Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Citizenship preparation....the answer

Well, some of your guesses were VERY good, some inventive and some just downright rude!

Thanks to everyone who had a try at guessing why I was sore:

We've never received so many comments on the blog, glad to know at least some of you are still reading our ramblings.

Okay, enough rambling from me.

Altogether the voice of your favourite Sesame Street character

"Five of these things belong together,
Five of these things are kinda the same;
But one of these things just doesn't belong here,
And now it's time to play our game....'s time to play our game"

Congrats to those who guessed it. And yes, I'm still sore.

Pass the ice again Gina.

Citizenship ceremony.



We are just home from our Citizenship ceremony and at last we are officially Australian Citizens with the right to stay in this wonderful country indefinitely!

We have had a wonderful morning. We woke up at the normal time and had pancakes with lemon juice and sugar to start the day. Then all the kids got dressed into their school uniforms and we spent ages doing Sian and Rhiannon's hair so that they didn't look like they had been pulled through a bush backwards! We decided to try an Australian drink, the TimTam slammer..? You nibble the corner off each end of a TimTam biscuit (Thanks again Monica!) then dip it in a hot cup of tea and pretend it is a straw and suck the tea though the melting chocolate layers! I managed two burning hot gulps before the whole biscuit disintegrated and fell into my cup!

Covered in melted chocolate Byron and myself ran around and got ourselves dressed and ready to leave. I wore a new black jumper, matching accessories and slapped the full monty make up on. Byron wandered around the bedroom picking clothes off the floor before deciding to wear some shorts from the ironing basket... literally from the basket and no-where near the iron as they were put on! I guess that sums us up!

When we got to the Council Offices the car park was completely full so we drove around and around before pulling up on the kerb nearby. We found our way to the Council chambers and found our seats, front row and dead centre! Anne and Kel were joining us but had some dramas when firstly their car broke down and then (in car number two) they ended up at the wrong destination. Luckily despite all this they made it in plenty of time.

The ceremony was lovely and very moving in places. Speeches were made by the Mayor and other council members. One of the nicest parts of the Mayors speech was when he re-enforced that no-one was being disloyal to their roots or denying their country they were born in, but rather that we were bringing our cultures and traditions with us to enrich the country of Australia. At one point the Mayor looked at our three kids in the front row all dressed smartly in their uniforms. He said to them that he was guessing they were going to school after the ceremony. When they nodded he tut-tutted and shook his head. "That is SO un-Australian" he said with a chuckle.

After we were awarded our certificates and our Bottle Brush trees we went upstairs for drinks and sandwiches and the most delicious lamingtons and custard slices! Yum! The local young Australian of the year was there "J D the Magician" He had been part of the official panel during the presentation and he spent ages with our kids entertaining them with magic tricks.

When the kids had eaten untill they were turning into lamingtons themselves we decided to head away. We drove the kids to school and arrived about 20 minutes before lunch. As each kid got to their classroom the teachers and kids gave them a huge round of applause. Gareth was asked to sit at the front and show his classmates the lovely bound book each of us were given which had our names and country of birth in. He was presented with a poster that all of his class mates had signed to congratulate him.

I am going to head back and collect them in a few minutes. It has been a wonderful day so far and we are looking forward to having a celebratory family tea this evening washed down with the obligatory bottle of best Australian red!

Thank you everyone for sharing in our excitement, for the emails, texts and phone calls. We really appreciate all the support shown to us by our families and friends, UK and Australian alike!

Citizenship preparation.... UPDATE!

Thank you so much for the amazing number of comments on last nights post! Many of you are on the right track...! You certainly made our morning fun with the comments that were there when we woke up and the ones that arrived while we were having our breakfast!

I would love to tell you what the answer to the question is but I am sworn to secrecy! Mr B wants to write his own post to reveal all !!!!

Watch this space......

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Citizenship preparation....

There was one last small thing needed in preparation for tomorrow's Citizenship ceremony.

Mr B underwent a minor procedure this afternoon that has left him walking quite gingerly around the house tonight despite copious pain killers.

Please feel free to leave your guesses by clicking on the "comment" button below......

Citizenship ceremony.

