Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tsunami warning.

After the earthquake in Chile yesterday there was a tsunami warning to many countries including the East coast of Australia. The Australian Government warned against going in the sea because of unusual currents and even advised people to stay off the sand in case of freak waves. We woke early this morning and watched the news coverage of the damage in Chile. It was a miracle that there were relatively low numbers of deaths for an earthquake of such magnitude. *Update* When I wrote this the reports were of 150 deaths but now the numbers are rising and look like they will be much greater.

Since we were up so early we decided to bring our breakfast in the car and to drive to the top of a high cliff to look down on the sea in safety. The kids had some raspberry smoothies and Byron and myself had big travel mugs of coffee along with a bag of croissants we grabbed from our local bakers on the way.

Despite the warnings and red flags on the beach there were lots of surfers in the water and plenty of people walking and jogging on the beach. Even the salt water swimming baths next to the sea had young children swimming in them. It made us wonder if people were unaware or just not worried.

We felt safer staying up on raised ground. It was very relaxing and to be honest we didn't see any large wave activity at all. It did feel good to be out of the house so early and we agreed we should try to do it again before winter descends.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ten minutes of Time-Out

Lots of the blogs I read are written about family life. Many are written by busy women, many of whom are Mums or Grandmothers or maybe hoping to be at some point in the future. It seems that blogging is something that we do as a pastime, a de-stresser, a way to explore our ability to write and take photos of the things around us.

Somehow no matter how busy a week I am having I make time to sit down and write. But how often do I sit and do nothing? Allow myself to unwind and my mind to go quiet? I was sent on a work course last week and it was about conflict resolution.  It was run by an amazingly energetic woman called Dot Yam and her associate Vivienne. Instead of concentrating on how to stop other people from getting irate and angry it almost solely concentrated on us. How to stop ourselves from getting stressed. How to handle someone who is mad by watching our own body language. How to live a less stressed life outside of work to make us more chilled out in work.

An example was given about sitting on a park bench. The trainer had been asked to take 10 minutes time-out from her hectic day in an office based job. She came up with every excuse in the book about how busy she was, how many emails were waiting on a reply, the reports that needed filing by 5pm. When she did sit on the bench she was edgy and irritated. She felt she was wasting valuable time. And then she chilled. She noticed her surroundings. She heard the different sounds of birds and people chatting happily as they walked past. She felt herself relax. When ten minutes had passed she returned to her desk and on the way had a light-bulb moment where the answer to a particularly troubling problem came to her as a simple solution. The time out had cleared her head and the following hours were more productive than they would otherwise have been.

I left the course inspired, returned the ward and got caught up in answering patient call bells, dispensing medications, making phone calls and arranging discharges and admissions. What I had learned in the course was great, in theory, but could I make it a reality?

Fast forward a couple of days. I found myself reading a blog called "A Year of Change" written by Gina, an American mum of two who has just moved to France for a year with her husbands job. I love reading Gina's stories about the challenges they are going through and the adventures they are living. It brings me back to 2005 when we first emigrated to Australia. We had to find schools, make a rental house a home, survive in a new neighbourhood while Byron travelled to the US. All things Gina is doing right now. One of the things I had almost forgotten about was the sense of awe at living somewhere new. Everything was fresh and exciting. Normal life had not yet kicked in. Now on the two midweek days I'm not working in the hospital I run around flat out pegging out laundry, ironing, stripping beds, grocery shopping, washing the floors, cleaning bathrooms.....normal life. Then I read about Ginas week in this post and how she bought a book and went to a park to read it. This is what she wrote:

"After the bookstore, I found a chair in the Jardin des Tuileries overlooking a fountain.  I ate my lunch and watched the world go by.  Couples strolling hand in hand, families pushing strollers, children chasing birds, co-workers eating lunch together.  This is how I envisioned my Paris life.  I know it won't be like this every day but I will savor these moments" 

It brought back to me the words from the course, the promise of trying to take time out, the feeling of appreciation for living somewhere beautiful. Right there and then I decided that on this Friday I would do the same while the kids were in school. I would sit on the bench opposite my front door and I would sit in the silence of the reserve and breathe deeply while taking in the view of the lake. It would be my Jardin des Tuileries!

