Sunday, July 28, 2013

Self portrait, unfinished...

We are lucky enough to live fairly close to a great Art Gallery. This weekend we pulled in to have a quick look through a photography exhibition that had been talked about on the news. It was a competition to find the best "portrait" of a Hunter subject. The pictures were varied and interesting. Better still was the debate that happened between us as a family over which was the best photo? Did we agree on who had been chosen as the winner? What about the peoples choice award? A beautiful black and white image of a baby in hospital nestled on his mothers shoulder, why did we think that particular photo tugged at the hearts of the community? 
Having enjoyed that area of the gallery we then wandered through to the interactive area. Almost without fail this gallery has a corner to allow young and old alike to dabble creatively. This time there were mirrors and blank sheets of paper asking you to draw a portrait. Either of a family member or yourself. Faces are not my thing when drawing. I rarely can get the proportions correct or make the finished picture actually look like the person it was meant to be. The light was fading and we were the last in the gallery as the staff began to shuffle around preparing to lock up for the night. I had to walk away from my self portrait leaving it unfinished. Hanging on the hooks on the wall alongside hundreds of others from childish scrawls to fantastic real to life images. There it will hang, always in a state of half-done like so many of the things I start! 

P.S. I almost posted this blog entry yesterday when my yard work was half-finished but I resisted and waited until today when I was all finished! Maybe there's hope for me yet...!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Choosing Well.

Aged 8 kids in our Church have to make a very important choice.

Who to ask to be their sponsor? Who to help guide them as they grow up to be (hopefully) well rounded, confident and good members of our society? This person must be someone who will continue to bond with their sponsor child over the coming years and will step in as an extra adult in their life to teach and mold them side by side with their parents.

It's not just a photo shoot on the special night where they have their Confirmation. Its a friend and mentor for the long haul.

Two years ago Gareth chose his Uncle Joe.

Fast forward those two years and Gareth is nearing the end of Primary school and has grown and changed and matured. His teacher set them a homework assignment to write about "What makes a good Role Model"  They could model their answer on a person. It could be a sports star, a tv personality, a historical character or someone they know in real life. Gareth decided to write about his Uncle Joe. 

What is a good role model? Is it an athlete? Is it a family member? Is it even a good friend? My name is Gareth Baynham and Joe Sheeran is my role model. Joe is my uncle and is a very nice guy who was once sent to Japan because he was so good at his job as an accountant. He was also made one of the youngest ever partners in his company. While living in Japan he survived an earthquake AND a tsunami (by the way the tsunami was caused by the earthquake). When the nuclear power plant exploded and the radiation levels were high he decided to bring his family home to Australia to keep them safe.

Uncle Joe sometimes has to work very long hours sometimes even past 12:00am! He doesn't mind working hard to provide a good life for his wife and children. Uncle Joe still finds time to go to mass which was why I chose him to be my confirmation sponsor. He keeps himself fit and healthy with his favourite sport golf and he encourages his kids to keep fit and healthy as well by bringing them to soccer and watching rugby on TV (wink wink).

He is also very competitive so when it comes to spicy eating Uncle Joe tries to beat my dad (which
isn’t going to happen). On Sunday we went to a fancy chocolate shop and had hot chocolates. Both my dad and Uncle Joe got spicy chilly ones.  Joe tried but failed and couldn't finish his (see if you can guess if my dad managed to finish his). That’s why I admire my Uncle Joe and think he is a nice guy/role model.

Obviously I thought it was a great homework assignment and I asked Gareth could I email it to Joe. We got a funny response from Joe and we knew he was probably basking in the glow of such an ego boost. What we didn't expect was to come home from school a week later to find a letter in the post box addressed to Gareth. 
He was very excited to open it and see who it was from. It was from Uncle Joe thanking Gareth for his kind words and telling Gareth that he too was a great role model for his younger cousins. 

And that's the proof that Gar chose well. Not for the glory on the night. Not for the photos. Not for the lovely pen he was given as a gift in a fancy box. But for that letter that arrived in the letter box. A letter that took a few minutes of someone's time in an already crazy busy day. A few minutes that is helping mold Gareth to grow up to be the best he can be... 

Sunday, July 21, 2013


The Hunter Valley is a breathtakingly beautiful place. The views that wrap around you are so amazing, the colours, the silence, the vineyards lined in rows of perfection extending as far as the eye can see. Match that view with a crisp Winters day and layers of warm jackets and your breath forming vapour clouds in front of you and you have a glimpse into our Sunday.

As the kids get older it is nice to hand them the camera occasionally and to swap sides for a change of view.
Then let your middle child go mad using the Panoramic mode (Previously unused by me) for a different view again!
Then let your wacky middle child persuade you to run around behind her to "reappear" in the opposite side of the same photo!
And then the hilarity truly begins with panorama after panorama of my suddenly enlarged family. 
 Family photos will never be the same again...!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cruising towards 40...

