Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Birthday Grandad Joe!

Today is my Dad's birthday. My Dad is great. Probably the best Dad in the world. Growing up I had a joke with my Dad. I used to tell him he was the best Dad I had ever had, He used to tell me I was the best oldest daughter he had ever had. No truer words have been spoken!

Happy Birthday Dad! We all love you lots xoxoxo

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mother of the Year 2009.

I'd like to be nominated as Mother of the Year please.

I think I am the perfect candidate. My children have made it to school age with all four limbs still attached. Their home-cut hair only sticks up at slightly odd angles and can usually be perfected with a hat. I remember to feed them most nights and only rarely loose them.

OK so I lost Gareth last week but I had a good excuse: I had a migraine. It all started when the kids got home from school to find me searching the house for my prescription for migraine tablets. Normally I would have an important piece of paper like this filed away alphabetically but clearly we must have had an intruder this month, that would explain why the house looked like it had been ransacked and why my prescription was in the fruit bowl... I digress. Having retrieved the prescription from underneath a very over ripe bunch of bananas (Mental note to self: Must make upside down banana caramel friands with black spotted bananas... or more likely must remember to throw them in the garbage before they disintegrate into a soggy mess)
I then herded all three kids into the car to drive to local shops.

I allowed Sian and Rhiannon to go into the tiny gift shop to choose a birthday present for a friend while I went into the Pharmacy with Gareth. Having been told that the prescription would take 10minutes to process I then left the Pharmacy and went down the street to find Sian and Rhiannon. They were happily choosing from the great display of Beanie Kid bears. When I asked them where Gareth was they looked at me like I had two heads. "You have him Mum" I have never run so fast in my life.

When I burst through the Pharmacy door I tried to look nonchalant as I scanned around for Gareth. I could tell from the ladies serving that I hadn't got away with it! Gareth was blissfully unaware of being abandoned, he was too busy playing with a basket of toys in the back of the shop. Before long we were all reunited, prescription in one hand, beanie kid bears in the other, all three kids accounted for and no harm done.

And here I will end my speech on why I think I should have your vote. I'm human. I'm sure I can count on you to agree (even if the ladies in the Pharmacy and gift shop have a slightly altered viewpoint!)

Banana caramel friand anyone?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baby Caterpillars

A couple of weeks ago I saw a dead moth on my bathroom floor. Later on I noticed a line of tiny eggs in a line on the bathroom wall which I guessed had been from the moth. I couldn't bring myself to squish them with a tissue and feeling curious I left them be. About a week later and I was brushing my teeth bleary eyed at 6am getting ready for work when I noticed a tiny caterpillar wriggling next to an empty egg case. By the afternoon when I got home from work and the kids were back from school they were all hatched. We had babies!

With a distinct lack of foliage in our bathroom we then started the delicate job of blowing these tiny caterpillars gently so they fell from the wall into our carefully positioned piece of tissue paper below. We carried them outside and sat them on some leaves. I have no idea if they will have survived but hopefully we gave them a marginal advantage over a life of minty fresh toothpaste remnants!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New blog header.

I'm a nurse.

I like taking photos.
Most of the time I love Mr B...

Mr B is a computer programmer.
He lets me take lots of photos.
I would hate to work for him...

Take last night for example. He suggested that we take advantage of our new blog layout by occasionally changing the banner photo. I took a family photo. I edited it. I created a new header banner. He came in the room. He tried to be subtle and suggest a few changes. Subtlety doesn't come naturally to him. One hour later my shiny new banner was deleted, his new perfect one was published. He is such a picky perfectionist.

I think I will stick to being a nurse.
I think I will stick to taking photos.
Hopefully I will manage to stick with Mr B... ♥♥♥

Monday, October 26, 2009

Escaped snake!

We went to a Birthday party last weekend at Blackbutt Reserve. The park rangers brought the kids into the koala enclosure and let them take turns stroking a baby Koala.

Next out came the snake! One by one the kids got to go up and touch the diamond python that was trying to squeeze the living daylights out of the rangers arm, neck and torso!

