Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Which Inn Is In??

One of the joys of travelling seems to be the accommodation. The concept of where to stay seems to fall into two mindsets...either you view it as just a place to sleep (as you are really there to see the city, not the inside of a room) or you see it as a part of the whole experience.

When travelling with four people...two being very vibrant children....a tiny hotel room on the other side of the world somehow does not seem very appealing. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that said hotel rooms can be magnificent. But when you are on a budget, it is only one option of quite a few.

Apart from hotel rooms, we have considered backpacking (too sterile for kids), B&Bs and apartment rental accommodation.

Who would have thought that finding somewhere to rest your weary head could be such a dilemma! Firstly, the costs can be anywhere between 'cheap as chips' and 'Omg! The taps must be solid gold'! Times that by 4 cause most places make you pay per person and you end up with one heck of a tummy ache!

Then there is the whole bedding situation.....a double (as in 'bed') or a twin (as in 2 x singles). And what if you want both? Can these be linked somehow by an adjoining door or do we have to take a cut lunch to see our kids on the other side of the building??

And let's not think about payment. The thought of money exchange in foreign currency makes my head swirl!

So, at present, we have finally settled on some accommodation. We have booked holiday apartments for two cities. In Italy, however, we think we will grit our teeth and book quad rooms in hotels! Scary, I know but the idea of concierges who speak a little English explaining to ignorant Aussies like us how to get to wherever somehow appeals! (OK, we have little French, too but I do remember a few basics from high school...surely that can't be too bad!).

So the plans are in motion. Stay tuned for details....just in case we end up in a stable! Lol!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another Christmas Over!

Christmas is over for another year!

This year, our day was filled with much of the same - church on Christmas eve, being woken up early by a couple of eager kids to open presents on Christmas morning, eating lots of food, spending time with family etc.

Food in our house is always a treat but this year DH excelled himself and marinated 3 inch long prawns in garlic the night before and did them on the bbq for breakfast. They were delicious! He also has an obsession with fruit at the moment so we have spent much of the last few days eating cherries, lychees and mangoes. Yum!

On Boxing Day, after sleeping in and watching some of the test match on television, we went to the movies and saw Avatar in 3D. It is one of those rare movies that we all wanted to see so therefore became a family event. It is definitely worth recommending, although I would add that seeing it in 3D is a must! But I'm a bit partial cause I've been a Sam Worthington fan from way back when he did Bootmen and Love My Way!

Today it is raining thanks to the left overs from Cyclone Lawrence breaking up across Queensland. Time for a nice, lazy day....oh, and heaps of washing and cleaning up that I'm totally avoiding!

And what am I reading at the moment? The last two books from the Riley Jensen Guardian series by Keri Arthur. I have no idea what time I went to bed this morning cause I just could not put the book, Bound To Shadows, down. I read somewhere that Keri Arthur only has one more book to write in this series! *gasp* I love Riley and Quinn and I love the way that Arthur writes so that the pace of the book is continually fast and interesting. One more book only? Nooooooo!!!! *sob, sob*

Hope that you have also had a great Christmas. Roll on new years!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

The presents are waiting to be wrapped!
I'm running late and was supposed to be at a friend's house ten minutes ago.

I still haven't finished my Christmas shopping!

And I cannot find a Chinese cabbage in any store on this side of Brisbane.

But......I still love Christmas!!!

Hope that you have a great time with your family and friends over this Holy season. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Will I See in 2010???

I really want to see this!

As well as this:
And am hoping to see this:

I'm a very lucky girl!!! (OK, poor yes but definitely lucky!!!)

Btw, any travel hints would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Life is too short!

For numerous reasons, we have realised just how true this is.

A few months ago, we made a brave and exciting not wait for 'one day' to come! To 'seize the day' so to speak and to begin doing some of those things that we really want to do but keep putting off.

So, 2010 is going to be our year of travel! Too bad that we need new carpet and a new kitchen. So what if it means a few more years with the clunker car! And so what if we should be waiting for the kids to finish school so that it would be much cheaper!

We have already booked our flights!

This is one to cross off our bucket list!

Life is good!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Catch Up

The past month has flown and once again, I've proven to be a very slack blogger and not updated my little site here! My apologies to all those who had given up on me. Unfortunately, life is like that however, now that holidays have approached, perhaps I'll improve...who knows!

The past month or so have been very busy. Here is my update for you:

* The Superteen finished another year of high school. He now insists on growing his hair longer and not shaving (yes, he is actually shaving!) while holidays are on. He began cricket again last term and received his certificate for 20 wickets so obviously his bowling skills are improving! He also has a real pocket money job at a local shopping centre. He's pretty thrilled to have his own money but is sick of me nagging him to save half each week. On the scary side, he now proclaims to have a girlfriend. Being the mean mother that I am, I have loaded them both up with rules (ie, no getting serious, only movies in a group, etc etc) but he has managed to maintain this relationship for a couple of months now so only the future knows what will happen.

* Miss Nine is now Miss Ten! Yes, I somehow managed to prepare a birthday party for a dozen or so ten year olds at a local swimming pool in the midst of the chaos that was last month! She has continued to play summer netball once a week as well and has also finished school for the year in great excitement as her bestie is in the same class as her next year! Woo hoo!

* The dogs, I'm sure are the healthiest in the neighbourhood! They had a recent trip to the doggie parlour and are looking very spiffy on these hot summer days! Jasper celebrated his first birthday at the end of October, too.

