Tuesday, 30 July 2013

I am Woman

I'm interrupting my Melbourne trip posts because of something that's been on my mind a fair bit lately.

There's been a lot of media coverage here in Australia lately about internet "trolls".  You know, the people who write absolutely horrible things on Twitter and Facebook and blogs that are the complete opposite of "building people up".  They get super personal, super rude, super critical, and downright bitchy!

I've mentioned before that I've joined the local CWA.  Last week I went to the combined AGM for the three closest towns, and the guest speaker talked about re-thinking how we can support the women in our area.  It got me thinking about what the CWA does, what the women around here do, what women and children here need, and how we might be able to meet those needs.

The other day I was speaking to one of the mums in town who is having a really hard time.  She's an awesome mum and an active member of our community, but she's feeling down and can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.  From what I understand, a part of her suffering is negative comments from other women.

Women are an incredibly strong force!  Individually, we stand up under immense pressures and carry on because it is necessary.

But as a group, we can be even more powerful!

Sometimes we use that power to pull each other down.  This is particularly apparent in High School, where groups of girls can give each other such a hard time.  As indicated above, we're really good at trolling too.

But I'm starting to wonder what might happen if we used this power to help each other up more often.

What if we gave each other big bear hugs more often?  Not just a little greeting, but the kind that makes trouble seem so much smaller.

What if we told others what great mums they are?  How their kids are turning out great and it's obvious that they're loved?

What if we complimented regularly?  Genuine compliments - as simple as, "that's a great colour on you", to deeper ones like, "I really appreciate how you go out of your way to make everyone else's life smoother".

What if women supported one another in every way they could think of, rather than bitching behind their backs and turning the world against them?

What if gossip sessions turned into planning sessions for how to make someone else's day?

I know there are so many groups trying to add happiness to the world.  I guess I'm just wondering how I can be a part of that in my little corner of the world.  And because I'm surrounded by awesome women, how I can include and encourage them too.

And I guess I wonder if women, being such a powerful force, can actually change the world!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Melbourne trip - Part V

After a friend-day, it was time for a family-day!  We had a bit of a slow start then jumped in the car and headed off to the Big Fella's parent's place.

We got there just as Grandma's client arrived (she's a seamstress and works from home).  So we said hi then headed out to the back deck (the Little Big Fella wanted to see the spa).

I saw a couple of parrots in the tree so popped inside and collected the box of seed.  We put some on the verandah's railings then sat back on the lounge to see if they'd come closer.

They did!

We ended up sitting and watching them for quite a while!  Grandpa was at work but came home for "lunch" and sat with us watching the birds.  Then Grandma and her client came down and watched them too!

Eventually Grandpa had to go back to work, but we arranged to meet up with him later.  He drives buses, so we decided we'd go for a ride with him after lunch, when he was back in the general area.

In the meantime, Grandma and I took the Little Big Fella to the nearby lake.  When we first got there, we noticed a bunch of old guys with remote-controlled yachts.  Of course, the Little Big Fella wanted to have a go!  I told him that he probably wouldn't be allowed to, but one of the guys generously offered so he had about 5 minutes of controlling a smaller yacht (with a little input from the owner) and, amazingly, didn't crash into any of the others!

The closest yacht, with the yellow hull, is the one the Little Big Fella was controlling.
The guys then had a race, so the controls were handed back and we walked a little way around the lake to feed the ducks.

Initially, there were only a couple of ducks.  But once the others heard there was food, they came flying in from everywhere!!!!

When we were out of bread, we went over to the playground (another brilliant one) and let the Little Big Fella run around a bit.  This was his favourite "toy" of the morning:

You hit the silver bits at the top and they make different gong-like sounds.

While the Little Big Fella was playing, the Big Fella called.  He was out in a national park for the week and there was no mobile phone coverage, so I was surprised (and pleased) to hear from him!  He'd driven to the only place in the whole park where there was coverage, just to have a chat!

Grandma, the Little Big Fella and I had a bit of a walk and talk around part of the lake, then headed out for lunch before catching Grandpa's bus.  The Little Big Fella liked Grandpa's bus (or maybe it was the lolly frogs Grandma brought to eat on the bus???) and we drove around with him for about an hour.