One of the things I want to catch up with here on the blog is the holiday we recently returned from. It was a holiday to celebrate my ever nearing 40th birthday. I'm not one for parties, surprise or planned. Either way I would be a worrier, who to ask? Did I leave someone out? Is everyone enjoying it? Instead we visited our local gem of a travel agent, Angela, and asked her to find us the perfect holiday suited to a 10,13 and 15 year old while still being a good couple experience.

Did I mention it had to be in school holidays, oh, and on a modest budget? Not only were we wanting to have a family break now but we are saving towards a visit to Ireland, England and Wales in January of next year. Poor Angela. She did a wonderful job, presenting us with many options and finally guiding us in the direction of a cruise.

Now I wasn't 100% sure at first. I had an odd preconceived idea of being compacted inside a floating shopping centre with hundreds of other travellers, eating from long buffets and having 24 hour entertainment pushed down my throat. Friends who had cruised sang the wonder of them. Particularly from a mothers viewpoint. No cooking, no cleaning up, no housework, no laundry. Finally I conceded. Angela managed to get us two cabins, side by side, and with an interconnecting door so we had the space we needed for the five of us and still had a little bit of privacy after the kids went to bed.

The cruise was for 8 nights and would involve leaving Sydney, sailing for 2-3 days, then stopping at three islands, Mare, Noumea and Isle of Pines on three consecutive days before turning around and returning to Sydney again. It truly was a wonderful holiday. It took me a little while to build up trust in the kids so that they could come and go as they liked. We had no phones to check in on how everyone was. I just had to trust that they would keep an eye on the time and remember the when and where to meet up.

Each day there were 101 things we could do and to be fair to the cruise everything but alcohol was included. There was no need to drip feed the kids little bits of money to keep them amused. They had the option to dip in and out of various activities that were running all day for the different age-groups. There was a 24 hour soft serve ice-cream machine that they could go up to as often as they wanted and indulge. Being school holidays there were lots of families on board and it didn't take the girls long to make a great group of friends with some other really nice teenagers.

I thought I might stop at this point and maybe blog a little more on our favourite parts of the cruise later. Any questions? Throw them at me! This was taken as we had just arrived on board. The cruise ship was moored in Circular Quay and was nestled between the iconic Sydney Harbour bridge and the Opera house. I was rugged up and ready to relax. Camera slung around my neck but many photos being taken on the iphone while we were still in Australian waters and had phone signal so we could text them to family to let them know we were safely aboard.
Ciao for now. My cup of tea has turned stone cold as I sat here typing. Time to go pop it in the microwave to warm up. Hope you are having a good day wherever in the world you are!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rugby surprise!

We were offered some tickets to a rugby match in Sydney by some school friends who couldn't make it that night. It was fun to rug up and pack a picnic of wraps, chilli nuts and chocolate and spend a couple of hours yelling and cheering for our boys in blue. It was a close game and even though the NSW boys lost by a small margin the game was fun and there were lots of laughs watching other passionate supporters bellowing their approval or criticisms at the poor ref! 
The best part about an evening like this is the fact that we are doing something as a family. A precious thing as children grow older and develop their own personalities and social plans. As my girls make their way through High School I am so aware that only a few more years will see them spread their wings and nights like this where the five of us sit side by side in a row will get fewer and farther between. I'm getting too sentimental here. Pass the M+M's and lets get on with the game!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

To market, to market... buy a fat pig. Home again, home again, Jiggety jig!

Not sure if that Nursery rhyme is familiar to anyone else. It is one sung in Ireland to toddlers as they are bounced around on adult shoulders getting piggy backs to make them squeal with laughter. 

Today we went to a local market in Speers Point park. It is held on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. I think many of the stall holders can be found at other locations on the other weekend mornings in the Newcastle area. 

It is a wonderful thing to see real people selling real things that have come from the hard work of their own hands, fruits, vegetables and craft items. I have grown so used to buying cheap things through the large shops that often my idea on what something "should" cost is quite far from the real cost. 

I know myself when I make a card for a friends birthday it can easily take an hour. Even if I tried to be very time efficient and made, lets say, ten identical cards quickly in that hour by the time I take the cost of the raw materials and my time into consideration I just cannot see how I could then price them up to be a profitable small business. My hat goes off to all those (predominantly) women who put many hours and love into creating beautiful items and then manage to sell them and make some money to put in the family pocket. And for those passionate people who run a family business making something unusual and then make their way to parks like ours on weekend mornings to sell. 
We came across one of these family businesses this weekend called JumJum. We were offered a taste of what looked like a piece of sausage on a cocktail stick as we walked past this stall. (You can just see the man loading up another plate of tasters in the background)
It tasted amazing and when we asked for more info we found out it was a duck sausage. We decided to buy a pack to bbq for lunch. Together with some fresh bread and a jar of homemade relish from another stall and some lovely vibrant greens from one of the farmers tables we had everything we needed for a scrumptious lunch. 
I know it isn't always possible to buy local and eat such fresh and amazing food. Only this time last year I had to tighten the purse strings to avoid increasing my work hours and now I do the weekly shop at Aldi and try my best to budget and be creative with in season (cheap!) food items. However, every now and again it is so good to be able to spend a little bit more on something special and stop and appreciate it too!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


What better way to get back into the passion of blogging than by starting with my passion, Mr B! 

