Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing day busy

Traditionally Boxing Day is movie day for us.  We go to the cinema and check out the latest blockbuster release.  But our local cinema doesn't have "The Hobbit" yet so we ditched that idea for this year.

We had a yummy breakfast - the Big Fella made garlic and lemon turkish bread toast, topped with melted bocconcini and triple-smoked ham, with an egg on top.  We followed that with a little fruit salad and greek yoghurt.

Then we got up and got going around the house and yard.  Seems like we weren't the only ones too - we saw a lot of trailers heading up the road to the tip today :-D

I cleared the yard of dog toys etc. then the Big Fella whipper snipped and mowed, while I harvested all of our mangoes.  Did you know that they spray sap when you pick them?  Maybe it's just me and my spastic mango-picking technique?  But we ended up with half a laundry basket full of them, now sitting downstairs and ripening up.  Mmmmmmm, mango!

I don't think I actually ate a mango until my family spent a few days in the Philippines, when I was 16.  I discovered that I actually love them!  Since we moved to Queensland I've eaten quite a few :-D  Turns out the Little Big Fella loves them too :-)

After all that lovely harvesting, I had the awesome job of sweeping up with a broom that I hate.  Seriously, it's time for a new straw broom!

Then we trimmed some bushes and watered the flower garden.

The next task was predominantly the Big Fella's, I have to be honest.  I don't think I did much, and probably made some things a bit trickier for him :-o  Yes, it was time to put up the Little Big Fella's trampoline!

It didn't take that long, and it wasn't that tricky, but I don't know that I could have done it on my own.

But the Little Big Fella loves it and has spent a good portion of the day bouncing around.  It's a good height off the ground for him too, so he can get on and off easily, without the need for a step.

Hmm, what else did we get up to?

Oh yeah!  We emptied all of our camping gear out of the back shed and put it in our camper trailer, discovering a couple of mice in our lantern along the way!  Looks like we'll be setting some traps over the next few days!!!!  I am not interested in having mice, or the snakes that come looking for mice, in my back shed!

Did I tell you we have two new little chicks?  They're about a week and a half old now - a black one and a white/yellow one.  We've called them "Salt" and "Pepper" - the black one is "Salt" and the white one is "Pepper".  Don't blame me!  That was the Little Big Fella's decision!!!  :-)

Anyway, I decided they needed some outside time so took them out and let them run around a little near me.  The dogs came over to check them out and Frankie wasn't even interested, but Choccie watched them constantly!  She was really good though, but I wouldn't let her with them unsupervised at this stage.

We ended up putting them in a cage so that they could wander around on the grass, but be protected from the dogs and bigger chooks and they loved it!  I think it'll be a daily thing, unless it's raining, until they're ready to join the rest of the flock when they're a bit bigger.

The Big Fella and I ended up talking to a guy next door who was setting up to paint the outside.  Turns out we're on the internal painting list for the new year!  Yay!!!  I wonder if we get any say on colours?  Probably not, but it's nice to dream :-)

As well as emptying the camping gear from the back shed, we also took out some of the gym equipment and set it up under the house.  The Big Fella has decided it's time to get back into shape, and I'm ready to get back into Fit Yummy Mummy, so we'll try to do our workouts together whenever we can, starting tomorrow afternoon.

I'm still trying to decide if I'll do Tough Mudder in August, after being invited by a couple of friends who are putting together a team.  I think I might be talking myself out of it though.  The electricity thing really freaks me out!

We watched a little bit of the Boxing Day Test (cricket, for those not in the know) in between everything too!

When the gym equipment was set up we rearranged a few things under the house so hopefully it's a little more use-able.  It's so frustrating when you have such a great space but too many options and ideas for what to do with it!  (And too much stuff to squeeze into said space!)  I guess each time we try a new idea we get closer to what will actually work for us though!

The Fellas took a load of stuff to the tip this afternoon and found that our old washing machine and microwave that we put there the other day have been taken.  That makes me happy :-D  I like that our local tip has no regulation so people can take stuff that doesn't work properly and can't be sold, but other people can collect it and make it work for them (or bring it back I guess).

And we all went "bush bashing" for a little bit this arvo too!  The Big Fella bought a 4WD about a month ago that is pretty run down but works okay.  It has been dubbed "The Bush Basher" and the Fellas have had a couple of little jaunts about the tracks just up the road.  They both love it!  So today I got to join them.

I don't mind 4WDing, but I'm not a huge fan.  I mean, it's uncomfortable!  And it seems kind of pointless to me.  But, to those who enjoy it, it's just plain fun so I won't go bagging you out about it ;-)

We dropped around to a friend's place after that but they weren't home, so we came back home.  The Little Big Fella and I had a bit of a bounce on his trampoline - mostly with him laying down and me gently bouncing him around :-D  He loved it!  I'm guessing there'll be lots of requests to do that more over the next few days :-)

And now the Fellas are asleep (the Big Fella starts work at 3am), and I'm writing about our adventures for you!  We're hoping for lots of adventures in the coming year... hopefully I'll remember to take some photos of them for you :-o

Happy Boxing Day everyone!  I hope you've enjoyed it, whatever you've been up to!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Relax! It's Christmas!

At last!  It's Christmas day.  Yay!

And I gotta tell you!  This has been a great Christmas!!!

