Monday, April 26, 2010

The sleepover.

Last night was Rhiannon's sleepover party. 6 friends added to our three kids meant we had 9 sugar filled whirlwinds flying around the house from 4pm yesterday until 10am today. On their own each kid was really good, as a collective they were wild.

The Crazy Socks theme was enthusiastically embraced by each kid who walked, hopped or skipped through our front door. They looked like they had fallen out of the rainbow with their stripes and spots. There were fluffy and soft, long and short, sparkly ones and ones with toes in.  One little pair of legs had sewn on extra beads and buttons to make her socks even crazier!

We did a movie with popcorn, present opening while Byron escaped to collect the food, enough pizza to feed an army, lollies, cup cakes and of course the Crazy Cake that Rhiannon made earlier. The sugar intake sparked a balloon fight and lots of loud squealing and shrieking.

Finally sleeping bags were unrolled and clothes were swapped for pj's and we tried to start the wind down. The word tried is what I would like you to focus on. We dimmed the lights, snuggled everyone on mattresses and sofas and started the final movie of the night, "Where the wild things are"

I'll tell you where the wild things were. In my house! Numerous trips up and down the stairs to calm things and focus their attention on the tv instead of lamping the daylights out of each other with pillows and finally at 10.30pm things seemed to quieten down a little. I was lulled into a false sense of security as the next hour passed relatively peacefully.

At 11.30pm Byron and myself turned off the downstairs tv and headed to bed only to walk into the middle of complete chaos, laughing, running, shrieking, bouncing. Hmmm, not really asleep after all. Out came the cranky mummy voice and I threatened that the owner of the next word I heard would be separated from the group and made to sleep in a spare bed in another room

Until 6am at least. And then it all began again!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crazy Sock Cake!

This weekend is Rhiannons 10th Birthday. She is having a birthday sleepover with a few friends. The theme is "Crazy Socks" She helped to make a sock cake out of two rectangle slabs of butter cake stuck together with lots of icing and decorated with Smarties, sour straps, marshmallows, Gummie bears and strawberry clouds!

What more could a girl ask for?!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to train your dragon!

Since the release of the latest kids movie "How to train your dragon" it seems like dragon fever is sweeping the nation. During the recent school holidays we called in to a local shopping centre just as they were setting up a free kiddy craft session. They showed us how to make a dragon from pre-cut pieces and gold brads and then let us stick loads of pieces of shredded paper, sequins and feathers all over it. One googly eye later and we were the proud owners of some very colourful dragons.

Now all we have do do is work out how to make them come to life so we can train them.....?!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rhiannon's School Birthday Celebrations.

In our local school when it is a kids birthday they are presented with a certificate at the morning assembly and have to say what age they are. The rest of the school are encouraged to try adding up the ages in their heads to find the total age of the kids on stage. This is fun when there are two or three but chaos after a school holiday break where there may be 10 or more kids! Here is a wobbly video taken on my phone. Rhiannon is the child running up to join the other two kids. Her 10th birthday is on Monday which is a public holiday so she got her certificate today. You can see from the video how lucky the kids are to be in such a small school surrounded by tall gum trees.

They are also allowed to bring in a tray of cakes to share with their classmates. I had forgotten that Rhiannon's Birthday would be celebrated today and was thinking I would be sending cakes in next week. I had to race home and bake a very quick tray of mini muffins and decorated them with love heart sweets. I had fun reading the words on them and eating the odd one as I decorated if I felt the message was a bit racy.... OK they weren't really racy I just have a sweet tooth!

ANZAC day 2010

ANZAC day is on the 25th of April. It is the day that we remember all the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who died in Gallipoli during the First World War. All around Australia there will be remembrance services on Sunday and many schools will be having their own services today.