Yesterday was Friday. The sun was shining. The kids had a day off school while their teachers had a training day. The house was trashed. I spent a couple of hours cleaning, washing, hanging and then I dragged the kids out the door and we sat on the bench together. They thought I was nuts! So did the woman next door who was sitting on her doorstep talking to someone on her mobile. Little did she know I was off to Paris!

Gareth started climbing a tree. Rhiannon was my photographer, taking photos of the ducks, a Pelican floating by and a photo of me to prove to Gina that I had followed her example. It was fun. We felt silly, we talked, we laughed. We headed home to carry on where we had left off. The beds didn't make themselves any quicker and the floor didn't get washed but I'm still grinning! I guess that means it worked!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Home made hummus.

I love baking sweet things. I have a sweet tooth and a lot of my baking is spontaneous when I get a hankering for something sweet or chocolaty or nutty... Savoury cooking doesn't excite me in quite the same way but I still get a lot of satisfaction from creating something from scratch.

Quite a few of my friends here in Australia are excellent cooks. We get together on a Friday afternoon at a local tennis court and the kids have a big group lesson while the parents stand around chatting and catching up. Everyone brings a plate of food and a bottle of bubby or a couple of beers to share. It is a great way to de-stress and unwind from a busy week.

Some people bring a bag of savoury potato chips as their contribution. Some people bring a plate with cheese and biscuits. Some bring a tray of hot savoury wedges or spring rolls that went straight from the supermarket freezer to the oven to a plate. Not exactly rocket science. Some people who shall not be named, Maree, Claire and Jane (ooops, did that come out loud?!) bring along the most amazing platters of foods that have been whizzed up from scratch in their kitchens over the previous couple of hours. I'm talking home made maharajah chutney, South African fish pies, fresh trout, chive and olive tapinades....

Do you feel inadequate yet? So it's not just me? Great! These gracious friend who have just been shall not be named are very good at sharing their recipes and I have learnt so much from them. Like home-made hummus. I thought hummus grew on a tree in a plastic tub and was then plucked fresh from the branch and sold in the refridgerated section of the supermarket. There were a variety of these tress I believed. Your native hummus tree was the most popular but there were also sun dried tomato versions, garlic and lemon juice ones and sometimes chilli varieties too. Imagine my surprise when my wonderful friends enlightened me by explaining that hummus was made from chick peas. They explained where to source the best organic dried chick peas, how to soak and boil them overnight and what proportions of tahini, garlic and lemon juice to mix the chick peas with. Tahini? I thought that was an island somewhere?

And so dear blogger friends. If you too thought that hummus grew on trees I, Gina, would like to share with you the secret of homemade perfection that takes 3 minutes from start to finish.

Firstly, buy chick peas in a tin, pre soaked and ready to blend (Don't tell my friends I cheat at this bit!) Drain them and throw them in a bowl with 1/3 cup of lemon juice, 1/3 cup of Tahini (crushed sesame seeds for those of you who are still looking up Google Earth) and whatever flavouring you fancy. In my case two or three small segments of garlic and a pinch of salt. Whizz with a blender stick for about 2 minutes and add a little water if the mixture seems a little thick and sticky. There you have it my dear friends. The answer to inclusion in the culinary accomplished gang.

A few carrot sticks and a glass of bubbly and bobs your uncle!

Happy Friday!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Fingerprint People" by Rhiannon

Rhiannon came home from the school library this week so excited. She said she had borrowed absolutely the best book in the whole entire world!

It was 365 craft things to make and do. She only has a week to use it before it is due back. Here is her first project. She made fingerprints on white paper using bright coloured paints and then the next day she used a fine pen to create people out of them! (click to enlarge photo)

I think the dancing couple have to be my favourite! What about you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ooops! The secret is out.

I pretend to be perfect. 

Cooking every meal from scratch.

The secret is out..... A Musing Mom discovered the real me.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Today was a great day. I dropped the kids to school and drove to the local train station where I made an earlier train than I was expecting to. Two hours later and I was in Sydneys Darling harbour looking out for my school friend Eileen. I knew she was blond and would be walking to meet me with her new husband and so I stood watching out for any couples that looked like they might be them. I can't tell you how many couples walked towards me fitting their description. I was wishing we'd agreed to wear red carnations in our hair so I didnt keep staring at the wrong people. 