We woke up at about 7:30 and slowly began the present opening process.  There were a lot of presents for 3 people!  The Little Big Fella oscillated between dropping presents to open the next one and wanting to stop and play with the ones he opened just a minute before.  It was slightly entertaining ;-)
  
He absolutely loved all of his presents!  It was fun to watch him enjoying each of them throughout the day.  And to know that we'd chosen some of the ones he loved most.

We all got Nerf guns and had a fun little shoot-out before lunch :-D  That brought about much laughter and was definitely one of the most fun times we've had together in a while.  That probably sounds sad, but it was fun.

"Look at what Santa brought in my sack Mum!"

Can you tell he likes Nerf guns?

Checking out the moving eyes on the froggy book from Nanna

Oh my goodness!  What a mess!  And that's not even all of it!!!

After all of that fun we decided it was breakfast time so I made a little egg and vege scramble and the Big Fella made some garlic toasted turkish bread.  Yumm!

Well, then we had to play with more of our presents!  You know, I got some awesome gifts!  Including a Kindle and a tablet!!!!!  Seriously!  Isn't that awesome???  And I'm writing this blog post on my tablet!  It's taking a little longer because I'm just getting used to it all, but this is cool!

We got to chat to our families on Skype.  I love that we can be so far away but interact with them so easily.  It really is a blessing of the modern era!

We've spent a bit of the time today watching movies and just hanging out.  I love spending time with my Fellas!

We had a delicious lunch today too!  A roast turkey with cranberry and apple stuffing, a waldorf salad with blue cheese dressing, and a tomato salad with a basil-based dressing.  Very yummy!



I'd also made an ice-cream pudding, which we forgot to have at lunch and ended up having for afternoon tea.  The Little Big Fella and I love ice-cream!!!

And then for dinner we had some yummy cheeses, deli meats, and a bit of fruit... as well as a bit of wine.  It was just the perfect way to end the eating day :-)

So now I'm sitting on the couch, next to my wonderful husband, watching a movie and writing this blog post.  I'm a happy woman right now :-)

Monday, 24 December 2012

Is Christmas just for kids?

I was wrapping Christmas presents tonight and considering Christmas in general.  The thought occurred to me that Christmas is very much a celebration for children.  Everything is so exciting for them.  There's changes in routine and food, and, of course, the presents!

But is Christmas just for kids?

I don't think so!  I love Christmas!  I love the lights and decorations, the food and festivities, and the general atmosphere of celebration and goodwill.

But I have to admit that having a nearly-four-year-old is making this Christmas season particularly enjoyable so far :-D

We've had a lot of fun cooking together, putting up the Christmas tree, and looking at Christmas lights.  Every morning we've opened up our little advent calendar and counted how many days have passed, looking at how close we're getting to Christmas day.

And the Big Fella and I have thoroughly enjoyed buying presents for the Little Big Fella, and a couple for each other too :-)

One of my family Christmas traditions is to wrap presents on Christmas Eve while watching the Christmas Carols on TV.  Each person would disappear into a bedroom and wrap the presents they were giving then bring them out and put them under the tree and continue enjoying the Carols.

Well, this year we've been invited to our next-door neighbour's place for a BBQ dinner/party on Christmas Eve so I had to wrap the presents tonight!

Dilemma!!! 

I thought, "I'll watch a Christmas movie while I'm wrapping!"

Ha!

Would you believe it's Sunday night, two nights before Christmas and there wasn't a single Christmas movie on???  I even jumped online and checked the TV guide and discovered there will only be about 3 over the next two days!!!

I was shattered!  Actually, I'm still not really over it and I'm seriously considering hiring a handful of them, even if I end up watching them all by myself :-D

I did watch "The Holiday" the other night and one of the lines I love is when Kate Winslet's character takes the old man to his award/recognition night.  He presents her with a corsage and says that he hopes it's not too corny.  She responds with, "I like corny.  I'm looking for corny in my life".

That's totally me at Christmas!  I love the pathetically corny Christmas movies, and the ridiculous music!  I'm looking for corny in my life!!!!

Anyway, there's only one more full day until Christmas and I think I'm nearly as excited as my Little Big Fella.

Well, maybe not quite.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The power's out

Have I mentioned that it gets hot here?  Oh yes, I have mentioned it once or twice.

But yesterday was definitely up there on the hot scale!  40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit) inside the house (yes, inside)!

After being at our old, seaside town with its milder weather, humidity and sea breezes, I've been finding it a little hard to get used to this, more extreme but dry heat again.

And then it happened!

Right in the middle of the hottest part of the afternoon!

And there was NO breeze!

And the air was as hot and dry as an oven!

The power went out!!!!  (Imagine dramatic dah-dah-DAAAAAH! music here!)

Uh oh!  That means no airconditioning!

Oh NO!  Not even fans!!!!

Oh boy!  We only have electric cooking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah ha!!!  We have wine :-D

The Big Fella had been having a sleep after a night shift so when the power first went out I went downstairs and put the sprinkler on and cooled down a little.  While I was down there, I saw that some neighbours in the road behind us were out in their yard, so the Little Big Fella and I went over and had a little visit.

It was really nice to have an excuse to go visiting too!  And before we went away, we delivered our Christmas cards and various treats, and I'd really enjoyed visiting then too!  Turns out I like to visit ;-)

Anyway, after a bit of a chat and a taste of a range of their recent baking, we came back home to find the Big Fella had woken up (surprise, surprise) so we sat out on the little verandah and drank wine and talked and watched people walking past (occasionally even deigning to speak to them!).