Our children were asked to bring some flowers from their gardens to school. They had a beautiful ceremony at 11am where they lined up and laid their flowers gently over a large chalk drawing of the letters ANZAC in their playground. It was really beautiful and very emotional, particularly when they played the bugle solo of the "Last Post" . This piece of music signaled the end of the soldiers working day and is played at army funerals to mark the fact that the soldier had reached the end of his earthly life. A real lump in the throat moment.

It felt good to see our kids continuing this tradition of respect and remembrance.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What will he be when he grows up?

After Gareth's swimming lessons this week we were waiting for Rhiannon and Sian to finish theirs. 
Gareth played in the toy corner and called me over to look at his magnificent creation! 
You've got to love Lego, especially giant Lego!
I can see a career in construction or engineering, what do you think?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rugby 2010

9am Saturday morning
Three kids in the car - check
Ice cold water  - Check
Orange wedges - Check
Skull cap - Check
Mouth Guard - Check
Camera - Check
Looks like Rugby 2010 Season is well under way!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

School Holidays...

When I was a stay at home Mum I had 5 days a week to catch up on laundry, do the supermarket shop and clean the bathrooms. I don't really remember having tons of free time, you know to read a book, or paint my toe nails or sit with a cup of tea in the back garden.

Then along came the school holidays and it would be chaos! Three kids running around untidying faster than I could tidy, messing faster than I could clean and emptying the pantry faster than I could fill it. The house would be an utter mess. By the time the kids went back to school I was left in an unrecognisable mess, trashed house and a brain like jelly.

Then something happened. Byron lost his job. I returned to work. Fast forward 2 years and here we are. I work three days a week and all that used to be done in 5 days now gets done on Monday and Friday. Or half done or not done at all as more realistically happens. On both those days the washing machine runs over and over and the clothes start being hung on the line before breakfast in a conveyor belt of wet washing out, more clothes in washer, first load of dry clothes in, second load out, etc, etc... I'm not sure I know what a book looks like any more. I haven't looked at my toe nails in a long time. Cup of tea? I'd love one thanks...

And then along come the school holidays. We are in our second week of them now and I'm in heaven. I've done a small load of washing each morning and hung it out slowly to stay there all day. There is just no rush. We've been to the park. We've gone to the theatre. We've been shopping. We've baked. We've done loads of drawing and craft and sticking and glueing. We even squeezed in a coffee stop where we took this photo on my mobile and sent it to a very jealous Mr B who was stuck in his office.

Much as I miss my old life and much as I find working and running a house very challenging and exhausting I have to admit something. It has given me perspective. Did I appreciate being at home for those early years? I know I did. But I may not have appreciated it this much. I do now. I promise. So now Holy God if you could just let me win the lottery I promise I would love every minute of being home again. I'd never moan or whine. I'd always have lovely painted toe nails and I'd find the time to read every now and again. I know I ask you this every week God but if you don't ask you don't get, right? What's that God? You want me to meet you half way? I have to do what? Oh yeah, you mean I actually need to go buy a ticket?!.....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chilli boy...

Byron is a Chilli monster. In Thai or Indian restaurants he always asks them to make his meal HOT! He just can't get spicy enough. I have never yet seen him unable to finish a meal due to it's spiciness. Even on a business trip to India his Indian colleagues brought him out and ordered him food so hot they gave up eating it but he just tucked in.

When we arrived in Australia we were given a few tiny chilli plants by a friend called Peter. Peter is Aboriginal and can grow anything anywhere. He swore these chilli's were the easiest plants in the world to keep alive and he is right. They have survived three house moves and a flood. No matter how much we neglect these plants they grow and grow. This year they are being chomped by snails (would the leaves be at all spicy?) and still they are giving us a bumper crop.

Gareth helped me to pick a bowlful today. He wanted to try one. I explained how spicy they were and he teased me by dangling a chilli closer and closer to his mouth...

Like father like son...?


He took my word for it and left them for his Dad!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

T-Ball 2010

...and another T-Ball season ends.

It's all about the taking part and about the fun and no-one knows this more than the kids!

