Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thank-you from God.

For someone who is normally fairly quite private about religion I am going to do two religious blog entries in a row. The first one was a proud moment, this one is more humorous. I am known to raid Byron's wallet in a panic as I run out to Saturday night Mass as I rarely seem to have any notes in my own. So often when Byron goes to pick his wallet up on a Sunday I hear him call out "I've been robbed"  This time I thought God should leave him a little note...

...I wonder when he will notice?!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Both my girls have been Altar servers over the years. Gareth has watched on and whispered to me that he cannot wait to have his turn. In our church you need to have done three sacraments before you can train as an Altar server, Reconciliation, Confirmation and Communion. Gareth did all three last year and finally it was time to train up the newest recruits. He did his practises in school time and then was given a date for his first "real" turn at our parish mass. His sister helped him to get ready...

Then he took a deep breath and walked up to the Altar under the wing of a lovely family friend, Claire, who he felt very comfortable with, and also another boy from school. 

I was so very proud as I sat there and watched him try so hard to remember all his jobs during the Mass. I tried to be very discreet taking a couple of photos on my phone. I'm sure God will allow me this little indiscretion as I really wanted to be able to share the moment with Gareth's grandparents overseas and have something to look back on when he is no longer such a little boy...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Me and Mr B!

I often get a hard time for not actually appearing in the blog. That is because I enjoy being on the other side of the camera most of the time. My friend Julie snapped this photo when were at their house this week so I thought I would put shyness aside and say a big hello! And yes, this is a tan for me! The idea that living in Australia would leave me with a light healthy glow all through the year proved to be wrong. This is me in all my summer glory. You should see me in the winter, I'm invisible! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Card 2012

To all my blogger friends. I thought I would wish you a Happy Christmas with the image that we used for our family 2012 Christmas card. I hope that Christmas brought fun and joy into your homes. Here's to a wonderful 2013!

Happy Christmas!

To everyone,
Thank you so much for your friendship over the last year. I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas and find yourselves in the company of people you love and who love you back. May 2013 be a great year for us all. Full of health and happiness (and a few good blog posts!)
Gina xoxo

Monday, December 24, 2012

If all else fails... the instructions!

We made a gingerbread house today. We just forgot to read the part of the instructions where it said to bake for ten minutes to crisp up the pieces... That might be why it started to sag within minutes of us finishing it. Within an hour the roof had caved in and it was more like an earthquake zone than a gingerbread house! We will have to try again next year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How (not) to bake perfect Shortbread

A lot of our gifts to local friends and teachers are home-made. It costs us very little in terms of money but we put time and energy into it and enjoy the fun of making them.

This year I decided to make some shortbread biscuits. Sian was given a music note cookie cutter earlier this year by her friend Gemma. This made great cookies for her piano teacher.

Next on the list were our neighbours who were going away so I set to work one evening making stars. Unfortunately I was feeling pretty tired that night after a month of double hours in the hospital and I may have dozed off on the sofa... 
Luckily Byron smelt the burning, woke me up and had his camera on hand to record the moment forever...
So this Christmas season I urge you to pay attention and learn from me how NOT to bake perfect Shortbread!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Time to put the kettle on...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dr Who

On tv last week we watched a recording of a concert in London's Albert Hall. It was the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra playing the theme music from Dr Who. There was lots of audience participation with many of the characters from the series walking through the auditorium as the music played. When an ad appeared on the tv for the Australian tour dates I jumped off the sofa in excitement! They were already half way through the Sydney dates. I went online and searched how much to buy tickets... The first quote was over $600 but I realised that I was looking at premium boxes *phew* Searching again for the family tickets the bill was a much more reasonable price.

I persuaded Byron that going to a show as a family would have a much bigger impact and better memories than putting an extra gift under the tree (adding to the already overgenerous pile from Grandparents, friends and extended family) And so we found ourselves booking the very last tickets in the back row of the Sydney Opera House tonight.
It was amazing! For anyone who has seen the recent series you will understand the significance of  "Don't blink" next to the weeping angels. Scary stuff!!!
The actual performance was amazing. Broken down into lots of small 5 minute segments of music, each piece being introduced by the amazing Alex Kingston (who played River Song in the Dr Who series and also Dr Elizabeth Corday in ER) 

When the show finished we waited outside the stage door and were able to meet Alex and Sian got her autograph. It was all I could do to take a blurry photo of Sian and Alex on my phone and not push Sian out of the way and hug Alex myself!
It truly was a brilliant night and one we will talk about for a very long time!