One couple that walked towards me looked like they had fallen out. The blond woman was walking ahead of the man. She looked cranky and grumpy and as she got closer I was thinking "Please don't let that be her..." I was relieved when she stomped past me and shortly afterwards a familiar looking happy faced Eileen walked up with a smiling man by her side. It honestly felt like she walked out of a time machine. I couldn't see any change in her after so many years. 

We found a cafe and sat and talked as we ordered coffees, then food, then more coffee, followed by juice and lots and lots of water. The next few hours passed by in a blur of chatting and catching up and before I knew it 4 hours had passed by and I had to say goodbye to get the train home. It's been fun sliding back into the past, retelling old stories and discovering forgotten memories. 

Now I am on the train travelling home. Back to my 36 year old self. Thinking of the kids and thankful to my friends who have looked after them for a couple of hours after school today so I could have this time. 

Thinking ahead to dinner, the dinner that I put in a slow cooker this morning to cook over the course of the day while we were out of the house. The delicious chicken coconut cream curry... 

In the slow cooker that I forgot to turn on... 


Gone to seed.

I'm 36. I left school at 18. That means that I haven't seen many of my school friends in more years than I care to count. When we left school we thought we were adults. We thought we knew everything. The world was our oyster. I started training to be a nurse in a very strict hospital. I had to live in the hospital grounds despite my parents living only a short drive away. Nursing was an all consuming profession. You signed in and out of your accommodation. You got called to the Matrons office if you arrived home later than 11pm. There were no mobiles, no emails, no Facebook. It was easy to live in the same city as all those other fresh faced friends and lose touch.

Now 18 years later we have social networking we can access from our phones. I can be buying washing powder in Woolworths and my phone will beep to tell me that it is Tania's birthday, or that Pam has opened a bottle of red wine, or that Eileen has changed her relationship status to engaged. Living as far from Ireland as is geographically possible it is amazing to be able to reconnect and rekindle these friendships. It makes you wonder what life path these friends have been travelling. Have they had kids? What are they working as? What do they look like? Has time been kind to them or do they look different, older, wiser? Maybe they have flourished, found themselves, found their confidence and you can see it shine through in their photos. Maybe they were the fabulously confident one, popular and beautiful. Maybe they look more normal now. Maybe you see them without their pedestal for who they really are. Another person. Just like me. And in return, what do they think of me? Does my profile picture represent who I am now? Is it airbrushed to send out a better impression? Is it an honest representation of who I am and where I am now?

Today I am on a train. I have left my kids at school and I am heading to Sydney to meet a school friend that recently reconnected through Facebook. It's Eileen who became engaged and has since married and is honeymooning in Australia. I'm hoping to meet her in Darling Harbour in Sydney to meet her and her new husband and to see who she has grown into. From her photos she looks just the same. Same fresh face, same smile, same Eileen. I wonder what she will think of me? I feel older. There are lines on my face now, grey in my hair that I valiantly try to cover with auburn. Three kids later and my belly is rounded and nothing is quite as firm as it was when I was a teenager. I joke that I have gone to seed. Is that such a bad thing?

I looked at a pot plant outside my kitchen door this weekend. It was a chive plant and over the summer I have chopped the fresh stalks and thrown them in salads. Now two long stalks have sprouted with flower heads that are turning to seed. Not unlike myself. Except they are still lovely to look at. Everything has a season. Me included. Maybe its not so bad to be gone to seed...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"What a difference a pill makes" and "A great day at the beach"

"What a difference a pill makes"

I get migraines. I have done since I was in my teens. I've tried many, many cures over the years from natural to medication. I own a multitude of wheat sacks which I heat in the microwave to lay over my head (brilliant for distracting the pain during the middle of the night) I rub Tiger balm on my forehead to tingle the skin and blur the sharpness of the pain. I have taken a million natural remedies and have tried every over-the-counter tablet possible. If the migraine gets severe enough it leads to vomiting and spending long periods of time in the bathroom. I have wasted days lying in bed with a pillow over my head while normal life goes on around me.