P.S. Thanks Monica for the photo!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Moroccan Beef Skewers / Sian's Sugar Surprise Skewers

I know my Mum usually writes these blogs but for today I am in charge!
As I was walking down the shopping centre I noticed a leaflet that said
I picked it up and handed it to Mum. We came across a recipe called Moroccan beef skewers and decided to make it. (Serves 4)

450g beef mince
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp olive oil (for rubbing over skewers)
1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup Greek yoghurt
1 finely grated rind and juice of a lemon
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat a bbq to medium high heat. In a bowl combine beef, garlic, 2 tbsp parsley, breadcrumbs and egg. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly with your hands. Divide the mixture evenly into 8 balls.

2. Place a meatball at the end of a skewer and gently mould it into a flat sausage shape down the skewer, packing it tightly with your hands. This should be about 10cm long, 4cm wide, 2cm thick. Repeat with the remaining meat. Rub a little olive oil onto each meat skewer and cook on a bbq for about 4 minutes per side, or untl cooked through. remove from the bbq to a plate and rest for 3 mins.

3. While the meat is cooking make the couscous. Combine the stock and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan tightly and stand for 5 mins or until the couscous is tender and the liquid id absorbed. Fluff with a fork and mix in the olive oil and 1 tbsp of parsley. Season with pepper, cover and keep warm. 

4. Mix the yoghurt in a small bowl with lemon rind and juice and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the couscous evenly onto the centre of 4 serving plates. Place 2 skewers on top of each mound of couscous with a dollop of the lemon yoghurt sauce. Serve immediately. 

Recipe serving suggestion: Serve with cucumber salad.
My serving suggestion: Chop up some cucumber into small bits and mix in with yoghurt sauce.

It assumed that you would already have the basics like olive oil, salt and pepper and didn't add that to the $10. It said that the preparation time would take 20 mins. That is absolute rubbish as it took Mum and I all afternoon! My assistant Jamie Olivia (Mum) and I named it Sian's Sugar Surprise skewers. The surprise is that there is no sugar!

By Sian 

Friday, April 09, 2010

When it rains...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

She's back...

She's back. She's brown as a berry. She's had a ball in Bali....

Who am I talking about? 

Why, Karen of course!

When she got home she rang and told me she had brought me back a present. 

I was expecting something like this...

Instead I got this...

I think I'll forgive her!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Golden Goose

Today we went to the Young Peoples Theatre and saw their production of The Golden Goose starring the wonderful, the marvellous, the talented... Sophie and Gemma!

Our wonderful friends who have put weekends and weekends into rehearsing for this production. The best bit about the play is when the final curtain goes down. Ooops! That sounds like an insult or a bad theatre critic review. What I meant to say is that the best bit is when the final curtain goes down and then up again for the audience to mingle on-stage with the cast. There were over 20 of us friends there today and as soon as we were allowed on-stage we ran up to Sophie and Gemma to congratulate them on their wonderful performances.

Taking a photo of 7 moving kids in low light with a mobile phone is no easy task but here is a pic to show off our talented friends. I am hoping that when they are accepting their Oscars in the future I can sell these photos for a small fortune!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Toilet humour.

Very funny...
Now who did it?
Who is the clown who built this toilet paper tower in my bathroom?
No Byron, I do not for one minute believe your story that it was Gareth.
No 7 year old could reach that high.
Even if their friend Tommy helped them as you seem to have suggested.
No, there is only one child in this house tall enough to have created this....
...and I think we all know who I am talking about.

Monday, April 05, 2010


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

Last night we went to the Easter Vigil Mass. It was longer than the normal 1 hour service. Partly due to the extra ceremony of blessing the Easter water and the making of the Paschal candle. Partly due to the extra songs that were incorporated into it. Just for good measure there was a Christening too. 

Being an evening service it was really lovely to be in the church with nothing but candle light during the times the main lights were dimmed. All in I think we spent about 1 hour and 55 minutes in Church. Not that I was counting. But sitting next to me were Gareth and his friend Tommy. They very quietly kept whispering to me "How many more minutes?" 

