Story Blog

Codine's off for the moment, but if you haven't read 'Turning Stones' it's still up there - free read!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Well, the idea MAY have been to go to the beach and not do much else, but it didn't exactly turn out like that. At all.

At the beach, we met up with Indiah and her family – well, everyone and their wife was down at Merewether baths and beach in the morning. Splash splash build paddle paddle jump dive swim.

Good time all round. At noon we were still out there (which is very late for us) and we finally tore ourselves away, but not before inviting Indiah over for a play... she was only just persuaded by her mother to nip home for a quick bit of shower and lunch beforehand. So off we went likewise for shower and lunch, and then there was duly a play-date from about 1 p.m.. They made lemon cake, they painted the little cardboard house, played Lara's new D.S., ate candy-cane, rode Mooses, and goodness knows what else – to be honest it's all faded into the dust of the past 24 hours which have whirled mercilessly past.

Well, at 3:30 Indiah's dad came and picked her up as they were off bowling that afternoon. For us, the Mr and Littles went off to Dixon Park beach with some bat-and-ball and bubbles, and I went off to Kotara to get our non-functioning gas bottle filled up and buy an inflatable mattress. Stocked up on a few more camping bits and pieces, and both parties came back at roughly the same time, about 5:30. Barely had we stepped in the door when the phone rings, and it's Sophie. Not Sophie's mum, but Sophie. Turns out they'd been trying to call earlier but we were out, and when Sophie's mum turned her back to run the bath, the enterprising young girl picked up the phone, dialled Lara's number and asked Ian whether she could come for a sleepover that night. Well, of course, we said yes.

Sophie arrived fully scrubbed, dressed in pyjamas and ready for dinner. We made them little mini-pizzas and they tucked into them very happily. After-dinner entertainment was the start of 'Happily Never After' – lots of fun but cut in half because of the lateness of the hour. We finally hauled them up to bed at 8:30, where it took a good half-hour of adjustments, multiple tuckings-in and shusshings before they finally quietened down but still, not too bad for a sleepover, I guess.

We retired to our lamb curry absolute zombies. I think we re-watched a bit of 'the Colour of Magic' but gave up very rapidly and crawled off to bed, utterly tired.

Morning found the kids up bright and early, of course. Mercifully they played by themselves until nearly 7 o'clock before finally demanding breakfast, but we could hear them tinkling away in the background. Found evidence later that they'd been making houses and running Zhu Zhu pets in the cardboard play-house. They also drew our attention to the fact that there was a roach, in a considerably bad state of repair, smeared across a corner of the kitchen floor: it had been there it seems ever since Sophie had spotted it earlier in the morning and shown it no mercy with a handy DVD case lying nearby. Out comes the disinfectant and off go roach entrails from tiles and case.

Well, it looked like an absolutely beautiful day so we decided to go to the beach bright and early, before it got too burning-dangerous. Phoned Sophie's mum and she said yes, that was fine, she was going to go for a bike ride with the twins in the morning so it would be just right (Australians seem to go in for family bike rides, a lot. Even more inexplicable for those living in Merewether Heights, what with the extreme gradients to cope with on every side.) Took Lara's new blow-up dolphin (from Auntie Pie, another one of the outdoor-toys sets, thank you very much again) and plenty of other toys, goggles and other necessaries. Main order of the day was both the girls riding on the dolphin (instantly christened Sparkles) with Ian pulling it up and down, up and down through the little pool. I tried helping as much as I could, but was exhausted to wobble-point every two or three lengths of the pool, I really don't know how he kept it up. Finally, after a very long time, I managed to distract them for some time with either some water-frizbee or beachball activity so that he could have a rest. Might have just been catch-the-girl-in-the-water-and-eat-her, come to think of it: simple, but effective. Anyway he came up to me after a while looking more exhausted than ever. Turns out some random girl and boy had inched up to him and egged each other on with 'you ask him' 'no You ask him' and requested they have a turn on the dolphin. I think Ian didn't immediately realise this also included the pulling part. Which it did. Well, apparently they were very sweet.

There was also sandcastle building (Castle Good, Castle Bad, and Castle Happiness on this occasion) followed by vigorous sandcastle stamping (Castle Flat, Castle Gone and Castle Crumble subsequently).

By 10:30 we were back home, but even so and even with the excessive lathering of Factor 30 over everything, the girls had tanned up alarmingly, bathing costume marks everywhere. Luckily no burning, but considering it was so early in the morning the. implications for later sunlight exposure is frightening.

Emergency helpings of lemon cake and ice-cream later, Sophie asked for the remains of last night's 'Happily Never After' and Lara for an urgent bath, so they did. Once she was clean the Non too came and watched the rest of the film, which ended very nicely just in time for Sophie's mum to come and pick her up at about noon.

Play-date and sleepover over, we tidied up, hoovered up all the masses of sand from the floor, mopped up the paint from earlier activities, and put on a wash and the Mr made us a lovely lunch. At which point we get a call from Anna, asking to borrow a car (they're down to one because one is in Tasmania, and Neil had taken the other one somewhere else, etc etc) – which naturally was absolutely fine. However, it also meant ANOTHER play-date, right after lunch, with Lillian while Anna took Aiden to the doctors. Actually it was rather fortuitous. The two of them amused each other very nicely, first on the D.S., then watching some Father Christmas DVD, then doing drawing, and I was left almost entirely unmolested to do the ironing quietly in the corner.

The Mr very chivalrously gave me over an hour in bed this afternoon – sound asleep and woke up at nearly 6. He followed it up by cooking a lovely pasta sauce for dinner: exactly what was needed, comforting and settling. We've just finished and he's now packing a bag for us to go and see the early fireworks at 9 p.m. at the Foreshore. Isn't he wonderful?