Up went my Sian all full of 11 year old bravado. When the ranger asked Sian if she had ever felt a snake before she confidently told him that she had had a snake draped around her neck at a previous party. He offered to let her have a go with this huge python and she said yes.

If the ranger could turn back time this is where he would probably return to say "No" Try to imagine if you can the following scene...

Three park rangers and one huge diamond python, 1 birthday boy,
15 friends, 4 parents and the clicking of many cameras. Now imagine the python being wrapped around my 11 yr old daughters neck, except imagine the python changed his mind and made a slither for the fence.

Yes, the python twisted himself around and around the bars of the gate and fence to the point where the rangers could not get him off. The poor rangers were a bit flustered at this point and ran for the tool box returning with a big wrench to take apart the gate from the frame. All this while the kids oooohhed and aaaggghed and the parents clicked and photographed the unfolding drama.

By the time the poor python was forceably removed from the fence it was a very unhappy python being held by a very unhappy ranger surrounded by a gaggle of very excited children.

Here is the small video I took until the red haired ranger shoooed Sian away!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Catalina Festival: The rest of the day

There was so much more to the Catalina Festival that I want to share with you. There were camels walking around giving rides - Bizarre!

A stunt plane was doing death defying aerobatics above the gum trees.

There was a mini farm with wiry baby goats,

soft woolly lambs,

noisy wriggly piglets,

yellow ducklings,

tiny newborn guinea pigs,

white mice, fluffball hens,

fast rabbits, cute fluffy and cuddly chicks....

My pregnant sister-in-law Rhonda travelled up from Sydney with her little boy Cian and she met up with us tired from the long car journey (that Cian refused to sleep during!)

The kids loved being with their little cousin and having the chance to hold and cuddle all the tiny animals. The goats got a little friendly and tried standing on my lap and eating my ears! I don't know who laughed more, me or the kids!

There was also a huge trampoline with bars above it with harnesses to strap the kids in safely so they could bounce incredibly high. Rhiannon was fearless in her rainbow tights and was doing forward and back flips, completely unstoppable!

The Police were there and let the kids sit in the drivers seat of the cop car. I hope that if a similar car ever pulls up outside the house in the future Sian will be in the drivers seat and not the back!

After all the excitement it was time to head back home for tea, baths and an early night!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Catalina Festival: Old US Army cars

We went to a fantastic festival today. It was at Rathmines park, our local park only 5 minutes from our house. Normal a quiet park with a small kids play area, this weekend it was transformed for the Catalina Festival. There was an old RAF base in Rathmines during World War II and an annual festival celebrates the history of the area along with an assortment of fun stalls and fairground rides.

I was glad I had recharged the camera batteries because I had the "twitch" as my friends have called it! I was taking photos left right and center. Here is a collage of the old US cars and army trucks. I have lots more photos of the general day which I hope to post later. I hope you are having a relaxing weekend!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Feeling Hot, Hot, HOT!

It was a scorcher today. When I picked the kids up from school I was hot and bothered from rushing away from a busy hospital ward, many jobs left undone. The kids had pink flushed faces and looked like wilting flowers with their heavy school bags on their backs. I knew I needed to call into the local post office to collect a parcel, a job that meant delaying getting home where we could chill out.

There was only one thing for it... bribery!

We drove to our local shops where I bought three ice-creams, sat the kids on a low windowsill and left them cooling down while I went inside the post office to collect the parcel. Not a word of complaint came out of their mouths, they were too busy licking for their lives as the ice creams melted as fast as they could eat them!

I took this photo on my mobile and sent it in a text to Byron. We giggled as we pressed send, imagining him in his office wearing a shirt and suit trousers tapping away on his keyboard. The kids huddled around the phone waiting for the reply... They laughed as it came through...

"Nice !"

