Monday, December 31, 2012


Andrew and I have now had a full week of holidays and it has been very relaxing. The kids have had friends over and gone to friends' houses. I have made ice cream and granola. We have stayed up late and slept in. It has been so good.

On the 28th it was Monique's birthday, so we went out to dinner with all the Shephards and came back to our place for pavlova and Just Dance 4.

Andrew and Shep went on a two day ride, riding over 100 kilometers each day! I'm hoping he'll do a post about it and share his photos. We exercised too, of course, by walking Milo and Just Dancing!

After church yesterday we had lunch at the McMillans' with friends who have been at Moore College this year. It was lovely to see them and meet the son they had during the year. Such cheeks!

Last night I saw The Hobbit with Liz and Ian. While I have read the Lord of the Rings many times, I have only read The Hobbit once, many years ago. That is a very good situation to be in, as I am familiar with the characters and the general story, but don't remember the finer details so can't be upset when plot or character details are changed. Martin Freeman is perfect as Bilbo, born to play the part, and Richard Armitage did a great job as Thorin Oakenshield. Next stop, Les Mis.......

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The quiet Christmas

We opened the contents of our stockings, ate croissants and went to church to celebrate Christ's birth with our church family. I'm not sure we have ever been to our own church on Christmas morning!

When I was young, we had to wait until after lunch to open presents, but somewhere over the years, the wisdom of this practice was questioned and we put the children out of their misery earlier! We opened ours after church and everyone was very pleased. After removing all the wrapping, we danced a few songs on Just Dance 4 (my present, so good!) and then I moved into the kitchen while the kids enjoyed all their new things. We couldn't quite come at the $200 headphones Joss wanted, so we got her green ones from Smiggle instead.

When I was working out what food I would make for Christmas lunch, I realised that none of us are great fans of the traditional  foods. I have always eaten my fill of the delicious things that come before the lunch, like egg and caviar dip (my favourite) and salted cashews. Bt the time lunch came around, I would have some salad and maybe a mouthful of meat, and then wait for dessert. None of my children are attached to ham or turkey (indeed, Toby is considering vegetarianism!) so I decided to have something we all love and consider a special treat - lamb cutlets!

Everyone loved the cutlets and it felt festive enough. It has become tradition in recent years to have Eton Mess so Andrew and the kids had that while I had the special cheesecake I sweeten with dextrose. I'm pretty good at skipping dessert these days, having been low fructose for over a year now, but Christmas definitely calls for a little sweetness.

Every year our friends, The Lords, have a bring your leftovers Christmas dinner on their farm at Junee. There were 22 people there, which went a long way towards making up for our Christmas away from family. Christmas wouldn't be quite right without cricket, either. That's Joss with the bat. She had a great game, despite showing all the signs of having inherited her mother's sporting talent, or lack thereof. The youngest Lord son, who goes to school with Joss, several years ahead, got Joss out twice but she gave him the stare of death and he let her keep batting!

Toby had a blinder with bat and ball, taking an awesome catch.

I particularly like this shot, not only because of the funny bowling action, but because everyone but Bethany is poised for action. She's lucky she wasn't hit.

The sunset was spectacular, as was the dinner with such lovely friends. Four families, multiple generations and lots of fun.

The wee kitten was very popular.

We came inside to have dessert as we were unseasonably and quite ridiculously cold - look at Joss in her borrowed coat and Nanna rug. Bethany held court until, just before ten, we thought it wise to pack up and head home.

We didn't eat too much, no-one became overwrought and it was a delightful day. By the way, I have chosen my favourite ever three shops. T2 - extraordinary customer service, truly beautiful leaf tea and teaware, The ABC Shop - for all my favourite BBC productions (look, North and South is on special!) and Zetta Florence - such lovely paper.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

We've been swimming, seen the Christmas lights, picked up all our food orders and done lots of baking. I think we're all ready for tomorrow.

Today we made a chocolate gingerbread house.

The decorations were too much for the slightly soft gingerbread and, after an hour, the strain was showing. It collapsed spectacularly and is now perfectly broken up for eating.

Toby wanted to skip today to get to the part where wrapping paper flies, but once I pointed out that without today, there would be nothing good to eat tomorrow, he gained some patience.

After church in the morning, we'll be having lunch with just us, for the first time ever. We're really going to miss seeing our family, but are happy to have a quiet one.

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

That's more like it!

I slept in until 9 o'clock! That's a big sleep in for me. On my first day of holidays I cleaned, washed and cooked, but all at a leisurely pace. I enjoyed the delicious air-conditioning, and feeling so cool from the inside and with the chill lingering on my skin, I sat on the front verandah to drink my coffee in the heat.

In the late afternoon we went up to the McMillans' because Mim and Bill dropped in on their way to Corowa! It has been far too long.

On the way home, though it was past dinner time, we drove out to the house to show the kids the roof. Bethany's room, at the front of the house, facing the street, has two long, thin windows. We really liked the look of them when we chose them, but didn't really think about what they would be like from inside. They are perfect for Bethany, the rest of us can't see out when standing! Tim would be OK with the top window, I imagine. It means that the room will have plenty of natural light, but also a sense of privacy.

It is now the second day of holidays and Andrew and Toby got up early to go for a ride. It's going to be 36 degrees today so that was the time to do it!

Friday, December 21, 2012


On my very last regular Thursday off, Toby, Bethany and I went to say good bye to the Halbisches before they move to Mudgee. The girls have always been quite attached to Toby.

I love the effort Samuel puts into his smiles.

All my Christmas presents have been sent! It was a big job and I almost felt it would have been worth having the post office to myself as I packed three boxes and three bags, trying to make sure every item went to the right place and keep my elbows to myself.

