Thursday, December 29, 2016

Merry Christmas

The week before Christmas is hard. The school presentation nights are all finished, the Christmas parties for work and stamping are also over, but you still have to go to work for a week! This year, I took Wednesday to Friday off, so I only had to work the first two days of that long week, and it was so good.

There had been a flurry of festivities the week before. We went to the Magpie's Nest for my work Christmas party. It is a gorgeous restaurant, and we had a beautiful meal and a great time. The sunset was spectacular.

Cynthia and Tracey were also spectacular, and the phone could only capture one or the other.

I had my card makers' Christmas party, too, and with 13 of us making cards, drinking tea and coffee and eating chocolate pavlova, I didn't have time to take any photos. That, and the fact that I forgot. As always.

It was Andrew's birthday on Sunday, and after church he hopped into a car with some band mates and headed down to Melbourne for a Steve Gadd gig. All the way there and back again in one go, he climbed into bed at 3.30am! 'Twas an awesome gig by all accounts. Phil and the kids came up from Melbourne on the same day and stayed with us on their way to Mum and Dad's. They good-naturedly came along to the Carols in the Park event in town, as I was hosting. Jane sent me this photo during the carols, clearly taken by a mutual friend in the crowd at the beginning of the puppet show. Goodness, I have bad posture.....

This was my view while the puppet show was going. Phil had a very funny view, as from his angle the lights were shining on the side of the theatre, illuminating Lachlan with his hand up Gaffles!

I was pleased to have that job over and done with, and after my two days at work, I was finally on holidays! I celebrated by cleaning the house and packing so we could leave for Sydney on Wednesday morning.

We took a leisurely drive up, stopping at Berrima for lollies and coffee scrubs. We spent two days in Sydney, hanging out with Andrew's family, doing some last minute shopping and Joss even squeezed in a visit to Manly with friends.

Friday morning saw us driving up to Broke and settling in for a family Christmas in the vines. We had delicious food, plenty of pool time, cousin fun, gin and tonics, and games of Uno (as long as we pronounced it the proper Italian way).

My husband knows me very well. It's a clutch bag and I love it so much.
The drone was a big hit for Toby

 Tim also brought up a remote control car, which was fun to drive and hilarious to watch as Sunny barked at it and chased it, until it turned around and chased him!

G&Ts on the verandah. 

Selfie challenge from P&K
It was sad to say good-bye, but we came home yesterday, to a rainy Wagga, our own beds and several days before we go back to work. Relaaaaax.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Getting there

What a few weeks! Here is an attempted catch up; I might start with the most recent stuff first....

A young friend from church works for the Civic Theatre, and she did the lighting design for a local show playing at the Botanic Gardens. She was given a whole free table (dinner and the show), but lots of her friends are away. When she told Jane and Steve that she had spare tickets to a Eurovision show, they knew just who could fill those seats! It was last night, and Andrew couldn't come, but we know plenty of Eurovision tragics. Benjamin even dressed up. It was so good; really funny, great music and so much fun that I couldn't get to sleep afterwards!

On Friday night we were at Joss and Tobes' school presentation night. Toby played in the band (drums for the song Crazy) and orchestra (keyboard for a piratey piece of music), and he got a history award. Joss was announcing the year nine awards (the last person she announced was Toby!), she received a drama award and was announced as House Captain. The whole night was great, I barely even looked at my book.

Twenty five years ago I came back from ten months in Japan, on exchange. While I absolutely loved the experience, I have never been keen on having an exchange student stay with us. I am sad about my lost Japanese and just feel awkward about having a strange teenager in the house, unable to speak English. Joss was so very desperate to have one, though, and Andrew was on her side, so I agreed, and Mao came to stay for ten days.

She was completely delightful! As soon as she arrived, we dropped off her bag and headed in to town to buy Christmas decorations. I have been hoping to have a colour co-ordinated, aesthetically pleasing tree for a number of years, rather than one covered in pre-school produced decorations and Celtic baubles. I went for blue and silver, and though there are some other coloured items that could not be parted with, they are mostly around the back, and it looks great. I think Mao really enjoyed it.

