Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is this normal...?

Gareth has a few favourite teddies that he brings to bed....

Don't most, normal kids?

So what am I supposed to make of this new teddy recently added to the collection?

This isn't quite a teddy. It's a water filled surgical glove with a very odd looking drawn on face.

Does this still count as "Normal"...?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home before the storm

We were on the way home from a beach day recently. The weather had been glorious but big dark clouds were rolling in over the lake as we drove home. I took this photo through the glass of the passenger window of our moving car. It was only when I transferred the image to the computer that I noticed the little boat still out sailing. It looks tiny compared to the big clouds. I hope it made it to shore before the rain came down...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm Sunday

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. A day of reflection ahead of this weekends celebrations. The kids were involved in an outdoor re-enactment of the stations of the cross in the grounds of our church. It was scorching hot and the sun blazed down on us through the gum trees.

There was time for some light relief in the shade between practises. I still cant quite shake the image of Rhiannon and a young nun who befriended her playing Nintendo DS together and the nun giggling as she made the puppy on the screen run around and around in circles! Bizarre.

It was hard on the little ones dressed in black in the midday heat practising for the silent drama they did but they did an incredible job and were wonderful.

It certainly was a Palm Sunday with a difference. We have a big week ahead of us in our Church and are looking forward to the long weekend celebrations of Easter, resurrection and family time together.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Camping with Dad.

Byron was invited to join in a Father/son bonding weekend. It involved a tent, two sleeping bags, mozzie spray, marshmallows and tins of beans.

Oh and a lamb on a spit and a few beers for the Dad's.

I was quite relieved when they made it home on Sunday in one piece. Gareth looked a little bit bigger, a bit more grown up, a little less cuddly and soft cheeked. Maybe it was the layer of grime on his face, maybe it was the grin as he dragged his sleeping bag behind him. They had had a ball surrounded by testosterone and with no nagging wives/mothers telling them to pick up after themselves.

A perfect weekend really. Perfect because after all that roughing it they came home to a clean tidy house with dinner ready on the table, a nice warm bath with fluffy towels hanging on towel rails and soft clean beds to fall into. What a life!

Friday, March 26, 2010

She made it into the book!!!

Sian got inspired by the Operation Beautiful website last year. Back in October they asked for people to submit their stories of Operation Beautiful to be included in book that is being published later this year. They said that they were looking for some of the best submissions so Sian wrote in with her story and photos and hoped that she might be chosen.

Well yesterday she got a very exciting email....

She made it into the book!!!

All we have to do now is wait for August until it goes to print....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

St Patrick's Day - Down Under Style.

We went to Newcastle at the weekend, our largest nearby town, about 45 minute drive from where we live. It was having a St Patrick's Day street festival and we thought we would call in and see what was happening.

Sian had a shamrock potato printed onto her cheek by a leprechaun with very strangely pointed ears. A bit too realistic a leprechaun for me! Gareth and Rhiannon politely refused to sit on the mad red haired strangers chair and resisted all offers of free balloon animals. The stranger danger message has sunk in to their little brains it seems!

There were a variety of stalls selling "authentic" Irish products, like Peruvian ponchos, Italian gelato and Chinese umbrellas??? Even the Indian restaurant had done it's best to deck the eating area with green, white and gold flags. I wonder how they managed to get their hands on so many? Oh yeah, that would also be the colours of the Indian flag, wouldn't it?!

Well in the spirit of true multi-culturalism we had a fun day. I guess thats what you get if when you celebrate your national feast day in a foreign land!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The most fabulous pair of socks in the whole world.

It's all Jo Mama's fault.
I never knew I was missing out.
I never knew that I was lacking special socks until I read her blog. 
I'm Irish, living in Australia, and I don't own any Irish themed socks. 
Jo Mama does. 
In fact after a recent shopping spree she showed them off on her blog.
I was consumed with jealousy.
I wanted some too. 
But in Australia where on earth would I find some...?
And so today the sock fairy waved her magic wand and as I walked past a street stall what did I see?
Stripy green socks made just for me!
Thank you Jo Mama for showing me what I was missing.
Thank you old wizened Chinese stall vendor for stocking just one pair of these amazing long socks.
Thank you Mr B for coughing up the cash because I hadn't bothered bringing my bag!
I feel complete at last!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Choice A or Choice B?

