Sunday, September 25, 2016

Holiday time again!

Another term has gone. I am the only one not on holidays. I don't mind so much as I do get a break from making school lunches and ironing white shirts. I'm sure Mimi will be pleased to have people home during the day to play with her. She (it is very hard to start calling her a him, even though the signs of maleness are startlingly obvious to all now) loves to sit on my shoulder.

Joss had her final exams for Year 11 and officially starts Year 12 when school goes back. She was made House Captain! We have booked her driving test for the second week of the holidays and then, all going according to plan, we will have three drivers in the house.

On the second last night of term, Bethany had her school disco. It is for kindy to Year 6, with an early and a late session, and they gave it a super hero theme and encouraged the kids to dress up. Do you know how hard it is to find super hero costumes for 12 year olds? I can't get those hours back. Thankfully, Beth had a great time.

Phil and the kids came to visit yesterday, on their way up north, and we had a lovely time with them (Kristin has to work). The little ones were keen and not-so-keen all at the same time regarding Milo and Mimi. I think Mimi will have a very quiet day in his cage to recover.

We went to the park for ice cream and play. I thought it would exhaust everyone, but Bethany and Charlotte still talked for hours in bed.

We will have more cousins arriving on Thursday; it is going to be a visitor-filled two weeks!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

River watch

It has been a very wet year. We really love looking out over green countryside, especially as many of our years in Wagga have been in drought. The latest rain here and upstream has brought us awfully close to flooding, though.

When we moved into our new office building, which is just across the road from the river, we couldn't see the water from our carpark, because of the levee. As I pulled in I would think to myself "I really ought to wander over there at lunch to look at the water". The river is up so high now, that I can see it easily from the car park, and it has completely overtaken an oval down the road from work. The caravan park, all of the Wagga Beach area and carpark are all under water.

It's meant to rain more next week, too, so today, at book club, I told Stephen that he can come back to our place if he gets evacuated as he did in 2012. My workmate, Tracey, also lives in Central, so with her and her husband Grant it will be a big party!

It would be nice to walk along the riverbank at lunchtime, but I just can't give up that half hour of reading. I am doing Steptember at the moment, and it is very hard to get to 10,000 steps a day if I don't walk at lunch, so I walk and read. I stick to the road so I will have less chance of falling over! I have offered to make cakes for my workmates if they donate to the cause (cerebral palsy) so I brought this Malteser cake in today to kick things off.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Dream weekend

We have had some pretty memorable weekends of late, and though it is only Saturday night I am calling it already. This weekend has been a cracker.

Dad, who lives in Cairns, came to stay last night. We didn't do anything special, we just hung out, which was really lovely. The rain and wind did their best to keep us all awake last night, and we awoke to the threat of flooding (not our house, of course, on top of a hill). Dad hit the road to head for Coonamble, where it is already flooding.

Not ones for good-byes, the thought of the afternoon's birthday party bolstered spirits. The trouble with having your birthday in the school holidays is that your birthday party tends to be put off, then dithered over and then missed altogether. This year, we just decided to just do it late, really late. September birthday party for a July birthday; that's how we roll.

We held it at Airborne Gymnastics, where Bethany has her gymnastics classes every week. She was very excited to be able to show her friends what she can do. The head coach was there, training a new party host, and Andrew told him how keen Bethany is and asked how she could take it further.

The classes she attends are not focussed on skills so much, as just fun and exercise, but they do hold squad training, to which you need to be invited. The coach asked her to do a bunch of different things - the splits, bars, and backflips - and then told her she was around a level three and asked if she would like to come to squad training! I was talking to a friend while all of this happened, but I could tell something was going on as Bethany's face was radiating joy!

All of the kids enjoyed the party. Wall climbing, inflatable obstacle courses, foam pit, trampolines galore, lollies and chips. What more could you want?

I spent the morning playing around with the four layers of cake I made last night. On the whole I am dismissive, if not derisive, about the very-tall-cake trend. They seem hard to cut and hard for smaller people to eat! I did buy a book about hidden surprise cakes, however, and Bethany became set on the chequerboard cake. Two chocolate and two vanilla layers, cut into circles and reassembled with alternating colours, stuck together and covered with ganache and there you have it!

We dropped Sydney home and ending up staying for coffee and a long chat with our new Zimbabwean friends who are going to build a house across the paddock and Sydney will be moving schools with Bethany next year.

I won't say no to a sleep in tomorrow; our sleep will be sweet after such a lovely day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Still here

Oops, time does get away on me. I am ten books ahead of schedule in my reading challenge, so there you have it!

Years ago we saw on the news (very slow news day) that there had been reports in America of a baby lion on the loose, that had turned out to be a labradoodle. Ever since I have been keen on giving that sort of grooming a go, but this time, I told the kids I would actually ask. I didn't think they would say yes, but they were game.

I think they shaved too much forehead, making him look like the cowardly lion or a balding old lion. I laughed all the way home in the car. Andrew won't be seen outside with him, but the rest of us really quite like it.

It has been a busy time with weekends away; first Andrew took Joss to an open day at Wollongong Uni, and the following weekend to Sydney for cycling. Jane and I had a girls' weekend away last weekend, going to the One Love conference. Jane picked me up at lunchtime on Friday and we hit the road, making two coffee stops before arriving in Newtown.
The view from our room

Jane lived in Newtown while she and Steve were at Moore College, so she is confident driving there; I couldn't do it! We stayed in a great place, just off King Street, and wandered down the road for a Turkish dinner. After a very long browse in a book shop (I love to look at a bay of shelves and count how many of the books I have read), we went to a crumble shop. The man spent some time telling us how the filling, crumble, ice-cream and sauce choices were to be made and was a bit disappointed when all we wanted was a cup of tea.