So there we are, our 2010 is rapidly coming to a galloping end. At some point, a bit of rest and sleep would be quite welcome, too. Hope you're all having a wonderful time out there whatever you're doing, and talk to you all in the New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Yo Dudes and Dudettes! The year's terminus draws near and the excitement doesn't show any signs of letting up. Thank you for fantastic update from Pie, and REALLY hope the rain is letting up... sounds pretty damp. Didn't realise you'd had to cancel your trip to the snow, that's really a bit of a downer. Makoto's diving sounds hair-raising, but as you say, if he can rescue someone under those conditions he can pretty much rescue them any time. When I'm drowning, I wanna be drowning where he is, definitely.

Now, I left off at the camping trip. Well, it certainly wasn't free of problems and we might have very low expectations, but all things considered we thought it went pretty well – for a first trial run. We arrived at the site pretty much dead-on noon (which was the check-in time) and timed ourselves – it took us 40 minutes to put the tent up... which is slow, but not too dreadful.

Non on her way to first camping trip, eating banana muffin... and in the pool with Daddy at the campsite.


We later found out that we hadn't put the tent ropes on in quite the way they were intended (well, the tent didn't come with any instructions at all) but it seemed OK anyway. When it was all set up, we mosied off to the metropolis of Nelson Bay and pick up a LOVELY fish-and-chips for lunch (hamburger for the Littles, she's off fish-and-chips at the moment). After that we played in the park there for a good while: they have loads of climbing things and slides and the place was heaving with children. Now, we were going to go to the beach but the Littles had her eye on the pool at the camp-site and was dead set on getting back there as soon as possible. It was also pretty cloudy, and although we were trying to tell her that there was time for both beach and pool, to be entirely honest it was quite possible the rain would be coming down any time soon so we acquiesced. On the way back we stopped off at Bunnings to get a power-cord extension: it's all very well to be on a powered camp-site but not much use if you don't have an extension to make use of it. Not that we did, in the end, but now we at least have the capability. One thing we found would have been useful was an electric kettle: would have made making a cup of tea a pleasant accompaniment to a piece of cake.

"Cheers!": warming up after pool-time, and breakfast the next day outside the tent.


As per promise, the Littles went to the pool and the Mr bravely went in with her. After they'd been splashing around happily for a good long while I finally took of several layers of clothing and had a microsecond-dip – and regretted it instantly. Absolutely freezing. Anyway, lips purple and blue all round but happiness in general. Back in the tent we stripped off, got the extra duvets out and cuddled up in the sleeping bags to get cosy again, while drinking chocolate milk.

Eventually it was time to start thinking about preparing dinner. Now, we'd made a spag sauce so all we had to do was boil some water, cook the pasta, and heat up the sauce. Bob. Ah, yes. We'd checked out the new stove at home, read the instructions, and were now ready to connect it up to the new little gas bottle and get cooking. It was after some considerable fiddling that we eventually realised that when you buy this type of small bottle from Bunnings, it's... empty. Not full. I'd even been swinging the bottle around at home, exclaiming 'it's very light, I wonder if it's really full' but we thought at the time this was a preposterous idea and discarded it as such. Well well. No camp cooking. Luckily, for precisely this kind of reason I'd picked a camp-site with a kitchen, so we took stuff over there and cooked up inside instead. It was all a bit of a pain because there were cooking facilities but they were crappy and minimal, and it took an inordinately long time to get the water boiling and the pasta cooked. However, the Mr was very chivalrous and stood there patiently stirring it, and there was 'Brother Bear 2' on the telly in there so Littles was almost loath to leave once the meal was ready. Anyway, she's opted for taking it all back to eat outside the camp rather than in the kitchen, so we did. Dished out the pasta... and at this point the Littles jumps up and declares she needs to loo. Which is back at the kitchen area, quite a way away. So up she and I go, leaving the pasta to cool nicely.

Astonishingly, it wasn't too cold by the time we got back. Tasty, too. What with that and what with the wine, things were looking rosy. By this time it was pretty late, so I took the Littles to get brushed up and we put her to bed. Very nice and happy in her Scooby bed, with extra duvet just in case. She slept quite soundly.

Our own night wasn't quite as restful. The Ikea bed mat we'd brought instead of the smaller blow-up I hadn't been able to get hold of on Boxing Day was... Spartan. We're probably not as young as we used to be, too, so it really wasn't very comfortable. However, in retrospect I think it was more the howling of the wind that kept waking us up, on red-alert in case we had to jump up and run after the tent floating away in the wind. Once it died down (probably in the early hours of the morning) it was much easier to sleep. Perhaps in the future we'll have more faith in the tent and not be so nervous – or perhaps it won't blow quite so very much so often. Once we'd got to sleep, the Littles woke up and demanded the loo. So it was Family Loo … behind the tent.

Masses of cicada hatching-shells on the huge tree on our camp-spot, and Ibis in the braches above

We weren't at our brightest by the morning, but of course the Littles was in fine fettle. Tripping over guy ropes and bashing into the tent with vim. Vigour as well. After masses of chocolate spread and bread, we packed up and checked out. Chose a random beach to explore – Fisherman's Bay. Very nice walk through beautiful eucalypts to a small beach, where we paddled for a while before heading back home.

By about one o'clock we were back home, first ever camping trip under belt and (despite setbacks) feeling quite satisfied.

We'd barely brought the stuff up from the car when Sophie's mum called, asking whether Lara would like to come for a sleepover tonight. Well, yes, of course. Said they'd pick her up at about 3:30. So we had about an hour and a half to get her ready... I chucked her in the bath, scrubbed the camping muck off her, dressed her, got her in the car to go and get some new pyjamas (she's been needing some for ages and it was a perfect opportunity), got lovely new 'jamas, also got a little dog-toy for Sophie as a thank-you to take with her, got back, put on the pyjamas just to make sure everything was OK, Lara rips them off screaming 'they're too tight' (they're almost falling off her they're so loose) and refuses to go anywhere near them, we pack old pyjamas instead, re-do her hair, get everything ready just in time for 3:30. Boy was I glad to see her go.