Mao ate everything I cooked, especially loving the pasta. She is the gentlest, sweetest girl, and she and Joss had such a great time together. Joss took her all over town, and to the licorice factory with friends. She was especially easy after school as she just slept! Being in another culture is exhausting!

I pulled out my old yukata (summer kimono) and put it on Bethany. Mao ran to get hers so they were both dressed up.

It had to be done. Mao knew she wasn't going to like it, but she bravely tasted the Vegemite.

The pavlova went down a bit easier! We played Rummikub together and went out to see the Christmas lights. As one of the teachers said, we found out that teenagers everywhere love their mobile phones, eating and sleeping!

Japanese girls also love the Snow app, which gave us all ears, whiskers, huge pupils, pink lips and glowing skin. Sometimes it even gave us paws. There does not seem to be a situation where whiskers and ears aren't required.

The farewell dinner - no ears for Toby

I'll confess, there were tears when we said goodbye. Joss, Beth, Mao and I all cried! Mao was just lovely and we miss her. I don't think I'll have another exchange student because this experience was just right and I don't want to mess with it.

Continuing my backwards story, the day we picked Mao up, we had just arrived home from Sydney. We went to see Aladdin; a treat booked by Andrew months ago.

It was a great show, and the kids also enjoyed the train ride (!) and a wander around town. Joss and I shopped for makeup (OK, I read my book in the corner of Sephora) and Toby, Bethany and Andrew went up whatever Centrepoint is called now. We stayed with Mal, Marlee, Alannah and Jordy for two nights, which was really lovely.

The cousins in age order

The cousins in height order
We left for Sydney on the Saturday, and I had just come back from a library conference on the Friday. It was held in Ulladulla, a six hour drive away, and was well worth the trip. There were great speakers like Deng Adut, Gillian Hicks and Matt Finch. I gave the conference summary, which you can read here if you are interested in what goes on at a library conference!

My super highlight was meeting Jennifer Byrne. I gushed a little bit and told her that when I interview authors for One Book One Wagga, I pretend I'm her. She was very lovely and very tiny.

Before the conference, the big event was our women's Christmas event at church. Over tea, coffee and dessert we made necklaces and heard a Christmas talk. I made three cheesecakes, three blueberry crumble cakes and oversaw the kitchen on the night. I was rather relived that the friends I invited couldn't come, because I wouldn't have seen much of them!

Hmmm, I think that's about it. We can start going forwards again, now. Two weeks to Christmas! I'll just leave you with another couple of photos.....

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Getting ready

 I keep looking ahead in my diary; checking that I am sorted for upcoming birthdays and kids' events, and it doesn't take too many swipes to get to Christmas! There's so much on, but I am getting excited!

Next week I am off to the public libraries conference, missing Bethany's Year 7 orientation and Toby's music performance night. That reminded me, though, that I have photos of recent performances.

Toby is in the band and orchestra at school. He plays the drums and percussion in the band, and the keyboard in the orchestra. One of the churches in town had a music appreciation afternoon and the TRAC Orchestra performed a few pieces. They have a pretty eclectic repertoire from classical to Katy Perry!

Joss does drama at school. It hasn't been a great passion of hers, she kind of fell into it, but is really enjoying it. They had a performance evening with two plays recently. Joss didn't think much of the plays, but we really enjoyed them, and Joss was great. The theatre is small, and Bethany chose the front row, so I couldn't subtly take photos; these are the photos from the foyer.

Bethany hasn't had any performances, but she did dress up as a white cat for Hallowe'en. She went trick-or-treating with a friend dressed as a black cat.We had around 10 kids come to our house. The police recommend that you put your front light on to let kids know it's safe to come to your house, and that you have treats. I feel this approach would work better if it wasn't daylight savings.

 Mimi puts on regular performances of great cuteness, mixed with flying white fur and hysterical jumping.