They spent the car ride home arguing if he meant it or was being sarcastic. The youngest thinking Dad was genuine but the older two grinning cynically. Oh how quickly they loose their innocence, too much time spent around their mother!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Green bee

Since moving to Australia 4 years ago we have had to learn about a whole new variety of insects and bugs. For the first year we were very cautious about every creepy crawly that we found with more than two legs. Gradually we have got to know the good from the bad but every now and again we are still left a  bit confused.

Last week Rhiannon said there was a green bee in the garden. I was suitably distracted while cooking dinner and murmered something vague like "That's nice dear" She saw it again today. This time it wasn't moving so she had a closer look. So did I ! It truly is a fuzzy bee with an iridescent green shimmer. So far my Australian friends think I'm nuts. They keep telling me it is probably a fly. I know flies can have that blue green shimmer but I think this is a bee. Have you seen anything like it?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mission Impossible

Gareth was so excited all holidays waiting to go on a "Mission Impossible" day at a local sports center.

When the day finally arrived he went with his friend Tommy and they spent the day running around an assault course, over mountains of foam blocks, under nets and benches, swinging on a rope into a sea of smaller foam blocks, bouncing along trampolines and generally using up a months worth of pent up energy!

Worth every dollar!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I wanna be in the book!

Hi. This is Sian!

I am on my last day of school holidays. Back to uniforms and homework tomorrow boo hoo :-(

We have been doing Operation Beautiful notes for a while now. A book publisher has offered to make a book using stories and pictures submitted by people who have posted Operation Beautiful notes around their area. Today is the last day to submit your story.

I spent this morning writing a letter to the website and making a photo collage of me making notes. I wonder if I will be 1 of the lucky people chosen to be in the book?

I hope I am...

 fingers crossed!

By Sian <(*_*)>

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gina Baynham does know s***

When I was 17 I worked in a large shop in their clothing department. I didn't like my manager much and she didn't like me. She set me a challenge to remember the 4 number code of each and every individual item of children's clothing stocked in the shop. A week later she tested me. I failed miserably.

She liked the racks of clothing 100% full at all times. I liked helping customers choosing. Sometimes I talked them into buying an extra matching item. Other times they just left empty handed but happy. I figured as long as they enjoyed stopping in then they would come back another day. I thought I could see the big picture. But then my manager would spot that a rack of green corduroy trousers was not 100% full and she would go mad. She thought she could see the bigger picture.

She arranged for me to be moved to the customer service desk where I excelled at helping people. My new manager liked me and I liked her. I will never forget overhearing the clothing manager describe me to another member of staff. "Gina doesn't know s***"  I disagree.

Now before I get too deep describing how we are all individuals and that I was just not suited to the first job let me say that I was not mentally scarred by those words. I was embarassed at the time but I rose above them. I found a job I loved when I started nursing. I surround myself with people who make me feel good about myself. My current Nursing Manager thinks more highly of me than my first manager did. She thinks I do know s***. In fact she wants me to stand proud in front of my collegues this coming Thursday and tell them loud and proud. Gina Baynham DOES know s*** !

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Its all Karens fault.

My floors are dirty. The dishwasher is sitting full of clean dishes while the dirty breakfast bowls balance precariously on the counter top. The washing machine needs to go on or there will be no clean socks in the morning. The bins are over-flowing and I'm still in my pj's.

It's all Karen's fault.

She lent me this book....!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Merewether beach: The rest of the day

Our day at Merewether baths on Tuesday was great fun, meeting Mrs World and pretending to be paparazzi which I have already blogged about here

We had so much fun over the whole day and I took hundreds of photos as always. I really need to control the twitch I get when I am out and about with the camera! My friends have started placing bets as to how long I can go without turning the camera on when I am out with them.

Rather than bore you with a big post with tons of photos I am just going to put my favourite photos of the day in a collage here.

For anyone living in the Newcastle area of New South Wales, Merewether baths are just a stunning place to come for a day. 

Safe sea water swimming pools refilled by the tides every day, rock pools, soft golden sand, free entry and you never know who you will bump into!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Here it is. Our fresh new template!