What with one thing and another we were by now reasonably tired. Decided to spend a good hour tidying up (place was a bombsite) and then relax for the rest of the day. An hour and a half later things were looking a bit better. We lazed around playing on the DS and the computer, flicking television unmolested by small children. Eventually decided that it was getting late and we'd better make something for dinner, so I started to strip the turkey carcass for some curry. Now, there may be those among the readers who remember a certain boxing day when I was stripping a turkey carcass and chopped a good deal of my left thumb off in the process, and had to take a trip to A&E the next day when it started looking a bit dodgy. This time it was the same thumb, but came in from the other side – nice big slice clean into the flesh and nail. Lovely sharp knives, we have. My, there was a LOT of blood. And you know the combo between me, blood and consciousness – never go together. So next thing I know I'm rather surprised to be waking up on the kitchen floor rather than in bed, and the Mr looking down at me in that particular 'I wonder when she's going to wake up' way. Amazingly, the cut barely hurts at all. Subsequently wonder whether it's because all the nerves in that thumb have already been destroyed. Be as it may, what with background exhaustion and shock, yours truly retires to the sofa watching telly while the Mr makes a delicious curry... of which I manage to eat disgracefully small amount and crawl off to bed at about 9:30.

At 4 a.m. I wake up to find... still no Mr in bed. Go down to investigate to find that he's been installing and playing a new computer game until now. Wave arms in agitation at him, which produces the effect of his materialising in bed after a few minutes.

Next day, with no Littles, wake up with a stunningly late 9 a.m. - with a start, as I said I'd pick the Littles up at 9. Throw clothes on and call Sophie's place, but everything is fine over there and they ask for another 1 hour before being picked up. Phew. Time for shower.

She seems to have had an unmitigatedly lovely time, and when I got there was in full dress-up with hair down and Sophie waving a hairbrush around as usual – I think she regards the Littles as an extraordinarily well-made and slightly interactive doll. Seems to be a mutually agreeable arrangement. Eventually manage to winkle her out and back home, leaving a general and open invitation for Sophie to replay the visit at any time in the near future. (New Year's Eve is entirely a possibility).

What with one thing and another, it's fully noon before we're all on board about what's happening. We've invited Anna and her family over for dinner, and we've nothing in the fridge apart from a leftover bit of turnkey carcass, and no idea what to make. Concerted effort made at planning, after which the Mr takes the Littles to the beach while I go shopping. Tidying and cooking bring us very speedily to about 4:30, which is when they turn up.

We had a lovely time. Had put a very large leg of lamb on the barbie, which turned out very nicely, and served it with three salads (rice and minty, bean and leafy with pine-nuts, and aubergine and tomato). By the time they got to this we were all nicely hammered on cocktails and titillated with tasty olives and dips, so it went down in a haze of tastiness. They'd brought along the desert, which was delicious: Toblerone fondue with lots of fruit to dip into it. Gosh, it was nice. Just sat around nibbling and yabberring until 10:30 at night, with ALL the kids still conscious and playing on the DS and generally footling – they'd been incredibly well-behaved. Anna had brought along some Mighty Beans and chocolate coins, and made a treasure-hunt for them earlier on – great success. They painted their house, they played ball, they ate dinner relatively nicely, in short, it was astounding.

Nibbles, and treasure hunting for Beans and Chocolate


Non was of course up bright and early today a little before 7 a.m.. She's had her breakfast, though we've only had tea due to being too stuffed from last night. The Mr is asleep on the sofa opposite under the fleece, but as the Littles is swaying about in a small cardboard box wearing nothing but a pair a lurid green pants and yelling 'Daddy Daddy it's a Bad Finale' while thumping him in the groin, I suppose he won't be asleep for long. This morning she received the Moose Bag from the Woof and Whale, and, entirely delighted, set up a 'sleigh' with her white rocking-chair as the sleigh, twelve Mooses lined up in front of it (with Rudolph at the head) and her new skipping rope from the Camel as reins, giddying them up and yelling 'dash, dash, Mooses, go NOW!', herself sitting at the helm in the chair in the character of Fat Santa (this still while clothed in the lurid green pants, ribs protruding and pigtails flying out in agitation).

The idea is to go to the beach today, and probably not much else. I'll be trying to hit the shops to find the bits and pieces we were lacking for the camping, but that's probably the extent of the adventures for today. I think we'll be looking into the next camping trip pretty shortly – couple of day's time, perhaps. If we can find somewhere that will take short bookings at this time of year (not many of those around, actually). Anyway this seems to have gone on for ages, so I'll post up and shut up. Love to all, many happy returns of the Old Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you've all been having a wonderful festive season. We have!

Dude, totally chilled. Never had such a stress-free Christmas. Presents were opened bright and early, sitting room amok with all the correct items: (presents, paper, packaging and instruction slips). I say, MANY thanks to all of you for huge amounts of cash. I already wrote to the Pie – LOADS of stuff for everyone, lots of outdoor toys for the Littles, a dress for me, and loads of shorts and T's for the Mr. The Littles got (as you know) a DS complete with three year's warranty, a carry-case, and three games from the W&W but that still leaves loads of cash which we simply couldn't apply... it'll have to wait for the next important purchase. I think this officially qualifies as 'more money than sense!'

By about 9 a.m. we were all set to go to the beach, and spent a lovely couple of hours in the water and building castles. Back home, and... hmmm... I think there was a quick lunch of tortellini followed by video watching, and DS playing. Rolled about most of the rest of the day, I think, and in the afternoon the Mr put the turkey on the barbecue and did all the trimmings – we had barbecued corn, sweet potato and so on. Lovely. Forgot to put the Xmas pudding on but no-one missed it. Too full. Wonderful.

I'm keeping this short because... today we're GOING CAMPING! Really we're quite late off the block – it's 8:30 already and we're just lazing about, still. We've got a tent, a camping stove and the gas, we've dug out the sleeping bags, we've bought an Esky, we've made some spag sauce for tonight as an easy heat-up and there we are, campsite booked in Anna Bay overnight so fingers crossed it doesn't rain! (or at least, that it doesn't rain too hard). Got to get packing!

