Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sian swims in the Regionals.

Sian swam today in the Regionals. She represented St Josephs in the girls 10yr 50 metre backstroke. She faced stiff competition and although it was a close race we think she came either 3rd or 4th in her heat.

As all the times for the different heats were compiled we found out she didn't make it through to the next round but she had fun trying. Certainly the big Cookies and cream cornetto seemed to put a smile on her face!

Well done Harry!

Our friend Harry was one of the kids who swam at todays Regionals. He was representing St Josephs in the boys 9 years 50 metre Freestyle. He swam brilliantly and came 2nd overall out of all the other schools in the area.

Well done Harry! We are looking forward to seeing you do well in the next round!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mum and Dads arrival !!!

At last! 2 1/2 years after we last saw them Mum and Dad have finally managed to fly over and visit us here in Australia.

As many of you know my Mum has been very unwell since late 2005 and has not been physically well enough to fly. We worried that they may not be able to come see us but luckily Mum has been getting better slowly but surely over the last few months. She still has a long way to go to get back to being the woman who rules the Sheeran family with a power that puts governments to shame but she is getting there!

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Mum rang me to say she had been searching actual flight times but was finding it hard to find a suitable one. As she went to sleep in Ireland I took over and with a little help from our local Travel Agent we had booked two seats to Sydney before she woke up! It has all been such a fabulous rush counting down to today!

Their flight landed at 7.15am so we left our home in Toronto just after 5am to get to the airport in time. It was worth the early start. The kids had homemade signs saying "GRANNY AND GRANDAD" in case Mum and Dad didn't recognise them!

It was very emotional seeing them again and watching the kids excitement. At one stage Mum bent down to hug Rhiannon and Gareth rugby tackled her from behind with a huge hug that sent her flying...! Ouch!

Nothing could stop the smiles especially when Mum and Dad got their first cuddles from Cian, my brothers little boy, who they obviously had not met before. I forgot the camera but luckily have a camera phone so I got a few blurry shots of the arrival.

We went back to Joe and Rhonda's house and had tea and cookies and a lovely homemade pasta bake lunch made by Rhonda.

Afterwards we went to Balmoral beach for a paddle and an ice-cream - Dad tried paying the lady in the shop with a Euro note but it didn't take me long to help him to locate the Australian dosh at the back of the Irish notes! It was quicker than taking out my own wallet but then that's what Dads are for, isn't it! Thanks Dad!

Mum and Dad are staying the first week at Joe and Rhondas house spending time getting to know Cian and will hopefully be coming to us at the weekend. We are so excited about showing them where we live and introducing them to all our friends!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

First Bus ride!

Gareth has asked, and asked, and asked when will he be able to get the bus home from school. He had to apply for a bus pass and he has been impatient waiting for it to be issued. Finally yesterday he came out of school waving it excitedly!

We sent a note into his teacher this morning to let her know he could go home by bus for the very first time. Sian and Rhiannon were warned to make sure he got on and off safely. It felt strange not jumping into the car at 2.30pm. I waited outside on the reserve across from our house and waited nervously. Byron was working on the upstairs balcony today so he also got to watch out for the bus.

At last the bus came around the corner and slowed down. Off jumped Sian, then Rhiannon and finally a very happy Gareth!

Mini garden transformation!

I have a small forgotten about strip of garden that is next to the back door. It isn't seen from the patio or any window so it didn't get the fancy plants the rest of the garden did. I have planted a hotch potch of plants given to me by friends over the last couple of years and although it is a bit random I love it!

Today I had coffee with Jane and she sent me home with Rosemary and Lemongrass cuttings and some weird seed pods that will grow into big Native Spiky things. She did tell me the name but I have forgotten! I felt like Jack in the beanstalk planting them when I got home. I wonder what riches I will find when I wake up in the morning?!

School opening Mass.

This morning the kids school had a Mass to celebrate the begining of the school year.
All the kids filed in and sat quietly in their seats and then sang their hearts out during all the hymns. They were proper little angels!

Gareth looked very cute walking back to his class hand in hand with one of his classmates. I couldn't resist a quick photo!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rhiannons Clarinet

Rhiannon has dropped many of the sports she did last year. She said she didn't want to re-register for Tennis, Rugby T-Ball or Sailing. She didn't get an option with Swimming as I think it is really important. Instead of sports she asked if she could join the school band. She wanted to play the Clarinet so we made a few phonecalls, filled out loads of forms and joined her up. It costs a small fortune between the monthly cost of renting the Clarinet, the music books and the weekly lesson fees but I guess we are not paying out for all the sports she used to do.

She has been warned that she needs to take great care of her new Clarinet and that she has to promise not to abandon playing over the first year. She timidly went into the school music room on Wednesday morning where I payed the deposit on the instrument and waited to be told when her lesson time would be.

When I collected her from school she was so happy. She showed us how to put together and take apart the Clarinet, how to clean it and the two notes she had learned at her first lesson. She disappeared into her bedroom and practised and practised.

When Byron finshed work they went into the TV room together and I could hear Byron playing his Saxaphone and soon the sound of the Clarinet copying. She seemed to be just picking the music up straight away and by the time tea was ready she was happily playing an assortment of notes and had a full tune she could play from scratch with no sheet music to help her.

She really is putting in the effort and seems to have a natural ear. Lets hope it continues!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mega garden transformation.