Eventually it got dark and we lit a few candles and fed the Little Big Fella some tortillas (luckily he likes them with nothing on them!).  He ended up falling asleep in the chair (what a cutie!) so we continued to enjoy the evening until the power eventually came back on.  Then the Big Fella cooked me some lovely dinner and we went to bed.

It turned out to be a lovely afternoon/evening and I noticed that having no power caused a lot of people to get out and about and talk to their friends and neighbours.  Which, obviously, is a good thing.

This afternoon the power went out again.

Let me tell you, despite the enjoyment of yesterday, having the power go out again today (twice!) was not exactly met with joy!

And when the power came back on we quickly ironed a work shirt and made dinner.

Which was lucky because the power went out again as we were eating said dinner!  Grrrrrrr!

On the plus side, we finally had a temperature drop and a little bit of rain with this evening's power outage, which were very much welcomed!

Unfortunately there was no wine tonight though because the Big Fella had to go to work.  Sigh.

You never know, there may always be tomorrow!!!  ;-)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

We're ba-ack!

Oh my goodness!  It has been a hectic couple of weeks around here!!!

Okay, not quite around here I guess, but in our lives generally speaking.

The Little Big Fella and I have spent the past 10 days in our old town, staying at my grandparents' place and helping my sister in her post-operation recovery.

Well, that was the plan!

Amazingly, they think we helped out plenty, so that's good.

To me it felt like I shopped my little heart out (and totally emptied my bank account!) and squeezed a million things into each day!  And it was absolutely fun!  And absolutely exhausting!!!

So here's a few of the things we got up to:

  • Playgroup Christmas party
    Super Carer just happened to have the Christmas party on the first weekend we were in town so we got to join in.  And the kids had a ball!

    The Little Big Fella's cousins were there, and his friends, and a few new kids that we'd hardly met before we left.  And they all got along brilliantly and had a great time playing together.

    Which, of course, means that the adults get to sit around and chat without stress about the kids.  Yay!
  • A morning at the indoor playground!
    This is something I've been missing since we moved.  The indoor playground is fairly small compared to others in larger cities, but it's perfect for smaller kids.

    The Little Big Fella and his cousins literally ran the whole time we were there!  Then we got to feed them a little bit of junk and juice, let them run a bit more then crash in the car on the way back to my sister's place :-)
  • Lots of playing with cousins
    This was probably one of the best parts of the whole 10 days for the Little Big Fella.  He's really missed his cousins - one is 6 months older than him, the other almost exactly 2 years younger.  They get along really well and there were probably only a handful of times that we had to get involved (mostly to settle down the Little Big Fella whose game of "fighting" got a bit rough a few times).
  • A sleepover!
    Another major highlight for the Little Big Fella - he got to sleepover one night at his cousins' house.  He absolutely adores sleepovers and asks for them any time he wants to spend more time with any of his friends.

    So a few days before we were due to come home, my sister and brother-in-law were feeling well (brave) enough to have a sleepover.  Apparently it went very well, especially because all the kids were exhausted and went to sleep pretty easily!
  • Shopping!  LOTS of shopping!
    Before I left here, I had a list.

    I thought it was a small list.

    I was wrong!

    To fulfill my list (including all of my Christmas shopping, plus my in-laws' birthdays) required shopping every morning before I got to my sister's house, and every afternoon between leaving her place and getting back to my grandparents', and two or three other mornings/days where my nephews were at daycare and my sister didn't need me around.

    Then there was the day that the Little Big Fella and my nephews went to Super Carer's place so that my sister and I could shop together!  We kind of forgot to do the shopping we'd intended to do and ended up trying on and buying a whole lot of clothes.  And my sister got a new printer too!

    Sorry whoever misses out on Christmas presents because of that!!!!
  • Another Christmas party!
    My grandparents live in the caretaker's cottage of a large church (Poppy is the caretaker).  The church runs a playgroup and they happened to be having a Christmas party on a day that my nephews were at daycare with Super Carer.

    The Little Big Fella follows Poppy around everywhere when we visit them (poor Poppy was a little exhausted, okay, a lot exhausted, even though he loved it).  So Poppy went over to the church to open up and help set a few things up for the party.

    One of those things was a jumpy castle!  So guess who didn't leave when the party started!!!

    We did get to catch up with a couple of friends while we were there though!
  • Christmas carols
    The church also had a Christmas carols service, just after Super Carer's Christmas party actually.  So we went over and enjoyed a little bit of singing and so on.  Unfortunately, the Little Big Fella was pretty tired by this stage so we ended up coming back to the cottage and bathing him and putting him to bed.
  • Looking at Christmas lights
    After having dinner with my sister's family one night, the Little Big Fella and I decided to drive around and have a look at the Christmas lights displays around town.  There are some fantastic ones and we both really enjoyed it!
  • A spot of cooking and cleaning
    I got to cook for my grandparents two nights.  I did a chicken dish one night and it was okay, but I did soft tacos with homemade salsa another night and that was definitely a hit!

    I also got to clean a little for my sister and my grandparents - dishes, clothes, and just a little bit of this and that.

