Monday, October 31, 2011

And more photos...

I had fun with the camera this weekend. Particularly the 10 second delay that allowed me to set up a shot then run over to pose so I could be in it too!

Here are a few favourites...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We are the laugh-a-lot-gang and we all have different hair!

This weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to a friends family holiday home. It was a small one bedroom house her Grandfather had built many years ago. Compact and perfect for him to stay over on his fishing weekends. There was a garage that has recently been renovated into a long room with bunk beds so it sleeps 6! This is where we stayed. Sleeping bags and pillows and a backpack each. It felt like being back in school and going away on camp! Before we left on Friday Monica's daughter gave us a nickname "The laugh-a-lot gang" How true that was going to be!

We drove up in two cars on Friday evening and threw together a tea of all the bits and pieces we had brought, cheese crackers, fruit, chocolate. It was heaven. We queued for the bathroom to do teeth and then giggled and acted like a bunch of ten year olds as we settled to sleep. Seeing your friends at 7am in sleeping bags, make up free and "just woke up hair" is a great leveller. No pretence. What you see is what you get and this bunch of girls is as real as they come. Over the weekend we laughed, we shared stories, some that made us wet ourselves with laughter, some that made us hug our arms tight around our knees and brought a lump to our throats. We have all lived very different lives and hearing each others stories made us look at each other with new respect.

I love my family and I love my house but 48 hours away from them didn't kill them and it renewed me. It was a simple weekend. It cost less than $100 including petrol money and thank you flowers for Granny. The only alcohol was a glass of Baileys on the Saturday night as we munched on M+M's and maltesers. No hangovers, long walks and laugh after laugh after laugh.

Here's an example: We were sitting at the table discussing something when Monica piped up "I know this is a bit off the topic but...." "Have you noticed that we all have different hair?" It took us about ten minutes to stop laughing and we were wiping tears from our eyes as she tried to expand. Her point was that we don't all look the same. We haven't all tried to follow the latest trend sporting the latest hair colour or cut. We are all just individuals and happy to be that way.

...and I guess that just about sums us up! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Entrance Exams.

Rhiannon starts High School next year and this week has been a flurry of preparation. She has had visits from the High School co-ordinator to their class and then a long intro evening at the High School itself so we could be measured for uniforms, buy books and sit in on a talk preparing us all for the changes to come. It is scary times. Although Sian has been in the High School for two years and has settles really well each child is an individual and somehow Rhiannon just seems younger and less street wise and we are probably more nervous of her transition than we were with her big sister. Because she is a Millennium baby she was born in a boom year the school are taking in their highest number of students ever for the 2012 intake. Its going to be a learning curve for everyone, school and home alike!

The biggest day of the week was when she had to sit her actual entrance exams. These will help to place her in a class appropriate to her level. She was very nervous going in to sit these exams and the new school hall looked very formal as it was used for the first time for such a purpose. Rows and rows of tables and chairs and a nervous looking group of kids walking in in single file.

I was lucky to be helping out in Gareth's class that day and I got to see her come out for a break between papers. She was treated to a muffin from the canteen and was much chirpier returning in to the hall for round two.

The best thing about this move to High School is the great group of girls that she will be moving with. Although the friendships are bound to change as they mix in a huge group of 190 students I hope that they will still stay friends.

These days are going by way to fast. Slow down, slow down...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grandparents Day 2011.

Our kids school has had their first ever Grandparents Day this week. They started with a lovely Liturgy in the church in the school grounds...

...and then we moved to the new big hall to watch a concert by each class year.
They were wonderful. It all finished with a sausage sizzle where the parents and Grandparents could stay and join in the playground fun! 
Our kids have both sets of Grandparents alive but living overseas. On days like this we do miss them badly. The school know that many kids don't have their Grandparents in their day to day lives so they included "grandparents and special family friends" in all the prayers and celebrating. My brothers in-laws live near us and have always stepped in to give a cuddle when needed. Anne was able to join us for the morning and the kids were really happy to see her. 

It was a lovely day and hopefully one that will be repeated next year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A sneak peek at what the boys play at lunch-time...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The baby I (nearly) delivered!

