Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waiting at the traffic lights...

...staring into space. 
Then I noticed the registration plates of this truck! 

Luckily the lights stayed red for ages so I could get a photo on my phone!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mr Wilson.

Have you seen the old Dennis the Menace comic strips? The ones where Dennis bugs his neighbour Mr Wilson? Hold this thought...

It is coming to the end of November now, otherwise know as Movember as many men are growing their moustaches and raising money for Prostate Cancer and mens Mental health charities. The principal of our kids school is one of these men prepared to let us have a laugh at his upper lip all in the name of charity.

As the weeks progressed I just knew that he was reminding me of someone and I just couldn't put my finger on it. Then it hit me. Mr Wilson! Not content to giggle inside my own head I felt the urge to share this with him. Being a good sport he had a laugh about it too.

On the recent school Christmas disco I found myself looking after Gareth's fake moustache and then being yelled at by the good principal himself  "Impostor, impostor" as he pointed in my direction. I don't know what he was on about... Do you?!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let the Moustaches rule!

If you read the comments on the last post about Gareth's Birthday you may wonder what Monica was on about?

Yes there are photos of the moustaches but I felt they deserved their very own post!

As a small version of a birthday party in a crazy busy week during a crazy busy time of the year I came up with a cunning plan. Let Gareth invite a small group of boys to catch the school bus home with him at 3.15pm. Endure the chaos and noise for 2 1/2 hours. Then parcel the sugar rush-hyper-noisy-excited boys into the car and drive to the schools Christmas disco and deliver them safely into the care of their families once more.

Please note I was planning that most of this time would be spent outside in the garden and swimming pool. Quick and simple, not a single parent actually stepping foot in my messy-floors-need-cleaning-don't-mention-the-bathrooms house!

What could possible go wrong? The weather! Who would have guessed that it would POUR rain all week and be cold. It's nearly Australian summer Mr Weather man. So the 2 1/2 hours were spent tearing the house apart and racing around trying not to knock over the two visiting cousins (who had a ball being surrounded by so many other rough and tumble boys!)

The fun began with the school bus pulling up and the driver letting the boys off. Our poor neighbour chose a bad time to walk over and drop off some Christmas lolly bags to the kids. He nearly got flattened by the stampede!

The finale before getting in the car to the disco was the party bags. Brown paper lunch sacks filled with jelly snakes, glo-bands and chocolate and a set of fake moustaches at Gareth's request.

The fun and laughter as they stuck their fake muzzies was hilarious.
We went to the disco and it was with great relief that we saw each mum and handed back her hairy bundle of joy!

Another year over.

Another successful party.

Another happy child!

Another exhausted mum!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Gareth!

Today my baby turns 9!

What an amazing 9 years he has had. Born in England to an Irish Mum and a Welsh Dad, he celebrated his 1st Birthday in Sydney as his Uncle Joe married his Auntie Rhonda, back in England for Birthday number 2 and emigrated and living in Australia by Birthday number 3!

Gareth we love you. You know the story of how you were so lucky to be here with us. That I became pregnant with you around our other baby's due date. That if that baby had been born you never would. You know that we were so scared as we went in for your scan, knowing a previous one had ended with such sad news. That your Dad whooped with joy when he learnt that he was having a son. You were so very much wanted and loved.

The delivery didn't go as planned. The nurse told your Dad afterwards that you were so lucky to be alive, that I was too. You scared the living daylights out of us this day 9 years ago. We had to wait for blood cord samples to return to tell us if you might be brain damaged. We felt enormous relief when everything came back clear and you grew and grew into a perfectly happy and healthy baby. I still get a lump in my throat if I see a mentally disabled child being pushed around in a wheelchair as I know that "There but for the grace of God go I" My eyes fill up as I offer a prayer of thanks that you were given the chance of a healthy life.

And what a BIG baby you were! Almost twice the size of your sisters. Always eating and drinking everything around you. You have grown into such a fine young man. You have a wonderful balance between boyish rough and tumble and sweet caring nature. Sometimes too soft for your own good but we wouldn't change a thing about you. As you grow older I think you will become a wonderful strong teenager and adult. Your friends are lucky to have you stand beside them. Whether is is on a rugby pitch or playing Nerf wars with those blasted foam bullets that I find everywhere!

Happy Birthday 9 year old. May there be many many more years of fun and laughter to come.

You make our family complete...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why do I love Mr B?

