Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dear Woolworths

Dear Woolworths,

My New Years resolution this year was to be organised and efficient. I planned a weekly on-line shop that would leave me free to blitz the house on a Monday morning top to bottom and then have you turn up at my door with the perfect amount of groceries for the coming week. Menu planning here we come. No more running out of nut-free-dairy-free-egg-free-taste-free school sandwich fillers. No more realising we are out of milk as the kettle is boiling for a much needed cuppa.

Today you helped make that dream a little bit more of a reality and I feel the need to say a very genuine Thank-you.

Today I sent all three kids to school for the first time since school broke up 6 long weeks ago. I fully intended on getting out the rubber gloves but got sidetracked by a funny video on Facebook. Then I replied to some emails, had a cuppa and read a few blogs. You were scheduled to deliver anytime from 10-1pm. It surprised me when you knocked on the door at 10.30 and brought my shopping all the way into my kitchen for me! A fine strapping employee if I might say so. Being a happily married woman I appreciated the attempt to brighten my day but truly, I am happy for you to let him deliver to the young single ladies out there, I quite like the lady who sometimes comes and chats about kids, weather and housework (I'm getting old and boring I think...)

I checked the items off the list as I unpacked and it gave me an excited endorphine rush to see that you were generous in your portions. You gave me $20 of beef instead of the $15 I paid for and all the veggies and deli products were what I had requested and a little bit more. When you didn't have the 550gm box of Special K you sent two 300gm boxes instead at no extra cost. It doesn't take a lot to make me happy. I really should get out more.

One thing I did learn is that I should probably pay a bit more attention to the weight of items I request. I never did realise that putting 1 next to the picture of green string beans meant 1 kilo. I never realized how big a 1 kilo bag of beans was. I think it might very well feed my family for a week. I really wish they liked beans...

And the special offer on that yummy nut cluster, almond and coconut cereal... 99cents a box! Too good to be true I thought but put two in my basket. Yes, they were tiny trial sized boxes. I ate one for lunch. It was pretty good.

And the free sandwich shape cutter you sent with my Bega cheese slices. You excelled yourselves! I had to make a sandwich to try it out. I ate my mummy cow and baby cow with a glass of milk and had memories of pre-school floating around my head. Then I snapped out of it and ate the discarded crusts like my mummy always told me because I want curly hair .

I'm stuffed now and it's only 11am. I truly am a very happy customer. My fridge is overflowing, my belly full and because I ordered a large shop you didn't even charge me a delivery fee.

If I could make just one last suggestion. Perhaps on your web-site you could introduce some recipe ideas for how-to-make-your-family-love-string-beans.

Yours Most Sincerely,

Gina Baynham

Monday, January 30, 2012

First day at High School!

Today was Rhiannons first day at High School. It went really well. Thanks to everyone for all your lovely messages of support and excitement. More photos and stories to come. 
For now bed is calling!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Baby Kingfisher: The happy ending!

We got a call this morning from the vet. The baby kingfisher was in perfect health and had "found his wings!" Could we come in to collect him and let him free from our garden so that he would be back where he started? 

We had a very exciting drive home from the vet and held tight to the closed box. When we got out of the car the kids pulled back the tea towel and he flew from the box straight to the trees by the lake and sat on a telephone wire getting his bearings.

The kids were so happy to have seen a happy ending to this adventure. As Rhiannon said 
"It makes you feel good inside" 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Baby Kingfisher

Today when I got home from work there was a cry from the kids. A bird had hit the kitchen door and was lying stunned on the patio. It was a baby Kingfisher. We went outside and kept the chickens away from it while it sat huddled under the patio table. When it seemed unable to fly away we worried that its wing was damaged and put it in a box and drove to a local Vet. 

The girl there was so lovely and promised to keep the bird overnight and check it for injuries. She said that she would ring us in the morning to let us know how it was doing and thanked the kids for bringing it in. We had never actually been to this local vet. It was tucked away in an industrial estate but looked more like a cottage hidden in the bush. It's nice to know that there are great services like this so nearby. We will be eagerly waiting to hear from them again tomorrow....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australia Day 2012

I worked.
They played.
I messaged questions during my break?
They responded with photos.
I was jealous.
They knew I was teasing.
I got home tired.
They made me a cup of tea.
Happy Australia Day everyone.
How did you spend it...?!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Busy little production line.

Rhiannon had some friends here this week and they spent a couple of hours making cards. The kitchen table disappeared under a mountain of paper, glue and scissors.