    It was really nice to be able to do something to help out and my reflections of my life at this point in time suggest that I don't do enough of this to make me happy.  I'd really like to include a bit more "helping" in 2013 - for individuals and for our community - because it makes me feel useful and much more fulfilled than just living life for myself and my two Fellas.
  • A family BBQ
    Unfortunately my brother-in-law was quite ill with a migraine, but the rest of us got to hang out together and eat yummy food.  The thing I always love about a BBQ is that it's so much less stress than other types of meals.  You cook a bit of meat (and sausages or kebabs are simple and quick and no one stresses about rare/well-done levels), have a bit of salad, maybe some bread, something to drink, maybe a dessert and everyone is happy!  And you just get to spend some time together, enjoying each others' company and having a chat about everything and nothing.  LOVE it!
  • Toad hunting
    I know!  Some people will be horrified by this, and for that I apologise for making you feel uncomfortable.  However, cane toads are a pest species in Australia that have assisted in the endangerment of some of our native species.  So, although the method that we use may not be appealing, the necessity of toad removal is there.

    Okay, having got that out of the way, our method of toad hunting is by use of golf clubs.  The toads generally sit with their head up, almost like a ball on a tee, so knocking them off in one hit is really easy.  The little boys especially enjoy walking around the 40 acre property with torches, although their interest in actually hitting the toads varies.
So there's the brief run-down of our week and a half away.  We were quite ready to come home yesterday, even though we'd had a great time away.  The Little Big Fella was really missing his Dad for the past few days, as was I, and it is as they say; "there's no place like home".

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The wonder of Christmas lights


This is not my house.

I'd kind of like it to be, but it's not.

This is my house.


The first picture is my next-door neighbour's house.  Pretty cool, isn't it?  And what I love the most about it (and Christmas lights in general), is the feeling of special-ness that all those lights create.

I remember, when I was much younger, I'd sneak out at night time, after everyone else was asleep, and just sit next to the Christmas tree and bask in the glow.  Sounds kind of lame when I write it like that.  But Christmas lights really evoke a sense of wonder in me.

My husband, the Big Fella, does not share my sentiment.  In fact, he's rather bah humbug about Christmas in general.  Yesterday he was catching up on some sleep so the Little Big Fella and I watched "Jingle All the Way".  Tacky movie, I know, but it was Christmas-y and I enjoyed it.

I guess I'm just a big softie who still wishes that there was such a thing as magic.

Anyway, this year is only the beginning of our Christmas light/yard decorations!  And while we may be the poor, sad little house of Christmas lights this year,


if my plans for next year come off we might just be the talk of the town!!!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Christmas cooking

Since my hormonal storm passed, the Little Big Fella and I have been doing a bit of Christmas cooking.  I think this is one thing that I'd like to be a tradition for us.  It's spending time together, making different foods (maybe even trying new recipes), and licking the spoon :-D


One of the traditions we're passing on to the next generation (I'm pretty sure my sister is doing it with her boys too) is the making of yo-yos.  They're a little like shortbread, but made with custard powder rather than rice flour, and you stick the two biscuits (cookies) together with icing - vanilla, passionfruit, lemon... whatever takes your fancy really.  It's a tradition passed down from my dad's mum, then my mum did them every Christmas, and now my sister and I have done them too.  I like that sense of continuity and connection with my extended family, even when some of them are no longer here.

Here's a pic of my yo-yos when they'd just come out of the oven:

Another treat I love at Christmas time is fruit mince pies/tarts!  Some people hate them but I am an absolute fan!  So I bought a jar of fruit mince (too hot and tired to make my own this year) and made the pastry.

Seriously. Messy. Job!

The first part was easy!  Chuck it all in the food processor and whiz it up then wrap it and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Easy!

But then you have to roll it really thin.  And even with plenty of flour on the table, rolling pin and pastry, it stuck like billy-o!  And, of course, the Little Big Fella had his finger in the flour constantly and the flour went everywhere!!!  But we had fun, and that's the point!



I'm thinking of doing some ginger snaps and shortbread between now and Christmas.  We'll see how we go ;-)

Camping anyone?

When the Little Big Fella was about 6 months old, we decided to take a holiday.  As we hadn't really prepared for it, we decided to go the cheap option and camp our way up the coast (about 1600 kilometres).  We had a 6-person dome tent and a little bit of camping gear.

So, off we went!

It was, without a doubt, the worst holiday I have ever had!  The baby cried and needed feeding every couple of hours, and it turns out camping in a tent and the Big Fella just don't mix.  Something to do with uncomfortable beds and the inability to stand up.

We ended up staying in cabin vans after the first (disastrous) night and the baby suddenly discovered rolling.  He rolled off the couches and beds 4 times (you'd think I'd learn after the first or second time, right?) and cried his little heart out.

When we got up the coast the weather was wet and dreary and we just didn't enjoy ourselves.  Thankfully we did discover a place that we enjoyed on our last day before the long drive home.

Since that "holiday" we've looked at caravans, a huge range of tents, and a few camper trailers.  See, we like wood fires and camp-style cooking and being outdoors.  But it turns out we (as a family) need good beds and close bathroom facilities.

A couple of weeks ago the Big Fella came across a camper trailer on eBay.  It was fairly basic but also quite cheap.  We thought that we might be interested in buying a cheaper one then deciding if a) we'd use it much and b) what "extras" we might actually want and use.  He rang the guy up and had a chat with him and decided to place a bid.  Amazingly we won!  We are now the proud owners of a camper trailer!