Boxing day was just as relaxed as Christmas day – much the same pattern, actually. Beach, then rolling about. (My, that DS is wonderful). I popped out to the lockup to get Camping Stuff (usual fun struggle with boxes, can't wait for lockup days to be over), and was going to get some extra things at the shops but was surprised to find EVERYTHING shut! Westfield, the Homemaker centre, everything. Not a car in sight, all deserted. Oh well, that's one way to save money. So we're off without super-strength insect repellent and a few other things – I'm sure we'll survive.

Must get going. Lots of love to all, and remind me to tell you about the 23rd when we went to the park with Sophie and the consequences! ;) Should have some pics somewhere, too.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let's see, what's the damage. Three days, effectively?

Yesterday (Tuesday) I got in there early for work with the Littles (had let it slip slightly as a celebration of start of holidays) and we were all ready for action by 9 a.m. Just as we were all about the hare it off to the beach before it got too hot, whaddaya know but the phone rings and the Mr gets called off to work – the alarm on one of the freezers has gone off and no-one knows what to do with it. So off he goes to shut the thing up. In the meantime the girls go down to the Baths: it's a lovely morning and the sea's all sparkling and ripply. Jolly cold though. Littles freezes herself a little in the big pool and after about an hour or so daddy comes down to the beach as well. We finally manage to persuade the Littles to go round the corner to Glenrock to look a the rockpools and have a walk. Just a small one, as by this time it's coming up to 11 and we head back home before proper burning time sets in.

After famished hordes have demolished lunch, the Mr gently falls asleep on the sofa (I think he didn't sleep very well the night before) so after a short roll the Non and I go out and hit the shops. Bits and pieces. Come back just in time to change and head out again to her swimming lesson at 4 o'clock. She's getting better... mild problem in the that while it's good that her breath control is getting better, she's now dashing off half the length of the little pool without lifting her head for a breath... which as I know to my cost is not the way to learn crawl. Marvellous the way having her head down brings the feet up though, pity they don't stay there when she surfaces but never mind, slowly slowly. I keep looking rather nervously at the next-door class going on in that pool, called the 'shrimps'. They do a whole hour instead of the half hour that the Non does, and they all bomb up and down there doing crawl, breast, back and butterfly. Buttefly?? Lord. Nearly choked myself giggling as I watched a teacher absent-mindedly guiding a girl of about 5 through the motions of this stroke, talking to someone else and not really looking at what she was doing. Once again good breath control is a mixed blessing as while she was guiding the girl's arms and pulling her half out of the water on the up stroke, it wasn't quite out of the water. She was just windmilling her in great splashes, head pretty much continuously submerged. Seemed quite unperturbed at the end of the lap. Extraordinary.

We came back to find that the Mr had cooked up a chilli for our dinner and was prepping up some lamb and veg for the Non, and as she claimed to be 'so SO hungry' by about 5 o'clock she was sitting down to dinner. Oh, and he'd shaved off his beard! He'd actually shaved it off by the time we came in before swimming, but it hadn't quite registered... I'd only realised half-way down Yule Road that he didn't just look freshened up from his shower, but was definitely less hairy! So when we got back we launched into a 'beard party' – got somewhat tipsy on banana milkshake with oodge in it. Put music on and ran around yelling 'beard party, beard party'.

Afterwards we hung around for ages watching telly in an indolent, holiday sort of way. I'd borrowed 'the sword in the stone' (animated version) from the library and she liked that a lot, and after a while we switched to 'wipeout'... alas fast becoming a family favourite. 'wipeout' is a sort of more violent version of 'it's a knockout', where one laughs oneself to tears as someone gamely bashes out their front teeth on some large rubber bouncing balls.

On Monday, the Mr went in to work for the morning. Littles and I had an exhausting and not very productive time shopping, traipsing about the place and not managing to find various shops that purported to be in places they weren't. However, we did manage to get a couple of new school uniforms for her, so she won't be going into 1st grade with hemlines round her knickers, at least. Also had a quick look at a camping store... yes, camping. We're finding that the prices for accommodation in the summer holidays is absolutely insane – like, three times the price it normally is, and they're not cheap at the best of times anyway. I think it may be the only way we'll get out to blow cobwebs during the next six weeks, so we're certainly going to give it a go. I know, shock. Needs must. I've currently got a bid on a tent on ebay, if I don't get that I'll just off to K Mart and fill up a shopping trolley with the essentials. I reckon we'll take a quick day by the lake just near here first off, to test it out. If it all goes tits up we just pack up and car back. How bad can it be? (don't answer that).

In any case, the two of us returned absolutely exhausted at 2pm, and found the Mr at home. Hurrah! Official start of holidays. After a very late lunch and a rest, I took the Non down to the beach to take piccies for our e-Christmas cards. Sorry, folks, that's all we're sending out, it's all a bit much otherwise. Got quite a few nice ones, not sure which one to use.

That's about it, I think. No idea what happened on Sunday. I think it must have been restful. With six weeks of holiday and no particular going-away on the cards, I've been combing the local entertainment guides for kiddie stuff to do. There's plenty around, of course, but it's getting a good balance. I notice there's 'kids cooking – Christmas Treats' on at Glendale today in the afternoon, might see if that's suitable for her.

No idea why I'm up at this time in the morning. It'll all come crashing down later no doubt. Must have been about 3 a.m. when I woke up first, no apparent reason, just washed up on the shores of consciousness. Alas. After a while reckoned there wasn't much point in hanging around and I've been pootling about since about 4. Bit of a bummer but never mind.

Well, hope you're all doing beautifully. I think the Pies are up in the snows at the moment, no doubt they'll come back with so wonderful pics, hope everything is going swimmingly. Good luck with the Thursday travelling, fingers crossed that it gets a bit better over there before the time strikes.

Ah, first birdsong of the morning. Looks like another lovely day.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Talk of quiet! Wow. All we did yesterday was me taking the Littles swimming. Mr didn't put foot out of doors. The old phrase 'rolling the baby' comes to mind. We were so lethargic Ian and I barely bothered with dinner – eventually had a small cheese sandwich before retiring for the night but that's it. Stunning.

We're currently flicking through the newspapers to see if there's anything on today for a slightly more mobile day, but it's not looking promising. Thing is, it's been raining and grey ever since the summer holidays started (beginning with that thunderstorm the other day) and the traditional fall-back of 'beach' is just not very attractive. Perhaps Daddy will come up with something clever. Who knows.

