Monday, December 25, 2006

A very merry Christmas

What a busy, noisy, exhausting Christmas we've had.

It started off with Christmas Eve Eve with Dan's side of the family. Normally we do Christmas Eve, but his sister and her boyfriend had to go to the Mountains to be with his family this year so we made it a night earlier. They came over at about 2pm with a carload of pressies and food and then cooked a scrumptious roast for dinner, as well as babysitting the kids while Dan and I ducked off to do some last minute shopping! Yay!

The kids had a brilliant evening, especially Dante who played Santa once again. They were thoroughly spoilt, as usual! Atticus was given a tea set by his Auntie, and no other presents got opened that night by him as he was completely taken with his plates, knives, cups and forks. He has wanted to use them at every meal since then, too. The jug causes a bit of a problem... not for him - for us! He wants his milk in that, and then proceeds to pour it everywhere (trying to pour it into his little toy cups). It's very cute, but we quickly learnt our lesson!

Christmas day itself has been just as exhausting, with my side of the family over as well as Grandma and an elderly neighbour, Uncle Ted (who's just turned 93, I believe!)... 7 grandkids + 4 kids + 4 spouses + 3 grandparents + 1 Japanese visitor + Uncle Ted = 20 people!

We hosted it our place - the eating and pressies side of things. The food preparation was done next door at my folks' place, which worked out brilliantly. It's a great excuse to clean the house and it is still in quite a reasonable state, even after the hoardes have left.

The Japanese visitor is my friend Fukuyo, who arrived yesterday morning for a short last-minute trip to Oz. I used to be pen-friends with her from when I was 14 and stayed with her and her family when I was 15 on a school exchange for four weeks. We have kept in touch (but not as often as I should have, on my part) the whole time. She came to visit back in '92 but we haven't seen her since. She is staying next door and will be flying up to visit some other friends in Brisbane on Friday.

Anyway, we are heading off to the South coast tomorrow (Kiama) so I need to pack and other stuff. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dante's last day as a Kindergarten kid!

Our son is no longer in Kindy! Today was the last day of school for the year. After these holidays he'll be in Year 1 and no longer one of the babies of the school.

He's done so well this year. He even won an "Academic Achievement" award at school for his progress. Everything in "Reading" and "Maths" in his end-of-year report was well above average. Looking through his writing/drawing books was interesting seeing how much he progressed from the beginning of the year until now.

We're so proud! It took quite a few months for him to settle into the new structure of school, but it's amazing how he soaked up all the teaching after that. Yay :)

I'll scan in some samples of his work eventually.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

That "new car" smell

The first thing we did this morning was to go to the bank and get a whopping big bank cheque. Ack! We had to scrounge bits of money from all our accounts, but managed to get enough together. The bank had promised to give us some more money a couple of weeks ago, but it still hasn't come through. Typical.

The second thing I did was get insurance quotes. I was so shocked to find out that our suburb seems to have a "high risk" category - my colleague's suburb was $350 cheaper. It does certainly pay to shop around for car insurance - I ended up paying just less than $1000, whereas the highest quote I got was for $1800 (this is the annual premium for comprehensive insurance). Lawks a lawdy!

Then, at 3 o'clock I picked up Dante from school, picked up Atticus and drove home. Dropped off the small boy with my folks, picked up Dan (who was at home after a work Christmas party) and drove to the car dealership to collect our brand new car.

Dante was super-excited. When we got there, the salesman took us out to have a look at it - D exclaimed, "This is the best car ever!" over and over again. And climbed all over it, exploring all the nooks and crannies. Martin, the salesman, was a bit nervous at that, telling Dante, "Don't put your shoes on the seats! Don't scratch the car!" It was all pretty amusing.

I drove it home with Dante in the back while poor Dan was relegated to driving home the old car. It was a little nerve-wracking. We drove home in peak hour traffic, and I wasn't used to the brakes on the car. But we made it without a single incident.

Now Dan's taken it out for a spin, having not had a chance before. I think he used the excuse "We need more milk", but I can't really be sure.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Water, ahoy!

I went and booked the kids into swimming lessons this morning. Our local pool gets filled up so incredibly quickly - it's ridiculous! I remember last year they told me that on the day of enrolments you need to get in at 9am to book, otherwise you'll miss out. So, I sent the boys in to school with Dan and got my mother to drop me at the pool. I got there at 9:30am (running a little behind schedule) and there was a queue of six people in front of me. I was so annoyed!

I did manage to arrange it so the kids will have their lessons at the same time, however Dan's going to kill me - the lessons are for 8:30am on Saturday mornings (during Term 1). I had no choice - all the "frogs" lessons (for Atticus) were full except for that one. After I'd booked I found out that "tadpoles" were pretty much the same as "frogs" and they'd put us down in a "tadpoles" class anyway. Ack - that means we could have gone to a Sunday 9am class instead... a little more civilised. Oh well, it's done now. At least we can sleep in on Sundays instead (as much as one can sleep in with young kids, that is!).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas with the gang

Today we had our "Hive" Christmas party. "The Hive" is a nickname we have for our bunch of friends - coined by another friend several years ago. There were about 20 of us in all, with Dante and Atti the only kids (so far!!). It got a bit crazy and expensive in terms of pressies a number of years ago and since then we do a "kris kringle" thing which has been working wonderfully. The kids don't take part, though... they're entitled to more than one present, right? As well as presents we had an abundance of food (and meat! We had an esky full of meat!) and ate until we couldn't move.