Our garden has had a massive plant makeover. Paul has totally finished all the solid landscaping, patio, walls etc and has always made us promise to put some good plants in when we were finished. When he heard that Mum and Dad were on the way he gave us a kick up the rear end and got us all fired up about getting the planting done in time for their visit.

He turned up on Valentines Day with a trailer full of plants and today he and Byron bust a gut digging, planting and mulching from sun-up to sun-down. It looks amazing! It really is enticing to sit outside now and just take in how much the back yard has changed in less than a year. It has gone from muddy building site to a peaceful oasis.

Thank you again Paul for putting your great ideas into reality for us!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day - By Gina!

This time last year Byron and I sat down to a romantic candle lit meal for two. As we drank a lovely bottle of wine and enjoyed good food in a romantic atmosphere Mr B passed a note across the table to me. It told me that he was sending me "back to college" by sending me on the guitar making class.

A year later and the guitar is finished and I am now having weekly lessons to learn how to play it. I still go down to the workshop every Thursday evening but now I work there as an assistant. I'm not sure if Byron knew how much his present last year would end up costing him, over $2000 in class fees and materials.

This year to save money he decided it would be more sensible to just bring me to the local jewellers! We went down at lunchtime and he got me a beautiful new charm bead for my Pandora bracelet!

Thank you Mr B!

Happy Valentines Day - By Sian!

Its Valentines Day. When we went into Mum and Dads bedroom this morning there was a card in there for us. It was square and white and it said "Sian Rhiannon and Gareth" in red pen. We knew it was from Granny because we knew it was her writing and it had an Irish stamp on it. On the card Granny had wrote "from your secret admirer" and Grandad Joe had written upside down as usual! And they gave us some yummy scrummy chocolate buttons which we ate BEFORE breakfast!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Well done Sian!

Sian did really well at her school swimming carnival. She came third in the 50 metre backstroke and has qualified to represent St Josephs at the next level of competition; The Regionals.

This will be held in two weeks time and Sian will swim against the best swimmers from other local schools.

Well done sweetheart!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Peter!

It was Peter Winters 40th birthday and a big night out was planned to help him celebrate in style! We got a babysitter and set the kids up infront of a DVD with bowls of popcorn.

Byron decided we would share the driving. He drove us in and I drove us home! We were taxi to some friends to allow more people to enjoy a drink. I think the drive in and out of Newcastle was almost as much fun as the night itself! Imagine me driving home with 4 passengers arguing with my nice SatNav lady...! I tried to ignore them all and just followed my blue line!

It was a fun night and one of our friends David (the man on the left in the above photo!) spent the night taking photos on his fancy new iPhone and then created this fun comic strip with the photos. David, you have too much time on your hands!!!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Swimming Carnival

Today was the 2008 St Josephs swimming carnival.

For the last two years Sian has participated but Rhiannon was too young. This year they were both able to go. The girls have been enrolled in swimming lessons for the last year and their swimming has improved a lot. They were both excited about entering.

A week ago Sian lost her confidence after a nasty incident on the beach where both herself and Gareth got dragged under the surf by a freak wave. They both had to be rescued by strangers who just managed to dive in faster than Byron and myself. Since then she has been saying she didn't want to enter the swimming carnival. We didn't want to push her but equally we didn't want this experience on the beach to leave her scared of the water. Luckily she came around to the idea and going to her usual swimming lessons on Monday seemed to help. All she wanted to do was one race and that was fine with us.

Rhiannon raced first and because of her age she found herself only competing with two other 7 year olds!

As the starting siren went in dived Rhiannon and raced her little heart out against her two friends Amber and Neve.

Their faces all lit up at the finish line when they were told that they had won first, second and third!

Sians race was soon after and she swam really well against girls of the same age as hereslf although they were all head and shoulders taller than her. She swam brilliantly and came third so she was chuffed.

With her confidence soaring she decided to enter the back stroke and came third again! At the end of the days races she was chosen to swim in a relay race for the Hunter team and this was the icing on the cake.
She was beaming from ear to ear as the carnival came to an end. We were so glad we hadn't let her skip it.

As the races finished we experienced the mother of all storms. Thunder and lightning shook the pool buildings and the roar of the rain on the roof was deafening. The kids all had to leave the water in a hurry due to the danger of lightning strike and we had to stand back from the windows and avoid touching any metal. The rain was too torrential to run for the car so we all huddled together waiting for the storm to pass. We heard a voice over the loudspeaker "Can the Baynham Family please return to your car immediatly as you have left your windows open" I raced through the lightning and rain and got soaked as I unlocked the car door and got the windows up. I wasn't half as soaked as the poor car seats!

I raced back into the building and waited until the rain eased before making a dash for the car again with the kids. We drove home through such a downpour that we could hardly see through the windscreen even with wipers at full speed.

When we got in the door looking like a pack of drowned rats the girls raced in to Byron and told him all about the days swimming. He was chuffed and declared bonus pocket money for everyone this weekend!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gareths first week at school

Gareth has been enjoying his first few days at school.

He has been very tired coming home but luckily he seems to be settling to bed at a reasonable time so he is waking up quite fresh in the mornings. It is an early start, about 6.45am but he is excited getting dressed and so far has not had any tears in the mornings.

He is so happy with his teacher and keeps telling everyone that he has the bestest teacher in the whole school and that she looks like honey!

He was very excited on Wednesday when he came home. He told me they had watched a cool movie. It was all about the baddies called "plaques" they were attacking the teeth! He very earnestly told me he was never going to eat another sweetie in his whole life.

"I can't Mum, or else I will get GRAVITIES"