Thursday, January 14, 2010

Our trampoline

My fantastic parents got me the kids a trampoline for Christmas. It is one of those awesome spring free ones. It was assembled late on Christmas night with mum and dad, my sister and Raff and I. And some eggnog. And Baileys. It wasn't too bad as far as the assembly of these things go. I had hold of the instruction book, so we knew we were in good hands.

The kids LOVE it. The one-kid-at-a-time rule lasted about 27 seconds. They use it for so many things in so many different ways. It is great for laying on and reading, fantastic for rough housing, brilliant for tea parties and picnics, ideal for secret meetings. Lucy, at just 2 years old, would be on there 24/7. This morning she was on it, naked, at 7am.
Charlotte can do somersaults on it and Ella is getting it together enough to be able to bounce herself well.

They play a game where two of them curl up in a ball laying on the tramp mat and the other one jumps up and down yelling something like 'crack the egg, crack the egg!' the first one to 'uncurl' loses.
 I managed to catch a semi decent shot of them all with static hair. Then Lucy touched me - ouch!

I have enjoyed jumping on it in the evenings. It is much fun looking over all the neighbours fences!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


A Skype moment between Charlotte in South Australia and her Nana (my mum) in Manchester, UK.

How lucky are the children of this generation!? Mum and dad won't be home until mid-February, but the kids get to see and hear them still.

Monday, January 04, 2010

My business

Today I registered a business name. The OCBA tells me that The Office of Consumer and Business Affairs recommends that you DO NOT use or outlay any further expense in relation to the business name (advertising, printing or signage etc.) until your registration is confirmed by receipt of your Registration Certificate, so I don't want to jinx anything by telling y'all the name just yet. It has been a very very long process, choosing this name. Every name I liked was taken, and then I found one that wasn't and it was refused on some technicality ('sounds like ...')

Officially I 'teach basic computer skills to seniors'. What does that mean? Well, anything from 'This is a mouse' to 'Let's set up your brand new laptop' to chatting to my students via MSN to setting up Skype with them. I visit people's houses as well, because all the explaining in the world on my computer, won't show them how to scan a document on their computer.
I am helping an 81 year old student set up Coles online shopping, as soon her husband will be forfeiting his license.
I see a man twice a week that has a brand new laptop that he purchased after only two sessions with me and he is now inseparable from his computer.
In two short weeks I will be doing a group training session to some Mallala residents. I will be specifically running through the useage of a wiki site that has been developed. I have been teaching 3 wonderful, industrious, funny, clever, diligent, and dare I say, a touch stubborn women to find their way around that website - to upload photos, to edit and create pages, to insert relevant hyperlinks and all the other bits and pieces. We have been working together for about 9 months now, firstly on a totally volunteer basis, but in the last couple of months on a paid basis.

This is a really flexible 'job' for me. I enjoy starting my mornings with some light chit chat, a few laughs and the transfer of information. Currently, with school holidays, we are doing okay having the children around while I am teaching. It is not ideal and I will find it more relaxing when they are back at school, but for now, it works.

To teach is to learn twice. ~ Joseph Joubert, Pensées, 1842

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Just before Christmas we received the terribly exciting news that Raff would have holidays from Christmas Eve until the 4th of January. The added bonus, after the previous 5 years spent running his own businees, was paid annual leave! How exciting to not have to weigh up the need for rest time for him versus the ability to pay bills etc for the family.

Right from the moment we found out we ummed and aahed about what to do with the time off. An offer from his aunt (the awesome, the great, the Meg!) to spend some time with her down at Port Noarlunga could not be overlooked, so we spent two hot summery days and one fairly sleepless night with Meg. It was lovely to hang out and feel very relaxed while spending pleasant adult time with one of my favourite people. The kids really enjoyed their time at her house and at the beach. We drove home from there on New Years Eve (everybody slept the whole drive home, except me :)) We refreshed ourselves and then headed out to a NYE/30th birthday do. We stayed for a while and had the kids home and in bed at 10pm, so we had a couple of drinks and saw in the New Year together.

The next morning we were off to Barmera. Best laid plans went a touch awry and we didn't hit the road until 10:40am, as everyone was quite irritable (including me!) and there were still bags to be packed. Our original plan was to leave early and travel most of the way through in one hit, but that wasn't to be. I think we stopped about a dozen times on the 200 or so km trip. There were side of the road toilet stops for stubborn children that wouldn't go when everyone else went 10kms ago, there was a stop near the fruit fly exclusion zone where we could all sit and eat two days worth of fruit rather than throw it all out, there were a couple of 'I-am-stopping-this-car-right-now-young-lady' pauses. And coffee stops and lunch stops and 'Where's my Bear?' stops. Lucky we are all just such patient people, right?