The conference was great, so encouraging, and we then visited a new baby and spent the evening with Karen and Sandy in their new digs in Drummoyne. Sunday was a bit less fun, with illness in the city and at home in Wagga, but it was such a worthwhile weekend, we are looking forward to doing it again next year.

On Monday morning my work moved. We left our little brown brick box, right in the centre of town, and moved to a more spacious building next to the river. My office has a view!

My desk is tidy!

Last night Toby had his piano eisteddfod. He played a duet with a girl from school, and also played a solo piece. They won the duet and he came second in the solo. This is the duet, sorry I didn't start right at the beginning. The best bit is at the end when Toby shows dedication to protocol without back-up.


Also, tomorrow is Spring!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Birthday and catch up

One week short of five years apart, Bethany and Joss always have their birthdays in the holidays. Joss' chosen lunch destination was the new cafe that serves milkshakes requiring as much eating as drinking.

For dinner she went for Nigella's rigatoni al forno (which is just like lasagne only with rigatoni and not in layers) and cream cheese brownies.

Rabbit update: Mimi is an enormous white bunny, who loves to bounce crazily around the rug and couches, lick fingers and noses and occasionally give eyebrows and necks a little nip. She and Milo have never come face to face because we are still pretty certain that wouldn't end well.

My hairdresser has the sweetest little dachshund, called Pierre. I like it when his ears go inside-out.

Last night Andrew's band had a Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears night. By the time I got there, it was standing room only; totally packed on a Thursday night! This is a poor photo of the horn section that Andrew put together. It was so good!

Here's my favourite song from last night; sadly I didn't record Andrew's version so you'll have to settle for the original band.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Solitude is not something I get a lot of. Though I have my own office at work, my door is open and the building is small, so we work as a team. At home, while everyone has plenty of extra-curricular activities (I certainly know this as I am one of two people driving five people to said activities), they don't occur at the same time, or they involve all of us at once. I am an extrovert, I love my family, so I don't need a lot of time alone, but when Andrew suggested that he take all three children to Canberra for a couple of days during the holidays, I was both excited for them, and excited for me!

Before they went, though, we had Saturday at home. Bethany and I took the letter she wrote, plus one I wrote using her fabulous fountain pen, and walked down to the post box. At least, I walked, she rolled and gripped my hand. Roller shoes take some getting used to.

Ten ladies gathered around my table and bench to make cards and eat cake on Saturday evening. One day I may remember to take a photo during the chaos. Nigella's malteser cake is always a winner.

After church, while I was at a meeting, Andrew and the kids left for Canberra. So, I returned to a quiet house. As it is school holidays, I had no lunches to make and no white shirts to iron. I spent some time in the kitchen, making a huge pan of bolognese (to be involved in Joss' birthday dinner) and my favourite beef casserole while the stage from Saturday night replayed on SBS. At dinnertime I went up to Jane's. Steve is at uni church on Sunday nights, so Jane made us both big bowls full of pork dumplings and we watched Escape to the Country. Bliss.

Regular updates on Monday assured me that the kids were having a wonderful time - the zoo, shopping, walking, Mexican food, pizza, the Mint, the Art Gallery. Having decided that a whole day at home, all by myself, was not to be passed up, I took Monday off. I woke naturally, drank tea, read books, drank coffee, played with the bunny and watched cycling and The Gilmore Girls. I wore my tracksuit pants and left the house only once, to walk Milo. It was weird, in a very good way. I even went to bed early(ish). This was made possible by the fact that the cyclists were also having a rest day, so no Tour starting at 10pm.

I went to work today, and everyone returned around 6pm. They are unpacked, we had soup and sourdough garlic rolls for dinner and now we are waiting for Joss' friend to arrive, and the Tour to start. Happy days.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Birthday girl

Twelve years old! Though little is not a word that applied to her as a baby, she is our little girl now. Small in stature, significant in personality and much loved.

We woke everyone up to do presents before I went to work. Joss and Tobes went straight back to bed afterwards as school holidays are in full force and the Tour is on so late mights are de rigueur.  Bethany joined me in town at lunch time and we went to sushi train (her favourite) and branched out by eating from the menu rather than the train. We had soft-shelled crab and a chicken karaage bento. The Junee Licorice Factory was there for the school holidays, so Bethany made her own chocolate freckle.

My favourite birthday dinner while growing up, was wiener schnitzel, something I don't think I have ever cooked for myself. I don't remember if I had a dessert. I love how Bethany, who has a mother who can cook, and even enjoys it, asks for tortellini carbonara and chocolate ripple cake. The whole meal is virtually just assembly.

The day lasted especially long as we set up a bed in front of the television and let her stay up for the whole stage of the Tour. What a fabulous way to end a great day!

You can always count on Bethany to appreciate presents; wearing your heart on your sleeve has some advantages, and the joy is lasting as the first thing she did after breakfast this morning (she got up at 10.45 after her late night!) was get out her new fountain pen with blackcurrant coloured and scented ink and start writing a letter. I can't promise it will be followed through all the way to being posted, but it is a good beginning. Long live letter writing!