* The back yard reno is at a standstill. I feel like it is a nightmare as DH and I have debated over finished products, etc and whether we should install a swimming pool. If it progresses, I'll let you know but atm I am still facing a mountain of soil each day!

* We have decided that 2010 is the year of the holiday for us! I'm talking great big holiday on great big airplane for great big hours....with great big cost! I guess that this is the reason why the backyard has stalled but it was a totally selfish decision based on the need to take the opportunity to seize life with both hands while we have to opportunity!

* I have finally had the chance to see New Gold Class! (Gotta love Gold Class!). Btw, I loved it much more than I thought I would and actually think I prefer it to the first movie.

* I have finished every book in the Eve Dallas In Death series by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts!). I can't recommend them enough. Totally fell in love with the characters!

* I have also been listening to the novel Eat, Pray, Love read by the author, Elizabeth Gilbert on cd. It's a great way to pass the time while out driving from place to place on my own. I'm actually really enjoying both the format and the literature!

* I am still in the process of doing mountains of Christmas shopping however am now enjoying holiday sleep ins with the kids!

I know that that's a quick summary but who knows...perhaps 2010 will see me being a more regular blogger. Here's hoping!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I went to see the author Paullina Simons speak. My lovely friend (waving at ya!) came with me! Paullina was very interesting. She spoke, then signed books, including my great big stack! I specifically asked her to personalise 'The Girl In Times Square' to me as it's my fave book of hers.

It's fascinating to meet the people who create the characters of your reading-fantasy life! How they are and aren't what you expected them to be! How suddenly you are more focused on the fact that they have fantastic hair rather than the fact that their imagination 'birthed' a character that you obsessed over and cried for. Although you still spend time taking in what they say and hoping to get a glimpse into the workings of their creative brains.

I did have a photo of me taken with Paullina but when I got home I realised that my girl bits were gaping out of my blouse! Errrrr! Hence, only the pic of Paullina alone in the shot, talking to a room full of (mostly) women!

What a great way to spend a Wednesday!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Weird Stuff!

There must be something in the air...over the last week, three weird or merely co-incidental (depending on which way you lean) things have happened to me.

Weird Occurrence Number 1

The Superteen was home from school due to a teacher's strike. I was channel hopping on the television and stumbled across an Oprah episode involving an interview with the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, about her book, 'Eat, Pray, Love'. Now, I've flicked through this book a few times at the local book store, but have always decided that it wasn't for me. After watching the television show for about 5 minutes, I was distracted by the Superteen and went off to talk to him. I didn't think much about the show after that but about half an hour later, I had an urge to go to the library to drop a close-to-overdue book back. As I walked in, I felt a compulsion to head to the cd section...and you guessed it....there was the entire 11 cd version of 'Eat, Pray, Love' lying face-out on a shelf looking at me.

Needless to say, I took it as a sign and borrowed the collection. I have been playing it in my car when I'm driving alone and to be honest, I find the story mesmerising. There is no way that I'd have read the book but the cd is such an intimate way (and one which I've never done before, btw) for listening as it's read by the author herself. I may write more about this book once I've finished all of the discs (I'm up to disc 5) so will pause here only to say that this was either one very spooky co-incidence or a sign from above!

Weird Occurrence Number 2

I fell asleep in front of the tv last night. Ok, I do this semi-regularly but this time the tv show that was playing was 'Drop Dead Diva'. I only saw the first 5-10 minutes of this particular episode until I woke at 3am with the lights on, the dogs still inside and the tv blaring. What was on the tv when I awoke, you ask? Drop Dead the almost exact part where I dropped off to sleep at.

Now, if this wasn't eerie enough......after watching Channel Go's second run of the episode for a little while, I looked at the bedside clock and decided that it was definitely sleep time. I turned the show off at the part where one of the characters was wearing bunny ears whilst being questioned on the stand.....about 10 or 15 minutes from the end. Today, after suffering a very nasty headache and trying to sleep it off for a couple of hours, I awoke at about 2pm and turned the tv on. Yep....the exact same episode was repeating for a third time and I stumbled across it at the part just prior to the bunny ears section that I turned off at in the wee hours of this morning! Talk about Groundhog Day (love that movie, too, btw!). So, I actually watched a whole episode of this show across 3 different screenings, all within 16 hours of each other!

Weird Occurrence Number 3

This evening I was packing party bags for a birthday party I'm holding for Miss Now-Ten. I had a sudden thought. I wondered to myself if my bestie would be staying to watch the kids at the party or if she'd be dropping her daughter off and picking her up later. Within a split second of me thinking this, the phone guessed was my friend ringing to tell me that she'd stay and help me.

I've always been a believer in 'signs from God'. Maybe these occurrences were just co-incidences, but if they were a sign from God, I'm now wondering what He was trying to tell me!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Driving Along

When I was still a teenager my dad just came out one morning and told me that I was buying a car! He insisted that I pool the small amount of hard earned money that I had accrued and invest it into my very first set of wheels. To help, he even drove me around to places that had advertised in the Saturday morning paper to inspect and purchase this automobile. Why on earth he would even consider such an option came as a bit of a surprise to me.....after all, I had perfectly good parents who dropped me off and picked me up everywhere. But still, under duress, I agreed!