A guy who works with the Big Fella agreed to pick the trailer up for us, as it was about nine hours drive away but kind of on his way "home".  And he dropped it off the other day.

So that afternoon we set it up in the back yard.  Ta da!




Surprisingly, the trailer came with no mattress.  I guess that's a good thing, but it means we can't use it until we get one.  (By the way, it takes a nearly full-sized King mattress!!!!)  And the annex walls are all held up with large velcro strips.  They were a little... tricky to put up properly.

But overall, we like it!  And it's in decent condition, so as soon as we get a couple of things together we'll be doing a trial run!  Then the plan is to take a trip about once a month next year, even if it's only a night or two close by.

Oh yeah!  I'm looking forward to this!!!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Isn't this supposed to be fun?

I've had a rather... hormonal couple of days.  Unfortunately it combined with lack of sleep, a bit of hot weather, a 3 and a half year old who has a bit of an attitude, and a husband who's been working hard and wants to relax (fair enough really!).  I guess what I'm trying to say is, my poor Fellas have had to put up with one cranky woman this week!

In the midst of this cranky storm I've been trying to do some Christmas preparation because of the strong possibility of heading back to our old town for a week or two to help out my sister, who's just had an operation (nothing major - just no heavy lifting, driving etc).

A couple of evenings ago I decided to try to put up our new outdoor lights.  I LOVE Christmas lights and this is the first time we've had any, other than on the Christmas tree.  So I went out in the late afternoon shade and the Little Big Fella decided to "help" me.  Out comes Mrs Moody and ruins it for everyone!  There was cranking and growling and frustration when things didn't go right.

The next day we decided to bake some Christmas cookies.  The Little Big Fella and I have cooked a bit together and normally it works out pretty well.  But not this time!  This time I was using a new recipe, the kitchen wasn't set up to make it easy and the Little Big Fella's propensity to ignore instructions caused it to be way more stressful than fun.

And I thought to myself, "isn't this supposed to be fun?  Isn't the idea of doing these Christmas-y things supposed to be building our relationship and giving him wonderful memories?"  And I felt like Christmas this year was ruined before it had even begun.

Thankfully I didn't write this post on that day!  It would have been morbid and depressing and whingey and complaint-filled.  Bleuch!

But the next day the hormone storm passed and we decided to put up the Christmas tree together.  Last year the Little Big Fella and his older cousin did all the decorating of our tree (well, up to as high as they could reach anyway!) and we had a really fun time.  Thankfully this year still had some of that joy :-)

We found the Christmas tree in the back shed, and the boxes of decorations.  I put the tree together and then the lights on it then we both put the "balls" on, while listening to Michael BublĂ© crooning some of my favourite Christmas carols.

The Little Big Fella decided he should "swim" under the tree and find the presents!  (Such amazing imagination!)  Most of the "presents" were lights for the tree :-D

Oh!  And while I was putting the tree together, I heard a voice behind me.

"Guess who I am!"

I turn around to this:

"I'm Santa!"
"No I'm not!  I'm (the Little Big Fella)!"


Unlike last year, the decorations were put over the whole tree, but the Little Big Fella just couldn't get the idea of each branch having a bauble, so some missed out while others got several :-)



The finished product!  Lovely and bright and full.  It's at the front window so people going past might see it, and it's also at the end of the hallway so I see it as I'm going down there from the other end of the house.  It makes me smile :-)

I just realised today that I haven't got anything to put in our little advent calendar yet and I think I'd like to do it because, as well as working on our numbers, it helps to build the excitement for Christmas and means I (hopefully) won't be asked every. single. day. if it's Christmas yet :-D

Friday, 23 November 2012

Thanks-giving

I had the absolute pleasure of living in America for a year.  And this time of year inevitably reminds me of my favourite things (and people)!  For starters, my host-mum's birthday is around-about now (Happy Birthday K!).  Then there are the major "holidays" of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

You know what I loved about this season in America?  It wasn't the hype per se, but the genuine atmosphere of fun, and excitement, and love, and care for others.  Maybe it was just the group of people I was around, but this season brought out the best in so many people!

So yes, I'm a Christmas die-hard and carols and all that commercial hype gives me warm fuzzies inside because of the association I have, not only with my American experience, but also with my own family (and various additional family members along the way) and the great experience that this time of year is.

Yes, the shopping and chaos has kind of dulled it a bit over the years, but now I have a 3 year old and I'm ready to pump up the holiday spirit!

So, to the point of this post!  Today (in American time anyway) is Thanksgiving.  And I'd like to record some of the things and people that I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for my family - immediate and extended.  Each of you has influenced my life in one way or another, to a greater or lesser extent, helping to define and shape me into the person I am today.  You have taught me that family is a strong, safe bond that adds fun to life and strength in pain.

My husband, the Big Fella; you are an amazing man and I feel so blessed and honoured to be your wife.  Your continual support of the three of us as a family is a credit to you, and I particularly admire your work ethic and ability to turn things to your advantage.  You are a loving father and husband and I love spending time with you (even if we're not doing much).

My darling son, the Little Big Fella; you are such a joy to me!  Yes, sometimes you drive me nuts but you also amaze me with your growth and development and you make me laugh so often.  I love it when you give me hugs and tell me that you love me.  You are a gorgeous boy, in appearance and in personality and I'm very thankful for the privilege of being your mum.

