Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year

It's New Year's Eve and  I am not posting a wrap up of our year, but about Christmas, which seems so long ago! Time, ever reliable, marches on.
We drove to Mum and Dad's on the Sunday before Christmas. It was a good drive, but we gratefully tumbled out of the car into the heat and deafening cicada noise at Broke. We had a couple of days before Christmas to relax. The kids swam, Andrew took the big kids on a long ride and the adults drank coffee in the mornings and prosecco in the evenings. Delightful.
On Christmas Day we opened many presents and had roast pork, awesome crackling, duck fat potatoes and pumpkin for lunch, followed by cheesecake. Tim, Shona and the clan arrived on Christmas night and we had a few days of family fun before driving home again.
Andrew drove Joss to PY summer camp on Boxing Day and she has been there ever since, arriving home tomorrow. Toby and Bethany have had friends over and enjoyed their Christmas presents. I have read and watched movies, thoroughly enjoying being on holidays. I tried to watch Cloud Atlas, having very much enjoyed the book, but found the dialogue impossible to hear and the ridiculous makeup distracting in the extreme. It was a disappointment and in order to avoid further disappointment, I don't think I'll see the Hobbit.
Tonight, Andrew plays at the big gig in town, Bethany is having a sleep over at a friend's so I think Toby and I will watch the early fireworks from our backyard and then I'll start watching Bleak House, which I got for Christmas - there will be no disappointment there! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


We're in the middle of three 41 degree days. Yesterday was pretty easy, my office is perfectly cool and I quite enjoy going out into the heat just long enough to appreciate the air conditioning I go back into. I also walked Milo very early in the morning when the sky was glorious.
Andrew and I both finished work yesterday afternoon and fell delightfully into the holidays. We celebrated with bubbles and nibbles under the air vent at the Shephards', while children swam. Joss didn't swim, however, as Esther was dyeing her hair!
Today we have been washing and cleaning, packing is to come. Indoors is the place to be!

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Toby had his final youth group night of the year and it was a McFormal. This is where you dress up and eat McDonald's with a knife and fork, by candlelight.
We have also had Grandad to stay and went out to see the Christmas lights one night, and enjoyed the cycling Christmas party, another.
My very old MacBook no longer speaks to my phone. It doesn't speak to my stupid, broken iPhone, or my shiny new HTC One. So I am awkwardly blogging via the app....

Almost there

The fewer days that remain between me and my holidays, the harder they are to live through. Only one, long working day to go!
The kids have been on holidays for a little over s week, which is something of a break for me as I make no school lunches, iron no uniforms and hurry no-one through their jobs and onto the bus. Still, I am hanging out to start working through this pile of books at a decent rate.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Getting closer

Andrew and I are on holidays from next Friday afternoon. Life has been so busy that it feels like we are limping to the finish line and the week and a half that we have to go, seems so long. Usually there is some time in the weekend to relax, but not this past weekend - housework, helping friends who are moving, driving the children around and packing. Nan and Grandad arrived on Saturday afternoon, on their way back from Adelaide and they stayed until Monday morning. We won't see them on Christmas Day so it was nice to share the tree with them.

Bethany, never lacking in Christmas spirit, or any spirit really, chose not one, but two crazy Christmas hats.

On Saturday evening, having prepared dinner and dessert for the family, I went to my work Christmas party. I did not get the memo about dressing up.

Can you believe that they bought these dresses at the Reject Shop for $15?
On Monday morning I dropped Joss at school at 6.30 as she was leaving for three days in Wollongong, learning how to surf. She got home this evening and reports that she managed to get up on her board and is, in fact, pretty good at surfing! They also went bowling, shopping and to Jambaroo, so, not a bad last three days of Year 8.

Joss was also lucky enough to miss out on two school presentation nights. That's right, we spent both Monday and Tuesday night at school. I like seeing the kids get awards (Toby got one for academic excellence in all key learning areas and Bethany got one for consistent effort in all key learning areas and achievement in spelling and handwriting), not just my own children, but all of them. I find it hard, however, not to resent the principal and board director's speeches. This year, I brought my book out and read it (Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - awesome book). I'm sure that makes me a poor parent, but I just wasn't in the mood!

Today, however, is unreservedly celebratory. All three children are now on holidays for a looong time. Toby had his last day of primary school, and his last day at the Christian College. He had a lovely day and will have opportunities over the break to see his friends.

I wish my holidays were here. Deep breath and keep going, only a week and a half to go!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Fit it in Friday

Friday is my long day at work, I start at eight and finish at five. Term time Friday evenings are always busy as I get three children to different youth group events, but the end of year added further complications this week. I could have had six things to go to! Thankfully, Joss went to a friend's taking out two possibilities, Toby was tired and just wanted to stay home so Bethany, Andrew and I headed out.