In my head, of course, I had envisaged a flash, shiny and almost new car. One that had people's heads turning. My friends who had purchased vehicles were all driving cars that one would term 'interesting' or 'cute' or 'cool'. Brands like VW, Mini and the like were common....all great students' cars and all with 'hip' classifications! Somehow, my first motor investment wasn't quite so swish. I ended up coming away with a not-so-new, not-so-shiny and definitely not-so-hip Hillman Hunter!

Now, I know that these days, Hillman Hunters have a kind of quaint and collectible appeal to some. Back in the mid eighties for a teenage girl though, they didn't! But still I drove my little white beast around cause, apart from walking, she was the only transport that I had! And beast she was! Her paint work, while once must have been sparkling white, always had a dull, powdery sheen while she was in my possession! And the interior was simple and (to put it nicely) merely serviceable!

Throughout the three years that I owned that car, I can say that life as an automobile owner wasn't dull. Money always needed to be spent on her....albeit small and wear-and-tear things like new tyres, a tune up here and there and (ahem) a new clutch (but we won't mention the lecture I got about 'riding' the clutch after this little mechanical failure)! In those days, fuel was averaging about 30-40c per litre so thankfully those costs were down. And although I can't remember what price registration was, I can guarantee that it was the astronomical $800+ per year that the Queensland Transport Department thinks is perfectly acceptable in 2009!

By the end of my time with my Hillman, it had seen all sorts of auto events......a few little prangs
(who ever did invent posts in car parks that were impossible to see out of back windows!), storms (the hail damage from the very large storm in the summer of 1985 pocked cars all along my street...except mine! The steel on the Hillman was so strong that it barely scratched when marble sized hail landed on it!) and theft (someone broke into it, only to find about 50c in the glove compartment! Obviously, they didn't want to take the car as a whole!). I even remember once when my friend and I were driving in it that we smelt rather nauseating petrol fumes. Logically, we wound down the windows to let the fresh air in, only to realise after a few kilometres of driving that the fumes were actually coming from the outside of the we wound the windows back up again!

A few years later, after I finished university and got an actual job that didn't involve flipping hamburgers and cooking chips, I bought a new car. My Hillman owning days had come to an end. And to give you an indication of the sad state of my car, I eventually sold it to a wrecker for a couple of hundred dollars! I didn't cry and I didn't miss's only now, all these years later that I realise that that little 'bomb' was probably a great, inexpensive car for a newbie driver like me!

Today, as I drive my considerably newer car around, I realise just why my dad insisted that I needed my own wheels. My life these days fits in between driving my children to their own life school, from school, to sports events, parties and now work. I even got a 'Mum, I missed the bus, can you come and pick me up!?' call last week! Obviously, my children aren't old enough to drive themselves yet, hence the need I have for one of those 'mum's taxi' bumper stickers. I admit though that once they are old enough, a good sturdy second hand car is what they will be getting, too!

Image courtesty of for study purposes only.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rockin' The Wall!

The second day of back yard transformation came in the form of another dirty looking machine. This one, however did not require whole pieces of fence to be removed! Phew! Instead, it came right through the gates and delicately selected huge pieces of rock to create a pretty snazzy retaining wall!
After a while the wall statted to take shape! It was amazing to see how quickly the driver worked.
This wall ends up going right across the back yard but it's definitely looking better.

And for those of you who have asked, yes, we have been talking to pool builders but no, we aren't sure if we will build one. It's awful but we just can't decide!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Backyard Reno - Finished (Sort Of!)

Not quite finished, but the machinery has gone. What a difference it has made!
Stay tuned over the next few months for further wall and planting developments!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Backyard Reno - During!

First came the truck to dump big rocks for future retaining wall!
Then came the massive excavator to dig out all of the soil!
It also created a dust bowl!
Piles of soil were trucked out!
A little machine flattened out the back yard!

Stay tuned for the half-finished product!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Back Yard Reno.....Before!

I have always hated the layout of our backyard. People who ventured up there likened it to mountain goat climbing. The kids preferred the flat front yard to kick balls, ride bikes etc and seriously, the whole space really was a waste!

After much nail chewing, DH and I have decided to begin major renovations and reclaim our back yard. It is always going to be steep (can't change what is!) but we think that a bit of earth works to make the space more usable would benefit all.

It's not going to be an overnight job....after the excavating, we have retaining walls to build, drainage to install and grass to lay. Here, however, I'm giving you a general idea of the 'before' picture so that you can see the progress for yourself. Stay tuned for the 'during' and 'after' shots to come!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Another Year Down

There comes a time when you realise that although your children are thrilled to be getting another year older, their age is actually starting to make you look very old! To say that I now have a fourteen year old does make me feel suddenly 'middle aged' but not enough to stop any celebration surrounding the Superteen's birthday!

The day was particularly quiet as he is having friends over on the weekend, however we did celebrate with family.

What, btw, do you get a fourteen year old boy? Vouchers, of course! And a singlet-type jersey of his favourite basketball team!

And what do you feed him? A Dreamy Donut stack cake covered with lollies (gummy ones are the only way to go, apparently!) and candles!

The day was going well until the Superteen decided to play a football kicking game at the end of the driveway. Somehow he managed to stub his toe so badly that we thought he'd ripped the complete top of his toe off (it was hard to tell with all of the blood) and an urgent trip to the doctor's was needed. Three numbing needles, no stitches and lots of bandages later, he was home to show off his birthday war-wound!

Yep, just another day in my busy life alright!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dust Storming!