Did finally get round to wrapping all the presents last night, and came to the realisation that we've bought the Littles precisely nothing. She's got loads of stuff but it's all from Pie and W&W – two huge bags of sporty stuff from Pie and a Dsi set from W&W. Loads of money left over, too, which we have no idea what to do with. Ah, what a situation to be in.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Days seem to be going by at an unreasonable rate at the moment. Can’t for the life of me remember what happened on Wednesday, after the Non came back. Traditionally it’s a ‘quiet’ day so probably not a great deal but y’know, there must have been something.

I know we spent Thursday pretty much readying up for Christmas (process not over by a long shot as yet). I wasn’t going to have a tree this year but I didn’t count on the fact that a five-year-old might not have years of tedium of palaver behind them. So we went out and got a put-it-together tree. Then of course there was the trip to the lock-up to get the baubles and things (of course they were at the bottom of the pile – but of course... plus there’s a whole lot that I can’t find but never mind it’s quite enough). Then back home and put the tree together, put the blasted lights on (I hate that bit), and finally the baubles, tidy up the wreckage left behind, and as soon as we’d finished Lillian came round to play (school may be out but it’s Thursday, after all).

They had a jolly, jolly good long play. When we were out shopping we’d found a fantastic thing for pre-Christmas entertainment: a cardboard playhouse, in white with drawings on it, which you put together a colour in for yourself. Boy that kept them entertained for a good long while. Plus dancing (to Christmas music and other), plus some families game upstairs in her room, kept them entertained till about . By this time Lillian’s mum and brother had come to pick her up, but I’d put a little pizza on and all the kids were starving so they wolfed it down all together. So solid play from about to 6. Fantastic.

I keep meaning to get all the presents wrapped up in the evenings but I’m inevitably losing consciousness at about . It’s appalling. Yesterday I just gave up and went to bed (and turned out the lights) at , and STILL slept until . The situation is desperate – I’m going to try the vitamin pills again to try and scrabble back some waking hours that are not child-infested.

Likewise, don’t know where Friday went to. Oh, yes – the internet had been down for more than 24 hours and I finally got bored and called the company. Lucky I did, it wasn’t just the usual outage but the modem had to be rebooted (it had got confused over time and lost some passwords). Wonder if one could do the same for a human brain? I could use some rebooting. It was rather unfortunate timing as I’d finally got in touch with my parents and we’d said the Non would skype them in the morning. No skye, no mail, nothing. Anyway, it got fixed so the Non talked to Visnja for a good while, and they both behaved very nicely, which is a miracle of Biblical proportions. Then we pootled off to the library, then off to Coles (we forgot to buy everything that we’d meant to). Pretty dull day weather wise so no beach – there was a thunderstorm with magnificent lightening yesterday which may or may not have had something to do with the modem failure. Painted and pootled at home, then baked some gingerbread biscuits in a leisurely manner to take to the last day of Gym. The Non is finally mucking in a little bit and she cut out biscuits properly (almost), and displayed a genuine interest. I didn’t realise how late it was getting and we went off to Gym with the biscuits still nearly hot – them was some fresh biscuits, alright.  Gym itself was a bit of a cop-out. I think the teachers were dog-tired and they were just playing hide-and-seek for half and hour, nothing to do with gym. Still, the kids seemed happy enough and they scoffed loads of goodies afterwards. That’s it for this year, next term starts in February.


Now it’s nearly and we’ve spent the day so far talking on Skype again (caught Deda this morning, he was unconscious by the time the Non called yesterday) and the W&W. Seems Aurora has her arm in a cast over Christmas, the Mino can hear very well with her new hearing aid and the W&W are off the Royston for Christmas, weather permitting. House in the mountains paperwork sorted, now minor details like wiring, water, kitchen and bathrooms being installed for a projected usable date of March (I think? Might have been April).

We have no houses to look at today, for a change. No sure what we’ll be doing with ourselves but I’m sure we’ll find something. I should have a few pics from the last few days so I’ll post asap.

Lots of love to all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last day of school today! Goodness. The kids are off on a recreational day at the Hunter Sports Centre today, and after that (in tones of Braveheart), 'Freedoooom!' Needless to say I've got a to-do list of unreasonable proportions but somehow can't get excited about it. I'm off to the beach for a swim.

Yesterday was very pleasant, as I had a friend from college come passing through on the way to a wedding up in Byron. So we went down to Merewether and had a drink by the beach – very nice to catch up. Soon after I had to pick up the Littles, so we went and got her (carrying a load of papers from her end of term) and then took her swimming shortly afterwards. She did very well at the swimming and was trying nicely, good improvement. Then we had the pleasant surprise of the Mr coming home early (just after 5, very decent). I had a suspicion it was something to do with the air conditioning at the labs (it had broken down the day before) and indeed, turns out it was broken. 28 degrees in the lab again. With the added bonus of the management sending out some guy to repair it, without bothering to tell him that the whole unit was being taken out and was out of order (for who knows how long) up on the roof, so nil points for communication there. Luckily it's nearly the holidays.

That's about it. Had a nice quiet evening. It's pretty hot here, and I'd better get down to the baths fast if I don't want to burn. I only stay out for about half an hour but you can see the effects if you don't put on sun cream.

Oh, the completion date for Welham Green is tentatively set for December 21st. Wey hey! All we have to do now is 1) get that darn Visa, 2) pray for a miracle in the exchange rates and 3) find the ideal house. No problems.

Right, so long. (BTW I've added a few piccies to the last post)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Slipping, slipping. Not quite back in the habit of posting every day here. Mustn't miss out on Sunday. We did our work in the morning and of course went off to Nippers, and this time I took the camera so you can see what they get up to:

First, photo on the beach as it's the last day before the holidays, then up to the Baths


Next parents make a ring in the pool and kids swim round, and round, and round again. Non kept going till the very end, lots of them had given up.

after a quick warm-up cuddle, it's surfboard time!