Back at the Big Fella's parent's place, Grandma put a movie on for the Little Big Fella - "Pete's Dragon".  This movie has strong sentimental value for the Big Fella's family, but I was surprised at how into the movie my son was!  He's not normally a musical movie kind of kid, but he was completely enthralled!

Grandpa came home not long after the movie started and sat with the Little Big Fella to watch it.

We had dinner together, then Grandpa and the Little Big Fella had a spa, absolutely making the Little Big Fella's day complete!

While they were down there, Grandma and I were on the deck talking and we heard something in the tree.  We looked around and there was a possum!

After the spa, a bath and a bit of hanging out, it was time to head back to mum and dad's.  We said our goodbyes, somewhat sorrowfully because it will be quite a while before we see the Big Fella's parents again.  Unsurprisingly, the Little Big Fella was asleep before we'd gotten 5 minutes down the road!

So closed another big day in Melbourne!

Melbourne trip - part Aquarium

Week two in Melbourne seemed to be all about best friends!  I got to catch up with three of my best friends from various periods of my life and it was fantastic!

My best friend from Grade 1 until we moved towns in Year 9 just happened to be in Melbourne at the same time as us, and just happened to have a day free, so we caught up on Monday.

I caught the train into the city with the Little Big Fella, who'd never been on a train (despite his Daddy's job) and really enjoyed it!  We met P at the stairs of Flinders St station and walked to the Burke St mall.  My sister had told me about a place in Myer that have amazing desserts so we wandered our way through to there (stopping at the costumes for the Little Big Fella, and taking our time to convince him he wasn't getting one).

Apparently this store within Myer, Brunetti's, is the smaller version, and there's a much larger one elsewhere in the city.  I'm so glad we didn't go to the bigger one!  It was really hard to choose from the "small" selection!!!!

Eventually I chose a chocolate tart and the Little Big Fella chose an ice-cream/gelato.  For the first time in his life, he couldn't finish an ice-cream!!!  It was pretty rich, but absolutely delicious!

Realising that the Little Big Fella wouldn't cope well with being dragged around shops, I suggested we go to either the Museum or the Aquarium.  We chose the Aquarium and I'm so glad we did because it was brilliant!  Yes, it was expensive (although, if I lived in Melbourne I'd seriously consider buying an annual pass and going in pretty regularly - especially the shark area), and yes, we had to line up for ages to get in (and guess who had to use the facilities right then!).  But it was great fun, really interesting, and definitely worth it!

Here's a few pics to give you an idea:

As soon as we'd paid, we walked through an area where we were told to pose for a picture.  We knew they'd try to sell us the photos, but didn't realise they'd come out so well, and that we'd have access to the digital copies too.  The photos (3) were put into a book about the aquarium and the various creatures in it.

The first creatures we saw when we came in were the seahorses.  Seahorses are definitely my favourite sea creatures - not only because they're so interesting-looking, but the whole male baby-carrying thing has always fascinated me!

There were heaps of them, and in so many different colours and shapes (if you want to include the sea dragons in the seahorse category, of course).  I loved how they wrapped their tails around the seaweed to hold on.

There were several of these bubble things, where kids (and parents when they get dragged along) could crawl under the tanks and look up into where the fish and other animals were.  It was pretty cool.

There was also a really big tank/pond with lots of archer fish in it.  When the Big Fella and I lived briefly in Darwin, the couple we stayed with had archer fish in their pond in the middle of their living room (with a spiral staircase going over the top of it, mind you).  At night, when the flying termites came out, they'd turn off all the lights except the one over the fish tank.  The termites would fly over there, then the archer fish would spit at them, making them fall onto the water where the fish would eat them.  They're really good shots!

We went downstairs to the shark tank.  This was at the top of the ramp:

The shark tank is really amazing.  You walk through a tunnel, but the tunnel is made of very thick acrylic, and the fish, rays and sharks swim over and around you.  It is such a great experience!

I think if I lived in Melbourne, and had an annual pass, I would come to the shark tank as often as possible and just sit and watch them all.  Especially when it's not school holidays :-)

Eventually we headed back upstairs and had lunch.  Just next to the cafeteria area was a coral reef tank.  It was here that the Little Big Fella made a friend:

He sat talking and singing to this Moray Eel for ages!  And the eel seemed to be responding to him.  It was watching him, and even looked like it was talking to him, and didn't go away until he did!