I'm sure it would be cheaper and easier to buy cards in the local shops but they had fun and hopefully their family and friends will be delighted when they open one of these wonderful creations!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fairy Godmothers

I had the honour of being asked to be Godmother to a very special little girl this weekend. A very special little girl that I almost had the fun of delivering at home but who decided she would rather be born in the ambulance 2 minutes later! 

Instead of having the traditional Godmother and Godfather her parents decided to have two Godmothers. And so I found myself sharing the honour with another beautiful woman called Brigid. 

We have a lot in common. Both with Irish heritage, both a bit quirky and individual in the nicest possible way, and both sharing the privilege of overseeing the future of this perfect little girl. 

Buckle your seatbelt baby, It's going to be a fun ride!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Instagram Ice-Cream!

I love the iphone with its camera always at the ready to capture the ordinary and transform it into the extraordinary! 

I used the Instagram app to edit this photo while the kids enjoyed their treat from the local Gelato shop.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cake Pops

We had fun today at Sophie and Gemma's house. 
When we got there we found that they had made "Cake Pops" and had everything ready for us to dip them in melted chocolate and then crushed cashews and lollies!
Thanks girls for a fun day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Me time!

I had an opportunity to pop into our local town recently child-free! (A rare occurrence during school holidays)

I found myself with half an hour before I was due to pick the kids up so I made the most of it!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Wedding!

We left home at 4pm leaving behind the kids with popcorn, movies, dinner cooked and babysitter to oversee everything. It was hot and sticky and I was glad of the hour in the car with air-con on full blast to stop my make-up running off my face. I painted my nails as Byron drove. Not the best idea when you consider the amount of roundabouts we stopped and started at! We pulled into the car park and circled for a space as families brushed the sand off kids and headed home for tea and other wedding guests jostled for their car spaces. Byron changed into his crisp ironed shirt in the car park and cringed as a couple strolled past us, the man wearing a full formal suit and tie (we had been told no tie needed!) The next couple to get out of their car were dressed similarly to us and Byron breathed out again.

We weren't sure how many people we would know but as we walked into the surf club lots of the faces were familiar. The location was spectacular. The club was in an elevated position overlooking the sand and sea. We were handed welcome drinks, I could have downed the glass of cold champagne in seconds. The main conversation was excited whispers about the wedding itself. Everyone had a guess at what surprises lay in store. And then in walked the bride and groom.

Tenelle had opted for a glamorous black and diamonte dress and Kane was wearing a cool linen shirt open at the neck. They both looked so relaxed and happy. After mingling with their friends and family they made their way down to the sand and exchanged vows and rings.

Kane's Dad Mike took lots of photos and when Kane's Mum Lin posted them on Facebook I cheekily asked her if I could download them to use them here!

When we all returned upstairs to the club the party really started. Cocktails were flowing.  I liked the look of these pink ones with rose petals floating in them but boy were they strong!

I moved on to these Mohitos with their refreshing mint sprigs.
I tasted a friends Margarita and nearly died. It had trouble written all over it for someone who was planning on being up at 6am to go work in a hospital!

Byron and myself kicked off our shoes as the sun began to set and went for a walk on the beach. It was so lovely to be strolling along a beach with the day sinking away at the horizon. Hearing the sound of laughter and music drifting in the evening breeze. It's not often we get the chance to have romantic time together. I think the romantic glowing feeling inside was probably helped along by the cocktails!

When we got back from the walk we noticed that there was a fun addition to the party tucked away in a back corner...

...a photo booth!

Anyone could go in and have a series of 4 images taken which printed out onto 2 strips.

One to put in a book for the couple and one to take home!

I had so much fun going in with Byron and later with a bunch of girls.

The more the cocktails flowed the more giggles came out of the booth.

I'd love to have been a fly on the wall as the night wore on!

The wedding cake was an ice-cream cake and a mountain of delicious Adriano Zumbo macaroons!
The kids had watched Adriano on a recent tv series Junior Masterchef and I knew they would  be so jealous that we managed to eat one of his famous concoctions. The brides Mum Anne read my mind and wrapped up one of each flavour to hide in my handbag and sneak home to the kids.

We said our goodbyes at a respectable 10am as we had an hour drive home and I had an early start the following morning. I struggled to get out of bed when the alarm woke me at 6am. I left the "Zumbaroons" out on the table for the kids to find at breakfast before I slipped out the door to work...miraculously clear headed but still stifling a yawn or two!