What are you doing this weekend?

This is what I was doing last weekend...

This is what I'm doing now... Vacuuming, washing, sorting, unpacking, hanging, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning....

Guess which I'd rather be doing?!!

Friday, March 19, 2010


I have great kids. They never fight. They do tons of chores. I rarely have to lift a finger around the house. They tidy up and put away without a murmur. I never have to follow their path of destruction picking up as I go...

Take last week. We were having visitors join us for tea. I knew that the downstairs toilet was running low on toilet paper and I had been shopping. I asked Gareth if he would be good enough to put it away for me. "Sure" he beamed and ran away to do it straight away. 

I smiled a smug smile. I have great kids I reminded myself. The door went and I walked out to let our friends in. I  glanced towards the bathroom as I opened the door to our smiling guests and this is what I saw....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Note on my car windscreen...

Anyone want a new friend

I don't want my one any-more.....!

Parents in the classroom

Today was "Parents in the classroom" at Sians new High School. I got to go into class with her for her first two classes of the day and then mingle and chat with other parents and the staff at a morning tea. It was really great to be with her and watch her mixing with all of her friends, old and new. I was able to put names to faces of girls that she had been talking about around the dinner table. 

When it was time for her to head off to class at the end you couldn't see her for dust!!! I really enjoyed this little glimpse into the life of my 12 year old. She has taken to the busy High School environment like a fish to water. I think these years are going to fly...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day 2010

May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

Happy St Patricks Day to all we know, family and friends, near and far. 
I finally decided what to fill my new jar with: Shamrock cookies! 

By the time each of the three kids went off to school this morning with a box of them to share and Byron and myself had brought trays into work there were not many left. 

I can't imagine there will be any left by the time we go to bed tonight...!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Green fingers.

No this is not a post about gardening.

The preparation for St Patrick's Day started a couple of weeks ago with making cards to send our friends and family in Ireland. Ever the unprepared I couldn't find any green paint in the house and ever the impatient I couldn't wait for another day to buy some so I decided to use food colouring instead. "No problem" I thought until it dripped and dribbled everywhere.

I have spent the last two weeks with green skin around my fingernails and trying to bleach out green stains from our stone benchtops.

Note to self : "Next year send e-cards"  cheaper and cleaner...!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mothers Day.

It is Mother's Day in Ireland and Wales this weekend. Australian Mothers day is in another couple of months so we have to be on the ball not to forget to organise presents and cards for Granny in Dublin and Nanny in Wales. There are no Mothers Day cards in the shops here yet and no displays of "perfect gifts" strategically placed at the entrance of Target and K Mart. We have to get the creative juices flowing early enough to wrap and post a good couple of weeks ahead of time.

This year Rhiannon came up with an idea. We went to K Mart and bought a plain white hand towel. Next we drove into Newcastle to a great fabric shop and chose some nice purple flower print fabric and a contrasting lilac.

Over the following weekend we cut and tacked, pinned and ironed...

Stitched and un-stitched, snipped and trimmed...

Until eventually we ended up with these!

Cards were made and the towels were carefully wrapped and parcelled up and addressed. Hopefully this morning our parcels will be sitting on the other side of the world ready to be opened and enjoyed.

Granny and Nanny you may be far away but you are always in our kids hearts!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mulch Mountain

We spent today helping out in the kids school doing a family gardening day. The families that turned up helped to weed and plant and to move wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of mulch and spread them all around the plants to freshen the school up for its 25th Anniversary coming up next week. As the wheelbarrow dumped its load of soil or mulch the kids jumped in to have a ride back to the mulch mountain. I am not sure which was heavier a wheelbarrow full of mulch or kids..?! I know that we are going to ache tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yes Karen... You did....

My friend Karen is going on holiday soon.