We've gone for simple and understated. We may tweak things around a little over the coming weeks but for now we are really happy to be able to finally personalise our blog with a header photo. If  I can work out how to I hope to change the photo occasionally. For now we just want to make sure that the blog loads correctly and we don't lose any old info. It took 4 years before we felt brave enough to venture away from our basic blogger template, Thanks Mr B for doing all the background "stuff"

Time for a glass of wine I think!


We went along to the Young Peoples Theatre this week to watch a production of Pinocchio. It is a small theatre in the middle of Newcastle and the majority of the cast are school aged children. The shows that they put on are so professional. The backdrops, costumes and props are all made by parents involved in the company.

Some of our friends kids are a part of this theatre but not this actual production. We went along together to watch the play and I got more fun from watching the reaction of our kids than anything else. They were on the edge of their seats and the squeals of excitement and gasps of horror all through the play was unbelievable!

They don't allow flash photography during the show as it would distract the kids on stage. I am so naughty, I couldn't resist taking a sneaky picture in the dark on my mobile phone. I hope no-one from YPT reads this blog. I don't want to be the first mum to be put on their audience black list!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Makeover.

We started this blog back in 2005, using a standard Blogger template. As I have visited more and more of your blogs I am amazed at the designs and individuality they display. For ages now Byron and myself have said we should do a make over of sorts. I know there are many affordable blog makeover fairies out there but being stubborn we are determined to do this ourselves.

We want to keep the basic number of columns and proportions the same so that the formatting on the older posts doesn't  look like a kid on a sugar rush! In our family, I take the photos and fix cut knees, Byron being a computer programmer fixes anything pc related.  He has been modifying a potential new design and I have been shown how to crop a photo to an exact number of pixels for the header bar. I always crop photos to a size dimension (6x4 etc) so this pixel stuff is new to me. In theory we are not too far away from me giving Byron a few family pictures for him to insert in the header of the new design. I am hoping that in the future I would be able to replace the header photo now and then especially at different times of the year: Christmas, Easter etc.

I just thought I would pre-warn those loyal readers of ours (especially grandparents and those less computer literate) not to think you have lost the link to our blog if someday soon you log on and it doesnt have the familiar colour scheme! For those more seasoned bloggers, Dont raise your hopes too high, compared to some of the unique blogs you have designed and written this will be a simple make over. Sorry to keep  you in suspense. Hopefully over the next week we will update the template. Looking forward to your feedback when we do!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mrs World 2009

Today was unexpectedly exciting! We arranged to meet some friends at a local beach to let the kids play and picnic together. When we arrived we saw a camera crew from NBN.

There was a flurry of activity and excitement at the far side of the public baths. We could see a swimsuit clad woman posing for photos wearing a tiara and holding a trophy while a little girl played nearby.

We had walked in on a photoshoot for Mrs Australia. Not to be mistaken for Miss Australia, this is an International beauty pageant for married women.

The girls squealed with excitement as they ran to get a closer look.

I was also squealing with excitement with camera clutched in my hand as I know a good blog entry when I see it!

The girls obliged with posing dramatically for me as Mrs Australia was photographed in the background, her little girl playing at her feet.

We headed back to our picnic and a suitably unexcited Gareth and carried on with our day. A short while later we saw Mrs Australia walking towards us. She was on her way to a bikini change. Monica, being the brave one among us, said  a cheerful "Hi" and the next thing we were all chatting like old friends. 

Carin Hillman-Varma, a 30 year old married mother will be Australias entry in this years International Mrs World taking place in Vietnam next month. I'll admit I had preconceived ideas about beauty pageant contestants being stick thin and lacking in personality but I must say Carin was beautifully proportioned in a very natural way and had an easy going nature. She chatted about juggling being a mum, studying law at University and representing Australia in Vietnam next month. She was a good role model for our pre-teen girls who are bombarded by media images of skinny waifs. She posed for photos with them before waving goodbye.

It was fun pretending to be paparazzi for a day!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The perfect bottle.