Milo can't be left out, either. Today Joss had a Book Day parade (random; it's not Book Week). She dressed as Lucy Pevensie (older, as Queen Lucy) and Milo was Aslan. They won best costume and the spelling bee (Joss did the spelling, Milo is a rubbish speller)! Everyone loved Milo, so he was in his element. He is a people dog if ever there was one.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Exotic lunches

Bethany is the hardest to please when it comes to school lunches. The other two love bread rolls (BBQ chicken, cheese and mayo for Joss, cheese mayo and sweet chilli for Toby) but Bethany can't settle on a sandwich filling. Pasta and pizza scrolls will sometimes be acceptable and she loves to take soup in a thermos, but it's getting a bit warm for that.

I was excited, last week, when she said that Sydney had brought the yummiest thing for lunch. It did occur to me that it might be a bit exotic, Sydney being from Zimbabwe, and Bethany did start off with "Have you heard of..." which also made me worry.

"Have you heard of devon? You have it with sauce!" So, back to the 1980s we go.

Actually, I am reading a book at the moment with a character whose name is Devon. I know they don't eat devon in America, but I am still having a hard time getting over it. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

New loves

Bethany and I have caught a bug from Tim; a love for fountain pens and all that goes with them! We have both received a new pen (mine is an early Christmas present) with beautiful inks. I am using mine on the cards I make, and Bethany is writing letters using the stationery she has been given over time. Long live the art of letter writing!

The other things I am absolutely loving at the moment are pure beeswax candles. I buy them from Queen B. They smell like honey and burn for ages. In the spirit of 'do unto others' I have been buying lots of them as presents!

The weather continues to be odd. Tonight, when it is almost November, we have the heater on! I do realise that it will get hot, and probably very quickly. I am prepared for that as long as the pollen disappears. Hay fever is the worst.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Getting your Ps first go

Usually, at this time on a Saturday morning, I would be in town, picking up Joss from work, having dropped her there earlier. Today, I haven't been anywhere at all! She drove herself to work, and she will drive herself to a babysitting job this afternoon; I am enjoying this very much.

Let's go back a bit, though. After Phil and the kids left we had a few days of school holidays with no visitors and then Sare, Ty and their three kids arrived. It was glorious, noisy, fun. They are always a delight to have. Toby gets a good ego boost from the love two younger boy cousins give, Bethany and Joss experience that love too, as well as that of a little girl cousin. Many games, lots of drawing, so much fun.

As we did last time, we drove out to the Junee Chocolate and Licorice Factory. Much chocolate was eaten and purchased (this did not turn out so well later on, but I'll get to that in a minute) and I took only these terrible photos.

On the Sunday night (why do these these things always happen on a Sunday?) Toby came running out to tell us that Milo was eating Sare and Ty's chocolate stash. I rang my friend, Emily, who is a vet, and she came over. We established that he had probably eaten more than 300g of dark chocolate, which is very bad! We tried to make him sick with salty water, but no dice. We had to ring the vet.

What followed was a bonding experience for me and Milo. I held his ears out of the way while all the chocolate came back up. There were the freckles, there was the ginger, all accounted for and not much changed for having been in his stomach for an hour! It was an expensive exercise, but I think we all learned a lesson......

After Sare and Ty went home, Andrew's parents came for a week. This is when Joss got her Ps! We were all very impressed that she passed first go. I highly recommend a few lessons with a professional.

 We had a quiet week with the parents until Saturday's church street fair. Narelle and I organised and ran the cafe this year, which was a lot of work but good fun. This is the only photo I took. Evie made these Cookie Monster cupcakes, as well as ones that looked like hamburgers and sunflowers!

The weather was beautiful. It was our first day warm enough for short sleeves. The plant stall was great and I bought succulents to fill the beautiful, blue pots we have at our front door. It gets so hot there, I do hope they cope.

The kids went back to school, and Sue and Ron headed home on Monday. Joss spent the week bonding with school friends and getting HSC pep talks from the teachers at camp in Tathra.

This sunset was a million times more spectacular in the real!
One term until the end of the year!

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!