To Bali. 

In 7 days. 

The reason I know this is that she has told me every time we have got together over the last month.

Every time. 

Our kids are at school together.

Play after school sport together.

That's a lot of times.

It's wearing thin.

Today she told me in the playground...

Left a message on this blog post...

..and sent me a text.

I went shopping and bought a T-shirt and a permanent pen.
I'm dropping this to her house on the way to tennis...

I figured she could wear it for the next week to give her mouth a rest. And if she wants to rub in just how many days are left before she leaves...
she can just turn around...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The jar

I have a new boss in work. There is always a transition stage where you get to know each other and work out how well you are going to interact and get on. Gut feelings are that she is a good person. She has a businesslike manner but she smiles a lot too. Smiles are my barometer of character. She is busy taking on her new role, watching how things are being done and introducing some small changes. She has rearranged furniture in office areas and has "Spring cleaned" a few dusty corners. 

Today she produced a glass jar and sat it on the nurses station desk. It had a sticker on the front with the logo of an equipment supply company on it. It had probably come full of lollies from a rep one day. I wanted it. Badly. I had visions of filling it with all sorts of lovely things. I looked at my new boss and told her it was a beautiful jar and it wanted to be filled. She smiled and told me if I wanted it I could have it. 

I think we are going to get along just fine!

All I need to work out now is what to fill it with....!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Happy Birthday Sian

Happy Birthday Sian

12 years ago I had no idea how much my life was going to change. 
One day I was waddling around like a big elephant the next thing I was holding you!

You are a great girl and are growing up too fast. 
Can't you stay little for a bit longer? 
Cant we chop your hair off and dress you in scruffs so that no-one will see how lovely you are? 
Maybe if you stopped smiling all the time...?!

Never mind. 
You are perfect just the way you are.

Happy Birthday big girl

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Tropical Tradition...

It seems like forever since we went on holidays to the island of Rarotonga last year. Each and every week we try to remember it in a special way.

Every Saturday morning Byron gets up and goes down to the local bakery with the kids and buys fresh croissants and pastries. While he is out I set the table with fresh melon, banana slices, pear, nuts, orange juice soaked oats mixed with vanilla yoghurt and banana chips. We sit down with juice and coffee and tuck in to our tropical breakfast that we had each and every morning on our holiday.

We may not actually be looking out over turquoise blue sea but with a bit of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's melody "Somewhere over the rainbow" playing on the iPod we can pretend we are!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Carrying the Cross.

Life with a just-started-high-school kid is busy. The comfort of having all three kids at the one school has slipped away and I now need to coordinate permission notes, school fees and parents evening at two different locations. I'm treading water and slipping under a little.

Sian came home on Thursday evening with a message about a Mass she needed to attend on Friday at 6.15pm. She was carrying something at it. A cross? That's about as much as my brain retained. All I could think about was getting her to tennis lessons at 5pm on Friday. The Mass message kind of slipped to the back of my brain. Until Sian mentioned in again as she came off the tennis court Friday evening. At 6pm.

It was raining. She was soaked to the skin. We drove home, got changed in 30 seconds and left Byron, Gar and Rhiannon in the comfort of a dry house and rushed out into the rain again to drive to the High School. Except that's when Sian said it wasn't a school Mass. Well not a High School Mass. It was a local St Josephs one. My heart sank a little. If it wasn't to impress the new High School did we really need to go? The good news was that our local St Josephs is much nearer. We were driving at this point so we carried on and pulled into the half empty car park.

I couldn't help but think wistfully about the bottle of red wine on the table that I would rather be drinking.... We went inside the church to find only a small handful of people there. And only one other girl Sians age. Her friend from a year above her in school who had been the one to talk her into coming. I asked around as to what Sian was to carry?