I'm so grateful for my friends, near and far, old and new!  My life would be much poorer without you in my life.  You make the good times great and the bad times bearable.  Thank you!

I'm so very grateful for my health.

I'm thankful that we live where we are and are able to have dogs and chickens and a garden.  I love that it's "country" enough that we have options available to us that we've not had elsewhere, even though we have less shops and obvious facilities.

I'm super grateful for the internet :-D  I'm grateful that it keeps me connected with so many of my wonderful friends and allows me to "see" my family.  I'm grateful that it provides me with access to the resources that are not physically here, and for the information I can gain through it.

I'm thankful for my ability to learn and understand.

I'm thankful for airconditioning ;-D

I'm thankful for the wide range of transport we have available to us, and that we can travel around the country and the world with relative ease.  And I'm thankful that the cost of fuel isn't overwhelmingly prohibitive.

I'm thankful for the peace that we enjoy in Australia and that I don't have to worry about someone breaking into my home and hurting my family.  Or dropping a bomb and destroying my town.

I'm thankful for the sights and sounds and smells that are part of my life; for the wide open spaces, the hills and the paddocks; for the "bush" smells and the sounds of birds and insects.

I'm thankful for the invention of small, blow-up swimming pools, cheap arts and crafts supplies, books and toys that entertain and help me teach my son.

I'm grateful for the spirit of generosity that I witness in people around me.

I'm grateful for laughter!

I'm grateful to have "enough" and a little bit more, and for opportunities to share what I have.

I could probably go on for a long time but I'll finish here with this:  I'm grateful to you for continuing to read my blog, and for those who sometimes make comments.  You are awesome and add that little bit of extra light to my life.  Thank you!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

From the mouths of babes...

The Big Fella had another day off today so we'd planned to go and check out a new swimming spot on the river, about an hour away.  When we woke up this morning, we didn't really feel like travelling that far.

Yesterday we'd taken the Little Big Fella to his swimming lesson at the pool in the next town, then stayed and had a bit of a splash around together.  That had been fun so we decided to pack a lunch and go there instead.

So we got up and did a few things around the house and packed the lunches and the water and the towels, then eventually headed over to the pool.  Somewhere along the line the food bag was left behind :-(  Luckily they do pretty yummy hot dogs with onion, bacon, cheese, mustard and sauce :-)

While we were swimming around a young lady came into the pool at the stairs where we were playing.  The Little Big Fella pipes up and says, "she's taken her swimsuit off!".  To which I had the dubious responsibility of replying, "no honey, that's her swimsuit.  It's called a bikini."

We've had a couple of moments like that just recently.  Somewhere along this parenting journey I've developed the skill of not being embarrassed about stuff that used to make me blush profusely!  Not quite sure if it's a positive or negative addition, but it's rather useful at the moment.

This afternoon the Fellas were sitting on the couch.  The Little Big Fella has been talking about all his friends lately, saying how old they are by holding up that many fingers.  So he was telling the Big Fella that one of his friends is "this many", holding up one hand with all fingers and thumb sticking out.

"Daddy, are you this many?"

"No, I'm more than that."

"How big are you?"

Daddy puts his hand on his head and says, "this big".

"How fat are you Daddy?"

(By this point I'm giggling away around the corner.)

Daddy puts his hand on his tummy and says, "this fat!" and has a little chuckle himself.

You know, there are some pretty cool surprises being a parent.  Watching and listening to the way their little brains work and how they figure things out is amazing.

When we're driving the Little Big Fella often asks, "are we on the highway?"  And just recently we were not on the highway when he asked so his follow up question was, "are we on the low way?"  I just thought that was fantastic reasoning for a 3 and a half year old!

Yeah, there are some pretty cool moments as a Mummy.  But my favourite has to be when he just comes up to me, gives me a hug and says, "Mummy, I love you".

Monday, 19 November 2012

Expiring!

Remember when I wrote about it starting to get hot here?  And that I didn't know how I would cope when actual summer comes along?  Here's the link if you want a review.

That was in September.  Now we're half way through November.  Still not summer here in the southern hemisphere.

I was talking to Mum on the phone the other night and apparently in Victoria they had heaters, slippers and warm sweaters on.  I was sitting in my shorts and t-shirt feeling a tad warm.

Yesterday it got to 37 degrees inside the house!  That's about 96 degrees Fahrenheit for those of you who need the translation.  And it was another degree or so on top of that outside.

We've had three days of really hot weather.  It was about 30 degrees at 7:30 in the morning one of those days, and this afternoon I was sitting reading my book under the fan and just... fell asleep!

I'm expiring!!!!

Thankfully the Big Fella bought a little blow-up pool that we've got set up on the grass and we've all spent a good amount of time in it the past few days.  I've taken to walking around in my wet swimmers because otherwise I feel like I'm going to lose the plot.

And once again, it's not even summer yet!

I quite like warm weather.  I don't even mind it being hot.  My biggest problem with it is that I'm going along just fine and then suddenly (and without realising what's happening) start over-heating.

Then I get cranky.

I mean, seriously cranky.  Like PMS on steroids!

