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Sunday, 27 January 2013

We are going camping.

Words to strike fear into any woman who likes running water and a bed.

The main issue with camping is that the first time I went with Arran the bar was set very high. We went to Bribie Island, north of Brisbane. The weather was perfect, it was summer but not too hot. Our camp site was private and just behind the beach. I love the beach. We had amazing food and wine and a whole lotta lovin. If you know what I mean. Sorry Mum.

Every camping experience since this wonderous event has been the complete opposite. I have erased many unpleasant camping experiences from my memory, but some are etched there forever:
  • Land Cruiser Mountain Park: A place in Brisbane where you can camp and 4WD. How opportune! Arran promised cool billabongs to swim in, nice drives and a shower and toilet block. Reality was 45 degree heat, the whole place was a dust bowl and the shower block actually looked ok until you got naked and turned on the water. This caused the hundreds of breeding mosquitos hiding out in the non slip mat at the bottom of the shower to rise up into the air and surround said naked body. The promised billabong was a algae covered pond. We also had horses wanting to get into our tent. The event that topped off the 2 horrid days we stayed there was when Arran took the lid off the camp oven to check the lamb roast and the meat caught on fire.
  • Barrington Tops: This was an Easter trip not long after Arran and I moved to Sydney. We went with the Jeep Club. Because Arran was/is Jeep mad. I don't know why. Anyway, off we went. It rained non-stop. It was torrential. I have never seen so much mud. On the Saturday morning we headed off with a number of other Jeep clubbers on a B/C grade (easy) drive for a few hours. We expected to be back by lunch time. We got back after midnight and just before search and rescue was to be called. During this time we experienced mud. Lots of mud. Mud going down hills. Mud going up hills. Mud which required the use of winches. Which is fun if you like that kinda thing. I don't. At one point I insisted on being outside the car in the torrential rain as I figured this would be safer than being inside the Jeep as it slid to the bottom of a muddy hill. That's when I became acquainted with leeches. Now generally I'm ok with insects and creepy crawlies but I am NOT ok with leeches. They are nearly impossible to pull off when you are wet with rain and that's before they bury in too deeply. Eeek! I could go on about this trip but I think you get the picture.....
  • Wollondilly River Station: This one was doozey. Ever been motorbike camping? We have. In 40 degree plus heat. Getting there and back I though we were going to self combust. It never cooled down during the night. Was like sleeping in a oven. Hideous. The camp ground caretaker could have been in the movie Deliverance and on the way home we got a flat tire. 
  • Pretty Beach: Now I like this spot and we have been there a number of times either camping or staying in their cabins. I did get bitten by a possum once but I may have been a little drunk at the time so perhaps it wasn't the possums fault? The last time we went there was during the Queens Birthday long weekend in 2011 and we camped in tents. Aiden was 2 and a bit and only wanted to cling to me. I was pregnant with Charlie and therefore wanted to wee all the time. I have never been more cold. We went with 2 other couples. One who had two kids and the other with none. The ones with none came for one night and then packed up and went home because it's stupid camping when its so friggin' cold. Those of us with kids stayed for another night of hell. At the end of that trip I didn't speak to Arran for 2 days and the other couple didn't speak for a week! 
 So this Australia Day weekend we went to Kiama, which is not too far away and stayed at a camp-ground with facilities (shower and toilets, camp kitchen, pool and jumping pillow). We arrived in darkness on Friday night and luckily the camp ground sticky beak and general do-gooder came to help us put up the tent, which was good because Aiden and Charlie were "over-it" and just needed to be in bed. 

Once the tent was up and the kids in bed Arran and I had cheese and wine. Nice. Saturday was hot and sunny and there was swimming in the pool, a drive into Kiama to search for a slushie to relieve the worst hay fever I have had in a while, and then back to the camp ground for small boy sleeps. After that there was a dip in the Kiama ocean rock pools and ice cream. Dinner and bed for the boys and then dinner for us (pork ribs, corn and salad) and some very nice wine. All good.
Blue skies in Kiama
Boys in the rock pool
Kiama Ocean Rock Pools
During that night there was a massive storm and we woke to a very soggy camp ground with drizzly rain. Arran is getting better at taking the hints I drop about wanting to go home. I only had to drop one. Took him 15 mins to decide we should head back home. Lucky because the weather has contined to get worse with Sydney looking to cop a massive drenching tonight.

