Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I'm not a big nail person. I work as a nurse where you cannot have nails longer than the pad of skin on your fingers and nail varnish is forbidden because it contains sugars that support bacterial growth blah-blah-blah. Also I have naturally short stubby nails that refuse to grow long so I just leave them as they are.

When a friend gave me a manicure as a gift to say Thank-you for something recently I didn't know when to redeem it. It sat in a drawer and went out of date. I felt awful when I realised it and rang the salon and asked if they would extend it. They told me no problem, just book in that week. So I did!

I went off to the salon after I dropped the kids to school on a recent Friday that I wasn't working. I never knew there were so many things that could be done to my hands. Over the next 90minutes I was soaked and ex-foliated, buffed and shaped and massaged into hand heaven! Towards the end I was asked would I like my nails varnished. I was handed a colour wheel of glossy choice and chose a daring red. I once heard that Rolls Royce hand paint their cars with 722 layers of paint (I exaggerate, it's probably 5!) Well my nails felt like a car showroom by the time I left. There was a base coat then two layers of colour, then a topcoat. I felt glamorous and gorgeous for about 24 hours and even went shopping and pretended to try on trendy bling.

That's when I noticed the first chips. My Rolls Royce was falling apart. By that evening I admitted defeat and got out the nail varnish remover. It was fun while it lasted but I can't help thinking it must be a hard life being gorgeous all the time. Too high maintanance for my liking. I'll leave you with an appropriate bad joke...

"How do you hid an elephant in a cherry tree?" 
"Paint his toe nails red!"

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bye Bye Baby....

Rhiannon is gone to camp. A rite of passage for all Aussie kids in year 5. You pack them up and then send them off into the bush with a couple of teachers for two nights and hope they return...

The kids seem remarkably unperturbed by the whole idea. The Mums wring their hands nervously and repeat unnecessary information to the teachers over and over. The teachers smile and nod reassuringly and repeat how they haven't lost a single child...yet...

The concerned mothers dab their eyes and look mournful as the bus pulls away. The other ones wave at the departing bus then race off to the local cafe for a cappuccino with an extra shot of juicy gossip! Which was I ?

Clue: I sent Sian off two years ago and had her return dirty but alive and happy. I have no worries that we will pick up a similarly happy Rhiannon on Wednesday. Yes, that coffee was great!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Karen!

What's even more exciting than having a mad friend ring your doorbell with a cupcake and candle singing you Happy Birthday?

Having a mad friend ring your doorbell with a cupcake and candle singing you Happy Birthday, while taking a photo on her mobile phone then going home to post it on her blog!

Don't you just love being my friend Karen!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Triple Chunky Choc-Chip Muffins


Be warned.

These muffins are very dangerous. They are packed full of chocolate which will go straight to your hips. If eaten warm the chocolate will be melted and will drip down your chin and will make you look like you have fallen into the river in Willy Wonkas factory.

One will not be enough.

If you are still reading you have an addiction: I suggest you visit here www.ineedthehelpofchocolateanonymous.com

If you are not ready to confront this demon yet then join me in making the best chocolate chip muffin you will ever have eaten in your entire life! Afterwards we can join rehab together....

125g Plain Flour
25g cocoa-powder
1tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
50g each of Dark, White and Milk chocolate, chopped into chunks.
1 Egg, beaten
150ml Sour Cream
50g Brown Sugar
40g Butter, melted then cooled
Extra chocolate chunks to sprinkle on top before cooking

Preheat oven to 180C (350F)
Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb of soda in a large bowl. 
Stir in choc chunks. 
In a separate bowl combine egg, sour cream, brown sugar and melted butter. 
Beat with a fork and add to dry ingredients. 
Fold together gently, don't over-mix. 
Mixture will be very dense and sticky.
Fill paper cases in a muffin tin.
Sprinkle extra choc chunks on top and bake for about 20mins or until well risen and cooked through. 
Cool in pan for about ten minutes.

If you are unable to eat them all straight away they can be kept but must be reheated in the microwave for 5-10 seconds before eating to melt all the chocolate chunks again!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Origami surprise

I keep finding reminders of our Japanese girls as I tidy up the house...

...like this beautiful Origami Crane!
We miss you girls.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sian's Coconut Cupcakes.