Eventually it was time to go.  We headed back to the train station (on the tram of course!) and said our goodbyes.  I was really grateful for the chance to catch up with my friend, and that the Little Big Fella was entertained enough that we actually got to talk quite a bit.  There's even a chance that we might keep in touch a bit more than we have of late (I'm so bad at long-distance friendships!).

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Melbourne trip - end of week 1

Okay, I think we need to speed these up just a little bit!

The day after the P!nk concert I got to sleep in a little (yay!), and we had a relatively slow day.

When I was a late teenager, my family had a great girl/lady live with us for about 3 years.  We'll call her Cadbury J because of the regular late night runs to the supermarket we'd have to collect junk food, particularly chocolate.  Cadbury J is now married with 2 gorgeous kids - a 6 year old boy, and a 4 year old girl (only 6 weeks older than the Little Big Fella).

After a sufficient sleep in and slow morning, the Little Big Fella and I went around to Cadbury J's house and ended up spending the rest of the day with her and the kids.  The kids got along brilliantly for the most part (after a slightly shy start), and the Little Big Fella wanted to play with them every day after that while we were in Melbourne.

On this particular day, we ended up making and decorating cupcakes - a slightly messy affair (cooking with kids always is), but definitely fun and delicious (has to be when Cadbury J is involved)!

The boys had a go at a Wii dancing game and did surprisingly well.

And all three kids ended up with gumboots (galoshes?) on, playing in the mud outside.

The following day we ended up at the big park near mum and dad's place with my sister, and Cadbury J  and the kids turned up too!  Again, the kids played well together and the Little Big Fella was not impressed when it was time to say goodbye and go "home".

That morning we'd joined my parents at their Ulysses brunch - checking out all the motorbikes and saying "hi" to some of mum and dad's friends.  I expected that the Little Big Fella would be excited by all the bikes, but he was focused on wanting to play with Cadbury J's kids and was a bit of a cranky pants.

It was amusing hanging out with the "bikers", because the Little Big Fella told everyone he met there that he rode his own motorbike, and they were all suitably impressed.

The following day Mum, my sister, the Little Big Fella and I went to the Queen Victoria market (after meeting my sister's cat).  It was a very different experience to when we lived in Melbourne, mostly because the Big Fella wasn't with us, so we went to other areas of the market than just the deli :-D

Of course, we did go to the deli because that's a complete experience in itself, but it wasn't the same without the Big Fella's enthusiasm.

Going around the general part of the market was good fun!  We looked at art and clothes and bags and whatever else happened to catch our attention.  The Little Big Fella was just starting to get antsy when we spotted a toy stall.  They had a pack of superhero figurines, including his favourites Thor, the Hulk, Wolverine, Batman, Spiderman and Superman, for only $10!  My sister decided that she needed to buy them for him and for the next hour or so, he was completely engrossed in them and happy to be dragged from bag stall to clothing stall :-D  Thanks sis!!!

We decided it was time to eat and ended up at a little dumpling bar.  We ordered a selection and shared them, enjoying the food, company, sights and being out of the wind.

A little more market-ing then we headed back to my parent's place.

That evening was a family dinner at mum and dad's.  My brother, sister and her husband came and we all hung out for the evening.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I love my family.  I love that we get along so well and that being together is fun for us!  And I think each and every one of them is pretty darn awesome, actually.  I'm super, super lucky!

That was the end of our first week in Melbourne!  By this stage I was happy, exhausted, having a blast and missing home (particularly missing the Big Fella).  And there was still four full days plus a day of travel to go!  Time to get some sleep for it, hey?

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Melbourne trip - Part P!nk!!!

And now for the post many of you have been waiting for - going to the P!nk concert!!!!!

This was my first ever real concert, and what a way to introduce myself to them!!!!  I went with my youngest sister and my brother - it was his first concert too.

My sister works in the city, so my brother and I caught the train in to town (after I ran back to my parent's place, having forgotten the tickets!!!).

As a side note, the Little Big Fella happily let me leave him with his grandparents.  Turns out they played light sabers, hide and seek, and had bacon and egg whites for dinner.

