graduates of 2012'! Omg! Immediately, I felt tears fill my eyes so I pulled out my glasses to cover them. How embarrassing would it be to burst into tears just because your child has taken his first step to beginning high school? Ok, I admit it.....I howled like a baby after I dropped him off on his very first day of school. They didn't call the post grade one drop off 'Tea and Tears' for nothing, I suppose! But now he is a preteen with attitude and the huge need for his mother to not humiliate him in public, you would think that I would be able to hold it together! Right?

So I'm now thinking that perhaps next year when high school begins, he may have to have his father take him on his first morning. I don't know if I could control my emotions! After all, he is still my baby, no matter how old he is!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's All In the History!


I admit it! I've become an addict! A geneology addict! Years ago (ie before husband and children) I dabbled in the world of family history. I know that to some this sounds boring but when you are isolated in a small town and don't have much social life, then it filled in the hours of my spare time. Back in those days, I would sit in a little library viewing microfiche files for hours trying to piece together the jigsaw that is my own family's history.

Recently a certain family member (you know who you are!) has reignited my interest in this hobby. And what a difference the last 15 years have made. Now, with computers so prevalent, so much more information is on line and accessible from your own home.

And as I delve further into the depths of this great family puzzle, I can't help but be in awe of the pioneers who settled on this land. Many of them were convicts....forced to leave their own homeland because of petty crimes and were transported to a completely foreign and mostly untamed place on the other side of the world. Some were free settlers who ventured on a journey with whole-hearted belief that they would have an improved life in new lands. And one or more were the original founders of this land who watched as the big ships entered their waters.

Many of the women on these voyages, whether convict or free settler, had to make do with primitive conditions - often as the servants of rich property owners or the wives of dream-filled or desperate men. They were the unsung heroes of their time....working dawn till dusk and mostly ending up with the even harder task of raising an incredibly large brood of children in the process.

Now I cannot fathom how on earth I could give birth in the bush with (if you were lucky) some type of midwife only present. I couldn't even imagine how horrendous a leaky bark hut or dirt floor or hay filled mattress would be. I love my running hot shower (albeit 4 minute one!) and flushing toilet, thanks very much. I can't imagine what it would be like to be a woman living thousands of miles from home and not even having a local shop to buy bread from; not even an electric oven to cook in or a light switch to turn on!

So as I ponder how my ancestors made that torturous journey across seas to start a new life in this country I marvel at the strength and stamina of the womenfolk and their men. And I thank goodness for their spirit of adventure because without it, I probably wouldn't be sitting here, typing this today!

Currently researching in Australia:

Beilby - NSW - circa 1842+
Batten - Qld - circa 1860+
Carter + Moon - Kiama district - circa 1840+
Rollan - Kangaroo Valley - circa 1836+
Matthew Carter - Collector - circa 1834+
Hinde + Batten - Qld - 1864+
Gilbert - Melbourne - 1838+

Currently researching in Ireland:

Atkinson - Co Armagh
Quain - Co Cork
Tennyson - Co Tyrone
McNally - Co Tyrone

Currently researching in the UK:

Stephens - Herefordshire

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Somewhere To Park!


Dear Husband has decided that we need to get back to basics and do 'family time' in the local park! So today he dragged all of us down to the local park for a bit of fun. Now this park, maintained by the local council, really is a whole lot more than a swing set and a slippery slide. They have a flying fox, a huge climbing frame that seemed to attract more big boys than little kids, all sorts of swinging, climbing, rocking contraptions, a garden hedge maze and a peddle car thing that sits on a track.

For a lot of the time, I followed the kids around, carrying the football that of course we 'had to' bring but never actually threw. Don't you love it when you become the carry-horse for your kids! After a while though, Miss 7 managed to grab one of the peddle cars. This has got to be one of the most popular rides in the park. It sits on a rail circuit and has 2 parts to each car. Each part has its own set of pedals to help the riders move themselves around the rail track. Sounds complicated, doesn't it?! But it actually looked easy and like a whole lot of fun so I jumped on the back part of the car.

Now, how difficult is it to pedal a little fibreglass car thing around a track when you have a 7 year old in the front doing some of the work? Well, I thought it would be easy. But half way around the track I realised that I was in trouble. In fact, I was seriously being outdone by the 7 year old in the front! At about three quarters of the way around the circuit, when the lactic acid had so intensely built pain into my thighs, Miss 7 and I came to an agreement that she would be better off if I jumped off.