Because at 11pm the night before Gareth's Birthday as I ran around stressing and flapping he took the icing pen from me and finished off 36 Ninjabread men for Gareth to bring in to his classmates the next day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Teachers Day

Rhiannon loves to make cards for anything and everything. She particularly loves to  make 3D cards which are made of layers of coloured paper to build up a scene. It was Teachers Day this term and she spent ages making this great card for her teacher Mrs Parkes. I particularly liked the scissors that could be taken out of the pencil pot and actually opened and closed because of the brad she used to make it, and also the bite out of the apple! 
We made some raspberry friands and sent them in with the kids as a treat for their teachers morning tea.  We really seem to have hit the jackpot every year with each kid getting the teacher that was just right for their nature and personality. It's so hard to think that next January Rhiannon will move to High School with up to ten different teachers in any one week. I don't think they could ever be as nurturing as her lovely Primary School teachers :-(

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Canberra here we come...!

It is a nerve wracking week for me. Yesterday our alarms went off at 5.30am and by 6 we were driving Rhiannon to school all packed and ready for her 6 hour coach journey to Canberra, the Capital city of Australia. 

Over the next three days she will travel with her classmates around a multitude of places, the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Museum of Australia and the Australian War Memorial to name but a few. They will also get to have lots of fun at an amazing place called Questacon and even ten pin bowling. 

There is absolutely no contact with the kids while they are away. No mobile phones allowed and just one mobile number to directly contact the teachers in an emergency. I watched the news this morning and Princess Mary of Denmark will be visiting Parliament House at the same time as the kids are scheduled to be there. I know it didn't truly count as an emergency as such but I did text the teachers to let them know to keep their cameras at the ready...

...I'm still awaiting a response!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The kiss!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The kids can't get enough of their little cousins and were so excited to spend time with them again this weekend. You really can't beat the fun that they have together. Why is it that a strangers 2 year old can be take-it-or-leave-it but your own cousin is just super adorable?!

Friday, November 18, 2011


At this time of year in Australia there is an explosion of purple. Everywhere you look there are Jacaranda trees in full glorious bloom. As we drove around during my friend Nicola's week here we kept saying that we would stop and take some photos when we found the "perfect" tree. On one of her last days we were running ahead of time to collect the kids from school so we did a detour and found a street lined with these amazing trees. I think of all the memories Nicola will have of her time here in Australia this will be one of her best ones!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Walking with Nicola.

Can you spot the annoying brother...?!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cookie in a jar

I thought you might like to see one of the gifts I brought to my sister-in-laws Kitchen Tea. It was an idea I found on-line called cookie-in-a-jar. I can't find the original link now but click here for another with a similar idea.

I bought a new glass storage jar and after giving it a good rinse I measured out the ingredients for choc-chip pecan cookies and layered them into the jar and added the recipe ingredients and instructions on a tag tied to the catch.

I thought it was a fun idea and could potentially be something we do for the teachers as we get to the end of the Australian school year in a few weeks time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Friends reunited!

My friend Nicola has arrived over from Ireland. 
Let the gossip-fest begin!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kitchen Tea.

I had never heard of a Bride-To-Be having a kitchen tea before. It is an Australian tradition that seems to be making a comeback. All the women in the bride and grooms families and close friends gather together for an afternoon of tea, sandwiches and cupcakes. The visitors bring with them a gift that is kitchen related and the theory is that it helps to set up the girl with the contents of her kitchen cupboards for when she gets married.

Nowadays many women have lived away from their family home for many years before tying the knot and so the tradition dwindled. Recently it has become trendy again and that is how I came to have an invitation hanging on my fridge. No boring soggy sandwiches for Tenelle! She was having her get together in Sydney's posh tea house

My friend Nicola is visiting from Ireland and we managed to score an invite for her too. It was wonderful! As we walked in off the bright street and high sunshine of a hot summers day we took a while for our eyes to adjust to the dark, cool interior. All the lights had a soft orange glow and it was like stepping into a different world.
We spent the next 5 hours sipping Earl Grey tea from china cups and saucers and nibbling on tiny sandwiches and cakes. Topped off by a glass of rose champagne, delightful darling!

Here are some photos from our iPhones...
And finally a photo showing you how comfortable I felt in my opulent surroundings!
"More Champagne please waiter..."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gareth the scientist

I think Gareth has added Scientist to list of things he wants to be when he grows up. 
He recently received a crystal growing kit from his Auntie in Ireland and had so much fun mixing and weighing and making sure he followed the instructions to the letter. I even had to bring him home a pair of gloves from the hospital before he started. The funniest thing was seeing him very earnestly putting on the fancy safety goggles. He looked more like he was off for a swim than heading to the kitchen laboratory!
A week later the crystals are grown and he has gone off to school with them in his school bag for show and tell.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A story for Nicola.