I dropped Bethany at the Botanic Gardens for her Kids' Club end of year celebration and I went to the Best Street Studios, where Bethany used to have her art lessons, for the opening of the Christmas Show. Kath, the lovely artist who owns the studios, approached me and Megan at the CMRI markets and asked if we would like to have our things in her show.

We drank sparkling wine, ate hors d'oeuvres and wandered the beautiful garden filled with art and people. I could have bought so much!

The blue chook looks so pleased with herself about those eggs!
Andrew was playing with the Groove Factorie for Twilight at the Lagoon, a series of free concerts over summer. They started at seven, Bethany's party didn't finish until half an hour after that, but I was keen to see some of it, so I raced over to pick Bethany up a bit early. Unfortunately, she was on the little train and it kept going around the track! We could hear screaming when the trains were out of sight and I suspected that Bethany was behind that. When she finally got off at the little station, she complained of a sore throat. I told her that the only way to keep from losing your voice was to rest it - an impossibility for this girl!

As we got out of the car, (may I say, again, how much I love the country? Try fitting all of this in and getting good parks at all locations, in the city!) we heard a keyboard solo on one of my favourite songs and we knew it was our friend Lachlan, playing with the band for the first time. We wondered if the trumpet came before or after the keys, then, just as we came over the hill and could see the trumpet gleaming in the sun, Andrew had the most awesome solo.

Friends beckoned us over to where they were sitting, front and centre. Bethany ran into her kindy buddy from school so I sat with my friends and danced in my seat, which wasn't really a seat, it was a big step in the amphitheatre.

Such fun indeed, which bolsters me for a day of cleaning, shopping (just groceries), washing and cooking. Best get cracking.....

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I recently made a booklet full of reading suggestions for youth, as part of a summer reading club for all ages. I know a few adults who read, almost exclusively, young adult books, but I can usually only handle a small dose of YA myself, so it was very interesting researching all the titles to include under different genres. We had one page titled It's My Party and it was full of books to make you cry, starting with John Green's The Fault in our Stars. I came across Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember and thought that I would borrow the movie to watch with Joss on the weekend. You know, bonding time.

As it happens, she had seen it before, several times, at a friend's house, bawling every time. Now, I am into crying. I cry in emotive ads, I cry when I watch TV and I cry when I read books. Sometimes I go into the full, ugly cry. After watching Les Mis, I had to go to my room and have a big cry as tears through the movie were not enough. Joss was a mess through A Walk to Remember, but it seems that trite, formulaic writing has no power over me! I said the lines before the characters did, it was all so over the top that I felt a bit sad once, but wasn't taken in. It wasn't the bonding experience I had hoped for with Joss in floods of tears and me in floods of mocking!

While we were watching the movie, Bethany was at a friend's house. Her friend, Charis, is from the Philippines and her family were having a garage sale to raise money for the typhoon victims. Bethany took some money from her bank account and gave it to Charis' parents who told her to take whatever she wanted from the garage sale (dresses and a cushion)! We organised for Charis to come and play on Sunday, which was Estella Christmas Party day.

When we lived in our old house, the park was just at the end of our street, less than 100 meters away. That made the Christmas party especially good because you could run home for a drink or to get something to sit on. We walked over with Milo, which took about 15 minutes and I didn't bring a picnic rug or anything. There were lots of flies. I really missed the Kristovskis family! This is the last one they were at and it still isn't quite right without them.

There were still plenty of people for me to talk to, and Joss hung around with a friend, doing teenager stuff (?). Poor Toby was at a bit of a loss, but he had a slushie and a sausage sandwich before walking home. Having big kids is great, in that they can hang out with friends or just go home by themselves, but Bethany and Charis were right into the party.

Jumping castles make you hot and thirsty. Blue slushies give you blue mouths.
Waiting in the line for Santa
I had both a Christmas magic and a grinch moment at the party. Toby, Milo and I were standing in the shade while Bethany and Charis had their faces painted and my favourite Christmas Carol came on. As I listened to O Holy Night, I could see us sitting at Mum and Dad's on Christmas Eve, watching the carols on TV, everyone excited for tomorrow, with the scent of the real tree in the air. We hugged, it was lovely. Later on, I was standing with my friends and a teenaged girl was pulling the lollies that Santa gave her out of the bag and throwing them on the ground, saying that they were stale. She even threw wrapped lollies on the ground, so I went and picked them up and put them in the bin, which was just there, a fact that I pointed out to her. I wonder what she said to her friends as she walked away, rolling her eyes. Cranky old lady!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Last week I was in Sydney for three days at the SWITCH conference. Public Libraries NSW have a conference every year, one in a regional area, and one in Sydney. It is for librarians and councillors, and we took the two Wagga Wagga City Council's councillors who are assigned to the library. It was Kevin's first library conference and he got into the spirit with book t-shirts.