Sian is crazy about all things Coconut. When this recipe appeared in a Donna Hay magazine she cut it out and stuck it in my recipe folder. Today she made them almost entirely on her own, including piping the yummy white chocolate icing!

Here is the recipe:

185g Butter
3/4 cup Caster Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3 Eggs
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 cups Plain Flour
1 cup Flaked Coconut
1 cup Shredded Coconut
200g White Chocolate
1 1/2 cups Cream
140g  Butter
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
2. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy
3. Add the eggs and beat well
4. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture, pour in the coconut and stir
5. Line 12 x 1/2  cup capacity muffin tins with muffin cases
6. Spoon mixture and bake for 35 minutes or until cooked
7. To make the icing, place the chocolate, cream and butter into a saucepan and stir until smooth
8. Cool and then beat the icing until fluffy
9. Ice the cupcakes and top with a sprinkle of toasted coconut
10. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hello, It's me Gina. Female, 37, happily married, mother of three....

I love nothing more than sitting in my cozy red armchair and spending an hour on my little net-book editing the days photos, reading my favourite blogs and updating our own. I much prefer taking photos of the family than actually being in them. I think we are all our own worst critic. I always said I would grow old gracefully. That I love the look of a face that shows it's history. I'm not big on make-up. I love a bit of lip gloss and often wear a tinted moisturiser with sunblock. I love that when I need to I can use my full arsenal of my make-up bag to hide the imperfections. I also love that people are used to seeing the me with bare skin more than the made-up me.

So why do I not let the kids take photos of me more often? Why do I hide behind my side of the camera? I tried to transfer some images from my camera to my net-book today and clicked the wrong device. Instead of choosing my cameras memory card I clicked a different camera icon. It opened the webcam on my net book and took a photo of me.

So this is me.

This is what I look like as I sit reading your blog, or up-dating mine. There is nothing quite like a bit of sun-flare to distract the eye away from the wrinkles and yes, that is a big spot on the left corner of my mouth!

What about you? How do you feel about pictures of yourself ? Which side of the camera are you most comfortable on...??

End of the season!

Today was the last day of the 2010 Rugby Union season. It was an early start for a Saturday morning. A 7am alarm to be all fed and driving by 7.30. We drove for an hour and a half to watch the kids play against Singleton under 8's.

Byron promised the kids $10 for any try that they scored. In the second half Rhiannon got the ball, hugged it tight to her chest, put her head down and RAN! She ducked and weaved her way past the other team and SCORED! Byron was holding the folder to scorekeep. When the referee blew his whistle for the try Byron dropped the clipboard and ran in circles whooping for joy! It sure ended the season on a high.

Tomorrow we have the presentation ceremony and we will present the coach with a gift from all the parents. Rob volunteers every Tuesday and Thursday night as well as travelling with his wife and kids every Saturday for the matches. He doesn't get paid, it's just for the love of the game. We framed this years team photo and got the kids to sign underneath it. We also got a really good officials whistle which we have had engraved ready to give him tomorrow. Hopefully he has enjoyed the 2010 season as much as we have!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Christmas in August...?!

The last couple of weeks have been a bit surreal. 
Shopping in July and August for Christmas gifts for overseas friends and family. 
Wrapping presents on my kitchen floor. 
No Christmas paper in the shops so having to be inventive with simple basics. 
Grouping and parcelling up groups of gifts for different families. 
Trying to make sure to get the best value out of the Australian postal system. 
Not wanting to be late like last year despite posting by the suggested dates for last post. 
Aiming for a full month ahead of last date for SeaMail this year "Just to be sure" 
Watching the numbers on the kitchen weighing scales go up and up as I throw in chocolate Koalas to use every last gram of the 250gram increments that we are charged for. 
Feeling a bit grumpy and un-seasonal that it requires so much forward planning to avoid paying (literally) hundreds of dollars just to deliver gifts to loved ones. 
Feeling a weight off my shoulders as I walk out of my lovely friendly local Post Office leaving behind a mountain of boxes and half a weeks wages for the stamps! 
Knowing that the financial burden that normally falls in December will be lighter because we have a good portion of our presents paid for and sailing around the world as I type.
Getting ready to press "publish" so I can go pour myself a big glass of wine and snuggle up to Mr B on the sofa....!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Borrowed friend.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Hairy Baker!