We drove in to Barmera at 2pm exactly, which was check in time
The caravan park was great, right on Lake Bonney, with plenty to do. It was very very hot when we arrived, so it was straight to the cabin to get bathers and sunscreen on so we could head down to the lake. Unfortunately, the previous three days of sunscreen use had seen me break out in a nasty rash. I was

covered from toe to hip and from fingers to shoulders in a red blotchy puffy tight itchy rash. I made the rather stupid decision to not apply sunscreen 'just yet' as I was really quite uncomfortable. Of course, at 3pm on a 40 something degree day with lots of lake water to reflect sun rays, the chance of coming away from even 10-15 minutes unprotected sun exposure without burns was pretty minimal. So yeah, I got a bit sunburn too. Only a bit though, as I spent most of the time that the kids were in the lake perched underneath a bit of shade. The kids had so much fun and the back bubble floatie that mum and dad got Lucy for Christmas was used a lot.
The caravan park did kayak hire and we vowed to come back the next day for that, but the next day was a lot cooler, so we never did get a chance to do that.

We headed over to the swimming pool and spent a couple of hours just floating about in the shade. It was just divine. The pool was packed, but the kids were having fun and it was low stress. After a while my grumbly tummy let me know it was heading on to dinner time, so I headed back to the cabin to create a gourmet dinner of baked beans and tinned spaghetti with grilled cheese rolls. Even though the kids had had such little sleep the two preceding nights and had done little more than occassionally doze on the drive, I knew no one was going to sleep early in the bright hot cabin. So we settled in to play Uno with our cups of cold milo and chocolate biscuits. Very soon we could hear the distant rumble of thunder, so we all sat outside in our PJs and watched the great electrical storm. The kids have never really seen lightning before, so it was met with much excitement.

Watching the lightning - that's Lake Bonney ahead through the trees.

Very cheeky monkey, opening the sliding door for the 785th time.

The next morning dawned very cold. The air conditioner had been on all night and everyone woke up freeeeeeeeezing. A breakfast spent deflecting the many scowls at the chief clothes packer, who failed to pack warm enough clothes, and constant glares at the chief packer who didn't pack honey. Or pancakes. Or Any Nice Food!

First stop - the IGA for honey. And pancake mix.
Second stop - bakery for coffee and The Best Fresh Wagon Wheels in the Universe.

Third stop - the Big Orange: Unfortunately closed.
The fourth? Monash Playground! Now we're talking! It was pleasantly cool and there was only a couple of other families there. It is a long way from how I remember it, but the kids had a lot of fun.

Lots of running and climbing and giggling until the Time for Torture aka Sunscreen Application (And no, it wasn't me that threw the tantrum!) so a quick and noisy exit was made. Lucy fell asleep on our way to get lunch, so we detoured for a bit around Loxton to wait for her to wake. I was intrigued by signs leading us to the Tree of Knowledge, and was interested by what we saw. The tree had all the years of the rising flood levels on it, with 1956 being the one right up the top. The river is just behind that bank of trees, so it meant there was a LOT of water. I'm glad we ventured off the track, as a kangaroo hopped past our car which cheered up Miss Middle Child immensely.

We also visited the Loxton Historical Village This killed a few hours and was quite informative. Though Ella was 'scared' of the stuffed birds, the live sheep in cages, the automated voice-overs, the sheds with machinery in, I think she learned quite a lot, too. A lot of the stuff around the place reminded me of either Grandpa's house or our old homestead at Stebonheath, so I had lots of stories to tell the kids.

On the way back to the caravan park another sign for Thiele's Sandbar caught my eye. I followed it along a corrugated dirt road, with all my chickens in the back squawking 'go back, mum! this is scary!' I ended up listening to them when the sand started getting a bit squishy under the tyres. :( Though, we slowed down to look at some cactus on the side of the road and as I started to speed up again a snake slithered across our path - that was exciting :)

I dropped the kids and Raff at the pool and went back to the cabin to read my book aka starting dinner prep. Ah, the joys of holiday cooking - bacon fried in a burnt warped pan, eggs 'scrambled' in a tiny saucepan. Another relaxed bedtime with no clock to look at.