After boards, diving under hands in the little pool


... no they're not line-dancing, really.... and Non and Jaymie

Dolphins in the distance (see the fin?) and Sophie, Jaymie and Non (and Daddy)


Santa is Mobbed for Sweets

Then heads out to sea with kids


The way Santa comes in Australia

So there we are, as you can see we had a rather nice time. By the time we got back home it was nearly 1 o'clock - luckily we'd had the Sausage Sizzle before Santa so we were all set for the afternoon. Rolled around recovering, and put on an early dinner so we could go out to listen to carols in the park. Now, this was not just yer average gathering in the local square, as we were expecting (or I was, certainly). This was a VAST area by the lake, and I don't know how many but there were certainly thousands of people there, with huge screens at the front, speakers blaring, everybody with camp stools, a cast of local pop 'stars', the works. The downer was that everybody was a bit of a frump when it came to singing along, so despite the vast crowd there was barely a murmur (which the presenters interpreted politely as being 'relaxed' rather than apathetic), but we yelled along to a few of the livelier ones and the Littles was dancing and enjoying being jiggled on knees for a long time. At 9 o'clock they finished with some really rather spectacular fireworks, and the Littles was suitably wowed. Staggered off home to bed without much further ado.

we were at about the mid-point here, there was a whole load of people behind as well.


Lake and Stage ('cause you've proabably never seen a lake or a stage before) 

More Tree and Lake (getting darker now)

Monday was not so great, possibly because of the late night, possibly it was just an off day. Littles fuffed her work in the morning, then took an HOUR in her room, putting on her socks, taking off, putting on, taking off, putting on, taking off, absolutely ad infinitum. Now, she's been chronically slow in getting ready for anything, and purposefully driving me mad in the process - I hate it. So this day I didn't urge her on, just kept popping in and telling her the time, and what else she had to do before going to school. For an hour, and she was still there with her socks, saying they're not comfortable. (For the record, all her socks are carefully vetted to fit beautifully and easy to slip on and off. I threw out any that didn't meet the criteria). The depressing part is, that after an hour I finally put her over knee and gave her a whack, and told her that if the socks came off again she's get another one. It worked. Why would it have to come down to this? After that of course she still had a mass of things to do like loo, teeth, put on sunscreen and mozzy repellant, shoes (it all takes time) and she ended up being 20 minutes late for school. I just left her to it. Arrived snot-filled and flailing. Now I don't know but have a feeling that possibly at this point (when everyone was ready outside with their chairs - it was prizegiving day) that she might have realised this wasn't quite the most pleasant route to go down. I don't know but I think I saw a flicker of 'oh shit' go past there. In any case, she joined the queue and got on with it. This morning (so far) she's got dressed without a murmur, brushed her teeth on her own, and is sitting at table doing her morning work very nicely and carefully... and seemingly enjoying it. How long it'll last is anyone's guess but one step at a time. Even one morning is something.

'Little Drummer Boy' performance - that's right, ignore the audience but grin like a tiger at the camera

Something must have been shocking... and getting her Kindergarten graduation certificate


Now, after this, it was prizegiving - which went on for EVER. They give out a lot of prizes, which is good because lots of kids get recognition, but boy it all takes a while. I took a couple of pics and will pop them up once they're downloaded. The Kindy kids 'sang' the Little Drummer Boy as an interlude mid-way... I've never heard a quieter drummer, I can tell you. Still, there was some murmuring to be heard, which might or might not have matched up to the words.

After that I went out and did mass-shop for the Xmas pressies for the Littles: with Wednesday being the last day of school there'll be no further opportunity to shop in private. So there we are, actually they're all still in the boot of the car because I've got nowhere to stash them. I think I'll have to wrap 'em and send them off to the lab until the big day or something.

So there we are. Oh, I never wrote about Saturday, did I. Well in the morning I took the Littles to the pool and she swam about for an hour and a half with Jenna (who comes for her swimming lessons on Saturdays around that time) and they dived and raced and floated and flailed with great gusto. After that we jsut lounged about, I think the previous week had been quite tiring and we were all rather ready for a bit of a laze. Oh, talking of tiring...

On the Friday  (I think it was Friday) the Mr had a department-type conference in town, we dropped him there in the morning and he didn't come back till late. Well, I went to bed, and then worke up at 1:30 and he STILL wasn't in bed so went downstairs, and there he was at the dining room table drinking water and flicking through the web. Ah, had a good time? Oh yes, yes, got a little gosspip - and then said well I'm going back up see you in a minute.  .... At 3a.m., still no Mr, and I haven't been able to get back to sleep. Finally go back down and he's STILL sitting there, drinking water and flicking through the web. WHAT are you doing?? Ah, yes. Thought I'd drink some water. Finally he comes up and hits the pillow, goes striaght to sleep. I'm wide awake by now. After another half hour go downstairs and drink tea and flick through the web. At about 5:30 finally get to sleep on the sofa. At just gone 6 the Littles wakes up for a pee, and then at 7 gets up properly.

In the morning, when the Mr finally emerges at about 9, I query why on EARTH he would want to sit up until 3 a.m. before coming to bed. Well, quoth he, mildly, I felt a bit drunk so I thought I'd sit and drink a bit of water. Hmph. Then he went on to tell me a bit more about what they'd been doing, and in the process mentioned that there had been a FREE BAR. Anything you want. Beer, wine, whatever. AH!! No wonder! All was clarity. It must have been a miracle of balance that he was even vertical, let alone able to speak. Free bar! God knows how much went own the hatch. I wish I'd known at the time. It's just that I'd already had a few very late nights in the run-up to that (website stuff and then something else, can't remember what) so I wasn' tin much of a state to cope with being up again. Getting old, you know.