My siblings and I however, had Thai for dinner and it was very nice - not just the food but the company and conversation.  Have I ever mentioned that I have awesome siblings???

We finished our meals then started the (slightly cold) walk to the arena where the concert was being held.  Just before I left Melbourne to live up North, I was a volunteer for the Commonwealth Games.  The area that I "worked" was the same place that the concert was at.  Amazingly, I'd forgotten how far the walk is from the train station to the arena!

I could feel the excitement building as we got closer.  The three of us joined a growing flow of people heading in the one direction, getting more and more excited about the evening that we were about to enjoy.

Once inside we slowly made our way around to our door (there were so many people!), stopping so that I could buy a t-shirt.  Then went inside and found our seats.

I believe this is called the "nosebleed" section!  If you were hoping to get a great close-up photo of P!nk from me, you'll be sadly disappointed.  Our seating, and the fact that I only had my phone camera, means the best shot I got was this:

That's her in the middle (can't you tell?).

While we were waiting for the show to get started, my sister and I decided to get a drink.  Of course, we had to choose the cosmopolitan in the flashing pink cup (and here's the t-shirt I bought on the way in)!

Then my sister decided that we needed to take some "selfies".  Unfortunately, my phone camera really isn't that great.

The support band that played was brilliant!  They're called The Kin.  The two singers/musicians are brothers and they have really great voices that work so well together.

But the drummer?  He was... ummm.... intriguing I guess is the word.

He didn't use drumsticks, but it sounded like he did.

He used his hands.  But it looked like (on the screens anyway) he had something taped to his palms - maybe a really thin, pliable wood.

And he was amazingly energetic as he played.  It was like he was using his whole body to play.  Maybe inspiring is another word you could use?

Between the intrigue of the drummer, and the sound of the brothers' voices, and the music they made together... I just don't really know how to describe it, except to say that I really enjoyed it!

So, after they were done there was about half an hour before P!nk came on stage.  But as we were waiting, one of the actors from Offspring, Eddie Perfect, came onstage to tell us that the concert would be recorded for P!nk's DVD.  Everyone went crazy cheering!

We were informed that some music would come on soon and we were to dance like no one was watching so that the cameras could record some of the crowd for the DVD.

And, even though we were in the 2nd back row, the atmosphere of the place totally included us and we danced and sang at the top of our lungs, and laughed at some of the ridiculous people around us.

A little while later, a guy appeared on the screens.  He was dressed like a clown and was dancing through the crowd, making people (who didn't want to dance) dance with him, or trying to get away from people who did want to dance with him.

He disappeared and reappeared in several places throughout the crowd.

At one point he zoned in one someone and completely ignored everyone else around him.  He climbed over seats and pushed people out of the way to get to this person.

It turned out he was focused on a bald guy.

When he got to the guy he did funny stuff like rubbing his head and checking his reflection in it.  Then, in super slow-mo, he planted a big, sloppy kiss on the guy's head.  The expressions were true clown style and made it particularly entertaining.

Just when we thought he was done with the bald guy, he did something else in super slow-mo.  Out came his big, pink tongue!  And slowly, but definitely, the tongue got closer and closer to the guy's head. 

You could see him on the screen hoping that the clown would stop before the tongue hit his head.

But no!  It came slowly and inevitably down until he got the bald-headed equivalent of a wet willy!

And suddenly the trance was over!  The crowd laughed.  The clown congratulated the guy and moved on.

Next thing we know, the clown is on stage and saying that someone in the crowd is going to get the chance to come up on stage!  You can just imagine the noise and excitement right there, can't you?

The cameras scanned the crowd, looking for the lucky person!  They're scanning, they're scanning... the clown tells the cameras to stop!  Go back!  They zoom in on someone wearing a hoodie.  The hoodie comes off and there's P!nk!!!!  She was in the bay right next to us!!!!

I can't even describe to you the noise and excitement in the arena just then!  And it didn't calm down much for the rest of the night!

We had sore voices within the first half hour.  P!nk had included a whole bunch of her older songs in this concert, including "Raise Your Glass" (which we did - how could we not when we had flashing pink cocktails???).

As expected, there was acrobatics and crazy stunts.

There were a couple of holes in the stage where dancers were shot up into the air to land on the stage and start dancing.

