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...
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...
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!)
...read the instructions!
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.
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.
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!
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?!
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.
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!
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!
... I never promised I'd return them clean!
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...
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...