Last night I was attempting to cook dinner in just such a state.  All of a sudden the Big Fella dumped a sopping wet cloth nappy over me!  After being cranky about that for a moment, I started to cool down and was able to finish making dinner without losing the plot at anyone.  And I was able to appreciate my wonderful, thoughtful husband who knows me so well and is able to deal with my... less-than-ideal moods.  Thanks honey :-)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Christmas traditions

I was planning out my meals for the coming week and suddenly realised there will only be one month until Christmas at the end of it!!!  As someone who has to post pretty much everything, that's mildy scary!

But I've been thinking about Christmas traditions; traditions that seem to be part of everyone's Christmas, old traditions, Australian traditions, religious traditions, my family's traditions, the Big Fella's family's traditions... you get the idea.

And now that the Little Big Fella is starting to understand that Christmas is different to other days, I'm wondering what kinds of traditions I'd like him to have and remember.

Obviously food is going to be a big thing.  With the Big Fella around, how could it not?

And presents.  I mean, kids will always be kids.

But after the presents are opened and the food is consumed, what else is Christmas?

Growing up in a Christian household, Christmas was the celebration of the birth of a baby who would grow up to become the saviour of the world.  We'd have a beautiful breakfast and open our presents (probably in reverse order actually!) then we'd all get ready and go to church.

I loved going to church on Christmas (and Easter too!) because I'd get to see my friends and we'd show and tell about our presents and play together.  And the service was normally short and fun too.

Many years my family would then jump in the car and travel hours to spend the rest of the day with extended family.  Although, in later years we tended to have our extended family Christmas on Boxing Day or the next most convenient day for most of us.

There are many people who like to focus on others during the Christmas season.  They may give gifts through charities, or help out at a Christmas lunch for the homeless.

Of course, the Aussie tradition is to have a game of backyard cricket after lunch (or maybe after a big sleep, induced by over-eating).

Some people go camping for the week of Christmas to New Year.  Some go to the same place each year and meet up with family and the friends made over time.

Then there are the Christmas traditions that don't occur on Christmas Day itself!

I have a strong, fond memory of baking Christmas cookies with my host mum in America when I lived there!  So strong, in fact, that I'm pretty sure I'll be doing it with the Little Big Fella this year, especially given how much he loves being in the kitchen at the moment.

And Christmas lights!  I love Christmas lights!!!  Big ones, small ones, ones that tell a story.  I've probably mentioned it already, but Christmas lights are a pretty big deal in our new little town.  Our next door neighbour has already started putting hers up, and says it will take her the next two weeks to get them all out!

Last year we took the Little Big Fella for a drive around the major lights in our last town and he loved it.  We'll be putting some up here (I purchased my first outdoor light sets this past week), but it'll be pretty small this year.

However!

Next year, I've got a plan!  And it will probably take me all year to implement it, but if it comes off it will be amazingly awesome!  And possibly expensive :-o  I've even made myself a photo of our house, overlaid with images of what I want to do to it on the computer.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have a tradition of exchanging Christmas tree ornaments each year, and when I married the Big Fella I was included in this fun tradition.  I really like this one because when I look at my tree I remember people that I love, and who love me.

And then there's Christmas Eve!  My family tradition is to all disappear, at various times throughout the day/evening, and wrap the presents we're giving and bring them back to put under the tree.

Normally this is happening while we're watching the Melbourne Christmas Carols on TV.  One year I'd love to actually go to those carols!  The Big Fella despises Christmas carols (he's a little bit bah humbug) so I've missed a fair few carols shows in the (almost) 11 years we've been married.  But I get my own back by playing Christmas CDs non-stop for a few days (insert evil laugh here).

Every Christmas, since I've been an adult I guess, I've felt so incredibly grateful for my family.  My parents are not only still together, but very much in love.  My two sisters, my brother and I get along really well.  And our spouses and children all add into the mix really well too.  I was going to say we're lucky, but I know that my parents put a lot of effort into making our family the way it is.

But I know that for others Christmas is highly stressful.  Getting together with family isn't necessarily a fun experience, and if you add a bit of alcohol and expectations, it can turn rather ugly.

I guess what I want for my son is to look back as an adult at his childhood Christmases, and smile.  I want him to re-live fun experiences, remember people he loves, imagine the smells and sounds and tastes that were so enjoyable, and have a sense of depth of meaning to the holiday.  Not a tall order hey?

What are your favourite Christmas memories or traditions?  And have you changed anything or added new traditions as an adult or since having your own kids?

Friday, 16 November 2012

Scrap me happy!

This morning I got the chance to do something I haven't done in AGES!  I got to sit around a table with a bunch of friends and do some scrapbooking/paper craft.  And it was awesome!

Getting to chat with friends, while your kids are happily entertained (mostly outside), eating and drinking and being creative... what more could a girl want?

And the best thing is... we're going to do it again!  I don't know when, but it will definitely happen, possibly even regularly.  Yay!

And speaking of creative things, last night I decided on my outdoor theme for Christmas next year.  Yes, you read that correctly... next year.  The plan is too big to put together for this year!  I've even done a little plan on my computer, overlaying what I want to do on a photo of our house and yard.

No, you can't see it!  That would ruin the surprise!

I'm looking forward to Christmas this year (although I still have no idea what we're actually doing!).  Apparently there are quite a few people (my neighbours included) who go all out with Christmas lights and decorations.  Have I mentioned that I love Christmas lights?

On another note, I finally got around to making a bunch of appointments and phone calls yesterday.  You know how sometimes you just keep putting something off, even though it's only small and wouldn't take much time?  Phone calls are like that for me.