I woke today (the Superteen's birthday but more on that tomorrow!) to news reports that Sydney was shrouded in a dust storm. I watched the images on television as I looked out the window and was thankful that it wasn't here.......that gloating feeling lasted all of about an hour when I looked out the window and realised that the sun was nowhere to be seen. Somehow the incredible mass of dust had found its way to south-eastern Queensland and to every manageable space of my neighbourhood!
(There is a hill with a water tower hiding behind those trees in amongst that dust somewhere!)
There are some things that I have learned about dust storms. The first is that it gives everything an eerie glow. For us it was a golden-orangey colour. The second is that it decreases visibility so that you are lucky if you can see anymore than a few hundred metres in front of you! The third is that everything...and I mean everything....becomes completely covered in a fine layer of dust. Even though we stayed inside and I closed all doors and windows, the tiles still feel like they have a layer of fine, powdered dust on them. And don't even get me started on allergies and asthma - the fact that I have a sore throat tonight means that I'm hitting the hay fever meds! All I can do is thank God that we didn't have any reason to be out and about in it today.
(And here, behind the trees is Moreton Island...somewhere!)
The news reports are saying that it's the worst dust storm to hit eastern Australia in years. It certainly was an experience and one we'll never forget!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Have You Ever Blog Surfed?

Have you ever spent the time clicking through the 'next blog' icon at the top of your blog page?

I tried it today.

Sometimes it takes you to the most interesting sites. Today, I've stumbled upon a German person travelling through Australia, a Taiwanese sketch artist, a Japanese person who was tripping through somewhere (no idea where cause I can't read Japanese!), a Malaysian woman who is 14 weeks pregnant, a guy from Philadelphia who blogged about everything from snowboarding to rat pranks, Ingrid from Adelaide who blogged about her family and someone who was blogging about the televisions show, Fringe. And this is just to name a few!

Beware though, 'blog surfing' comes with its pitfalls.....namely lots of spam-type sites and the occasional unsavoury one! Not to mention those that just make no sense whatsoever!

But it does make you realise that the world really is an interesting place and it's made up of an assortment of fascinating individuals!

So what did you stumble across on your blog surf?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My How They Grow!

The Superteen decided recently that as he was approaching 'employable' age, he would like to put his name down for a few casual, after-school-pocket-money-type jobs.

I was hesitant to agree at first as he has such a full life with school and sport already and I was sure that somehow this job thing would probably mean more work and running around for my already full life!

It appears, however, that he has convinced me. A few weeks ago, he sat and registered himself on numerous web sites belonging to companies that employ high school students for casual work.

I didn't think much of it when he got a couple of notices about job vacancies, although I did help him write a resume - what type of resume can you really write for a never-employed semi-child? And I stoically drove him along to a couple of interviews so that he could get a real feel for what he was getting himself in for.

I can now tell you that he was actually offered both of the jobs that he interviewed for!

The Superteen is incredibly excited. He is especially thrilled at the prospect of his having his own money which he can use to expand his ever-growing shoe collection (And they say that women are into fashion!!! Not when you are a Nike fan, apparently!).

Yes, I am excited for him. But, like any parent, I worry that about so many things: his ability to handle the responsibility that comes with gainful employment, his ability to juggle school, sport and work, his ability to manage his own meagre income, his ability to remain a fairly sensible kid even though he is now 'cashed up', etc etc etc.

But I think the thing that really gets to me is even simpler than that. It's the fact that I no longer have a child. The child that sprang, screaming, from my womb only a few short years ago is now suddenly someone else's employee! Ok, I know that I've watched him grow into a six foot tall teenager, but deep down, he is still that little baby who looked soulfully into my eyes almost from birth and who I vowed to protect and adore. No longer is that boy under my total care. Now he is making decisions without me and now I have to let him.

It's times like these that I wish they came with a manual!

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's Been A While.....

.....but I still love Robbie Williams!!!!! Here is the new song off his soon-to-be-released album (btw, have no idea why it overhangs to the right on my blog but's still worth the listen!):

Friday, August 28, 2009

Slow Cooker Sago...The Way To Go!

Miss Nine is learning about 'Past and Present' at school. Naturally, because of this great topic, we've gotten out all of the old things lying around the house and have had interesting discussions about history. In fact, we are even reading 'Little Women' together at the moment. So in keeping with her 'olden days' theme, I decided to make all of us an old-time pudding and use up some lemons that I picked from my friend's tree. And to make it even more interesting, I decided to try a slow cooker recipe for Lemon Sago Pudding.

What You Need:

1/2 cup sago (available from the supermarket. I actually used tapioca which apparently is the same thing only the beads are smaller).

2 1/2 cups hot tap water grated rind of two lemons juice of 2 lemons made up to 1/2 cup with water (I had juicy lemons so no water was needed)
1/2 cup golden syrup 2 tablespoons sugar

What You Do:

Turn the slow cooker on HIGH. Coat the bowl with a non-stick spray.

Put the grated rind, sago and tap water into the bowl. Sieve the lemon juice and add to the mixture. Stir. Cook in the slow cooker, with the lid on, for about 30 minutes. Stir with a fork until evenly thick then add the golden syrup and sugar.

Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes longer, until the grains of sago are soft.
Turn off the slow cooker and cool.

Serve while still warm with ice-cream, cream or yoghurt.


We got about 7 serves from this quantity. I used both ice-cream and vanilla fruche (on separate occasions) to serve with the sago and I think that this is a must as it really completes and complements the dessert.