Wouldn't be camping without a bike along....

Saturday, 19 January 2013

What to achieve in 2013 #1 The House

So I was asking Arran what New Year's resolutions he had set. He said none. How inspiring! Or sensible. Depending on how you look at it! Anyway I said I had 3 resolutions, well goals really, in my head, which is not a great place to have them, when my head gets as messy as the house. I decided to do a blog post on each. Then I can update you through the year and it might keep me honest. We'll see.

Resolution #1 The House
We have a beautiful house and we've been here 3 years in February. It doesn't need much in the way of renovation. It's in pretty good nick for a 100 year plus Victorian Terrace. Of course if money was no barrier I would do something with the kitchen and the main bathroom and laundry. Oh and our ensuite bathroom.....but if Arran and I get a good bonus this year we are going to fix up our outdoor area. We are very lucky to have a reasonable size outdoor area in the inner city and we want to make it more beautiful, leafy and add LOTs more storage. Someone has a bad bike habit.

But the main areas I want to focus on this year is lighting. When we bought the house the previous owners had some light fittings that they wanted to take with them and we wanted to bring our beautiful chandeliers, which were a wedding gift. They look amazing with the old ceiling roses, don't they?

As a consequence we have one room with beautiful lights and the rest of the house is a bit wanting.

A few examples:

Front door hallway

Hallway at the bottom of the stairs

2nd Floor landing

Bedside lights

Bedroom light
I have been thinking about these lights for ages and the only ones I have actually made a decision to buy (but haven't bought) are the Kartell Pendant lights. I think these will look great on the 2 bare light bulbs in the hall and to replace the orange light on the 2nd floor landing. Just gotta save up!

Apart from the lighting there are a couple of other small matters that need attention; a leak in the roof, some rotten doors, a double glazed window on the 3rd floor which you can barely see through as moisture has gotten in between the layers. Ah...old houses!

Resolutions #2 and #3 to follow.....

Monday, 14 January 2013

I am not a morning person.

Charlie. Lucky he is cute!
When I was doing my Masters at Sydney University, there was an amazing lecturer, Marion Baird teaching HR and IR subjects and she also did a lot of organisational research. She's really a bit of a guru and there is 2 things I remember about her:

1. She was involved in putting together the proposal and lobbying the government for paid maternity leave.  One evening during the lecture the government announced the introduction of said paid leave. It was a historical moment, she was pretty stoked and the class was pretty excited. 

2. She talked to me about a research paper that discussed how women manage to handle full time work with one child but two children often tips the balance and women often find it difficult to cope, and only manage to return to part time work at best. At the time we had the chat I was either 39 weeks pregnant or had a 2 week old Aiden. Can't remember. Damm baby brain. I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to cope with one but seeing as I was attending an evening university lecture (in whatever state I was in) perhaps I should have worked out it would be alright?

Anyway, I'm back at full time work with two kids and for the most part it works ok. Apparently, despite what some family members think, I am actually an organised person. Yes. I'm putting it out there. It's true. Sometimes. Arran does his fair share, we have a good routine and we have a cleaner. A person can only do so much.

Of course there is being organised and then there is trying to get out of the house in the morning before 8am without getting up at 5am, with hair done, make-up on, me dressed, small boys dressed (clean is a bonus), everyone fed, sunscreen on, shoes on, hats on........getting the picture? I am not a morning person. It's a lot to ask. Arran and I have a deal where I do the childcare drop offs and he does the pick ups. This means that he gets to train on his bike in the mornings when it suits him best and I get to either work late or exercise in the evening, which suits me best. 

I'm thinking that the person who conducted the research on women with two children and full-time work must have been doing qualitative  research by observing the getting-out-of-the-house-in-the-morning debacle routine and after seeing a couple of families in action decided it just wasn't possible. 

Mondays are the worst. You forget on Mondays that you really have to gear up. You are still in the post weekend haze, wishing it was Sunday morning, not Monday. Take this morning. 

Charlie screams. Fly out of bed. Shove dummy in. Exit room with haste. Hope like hell he stops screaming. He stops. Back in to bed. 

Shower, get dressed, straighten hair, put make-up on, find shoes, find phone, start mantra: don't forget to get Charlie's daycare sheets out of the dryer. Don't forget to get Charlie's daycare sheets out of the dryer.

