Monday, February 27, 2012

The Christening.

The Christening was lovely. Baby Cara lay still and quiet and didn't murmur as the Holy Water was poured over her head. The Christening gown looked beautiful on her. I missed my parents and my sister. I used my phone to take little video clips and even though I was in church and probably should have behaved better I subtly emailed them to Ireland as the ceremony proceeded. They emailed back to say they were in tears, send more.

Afterwards we went back to my brothers house and the kids ran and played. The food was divine and the table was filled with touches of pink. You could tell Cara was a breath of feminine fresh air after two boisterous brothers!
Another family occasion committed to memory. Photos to remind us of the fun.
...and a little touch of sadness for those that weren't there.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Go mbeirimid beo ag an am seo arís

There is a Christening gown that has been used in my family for generations. My father was baptised in it along with his older brother and sister in the 1930's and 40's. Then in the 1970's and 80's myself, my brother and my sister used it. In 1998 Sian was baptised, Rhiannon in 2000 and Gareth in 2003.  I believe that my father and his siblings were the first generation to use it although I might be wrong. Whatever the outcome this gown is somewhere in the region of 80 years old and has become a precious part of our family history.

It is made of two layers. A simple cream satin under-dress and an over-layer of thin delicate netting.

As each of my children were getting ready to wear this gown my Dad helped me to dress them and recounted the story of the gown and those who had worn it. My favourite picture I have of the gown was taken in 2000 and is of Dad trying to close the tiny buttons at the back of the gown as my gorgeous Rhiannon was laughing and moving and not helping one little bit.

This weekend the gown will be used once again to baptise my brothers third baby. This will be the first of the 6 grandchildren that my father will not be there to help with the gown as he is not well enough to travel from Ireland at this time. We will all miss him. Especially Rhiannon who has long grown out of the gown but not of her cheeky smile...

Go mbeirimid beo ag an am seo arís Dad. xoxoxo

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shopping list.

2012 was going to be the year of planning and organisation in the Baynham household.

I was going to run my house with  military precision.

I was starting with monthly meal planning and a weekly Internet food shop.

The magnetic shopping list stuck on the microwave was going to be the starting point for this outburst of effectiveness.

It's only February and I am reduced to this...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Do you follow the traditions of Lent? 
If so what do you do differently over the next 40 days?
Give something up?
 Or add something new in?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Through my Window - by Rhiannon

Rhiannon was given an English assignment to be completed by Wednesday. Firstly write a short piece about herself from the viewpoint of her bedroom window. Secondly print it and mount it on a larger poster surrounded by pictures and "things" that represent who she is.

This weekend she did the first part which I want to put here so I always have it to look back on. When the poster is complete I hope to put it here too. Watch this space....!

By Rhiannon Baynham

I’m sitting on the end of my cabin bed.
Covered in my cheerful watermelon quilt.
Next to my white desk with its cluttered pin board full of my drawings and doodles.
My old stuffed toys sit forgotten in the top of my built in wardrobe.
Shiny mirror glass surrounded by my pink and green walls.
The old childish murals painted over with new colours reflecting my new attitudes.
My window pane has been grafitti’ed by my pink liquid chalk pen from Smiggle.
The pictures and words written by me and by my friends like colourful footsteps left behind in sand.
Reminding me of fun days spent together.
As I look through the drawings I can see outside.
The next door neighbour walking his two poodles down his rocky driveway.
Sneaking a cigarette when he thinks no one can see him.
I see the lush green trees swaying in the wind.
I think a storm is brewing by the grey sky and the cold feeling.
I then distract myself by looking at the muddy lake.
I see some pelicans landing gracefully on the brown murky water.
I realise how great nature is and how lucky I am to live here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A tradition shared.

Since the kids were born it has been difficult to get out to a restaurant to celebrate Valentines Day and other special events so we have got into the habit of having a really nice meal after the kids have gone to bed. Nice table settings, candles, napkins, glass of wine etc. trying to create the feeling of a restaurant at home. I assumed we would do the same thing this year for Valentines day.

Enter Facebook. Love it or hate it, it gives an insight into how other people spend their time. My cousin Brian had posted a photo of his romantic Valentines meal. It was similar to what I do... kitchen table laid nicely for an evening meal. But it was the following photos that caught my eye. There, around the table, were photos of his smiling wife, and his two boys. His family had sat down together a few days early because he was going to be away with work on the actual day.

As I wandered around the supermarket filling a basket with nice things to cook I hesitated with a tray of two nice fillet steaks in my hand. There next to the trays of two steaks were bigger trays with five. I decided to follow Brian's lead and to have a romantic meal for five! The kids were quite surprised when they realised that they were going to get to stay up and join in. We set the table with the best plates and started with Oysters Kilpatrick and moved on to wasabi mash, fillet steak cooked medium rare, and asparagus on the side. For dessert we had some of our meringue hearts with strawberries and mini magnums! The kids loved it. They behaved really well and enjoyed the feeling of different courses being served by the maître d’ (Me!)