And so about a year ago my GP suggested that I should try a preventer, something he had previously suggested and I had resisted. I relented and despite a few teething problems adjusting to taking a twice a day blood pressure medication that also lowers my pulse rate I can honestly say that I now get way, way less migraines. When I do get them I can nip them in the bud with another tablet, Zomig, which I previously used regularly but now only need about once a month. Last night I felt a migraine coming on. I went to bed early to try to beat it. I couldn't find my Zomig tablets and although I knew I had a spare dose in the car I was too tired to bother getting it. All night I tossed and turned and had all sorts of troubling dreams. I woke crying a couple of times distressed by the stories unfolding in my head and yet aware that they were not real. I didn't know if the migraine was causing the jumbled dreams or the jumbled dreams were increasing the migraine. By the time 5am came along I was vomiting and ended up unlocking the front door and going out onto the driveway to get the Zomig from the car. Why I didn't just take it the night before I don't know but with another couple of hours sleep under my belt I woke up fine. A bit shaky and feeling like I had drunk a bottle of red through a straw but no migraine. How can one tiny tablet have such amazing magic powers?

Byron got up with the kids and looked out the window at the blue sky. He offered to take the kids to the beach and leave me to sleep off the after effects of the migraine. A few years ago this would have been an automatic yes but because of this wonder-pill I got up and said I felt well enough to join them. We took our time gathering sunscreen and bottles of water and headed out to the beach after breakfast. It was about to become...

"A great day at the beach".... be continued

(when I've fed the kids, got dressed, made a cup of tea, emptied the dishwasher and helped Rhiannon to wrap a gift for a party starting in 25minutes time... Ah normal life, don't you just love it!)

* OK, I'm back, kids are fed, the party was great and the crayon roll present went down a treat!

Yesterdays beach day was so good. There is a great beach about 40minutes drive away called Caves Beach. It has a big long expanse of golden sand, lifeguards manning between the yellow and red flags and some great caves and rock-pools to explore when the heat of the sun gets to much. One of the big caves feels incredibly cool and makes for fun silhouette photos!

Sian unexpectedly met a school friend in the sea and got to share her body board and had fun coasting in on the waves.

For a short while I panicked as I scanned the kids swimming and couldn't pick her out.

It might have been something to do with her being the same height as the board!

We ended the day like all the best days do: Relaxing with an ice-cream!

I'm so glad I got to spend the day with them instead of hiding at home in bed on my own. Now all I have to do is wash a mountain of towels and swimmers and the half ton of sand they managed to bring home with them! I hope you are having a good weekend too...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's all Lucy's fault...

Why is my spare room looking like this...?

Why is my kitchen a mess?

Why is the laundry mountain getting higher instead of lower?

It's all Lucy's fault.

...and her three sisters Alice, Mia and Phoebe, not to mention their friend Grace.

No they didn't come around and trash my house. I would love it if they could but they all live in the UK and were friends to our kids before we emigrated. It can be hard to keep in touch with everyone when you have not seen them in many years. 5 years makes a huge change in little kids lives but they still write to us and send presents on our kids birthdays and so we too send parcels back to them when their birthdays come around. Posting to the UK from Australia means thinking about a month in advance. Something that does not come naturally to me. I need about a week to find a free day to go shopping, the next week I will hopefully get that present wrapped and a card written and if we post within two weeks of the birthday then it should get there in plenty of time. That's the theory. My reality is different. So often I find myself sending an email to the birthday child on their birthday to tell them that their present will be on its way to the post office any day now...

And so to why Lucy caused this mess.... It's her birthday coming up in March. I decided this year to take inspiration from a great bog called Skip To My Lou. I saw some beautiful crayon rolls and thought I might make modified versions of them with crayons for the youngest through to pencils and gel pens for the oldest. I also made space for a little pad of paper too.

The end result is that I have had a great few days and evenings completely trashing the spare room and using all sorts of pieces of lovely fabric I bought from a local sewing shop. Each roll needed three distinctly different pieces of fabric to contrast. For the four sisters I wanted not to duplicate any of the fabrics. Do the maths: 4x3=12 different fabrics. I realised mid-sewing that I was short one piece of fabric so I went searching and finally (being too impatient to go back down to the fabric shop) I chopped up a polka dot pyjama top from my wardrobe for Mia. Mia darling, I promise you the pj's were spotlessly clean! Polka dotty spotlessly clean!

And so I proudly present the result of a week of sewing. Five presents for five beautiful girls that have made a great effort to stay in touch with us despite being on the other side of the world. (Ok, so their Mums Cathy and Zoe probably play a huge part in that! )

Watch out for your parcels coming through your door over the coming weeks girls...!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bargain heaven!