Originally uploaded by becstarr.
Then Dante played Santa, handing out the presents to each person in turn - it's so great that he can read now! The boys were really excited... Atti knows about presents now.

After presents were distributed, the boys happily hung around in the lounge room playing with whomever was there while we cleaned up and ate dessert. Dante has always been very comfortable with our friends, having known them for 5¾ years, and being a very outgoing boy. I was so pleased with Atticus today. Just in the last week or so he has become so much more outgoing and less shy. It was wonderful to see. He happily sat down on the couch with his godparents, cuddling up with them, and then was just as eager to play with all the adults as his big brother. It was lovely to see. Everyone remarked on it, too. Yay!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Neurologist visit

We took Atticus to see the Paediatric Neurologist today for his convulsions. It was a really good experience for us (and him). Everything she told us was consistent with everything that we've heard from our paediatrician(s), which was a huge relief!

She also said that he was a bright little boy. I was actually really surprised when she did some tests on him, and he actually co-operated and followed her instructions quite happily. She had a little torch: "Touch your nose, touch the light, touch your nose, touch the light..." So cute! He's growing up, all right!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Child Care End-of-Year celebration

A busy day today - start to a busy season, I guess. The silly season!

We had the end of year celebration at Child Care this evening. Instead of the usual "bring a plate" deal, we actually organised to have food provided and charged parents for tickets instead. It worked out really well! There was the usual madness and chaos that always surrounds 30 or more kids under 5 plus parents and siblings. Atticus had a ball at the food table, as he always does, and Dante got to play with his friends from the centre who also have siblings there. It was grand. I organised the desserts (yummy chocolate cake slabs) and we gave a big hamper of baby stuff to the Georgina, the teacher who has just started maternity leave (for whom I was making the quilt).

The funniest part of the evening is always when Santa arrives. Each child receives a book of their parents' choosing. I couldn't believe how well behaved they all were when it came time for the present distribution. They sat down on the mats and most waited very patiently for their name to be called. Of course, some kids started getting anxious as the boxes started emptying... Atticus was incredibly excited - I didn't think he'd understand what was going on! Oh, but how wrong I was. He watched each kid get handed a present, open it and exclaim with delight when they saw the contents. One girl next to him got a "Wiggles" book. He was jumping up and down with anticipation. When Santa finally handed him his present he rushed to me and we quickly opened it. He loved the book that he received. The Director of the Centre knows Dante very well and sneakily kept his present till last - it was so funny watching his reaction! He was pleased with his book, too, and exclaimed that he'd seen this in his school library before. :)

One of the things I loved about Santa was his suit - a groovy inflatable number that has a little fan built-in at the back and fits virtually anyone. Usually he is played by one of the dads and this year was no exception. I always wonder if the kids can pick that it's their father in the costume, but so far the deception has been maintained! Neat.

P.S. Almost forgot to mention that I put a deposit down on the car today. Woot!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Second quilt almost done!

I worked and worked to try and get this quilt made so that I could present it to the intended recipient. Unfortunately, I ran out of time. The party is tomorrow, and I've only made the quilt top. Oh well - I'll have to give it to her another day.

However, I am so pleased with what I have accomplished to this point! I love the bright colours and fabrics. I thought that it might be a bit too busy, but the more I look at the picture above, the happier I am with the overall colour scheme. What do you think?

The final size is around 3 by 4 feet, so it is a cot or lap quilt. I've got a groovy backing fabric - white with coloured dots - and the binding will be a turquoise colour. I can't wait to finish it!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Three little pigs

We had a really busy day yesterday.

First there was Dante's piano lesson (rescheduled to 10am instead of 11am - the teacher forgot, but managed to fit him in anyway).

Then my niece Lorien's christening. It's a little later than normal - she's almost 15 months old. She and Atticus wouldn't sit still during the church ceremony and ran around all over the place. Thankfully Father David was very understanding and patient - when her parents held her and she started complaining, he said that it was alright to let her down for the moment. Although now we all have a fair understanding of why people get their kids christened at an early age!!

Afterwards we spent the afternoon at my brother's place feasting on the piles of scrumptious food that were presented. Yum. Poor Atti missed out on his midday nap and was completely exhausted by the end of the day.

While we were there Dan and I wandered off to the local car dealership to check out a car that we're keen to buy. I even got to test drive it! How exciting! I've never done that before. I was very nervous about it - the waiver I had to sign said that if any damage was done we'd have to pay $2500 excess, and that's only if it wasn't my fault! But in the end it was okay, and I was very happy with the feel of the car (a Toyota Avensis, 7-seat people mover). The salesman wouldn't give us a definite price, though, so we'll have to shop around.