There was a crazy, spinning wire ball that P!nk and the dancers climbed all over without harnesses.

There was rather erotic dancing.

There were fun costumes.

P!nk played the piano, having learned just for this tour.

Lots of stuff was thrown onto the stage for her, including lots of toy frogs, and a book that someone had made (and obviously taken an awful lot of time to do).

And just when we thought we couldn't sing any more, or scream any louder, out came the finale!

P!nk was hooked up to this circle belt thing, that was connected to wires that hooked into the four corners of the arena.  And she went flying over all of our heads, covering just about every inch of the stadium!  From our position, it looked particularly cool and like SO much fun!  I'd love to have a go at that one day!!!

And then it was over.

We eventually made it to my sister's car, and out of the car park (15 minutes to get about 200 metres).  And we listened to the album while we drove home, reflecting on how entertaining and fun the night had been.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first big concert experience, and next time P!nk is in Australia, I intend to go again (hopefully with my siblings) and try to get floor tickets so we can dance without fear of falling into the person in front of us (who, by the way, spent the whole concert standing up with her camera, recording the whole thing and getting in our way), as well as sing at the top of our lungs.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Melbourne trip - Part IV

After a day with the Big Fella's family, we got to spend a bit of time (when we weren't exhausted even!) with my parents.

Mum had taken the day off work and Dad ended up meeting us for lunch, which was awesome.

One of the local shopping centres had a dinosaur display for the school holidays.  There were large and small dinosaurs, all very realistic, as well as some that moved!  They were pretty cool!

Unfortunately, there was a very long line to see them up close.  Double unfortunately, the Little Big Fella wasn't in the mood for queuing.  We got to the end of the line and within about a minute he'd started losing the plot.

Just at that moment he spotted Toyworld.  And that was the end of us lining up to see dinosaurs!

We went to Toyworld and he conned Nanna into buying him a Spiderman glove that makes web slinging sounds when you put your hand the right way, as well as an Optimus Prime costume (incidentally, he was wearing his Iron Man costume at the time).

Mum and I decided that it was time for a coffee, so we headed for one of the caf├ęs and partook of some very nice beverages.  The Little Big Fella was happily distracted by his new Spiderman glove :-)

After that we thought we'd have a little walk around, but first my son had to have a play on the digger.

We wandered around Myer and a couple of other places, and I ended up buying a new top (which I wore to the P!nk concert - post coming soon!).  Then we met up with Dad and grabbed some lunch.

Have you ever been to a food court in a shopping centre?  It's an area where there are a bunch of tables in the middle, and a range of fast food places around the outside.

They tend to be very loud.

Especially at the lunch rush hour.

Especially at the lunch rush hour in school holidays!

Thankfully we got a seat very easily and the noise started to settle when we were about half way through our meals.

After lunch Dad had to get back to work, so Mum and I wandered around a few more stores before the Little Big Fella started losing the plot on us again.  On the way home we stopped at Spotlight (a large craft store), which really pushed the Little Big Fella a bit too far.  He'd pretty much run out of patience for shopping.  That, and he wasn't allowed to put on his Optimus Prime costume until we got "home".

So we took him "home" and he was quite happy.

While we stayed with my parents, the Little Big Fella developed a couple of routines in the evening.  These included setting the table in the "winter room" for dinner with Nanna, lighting the candles for dinner, saying grace (which always includes holding hands and giving people a kiss after "amen"), blowing out the candles when everyone is done, then having a bath (definitely the most exciting part of the night!), and putting on Superman pjs.

We don't have a bath in our current house, so going to my grandparent's place in our old town, or now going to my parent's place has to include a bath... preferably with lots of bubbles!  And mum's bath is a spa bath, so lots of bubbles can become even more bubbles!!!

Grandma gave the Little Big Fella a Superman onesie (all-in-one pyjamas).  They're fleecy and very warm, and suited sleeptime in Melbourne.

They even came with a cape!  The Little Big Fella was in love :-)

A couple of nights Nanna got to read a book to the Little Big Fella.  They had two favourites; a book about a digger trying to find home, and a book of funny poems (which he's been partially repeating ever since - Oodnadatta, Paramatta, and Triantiwantigongalope!).