Nicola is a good friend in Ireland. She has a positive attitude about her that she rubs off on everyone around her. Because I blog she keeps telling me I should write a story. A real story, not just a rambling account of something that we did in our day to day life. She is coming to visit this week and keeps saying she is looking forward to reading it.

The pressure was on so I sat down and wrote this...

Enjoy it Nicola!

She stood in front of the sink. Her hands immersed in the warm
bubbles. The freshly washed plates were stacked neatly, the water
running off them and dripping onto the silver draining board. She
closed her eyes and inhaled deeply then breathed slowly out as she
tried to shrug the tension from her shoulders. "everything will be
fine, everything will be fine" She chanted the affirmation silently
in her head willing it to be true with every fibre in her body. Her
eyes opened and she smiled as she saw the small crystal bud vase on
the window sill. It had been a wedding present from her Aunt. The
years had passed so quickly. Life had been simple then and full of
hope. The newness of everything, the ring on her finger and the
promise of love and happiness, of a house full of children's laughter
and toys underfoot. Dreams that had not come true. She reached out and
touched the small purple flowers. They were shaped like a bell. She
had called them snapdragons as a child and had picked hundreds and
pinched the end of the bell closed then clapped them between her hands
to hear them pop. They still grew along the hedgerows, a constant in a
world that had changed so much.

His car pulled in to the driveway, the angry crunch of the gravel
shaking her from her thoughts. The driver door slammed and her hands
clenched around the washcloth and she felt a wave of nausea sweep
through her "everything will be fine, everything will be fine"

As the front door opened and he walked into the kitchen she turned to
greet him with a smile. Her voice light and easy hiding the fear below
it as she asked how his day had been while deftly making a coffee and
handing it to him. The same motions that she went through each day.
Every step measured and calm. Doing nothing to rock the boat, nothing
to channel his anger at her. As she passed him the cup her hand shook
and a splash of the hot coffee ran down the side and onto his fingers.
His face turned ugly and before she could raise her hand to protect
herself she felt it. The hard thud against her cheekbone. The stars in
her vision and the world spinning as she fell to her knees. The
whimper that came from her as she saw the hand come back again. To
teach her a lesson. To remind her never again to repeat that mistake.

The next morning she looked in the mirror. Her cheekbone was an angry
florid purple. She felt the swelling tenderly with her fingers. The
tears stung her eyes as she blinked them back. She should have been
more careful. If she could just learn not to make him mad then maybe
she could avoid the cycle of hiding the bruises. She was a stupid
woman. Stupid and worthless. Other women didn't have to hide their
eyes behind sunglasses on a dull day. Wear long sleeves to cover their
arms in the height of summer. Cancel coffee dates because they needed
to stay closer to home until the rainbow of colours faded enough not
to draw questions. She would learn to be better. This would not happen
again. Not if she tried hard enough.

It was a few months later when she once again found herself at the
sink, slowly washing the breakfast dishes when she heard the gravel
crunch under the weight of a car. She glanced at the clock. The
routine was wrong. It was too early for him to be home again.
"everything will be fine, everything will be fine" her heart thumped
loudly in her chest as the doorbell rang. She walked to the door and
could make out two dark shapes behind the frosted glass panels. With
the safety chain in place she opened the door a few inches and saw the
two policemen on the step. She felt the blood drain from her face and
her hand shook as she released the chain.
The younger policeman looked anxious. He held his hat tight in his
hand twisting it nervously as the senior Constable showed his ID and
requested to come in. She led them into the good room and they sat
awkwardly on the edge of the sofa. She offered tea, coffee but they
refused and asked her to sit. She heard words but not sentences. Car
crash. Dry conditions. Veered into field. Passers by. Ambulance. So
sorry. Her hands smoothed the arm protectors. He didn't like them to
be creased. That had been the first time she had learned how important
it was not to make mistakes. It took a while for her to register that
there were not going to be any more mistakes. No more lessons to be
taught. No more bruises to hide.

