Saturday, August 30, 2008

Family fun in sydney

After Cian's party we decided to do a quick visit into the center of Sydney to show Nessa the sights.

We got a ferry into Circular Quay and watched traditional aboriginal Didgeridoo playing.

I never knew that it was an Irishman who named this unusual instrument.

Apparently the word is derived from the Irish term dudaire, which is is pronounced dooderreh or doodjerra and means a pipe smoker, a nosey person or a trumpeter or horn blower. The Gaelic term for black is dubh, pronounced duv or do. In combination, the terms produce doodjerra doo.

That's the end of today's history lesson and now on to other important matters! Coffee!

Next stop was a coffee next to the Opera house and looking out on the Sydney Harbour bridge.

It still surprises me that you can see the two most iconic symbols of Sydney from a cafe with a cappuccino in your hand!


All caffienated up we then climbed the steps up to the Opera house itself and went inside. there was a great buzz of excitement, it was interval time during an opera that was being performed that afternoon. All around there were people dressed up, laughing and sipping champagne.

Byron didn't have to ask Ness and myself twice! How posh!

Happy 2nd Birthday Cian!

My gorgeous nephew Cian had his second Birthday party today. We went to Sydney for his party and had a great time. We knew that Cian liked construction toys and so when the birthday invite had a digger and builder on it we should have guessed the theme.

It still didn't stop me getting confused when we arrived to find the frontgate sealed over with Caution tape. I assumed there was some repair being done on the steps. It didn't take long to work out it was just the theme!

And what a theme... Hard hats for everyone, Caution tape everywhere and an amazing construction themed cake.

While we are on the subject of theme, can I say that my brother must be the only person I know who can dress up in a day glo jacket and still be in designer gear!

Our kids had great fun and so did Cian.

Happy Birthday Cian and thanks for inviting us to your party!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sian is home!

After 3 adventure filled days and chilly sleeping bag nights away at camp we finally collected Sian this afternoon. She had a wonderful time and doesn't look as though she was homesick for one moment.

After a shower and dinner she got into her pj's, wrapped up in her dressing gown and told us all about her great adventures before going to bed and cuddling up on a soft mattress under a warm duvet.

....Before you could say "pink rosy cheeks" she was out like a light!

Relaxing Friday.

It has been 10 days since Sian's school rang to say she was sick. 10 days of sick kids off school, high temperatures, sore throats, Strepsils, Betadine gargles, Echinacea, Penicillin, Calpol, Neurofen, vomiting and trips to the G.P.

At last this morning Gareth and Rhiannon went to school again looking pale and snuffly but not sick enough to stay at home.

It was the first chance since Nessa arrived on Wednesday that we were able to leave the house and go for a walk. The sun was shining, the lake was gorgeous, all hints that springs arrival is around the corner.

The time flew and all too soon we were back in the house getting ready to collect the kids from school and Sian from camp.

Roll on the weekend!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Chill out.

When you have spent 24 hours cramped up in a plane flying half way around the world you are bound to feel a little tired.

When your good friend doesn't even meet you at the airport and you have to catch a 2 hour train to get to her house your shoulders are bound to be tense from carrying your bags.

So the very least your friend should do when you finally arrive is let you have a lie in and then pamper you for the afternoon.

A real friend would not only pamper you but would join you in that fun and pampering so you feel right at home....

Nessa is here!

At last.

Nessa has landed!

She arrived yesterday and we spent all afternoon talking, drinking tea, talking, drinking tea, talking....

She slept well last night and we tip-toed around the house this morning waiting for her to get up. At midday we couldn't wait any longer so we went in to her and spent the next two hours in her bed talking, drinking tea, talking, drinking tea, talking....

You get the idea!

Rafferty's weekend

Just before Byron lost his job we were planning a family weekend away during the school holidays. Everything changed after that phone call and for obvious reasons we put on hold the weekend away as we tried to conserve the money we had not knowing how long it might take Byron to get a new job.

When Byron and myself both started in new jobs last week we decided that we should have the family break that we had been so looking forward to. And so after a phone call to Rafferty's resort at midday last Friday I found myself emailing Byron to come home as early as possible from work and I ran around packing everyones clothes, toothbrushes and swimmers. Gareth and Sian were still off school sick but we knew that we had no other free weekends in the next month so it was a case of going away with all the cough and cold mixtures and making the best of it.

We packed the car as soon as Byron got home and started the drive. We got there about 7pm and checked in to our little house and then went to the Thai restaurant on site for a lovely meal of green curry, satay skewers, spring rolls and fish cakes. The kids were sleeping at the table so we paid up and carried them back to their beds where they slept like logs waking for medicine for high temperatures in the early hours then back to sleep again.