So as I stood there, huffing and puffing and bending over to catch my breath, I watched as she peddled herself off for the rest of the circuit without even skipping a beat! Of course, as I still huffed and puffed she then ran off to play chase in the garden maze!

So now I know that despite my brain thinking it's young and energetic, my body is actually that of an old woman.......ummmmm.....an old woman who was completely outclassed by a 7 year old on a child's play peddle car!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

He Cooks!


The 11 year old had been nagging me for over a week to buy him some chicken breasts so that he could create some amazing masterpiece that he'd seen made on a children's television show. Now, call me a slack mum, but I must confess here that I wasn't overly thrilled with the thought of him taking over my kitchen but I finally relented and let him on his way. As he does show an interest in cooking and has been known to whip up a mean cake or two, I guess that once the handover of ingredients was complete, I really let him go off on his way!

Well, the results were a huge success! In fact they were so successful that we had them for dinner last night. Take note of the amazingly healthy chicken nuggets that he concocted! They are delicious and low in fat. This is the recipe he used.

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

Cut chicken breast up into nugget size pieces. Dip in a mix of 2 eggs and milk then dip into crushed cornflakes. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce (ie bbq).

Enjoy! Oh, and the kids loved them! ;)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ruby's New Jacket!



I've heard that it's common to feed maternal instincts with your pets once your kids are past that baby stage. Hmmmm....if that's the case, then my recent doggie jacket buying must be testimony to this! Lol! Ummmm...actually, here is where I confess that I actually bought her 3 new jackets, but this one is by far the cutest! And yes, it is a hoodie! Rofpmsl!

Monday, September 3, 2007

And Still We Ask 'Why'??!!



It's one year tomorrow since the death of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter. What a sad time! I think that everyone I know will always remember the exact place they were at the moment they heard that he had passed. For me, it was at work - a little after 3 in the afternoon. I had a person waiting to talk to me, sort of hanging around. I asked her if she wanted something and she just looked at me strangely and said, "I didn't think that you would know yet.....Steve Irwin is dead! It was a stingray." The seconds after are a bit blurry, but I think it's best described as an invisible wall of shock that hit me in the face. I remember calling out to a co-worker and asking her if she'd heard (she hadn't). Together we raced to the computer to do a google search, part of me hoping that it had all been a big mistake. How could someone who wrestled crocodiles for a living be killed by a stingray?! Sadly, the rest is history but I do remember at the time that only one news site on the internet had picked up on the story. I just kept refreshing the page, watching as other sites quickly followed and the incredible became a reality.

Many times over this period it was easy to ask what it was about this man that had a nation - probably the world - showing such public displays of grief. What was it about him that touched everyone of us? Certainly, he was incredible. He believed in something so strongly and was so passionate about his wildlife cause in a way that was infectious. He was brave, too. No way would I be jumping on the back potentially man-eating crocodiles and then describing how beautiful they were! And he was real- there was no whispering about wildlife from a safe viewing distance. He was up there and in your face when he presented. And on top of everything else, he was a great husband and dad! He was always with his kids. He was always talking about his family. And his family's actions and reactions over the last year are testimony to what a great family man he was.

But for me, the most amazing part of Steve Irwin was that he was genuine. I, like many other Queenslanders, had visited Australia Zoo. And I, like many other people, had seen Steve there. Not presenting (unfortunately) on that particular day, but riding his trail bike around the back of a building....checking out some new development that was going on. And like many before me I waved and thought how amazing it was that although he was famous he still did ordinary things like that. He really was an ordinary bloke who had an amazing zest for life and was a good guy to the core!

I think the hardest thing for me, in the days following Steve's death, was watching the reaction of children, grappling to understand how their hero could have so easily been taken from them. Kids like my own who grew up watching The Crocodile Hunter in action; kids who he taught to not fear dangerous animals but to respect them. And living within a short drive to Australia Zoo meant that most children I know had been there....many of them had seen him in real life.

We watched some of the television special on the weekend presented by Bindi Irwin. My 7 year old, upon seeing Bindi do her special rap for her dad at the end of the show, turned to me and said, "He would be really proud of her". I agreed. She was thoughtful for a minute and then said, "You know what mummy, I really miss him"!

And you know what....so do I! The world still has a big hole in it that Steve left!

Pictures takenby us at Australia Zoo in the weeks following Steve's death

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Happy Father's Day


Happy father's day to all dads and grandads!