And then I saw it. The huge World Youth day cross still laying on the roof-rack of a car outside in the rain. The cross that we had first encountered almost 3 years ago in Speers Park. The cross that brought back memories of making bracelets at Rathmines park, hosting teenage girls from Norway, seeing the Pope in Sydney.  And here it was back in our small church. And Sian was going to help carry it in with other members of our parish. Drying the raindrops off the rich brown wood. Standing it into its metal stand at the front of the church. Sitting there through the the next hour of liturgy. Glad that I was there. Glad Sian had been talked into going by Claire. Glad that the bottle of wine would wait another hour.

It was a good night.

P.S: The bottle of wine was worth waiting for too!

Friday, March 05, 2010

When did you last do it?

We all know that we should be doing regular breast examinations looking for lumps or changes that might help us find breast cancer in its earliest possible phase. But how often do we really do it? I know its on my list of things to do but it rarely makes it to the top. 

I came across the link to the feelyourboobies website through another blog I read written by Lorri who is surviving breast cancer. When I visited the website I was intrigued by the simple and fun way they spread this lifesaving message. Sometimes the boring clinical reminders get ignored while the fun ones make the impact. 

And so I am reposting one of their free images here to remind YOU to have a feel today. 

It might just save your life...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Pecan Crunch Cookies.

Gareth had a friend coming home on the school bus with him last week. About half an hour before the bus pulled up I remembered I had made a vague promise to bake something nice for when they got home. I had a woolly recollection it was a promise of cookies. I wasn't exactly sure but what I was sure about was Gareth's elephant like memory. There was no getting away with it, I had half an hour to come up with something. 

I had an open bag of mini M+M's in the kitchen. I'd been sneakily helping myself to them on and off over the last week and there was only a small handful left. What about making cookies with M+M's sprinkled on top? Perfect! I went on-line to search a basic cookie recipe and followed the link to a Cadbury's chocolate chip cookie recipe. Just substitute the chocolate chips for mini M+M's. What could go wrong? Nothing as long as you don't absent mindedly nibble on the sweets as you make the cookie dough! By the time I got to sticking them on the dough balls there were not many left. Enough for a dozen cookies. That left me about 2/3rds of the plain dough left in the bowl. No choc chips in the cupboard... No white chocolate or frozen rasperries... No macadamia nuts... until finally, yes! A packet of pecans! 

Onto each dough ball I squished a pecan nut, put the tray in the oven and hoped for the best. Out of the oven ten minutes later came the most melt in the mouth delicious chewy cookies. They were so good I almost forgot to stand outside for the school bus until I heard the familiar rumble down the street and the slow squeal of brakes on the kerb outside. Off jumped Rhiannon, Gar and Tommy just in time to tuck in to warm cookies and a glass of cold milk. I got the biggest hugs and felt like Mother of the year. All because of a simple recipe that I modified to what I had in the kitchen so it was nothing like what it was supposed to be!

If you fancy trying some for yourself here is the recipe:

125grams (4 1/2 oz) butter 
1 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of castor sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 egg
1 1/2 cups of self raising flour
3/4 cup of Cadbury milk chocolate chips. Or Mini M+M's. Or Pecans!

Preheat oven to 160 C (320 F)
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy
Mix in vanilla essence and egg
Stir in flour until combined
Place one teaspoon sized balls of dough on a non stick baking tray and slightly squish. Scatter choc chips or M+M's or sit a pecan nut on top.
Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes
Cool on a baking tray 

There was only one thing for it. I put the kettle on and sat back to sample some for myself!

Monday, March 01, 2010

St David's day 2010

St David's day is celebrated with gusto in our house because Byron is Welsh.  Last night I made a batch of Welsh Cakes using my Mother-in-laws recipe. Always a tricky balance between the two women in  his life, Byron told me they were wonderful, the best he had ever tasted and then 5 minutes later told his mum that they were good, but not a patch on hers! Luckily he was grinning at me as he said it or I might have hit him over the head with the frying pan!

He brought a few of them into work to share this morning, complete with home-made Welsh flags the kids made with the printer and some toothpicks. Gareth brought a big Welsh flag into school for news and the teacher hung it up and asked could they keep it a little while. Gar was pretty proud as you can see!

Happy St David's Day Mr B!

You can take the man out of Wales 
but you can't take Wales out of the man...