The next two days were spent relaxing and enjoying spending time together with no computers, no phones ringing, just newspapers, magazines, walks and lots of lovely food.

Gareth and Rhiannon swung between looking like death warmed up with high temperatures and then once the medicine kicked in, running around on adrenaline until the medicine wore off again.

We made the best of their up time by going for walks and even managing to swim in the heated outdoor pool, and letting them sleep when they were down.

We had dinner in the fabulous Blue door Restaurant on the Saturday night and again had to pick a sleeping Gareth and Rhiannon up from where they had laid down in front of the warm heaters and carry them home.

My two favourite parts of the weekend are both chocolate related!

One was the round of coffees and hot chocolates we had in front of a roaring log fire one of the afternoons.

The other was the melted dark chocolate and fruit and marshmallows that we stuffed our faces with in the house for lunch on Saturday!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Goodbye Sian xoxoxo

Sian was vey excited when she woke up this morning and got ready to leave for camp. She rounded Gareth and Rhiannon into the car while I was still getting dressed!

We got to school in plenty of time and she ran around saying hi to her friends and looking not even the tiniest bit sad or lonely. I brought my camera with me but as I turned it on realised that there was no memory card inside it. Monica came to the rescue taking lots of photos which she emailed to me before I got home!

Thanks Monica !

And so begins three days of Sian being away at camp. Only 71 and a 1/2 hours until we pick her up.....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Sian is tucked up in bed.

Her bags are by the door.

Her clothes are labelled.

Her permission slips are signed.

She is off to camp.


Our precious Sian. 10 years old. Going away for 3 whole days and nights. No phone contact. No Mum to brush her hair in the mornings. No Dad to fluff her pillow up at night. Only one land line to be used in an emergency. Emergency? I have already planned what I need to say when I ring it.

"This is Gina Baynham here, I need to speak to my daughter Sian, It's a family emergency"

"We need to say goodnight to her, tell her we love her, she'll be the girl looking sad and miserable and lonely"

"Yes I can hold"

"What do you mean, you cant find her?"

"How dare you suggest she's not pining for us..."

"...she's off where?"

"Having FUN? "

"There must be some mistake"



Monday, August 25, 2008

Fancy watch.

While Sian and her friend Gemma were shopping recently they saw a lovely digital watch and decided to buy one each. Sian was watching a show on the Disney channel this week when she noticed the main character was wearing the same watch. She was very excited by the coincidence. And guess what, the TV character had an annoying little brother too....


Sian got a sudoku book about a year ago and although she can easily do the small 4x4 and 6x6 grids she finds the full on 9x9's a real challange.

It took us by surprise this weekend when Gareth picked up the newspaper and decided he was going to do the kiddy version. It took him Saturday and Sunday but he did it!

Come on Grandad Joe, What more of an inspiration could you need. You are not going to let your 5 year old grandson beat you at this are you...???!!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Book Week.

Every year in the kids school they have "Bookweek"

They celebrate all things bookish and have a dress up as their favourite book characters one day so the parents can come and see them.

Because I had to leave the house at 5.30am for work it was Byron's job to dress them. We had a rehearsal in our bedroom last night where each kid set out their outfit and props and got themselves all dressed up so Byron could see what they were supposed to look like this morning. They then took all the outfits off and laid them back out ready for today.

Sian went as half of ABBA with her good friend Gemma as the other half. They went to see Mamma Mia the movie together and have been hooked on the music ever since. I know that technically ABBA were a band but I'm sure someone wrote a book about them at some point!

Rhiannon went as "Evie the Mist Fairy" and created her own outfit from a random mis match of things from the dress up box.

Gareth was originally going to go as Superman until Sian pointed out the all-in-one-velcro-up-the-back-outfit might create difficulty when Gar needed to use the toilet..?! Good thinking Sian! And so Gar went as a pirate. Again, not sure which book his pirate was based on but there are thousands of pirate books out there and I am sure he looked the perfect replica of one of them!

The photos are very much thanks to Byron who did a marvellous job getting them to school looking so well and still managed to be (barely) on time for his second day in his new job, and also to Monica who emailed me almost 50 photos by the time I was home from work.

I felt bad missing out on Rhiannon's school excursion to the library on Monday but I really missed being a part of today's excitement too. Gareth really brought a lump to my throat when he asked me at tea time why I hadn't come in like the other Mums. Hopefully as time goes by and we get back on our feet financially I can work less hours and be more assertive about not working on days that are special to the kids.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rhiannon on TV!

Rhiannon's class went to the local library on a small trip to learn about science earlier this week. I was originally supposed to be one of the parent helpers ferrying kids back and forth in my car but unfortunately it was my first day at my new job and I had to pull out.