Ours began with being woken by kids who prepared Dear Husband breakfast in bed (cereal, toast, cup of tea!) and then onto pressie opening (mug, chocolates, Bunnings gift voucher)

From then on it was all systems go...into cleaning and cooking and preparing for family arrivals at lunch involving a side of marinated lamb done on the bbq, salads (tossed, pumpkin and pine nut, coleslaw, corn), cauliflower/broccoli au gratin and sour dough bread. Yum!

Dessert was a lemon myrtle cheesecake made from a recipe supplied on the back of a packet from this company. I first made it last Father's Day and it was a huge hit! The lemon taste is distinct enough but not overbearing although be warned...once you have one piece, you'll want to go back for more! I also love the fact that it is utilising an Australian native ingredient...something that I believe is a relatively untapped and unappreciated aspect of our heritage.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Night of Powder-Chair!



Yes, last night was the big night when I ventured to see the much talked about Powderfinger and Silverchair concert.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know how much I love Powderfinger's music (and the fact that my son was in their recent video!) but Silverchair was a bit of an unknown quantity. I had bought their latest cd and I'm afraid to say that my listens to it were few and far between.

The night started having a few drinkies with friends (you know who you are! Waving at ya!) so we missed the support act.

We ventured to our really fantastic side-view seats about ten minutes before Silverchair were supposed to come on stage and waited...and waited! Apparently, they delayed the start as there was an accident on the nearby Gateway Arterial Road. This was supposed to give ticket holders a chance to see the start of the concert although I did see quite a few people sneaking in after Silverchair had started.

Now, while I don't want to offend Silverchair fans, I must admit that after watching them, they are just not my cup of tea. I did hear and see some people comment about how delighted they were in their performance, but they are just not to my tastes. Firstly, I had trouble hearing Daniel John's voice over the music. Secondly, there were songs that they performed that I just sat there and watched. They didn't move me to want to get up and dance and I don't think I was alone as most people in the seating area were like me....just sitting and watching. In fact, at one stage, I went to the toilet...something I'd never contemplate doing if I was truly into the performance. That said, I loved Reflections of a Sound and Straight Lines and Greatest View. Those performances really had the crowd going and me singing along!

Powderfinger didn't come on stage until 10 due to the traffic delay. From the moment they got on stage, the whole room erupted. They played songs from their Dream Days album as well and some fantastic past hits. Already Gone was just brilliant live as was My Happiness and I Don't Remember. Bernard Fanning sang a beautiful performance of the controversial Black Tears which was amazing to see. Ian, DZ and Bernard did an acoustic of Sunsets which was absolutely beautiful. And the highlight for me was the final number of These Days....my all time favourite song of theirs.

Bernard interacted with the audience well, at one stage telling of his memories of being an audience member at the Entertainment Centre (and pointing to the approximate spot where he sat) back in 1986 to see John Cougar Mellancamp in concert. He then told the audience that most of them wouldn't have even remembered that time as they were too young. Well Bernard, I remember it....in fact, I was at the same concert! Sad to think I'm getting old!

There were many highlights of the Powderfinger performance. The telling factor for me though was that almost every person in my sitting area was up dancing and having a great time. In the end everyone rose and gave them a standing ovation! Well done to the Brissie boys.

Unfortunately no cameras were allowed in the auditorium (although I did spot some people snapping...grrrrr!) so I had to use my little phone cam. Carp pics but you get the idea.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Worms!!


There are some times in life when you just have to feel a sense of relief. These usually happen at times when you think that you have the worst deal or the worst end of the stick and suddenly something occurs to make you see that your life isn't so bad after all.

I had one of those moments on the weekend. It occurred when I picked the 11 year old up from a party. The party boy, full of sugar and hyperactive games no doubt, had a major meltdown at his mother in front of me and all the other guests. The details aren't important but, apart from being totally stunned at the sudden onslaught of aggression that this poor mother was facing and feeling embarrassed for her at the same time, I must admit that inside me there was a sense of total satisfaction that it was not my child throwing the major (and I mean major!) wobbly!

That said, Miss 7 who had accompanied me on the pick up journey witnessed the whole thing. Not one to mince words and certainly a matter-of-fact child, she took in the whole scene and calmly walked up to the boys mother and declared, "You know what?! I think you need to worm him!" Nothing like the innocence of a child to lighten the moment!

Image courtesy of Free Gifs & Animations" http://www.fg-a.com.