At breakfast on day two, I remarked that he had a bit of a dystopian theme going on and asked if he had any happy book t-shirts. The answer was no! I had a little bet that the third t-shirt would be Fahrenheit 451. I was wrong, it was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

There were lots of great speakers giving us plenty to think about. Did you know that ebook sales are declining? But, you don't want to hear about that, you just want to know the fun stuff. We stayed in the Novotel Central Sydney and I had a very exciting moment when David Stratton came out of the lift and walked across the lobby and out the front door! I was hoping Margaret Pomeranz would come out next, but no luck on that front. Margaret reminds me of my Mum, I'm not sure why.

A king sized bed, I could have slept at any angle.
Honeycomb tiles! 
You could see the Blue Mountains when it was fine.
The conference dinner was in the Imax building at Darling Harbour. I took this silly photo to send to Andrew before I left. I'll bet he really wished he was coming too.

It was a lovely venue and lots of fun. Librarians are more fun than you might imagine!

There was a photo booth and Claire, Chrissie and I took many silly photos in there and then, I danced and danced. It was rather hard to go back to regular work..........

Monday, December 2, 2013

Little visitor

I have been working full time for almost a year. It's only one more day than I was working before, but it has made a difference. On the whole, I am managing, but one thing that has suffered, that I am not very good at, is keeping up with friends and family who aren't in Wagga. My friend Mim, once a regular in our house, had a baby boy three months ago, and I have not been to Molong to see them. Shame on me.

Thankfully, they were on their way to stay with Mim's parents last week, and broke their journey at our house! Oh the delight!

Little Charlie is the sweetest, happiest baby. He didn't cry once, not even a whimper. Mim and Bill are clearly smitten and so were all of us. We're looking forward to going to visit them and having a proper catch up!

All the good photos will be on Andrew's camera, these are better than nothing!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

First day of summer

It's the first day of summer. Bethany has opened the first little bag on our advent calendar and eaten what she found there. No-one else has emerged yet so I am taking advantage of my MacBook being free. It is in high demand these days for research, homework and projects. Joss finished her exams and then it was required for the watching of movies. Wouldn't it be nice to watch movies? I am looking forward to being on holiday very much indeed!

It hasn't really been that hot here, but you can tell it's summer. I have taken to running at night and walking Milo in the early mornings. This is some of what we see. I love living here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Chris Tucker is following me

After Bethany's nasty night of illness last week, she and I spent a quiet day in the rumpus room. She watched a lot of DVDs and I tried to have  nap in a beanbag and keep Bethany hydrated. I do not recommend the Hydralite ice blocks in the blackcurrant flavour. Bethany says she would rather be sick than  eat those. While Bethany watched Anne of Green Gables for the first time (she loved it, which is lucky because something would be wrong if she didn't!), I watched Silver Linings Playbook on my laptop.

On the library's book club Facebook page, my friend Anne had shared a Tumblr post about hating the endings of books. My favourite gif was from Silver Linings Playbook where the fellow closes the book, swears and throws it out the window. That pretty much sums up how I felt at the end of Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance - the most depressing book I ever finished. Anne recommended the movie so I borrowed it from the library.

The film was a bit bleak, but I enjoyed seeing Chris Tucker, after I worked out where I knew him from. Chris Tucker plays Ruby Rhod in one of my favourite movies, The Fifth Element. A few days later, Andrew, who did not watch Silver Linings with me, decided it was time to initiate Joss into the joys of The Fifth Element, which we haven't watched for years.

Ruby Rhod

We tried to enthuse Joss by telling her that Bilbo (Ian Holm) and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) were in it, but she wasn't overly impressed by that. She tolerated the movie, in that singular, teenaged way where I think she really liked it but didn't want to show animation. She was impressed enough by Chris Tucker to look him up online, once the movie was over. I turned the DVD off and whose face should appear on screen but Chris Tucker's?! Rush Hour, with Jackie Chan, was on! I'm not up for a Jackie Chan movie, I'm afraid, but it was all a bit spooky. I haven't even thought about the man for years and then see him three times in one week!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Night on the Town

Last night Bethany and I went to see Oliver, the musical Andrew has been playing in. We didn't have time to go out beforehand, but we made it special by dressing up.

I managed to get seats in the very front row, which Bethany was super excited about. Oliver Twist is not my favourite Dickens story. I fawn all over Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Great Expectations and David Copperfield, but Bethany declared Oliver her favourite show (she includes the movie in that). I was thrilled to discover that while getting home at 10pm would have made her rather difficult in times past, she went to bed and got up again this morning (almost) trouble free.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


It's not green, but we're getting much closer!

I haven't taken a photo of it, but the progress that braces can make in a short space of time is amazing. Joss has had them on for over a year, and some changes have been gradual, but yesterday afternoon some new fiddlings were made and by the evening a gap had closed significantly! No wonder they hurt. You'll be pleased to know that Joss worked through the pain to eat her crumbed cutlets, a rare dinner treat she wasn't going to miss out on.