Blog drought

I've been a slack blogger recently. More and more this year I find that blogging has slipped down the list of priorities. I think that when too big a gap stretches from the last published blog post the pressure seems to mount as I mentally count the things we have been getting up to and should have blogged, but haven't. There just doesn't seem to be the time to commit to words the things that have been happening in our increasingly busy lives. The more days tick by, the more unwritten posts sit in my head, the guiltier I feel and it all becomes too much so I push it to the back of my mind. Kind of like the ironing mountain that was engulfing the laundry room. Well yesterday I tackled it and after about 4 hours it is done. And today I am going to try to break the blogging drought with a post or two. Even if I have to back date them so they fall in vaguely chronological order to read back on in the future. Is that allowed? Will people miss out if the post gets buried in the past? Does it matter? See how I get my head in a muddle?! I hope that I will find a good rhythm again where blog posts flow in a fairly regular pattern and fit in with the whole work/family/cleaning/cooking balance. We can dream can't we?!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

High Tea

One of Rhiannons friends chose to celebrate her birthday with a beautiful "High Tea" at a small B+B called Fernwood in the outskirts of Newcastle. 

It was so lovely to see the girls all dressing up so beautifully and acting a little more refined than normal. Lets hope a little of the etiquette and manners stay with Rhiannon over the coming weeks!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Love is...

...sticky finger baby niece hugs!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Art Gallery visit

I love when free activities are available to kids. So many people are struggling to pay their bills with electricity, food and petrol prices creeping up at an alarming rate. It can be hard to find things to do outside the home that don't drain the bank account.

When a friend told me about a free Art exhibition about fashion and the catwalk I decided to bring the kids along for a look. We are very lucky to live close to Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery. We wandered through the exhibits and pretended to be models strutting up and down the red carpet. We were they only people there and were not a bit self conscious until we spotted the security cameras pointed at us!

There was a design table set up with blank card models and postcard sized papers with fabric images printed on them ready for you to create your own outfit. When we finished we could take our creation home or stand it up in the special grooves along a cat-walk and leave them behind to inspire the next people who came along.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

First day of Summer

After slapping on the sunscreen we jumped in the car leaving a long To-Do list and all our cares behind us! Two sets of friends who live just a few houses apart (and next to the lake) sent an invite out far and wide inviting friends to bring a picnic and water gear and chill out on the reserve outside their houses.

It was supposed to be a crazy hot day but the plans had been made long in advance so we decided to brave it with lots of cold drinks and shady hats etc. Surprisingly although it was hot the cloud cover protected us from intense glare and with lots of sunscreen applications no-one got pink.

It is so lovely when you can throw a group of kids together from a mixture of backgrounds and ages and yet they manage to have fun. It is a really nice bunch of families and it feels like a big safe extended family with everyone helping to keep an eye out for each others kids.

We left our house at midday thinking we might only stay a couple of hours but then found ourselves packing up as the sun went down and driving home in the dark! Sometimes the best days are those spent having simple outdoor fun!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

First day of Advent

Each Advent we get a calendar sent from Ireland and take turns opening the windows. When the kids were younger I took daily photos of the ceremony of opening the window and sent the photos via email to Granny and Grandad for them to see. It made for a fun and easy post-a-day through the month of December. As the kids have gotten older and I find myself starting my nursing shifts before they are up and dressed the photo-a-day has fallen by the wayside. I did manage to get this photo as Gareth opened up the first window while everyone else was slapping sunscreen on and getting ready for a fun day by the lake with other families living locally. Happy Advent everyone. I hope the countdown is pleasurable and doesn't fly by too quickly...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Digging for Gems

Gareth is having a great time with his recent birthday gifts. This one was a real hit from Auntie Carrie. Hours of fun chipping away at clay on the kitchen floor and warnings as he went to school that I wasn't to disturb it. It's a shame Auntie Carrie didn't come in the box too to help tidy up!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The big present!

And finally, after ten long years Mr B had the chance to relive his childhood by giving Gareth the gift he never knew he wanted! A Scalextric car track. Hours and hours of fun for dad  Gareth guaranteed!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My baby turns 10!

Gareth turns 10 this weekend. He opted for a few friends for tea today rather than a big party as he had been told that he was getting a special present this year that had eaten up the birthday budget.

When he agreed on a "not a party get-together" his only question was "Can I still have a cake?" Of course he could. Next question "Can it be a character from Adventure Time?" What character? "Beemo" What does Beemo look like? "He's a blue rectangle" I can do rectangles! And so the Beemo cake was made.