Some nights it was a little too warm for a fleecy Superman onesie and Batman covers!

I was very relieved that the Little Big Fella settled into a happy routine at Mum and Dad's.  Not only did it make night times that bit easier, it also meant that there was no stress when it was time for me to go to the P!nk concert!  But more about that in the next installment ;-)

Melbourne trip - Part III

While I was away, I didn't really have time to write a diary, or blog posts, or even much in the way of notes about our days.  But I had a single page document that I wrote a couple of dot points on, to help me remember what we'd gotten up to.

Turns out I really need those!

We were SO busy (but in a good way)!  By the end of the first week, I could hardly remember what we'd done the day before, let alone a couple of days before that!

So, using said trusty dot points, I can tell you that after our slightly more eventful trip down, and our fun day at the science museum, the Little Big Fella and I had a more sedate day with the Big Fella's parents, sister and her partner.  And it was absolutely lovely!

Unfortunately I don't actually have any photos of this day (sheesh!), so I'll just have to tell you about it and let you use your imagination.

We had a bit of a sleep in that morning (I have no idea why we were so tired!), then got ourselves ready and headed over to the Big Fella's parent's place.

They've lived in the same house for about 20 years, which is kind of amazing because Grandpa used to be in the Airforce and the Big Fella's family had lived all over Australia, and in Malaysia for a time.  Since the last time we'd been there (in 2010!), they've renovated the kitchen and upstairs entry, as well as both bathrooms.  It was so exciting to see it in person after hearing all about it!

So we got the grand tour, then had a cuppa in the downstairs lounge room, in front of the fire.  That's one thing I miss about living in Victoria.  We don't have much opportunity to really snuggle in front of a fire up here, and it is definitely one of the delicious things about winter!

The Little Big Fella wanted to check out the yard so we took him outside and walked down to the bottom of the property.  It's only a 1/4 acre (I think... there's a possibility that it's a 1/3 acre), but it's a very steep block!  The Little Big Fella (of course) ran up and down it a few times, while we struggled just a little.

And that's when he saw it.

Grandma and Grandpa have an outdoor spa.

Which, to the Little Big Fella, looks just like a pool.

And he loves playing in water!

So he convinced Grandpa to turn on the heater and get the water warming up so he could have a spa swim splash.

While we were waiting for it to warm up, Grandma got a delicious lunch started.  She did a Turkish bread (pide?), filled with delicious treats like olives, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and so on, and with a little cheese on top.  Then it got put in the oven to warm up and get a little crispy.  Served with a lovely salad, it was a fantastic lunch!

By this time, the Big Fella's sister and her partner had arrived as well, so we all ate together and had the chance to catch up.

Although I love where we live, I really do miss our families.  We enjoy one another's company, and there's something very special about families that you just don't quite get, even with very good friends.

Anyway, after lunch the spa was warm enough so Grandma, the Little Big Fella and I jumped in (amazing how I just happened to have our swimmers in the bag, huh?).  Even though the day was quite chilly, especially in the shade, we ended up getting rather too warm in the spa because the heater didn't get turned off until the water reached 40 degrees (about 104 Fahrenheit).

The Little Big Fella loved splashing about though, especially when Grandma found a pair of goggles that he could wear!  Talk about making your grandson happy!!!

After we got out, we all had a bit of a chat then the Big Fella's sister and partner took the Little Big Fella and I to a chocolaterie.  Seriously delicious!

They have a big window along one wall where you can watch the masters making the chocolates.  While we were there we watched one of the girls making chocolate covered licorice bullets.

And right at the front door are 3 big (and I mean big) bowls of chocolate drops that you can sample - white, milk and dark chocolate.  And it was very nice chocolate!

They had all kinds of chocolate delights, as well as a cafe with handmade ice-creams and desserts.  We decided to have a drink, and I got a fruit flan that was to die for!  With every order they give you a shot of "hot chocolate", which is basically chocolate drops melted to a thick, creamy liquid.  Very sweet to drink, but lovely in the cold wind.

The chocolaterie also provided buckets full of outdoor toys for people to take out onto the grassy area in front of the building.  The buckets had balls and frisbees and all kinds of things for playing with.

The whole atmosphere was really, really fun!  I'd highly recommend a visit if you're in that area!