Here is a grainy photo taken on my phone in the half light at 6am this morning....

It's my Birthday and guess what I was given when I woke up?!

Half an hour later I was in work counting down the hours until I could go home and play with my new toy.
Finally at 4pm I was home with three kids in tow and we found a note inside the bowl...

"I'm lonely and want to be loved
Pleeeeeease bake with me...."

...and so we did!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Decisions Decisions....

It's my birthday later on this week. We went shopping at the weekend and wandered around lots of different stores with the aim of finding me a present from Byron and the kids.

I couldn't think of anything I wanted. I had a blank brain. The shops were busy and all around me were shelves of "stuff". Dare I say it was almost overwhelming. I stood in the middle of the shiny department store surrounded by tempting displays, modern lighting and eager sales staff and told Byron I really couldn't think of anything I wanted.

Even as I said it I realised it sounded crazy. Gina, the former shopaholic. If Cathy or Josie, my former shopping buddies from the UK could have been there they would have slapped me sharply across the face and waved smelling salts beneath my nostrils.I felt a strange Zen calmness as I thought about how I had Byron and the kids, my health, a beautiful house and all the material possessions I could need. I thought that this must be what you feel like when you meditate deeply and smell incense for long periods of time. Happy, weightless, full of  goodwill to all men....

And then Byron got all masterful and realistic. He told me to hurry up, snap out of it and chose something or I would have no wrapped parcel on my birthday morning in a few days time. He reminded me of two things I had hinted at over the last few weeks.

One was a hot pink electrical device which zapped the hairs on your legs and promised that with regular use and multiple new blades that the hair growth would reduce to 30% (ish)

The other was a fire-engine red electrical device that would sit on my kitchen counter and promised to help me to make cakes, bread, anything that required mixing or kneading.

He told me to hurry up and chose one so he could buy it and we could go home.

I deliberated and agonised and finally decided to hand over the decision to the kids. I sat down cross legged on the shiny marble tiled floor and informed them that they could choose. They could have a Mum with smooth hair-free legs who never baked and therefore stuck to her healthy eating regime.

Or a Mum with hairy legs who baked cakes and cookies every day and got plumper by the month. One chose the smooth hair-free version, the other two chose the hairy baker. The shops were closing in 5 minutes.

Which would you have chosen...?!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

..and a few more 20's photos!

Gangsters and Gal's

We went to a great birthday party last night. 
It was a Roaring 20's theme and everyone there had really gone to town dressing up. 
The men looked very gangster like in their suits and pencil moustaches and the women looked so glamorous in sequins, high heels and feather boas. 
There was champagne in crystal flutes and Gin and Tonic in china tea-cups!
It was so good to kick back and party without the kids. 
Now I'm just wondering what they took for sore party heads back in the 20's...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How to make a child's apron.

Each year we find that about 90% of the gifts that we buy are for friends and family overseas. The postage alone nearly cripples us. Each individual gift may not seem overly heavy but by the time each parcel is packed up we find that the postage is about $60-$100 per family. There is a sea-mail option which is almost half the cost but it takes 12 weeks. It needs to go off to the post office by the end of September. We did this last year and were so disappointed when it failed to arrive until late January. This year we are aiming to post mid-late August just to be sure. It seems madness to be thinking of buying Christmas gifts right now but it has to be done.

I decided to try to make some of the younger girls cooking aprons this year. I have a sewing machine but am not overly practised at using it. I bought some lime green and stripy fabric and here is how I made them...

*Disclaimer: If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, are female and aged between 7 and 10 and your names begin with C, G or J you may want to look away now or you will spoil your Christmas surprise!!!

I cut out two apron shapes, one from each piece of fabric. 

I cut long strips, put a green and stripy piece together and sewed along the edges before turning them inside out. These became the straps and the neck loop. Sian told me they needed pockets so we cut pocket shapes and ironed in the edges underneath. On the third and fourth apron I became more adventurous and stitched the child's initial with white thread. 

When the pocket was sewn onto the body I started to pin everything together right sides facing inwards making sure all the straps were positioned correctly. 

I started at the bottom of the apron and sewed a line of stitching just inside the outline shape. I left a gap with no stitching so I could pull everything through right way round! 


I hid the gap in the bottom seam by folding the raw edges in and running a line of decorative stitching along the bottom to close it up.