I was collected from work later that day by Byron and a car full of very excited kids. Rhiannon was bursting with excitement as she told me all about the day. The library had been great fun with floating eggs, flying, burning tea-bags and even more exciting... TV cameras! The local news was filming the day and it was going to be shown on TV that night!

At 6pm we all sat down in front of the TV and with trusty camera on hand turned to "movie mode" we watched with great excitement as Rhiannon was interviewed!

The image is wobbly and fuzzy but gives you a glimpse of the TV footage. Please ignore the upturned collar, the scruffy hair (I left for work at 6.30am so bear no responsibility!) and instead look at the twinkle in her eyes and the grin on her face!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

It was my birthday on Monday. What better way to celebrate than by getting up at 6am and going into my first day in a new job.

I hardly slept with nerves all through Sunday night. I left the house at 6.30am and as I reversed down the driveway in the shivering cold I realised that the windscreen wasn't just misted up it was actually iced over! Byron came to my rescue with a kettle of warm water. This Aussie Winter weather is too much like the UK for my liking.

It was a busy day getting to grips with learning the layout of a busy ward and learning where everything was kept. Add to that trying to remember the names of all the nurses, doctors, physios, occupational therapists etc, never mind the actual patients names and my brain was like jelly.

When my shift was finished I stood outside the hospital and waited for Byron and the kids to collect me in the car (which Byron had managed to collect earlier in the morning by getting the bus from our house to the hospital) It was great to see the car coming down the hill and to see them all waving at me.

We had 15 minutes to get to the local swimming pool and get Sian and Rhiannon in the water for their swim lessons. After swimming we got take away fish and chips and went home to eat it in front of the 6 0'clock news. This will make more sense if you have read the next blog up from this one! When the excitement of the news was finished and the fish and chips were all gone the kids all scarpered from the room and came back in with Byron a few minutes later with a lovely chocolate mud cake!

What a nice end to a busy day. I crawled into bed at 9pm with the alarm set for 5am for another early shift the next day, cursed when the phone rang at 9.30, threw the batteries from the phone across the room and went out like a light.

New job.

With Byron out of work and no job on the horizon we were getting a bit stressed and so when a friend asked would I think about going back to nursing I contacted a local hospital. I rang them on a Friday morning, dropped in to collect an application form at lunchtime and found myself being interviewed in the reception area. I was told I had the job starting in a week with an orientation day on Friday 16th.

I was a bit stunned to say the least. Byron and myself agreed that if he was at home he would take over all kids duties, school runs, homework, laundry and meals. And so I find myself out of bed at 5am heading into a new job that I started only a couple of days ago. My first day on the wards was yesterday, my birthday :( and when I got home from the hospital the phone rang over and over with Nurse managers booking me into shifts over the coming week. To say I feel overwhelmed is an understatement.

To add to the confusion Byron has finally got a job. No longer working from home unfortunately but a job none the less. Wonderful news after such a long time without money but making the going back to nursing much more of a challenge knowing I will have 15 minutes from the time my shifts end to the time the kids come out of school.

If our blog slows down you will just have to assume it is because it is taking a back seat to a new busy time in our lives. In fact to all my friends, if I neglect our friendship over the coming weeks and months and you feel the need to have a face lift or tummy tuck just book into the blue hospital, Toronto and we might just get to spend some quality time together....!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Proud Dad

For several months now, the whole family has endured early starts to each Saturday as we take Gareth to play rugby. By early, I mean leaving the house at 8ish, sometimes travelling about 45 mins to the rugby ground. Rhiannon isn't too keen on this, but she amuses herself with her mp3 player and often stays in the car.

Sian is keen to watch, and would love to play.

Gareth? Well, he's just Gareth and is playing because his mates play too. They get better every week, and now I don't have to yell from the sideline anymore if he stops concentrating on the game to admire helicopters, sports cars or somebody else's gum-shield! He doesn't score many tries (well, never), but he gets involved. I joked that the day he scores his first try was the day I'd buy him golden boots!

This weekend was rugby gala weekend, where teams of all ages in the area converge on one sports ground for a marathon of games. Gareth was lined up to play 4 games (7 minutes each). Sian wanted to play so much that I persuaded the under 10's coach to let her play and she was so chuffed - and also the only girl on the team. At one point, I was watching Gareth play, and only had to turn my head around to watch Sian in her game too!

Anyhow, the magic moment happened. The tactics have been sinking into his head each week, and when given the ball he decided to sprint into the gap, rather than jog into the nearest opposition player. He's getting faster and stronger, and with a couple of firm palm-offs, some slinky side-steps and a gracious dive, he scored the first try of the game!

Well, I may have a tainted memory of what exactly happened as I was screaming and jumping around, but you get the gist. The little fella scored, and he looked so happy. Almost as happy as his dad....