The next morning was pack up time. It brought back so many memories - the kids all checking the cupboards, doing the dishes, sweeping the floors and one last stop by the park playground as Raff handed in the keys.
Ella stepping out of her comfort zone and breaking the rules,
sitting in the middle of the seesaw
This caravan park also had a jumping pillow which looked like so much fun! I really wanted to go on it, but it was covered in kids each time we went by.

One last photo of the Lake and we were on our way! It was 9:30am, and we didn't get home until 4:30pm! We had choclolate fondue in Waikerie, caught the ferry across the river and drove to Morgan for lunch. We then stopped at Eudunda to see the Colin Thiele statue and play in the beautiful grounds there. After another toilet stop we headed home, to the sounds of two happy children playing with paper dolls in the back row and the melodic sounds of a two year olds rendition of Taylor Swift's Love Story ad nauseum. Only pausing mid song to demand 'green ice cream. PLEASE'
One last stop at the Willaston deli for green icecream :) and all asleep by 6:45pm. A lovely weekend.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Okay, it's a blog post!

Um, well, that year went by pretty quick! The reason I originally started this blog was to keep my brother and SIL up to date with what was happening while they travelled for a couple of years. They returned late last September and since then I got slack on the blog front. I think that the ease and interactiveness of Facebook has seen me using that as an alternate photo catch up place.

Anyway, Melissa is forcing me to blog, so blog I will!
My brother and SIL got to meet a 15 month old Lucy in the flesh for the first time, she was suprisingly receptive to these perfect strangers and applied a lovely embrace to them both at the airport.

A short time later 7 kids + 5 adults took a two week trip to sunny Queensland. As all parents that holiday with kids can attest to, a holiday with children is ... interesting. The days started very early and were very very tiring, but the most important thing is that all the kids brought home such great memories.

Charlotte and I in Queensland

My middling turned 4 and had an awesome birthday and great Christmas. Four is definitely her age. I didn't really realise until we left 3 behind just how crap the Year of Three was. She is a fantastic kid, clever and caring and deliciously different. She started kindy at the beginning of the year and took to it like a duck to water. She fit right in and is as happy doing crafty work as she is rolling in the sandpit. She is a mixed bag, you can never really tell which Charlotte you are going to encounter on waking each day. The snuggly buggly lovey one, or the ... other one.

She also started ballet this year, like her sister before her, she is not a natural, but what she lacks in grace she makes up for in enthusiasm and I look forward to seeing her perform onstage in a few short months. Charlotte also became an unofficial Girl Guide, alongside Ella. They are not meant to start until they are 5, but her behaviour and her listening skills are exemplerary at Guides apparently, so each week my two big girls go along and do all kinds of Girl Guide things together.

First fireworks

My baby powered through some big milestones. Toilet training at the ridiculously early age of 20 months has meant that she has just seemed so grown up for such a long time. Her cot is gone now, the cot I remember sanding back to raw wood and painting it purple whilst pregnant with Ella over 7 years ago. Raff slept in in when he was a baby. There are few remnants left of us having had babies in this house - no highchair, no baby toys. I'm just surrounded by big girls. Lucy, I sewar she thinks she is 10 years old. She is smart and sassy and bossy and funny and wise. And cute. Cannot forget The Cute.

My eldest and my youngest with birthdays only 11 days apart, saw the middle of the year pass us by very quickly. Ella turning seven was very cool. I look at her and see all the little girlness has melted away. She tall and lithe and lean, growing into the young lady she will be. She has astounded me by powering her way through the first 6 Harry Potter books. I remember myself devouring them all such a short time ago, so I am just rapt to be able to engage her in some really interesting discussions about the characters. She is a third of the way through the final book and is already in that dither that only heavy duty readers understand - to read through the book as fast as possible to reveal the story, or to meander through it, with long pauses to soak it in, knowing that you will never be new to these pages ever again.

I put this one in of Ella, because I think she looks so much like my (favourite) cousin Lee.
Her party inspired me to do something cool for their parties each year. It was such a magical day, with such great kids and a truly appreciative daughter. We had a Pirate theme and it was just so much fun. It took a lot of planning and organising, but the end result rocked.