Go into Charlie's room. Get him up for a cuddle. Put him on change table. Screams like a banshee. Get kicked in stomach. Tell Charlie not to kick mummy in stomach. Get kicked in stomach again. Twice. Sigh. Bit more screaming. Get Charlie dressed.

Charlie and I head to Aiden's room. Aiden is hiding under the sheet (a big wriggly mess) and telling us we don't know where he is. Bit of a tickle and cuddle with the 2 boys, and ask Aiden to go to the toilet and get undressed. Aiden starts talking and DOES NOT STOP until I drop him at daycare. Current discussion is on what we are going to do today and eating Weet-bix including the crumbs. Get Aiden dressed while telling Charlie not to:
a) open and close the drawers in Aiden's room 
b) close Aiden's door
c) stop crawling down the hall to go into the bathroom and turn on the taps in the bath, or

Bring boys downstairs for what I hope will be the last trip up or down the stairs. Remember that I didn't get Charlie's daycare sheets which are in the dryer UP STAIRS. Sigh.

Get out bowls and weet-bix for both boys because Charlie has decided he only wants what Aiden is having which takes twice as long to feed him. Get set up on the table and get the boys eating while I wonder what I'm having (Arran and I are on lite n' easy). In between shovelling Weet-bix into Charlie's mouth I get up to see what's on my breakfast menu. It's "Pikelets with Fig and Berry Compote and Honey Yoghurt". How delicious? How am I supposed to defrost/cook/assemble that while I'm trying to feed Charlie, keep up with Aiden's current conversation (which is now on some rough kid at daycare) and remember to get Charlie's sheets out of the dryer upstairs?

Between every second mouthful I manage to assemble my breakfast and bring it over to the table. Charlie has been watching proceedings very closely. He starts to grunt and moan and gesticulate at my breakfast. Little....bugger. So I share my pikelets with Charlie until he decides to tip his drink on his high chair tray and smack his hands in the water gleefully. Luckily I'm wearing my super-handy, nothing-will-stick-to-it-water-just-runs-off polyester Country Road dress. This is a fluke. 
Charlie goes back to eating Weet-bix and Aiden has moved onto his 3rd bowl of Weet-bix including crumbs, more milk and has changed up the conversation to "Misty Island Rescue". I just have to say that my life was fine before Thomas the Tank Engine came into it. Fine.

5 minutes to my goal of getting out of the house at 7.30am, which I never make. Remember I need to get Charlie's sheets, a book for work (which is on the 3rd floor) and put some deodorant on. Boys are fed and playing. I'll just whip upstairs. 

Arrive back downstairs to find that Aiden hasn't killed Charlie and that Charlie has filled his pants with a very. bad. smell. I don't have time for this.

Lie Charlie down on the change mat (screams like a banshee), change the fullest, sloppiest pants (sorry but you made it this far) and re-dress him. Ask Aiden to come over so I can slather every exposed inch of his skin with sunscreen and ask him to put his shoes on. This is possibly the most excruciating part of the morning routine. He has also changed topics and is now telling me that jumping castles are not scary and they have music in them. I don't care. Really. 

Open the door to take them out to the car. It's cold outside. What? We-are-having-the-highest-temperatures-in-the-know-universe and it's bushfire season! Sunrise have been doing 24/7 specials on it! Aiden and Charlie are wearing shorts and T-shirts. Bustle them into the car. Aiden is still talking. Race upstairs to different ends of the house to get them a jacket. Race downstairs. Pack their clothes in the bags. Pack my lunch and bits and pieces. Put it all in the car. Race back to lock the house up. Get in the car. Drive out of the driveway. Don't have to go back for anything. Miracle.

Drop them at daycare. Aiden stops talking and goes to look for trains. Charlie get's wiggly because there are toys he wants to play with. They don't care that I'm leaving them.

I'm not sure that researcher realised that if you actually survive all that you can go to work and have a coffee in peace. Bliss.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Do you ever feel like you are in a movie?

6 December 2012
Do you ever feel like you are in a movie? I don't mean like a movie star, where you are important, beautiful and pampered. More like when you have a moment where you realise that someone else has had this moment too and chosen to immortalise the stupid important life moment, on film. I had one of those moments last night.