We talked about my cousin. I explained that it was because of him that I was including them in the fancy meal. They instantly decided that they liked him and raised a toast to him and his family!

As we put the kids to bed we got big hugs from them all and they said over and over that they had had the best dinner ever! Although I still believe it's really nice for Byron and myself to have time as a couple to talk uninterrupted and enjoy each others company I am glad that for this time we shared our tradition! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Making a mess...and loving it!

I love making a mess.

Well I love crafting and baking but I'm a bit rubbish at tidying up after. It seems crazy during busy days when there are many things on the to-do list to add in an extra "thing" but to me it is the "things" that make my life fun. Yes, I often find myself cleaning down the kitchen late at night, tired feet and looking forward to sitting down with Byron but it's the fun things I did that day that makes my conversation with him more interesting.

Take yesterday for instance. I read a blog written by Bianca. She had an idea about making meringue hearts. I had three left over egg whites from a sauce I had made. A couple of hours later no laundry is done, no bathrooms cleaned but I had two trays of pink hearts ready to go in the oven and a grin on my face. The kitchen looked like a bomb hit it and there were sprinkles stuck to my bare feet as I walked around but I was happy!

Later when the girls got home from school (and Byron was safely at Gareth's Rugby training) We printed out Biancas bag toppers and made up some parcels to drop into a couple of families we know with young kids. I was happily sharing the love and the calories because I had been nibbling on the meringues all afternoon and was risking sugar hallucinations at that point. I forgot to take photos of mine so here is the image from Bianca's blog of her own ones....

Seeing our little friends faces and watching them give hugs to our girls made up for the effort I was going to have to do cleaning up later on that night. Actually technically it is the day after now and that floor still isn't washed so no more procrastinating. I'm off straight away to get stuck in and do what should have been on yesterdays to-do list.

On the other hand I might just have time for one more browse through Bianca's blog first....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day 2012

Life is not always easy. 
Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control and wish as you might you can't fix them. 
This morning we woke to Valentines Day. 
My head has been like a washing machine in recent days with thoughts falling about in a jumble. 
Good things and sad things seem to be happening all at the same time and my thoughts go from one to another like a roller-coaster ride. 
Not wanting the good to stop me caring for the sad, but not wanting the sad to stop me from appreciating and enjoying the good. 
And so this year more than any other I am stopping and slowing my thoughts and remembering that it's not about chocolate or flowers or expensive perfume. 
It's about the five of us having each other. 
It's about being a strong unit and getting through whatever comes our way. 
And love and laughter helps. 
In this house we are so lucky to have an abundance of that.
Happy Valentines Day

Monday, February 13, 2012

A blast from the past.

I had an interesting note on one of my Christmas cards this year.
"Looking forward to seeing you in 2012 when we visit Australia"
It was from my boss Glen from Northampton General Hospital where I worked as a newly married, newly qualified,  fresh faced nurse.

Oh how I remember those days! *sigh*

And before you know it here we are are. 2012. A decade later. Living in a different part of the world and making plans to meet up. On last Wednesday Glen and his wife Barbara arrived in Sydney and travelled by train to our local station and we collected them just in time to pull up two extra chairs around the table for dinner.

The last few days have been a time for catching up, for stories,  for remembering all the people who used to tie us together. For showing off the life we live here in Australia, pointing out the similarities, the differences. Oooohing and aaaaghing over the kids and how much they have changed in the last 6 years. We walked, we drank, we ate, we talked, we laughed, we measured Glen's height on our door frame (and no, surprisingly he isn't the tallest visitor as we thought?!)

All good things must come to an end and so another trip to the train station but this time with hugs goodbye and promises to stay in touch.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Look "Hoo-Hoo" came visiting us at the pool last night....!

A Tawny Frog Mouth Owl.

That's Hoo! 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A picture says a thousand words...

Sometimes a letter in the post is the best way to tell loved ones how you feel...
Sometimes a picture says it all!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A borrowed idea...

Recently I saw something in a gift shop.

It was a simple idea and was designed to help people offload their worries. A little box to put your problems in so that God could take care of them for you.

I thought about buying it for a family member who is going through a lot right now but I wondered if it might look like I was trivialising their problems. That it might upset them if they thought I was suggesting everything could be made better by a little empty box.

On a phone call last night that person cried and then told me a bit of advice a friend had given them. "When it all gets too much just hand it over to God and ask him to help you"

I thought once more about the box. I tentatively mentioned it and the reaction was positive. It was seen to be a beautiful thing and not trivialising. It's too far to travel back to where I saw this idea and so I made my own version of it.

It will be in the post this afternoon and although it won't "fix" anything maybe it will help to give strength and remind them that we are thinking of them here and hoping and praying for things to improve.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Is bribing kids with sugar wrong?