Like many parents of young kids we don't go out as much anymore. Babysitters are expensive and unless we are invited to a specific event we generally don't use one. What we do enjoy doing though, after the kids have gone to bed, is making a nice dinner and sitting down with a bottle of red and some candles. Making time to do this once during the week means we actually have to sit and talk. Shock, horror, no tv to fill the silence!

Usually by the time the kids are in bed we are feeling tired and so a quick and easy favourite dinner is baby herb potatoes (5 mins in the microwave) salad (from a bag) with a few cherry tomatoes and some fetta cheese, drizzled with some dressing (out of a bottle) or if I'm feeling particularly domesticated maybe some homemade dressing (Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a few cloves of garlic whizzed with the handheld blender) This can be done while the steaks sizzle for 2 mins each side in a small frying pan. Start to finish this meal takes about 15 minutes to prepare and about as much culinary skill as making toast!

Choosing wine in my opinion requires the most skill. Which vineyard? Which variety of grape? Which year? It is so important to balance the subtle characteristics in the bottle with the delicate variety of green salad in season this week. I have put a lot of effort into simplifying this process for those of you that may need a little direction in this area. I am gracious enough to share my secrets here:

I select my wine by....
                                 ....choosing the prettiest label.

And so when I walked in to my local wine shop this week I had no difficulty. My perfect wine was there in front of me.

Someone has obviously researched the way people like me choose wine and come up with the perfect solution.

Make the whole bottle look pretty!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Grumpy old men...

It's Sunday afternoon. A day for chilling out and relaxing. Yesterday and today my alarm went off at 6am to wake me for work at the Blue Hospital. I was running the Medical ward today which scared the pants off me but it went fine... apart from the grumpy old men. There seemed to be a disproportionate amount of them on the medical ward. I put on the calm soothing voice and smiled through my teeth as I made beds, helped with showers, changed dressings, dispensed tablets... At last 3.30pm arrived and I handed over the drug keys and waved goodbye to those grumpy old men and headed home... to my very own one!

Yes, Mr B did a marvellous job looking after the kids this morning while I was working. He fed them, stopped them from killing each other and managed to cut the grass. Oh yes, and twisted his ankle playing frisbee on the reserve. By the time I got home he was hobbling around on an ankle the size of a watermelon. Before I had a chance to change out of my work clothes I was strapping and bandaging and handing him pain tablets. Fortunately there is a big car race on the tv this afternoon so he is lying down resting his elevated foot, poor man. Something tells me I'm not quiet done with grumpy old men today...

Lets vote: Who do you feel most sorry for: Mr B or me?
Votes in the comments section below!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tomatoes continued...

I have been having fun in recent months on a website called Picnik where you can edit and add text onto your photos for free. You can also make great collages. Many of the photos posted on my blog over the last week have been edited using Picnik first. I know I have already posted some tomato photos but I can't resist just adding this one last collage...

Friday, October 09, 2009


The kids are on school holidays this week and the girls have had party invites and play dates leaving myself and Gareth to have some quality time together. What do you do with a 6 year old boy? Well today I took him to meet Byron for lunch and he walked hand in hand between both of us grinning from ear to ear. He doesnt often have our undivided attention and he was making the most of it.

Next stop was a more boring one at a huge fruit and veg shop. I guessed wrong. Gareth thought he was in seventh heaven as he loaded up the trolley with melons, bananas, mangos (our first of the season, they smelt heavenly!) apples, pineapple, cucumbers, tomatoes and then...
... the icing on the cake, he saw some plants on sale,
TOMATO plants!

They were pale and scrawny and looked like they were in dire need of some TLC. Gareth decided he was the man for the job and begged me to let him buy them. How could I say no.

When we got home it was getting late. I was hungry, dinner needed cooking. All Gareth wanted to do was dig holes to replant his tomatoes. He was so enthusiastic it reluctantly rubbed off on me. We got out the big spade and made the holes and he carefully turned the plants out from their pots and sat them in their new home and squashed the earth in around their roots. All we need to do now is wait for the bumper crop of tomatoes that we are sure to harvest any day now...??!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sweet Dreams Baby.