Thank you Tenelle and Kane for inviting us to share such a special day with you. You sure made your wedding memorable and very unique to you. I hope that you live the rest of your life with the same love and laughter and you always remember the special qualities that drew you together.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beach wedding.

We are off to our first Australian wedding.

The Bride-to-be is not wanting too traditional a day so we are very excited to see what lies in store. We know the ceremony will be on the beach (something I have always wanted to see!) That there will be cocktails afterwards and that it is a child free event.

The kids are wishing they could come too. We have a babysitter organised and they will be left lots of treats to enjoy while we are gone but they are threatening to hide in the boot and sneak out and watch the ceremony from behind a sand dune! We will have to take lots of photos and tell them all about it the next morning.

Today my dress is drying on the line and Byron's best shirt is ironed and ready. All that was left was the card. I know that the bride loves purple and because she is going a bit non-traditional I decided to start with some purple beads and wire and see what I ended up with...

I've got butterflies in my tummy! I can't wait to come back and tell you all about it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One a Week Project.

With Christmas packed up and back in a box in the garage until next December we are left with the bits of tinsel in the carpet and the odd forgotten ornament surprising us from where it rolled under the sofa. We are also left with the financial drain on the bank account that was hit pretty heavy last month. Added to the back to school costs of new uniforms and school shoes in the next couple of weeks and financially things feel a bit challenged. Not really the time to be reaching into our pockets for a charity donation even though for many families on lower incomes than ours this must be the time they need it most. And so I have decided every week in 2012 to try to follow the inspiration of this great idea I read about here.

It's a simple idea. Put one extra item in your trolley each week (something with a long expiry date) and by December 2012 there should be a sizable hamper to donate to a local charity. In my case it will be our St Vincent De Paul who I know will put it to good use in my immediate area. The items can be food, tins of tomatoes, dried pasta, long life milk etc or they can be household, toothpaste, cleaning products, cloths etc. The website suggests buying things that are already on special or are on a buy one get one free deal so it really does have a minimal impact on our shopping bill.

I have put a box under our spare bed so that the items are "out of sight, out of mind" and don't get in my way or get in danger of being used up. I hope that this idea is something that I follow through on. By blogging about it I am trying to make myself accountable and hope to be able to proudly show you what I have achieved 11 months from now...

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Dear Granny.

Dear Granny and Grandad Joe,
Thank you very much for my meccano car for Christmas. Dad was very
excited when he saw it. He used to have meccano when he was my age. He
thought he was an expert. That was until we sat down this weekend to
make it. He thought it was exciting at first. Then the instructions
got a bit tricky. Another problem was the size of his fingers. Meccano
is not made for big fat fingers to get into. Well it is almost
possible but it leaves you with cuts and bruises. I thought it was
funny when I learnt new words from Dad. Mum didn't think the new words
were so funny. She told me never to use them in school. Or in front of
Granny. Or auntie Rhonda. We got to the end and there were a couple of
bits left over. Mum wanted to know if we had followed the instructions
perfectly. Dad used another new word and went out to the garden to
water the plants. It was a bit strange because it was raining?
Mum said that I should send you a photo of the finished car and say
thank you very much. Dad said that next year you should send Lego.
I love you lots.
Gareth xoxoxo

Friday, January 06, 2012

Tornado warning!

Rhiannon has survived her first tornado!
She went to play at a friends house and just before I was due to collect her the mother of all storms hit from out of the blue! They went from applying their sunscreen to holding on to the nearest heavy object. It passed over in a short time and afterwards we got some photos and a first hand description of it from my friend Monica. With her permission I have given you her version of events (because if I wrote it I would be accused of exaggerating!!!)

"Yesterday, about 3.40pm, with minimal warning there were raging winds, rain and hail (the grass turned white), no visibility across the lake, boats rocking wildly and branches flying, in one instance breaking a tile on our roof before crashing into our backyard.   Our catamaran on the shore turned 90 degrees and was sitting on another catamaran.

After the storm which some  described as being like in a tornado, neighbours gathered to compare stories and wait for the LMCC crews to come and clear the blocked road.  
Two of the girls friends had been picked up from being at our house for the day and two were still with us. Their parents couldn't get down the street as branches were across the road.

Then the task raking leaves, washing windows and picking up loads of branches began.
Amazingly, the impact was mostly between Prospect Avenue and the fence outside our house at the end of the road.    On the other side of the fence there were virtually no branches fallen!"