Ok, so I know that you don't want to know the boring bits of what we have been up to recently. You just want to know the story about the baby don't you?!

There are three stories. The Birth Mothers. The Birth Fathers. Mine.

The Birth Mothers is probably the most calm and accurate. The birth Fathers and mine are probably the most exaggerated and similar in that we both tell the story as though we were the hero delivering the baby single handedly!

It all began one weekend outside church. My friend was heavily pregnant and booked in for induction on the Monday. She was already feeling lots of cramps and contractions and I told her that because I only live down the road I was happy to help out if she needed someone to watch her other two daughters if anything happened late at night etc...

Nothing happened that night or the next and I text her good luck on the morning of the induction. It turned out that she got sent home from the hospital because the baby wasn't ready and was told to return 24-48 hours later. It was all a bit flat and disappointing. That night I turned the water on in the shower and while waiting for it to run hot I sent her a text  "Thinking of you, hope you are having a relaxing night, not long now..."

She didn't see that text because she was at home having quite advanced contractions waiting for her parents to come and mind her girls so she could head to hospital. I was under the hot water when Byron came into the bathroom and handed the phone into the shower. It was birth Father saying things were advancing quickly, her parents were only half an hour away but they needed me to watch the girls so they could leave for the hospital right away.

I hopped around the bathroom naked, trying to dry and put on the nearest clothes quickly, they were my pj's and dressing gown but I didn't think anyone would care so late in the evening. Byron tried slowing me and telling me not to fuss, there was no rush, no point in crashing on the way etc... I ignored him and jumped in the car with hair still dripping and drove the couple of minutes to her house.

Getting out of the car I felt a bit nervous. I'd only once seen this friends house, in daylight, while collecting her husband for a rugby match. I wasn't completely sure which house it was in the dark so I nervously knocked at a door of a vaguely familiar house with only one faint upstairs light on. When I heard the cries of a woman in labour float down to me I knew I was at the right house. I heard a shout telling me to come in but the door was locked. Between contractions the husband raced down the stairs, threw open the door and raced back up.

I followed and found my friend on her bed in full on labour. An ambulance had been called and the paramedics were talking them through until it arrived. I found myself going from "polite early stages of friendship" to "friendship signed, sealed and delivered" over the course of the next half hour. I'm not a midwife although I have seen babies delivered during my nurse training. I found myself mentally going through the theory of delivering the head, then shoulder, baby and then tying off the cord. I held her hand and counted her through deep breathing, telling her she was doing great, and then turning and reassuring her husband between contractions. I was so relieved when the flashing lights of the ambulance glowed outside.

The paramedics came in and talked and seemed in no hurry but did suggest trying to get my friend to the local hospital (at least a 25 minute drive even with lights and sirens) My gut feeling was screaming out at me that this baby was never going to stay put that long but I was very cautious about influencing whether to do a home birth or not just in case anything went wrong. My friend was wanting to try to go to hospital so between contractions we managed to get her down the stairs and onto the ambulance trolley. As the paramedics strapped her on she was saying she needed to push. Again my gut feelings were saying "Stay and deliver" but I just helped to get the trolley into the back of the ambulance and then ran back passing the husband his shoes, wallet, phone, keys etc.

I stood there in the dark in my dressing gown and bare feet and watched the ambulance pull silently out of the driveway, flashing lights reflecting off the trees and houses around, my heart was pounding and I had a lump in my throat as I watched the lights fade into the distance and found myself involuntarily blessing myself over and over. I returned inside the quiet house where two little girls stayed sleeping oblivious upstairs and waited for the arrival of parents I had never met.

Minutes later a car pulled up and a frantic and anxious grandmother thanked me over and over for helping. I told her all I could and then went home. I had only just finished telling Byron the story when he received a message saying the baby was born two minutes after leaving the house. The waters had broken as they turned onto the main road and the paramedics had pulled over and next push the baby was born. Immediately I felt great disappointment for my friend that she had not made it to the expertise and safety of the hospital or equally stayed in the comfort and reassurance of her familiar bedroom. She told me afterwards that she was not upset about leaving the house so close to the birth as she had needed the freedom to be more noisy and vocal when pushing the baby out than she could ever have been with her daughters asleep in the room next to her at home.

