Friday, November 17, 2017

One down, two to go

Honestly, I didn't mean to take such a long break from blogging. The truth is, if I have time to spare, I'd rather be reading.

There have been a few momentous occurrences in our lives since last I dropped in. Joss is not only an adult, but one who has finished school completely. Her exams are over, she has been accepted into the course she wants to do at uni, and her uniform is folded away in Bethany's cupboard for when she begins Year 11.

The last day of school was a graduation extravaganza with no fewer than four events for students and family. Actually, the teachers put on a breakfast for the students, so they had five events that day!

The first for the rest of us, was the final assembly, which takes the place of speech night. We still have to go to speech night, of course, as we have two more children, but we don't need to worry about that just yet.

Anyway, it was really enjoyable. There were inspirational speeches, funny speeches, musical items and the prizes were handed out (Joss got an Honest Endeavour for Drama). Afterwards, all the students, their families and the teachers milled about taking photos. Lots of the students were crying, mostly the boys, strangely. Mum and Dad had to go away that day, so it was lovely that they could come to the assembly before they left.

Next stop was a quick lunch in town, before Joss went to have her hair done for the formal. Our school is the only one that does the formal before the exams. The good thing about that, is that is isn't hard to get into the hairdresser, and Joss made the front page of the newspaper the next day!

At four, students and families, all dressed up, met at the Victory Memorial Gardens for photos.

Joss and her boyfriend, Ryan

All in blue
My work friend, Cynthia, also has a daughter in the same year; it was so nice to do this day with her, too!

After the photos we went to St John's for a church service. The students walked in to the church in pairs, while we all watched. There were more speeches (lots of in jokes) a great sermon from our friend, Gareth, the chaplain, and Toby played the piano.

Finally, we dropped Toby and Bethany home and went to the formal. There was dinner, lots of laughter, more speeches, videos and dancing.

I hadn't really thought about what the day would be like for us. There was lots of preparation in terms of Joss' dress and buying tickets, but I had not considered the rest of it, so I was surprised by the wonder of it all. The teachers showed such genuine care for the students, the students showed such love for each other, and it was a beautiful celebration. I came away very thankful for our school, and full of hope for the kids.

I love that it was all done before the exams. It meant that they could all just knuckle down and study.

And now, it's all over. Joss was granted early entry to her course, before she even started the exams, so the pressure was off, and it was all reasonably stress free.

Somehow, I think we have done the easy one first......

Bethany and her friend, whose dog was in a uniform costume, went trick or treating. We had a few visitors here, but a recent development is that people decorate the front of their houses so that people know they will get sweets there. If you don't decorate, people largely pass you by. I like it.

I also like Joss' post HSC hair!

Next week, I'm off to Sydney for a conference. The conference dinner has a disco theme. I am going to dance for hours!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Toby is so clever!

He had a year off from taking piano exams, but this got back into it with his sixth grade exam. He was completely relaxed about it, until just beforehand, and then he played his pieces so well.

We celebrated with a trip to the Fitzmaurice Cafe and he got this cookie dough milkshake. Now, he has a decent appetite, but he didn't even manage half of this chocolate mousse, chocolate chip bikkie, bikkie dough and milkshake bonanza!

Mum and Dad went travelling, so Sunny came to visit. Bethany enjoys wrapping him up on the couch.

Friends from church invited us to a Christmas in July celebration in their woolshed. It was a bright, clear, day, not bitter at all. We ate, talked and wandered the farm. Toby, Andrew and Beth all considered living on a farm. I love visiting, but I'll pass on living on one....

The glorious sky
My workmate, Cynthia, and I heading down to Albury in the pouring rain on Monday, to attend Keeping It Real. It was a great conference, and we had a lovely dinner down town with another librarian, followed by a wander in the sparkly streets of Albury.

I made it home in time to head up to school with Mum, Dad, Andrew and Beth to watch the school musical, Disco Inferno. Joss and Cate were stage managers, and Toby played the drums through 29 disco tunes. It really was the most fun, and Toby was super fabulous on the drums!

I backed that up with another evening at school, this time for parent/teacher interviews. This is the life.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Big Birthdays

The school holidays were very eventful for our family.

Firstly, le Tour de France. Oh, how we love it. The great thing about it being on during the holidays, is that we can set up beds in front of the television for those wishing to watch the whole stage! I got up and left the house for work before anyone else stirred.

I took this as I left for work.
Bethany turned thirteen right in the middle of the holidays. When I was a child, my special birthday meal was wiener schnitzel, something I have never once made as an adult. Bethany, when asked what she would like to do for her birthday dinner, asked to go to the RSL with the Listers! We have done that twice before, over the years, but clearly those evenings were memorable!