This is not a particularly sweet recipe. If you like really sweet desserts, I suggest that you add a little more sugar or serve with a lot of ice-cream.

And just to let you know....we all loved this dessert.....except Miss Nine who declared it 'horrible'! Lucky she wasn't born in the olden times, huh!

**Picture taken on phone cam!

Books, TV Shows, Music!!!

I usually keep up with what I've been watching or listening to on this blog but haven't done so in ages so I thought I'd do a simple run down of current recommendations. So here goes:


One of the reasons that I haven't been posting on my blog lately is because I've been side-tracked by a tough, hard talking homicide detective and a drop-dead gorgeous, mega rich Irishman! Now, if you don't know what I'm talking about, then I suggest you slip down to your nearest bookstore or library and get yourself a copy of Naked In Death - the first of the J.D. Robb 'In Death' series.

A work friend loaned me a copy of the first book, and from there, I became a serious addict! The homicide detective, Eve Dallas, lives in the future and happens to find herself investigating a multiple homicide where one of the prime suspects is the eye candy billionaire, Roarke. Needless to say, the story evolves and, without giving too much of the storyline away, have to say that the chemistry between Eve and Roarke is palpable.

If, like me, you find that you are hooked into the first book, take heart because there are many, many books in this series. I am still working my way through them but totally love the mix of murder-mystery, sci-fi and romance that Robb manages to blend so cleverly. Nora Robers writes these under the J.D. Robb pseudonym and, although I've never been a great Roberts fan, just love this series for their grittiness and great storylines!

TV Shows

Being Human has come and gone from our television, but in case you missed it (as it was kinda buried on ABC2), there is still hope. The ABC shops currently have the dvds for sale and the good news is that apparently the BBC has commissioned a second series to air sometime in 2010.

The story is definitely for fans of the supernatural. It tells the story of a vampire, werewolf and ghost, all sharing a flat in modern-day Bristol. I know, I know, it sounds kinda stupid but, while I found some storylines a little on the 'Yeah right' side, it was the quirky British humour, the interaction between the main characters and the great acting that won me over!


This is a shout-out thank you to the anonymous comment poster on my blog who tipped me off that Brendan Welch's new (and first) cd has been released. Titled 'The Gleaner', I rapidly took myself off the music store and got myself a copy! And you know what, I love it! Laid back, easy listening is how I'd describe it! It's the kind of music that you listen to when you are chilling out, sipping a glass of something yummy and contemplating life!

There have been other shows etc that I've been watching/listening to, of course. Series 2 of The Tudors springs to mind and I could write a whole page on believability of Jonathon Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII but I think I'll leave that for another time; and let's not forget my beloved Packed To The Rafters which is currently in the second half of season 2 on Australian television. In the meantime, if you get an opportunity to catch up with any of the above, enjoy! IMO they are well worth it!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

From Fluffy To Fantastic........

Yes, I know that Jasper has been to the doggie beauty parlour before, but he's never had a full clip....until now!!!! Would you recognise him? I had to double check that I had the right dog when I picked him up! Lol!

Obviously, someone else was a little jealous that she wasn't getting all of the attention:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Have We Been Swined?

The Superteen's school sent home a note last week....15 confirmed cases of swine flu and 200 students off sick in one day. Keep your boys home if they have so much as a sniffle!

I have always said that if our family was affected by swine flu, it would come through my kids. Sure enough, on Sunday afternoon, the Superteen appeared with cheeks that would give santa a run for his sack-packin' money in their rosiness! As the afternoon progressed, his condition deteriorated.

Now, while I'm not saying that he has swine flu, it would not surprise me. The doctor - who we went to yesterday - does not routinely test anymore. But one look at the news reports on the Royal Brisbane Hospital treating patients in make-shift wards set up in ambulance bays and knowing the school situation, makes me think that it's very possible.

His symptoms started with the red face, fever (which has been as high as 40 degrees and very difficult to get down), constant headache, dizziness, sore throat and today, vomiting and gastro. Last night, in an effort to bring his temp down, we resorted to the old-fashioned method of shovelling him into a cold shower. (It worked, btw!). He is on antibiotics to prevent secondary infections and is on asthma medication, but man oh man this bug is nasty.

So, while he seems to have shown signs of improvement this afternoon (he argued with his sister and ate toast - that has to be a good sign), I can only sit by and hope that he gets over it soon. And hope, of course that no one else gets it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Off To See Cats!

Cats The Musical, that is!

When they advertised that it was coming to Brisbane, I promised Miss 9 that I would take her. She'd never been to a proper, A-grade type musical before and I'd never seen Cats so it seems like the perfect (and expensive!) thing to do.

It's funny watching a child begin to enjoy some of life's culture. She had no idea what was coming. Initially, to her it was just a word. She was marginally excited only because she had the day off school to go to the matinee session.

Once in the theatre, however, Miss 9 took one look at the stage set and declared, 'This is gonna be fantastic'. We had snagged seats that were four rows from the front and slightly off centre so all of the action was right above (and below) us.

The musical itself was pretty amazing. The dancing and singing were incredible. There were times, when the dancers were somersaulting across the stage that I could practically see Miss Nine's eyes popping out of her head! And when the actress playing Grizabella did her power notes in Memory in Act 2, my eyes started watering over. Incredible and talented!