So, that brings me to me. What have I been doing this year? Well, in March I bit the bullet and replied to an ad in the local paper requesting volunteers to assist seniors with some basic computer skills. I was nervous beyond anything you could ever imagine. I am not a natural born speaker, I am more of an observer, so I really trod out of my comfort zone. I now put in 7 or so hours each week helping people demystify computers. We start with 'This is a mouse, this is how you click' It is that basic. So to sit back and watch 3-4 people at a time wandering through the www on their own steam, Googling whatver they want and shooting emails off to children and grandchilden has been fan-freakin-tastic. It feels good and I love the things I have been involved in.

I highly recommend this sort of volunteering to anyone that feels like they need to be doing something a bit more fulfilling than the daily housework grind. The things I have taught, the things I have learnt, the laughs we have had, the generations we have crossed. To see the joy of success, the conquering of fear, the successful wrangling of new terminology for all.

Raff is heading for some change also, some of that change may require me starting to help with this money earning thang and I am seriously thinking of starting up a little business on the side teaching skills. It seems I have patience and a way with words that can cut through the complications for people. I would love to spread this far and wide.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Assorted things

Ella at the Gawler Show

Charlotte at the Gawler Show

Lucy at the Gawler Show


Charlotte at Ella's school disco

Trying to get a nice photo for Real Nappy Week

A rather gratuitous breastfeeding photo of my nearly 15 month old toddler! It was Breastfeeding awareness week back in August, so just a plug for sustained breastfeeding

Moon Lantern Parade

Ella has been busy at this school during Indonesian lessons creating wire and tissue paper lanterns. It all came to fruition on Sunday night with the lovely Moon Lantern Festival, as part of OzAsia at the Festival Centre.
After a wet and windy start to the day, it was clear and calm when it was time to walk. There were hundreds of very excited children, with about 10 from Ella's class. She had a lot of fun, and was goggly eyed at everything. Our kids very very rarely get to see nighttime, so just being out after 7pm was excitement itself, let alone the added buzz of the Parade. Lucy had obliged us with a 4 hour (!) sleep during the day, so I was relaxed and content that the late night wasn't going to kill anyone :)

The lantern by the light of day

It's dark now!

Full moon

2 x 3

It has been such an experience witnessing Sophie and Charlotte growing up together (for those not aware, Sophie is Charlotte's youngest cousin 6 months younger than herself) They are both extremely 'old' children with the wisdom of 4 older siblings overlaying all that they do. Watching the games they play and the way they interact is pure gold.
It is common for me to have Sophie here for a day, as Rachel gallivants around the place, doing lunch and revelling in massages. Today she made her eldest wag school. Those poor children :p
Charlotte, before we headed off to school this morning, had collected about 8 sticks of assorted lengths, that had blown down in yesterdays winds. She had them all laid out ready to play the 'stick game' with Sophie. Sounds like fun, huh? Two 3 year olds and enough sticks for everyone to lose an eye!

So, we all agreed on a few ground rules - sticks must stay below our elbows, sticks must always point at the ground and no hurting each other! Of course, within minutes of the 'stick game' starting, Sophie had a scratch right near her eye. Unintentional on Charlotte's behalf, so a cautious hug rectified the tears. (hugs are always cautious between these two, as it is fairly common for the wounded one to turn on the other one and lash right back at them, even if the incident was accidental, and the attcker was genuinely remorseful)

So, I was lsitening for them, as I was doing housework, and they were chatting away ion the driveway, then I here them running to the back door and they both invited me out to watch the show. The sticks were now balancing beams, as an intricate winding pattern was laid out all over the driveway. The started with the obligatory 'Ladies and Gentlemen' and then they giggled their way ofrom start to finish, with much cheering on completion.

They then went on to something else - creating an obstacle course - after watching them clamber over two chairs placed back to back on our concrete path, I suggested that they put the chairs on the lawn, as I could see what was coming, with all that excitement.
We had a lot of rain yesterday, so the chairs sunk nice and deep and tight into the back lawn, so they clambered over these back and forwards. Not long after, they came galloping inside to collect assorted dolls and books and back outside to set up this.

Theirs is a pretty fiery relationship. They always want to be at each others house, or in each others company, but gosh! they are volatile. It can be very very wearing having the two of them together. They are like a finely tuned slapstick routine at times, you can see that the sideways glare from one is enough to set up the domino effect for the rest of the day.

Thankfully, the planets were aligned today and there was only one short incident, that I only became aware of because I glanced out the window and saw them both sitting, with arms crossed and scowly faces, far away from each other. No pushing, no yelling. And a quick 'who wants some watermelon?' was enough to break it open.