And his passion, Rugby. 

Byron needs no excuse to get excited about rugby or his native land the glorious Wales. Combine them together with some Irish, Scottish and English sportsmen too and what do you get? The British and Irish Lions playing their three test matches against the Wallabies over the last few weeks. Being Australian citizens you might think that there would be split loyalties going on in the Baynham household but the Welsh blood runs fiercely through Mr B's body and he has worn his heart on his sleeve since getting hold of the 2013 Lions jersey.
I heard a great fact on female spies operating in WW2. Some were so good at maintaining their persona in their alter ego that it was almost impossible to make them crack and revert back to their true character. How did the enemy find a flawless way to prove what nationality these women really were? Follow them into the labour ward. Yes, you've got it. No matter how well they pretended to be part of a different culture when in the throws of labour their real nationality was exposed through the use of their native language as they pushed their babies out.

Well if Mr B ever decided to become the next 007 all they would  need to do to crack his cover would be to sit him in front of a rugby match with Wales playing against anyone else in the world. Within seconds you would see my crazy Welsh man hopping about like he is standing on hot coals, shouting and cursing, head in hands one minute, screaming in jubilation the next. 

Congratulations Mrs Baynham, your husband has just had a rugby ball. 458 grams. Father and TV doing just fine!

And so, knowing how passionate my Byron is about his sport it would take a mad woman to invite three equally passionate families along to watch the game at our house knowing that not one of them would be cheering on the Lions. There was only one red jersey in the room that night. And me in a green one trying to help balance things out. Everyone else was a jumble of Australian and South African. Green and gold as far as the eye could see. Until a clever little phone app allowed me to rectify that problem!

And so the Lions wave goodbye after a passionate tour. Byron is walking on cloud nine and I am working hard on ensuring we haven't lost any friends in the process. 

Until four years time when it all starts again!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Thank You

Thanks so much for the great comments after yesterdays post. You have given me back some drive and enthusiasm and some ideas on how to find a way to balance blogging with my growing kids.

I am really looking forward to getting back in the swing of things again and hopefully getting to catch up on your lives too as I make some time to sit with a cuppa and catch up on the last few weeks of your blogs,

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, July 08, 2013

Spinning plates.

I feel like I have fallen off the radar. I have said before that life gets so busy that it is hard to do everything that I want to do. I often think of the role of a mum being similar to a circus entertainer spinning plates. Every plate is important, some more than others. The essential ones you have to keep spinning no matter what else happens, kids, husband, friendships, work. A few smaller plates will always be spinning too but if you don't watch out and try to do too much those plates will start falling.

Blogging has been one of my plates for almost 9 years now. I don't think that I have ever had wanted to put it down but over the last few months I've blogged less and less. I'm finding that it's not so easy to write about what our family is up to as the girls get older. When they were little there seemed to be an unlimited amount of blogging opportunities in our day to day lives. Baking, crafts, playing at the park, trips to the beach. Now that the girls are in their teens they understandably don't want every moment of their lives journaled in a public place. What started out as a way of communicating the adventure of our new life in Australia to immediate friends and family has grown into a platform reaching many more people.

So what to blog about? I still have my own interests, reading, baking, photography, and recently I have been on a health kick which has drawn in new readers but I'm struggling to find what topics to blog regularly about.

Another annoyance has been the "Anonymous" comments that have flooded my inbox recently. Over 100 in the last month alone. Nothing offensive or personal. Just bland, poorly written attempts to sound like a real person but quickly linking to their website for fake designer goods, pills, dating web-sites and swedish wood burning fires?! Today I have installed "word verification" which is a pain for normal commenters but will hopefully weed out the unwanted spam.

There have been a few nice things happening over the last few weeks that I should be blogging about. We are just home from a holiday and the camera is calling me to peek at the photos that we took. What better  excuse than some fresh photos to stir up the blogging mojo?!

If you are still reading this thanks for being patient! Hopefully there will be a bit more fresh writing here over the coming weeks. What do you like hearing about? Why not tell me in the comments section (if you don't mind the word verification step)

As for you spammers, although a Swedish wood fire sounds quite appealing on this crisp Winter's morning I really don't need a fake handbag, a new husband or some pills to improve my current one... I 'm spinning enough plates at the moment, Thanks anyway!