I'm a bargain kind of a girl. I'm not a big fan of paying full price if I can possibly help it. I have been known to buy things because of how reduced they were not because we needed them.

I'm so unimpressed by 10% off.
Don't try to tempt me with 20%.
30% and you are starting to get my attention.
By 50% I'm really listening.

I have had a great food processor. I used it a few times a week until finally it gave up. It died spectacularly in a fizz of sparks and a puff of smoke. My Dad was in the kitchen and I asked him if he thought it was fixable? One sniff of the burning motor and he had to agree that it appeared to have self cremated. We went shopping this weekend for sports shoes for all three kids (How can three of them develop holes in their soles on the same week? Conspiracy?) As we walked past the kitchen electrical section in Target Byron reminded me that I needed to replace my singed gadget. I looked along the shelf with vague interest until I saw it... the "Clearance" sticker!

My radar zoned in and in milliseconds I had my nose pressed against the shelf edge ticket reading up on the bargain I knew I was going to be bringing home with me. It was a fancy looking processor, a larger motor than my old one and a larger volume bowl. It was marked at $129 but no mention of its original price.

Out came the mobile phone and within seconds Byron had worked out that the recommended retail price for this Breville beauty was $280. At that moment I bonded with my new toy and clutched it to my chest throwing filthy looks at any shopper who dared to walk anywhere down my aisle or look at my new gadget.

Being the last one on the shelf and out of its original box it was quite a feat to drag it and its box and all its blades and accessories up to the till. I walked up to the customer service desk and asked if I could check that all accessories were accounted for. While there I casually mentioned that as my soon-to-be-mine processor was out of its box was there any small chance that it would be reduced? The cheek of me! It was already less than 50% of the original price. I held my breath and tried to look casually nonchalant. "Sure" she said, "I can knock another 30% off" I nearly jumped over the counter to hug her. My poker face melted as I grinned and passed over my card.

You've got to love days like these.

.........Sorry, I've got to go.

I'm sure something in my kitchen needs pulverising!

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Flower press" by Rhiannon

Hi, This is Rhiannon,
I bought a flower press with some money that my Granny gave me. It came as a plain wood colour and they gave you some paints in the box so I could decorate it myself. I painted a flower on mine. I think it looks good. I have put some small purple flowers in it today. Have you ever done this with flowers? Do you know how long until they are ready? And also, do you have any cool ideas what to do with the flowers when they are squished?
Rhiannon xoxo

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine preview....

Today I set to work preparing for Valentines day.

I bought a cute Willow silicone cake mould with 6 heart shapes from a local supermarket earlier in the week. It was only $11 and I am sure I will use it over and over for parties and school cake-stall days. It was also donating towards Breast Cancer research which made it an easy choice.

I had a hankering for cheesecake. Mini raspberry cheesecakes to be exact. I did a quick on-line search for a recipe using my phone while wandering around the supermarket aimlessly. Whatever would I do without modern technology...?! I found a recipe for a baked cheesecake which was different from previous gelatine based chill-in-the-fridge cheesecake I had made in the past. I threw the ingredients into my basket, queued at the till, ran back for a box of frozen raspberries, returned to the till, paid and headed home.

I'm a bit of an impulsive person and not very good at planning ahead. You may have worked that out from the supermarket story. Instead of unpacking the general shopping or washing up and tidying away the kitchen I just got stuck into making the cheesecakes straight away. It might have been clever to actually read the sequence of steps first. If I had I would have worked out that they took 45 minutes to cook and that I was leaving for mass in 30.... Sometimes there are advantages to being married to a non-practising anything. Byron was not coming to mass with us so I called him into the kitchen for a quick cooking lesson and strict instructions to check my cheesecakes every 5 minutes until they "bounced back" in the centre when pressed lightly.

I prayed at Mass. Fervently and very directly.

"Dear Holy God, Please let Byron remember the Cheesecakes. Please don't let him get caught up in a Rugby game. Please don't let him push his finger hard into the centre of each one when checking them. Please don't let him eat any just to test if they are ready. Thank you Holy God, Amen"

When I got home there on the counter top were six perfect little heart shaped cheesecakes. Thank you God Byron!

Here is my modified version of the recipe...

10 Oz / 285gms crushed wholewheat biscuits.
1/4 cup of melted butter
24 Oz / 680gms cream cheese at room temperature (I wasn't patient enough to bother waiting!)
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Mix crushed biscuits and melted butter. Put 3 big spoons of mixture in the base of each mini heart. Push the mixture down well so it forms a firm base layer.