A final iron to smooth everything out and the result is a beautiful reversible child's apron. 
I couldn't resist buying some cute butterfly shaped silicone cake baking trays to complete the present

4 presents down. 798 to go....Joke!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pile on!

We play Rugby in this house. 
So if we ask you to join us at the park to throw a ball around....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Guess what arrived on our doorstep...?!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

From France...with Love xoxo

I received a parcel last week. It had a French post mark on it and a return address in Paris. I clutched it tightly to me as I unlocked the front door and jabbed my finger at the alarm keypad. I dropped my bags and keys on the tiled floor and walked quickly into the kitchen where I looked at it again more closely. I wanted to tear it open but I resisted and lay it down on the bench top. I quickly filled the kettle from the tap and while it boiled threw a tea-bag in a cup and once again scanned the brown paper for a clue as to it's contents. As I made my cup of tea I already knew who the parcel was from.

It was from Gina. A friend who moved to France in January with her young family when her husband was moved from his American branch to the Parisian one for a year. I first came upon Gina when she left a comment on a wonderful blog I read written by Corey Amoro. When I saw the name "Gina" next to a comment I was intrigued. I have not known many people who share my name. I was curious as to who this other Gina was so I clicked the link and found myself reading a blog called A Year of Change about my name-sake who was just about to start a similar adventure to ours.

She was packing up her life to move to a new country. She wrote about her kids, packing, the waiting, waiting, waiting for the Visa. All things I could relate to. I left a comment and that started what has become a friendship of comments and emails as she packed and moved and built a new life for her husband and kids. I particularly connected with her when her husband was sent on a business trip when they were barely settled in their new apartment. It brought back all the fears and insecurities I had when Byron left on a business trip just weeks after we arrived in Australia. I made an effort to keep in touch while she was on her own with the kids and felt her frustrations when her husbands return was delayed and she held everything together for her 6 year old twins.

I still marvel at how the world of blogging can bring people together that would otherwise never meet. Without blogging I would not have crossed paths with Gina. And what a shame that would be because she is funny and positive and always looking for the silver lining at a time most people would tear their hair out.

....and back to the parcel!

I opened it and took out a red paper envelope and a card. I opened the envelope and out fell the softest, lightest, silk scarf all pink and patterned and oh so French! I brought it to my face and inhaled deeply.

I tied it around my neck, drank my cup of tea while reading her lovely card and then snapped back to reality and raced around cleaning in preparation for the Japanese students that were arriving in 2 hours. Oh the fun of normality. I danced as I vacuumed and hummed a French'√≠sh melody and pretended I was a beautiful woman living in an apartment in Paris, the pink scarf tied around my neck and a grin on my face.

Thank-you Gina for your friendship and Thank-you for my hug in an envelope!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Tears and Promises

Last night Mana and Akari packed their cases ready to return to Japan. We had spent the evening at a Bush Dance organised by the school. We had a wonderful time laughing and dancing and eating mountains of great food. By the time we got home it was dark and the sugar rush was wearing off. Everyone was very subdued.

The kids went to give goodnight hugs and gave our guests some Australian animal soft toys as a goodbye gift and the emotions spilled over. Gareth got so upset after he went upstairs, he lay in bed sobbing and then went back downstairs to give them another hug and to tell them again how much he was going to miss them. This set the Japanese girls off and the tears were flowing loud and fast. I didn't know who to hug. I just went from one child to another around the room and then started back at the beginning again. I rubbed Gareth's back after he returned to bed and the crying turned into softer whimpering and then finally sleep overtook him. When all three of my kids were finally settled it was close to 11pm. We made drinking chocolate for Mana and Akari and they went to their bedrooms where the soft chatting sounded happier.

This morning we were up at 6.30am showering and making breakfast and packing the last few things in their cases. I burned CD's with all the photos we took on our camera while they were here so they can take them home to their families in Japan.

We travelled to school with the suitcases in the boot and I stayed for a wonderful assembly to say goodbye. It was heartbreaking to hear the speeches made by the students. One Japanese girl broke down on stage as she sincerely promised to hold the memories of the past week in her heart until the day she died. If ever there was a moment that I understood the positive impact of hosting these kids in our homes and making them a part of our families then this was it. We hugged and made promises to keep in touch through letters and emails before they got on the bus and it pulled away down the long school driveway.