Anyway, the biggest news of the day was the announcement my brother made... they are keen to buy the same car - because they're expecting their third child as well!! As you know, our number three is due late Feb/early March and my other brother is expecting their second in early April. Now there will be another cousin, due early June! My father was so happy - he exclaimed to me, "10! Uncle Paul can't beat me now. I'm going to ring him tonight." (Uncle Paul, his brother) currently has 8 grandkids).

So that means that next year there will be three little pigs born, unless our little girl comes early (but I'm hoping that she comes on the 17th Feb, my mother's birthday - then she'll be a dog).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dante's theory of forbidden drinks

I guess this will be a good story for his 21st birthday party...

Dante was sitting on the toilet this morning after doing a "number two". I could hear him talking to himself as he sat there. Or maybe he was trying to talk to me through the door.

"I know where Coke comes from - it's squashed up POO juice. Kids can't drink it because poo has alcohol in it but grown ups like it."

EEyou! I don't know if I'll be drinking cola again for a while now.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My next project

I like starting projects... I don't often finish them, but I do enjoy planning and starting them!

My next project is a cot quilt for one of the carers at child care. She has been at our centre for five years and we love her to bits. Last week she left to go on maternity leave and I want to make something for her before we see her again at the Christmas party next Wednesday!

Can I finish it in time? We've got a crazy-busy weekend ahead of us. I've cut out a bunch of squares and just have some borders to cut out before I can piece it together. I hope I can do it!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Back to the slog

Flew home on Monday. Took this picture of the cloud layers from the plane. Neat, huh?

We got to spend a few hours in Cairns where my Aunties took us out to yum cha for lunch. yum! I searched for Atti's backup dawg since that was where he originally came from, but alas, it was in vain.

The plane got in 15 minutes early and so we were able to get home in time for me to say g'night to the boys. Atti was reading a book when he looked up and saw me, exclaimed "Mama!" and then went back to looking at the pictures. Dante gave me a "knock-down" hug and presented me with a couple of "notes" that he'd written me. It was lovely to see them after a week of being away!

I did wonder how long it would take to get back into the swing of things back in Sydney... it took one evening! I got up at 6am yesterday and settled back into the work/school/childcare routine straight away. I'm still quite tired, especially getting used to daylight savings again, but that'll happen soon enough.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Six months! Three to go!

Wow, the time has flown by. Today I am officially six months pregnant, with only three more to go before our family size increases by one!

Today was a day of wallowing. This morning we drove out to King Point (or is it King's Point??) for a swim at the beach. A gorgeous secluded spot with a view out to Hammond and Wednesday Islands. The water was warm and calm. It's only about 2 feet deep and stays that way until about 50m out where there is a bit of a reef or rocks, or so I'm told. We had the place to ourselves until a couple of other families turned up. A great place for the kids - as long as you don't let them go too close to the mangroves on either side, and keep to the open water (crocodiles!). I could imagine my boys having a grand time splashing about and playing in the sand.

Afterwards we drove down to Cable Bay at the back of the island, facing south. Looked at some ruins from WWII and then came back for lunch. Found out that the pool filter is broken! But after going for a walk around the "town" here (just a couple of blocks, really) I was completely zonked and went in for a swim anyway. Ahh... so nice. It was like taking a tepid bath - again, the kids would have loved it. {sigh}

How I miss them.

The only down side to all the lovely floating around in water is coming out! It was like I'd put on a lead suit - I could really feel the weight of this bubba. She'd better not get too big!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

A family-filled sad day

It was a glorious, sunny, hot day today. Beautiful blue sky. Bit of a sea breeze.

We buried my uncle today following mass in the Catholic Church. He was placed on the hill next to my grandparents in the cemetary here on Thursday Island. The island ladies sang the most beautiful island hymns during and after the ceremony and afterwards the procession to the cemetary snaked down the entire main street.

One of the traditions up here is to fill in the grave once the coffin has been lowered. Down South everyone usually leaves at this point, but here all the men gather around and take turns shovelling the dirt back into the hole. It is very hot and dusty work, especially when they are wearing their good long sleeve shirts and slacks for the funeral. Huge clouds of the fine dry dust billowed around coating everyone who was nearby. Once the hole is filled, they top the grave with loads of shell grit (broken up bits of shells) and then the women come and put flowers over the entire site (usually plastic flowers as these last longer in the heat!). In the end it looks so colourful and complete. Then a year or two later they have an official tombstone opening. A really nice custom, in my opinion. Better than just walking away.

Afterwards we retired to the church hall for sandwiches, cakes and afternoon tea. The mood was solemn but cheerful as everyone chatted and the kids played. It was wonderful to catch up with so many of my cousins.

We had missed the last ferry but the operators had generously organised to put on a special one to take us back across to Horn Island (those of us that were staying there). The ride across (about 20 minutes) was a fitting end to such a day. The moon, almost full, shone down incredibly brightly and a few stars peeped through the clouds. The air was still, the water calm. It was a serene and settling journey after an emotionally draining day.

We have two more days here before our long journey home, and back to work.