It had been 15 days since the police had knocked on her door. The
burial had been arranged shortly after the body was released. It was a
quick affair. The small group of family and friends had murmured
sympathy and offers of help and then hurried back to their cars with
relief. All that was left was the formality of the autopsy results.
She held the letter in her hand. The words were long and unfamiliar.
In the summary she saw "unexplained cardiac event" Possibly an unknown
condition carried for years without sign or symptom. A ticking time
bomb that turned a normal car journey to work into his final moments.

She sighed and walked to the kitchen and made herself a cup of tea.
The cup was too full and it left a wet circle on the counter. Her hand
shot out to wipe it clean then stopped frozen midway. She felt a smile
form on her mouth as she left it there. Instead her hand reached out
and gently touched the fresh purple flowers in the vase. She felt the
tension slip away as she thought back to those childhood walks.
Popping the snapdragons but never, ever eating until she had washed
her hands. Because even as a child she knew that snapdragons were
dangerous, the plant that the medicine digoxin was made from. A drug
that even in tiny doses slowed the heart rate down significantly, even
fatally. She cupped the mug of warm tea in her hands and brought it to
her mouth and took a sip.
"everything will be fine, everything will be fine"

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Live, Love, Laugh.

There's been a lot happening in my life that I am not free to share here on the blog. In the interests of being "real" I felt I should say that the happy times are wonderful and I try to blog as much as I can about them but some weeks are harder than others. For the people in my life going through upset right now I don't want to appear heartless by blogging all happy times and yet I know they would not appreciate me sharing their stories here on such a public place. Even my apparently wonderful recent weekend away with friends was tinged with sadness as "stuff" was going on in the background.

And so today I went to the park with the kids my heart heavy with thoughts. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. The sound of laughter was in the air and I could feel the warmth of the sand in between my toes. I tried to deep breath and not let the tension build in my shoulders. Tried not to let another headache take hold. I held my hand up to the sky and watched the green leaves of the trees glow as the sun shone on them. Saw the contrast of the bright green against the vivid blue. I smiled as I saw the words inscribed on my bracelet. A birthday gift from my friend Josie. A simple message, not always easy, but something to aim for and something to put things in balance in my head.

The kids wandered over and laughed at me as I tried to capture a photo on my mobile. They think I'm mad. I probably am. But I'll take mad and happy over sad and sensible any day!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Give an 8 year old boy your phone...

...and this is what you might find when you get back in your car!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Musical Genius (we hope!)

Sian has chosen Music as an elective subject as she moves into Year 9. Part of the course requirements are that you play an instrument. 99% of the kids will have been playing one for many years. Even though Sian is musical she has never joined the school band or the choir and so she has a lot of catching up to do. We enquired with friends and found a local piano teacher who we hear is very good. No pop songs here, just real old fashioned music lessons.

Surprisingly Sian is loving it. She can play lots of songs off the radio through experimenting on our home piano but is happy to be brought back to basics at her once a week lessons. We are hoping that she continues to enjoy it because she has committed to studying it over the next two years. Maybe we will have the next big star on our hands. I hope she remembers to pay back her Mum and dad who spent a small mortgage raising her!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Race that stops a Nation.

The Melbourne cup is known as the "Race that stops a nation" All around Australia life comes to a standstill for 3 minutes as the most exciting horse race of the year runs. Some years I have attended and hosted Melbourne Cup lunches with friends, some years I have worked. This year I wasn't working and no lunch plans happened so I raced to school and brought the kids home just in time to turn on the tv at 2.59. We poured cordial and threw together the last of the Halloween sweets, chopped some fruit and had a party!

The kids drew names from a hat in school and although none of their horses won  they had fun. They were very excited when Byron rang from work to say that he had won a works sweep and was going to share his winnings when he got home. 

Would it be enough for a new car?

A holiday? 

Or a fancy pair of shoes? 

He came in the door waving his winnings. An envelope with $8!

I'll keep dreaming for next year!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


On a day where I was feeling decidedly down in the dumps I got an unexpected phone call.

Visitors were passing through our area.

Could they stop in and let off steam before they continued on their long car journey?

Hell Yes!!!

Two little boys running up the driveway with grins on their faces and arms open wide for a hug. Only Mad Aunty Gina at  home to enjoy cuddles, giggles, tickles and fun.

One clever boy making paper aeroplanes...

One cheeky brother stealing them and running away...

and then getting side tracked by a pair of fancy shoes!
There really is nothing like the distraction of little kids to make your heart feel light. Their soft squidgy hands, big squeezy hugs and the way they say your name as they call goodbye and wave at you from the car. 

You can't buy that kind of happiness.