I am was officially the Worlds.Worst.Mother.

Yes, swimming carnival was last week and I was working. Normally I am there cheering the kids along and as the carnival comes to an end comes the "Big Choice"

1: Get on the bus back to school or...
2: Get your parents to sign you out early and take you home.

What choice would most kids make?

Especially if 99% of those parents then fill in the unexpected hour together with a visit to an ice-cream shop, McDonald's or the local cafe for a celebratory sugar rush?

I told Gareth I would try to make it to the swim centre by the final race and would sign him out and we could go for a milkshake together. By the time I actually made it there the pool was empty, the car park deserted. They were all back in school. Cue large dose of mother-guilt.

I drove home deflated passing the school on the way. At the last possible moment I swung the car left and up the drive of the school. I was overflowing with mother-guilt and no-one was going to get in my way. As soon as Gareth saw me his face lit up and he went running for his bag. With the teachers thumbs up we signed out at the office and went straight to a local cafe and ordered the largest caramel milkshake they could make.

Mother guilt = Massive sugar offering = Happy child = No brainer!

It was so easy. I think I'll write a book on parenting...

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Boating day at the Scanlon's 2012

Over the last few years we had some great boating days at our good friends the Scanlon's. Their house is opposite the lake and we turn up with picnics and chairs and watch our kids grow webbed feet as they swim and play in the water all day. This weekend the sun came out after a week of downpours. The phone rang and plans were made.

The best part for our kids is the Scanlon's old catamaran that they "launch" and tether to a tree so they can swim out to it and climb on/jump off a hundred times without it getting boring.
Another fun thing to do this year with the older girls was to try to catch photos of water droplets flying from their hair as they flung their heads back. We took plenty using a mobile phone and got enough funny photos to have them laughing.
Days like this make life seem simple. A group of friends ranging from 7-14. Boys and girls. Growing up together and with the diversity and easy friendship that you get amongst cousins. No electronic devices. No brand-names. Just water, sausages in a bread roll and cold drinks out of the Esky. Playing until the sun gets low in the sky.

This is the point in my life I want to press the pause button. This is the kind of day I want to be able to close my eyes and recall many years from now when I am old and wrinkled. (I know, hold back on the wicked humour!) I hope that all the kids when they are grown up too will look back on days like this as being the special times of their childhood.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Baby Mantis

Australia still surprises me in little ways. As I go about my normal chores something small will catch my attention and remind me that I am a long way from where I grew up. Today as I hung out the washing I stopped as something moved on the peg next to my hand. It was a tiny Praying Mantis no bigger than the size of my fingernail. I let it walk onto my hand and showed the kids and then sat him gently onto the Rosemary plant. One quick photo on my phone and then he quickly scurried away leaving me to my laundry with a smile on my face!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Do I like being a nurse?

Some days being a nurse is hard. The work can be back breaking. The pay is mediocre. Most days are extremely busy, but today one of those small things happened that made me feel it was good to be a nurse.

One of my patients was frail and tired and didn't want to get out of bed for his shower. He was cold and had the blankets tucked tight up to his chin. He implored me to leave him to the last which I did but eventually I was firm. Time to get up. You might be having visitors and you look scruffy and uncared for. Despite him promising no one was going to be visiting him I insisted he get up but compromised on a wash by the basin in the bathroom.

I did all the magic I could with warm water and soap as he shivered and sat looking at his reflection. He didn't feel up to shaving so I said I'd do it. His face was thin and gaunt. The cheekbones jutted out and his chin was bony. It was a bit hit and miss. Before long I could see him fighting a smile. I asked him if I was doing it ok? He said I was doing a fine job....for a girl. I told him I was never going to win any competitions for my shaving skills. He chuckled and said it was good I had a day job.

By the time I helped him back into bed in fresh pj's and layered the blankets around him he looked better. Skin all fresh and pink and thin hair combed "just so" As I tucked the blanket tight around his chin he looked up at me with clear ice blue eyes and stared at me. I stopped what I was doing and held his gaze. "You're very kind" he said softly. My eyes filled up as I tucked the last of the blankets in and turned away.

I walked out of his room with a lump in my throat and passed an old lady walking down the corridor. She turned and went into the room I had just left. I stopped and listened and heard her voice sing out  "Oh Bill my sweetheart, you look so much better than you did when I left you yesterday. Look, you've even managed to shave"

And that's why today was a good day to be a nurse.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Size matters

We have an end-of-holidays tradition where each kid gets measured against the door frame in the laundry room. As visitors pass through they often let the kids measure them too for fun. Two years ago Granny visited and since that Sian has waited for the day she would be the same height as Granny or even taller. Well this holidays Sian got her wish and she measured up about 1.5cms above Granny.
Keep eating your crusts sweetheart and some day you may even grow as tall as Grandad!