My only subtle criticism is that, unlike most musicals, Cats is so not a narrative. The story line is thin. To me, it is more just a series of descriptions of individuals cats, set to music and dance and presented one after the other. Given that the whole thing is based on poetry by T.S. Eliot, I suppose that it stands to reason that you don't really follow a distinct story journey.

On the drive home, after convincing me to buy the program, the cd and a hat, Miss Nine declared that it was the best thing she'd ever been to. She turned to me and quite innocently asked, "If they ever do a musical about dogs, can we go to that one, too!'

Yes, I think that's a definite sign of success!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I've Got Nothin......Almost!

I think I'm in a rut! A big, fat, comfy rut! Yes, comfy cause it's so darn snug in here that I'm content to sit and wait out everything that is going on around me for the warmth of my hole!

Perhaps it is the fact that Winter has descended nastily upon us and I'm just enjoying snuggling up to my hot water bottle at night.

Perhaps it's because I'm knee deep in work and family history research, which always take up my time.

Or perhaps it's cause life is just whizzing by so fast that I don't have time to write.

Naaaahhhhh....I personally think it's writer's block!

I did have two weeks holidays somewhere there a while back. Two weeks of lying in bed and reading. Reading, reading and more reading! I have told my work colleague who recommended the J.D. Robb 'Eve Dallas In Death' Series that I was never forgiving her. They really have taken over my life as I'd rather be reading in my spare time. Once I read the first book, I was hooked....only to find that there were 20-something to read after it!

And I can also personally recommend The Tutors tv series. The court of King Henry VIII never seemed so darn interesting. I've managed to sit through series 1 and I've purchased series 2.

Miss Nine is still bouncing along to netball training. Her team is doing well though were put up in a higher division for their recent carnival so struggled quite a bit. It was a fun day, though.

The Superteen has lived through his first girlfriend (I blinked and missed it all, apparently!) but has happily been selected for his school's AFL team and is loving it. I'm trying to get through to him, however that school work is more important than I fighting a losing battle?

As for DH and me....we are just sitting in our rut and watching the world go by....and eating my home-made lemon meringue cupcakes (sorry about the bad telephone camera shot though).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Guess There will Be A Lot Of These

I tried to post it on here but it didn't work. :(

My son showed me this and I thought it was cute. Click here to see the MJ tribute dance:

Thriller Tribute Dance

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

I remember as a teenager walking through the local shopping centre. Everywhere I turned, the shops had television sets strategically placed, playing the latest video clip on the screens, over and over again. The video? Michael Jackson's, Thriller. Never before had any of us seen anything like it. Crowds stood and watched in amazement in front of the screens.

Throughout the years, Michael Jackson's life story became a constant as it played out on new shows around the world - and in my living room. His music, too, became the background pieces for many memorable life events - school formals, discos, wedding entertainment, parties, driving to places as it boomed in through the car radio, etc. Despite the many issues he, as a man may have had, Michael Jackson as a performer created so much of the music of a generation.

I'll be honest, I was never a fanatical Michael fan. I appreciated his music and recognised his brilliance but was not the type to stick his poster on my wall. The substance of his music only really dawned on me some time ago when, despite not having much input into the musical tastes of Generation Now (do they have a name yet??) my just-turned-teenager son could tell me who he was and what he sung and was asking me questions about him.

So today, when I read the news on my computer, I was shocked. I still am. Yes, as a person he had many problems, but as a singer and dancer and entertainer, we can only mourn the world's loss of a memory maker and a true legend.

RIP Michael Jackson!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Knock, Knock!

Who is there?

Yes, me.....I am here! And no, I didn' t fall into a cyber black hole!

What has been happening to make you disappear off the face of your blog, I hear you ask.........

Well, I have been working full time.....yes, FULL TIME....for a couple of weeks. And yes, it has definitely knocked me about but I got through it and now......
I'm on holidays! Hooray! And no, I have no plans for the holidays except sleeping in, reading and running children around..........

.....Speaking of whom........ they are perfectly fine. The Superteen has been living in the throes of his first young romance (under strict guidelines from us such only go on group dates, you do not use MSN, you keep your lips to yourself, etc) and has also been hitting the school books under the pressure of end of semester exams etc. During it all, he has been jolly good! Happy, friendly, helpful (generally) and seriously fine to be around. Is this what first love does to you? (Mind you, I do think that they are too young to be serious and I'm sure that he'll have heaps more girlfriends before he finds the one who he wants to marry one day!).

.....Which brings me to Miss Nine who went on her very first music camp last weekend. I have no idea how well she coped, except to say that apparently she had no sleep. She also came home with a sore throat (darn those massive tonsils!). And she had a major melt-down over a red jacket that she decided before she even left that she would not wear. Mums of girls, where are you? I'm gonna need help in the future, I can see it already!

......And finally, last week my DH and I celebrated 15 years of marriage. For those of you playing at home, that is the crystal one. I thought that he had forgotten but he surprised me by giving me a Swarovski crystal necklace and earrings. Now, I'm sure that the Swarovski people won't mind me putting a picture of the gorgeous necklace here and telling every man out there that if you are celebrating your 15 year anniversary, your wife would love one of these (just as I did!).

So that is my life in a wrap-up. I am hoping to be on here more but some naughty friend has gotten me onto the J.D. Robb Eve Dallas series (of which I have about 20 books left to read) and that is where a lot of my spare time is going. And btw, I love the series. If you love Stephanie Plum, you'll love Eve Dallas!

Life is good!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Music To My Ears!