Must stop here, the Littles still has uncombed hair and she doesn't need to be late again today. Love to all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

9th December 2010 (Thursday)

The world's looking just a teeny bit fuzzy round the edges today... I got a bit carried away with the new website I'm building and ended up going to bed at 1:30 (which is unheard of for me) and then the Littles got up at 6. Meanwhile the Mr has hared off to Sydney for a meeting this morning, by the said 6 a.m. he was up up and away. I'm seriously considering getting those black-out curtains – if I can possibly tear myself away to the shop for long enough to do it, which is doubtful. (Mind you, blackout curtains probably won't avert meetings in Sydney but you know. Wouldn't that be just wonderful? What a marketing edge. 'Hang these and you'll never have to go to an annoyingly located early meeting again!' Ah, one can dream.)

I did my swimming again in the morning yesterday (and took a little more care with the timing) and found it was 25 minutes (for the 1km). Ian says, not shabby, but considering the Newcastle Harbour race to Stockton times in at just over 7 minutes for 700 meters, it's got a hell of a way to go. Well, for one I won't be entering that race just at the moment. Anyway, it's quite good fun and nice to be back in the water.

(I'm sure the Littles just yelled down at her chocolate advent calendar: 'Arse number 21!' Not sure what's going on but it sounds exciting).

Seasonal annoyance of the day: the postal service. Went there yesterday to post package to Leo and Nea, and they said Oh it'll be more expensive because it's large, you're better off packing it in small pieces, there's a $9 surcharge for anything over 450g. Well, Ok if it's going to be that much cheaper I'll repack, think I, so off I go back home. Come back with multiple packages and the total charge is... nearly $10 more than they originally quoted for the big one. You said it was cheaper to break them up, quoth I. Ah but there's a minimum charge, quoth they. I didn't say anything but think they saw exactly what I was thinking because the man behind the counter said weakly, it'll all be all right. Yeah, mate, you wish, not after I've finished with you. Anyway, so sorry about that Pie, there'll be a whole load of tiny parcels arriving instead of just one decent sized one. I told myself that at least it diminishes the eggs-in-one-basket factor if something goes missing. Of course, it increases the chances of ONE of them going missing but hey there we are.

I find this morning that our bathroom scales have finally given up the ghost. Says something about the state of our diet.

Been pretty hot these days, finally. Littles came back from school yesterday looking rather hot and bothered, so we upped and went to the Baths in the afternoon. Boy it was chilly (seemed much colder than when I went in the morning, somehow), but she did a bit of swimming, and then we went to Swell's for a hot chocolate. By the time she got back, demanded Bassa for dinner and watched a good chunk of the Nutcracker, she was well pumped again. I think it's a good thing that the school's finishing soon, though, they're all tired out of their tinies by the sound of things. All the kids are bursting into tears at a moment's notice.

Meanwhile, the Mr had a barbecue get-together at the lab yesterday. He came home in the afternoon and I dropped him somewhere near the centre at a park. Seemed to have an OK time but perhaps it could have been better, as he said the barbecue thingy at the park actually turned out to be broken, so they all piled into someone's car and drove to Dixon Park, where the Thingy was working but the wind from the beach was so cold that it sounds as if there was a brass monkey nearby bewailing the state of his wedding tackle. Anyway they retired to a pub after quick-cooked sausages and lived happily ever after.

Darn it's gone 7. Must attend to Littles. Lots of love to all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

8th December 2010 (Wednesday)

The swimming lesson went OK after all. Hurrah. She came back and decided that yes, she was going to listen to what was told her, and have a good time – and she did. So there we are, they're 'on' again.

Nothing spectacular seems to have happened yesterday. Well I did go to the 'Zumba' class... which is an exercise thingy of some hip-hop/salsa/Afro-carribean/god-knows-what fusion mish-mash that leaves one sweating buckets so I'm guessing it's good exercise... but it's a good thing there are no video cameras there. My word. It's basically a 'teach white people to dance' thing that doesn't really work – well not from the results I can see round me and in the mirror. Ugh. At best it ends up looking as if you're having a fit.

Littles has forsaken 'Pat and Mat' for a short while in favour of a nightly viewing of 'The Nutcracker'. We're talking the ballet here. That's fine, but she's very keen on being lifted up and turned round, having her legs hoisted (preferably with commentary) with the explanation: “you help me, because I can't do it by myself,” as if with help it was an exact replica of what's going on on screen. Surprisingly tiring, hauling her about like that.

Hey up, something's just hit the floor from a bunk bed – I wonder what she smuggled into bed to make that noise on the way down. The other day we discovered her with two books and a fake bird's nest. Oh, here she comes. Christmas Tree Toast needed, no doubt.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Medical Wisdom (Well, it's mid-week, I thought you could do with a chuckle)

These are sentences actually typed by Medical secretaries in NHS Greater Glasgow
1. The patient has no previous history of suicides.

2. Patient has left her white blood cells at another hospital.

3. Patient's medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

6. On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.

7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

9. Discharge status:- Alive, but without my permission.

10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert, but forgetful.

11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

12. She is numb from her toes down.

13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.

14. The skin was moist and dry.

15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.

18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.

19 I saw your patient today, who is still under our care for physical therapy.

20. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

21 Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

22. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

23. Skin: somewhat pale, but present.

24. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.

25. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.

26. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities

27. When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.

28. The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of fuel and crashed.

29. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

30. She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.

31. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Smith, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

32. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.

33. By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped, and he was feeling better.

7th December 2010 (Tuesday)

One, two, three, four, five, (blow).... One, two, three, four, five, (blow)...

Ah, there you are. You just caught me trying to resuscitate this blog. Seems to have got washed out to sea for a fortnight after only regaining consciousness briefly, and the prospects are grim. Never say die, though, eh. How about an adrenaline shot... now what can I think of...

Last night we had a freak incident when a gang of possums chewed through the window netting, got into the house at night and trashed the kitchen. The fire-brigade was out here at 3 a.m. and we ended up on the third page of the local newspaper.

Nah, just kidding. Artistic license. Slept like logs after falling comatose at 9:30 (probably earlier in my case but that's when I glanced at the clock).