The icing on the cake was that Sian was also in a try scoring mood, she was keeping up with Gareth and helping win her games. She is so fast that nobody could catch her.

Unbelievably, Gareth scored THREE tries, and Sian also scored THREE tries.

Apparently, there were murmurs and giggles from the other parents as I swaggered up and down the pitch sideline, with full bragging rights on my rugby superstars.

And Rhiannon? Well, she was more than content to just sit and watch.

Best day ever.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Anyone for Pizza?

I thought I would tell you about a "Girls night out" I went on last night. It was to celebrate three August birthdays. Annette, Karen and mine.

We booked a table in Warners Bay, Blue Water Pizza. We chose the party platter and had a wonderful meal. Plates and plates of food came out and it was really lovely but when we were about three quarters of the way through there was an AWFUL smell. It seemed to be coming out of the air-con vents in the ceiling above the table. It smelt like a babies nappy, an un-flushed toilet, someone with a stomach upset... I'm sure you get the idea....

We were the only customers left and after 20mins of smelling this stench we started wondering out loud what it was. Up until this time we had all been politely assuming the person next to us had a slight tummy upset and was breaking wind (?!)

When Anne-Marie went to speak to the staff she came back saying the smell was significantly worse downstairs and that the staff behind the bar were mopping up what looked like raw sewage off the floor behind the bar. This was the point that we pushed our plates away and feeling very queasy made our way downstairs leaving un-eaten food and half full glasses of wine behind us.

We felt so sick trying to talk to the manager as he stood in this puddle of brown water that most of us went out the door to breathe in fresh air and a valiant few remained to argue about what on earth was going on while they still had customers eating.

Maree Newton showed us a thing or two about assertive complaining and we said we were not paying for such a dreadful meal in a restaurant that clearly broke all health department regulations.

After standing outside for a few more minutes we decided to go to a local bar, Pippies for a coffee and spent a couple of hours drinking and dancing before calling it a night....

There were many laughs about it afterwards.. (pardon the puns!)-

"What a particularly sh*** night out" "What a bummer" and "Sh** happens"

Somehow I don't think we will be returning there anytime soon. I think I am off the idea of pizza for tea too.......

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Gareths favourite pastime.....

Gareth brought home some worksheets he had done in school recently. It was lovely looking through his work and seeing how he has improved in his writing and drawing since the start of the year.

Then I saw this one....

Drawings of things he likes to do...
(click on the picture for a larger version)

There seems to be a common theme running though them that involves a screen, a keyboard and a mouse.

Why couldn't he have drawn himself bouncing on the trampoline, eating organic, lightly steamed vegetables or reading an educational book with Dad in the evenings....

Oh how I dread meeting his teacher and seeing her smug smile when I bring him into school tomorrow!

3 years of blogging...

I just noticed that we first started our blog way back in August 2005.

3 years, 643 posts and over 18,000 hits later and we are still writing about our day to day lives, mostly happy posts and the occasional reality inspired one too. We still think about our blog as being our family photo album. A place to remember good times and maybe let time go by with less posts when life is less than rosy.

We started it out for you. We knew we were getting ready to emigrate and we wanted a way to tell you the smaller details that would get forgotten on the individual phone calls or emails. To be honest we probably have continued it for ourselves. It is a way to look back on family times, almost like a journal but with loads of pictures too.

If you are still reading it then it is working on both levels. We still really enjoy feedback through the comments box at the end of each post. If you are reading this, go ahead, don't be scared, click the box... you know you want to.....!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Mr B!

Happy Birthday Mr B!

39 years young!

This morning we had an early start with the kids dressed and lined up outside our bedroom at 7am. I followed behind with a tray with a green wobbly jelly on it complete with candles and the obligatory cup of tea!

After the usual frenzy of present opening, card reading and trying on all his new birthday clothes it was time to get the kids off to school. But not before posing for a photo in his new Aussie Rugby top!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Slack housewife.

I'm not the worlds greatest housewife and vacuuming and dusting isn't my number one favourite pastime but generally I keep the house just above the point at which social services would remove my kids from me.

With asthma and eczema in the family I have read up a lot about allergies and the negative effect of keeping our kids in a sterile environment where they get no chance to build up natural immunity. Boy oh boy did that article cheer me up as I looked around my messy house!

I did do a little bit of a double take this morning though as I sat down to check my emails. The kids had been playing with a new computer game at the weekend, Spore: Creature Creator. They needed a password to log-in and had agreed on "Monster" Gareth being 5 couldn't remember how to spell it and drove his sisters mad asking them to type it in for him each time he made a new monster. They had finally written it down for him...

... in the dust on the desk!