Tomorrow morning is very important day for us as a family. It is the day that we will become Australian citizens. We have been invited to attend a ceremony where the citizenship will be granted to us as a family.

The kids are going to go dressed in their school uniforms and we plan on going for a coffee together afterwards before sending them into school for the second half of the day.

We had an unexpected visitor this afternoon: Monica and kids with a parcel of Australian treats for us! When we unwrapped the Australian tea towel we found lots of goodies inside... Vegemite (I just CANT stand the smell of the stuff!) A jigsaw puzzle with 5 kangaroos on it (all aptly assigned names of our family!) TimTam biscuts (I CAN stand the taste of these!) Cadburys chocolate (Ditto) Allens chewy Minties (Ditto again!) and some Australian stickers!

Thank you Monica for being so thoughtful and funny.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back to School.

After two weeks of rainy holidays the sun came out and the kids went back to school.

This afternoon they got off the school bus and ran up the driveway very excited. Their school photos had come back and they were warned not to open them until they got home.

Here for the first time we have a photo of all three kids in uniform at the same school...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rhiannons Birthday Party.

We spent the second half of Rhiannon's Birthday at her ice-skating party. First we met her friends at Mc Donald's for lunch and the birthday cake then on to the ice-skating rink for an afternoon of mad skating fun.

It was a great laugh. We left Byron in charge of minding all our stuff on the side-lines as Mr B and ice-skating has dislocated shoulder written all over it!

In the final half hour I found myself skating around and around the rink with at least 4 screaming little girls hanging off me.

Minutes before the session ended the ice-rink was emptying and I asked the girls to let me have one skate around by myself. I asked them all who thought I could skate really fast without falling. None of them had faith in my abilities. Off I went and felt the thrill of the speed building up faster and faster. I allowed myself to believe I was in the wrong profession and should be in the forthcoming Olympics. That was seconds before I felt the wobble.... then the slow motion falling like a sack of potatoes onto the hard ice while four little faces looked on in disbelief and then pure hilarious laughter. As I tried picking myself up with a bruised backside and ego I looked up at the stands hoping that Byron, Anne, Kel, Anne, Angelina and Karen might not have been watching...... No such luck! Thank God the camera batteries had given up the ghost earlier in the day!

The day ended with three shattered tired but happy kids. Rhiannon had a ball and said it was her best Birthday EVER! Thanks to everyone who made it special by sending cards, parcels, ringing or spending the day with us. Rhiannon is one very lucky little 8 year old!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mystery caller ?

We have just returned home from a mad afternoon of ice-skating and found an answer-machine message for Rhiannon.

Thank-you whoever you are. You left a lovely "Happy Birthday" message and asked Rhiannon to ring you back but you didn't leave your name ! We can't even work out if you have an Australian or UK accent?

We have played and re-played the message over and over and over but we can't decide who you are!

If you give us a clue we will ring you back as soon as possible.....!

Birthday cake rescued!

If you read the "Birthday cake disaster" blog 2 stories down you will know that last night I wasn't having a very good time in the kitchen. After the kids went to bed out came the weighing scales and all the ingredients again.

Second time around the cake actually came out of the tin in one piece and I opened a bottle of red and sat down with Mr B to chill out while the cake cooled down. This morning Rhiannon and Sian helped to create a masterpiece using a tin of boysenberries (like raspberries) a big container of cream, a block of chocolate, icing flowers and colourful sprinkles!

Every time we thought it was finished Rhiannon thought of "just one more thing" extra to put on top!

Only one problem now.... how to transport it on the 25 minute car journey without it slipping and sliding off my knee on the way !

Happy Birthday Rhiannon!

Today Rhiannon is 8 !

She was warned not to wake us until 7am. She could hardly contain herself and started knocking on our bedroom door at 6.59am!

The next hour was a frenzy of reading cards, opening gifts, phone calls from family and making pancakes for breakfast!

She has really enjoyed her morning and has even been for a jump in the spa in her new swimmers from Granny and Grandad Joe!

The plans for the rest of the day are to meet her friends at midday for Mc Donalds and then ice-skating for the afternoon.

Watch this space for an update on the rest of our mad, crazy "Top banana" Rhiannon's Birthday!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Birthday cake disaster....