After seeming to travel constantly for the past four weeks, I finally had a week in front of me where I would get to sleep in my own bed for all of it.  And there were other things I was looking forward to, like:
  • Not going out for dinner and drinking too much wine. Every night.
  • Leaving work a bit early and exercising every day and actually using my pilates/yoga membership. Going for evening walks around Glebe.
  • Reading Aiden stories before bed. Charlie would get stories too, but he is far too wiggly. He may never learn to read. Lets hope he is good at maths. Or sport.
  • Getting the house in some sort of order after having lots of visitors and mountains of washing
  • Staying up late writing blogs!
Also this week was the final Vision Australia playgroup for the year. Since being back at work full time I had missed taking Aiden along. Today was the little Christmas party and we were invited to bring some morning tea to share and dress up Christmassy. Easy. Buy a cupcake packet mix, some sort of Christmas decorative cake type things, and put it all together.

I would have to bake the cupcakes on Wednesday night and ice and decorate them Thursday morning. Easy.

So. Wednesday night. Get home. Feed small boys. Bath small boys. Read stories. Tuck in. Get changed. Go for a walk. It's now 9pm. At 10pm I have to get on a global teleconference with a group of Lawyers. Kill me. I start making the cupcakes at about 9.20pm. I get them in the oven. Start teleconference while cleaning up kitchen. Oven alarm goes off in middle of teleconference. Check cupcakes. Take cupcakes out of oven. 

Teleconference still going at 11pm. Have a flash of a scene from "I don't know how she does it", the movie staring Sarah Jessica Parker based on the book of the same name. Sarah plays a working mother trying to achieve it all. My flash back was to the scene where she ends up baking late at night. Kitchen a mess. Flour everywhere! And I wasn't paying good enough attention to the teleconference so when there was finally a question for me, oh at about 11.30pm I was pooped and completely not paying attention. Awesome.

I end up in bed after midnight. First thing the next morning I decorate the cakes, vowing not to give up my day job for cake decorating, pack Aiden into the car and head off. 

Arrive at Vision Australia and realise that I forgot to dress Aiden in his Christmas outfit. Oh well. Most of the kids can't see that well anyway. Terrible joke. Bad mummy.

Luckily the cakes were a hit and all got eaten! Phew.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Driving myself crazy with Vignettes

So I follow this cool chick on twitter called Jen Bishop. She has a blog called Interiors Addict and she is running a little instagram challenge called The 7 Vignettes in 7 Days, which started today, but I have been planning for a number of days. It's making me a little nuts.  If you have no idea what a vignette is, check out Jen's link here or the wikipedia definition here.

I have been up and down the 3 stories of this house pulling together bits and pieces for the various themes, finding suitable "vignette" spots and generally being a little manic. I have also been stealing taking cuttings of plant from all over Glebe. I'm surprised I wasn't apprehended this afternoon. I'm turning into my grandmother. Anyway I like to have a creative challenge and this one really appealed and it's pretty fun. 

Each day has a theme:

 and today's was "nature". Here is my submission:

There are some really amazing photos of vignettes. If you are on instagram or twitter you can search the photos using the #7vignettes hashtag.

Tomorrow is colour!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012 The Year that was.....


2012 started as it should. With good quality bubbles.

Aunty Em and the Cousins came to visit! Here we are at the light rail stop at Glebe.

Off we went to holiday in Coolangatta with Nan and Grandpa. We went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. The best bit was the train!

Off I went to a "People Photography" workshop with Sydney Photographic Workshops

We planted some plants which are still alive
Aiden turned.......
and had a party with friends
Nan and Grandpa came to visit and give cuddles....
Aiden got a special present
Charlie went for a swim with Daddy

Aiden got a new bedroom.....
Arran did some bike riding. No surprise there!
I owned up to my magazine addiction.

Got inspired with some funky fabric.....

 Went on an outing with some friends.....

Charlie and I appeared on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald!

Got some new clothes......
 Went on a holiday to Fiji....

Put up some art....

Charlie tried out a bike!

 Made some cushions....

Went to a wedding in Palm Cove

 More bike riding.....

Ride to work day. Even I got into the act!
Charlie turned 1!

Halloween dress ups at Daycare!

Arran and I had a party....shame I was too sick to enjoy it!


Arran and I did a "Travel and Documentary" workshop with Sydney Photographic Workshops

Wrapped some presents
 Went to hear some Carols and had a picnic!

Christmas day! Aiden got to see Santa after all....