It doesn't seem long ago that I rocked my little Millennium baby to sleep and tucked her into her baby basket next to our bed at night. She seems so grown up now in the day time. Running through the house like a tornado.

But when I go in to check on her at night when she is sleeping fast and cuddling her teddy she looks like my little baby again...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Coffee snobs...

We took delivery of a big bag of coffee beans last week. They were roasted on a coffee farm in Byron Bay on Tuesday night, couriered to our friend David on Wednesday and then exchanged hands on Thursday morning in the school car park.

I wanted to leave the bag in my car boot because I got a caffeine hit every time I sat into the car and inhaled. Mr B did not understand. He wanted the caffeine in a cup so he could inhale the rich deep smoky vapor deep into his bloodstream via his lungs.

He says he hasn't got an addiction...

I'm not so sure...

I am about to Google "Coffee Snobs Anonymous"...

Monday, October 05, 2009

4 years ago today...

4 years ago today we stepped off a plane to begin our new lives "Down Under"

The last 4 years have been sunny and happy with only the occasional rain storm. When the rain poured down I'd like to think we splashed in the puddles.

We are very fortunate to be living such a great life in such a wonderful country. Life is what you make it and our life is good!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Lazy weekend.

It is a public holiday weekend here in Australia. We have had a wonderfully lazy morning because outside is rain, rain, rain.

Funnily enough this time last year it was raining too. We went camping for the very first time. You can re-live it here.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Sexy Specs ??!

I'm getting old. As you may have worked out from the previous post I need glasses. I'm 36 now so I guess it is all downhill from here (sigh!) Shall I wait for the giggles and ridicule from family and friends or shall I just start the ball rolling here and get it all over and done with?

So I look like a librarian. Unluckily I don't have long enough hair for a neat bun that I can undo to shake my long sexy tresses out when an attractive man comes to borrow a book on "How to make your woman feel like a princess"

I am however still practicing and perfecting the serious-but-sexy pout behind my "shhhhhhh" finger.

Maybe when the kids go to bed tonight I can get Mr B to help me sort the bookshelf out alphabetically....

Friday, October 02, 2009

Stressed to the eyeballs.

Have you ever heard that expression before? It's one I have heard used in Dublin where I grew up but I don't know if it is one used in other places? I guess it is supposed to mean that you are stressed from the tips of your toes all the way up. Occasionally my head is so full of "stuff" that it feels like my eye balls will pop out, luckily it hasn't actually ever happened!

I went to the optician at the weekend so we could all have our eyes tested. The three kids got a clean bill of health, Byron ordered some prescription sunglasses and then it was my turn. As I read the lines of increasingly smaller text I knew I wasn't seeing as far as I had on previous check ups. Last year I was told I was "borderline" for glasses and I was guessing this year I had stepped over that line.

What I wasn't expecting was the optician to look deep into my eyes and ask me if I was sick? Apparently I have some nodules on the skin inside my eyes that he said were found on immuno-compromised people or people who had had a run of coughs and colds. I have been lucky this winter and have escaped most nasty bugs.

Then he asked me if I was stressed. Stressed! Did he have an hour to talk, or two, or three? Yes, the last year has been a bit stressy. When the only bread winner in the family lost his job and it took three months to get money coming back into the bank account, I got stressed. When I went from being a stay at home mum to working shift work as a nurse, I got stressed. When I have a pile of laundry threatening to avalanche down on me every time I open the laundry room door- yes I get stressed. Now show me someone who is stress free? Because I want them to be my new best friend. They can share their chilled out zen with me and I will share my laundry with them! It's life Mr Optician. Am I truly more stressed that your average mum dragging three kids in for an eye test?

And so I end this blog rant and rave with plans to go some deep-breathing-positive-affirmation-chanting-yoga-meditation-something-or-other knowing that I, Gina, can truthfully say:

I am Stressed to the eye balls!!!! AAARRRGGHHHH!!!!!!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Spot the difference...

Between this picture I took of Gareth this week...

and this...