Twas the night before Rhiannons Birthday

and all through the house

not a creature was stirring
not even a mouse

Rhiannon was tucked up under her duvet with care,
In hopes that her birthday soon would be there;

Gareth and Sian were also nestled snug in their beds,
While visions of balloons and ice-skating danced in their heads;

And Gina in her 'kerchief, and Byron in his cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap........

Actually I was hoping to be vegging out on the sofa with a big glass of red wine by now but I just took her bloody cake out of the oven and look at it.......


Thursday, April 24, 2008

It never rains but it pours.

The kids started their school holidays 2 weeks ago. Coincidentally the rain started that day and has continued for 14 consecutive days.

When I say rain, I don't mean drizzle or rain showers. I mean absolutely bucketing out of the heavens from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed at night. I'm talking our swimming pool overflowing, ducks swimming in the front garden, the lake across the road breaking its banks, our 10,000 litre water tank full to the brim, storm water drains bursting and meteorology warnings to stay inside and sleep in your inflatable dinghy.

The final straw for us was walking into our garage to find ourselves in water. Not water running in under the garage door but water literally forcing its way out of the concrete floor. No matter how much we mop up or how many cloths we throw down within an hour the puddles are back and bigger.

I hate rain. I grew up in Ireland where it was a part of everyday life. I thought moving here we would mean a life of sunshine and barbies.

Bah humbug!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The first year!

We have been in our new house exactly 1 year today!

At last we have reached a point where a lot of major jobs have been done like landscaping and driveways and we can save towards some nicer things on the inside.

This weekend we went shopping and finally bought a kitchen table and chairs. We have been using an outdoor glass table set since we got here 2 1/2 years ago and are so excited to be getting a "real" wooden indoor one! It is a medium/dark brown hardwood square table that measures 1.5 X 1.5 m and has 8 chairs so that we wont have to push the kids off to eat somewhere else when we have visitors for tea. It will take a couple of weeks to arrive.

While searching for the table in various furniture shops we saw a big stretched canvas painting that is a meter square. We love it and it is now hanging on the wall next to where we plan on putting the new table when it arrives... watch this space!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The kids are on their two week school holidays.

After 11 weeks of sitting at their desks in school they were looking forward to burning off some energy....

And then the rain began. We have had rain every day since school broke up.

And the forecast for the whole of this coming week...

....rain, rain, rain........

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Shrek and the gold watch.

While we were shopping today for our new kitchen table, Rhiannon found a gold watch in the car park. She handed it in to the security guard who thanked her for being honest. About an hour later the security guard came up to us and said that as a reward for being so good would she like to be first in the queue to meet a special visitor to the shopping centre that afternoon, Shrek!

When Shrek came out to walk around and say Hi to the kids Rhiannon was called up first and treated like royalty. She had a big grin and flushed cheeks and was chuffed.

By the time we got home an email had come through from the weekend duty manager thanking her for being "an honest little girl" and it had a photo of her and Shrek attached.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Eye test.

We decided to book everyone in for a routine eye test. The poor optician had his work cut out for him when the 5 of us piled through the door soaking wet from yet more torrential rain!

The kids took turns fighting over the order they were having their tests in. I filled in all the paperwork at the counter and one by one each of us had our turn reading letters and having lights shone in our eyes.

A couple of hours later and all three kids got a clean bill of sight and Mr B had had some unusual photos taken of the insides of his eyes, Yeuch!!!

Before we left he ordered a new pair of glasses. He has a habit of twirling his glasses absent mindedly and dropping them on the tiles so they are well in need of replacing. When he was trying on all the different pairs of glasses and looking for an opinion all I wanted to know is how tough and durable they were. In the end he chose some flexible frames with super strong poly carbonate lenses.

Wonder how long they will last...!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Horton finally hears a who!

Well today Horton did hear a who! Better still we were in the queue an hour before the film started and got brilliant seats for us and three other friends families.

8 kids in a row with buckets of popcorn on their laps, 4 contented Mums knowing that for the next 2 hours the kids were entertained.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Horton "doesn't" hear a who!

With the wet weather the cinema seemed an appealing option to get the kids out of the house.