What I hope for Mana and Akari is that they will hold the memories of this visit in their hearts.

What I didn't foresee was the part of them they would leave behind in ours.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sushi lessons.

Today instead of providing our Japanese guests with food we provided them with ingredients! We asked them to make sushi with us to see if they could improve how we have tried to in the past! My kids told the girls all about my first attempt to make sushi which is now referred to as "Slushi" because it fell apart!

What amazed me was the differences in how both the girls made theirs. They both laughed at me putting carrot in mine. They had never seen that before. Mana used a candle to scorch her nori seaweed sheet but Akari had  never done this.

In the end we had made a box of Sushi for each of us to bring on a picnic. We wrote our names in English and the girls wrote the Japanese equivalent on too!

Happiness is...

...being back together!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The jigsaw puzzle.

If you read my previous post here you will know that we had an unexpected second Japanese student join us on Wednesday because her host family was sick. We always knew that it was a temporary arrangement and that Akari would move on to her host family when they were better.

When we got the phone-call on Friday evening to tell us she would be collected 10 minutes after she got off the school bus my heart sank. I found it so hard to tell her when she ran up the driveway smiling and talking about her day trip to see the dolphins. I put a smile on my face and told her how excited her host family were to be collecting her and how much fun they had planned for her, ice-skating, horse riding, kangaroo encounters. I had a lump in my throat and hugged her and told her we would miss her.

We went on a quick walk beside the lake just across the road from our house as a distraction while we watched out for the host family's car.

They arrived, we put her suitcase in the boot and made small talk as we waited for Byron to arrive home from work so he too could give her a hug goodbye.

A short while later we waved at the car driving away. My eyes filled up. I felt pretty stupid getting emotional about a girl we had only known for 2 days but she was such a gorgeous little thing and she had fitted in so well. Byron gave me a big hug in the kitchen and told me he missed her too and I didn't feel so silly.

We had a lovely evening with Mana and some of Sian's friends that had come for a girly sleepover. Today was packed with bringing Mana souvenir shopping in a local shopping centre....

...and to a local wildlife park to see Koalas and Kangaroos.

Before heading home we drove to a beachside park and the kids laughed and laughed as they played on the swings and chased each other around getting dizzy and falling over.

Just as the sun was getting low in the sky and we were getting in the car to come home my mobile rang. It was Akari's host family. They were worried about her. She was dreadfully homesick and was missing Mana and us. They suggested that the best thing would be to return her to us for the remainder of her stay. I felt so sorry for them that it hadn't worked out but I was so glad to know that she was on her way back to us.

We drove home and when we pulled up the driveway she was standing next to her suitcase. We all hugged her tight and told her how happy we were to see her again. She kept saying "Sorry, sorry" and we couldn't tell her enough how we were not cross, we were so happy to have her back. We felt a bit like a jigsaw puzzle that was missing a piece and now we are complete again.

As I sit here at the computer all I can hear is laughter and squealing as 5 kids race up and down the hallway chasing balloons and throwing paper aeroplanes.

Life is complete again...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Old Man!

Happy Birthday Mr B.
You're not old. 
Well, not very old. 
Ok. Let's face it, you're 41 which means I am in my 30's and you are technically in your 40's, but hey, who's counting.... 

Besides, I love the little sprinkling of grey around your temples. It makes you look...
Happy Birthday Old Man!!!
I Love you

Cruisin' !

The girls are heading off on a day trip to spend the morning on a Dolphin cruise. I have begged them to dress warm as I know it will be cold out on the sea but they all insist they are fine. 
They have their packed lunches and drinks and some chocolate caramel koalas to give them energy if they do too much shivering!
They left an hour ago and the house seems so quiet...

P.S; To Miwa and Kumi. Thank you for your lovely comments. 
I promise I am looking after your precious little Akari! 
And to Mana's parents Kazuko and Tadashi. She is so lovely. Can we keep her please?!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Variety is the spice of life...

...can you spot which cake is decorated especially for Byron?!

Chocolate coated smiles!

After a good nights sleep our Japanese girls are feeling right at home. They went to school with Sian today and travelled home on the school bus.