In recent years the Superteen has definitely developed an interest in music. You may remember his grandfather investing in a drum kit for him when he was in the primary school band percussion section and getting percussion lessons at school. Once he hit high school, however, he decided that he was 'so over' drums and wanted a break.

He did not give up his musical interests though. Instead, he elected to do music theory as a subject and this year, asked if he could learn piano.

Yes....piano! Those blawdy big instruments that cost thousands and thousands of dollars and look like they need spit polishing with an oily rag! And don't even get me started on the fact that group lessons for piano, apparently are not an option and private lessons are supposedly the only type available! Don't even ask me about costs either.....I'm trying not to think too hard about that one!

Anyhow, this week, I went searching for a nice, simple piano alternative for him to do home practice on and, as you can see from my photo, I found it!

This very sweet Casio keyboard was on special at the local music store. Ok, it's 12 keys short of a piano, but apparently, that won't matter for about another two or three years (and I'm hoping that I'll find a nice cheap digital piano before then!).

In the meantime, the Superteen is loving his new instrument...and we love it, too! Did you know that unlike drums and violins, keyboards actually have a little socket where you can plug headphones into??? Ah bliss! Our ears are at peace and the Superteen is happy! What more could we ask for!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chasing The Gilberts

Family history is a tricky business. It's expensive, it's time-consuming and it's not always satisfying. But once you get a taste for it, it is just so easy to get hooked. You only have to explore the number of different genealogical sites on the internet to see that I am right.

Usually, when tracing family history, you realise that a good deal of the people who fill the branches on your tree were not royalty nor famous but merely simple people who worked hard for a living. In Australia, a good deal of my ancestors were folk of the land who toiled away to eke out a life for themselves and their families. They were generally, not rich nor well educated but they laid the foundations for a long line of descendants to research! Usually, the most striking thing about having an Anglo-Australian heritage is finding what Jack Thompson referred to as 'Australian royalty'....that is, convict blood. And it is fair to say that my tree has its share. As well, you often realise exactly what mixed heritage you really do have.....British, Irish and possibly aboriginal are not unheard of.

My research over the last twenty years has brought me far. But there is one branch that always seems to end in a full stop....the Gilbert branch. What is so special about this branch is that it seems that they did have a little bit of fame. The first Australian Gilberts, it appears were on the ship Enterprize, when it docked in Port Phillip Bay to establish the first white settlement of Melbourne town.

History, via John Fawkner's diaries have detailed many aspects of life at this time and has documented solid evidence about James and Mary Gilbert including the birth of their son who was the first white child born in Melbourne. Mary, as the only woman on the ship is noted as being the first woman to land there and her involvement in Melbourne's history has been immortalised in a statue of her erected at the Fitzroy Gardens.

I, like quite a few others, are descended from James and Mary. Not, indeed, from her son John but from another son, Charles who was born a few years later. This has been established through comparisons with John's and Charles' marriage certificates and the exact details that they both gave.

The Melbourne history books seem to lose track of James and Mary a few years after Melbourne was established. This is sad, given that they both played such an interesting role in the birth of one of Australia's largest cities. Only a few family historians, like myself, are aware of another child being born to them and we descendants also seem to be the few who have continued our search of this incredibly interesting family.

And so, thanks to the help of another researcher, the death certificate of Mary Gilbert has now been found! There is little doubt that this is the same Mary.....the maiden name, place of residence and husband and sons' names all match. After twenty years of chasing the Gilberts, I finally have more information to add to their branch. What we do know, from her death certificate is that Mary was a Scotch lady. She did indeed have sons John and Charles but there are two more sons listed. We know that she married James Gilbert in Tasmania when she was 18, before setting across the Tasman on the Enterprize. We also know that in her lifetime, she lived in two different countries (Scotland and Australia) and in three different states (Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales).

After mentionings of her in Melbourne history dried up, it appears that Mary and her husband moved on. Perhaps she worked the land, perhaps she chased gold or perhaps she continued servant work, which was her reason for being on the Enterprize in the first place. It certainly appears, however that she followed her sons in their movements across the east coast of Australia.

Mary Gilbert was a fascinating woman who contributed much to the history of this country. What a pity, she seems to have been lost somewhere along the way. It is only now that we can put an ending to the story of this fascinating lady. Now, if only we could establish what happened to her husband James.......!!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Miss Nine and the Superteen were having a rather heated debate. The Superteen has recently taken up learning piano at school and is super keen! He has decided that this is the instrument for him and like most teenagers, thinks he knows everything there is to know about them.

Miss Nine, as you may recall has been a violinist for a couple of years now and so was defending the superiority of the violin over the piano to her brother. The Superteen was not letting her get away with any talk that the violin is a better instrument to learn. He espoused the virtues of piano playing, the historical significance of piano music and his belief that piano is a harder instrument to play! But she just wouldn't see his side of the argument!

"Look," he challenged her in a combination of arrogance and frustration, "You think that the violin is so great....I bet you can't even name one famous violinist! I can name heaps of famous pianists....Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin.......I bet you can't name me one violinist!"

Without skipping a beat, she looked him in the eyes and calmly replied, "Yes I can......Andre Rieu"!!!!!

Obviously, the Superteen had no argument for that one....and the look on his face....priceless!