Using electric mixer beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time. Pour mixture into hearts until almost full and then put about 5-6 frozen raspberries gently on the top of the mixture so they sink in slightly. Sprinkle the small amount of remaining biscuit mixture evenly over the tops.

Sit the silicone mould into a larger baking tin and half fill with warm water. Bake in the oven at 325 F / 160 C for about 45 minutes or until the centres are set.

1/3 of the volume of mixture from the above ingredients made the 6 small hearts and all the leftover 2/3rds went in a small loaf tin and made a generous rectangular slab of a cheesecake.

The rectangular slab got demolished as soon as we got in the door from Mass (just to make sure it was ok!) and the little hearts are going to be for a romantic family lunch we are planning for tomorrow. Actually the only thing planned so far is the dessert but I'm sure we can make sausages on the barbie sound fantastic and romantic if we tie a pink apron on the wonderful Mr B!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Butterfly surprise

I was on a beautiful blog recently called Skip to my Lou  and saw this really simple and easy Valentines lolly-pop butterfly. 

It seemed like such a simple and fun thing to do so I bookmarked it to come back to later. Rhiannon had a bad week at school last week and having rocked her to sleep after many tears were cried I decided to make her one and write a message on the back to cheer her up. We hid it outside her bedroom door for her to find when she woke up the next morning. It started her day with a smile and so now that we are approaching Valentines weekend she decided she would like to make one for her teacher. 

It literally took 5 minutes last night. It would be a really cheap and easy craft if you have little kids in your life...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A question of blogging...

It's not been too long since I had some questions about blogging and whether it was a good thing to do. You responded with so many amazingly positive comments that renewed my faith and made me more determined than ever to keep up this on-line family journal.

I had a phone call that same week from my daughters school. It was from a teacher who taught one of our kids last year. He is familiar with our family blog and it was blogging that he had rung me about. He has been asked to consider the idea of starting a school blog. It's a new area for him and he wanted my advice. He is going on a course to learn more about all the pros and cons of blogging within an educational system but his gut feeling is that it could be a fantastic resource for pupils, parents and friends of the school. If it goes ahead there will be many areas to consider, not the least of which would be safety. Whether to refer to specific events before they happen? Whether to have images of the school or the students? Whether to leave it open to the public or to password protect it?

The school that my kids used to go to in the UK has started a Year 6 blog. Year 6 is the final year in Primary school before moving on to High School. It is a public blog and allows comments and uses photos of the kids but only refers to them by initials.

I would be really interested in knowing if any of you have experience of a blog being used in a school setting. Maybe you are involved in the administration of one? Have you any tips or advice? Maybe you could leave a link in the comments section to a similar blog you know of. Maybe you just have some general tips on safe blogging. I'd love to hear them and will pass them on to the school to help them in their potential leap into this amazing blogosphere experience....

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A Disgruntled Valentine.

Byron used Facebook to hint at something today. Something that nearly resulted in divorce papers being served in our house. Apparently he mentioned in work that he was getting me something for Valentines Day and it sparked a discussion about whether it was necessary to buy gifts once you were married.... He seems to think the general work consensus was that you only buy gifts when you are in the dating stage. This was effectively what he put as his Facebook status. I think the words "stitched up like a kipper" made it in somewhere too.

I saw red.

Not fuzzy cute red hearts.

Just red-don't-you-dare-consider-not-buying-me-some-little-token-of-how-much-you-love-me-the-mother-of-your-three-kids-and-the-woman-who-most-nights-puts-a-meal-on-the-table-in-front-of-you-picks-up-your-dirty-socks-and-magically-refills-your-undies-drawer.

He just looked at me and tried really hard not to laugh. I could see his mouth trying so hard not to turn up at the corners into a full-on smile. I knew he was thoroughly enjoying watching me get all worked up. I tried to act all cool, calm and collected. From the twinkle in his eyes I knew I was failing.

I told him that if once a year he had an opportunity to tell me how much he loved, valued and appreciated me he should grasp it with both hands (and his wallet) He told me it shouldn't take expensive gifts to tell me that. He told me that every day he showed me how much he loved me in the small gestures that make up our normal life.

I glared at him and asked him for a concrete example.