We purchased a few treats, sampled a couple more chocolate drops then headed home.  The Little Big Fella was completely tuckered out and fell asleep before we'd gotten very far.

When we got back to Grandma and Grandpa's place, we went in, had a quick chat then said our goodbyes and went back to my parent's place for a quick dinner, bath and off to bed.  Then end of another lovely, eventful day.

Melbourne trip - Part II

Before we came on this trip, I did a bit of research online.  I wanted to make sure that the Little Big Fella would have a great time, and that the whole trip wasn't taken up with me hanging out with my family and friends while he was bored.  I also wanted to have a few ideas of things to do with other people - because sometimes having an unusual experience together is as much or more fun than just catching up.

So our first day in Melbourne included a trip to ScienceWorks with my brother and best friend.  It's a hands-on science musuem where you can learn about all kinds of science-y things by playing with them.

We picked up my brother (and met his housemate), then my friend, then drove to the other side of the city.

When we got there I realised I'd made a silly misjudgment - it was school holidays!!!  There were people everywhere!!!!  We had to park in the overflow parking lot and line up outside to get in!  The air was icy cold (although it was quite lovely in the sun).  And guess who had to use the bathroom right then!!!

Sheesh!  What a great start!!!

Thankfully all was sorted and we got inside (where it was comfortably warm) and started checking the place out.

First stop, electricity!

Then, into the house area.  This photo is where you could watch how sound waves work.

Of course, you have to take photos in wonky mirrors!

This was one of the Little Big Fella's favourite part of the "house".  It's the hose of a giant vacuum cleaner.  You could run through to the other end, where you found yourself inside the main part of a vacuum cleaner.  They had dust and bugs and coins and junk hanging all over the place to make it feel "right" ;-)

Incidentally, his other favourite part of the house was where you could make the fleas jump.  No comment!

We eventually moved from the "house" to the "sports" area.  There was a "sports" sign made of concrete and the Little Big Fella (a.k.a. Batman today) climbed all over it for ages!

Once inside the sports area, the Big Fella and my brother found this exhibit.  The idea was to press the start button (low for kids, high for adults).  The lights on the buttons would then flash and you had to press it as fast as you could.  A different button would then light up.  You had to hit as many as you could in 30 seconds.  We all had a turn, but we had to keep dragging the Little Big Fella away to look at other things!

Like this canoe.

We all tested our grip strength at one station, and how much weight we could pull sitting down with our feet against the wall.  There were a few ball-based skills test, and the Little Big Fella and I raced against Kathy Freeman (unsurprisingly, she won!).

My bro then helped the Little Big Fella have a go on a climbing wall.

We decided it was time for lunch, so we headed outside (brrrr!).  My friend saved us seats in the little amphitheater, because there was a circus show starting soon, while I got food for us and my brother took the Little Big Fella to the playground area to run off a bit more energy.

The circus performers were really good!  The show was informative, funny and very entertaining.  The girl balanced things on her chin - a juggling club, a bottle of wine, a hat stand!  The guy did most of the clown-like roles, but also walked across a bunch of wine bottles without knocking them over.  They both did juggling (together and separately) and some balancing tricks together.

I guess what I enjoyed most about it, was that they really involved the audience - not just by having a dad participate, but they got us engaged with what they were doing; laughing at their jokes, joining in, and following instructions.  Considering that the major portion of the audience were children, they were very clever!

We had a little time to kill so the Little Big Fella had a short play on the playground, then we went into the lightning show.  To be honest, I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would.  There were some great demonstrations - creating an instant cloud in a bottle, using static electricity, and making lightning inside the large cage - but it wasn't particularly entertaining and I got rather cold and uncomfortable.

It was getting late-ish in the afternoon, so we decided to skip the upstairs part of the museum (which is a pity, because I'm lead to believe there's a digger up there!).  We took a couple of goofy photos then it was time to head home.

Unfortunately, we hit peak hour traffic so it took a while to get through the city and out to our suburbs.  We were all a bit tired by then so it was great to get "home" and have dinner with my parents (gotta love the slow cooker!), before bathing the Little Big Fella and heading off to bed.

Baths at Nanna and Granddad's became a highlight of each day for the Little Big Fella... but that's a story for another post!  ;-)