Sian was Alter Serving and Rhiannon had melted away to sit next to a friend in the row behind. I made sure I kept looking back to see she wasn't up to any mischief but she was very engrossed in her friend Neve's Easter book that she had borrowed. 

Finally at 8pm I put three very tired kids in the car and went home to get them into bed ready for the Easter Bunny. I had used his visit as an opportunity to get Rhiannon to tidy her bedroom floor, so that the poor bunny wouldn't break a hip as he hopped amongst the clothes, jigsaws, books, magnets, pens, hair clips and other assorted junk treasure scattered over her carpet. 

The clocks went back last night. At 3am it became 2am once more. I always get confused when Daylight saving starts and ends. There is talk about stopping it. Who knows. I guess I will be glad of it on Tuesday when I will be getting up for work at 6am and I will be able to see my way out of the bedroom without tripping over the empty Easter Egg boxes. They are not quite empty yet but I sure plan on helping to start that process as soon as I press the publish button! 

Happy Easter everyone. I hope you have a lovely day whether it involves visiting friends and family or quiet time together in your home, church or chocolate or a mixture of both. 

I'm already embarrassed and you haven't even seen the video...

Before you are tempted to press play I need to clarify a few things. It was my first time on Sians new body board. The high pitched scream that you may think you hear is not me, no definitely not me, it must be some other random mother in the background... and finally Sian was not hurt in the making of this video!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Calon Lân

Byron heard about a Welsh Eisteddfod that was happening in the Hunter Valley area this weekend. We drove around the general area looking out for a Presbyterian church that was the venue and when we saw this flag we knew we had found the right place!

It was so lovely sit hear all the Welsh accents as the different songs and hymns were introduced. The goose-bump moment was when a 9 year old girl sang a beautiful song in Welsh "Calon Lân" which had lots of people reaching for the tissues. 

Nid wy'n gofyn bywyd moethus,  I don't ask for a luxurious life,
Aur y byd na'i berlau mân: the world's gold or its fine pearls,
Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, I ask for a happy heart,
Calon onest, calon lân. An honest heart, a pure heart.

Calon lân yn llawn daioni, A pure heart full of goodness
Tecach yw na'r lili dlos: It is more beautiful than the lovely lily
Dim ond calon lân all ganu None but a pure heart can sing,
Canu'r dydd a chanu'r nos.Sing in the day, sing in the night.

We don't get many moments of Welsh culture living here in Australia so it was really nice to experience. The Welsh are renowned for their amazing singing voices, especially the men with their deep choir voices. Somewhere along the line Byron missed the singing gene. There was a lovely old lady standing next to us and when she heard Byron explain something to Gareth in his Welsh accent her face lit up. "Oh, you must be Welsh love"  Byron puffed up his chest and smiled proudly. "We are always looking for new men in the choir love" He explained that singing wasn't really his talent.

She hesitated and then smiled and said  "Oh no my love, there's something there......"

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

Good Friday. A day of contrast. In my faith it is a day of sadness, of sacrifice. In my heart it is also a day of happiness, of promises.

This time 15 years ago I was 21. I had met a funny, lovely man on a girly holiday in Greece 8 months before. He was from Wales. I lived in Ireland and was about to sit my final Nursing exams. He had flown over to see me for the weekend about 4 or 5 times. This was to be the last visit before my exams as I needed to knuckle down and study over the coming few weeks.

I didn't need any distractions.

I wasn't expecting a proposal.

As soon as he started to ask those words my heart started to pound. I barely waited for him to finish asking before blurting out a resounding "Yes!"

We were young. It was spontaneous. There was no ring. But the next day I told the world I was engaged. Six weeks later I sat my exams. Byron flew to Dublin and we bought the ring. The same ring that is on my hand now, 15 years, 3 kids and two countries later.

So much has changed, so much has stayed the same.