Mum and Dad weren't free to come to the RSL, so later in the week we went to their house, full of Melbourne cousins on holidays, for another birthday dinner.

Mum and the girls made Bethany's chosen birthday dessert, chocolate ripple cake. They also dipped strawberries in chocolate!

Only one week of three children all being teenagers, when one of them became an adult.

Joss' best friend, Georgie, came down from Sydney for the party.

Joss' aunt bought her a glass of sparkles. Later I bought her a glass of moscato, judging, correctly as it turned out, that she would take to the sweet stuff most readily.

We went to Beer DeLuxe, a hip sort of bar in town. There were church friends, family and school friends. I didn't really think much about enjoying it myself, but I certainly did. Joss has a lovely group of friends.

It is almost impossible to have a photo that is good of everyone!

Three generations

Beautiful girl woman

Saturday, July 1, 2017


Miranda. What a lovely name; for a person, for a suburb. Bethany recently told Andrew that she had discovered a lovely name. She realises that it isn't a name she could ever give a child, or adopt for herself, but she finds it very pretty. It's Marijuana......

Back to Miranda. Tim and his family moved there recently, and though Joss and Andrew visited on their way home from Sydney a few months ago, I had not been. Joss had an 18th birthday party to attend in Sydney, last weekend, and I confess that while she is a safe driver, we just weren't quite happy with the idea of her driving to and from Sydney by herself.

So, last Saturday morning she and I woke up early and hit the road. Joss is a great sleeper in the car, so conversation wasn't always scintillating, but I did listen to Eurovision, we had coffee/hot chocolate at the Long Track Pantry, and arrived in Miranda around 12.15!

After waving goodbye to Joss' bus, I spend the rest of the afternoon wandering Miranda Fair, reading my books and drinking coffee. It was a very pleasant way to relax as I waiting for Tim and company to return from a wedding.

I always have a lovely time when I visit them. Three exuberant, affectionate and engaging nephews, one generous, book and fun loving niece,  dinner, chat and a movie on the couch with Tim and Shona. Delightful.

I love this photo, even though the reflection in my glasses makes me look cross-eyed.
I went to their new church on Sunday morning, which was great, though I was sorry it wasn't Tim's turn to preach, and Joss was dropped off around 2. You can imagine the day after a party and mass sleepover, her sleeping in the car game was even stronger. Especially as this was her fourth weekend away in a row!

It makes for a big weekend, and a week of trying to catch up on what didn't get done on the weekend, but I reckon it's totally worth it and will do it again.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sand and pugs

It doesn't take long to start a tradition; you can just do something once and decide to keep doing it. Last year, one of Andrew's sisters decided that seeing as we don't all get together at Christmas, that we should all go away together, Andrew's parents, the four siblings and their families that is, in June. We went to a caravan park in Wollongong, the same distance from Wagga as it is from Gloucester, and we had a great weekend.

This year, we changed the caravan park, to one just up the road, but still all came together for the weekend. There were 21 of us last year, and this year, the oldest cousin brought a fellow, so we are a growing family again!

Our cabins were all in a row, right at the beach. Bethany asked what that noise was when we arrived. I may not like the sand or the water, but I do like the sound of the beach.

There was a lot of soccer played, sand brought inside, tea and coffee consumed and long walks taken. The cousins all slept in each other's cabins (we just had two teenaged boys - win!).

We went out for dinner, with the adults at one table and the kids (that word doesn't apply to all of them) at another. Afterwards, we asked a lady to take a photo of all of us. The patriarch turns 93 tomorrow!

We stopped on our way home and found two pugs! After admiring them from the car for a while, Bethany and I got out and made friends. Seriously, they were so cute I almost burst, but I don't want one. We got covered in hair just from our brief encounter, and they snuffled, snorted and sneezed. The lady said that they sneeze on her food, and she said one of them wasn't very nice! She used a word she had to whisper as Bethany was there. Still, the encounter made a great weekend even better.

Just in case you were wondering, Andrew came at the end and had a pat. Neither Bethany or I have a hairy arm like that.

Monday, June 12, 2017

I blame books

I could have been blogging, but I think the simple fact is that spare time is minimal, and I would really rather read. There is also the fact that my Mum and Dad were the only visible readers of this blog (visible in that they commented), so when they moved to Wagga, I didn't feel the need to blog, as I can just pop in for coffee. It has been pointed out to me, however, that I may have one or two other readers who aren't in coffee distance, so, here we are again. I won't make any promises regarding frequency, but we'll see how we go!