We raced around this morning and jumped in the car to see "Horton hears a who" only to get to the cinema and find a "Sold Out" sign at the door. Looks like we werent the only ones with this idea!

Better luck tomorrow.....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Look Mum, no training wheels!"

After a fun day at the park cycling with his friends yesterday Gareth suddenly announced that he was ready to try cycling without his training wheels/stabilizers. He has point blank refused to have a go before now so we agreed that we would seize the moment, get up at the crack of dawn this morning, pack a picnic breakfast and go down to the local park to have a go.

At 6.30am I heard a knock at the bedroom door. There was Gareth, dressed and ready to go!

An hour later and the bike was in the boot minus training wheels. We unloaded everything at a picnic table and just as I was about to pour the first coffee we realised that Gareth's helmet was still in the house.

I headed home and returned 10 minutes later to see a little boy in the distance wobbling and weaving as his legs peddled furiously! He had made a great start.

By the end of the morning he was still wobbling but getting better.

Good boy Gar!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Well done Gar!

Each week 2 children in every class get awarded a certificate. One is for "Merit" which is when a kid excels at something or has shown great effort in their school work. The other is "Courtesy" and is awarded for using good manners.

Today was the final day of term one and the last chance for Gareth to receive one of these awards (both Sian and Rhiannon got them at some point over the last term and kept wondering when he might also get one...)

He got of the school bus with a huge grin this afternoon holding his Courtesy Award.
Well done Gar!

An early Happy Birthday Rhiannon!

Rhiannon was excited going into school this morning. Not only was it the last day of term but because her birthday falls in school holidays she was hoping to get her Birthday Certificate in front of the school at morning assembly.

12 kids were called up in order of their birth dates. She was itching with excitement as the Head teacher gave certificates out for the 25th (Happy Birthday to you too Jasper!!!) and when he finally announced Rhiannon on the 26th she was up on the steps in the blink of an eye, and taking her certificate with a huge grin on her face!

She would not pose for a photo for me as I ran over to give her a hug before class started, just laughed and acted silly as only Rhiannon knows how!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Harry!

It was Harrys Birthday today and his party was not for the fainthearted.

He had organised a 45 minute adrenaline rush ride around the lake on a high speed Jet Boat!

The kids went out dry and smiling and came back drenched to the skin with even bigger smiles on their soaking faces!

Thanks Harry for inviting us to share your day. The kids really had a brilliant time.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Final Occupation Certificate

When you build a house here in Oz the local council come around regularly to check you are following all the rules. When you are totally finished you are issued with a "Final Occupation Certificate" Without this you would be unable to sell your house. We have had an "Interim" cert for the last year which gave us temporary permission to live in the house while a few outstanding jobs got finished. Some of these jobs were to...

Build retaining walls around the garden - Thanks Paul.

Backfill and charge the termite reticulation system - Thanks Mr Termite man

... and finally build a small deck outside our office sliding door to access the spa without falling down the 3 foot drop.

Dad and myself got stuck in to making the deck while he was here but ran out of time to finish it before he left. Having had Dad do all the hard work I spent a few hours on Easter Sunday putting the final planks of Mirbau wood in place and of course got all the credit ! (sorry Dad!)

We were granted our final certificate this week and are finally free of council sticking their noses in.

We were also on a tight deadline to apply for the Australian First Home Owners Grant which we qualify for (despite previously owning houses in the UK) We believed we needed to claim it within 12 months of moving into our house and so we needed to get it all sorted by 12th of April this year. We were all ready to apply but Byron's passport was in Canberra being re-issued and we were stuck without it as it needed to be presented with the application. After chewing our finger nails and wishing for the passport to arrive back and the Final Occupation Certificate to be issued we have been racing out to the post box every day hoping to find them. This week they all arrived so I raced in to Newcastle with days to go to claim the grant. The woman who lodged our claim was very nice and told me that our 12 months started from the date of issue of the Final Occupation Certificate and we had 11 months, 3 weeks and 5 days left to claim the money!

Never mind. It is lodged now, I think I am going to sit in the spa, admire my lovely new deck and think of ways to spend the money...!

Citizenship ceremony!

At last, We got the letter from Council inviting us to our Citizenship ceremony later this month!