The girls were very glad to see blue skies again and by the time I got there they were over their fear and posing on the fallen trees. I hope this experience doesn't add to Rhiannons already nervous disposition around wild weather!

So far she is enjoying the re-telling of the "Adventure"

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The button, the artist, the friend, the two girls, the other friend and the sister.

Once upon a time in the beautiful country of Ireland lived a very talented artist called Jane. 

Jane loved buttons and made jewellery with them in her button studio in her hometown of Athlone. She loved her little creations and as time went by so did the people around her. The newspapers started to write about her and she was interviewed on the television and radio.

Jane had a friend Nicola who lived nearby. Nicola was a generous spirited girl who loved nothing more than to spend time helping others. It just so happened that she spent time with the artist helping her prepare her wares for sale in a big craft fair in the city of Dublin. 

Nicola loved Jane's creations so much that she bought two of her necklaces and sent them across the seas to two girls who lived in Australia. The two girls were the daughters of Nicola's other friend, Gina. Nicola made sure that the two girls knew the story of the artist and how talented she was and how she hoped she would do well with her craft. The two girls loved their button necklaces because they knew they were unique and no one in Australia had anything similar. 

The friend Nicola travelled to Australia and visited the two girls and her other friend Gina. She talked about the time she had spent with the artist and Gina felt as though she knew her. 

Gina had a sister that lived in the city of Dublin back in country of Ireland. She had an important job planning a big craft fair. As she walked around the fair on the day it opened she felt proud of all that she could see. Talented people with all their creations selling to the people of Dublin. As the sister walked she stopped at one stall. It was filled with the most beautiful necklaces she had ever seen. Made from buttons no less. The sister stopped and wondered if perhaps her sister Gina who lived in Australia would like one for Christmas and so she chose one and wrapped it carefully and posted it to her.

And so it was that on Christmas Day Gina unwrapped a beautiful necklace with the cutest buttons and laughed as she realised that her sister had unwittingly chosen a gift for her made by the artist that was helped by her friend.

And they all lived happily ever after
The End

Monday, January 02, 2012

Kristian Anderson R.I.P.

For anyone following the story of Kristian Anderson today has brought the very sad news of his death.

He died in a Sydney hospital this morning and his final blog was published by his wife Rachel this afternoon.

Click here to read his final words on his blog howthelightgetsin

Kristian, I hope you are finally at peace after your fight against bowel cancer. Thank you for sharing the emotional journey with us. And to Rachel, as a mother and a wife my heart is torn for you today. I wish you strength and time to grieve and someday in the future a peaceful heart filled with memories of a man that loved you more than life itself.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A New Year

Looking back on 2011 I feel grateful that as a family it has overall been a good year.

The kids were happy and healthy which is all we can really hope for. They all did well in school with glowing reports at the end of the year but more importantly they enjoyed the academic year and the fun of good friendships, new and old.

Byron worked hard and learned many new skills that lead him in the direction of writing apps for the iphone and ipad, an exciting direction and one that someday may fund my love of shoes and handbags!

I reduced my work hours from three days a week to two. The difference to our family life was immense and everyone was grateful for the more consistent flow of clean laundry and hot meals on the table! I read more books this year than I have read in the previous 5, due no small part to the gift of an ipad from Byron with a great selection of books on it.

Our extended family faced challenges with health that had a big impact on all involved. We don't refer to much of that here to protect privacy but we hope and pray for a happier and healthier 2012 in that area.

Do I have any resolutions?

The obvious jump to mind

Get Fit
Relax more
Eat healthier
Enjoy quality family time

The actual " How To"  requires a bit more thought...
Menu planning so that the right food is in the fridge.
Planning some exercise into my week so that I work other things around it and don't leave it till the last priority  where it is bound to be forgotten.
Perhaps being less "attached"  to my phone when I am in the home. The ping of a new email often stops me from completing a task as I stop everything to read what often is just a junk email anyway. I have started by unsubscribing myself from many special offer websites and newsletters.
Continuing our " technology free hour"  where we all leave our phones, ipods, DS consoles etc in another room and come together for a snuggle on the sofa to watch a comedy or documentary. This was perhaps the most rewarding habit we started in 2011. We joke that even the house phone can wait and the call be returned later in the evening, even if it the Pope ringing from the Vatican!

Hopefully we have set ourselves some positive goals that are achievable. We are only human and family dynamics change as children grow and test boundaries. We will be flexible in our attitude and hope that the end of 2012 finds us as happy and healthy as it does now.