It is Byron's birthday tomorrow so when they came home we decided to make a mess in the kitchen and bake a cake for him. A few months ago Byron was telling the kids stories from his childhood. One story he told them was about the great cakes he remembers having on his birthdays. One in particular was a castle made with chocolate finger biscuits.

Today we tried to re-create a similar one. We made a huge mess and it was a real ice-breaker. The icing bag exploded at one point and all formalities went out the window as we tried to rescue the icing from pouring on the table and get the chocolate fingers to stick on the cake!

Here is a fun snapshot to make you feel like you were with us, feet sticking to the icing on the kitchen floor and sprinkles crunching underfoot!

Now to go tidy up the mess....

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Japanese students

We recently put our name forward to be a host family for a Japanese student through our daughters High School. We were allocated a 13 year old girl called Manami to stay with us for 5 days during her school excursion to Australia. We have emailed back and forth and have built up a lovely anticipation of her arrival.

At the eleventh hour we had a phone call from the school. There was a problem. Another host family were ill and they needed to find somewhere for their student for the first few days until they recovered. So today we have run around preparing not for one but two students. There was a brief amount of info given to us about the extra girl, Akari, one thing being that she was allergic to milk. I arranged to leave work early to call in to the supermarket on my way home so I could buy a soy alternative. I panicked that I wouldn't have enough food so what started as a basket for a carton of soy milk turned into a trolley of food for $198.92 !

We had half an hour at home after the school run to make up a second bed and prepare dinner. Then we jumped in the car to collect our two girls. They looked so little as they stepped off the coach and collected their bags and grouped together waiting to be introduced to their families. When Mana saw us she looked so excited and had a smile from ear to ear. Akari was not aware that her host family was ill and so she was told in front of us. She looked so fragile and lost. Her face seemed confused as we tried to introduce ourselves. I so wanted to hug her and tell her everything was going to be ok. That we would look after her. That we were delighted to have her stay. I tried to sum all my emotion and mothering into four little words.

This is what came out...

"...I have soy milk"

That's not going to go down in history as one of my most eloquent moments is it?! It seemed to break the tension though as she smiled nervously and bowed saying "Thank-you, thank-you"

We are home now and we have been given some beautiful Japanese gifts. The kids have laughed and played together and our Japanese guests are fed and showered and tucked up in bed with hot water bottles and fleecy blankets. I hope they feel welcome and I hope that they enjoy the next few days being a part of our family.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Operation Beautiful.

Today is the launch day of a very special book.

It is written by Caitlin Boyle and is called "Operation Beautiful" It is the story of how she changed they way we think about ourselves one post-it at a time. The concept is for women to write uplifting and positive messages and leave them for random strangers to find. You can read more about it on her website.

Why am I so excited?

Because the book is made up of 100 images and stories of women and girls around the world who have followed Caitlin's example and written their own notes and been featured on her website.

Have you guessed yet?

Someone I know had her story chosen.
Someone very special.
Someone who is 12.
And creative.
And beautiful.
And my daughter!

Yes! Caitlin emailed Sian and told her that she is in the book. You can see the blog entry Sian wrote when she submitted her story here.

We have pre-ordered a copy and will have to wait until we get it to actually see it for ourselves. I am so excited and won't really believe it until we actually hold it in our hand...

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Love and Hate

I love my kids.
I love them playing sport
I love seeing Sian swim like a dolphin length after length on Monday afternoons.
I love seeing Gar and Rhiannon getting muddy on a rugby pitch.
I hate the driving them everywhere to practise and and matches.
I hate when my alarm clock goes off at 7am on a weekend morning. That's when I bury my head under my pillow and wish my kids were couch potatoes. That they were un-sporty and unhealthy. That they played chess or read encyclopaedias for fun.

But then we get out of the car and find ourselves standing in the middle of the Hunter Valley. Blue sky, crisp cold air and a scattering of families getting out of their cars. Little kids in Rugby strips running around full of excitement. That's when I decide it is worth it.

When the match is over and knees are muddy we walk across to the Hunter Valley Chocolate Shop for a coffee and around the corner to The British Lolly Shop so the kids can choose a bag of sweets. Other families jostle and oooh and aaagh inside the shop at all the colourful choices.

And then an offer from another Mum to take a photo of our family all together. 5 smiling Baynhams in the same frame. A rare treat!

Ok, I love it really!