It turns out that I haven't taken many non-work related/card making photos in the last few months, but here are a few to give you a brief catch up:

I drove Joss and two of her friends to a music festival in Canberra. I dropped them off, then had eleven hours to fill, with no responsibilities! I spent hours at the National Art Gallery, looking at every single painting I wanted to look at. I checked in to our apartment and read Lord of the Rings for hours. I ate Chinese - you don't get much variety when there is only one person eating. I also went for a long walk next to the lake.

I really like Canberra; I think I could live there.

The One Book One Wagga book for this year was Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, and I interviewed her at the gala dinner. The event was sold out!

Liane was lovely and easy to talk to, on stage and over dinner. It was a great night. I was very tall in those shoes, and I was careful not to fall up the steps. I was happy to take them off at the end of the night!

Toby and Bethany played with the school band, as part of the lineup for International Day of Jazz. Mum and Dad came to watch them, and it was lots of fun. You couldn't really see either of them, so I didn't even bother taking a photo. After the two school bands, Groove Factorie played, then a couple of other bands before Andrew played with an older group. There was some great music, but my favourite was the last Groove Factorie gig where Darren Coggan joined them to play James Taylor songs. So good!

All three children went to Presbyterian Youth Winter Camp this long weekend. Yes, we were child free, all weekend. It was awesome. I was glad to see them, though. Really.

What I am reading:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (for book club)
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (recommended to me by her sister!)
What I'm watching:
Doctor Who
Unforgotten (British crime series)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sydney, again and again.

I feel like I have had a year's worth of trips to Sydney in just two weeks. So much for the quiet, country life!

The first trip was one I was rather dreading. Me, a teacher, and five drama students in our car, up to Sydney to see OnStage (last year's best HSC drama performances. Andrew told Joss' drama class last year, that he would be willing to drive them all. Unfortunately for me, something came up at Andrew's work, and I had to do it!

I don't drive in the city. I'm not a bad driver, just not overly confident when I don't know where I am going and there are millions of other cars about.

Thankfully, Joss' teacher was lovely, so 12ish hours in the car was fine in terms of conversation. The city driving, however, was as bad as I thought it might be! I also got stuck in an elevator for several long minutes, and didn't manage to have any dinner, but this room was a great consolation.

Also, I got my steps up with a pretty decent view, and the humidity saw to it being a good workout.

Look how many people!
We went home the very next morning, through torrential Sydney rain. We got everywhere safely, but I wouldn't very much like to do it again!

I had Wednesday and Thursday at home, then, when the Wagga weather was forecast for 44, I got up before five to catch the plane to Sydney for an Indigenous Services Unconference. It was really interesting, very productive and fully air-conditioned.

Just inside the Mitchell Library
We saved the best for last, and on Tuesday, Andrew and I drove to Sydney to see James Taylor! We stayed in the coolest hotel, with a free minibar, glass elevators and stairs up to our comfiest ever bed.

It was right behind Darling Harbour, so we strolled to the venue and sat with what seemed like a million others to hear James Taylor, sounding as good as ever, being funny, humble and kind.

Tracey works with me, and we bought the tickets together. We all loved the concert, so. very. much.

A little bit of sustenance for shopping and a leisurely drive home. I think I'll stay put for a while and listen to James.....

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Swing of Things

Once all the washing was done after Kiama, Andrew's sister and her three children came to stay; it's a tradition that the cousins would not like to forgo. There is much late night talking amongst three girls in one bedroom, lots of trampolining, ice cream eating and game playing. It's a highlight of our summer holidays.

We also had a great evening down at the river, celebrating Steve and Mike's birthdays. The menfolk swam with the kids while we enjoyed a bit of grown-up conversation under the trees.

We had one last week of holidays, when I got up each morning and left before anyone stirred, and then, no matter how hard they clung to the holidays, it was time for the kids to go back to school.

In fact, Bethany has started somewhere new. Yes, the baby of the family, is in high school.

She was a bundle of excitement and nervousness, but relaxed into a wonderful first day.

The excitement levels elsewhere were pretty well contained.

There are, as one would expect, a lot of things I will miss about the holidays, especially as extra-curricular activity mounts, but there is something satisfying about getting in the swing of things; being organised.

I am not one for New Year's Resolutions. If you need to make positive changes, just do it; but I did make some tongue in cheek ones. I posted on Instagram that I want to read more, burn more candles and drink more tea. I think it's important to set oneself up for success. I also plan to write more letters (and obtain more fountain pens and paraphernalia), so when Tim alerted me to the existence of InCoWriMo (International Correspondence Writing Month), I decided to get involved.

I will be writing a letter, postcard or note every day in February. Tim is getting the first, but if you want to be on my list, let me know in the comments!

We have had Mum and Dad here for a couple of days, which has been delightful. Extraordinarily hot, sometimes windy weather does make for spectacular sunsets, best enjoyed while taking an evening stroll.