He passed me a nice hot cup of tea in my favourite mug.

He grinned.

He won.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Honest Scrap

Jessica  the writer of a great blog called "The Team" has been reading and commenting on our blog for a while now and has presented me with an award. It is called the "Honest Scrap" award and I guess is supposed to suggest that the writing here is down to earth. When I tried to explain this to Byron he looked at me with disbelief.... he had misheard me and thought that Jessica had awarded me an "Honest Crap" award!

Thank you Jessica. I'm pretty sure you didn't mean to suggest my blog was crap! Byron is booked in for a hearing test on Monday week! In the spirit of the award I must now tell you 10 things about myself. 

1: I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland

2: When I was a teenager I loved Heavy Metal, dated only long haired boys and was saving to buy a Harley Davidson motorbike. 

3: Aged 20, I met my wonderful Mr B while inebriated in a Greek nightclub. I was rude to him when he offered me a drink because I thought he had impure intentions!

4: I didn't recognise him when we met again (sober) the next evening. I though he had a great smile and was much nicer and more attentive to him and accepted a drink when he offered!

5: We lived in different counties and met 6 times over the next 8 months and when he proposed I said yes without any hesitation. (My Harley Davidson money became the deposit on our first house)

6:We have three great kids but were pregnant with a fourth between Rhiannon and Gareth which we lost early on in the pregnancy.

7: On the day I was due that baby I cried and prayed for a chance to be a Mum again. I didn't know that I was just barely pregnant with our fabulous Gareth. 

8: I love adventures and have spent the last 4 years building a new life for our family of 5 in sunny Australia after we emigrated here in October 2005.

9: I have made my own guitar from scratch under the amazing guidance of a friend Strato Anagnostis. When I finished I became an assistant in his Guitar workshop for the next year.

10: I love photography, baking, and making hand-made cards for friends birthdays, and of course blogging!

I think this is where I pass the award on to two more bloggers. I read lots of amazing blogs. Some are very cultured with gorgeous photography, some are stories of families living through hard circumstances, many are just normal mums like me raising their kids and trying to keep their sense of humour. Two blogs that make me laugh out loud regularly are "A Musing Mother" and "Nutty Mom"

Whew, that was a bit exhausting. I think I need to sit back now and reward myself with a nice cup of tea!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Goodbye is never easy.

For the last 7 weeks we have had family staying with us from overseas so I have tried to concentrate on them and spend a little less time on-line and keep blogging to a minimum. Normally we pack our blog full of happy stories and smiling photos. Life is not always perfect and we decided long ago to treat our blog like a record of the good times and not always the sad ones so forgive us if we have been a little quiet recently.

While my family were here we tried to find a balance between keeping our normal family routines with our kids and spending time catering to the entertaining, feeding and interacting with our visitors. It was a time of catching up and letting grandparents get to know the people our kids had grown into in the 2 years since the last visit and acknowledging the changes that are taking place as my parents grow older. The word emotional is an understatement.

It was a difficult weekend as we said goodbye. Goodbyes are always hard but are made even harder by the distance involved and by the guilt that we carry for having made the choice to emigrate.  As we sat on the train home from Sydney airport the kids were very subdued. The weather seemed to be in-tune with our feelings as the rain trickled down the windows of the carriage.

Safe journey Mum and Dad....

We love you loads.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Cup-cake chaos.

January is a time for resolutions, for watching what you eat, for being good.

Thank God it's February!

I told a work colleague yesterday that I was in a baking mood. I fancied cooking up a batch of cup-cakes but needed an excuse. 2 minutes later I overheard another colleague say it was her birthday today. Sometimes you just have to believe in a higher force, if that wasn't divine intervention what is?

I asked the birthday-girl-to-be what her favourite flavour was and threw a couple of choices at her.
White chocolate and raspberry won.

It wasn't plain sailing. I started with what I thought was a full list of ingredients but it took two trips to the shops (the second time to an unexpectedly closed shop so I detoured to the petrol station!) and a completely trashed kitchen, one burnt very well done tray of muffins (I got a phone-call and had a lapse of concentration...) and a last minute 11pm panic when I couldn't find any icing sugar for the frosting.

There are no beautifully presented photos of the different stages of my kitchen going from tidy to trashed.
I have some pride you know!

I will leave you with the photo of the finished birthday treat...

Happy Birthday Kate!