And while I iced the final touches Gareth disappeared into the computer room with his sister who made him a Beemo mask and then cut bits of coloured paper out and stuck them to him so that his t-shirt was transformed into Beemo's body!

Happy "day before you turn 10" Gareth!

Friday, November 23, 2012

When I said I'd look after them...

... I never promised I'd return them clean!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A return to normality...?

So I'm in week two of returning to my "normality" This was the week I was going to try to re-establish good routines. I was going to get back on the exercise bike each day, even if only for 20 mins. I was going to dust down the menu plan and get back into my regular Aldi shop each Monday. I was going to start planning for Gareth's 10th birthday at the end of this month.

So Monday came and brought with it great expectations. I woke in the morning to a message from my brother who was supposedly flying to Ireland and should have been somewhere above the Arab Emirates by breakfast. He was back in Sydney because he was on the Emirates plane that had an engine explode resulting in 2-3 meter flames lighting up the entire cabin and a hasty retreat back to Sydney. Cue turn on the news to watch the footage on every news channel for the following hour. Knowing he was safe and hoping to get on a new flight should have been the point at which I focused myself back on the straight and narrow, but no, That's when Mr B decided to throw a spanner in the works.

Yes, from 10.30am onwards I was getting messages from him about some mysterious pain he was having and the various ailments Google had suggested it might be. I became slightly more sympathetic when he stumbled in the front door early and looked ashen. I made a phone call to the local GP who said go straight to hospital.

Mr B said "No".

Then we rang the 24hr Health helpline who said go straight to hospital.

Mr B said "No".

I collected the kids from swimming and piano, raced home, made and served tea, packed his overnight bag and then Mrs B said "No more NO, get in the car" And so we did. It was an interesting car journey driving the 30 minutes on winding roads that made Byron go paler and paler on every left bend (but not right bends?) There was the small issue of him semi-passing out twice in the car park as I tried to get him from the car to the ED doors, the staff assuming he was having a heart attack from his doubled-over-clutching-his-side-ashen-grey-face. Over the next few hours it was looking more likely to be a kidney stone.

And so the rest of this week slipped by with me in nurse mode at work and then nurse mode at home too. In the evenings I sat sympathetically next to Mr B on the sofa, ignoring the exercise bike in the corner and drank cups of tea and ate chocolate, then found out both are "bad" foods for kidney stones so lovingly ate both mine AND Byron's portions of the remaining chocolate in the house. I know, I know, I'm a devoted wife. I deserve a medal. Make it a dark chocolate truffle one...!

Normality has been postponed to next week...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jet Lag and Cousins!

The first week after getting home from Ireland I collapsed into a bit jet-lagged heap. I had made promises to God pleading for no jet-lag on my arrival in Ireland so that I could make the best use of the seven days I had there. I bargained that I would take double the jet-lag if I could only delay it all until I returned to Australia. Well God answered good and proper and I could barely keep my eyes open for the first part of this week.

We pulled in to the driveway at about 10pm on Sunday night after an exciting chatter-filled car journey home from the airport. Monday morning when the bedside alarm went off at 6.30am I felt like someone was pranking me, waking me in the middle of the night. I struggled through the day and even thought at one point while driving Gareth to swimming lessons that I really wasn't fully up to it. I felt as though I was driving after drinking and made sure I took the journey slow and then put away the car keys on my return and told Byron he would have to do the tennis run as I didn't trust my reaction times.

It took most of that week to return to anything near normal. I had no difficulty getting to sleep each night, I just couldn't get up in the mornings!

As the end of the week approached I had a call from my brother asking could I have his boys overnight so he could go to a wedding. It was crazy fun and my 2 year old nephew delighted in waking me as the sun was barely rising with great big shouts of "Aunty Geeeena, It's no night-time anymore.... wake up Aunty Geeeeeena, WAKE UP!"

My brother called by the next morning and brought their baby with them so I managed to get a group photo of the 6 cousins together. It kind of made up for the early start! kind of..... yaaaaawnnnn...

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Days 1-9 according to Byron...

For those of you wondering how Mr B coped without me for 9 days I would like to show you the Facebook updates I was subjected to while away (Please note no chicken was harmed in the writing of these updates...)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Baby it's cold outside.

I'm home. Exhausted but happy. I had intended to try to post a photo a day from my phone but somehow that never happened. I'm thinking of going back in time and posting each day I was away from one of the many photos I found myself taking of all things Irish. Humour me and in the meanwhile I'll leave you with two screenshots from my phone showing the weather. One was taken on Thursday morning in Dublin. Just a typical weather snapshot of the weather during the week I was there. The other is Sydney today to show you the contrast...