We also went up to the house to meet the electrician and make sure all the lights, power points and TV connections were going in the right spot. I was impressed on two points, firstly, that the electrician is a woman and secondly, we have a roof!

Today is my last day working at Wagga City Library. I am very sad to leave my great friends and a beautiful building. Three weeks of looming holidays are softening the blow.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Slip and slide

It was very hot yesterday and I was rather dreading standing in the hot sun at cycling. I was pleasantly surprised by a really fun evening. Wednesday night is racing night but they didn't do normal races. They had four teams made up of all ages and they had bike races with extra elements, like crawling through tunnels and popping balloons, and non-bike races such as the one below - a relay with half a lap on scooters.

Santa arrived, riding the smallest motorbike I have ever seen. It got a flat tyre and put a big hole in his suit, so that his stuffing was coming out around the crotch! The thongs were a nice touch.

While the sausages were cooking, the kids went water sliding. It took Toby and Bethany a long time to decide they wanted to do it, but then they got right into it.

It was so sweet when Bethany's little friend waited patiently for her to finish her sausage so they could go sliding together again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A happy birthday

One week before Christmas may not be the very best time to have a birthday, but it is what it is and I think we made the best of it yesterday. Andrew and I had to work but the children stayed home, keeping to a strict schedule of jobs including playing with Milo, putting Bethany's hair into 50 little plaits and walking to the shops for the wherewithal to make this birthday cake.

We walked into town for a celebratory dinner, where Bethany took this fabulous photo....

A happy birthday for a wonderful husband and father (amongst other things too numerous to mention).

Monday, December 17, 2012

On your mark....

This is the last week of track cycling for the year, and with a few minor adjustments to the bike and a need for speed, Toby had a cracker of a day today. Can you spot him in the warm up group?

They do around 15 or 20 laps gradually increasing in speed. He can stay with the bigger kids until the end now (the trick is to race behind someone much bigger than you :)

This is one of his friends Lauren - she's no slouch either.  She is one of about 10 kids that Toby regularly races against in his age group. Initially he was heavily handicapped, but is now the top of his age group starting mainly from scratch and will probably move up to the under 13s soon. 

And this is why (the sprint home)...

Meanwhile, Bethany + my phone = instant friendships with the "pocket rockets"

Returning triumphant  - 3 races, 3 wins.

We are loving it and I get as much enjoyment watching as I do riding myself (this is Andrew posting this if you haven't worked it out yet). It's a technical but fun sport and so very good for them.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Party

One more week of work to go, phew! It is, as my last week in this job, going to be very busy as I try to tie up all the loose ends and hand over my responsibilities. I am very much looking forward to having three weeks off!

We mostly finished off our Christmas shopping on Saturday, getting up early to beat the crowds. We ended up out at the Muddi Café where they have local and handmade products. Bethany asked for coins to throw in the fountain and when I came to take a photo she told me to leave her in privacy...

A quiet night in may have been the smartest choice, but I had my work Christmas party. We dressed up and had dinner and a show at a local café.

There was a fair bit of random behaviour and hilarity.

Proof that not all library workers are women!

Today we church started earlier as we had a celebration service with all three congregations, meeting at the school, followed by a farewell lunch for the Halbisches. Bethany has a friend over this afternoon, we are having dinner with the Shephards and, if we have time, we are dropping in to the Halbisches' before 10. A perfect Sunday before my last ever ten hour work Monday!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


 The kids are on holidays! Andrew and I may still have a week of work left, but we are spared making school lunches, ironing white shirts and walking to and from the bus stop. I can live with that level of holiday for another week.

There were no builders at the house when I popped up at 3.30 yesterday afternoon, but the roof line is looking more complete.

They have extended the lovely raked celling line to outside.

We're so pleased with our choice of blocks and can't wait to see them on the whole building.

We're off to do the last (please) of the Christmas shopping.....

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nearly there....

It seems that a relatively short and largely succinct presentation night is just for the smaller kids. Last night's middle and senior school event was neither of those things. Perhaps my tolerance is low at this time of year, but I couldn't help feeling that we could have celebrated a great school year and all the achievements of students and staff in much less time. We were sitting with Shep and Nelly, which didn't help us maintain mature behaviour. Three iPhones and an iPod touch meant plenty of cameras and photo manipulation apps to keep our shoulders shaking during the speeches, at least for the first third of the evening.

Not all middle school students receive awards and those who do are notified by mail, to make sure they come and then they sit together so at least that part of the proceedings goes quickly. Nelly did not receive a letter so she was sitting with us. Toby had already received his award so I had ceased paying attention when poor Nelly had to push past and run up the front to accept her two awards. It is my bet that Shep read the first sentence of the letter, all about the presentation night, and then threw it out, never getting to the part about Nelly's awards!

Someone has had a growth spurt.......

Toby received a commendation in all key learning areas. Clever boy!

We decided, as we had only gotten through one of four pages of programme, that Bethany should go home to bed. We thought about all leaving but Joss wanted to stay to the end to chat to her old friends and Toby and Nelly also wanted to stay (there was a heavily laden supper table). Israel was playing in a band right at the end of the evening so after thinking of all the possible ways of getting out of listening to the rest, Andrew took Bethany and Shep and I chatted outside for the last hour or so, with all the younger siblings running riot. We watched one little girl attempting to make a snow angel on the tiles....... in 30 degree heat.

At last, the band came on and Izzy was great, trumpet solo and choreographed moves. He and Toby get on brilliantly, despite the fact that Izzy is in year 8 and Toby only in year 5. Perhaps it's a height thing. See how Nelly now towers over Toby and they are the same age? The fellow with the awesome 'fro, playing the base and standing a good meter further back than Izzy, is also in year 8!