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!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Netball Bonanza

If you haven't worked out already, my life atm is about kids, their sports and my work! And exciting stuff it is!

Last weekend, Miss Nine's netball team was invited to play a junior demonstration game at the half time break of the latest Firebirds game. For those of you who don't know, the Firebirds are the Queensland netball team so to be one of two teams show-casing junior talents is a bit of a privilege.

Miss Nine was a bit blase about it all, until the actual moment of impact, apparently, when she put her feet on that swish timber-floored court and had to show her stuff. To her credit, she did well and was involved in a fair bit of the action. Ok she played Centre, so was in the thick of it all, but at one stage, she batted the ball out of play, effectively interrupting the other team's momentum and was clapped by the approx 5000 audience members for her efforts! Woo hoo!

The game only lasted about 10 minutes and sadly, our team was well behind in the goal-shooting. (Thank goodness it wasn't a game for points!). The girl's however had a blast and even got to gather autographs from the players at the end of the game.

Now, don't even get me started on the unfairness of money and women's sport. As an audience member, it was apparent what skills the Firebirds members have. All I can recommend is that you have a look at a game sometime on the HD sport channel and see what you think!