Speaking of phone calls, the Little Big Fella wanted to call his Nanna tonight when it was bed time.  He doesn't often ask to do that so I agreed.  Boy!  Can that kid talk!!!  And he gets so focused on one topic at a time that he doesn't even hear you respond or ask questions!  It was very entertaining listening to him telling Nanna all about giants and how big they are, and wondering if Daddy's gun would shoot them, and trying to figure out if they are inside books and so on and so on.  Nanna and Grandad enjoyed it (thankfully).  I think it's probably the longest conversation he's had with them!

The Big Fella has a couple of days off coming up so we're planning to go and discover another new swimming spot "nearby".  Hopefully it'll be wonderful and I'll get to tell you all about it and post some photos for you :-D

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Paddock photo session

The other day the Little Big Fella and I decided to go across the road to take a few pictures.  It was just one of those moments I guess.  Here's some of what we came up with!







Oh!  And on the weekend we went to the rifle range so that the Big Fella could test some of his re-loads and sight in a scope.  Of course, the Little Big Fella wanted a piece of the action.


Seriously, he is SO gun obsessed at the moment!  We had the playgroup Christmas party the other day and he received a ToyWorld voucher.  We went to ToyWorld on the way home.  Guess where he looked first!  Yep, the guns and swords aisle.  And he ended up with a bolt-action rifle, "just like Daddy's" that he can take to the range next time we go.  We literally have guns all over the house most days.

I'm sure he'll get over it... eventually!


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Decisions, decisions

I always loved the Magic 8 ball.

I never had one, mind you.  But I loved the idea of it.

You see, I'm not an indecisive person, per se, but some decisions are hard.  It would be kind of nice to let someone, or something else decide for you sometimes.

Should we have another child?
My sources say no

Should we buy a new car?
Outlook good

Will we ever actually buy a house?
You may rely on it

Although, it might get a little frustrating if it gave answers like, "Reply hazy, try again", or "Cannot predict now", or "Better not tell you now"!

I can understand why people are so interested in fortune tellers, psychics, mediums and the like.  Being a responsible adult can be bloody hard work!  It can be hard to know which way to go, and if you make such-and-such a decision, what impact will that have on this, that and the other.

But palming off the decision to someone or something else is a cheats way through life!  I mean, it's your life!  And making the decisions about it is what makes it yours, for good, or for bad.

My parents had a great way of making hard decisions, one that I'd forgotten about until just recently but have probably used subconsciously many times.  After considering pros and cons, potential impacts of choosing this way or that way, and all the other decision-making steps that might be available to them, they'd decide one way or the other.

Then they'd sit on it.

For 24 hours, they'd live as if the decision had been made and was final.  And they'd see how they felt about that.  Was it a relief?  Did it make them feel unsettled or anxious?  Were they excited about going forward in this way?

Then if they weren't happy with it, they'd change their decision and sit on it for another 24 hours.

Most of the time this would bring one of their options to light as the best option for them (and our family) at that point in time.

I guess, whichever way you decide on any given set of options, you can only make the best decision you can with the information you have available at the time.  Kicking yourself retrospectively is disheartening and pointless.  And I guess making "bad" decisions is all part of the learning process that is life!

Do you have any special tips or tricks for making decisions?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Initiation

There are some rites of passage and experiences that are really important for kids to go through.  And some of them preferably involve their Dad!

Today the Big Fella drove us up to the nearby tablelands and from there to a waterfall.  We had to walk the 1.8kms (about 1.1 miles) from the carpark down to the waterfall, which also included 240 steep steps right before you arrive at the falls.

But I suspect you'll agree that it was worth the walk!


When we got to the falls, we jumped straight in, then almost jumped straight back out!!!!  It was COLD!!!  But we braved it and had a play and a splash around.  Here's me and the Little Big Fella mucking around:


And here's the Big Fella :-)


After a bite of lunch, we decided that it was time to initiate the Little Big Fella in the art of rock-hopping!  Unsurprisingly, he loved it :-D  Almost too much actually!  At one stage he was "exploring" rather near to the edge of a cliff and didn't understand when we told him to stay away.  When I tried to explain it he ended up crying and wouldn't be consoled for the next 5 minutes (exasperating to say the least!).



After a bit more swimming and rock hopping, we started the climb back up the hill.  Let me tell you, despite my current exercise regime I felt the burn by the top of those 240 steps!!!  And no, Melbournians, I don't believe I'll be attempting the 1000 steps when I'm next visiting!

We then endured the rest of the walk with the Little Big Fella whingeing and whining like you wouldn't believe!!!  He didn't want to walk, he wanted to be carried.  But he's getting too big to be carried everywhere and neither of us had enough energy to walk and carry him up the hill.

So we walked and I tried to distract the Little Big Fella with talk of visiting family in the next little while, and what kindy will be like next year and so on. Eventually we reached the carpark and everyone was happy again :-)

The next door neighbours' girls had an initiation tonight as well.  The Little Big Fella was outside talking to them while we were preparing dinner and so on, when suddenly the he comes racing upstairs looking for Daddy.  They'd found a toad and had to deal with it!

So Daddy went downstairs and found his golf club.  The toad jumped through the fence so he taught the girls how to "dispatch" it.  I wonder what their parents think about that?  Being Queenslanders, I suspect they won't mind as cane toads are an introduced pest species that kill native wildlife, but still... you just never know!!!