Miss Nine gets annoyed if she wants something or is asking something and everyone is too busy to immediately respond. In her frustration, she has figured out a new way of simple and effective communication....writing notelets! Today, she was in a tizz because she couldn't find her favourite shirt. She knew that she'd last placed it in a basket and wanted to get this message across quickly. Unfortunately, I was on the phone being informed about today's sport being cancelled (due to the weather). Suddenly, her little notelet was placed strategically in front of me. What a quick, quiet way to communicate, huh!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Birthdays, Workdays, Wet Days, Mayhem Days!

My plan for today was simple: leave for work early, drop off child at school, pick up pre-ordered birthday cake for sweet work friend's special birthday, go to work, have staff morning tea, lead in-service for small group of staff after work, leave, pick up child from after school care, go home etc etc etc! Phew...I'm tired just reading that back to myself!!

I knew, when I woke up and the rain was pouring down that I should have just pulled the covers over my head and stayed in bed! But no, I didn't!

I did manage to leave home on time and even successfully drop child at school. Then I went to pick up pre-ordered cake only to be told (firstly) that they didn't have it and (secondly), I'd have to drive ten minutes out of my way to their other shop to get it! So I did!

Running a few minutes late for work, I still managed to get there despite on-the-spot learning how to juggle work bag, handbag, lunch bag, cake box and umbrella while the rain poured down around me. Successful? No! But I didn't manage to drop the cake!

Work should have gone off without a hitch until I realised that my powerpoint for the afternoon's inservice was not working correctly and that I'd have to somehow fly home (wish I had a broomstick!) to access home computer.

While in the process of telling administration about my serious technical malfunction, the rain continued to pour. In fact, it came down in bucket-loads! So much so that the green area outside turned into a lake!

Next thing, I hear is that the whole of our work was being evacuated!

This process, given the nature of the job, actually took a few hours....and of course the afternoon in-service was cancelled (small mercy saved a whole lotta staff from my boring powerpoint!).

In the middle of all of this, the nine year old's after school care rang me to say that their own staff were flood bound and that they were asking parents to not send their children in the afternoon! This of course, was followed by the Superteen phoning me to say that his school was getting flooded in and he needed picking up.....25 minutes drive in the other direction. So the afternoon was spent juggling school pick-ups between friends and trying to make my way through flooded roads and chaotic traffic.

Needless to say that through all of this my darling friend missed out on her special cream cake for morning tea! (Happy 40th birthday, Sweetie! We'll make up for it on Sunday!).

Yes, the rain came down in Brisbane today and yes, it did mean that the entire day was a write-off! Wish I'd stayed in bed!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I remember very clearly, the day my son was born! The pain, the uncertainty, the terror of bringing a whole other life into the world. I also remember the hospital wardsperson, wheeling me down from the theatre after an emergency Cesarean. He took one look at my nine and a half pound bundle of screaming child and declared that he was a 'big un' and 'just wait till he grows up....he'll cost you a fortune to feed!' Talk about predicting the future!

Today, almost fourteen years later, the wardsperson's prophecy is beginning to ring more than true.

Looking back, even to photos of eighteen months ago, I hardly recognise the little boy staring out at the camera.

For today, I have child who is starting to live in a man's body!

Take for example, his height.....he tells me that he is about 180 centimetres (that is 5 foot and 11 1/2 inches for all you imperial people!). Yes, I now look up to him completely and the cost of restocking his clothing has been enormous over the last few months in particular.

If however, we a going by puppy sizing (ie the size of the paws determines the size of the grown dog!) then it's his shoes that tell the true story. Ok, he always had reasonably big feet....and wide! But when his shoes are only lasting approximately three months before needing to be upsized, the thought of future growth is almost scary! His newest pair of Nike shoes (yep, he's a Nike boy!) are actually a man's size US13/UK12!

Now people tell me that size can be genetic. At the moment, our almost 14 year old towers over both his father and me! In fact, his father has a man's size 7 shoe!

So it won't be long, I don't imagine when my 'almost-man' son starts taking more steps towards, girlfriends, jobs are suddenly in the near future! Just don't get me started on how much he eats though.....I don't think I could stand to think about any further growth!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another Visitor

Ok so this is not the first time that we've had one of these little guys (or girls!) visit our garden but heck, I don't care! There is nothing cuter than a cuddly, furry koala peeking over the neighbour's fence at you when you are in the back yard.

Our dogs kept us up all night barking last we know why! They couldn't work out who this strange little visitor was. This afternoon, Miss Nine and her mate spotted it in the neighbour's olive tree! He must have been lost though cause the eucalyptus tree was over the other side of the back fence! Lol! No doubt he'll leave sometime this evening in search of a good gum tree meal!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers' Day Tales

Mothers' Day today was spent with our family on a beach at Redcliffe. You know, the older I get, the more I realise that there are some darn beautiful places around Brisbane and Redcliffe is one of them. It is such a wonderful spot for families to gather, relax and enjoy the scenery. Today, under an azure blue sky, we spent time eating (fish and chips take-away so that the mums of our family didn't have to do any work) and watching and playing.

The younger kids loved playing on the small, shell-filled beach (that wave to the left is a jet ski thing by the way!):
We had fantastic views across the bay to the Port of Brisbane, Sandgate and even the city proper:
A few pelicans floated by looking for a fish feed:
And the spot was a gathering place for the local kite-flying association who filled the sky with amazing colour and fun:
Some of us loved this one:
And I thought that this one looked fantastic:

Even my brother got out his own kite to have a go. He didn't do too badly either:
Happy Mothers Day to all mums reading this. I hope that your day was as restful as ours!