If I'm honest I was also a bit gutted about getting so close to witnessing the birth of my friends baby and then missing out by 2 minutes. I have had stern words with her that I expect her to have baby number 4 as a planned home birth with me there helping. Never mind that she isn't planning to have 4 kids. There is plenty of time for her to get used to the idea. Meanwhile I'm busy preparing by watching re-runs of "A Birth Story" and "Maternity Ward" on Discovery Health...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sorry for the break in service...

It's been a busy month. Grandparents arrived from overseas and time on the computer was reduced so I could be a good and dutiful daughter-in-law!

Lots has happened that I do want to blog about, a 50th Wedding Anniversary, Practically delivering my  friends baby single-handedly in my pyjamas one evening (please note my tendency to exaggerate...) Grandparents day at school and more.

I will share all these stories as soon as I can but collecting my children from school and putting dinner on the table is an unfortunate necessity!

Watch this space...!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Wales V's Ireland...

...No words required!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Sunset cruise.

We finished off our holiday with a sunset cruise. It was very relaxing and a lovely last evening together.

I wish holidays could last forever...

Endangered species!

We went on a beautiful Rainforest walk today. The rain had just eased off, everything was lush and green and we practically had the place to ourselves!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Walk at sunset...

Gareth is getting a bit "over" having his photo taken. I asked him to look towards me and as soon as he saw the phone pointed at him he did a runner!

I just captured this before he ran...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Best view in town...

Some nights this holiday we have eaten out, some nights had beans on toast in the house. Tonight we got take-away pizzas and sat by the waters edge to eat them! You couldn't have had a better view at the poshest restaurant in town!!!

Postcard home to Granny...

Just before leaving on their holidays our kids were the lucky recipients of some spending money from each set of grandparents. The joke was that the money came with a condition. The kids had to buy and send a postcard from their money and then could keep the change for ice-cream.

Having chosen the postcards the kids were let loose to write their messages while I tidied up after dinner. The girls wrote nice messages about the weather and what we were doing. Gareth got straight to the point...

"Dear Granny and Grandad, I bought the cheapest card so I could get the biggest ice-cream. Wish you were here, Gareth"

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


There are only so many photos the kids will let me take of them. They have struck a deal with me. They will only pose for a "proper" photo if I will then take a daft version of it straight after!

In this photo I have to say that I prefer the daft one by a million miles!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Windy Weather!

It's so windy today! We have been driving around to get out of the tiny holiday accommodation. In between rain showers Byron wanted us to get out and admire the view from a lookout at a wind-blasted lighthouse! We nearly lost a couple of kids off the edge during some of the bigger gusts.

Sian was delighted to take the opportunity to act like she was on a fashion shoot with her hair flying behind her!

Naturally I, as always, was delighted with the chance to take yet another photo!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever!

With the rain making it's appearance early this morning and forecast to hang around all day we came strawberry picking in these wonderful rain proof tunnels. When I was a kid in Ireland strawberry picking involved eating one berry for every one that went in your basket. Here there were signs asking us to be honest and wait till they were paid for. The pots of chocolate dipping sauce being sold at the till made it worth the wait!

Rhiannon found a weighing scales so we could see how much of a bill we were building up. The strawberries were being sold for $16 per kg and she thought she would scare the living daylights out if me by leaning on the scales... 7 KILO'S = $112 , NOT!

We sat in the cafe and let the morning tick slowly by as we waited for coffees and let the kids scoff the berries we had just picked. None made it home but we thoroughly enjoyed every one! (and every last smear of the chocolate dipping sauce too!)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Happy Holidays!

We are enjoying the school holidays and are taking advantage of our live-in pet caretakers (in-laws!) to have a few days away as a family. It's fun now the kids are getting older and offering to take some of the photos. I'm not too used to being on this side of the lens!

Weather is forcast to rain almost every day with dry spells here and there. We went for a walk on the beach when we arrived with rain jackets on but managed to catch the last few rays of the sunset. I can feel the relaxation soaking into my bones already!