In the run-up to Christmas, our days are more routine than ever. Monday – Ruby and Indiah came to play (that's yesterday and two weeks ago – last week I had an end-of-term chat with Mr Harris so we had a quiet day). T

Tuesdays – Non's swimming lesson. She's been loving it but just last Saturday she decided to do her 'I'm going to totally not try and do anything you suggest, in fact I'm going to do the opposite as possible and love it as I watch your face silently going puce with irritation over the next half hour as you freeze your arse off in the pool” so who knows where it'll go. Eventually, surely, she must come to her senses – all the kids are so gung-ho about it and swim so well peer pressure's got to settle in. I'm hoping.

Wednesdays. Ah, the quiet day. Ooh, the kinder-hell days have finished, they are no more! We don't have to go in for reading groups any more. In fact, I don't think the kids are learning anything for these last two weeks, they just seem to be sitting there gently colouring in, watching videos and making up dance routines for 'Elf Yourself' – don't ask me 'cause I don't know.

Thursdays – Lillian comes to play after school. I'm trying to break the habit they have to 'making houses' in the sitting room which consists of them dragging down everything from Lara's room, dumping it in two piles all over the sitting room and leaving it there after rolling on it. They definitely need so help with their construction, looks like the Big Bad Wolf got there and blew it down before they ever started. You can imagine how attractive it is for me to clear that lot up once they've finished and I've cooked two separate dinners, one for the Non and one for us. Still, they have a good time.

Fridays – gym. Ah, Lara loves this. Finally now she can more or less do a forward roll without endangering her spinal cord too much. Great stuff. It's also always marvellous to see her collapsed on the floor while waiting for dinner to cook in the evening, watching telly like a zombie and groaning 'I'm so so tired....' Ah, bliss.

Saturdays. There's almost always a house or so to see. We were wondering what the 'best' one we've seen so far is, in realistic terms that is, and we decided it's been the 3-bed un-reclaimed granny-house on Bershire that went at auction for 499. Quiet location, cheap enough to be able to do serious renovation, no stupid stuff done to it already, and nicely-done swish stuff just puts it up out of our price range. Talking of which the UK lawyers sent through a paper for us to sign this morning to give them power to sign on our behalf – really looks as if the sale might go through before Christmas. Who knows though, I'm not holding my breath. … Er, where was I on the Saturday. Ah yes, then I take the Non to the pool for free swim. That is, just swimming practice without the lesson. She's been enjoying it hugely up till last time – once we did almost exclusive diving practice with a lot of her holding onto me so she could go deep and stay underwater for longer, once she was practising jumping in, once it was breathing and blowing underwater... all with the greatest glee. As aforementioned, we'll see how it goes.

On Sundays, of course, there's Nippers. 9:30 sharp at Merewether Beach, hordes of kids, sun sand and chaos. God she loves it. Running round and round in the surf with a cordon of parents in the shallows to make sure none get washed out to sea, swimming round in the Baths and then standing on their surfboards, running paddling races (or paddling them, should one say), playing tag of various kinds in the sand, tug-o-rope, a sort of musical sticks race... we get back at nearly noon and devour lunch with more than a little gusto. In the afternoons we've been going to Blackbutt regularly, to say hello to the wombats and practice Frisbee (she's finally given up throwing it like a discus and sometimes it even reaches its target). Followed invariably by nice early dinner and speedy bed all round.

Well there you go, that's what you've been missing. Week after week.

For myself I'm not sure what's happened to the last week. All the way to the end of November I was frantically sending out pieces for competitions and the like – fourteen pieces in twelve days, I think – but it's now the 7th so I must have had a whole week and nothing much has happened since. Where does it go? The summer holidays are bearing down on us with the speed of a bullet train and of course we haven't got a thing sorted. There was the kindergarten mums (well OK parents) night out the other night, and later in the week Ian's got all sorts of dos at his place so Christmas really must be nearly here but I'm reckoning if I stick my head far down into the sand, I mean really far, it won't notice I'm there. Waddaya reckon?

Right, nearly getting up time for the Littles. Best get those sarnies going. Do you know I had spinach and tofu lasagne for breakfast the other day? Damn fine, I'd recommend it any day. Well, tally ho and tweek you later.

Monday, November 22, 2010

21st November 2010 (Sunday)

I do believe I’m in the running for the Most Boring Blog of the Year award, the way things are going. I do apologise.


Sunday was great. We offed to Nippers in the morning, of course – only today they had the amusingly named ‘King of the Beach’ event on. The kiddies did a bit of splashing about in the surf early on, but then unfortunately that was about it for them. There was a parade of the three surf clubs involved (which seemed to take an absolute AGE to get going) and after that an all-age relay race where Merewether lost by about a lap. After that we got bored and buggered off to the baths. Still, good day for it.

At the baths they dived, paddled and generally frolicked until the Non could no longer stick sea-shells into a sandy Jabba the Hut creation on the each for excess of shivering, at which point I declared the excursion at an end and hauled her off to the changing rooms. (I never went near the water, naturally. Far too cold.)

A HUGE amount of pizza for lunch later, and we got in the car again to go to Blackbutt Fair. Now this wasn’t actually held in Blackbutt but in one of the streets near it, and it was really just one of the usual tat-fairs with handmade children’s clothes and pinnies and jewellery you never wanted. However, there were a whole load of wine-tasting booths from the Hunter Valley, all lined up. In view of the Mr’s having to drive, we only sampled one, cautiously, but the poor Mr cast many a backwards glance at the tempting fare, like little Danny the Fieldmouse and the acorns.


This little excitement over, we went up to Blackbutt proper. Place was fairly heaving, everyone was out there having their birthday parties and enjoying the good weather. Notably, the Littles honed her Frisbee-throwing technique until she can now (more or less) be relied on to throw it in a straight line… the destination is still somewhat vague but sometimes it’s pretty spot on. This is a huge improvement from her habit either of ramming it straight to the ground, of throwing it like a discus. Well, I use ‘throwing’ in a very broad sense, here. Made a round of our usual animals, and had the treat of actually seeing and feeding one of the rock wallabies (or he might have been a wallaroo) who are usually way at the top of the enclosure and you just get to see the tips of their ears.

At this point I think I’m going to call it quits. It’s actually Monday as I write but I think I’ll leave the rest for tomorrow. Snogs.