Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting to the End of 2013

So, it's the end of yet another year. This blog has been mostly silent all year, for which I apologise. It's not that this wasn't an eventful year but simply that the bad events got away from us. They got so bad that they more or less eclipsed the good.

There was good though. We did take a trip to Hawaii where we spent half of the trip in the amazing Disney Aulani resort and the other half in the much less spectacular Hilton Hawaiian Village.



It was a great holiday and our best days there were spent hanging out by the pool with Disney characters. These guys with their painted on smiles and infectious good spirits kept the darkness at bay for a little while in between gloomy events.



I think I lost a lot of my faith in humanity this year. I underestimated how far some people would go to make the lives of others miserable. How corrupt even the whitest of institutions could be and how quickly people can turn on those who helped them in the past.

Luckily, this year also brought some wonderful people out of the woodwork. Some new friends who are worth many times their weight in gold, some work colleagues who provided a lot of much needed understanding and support, overseas family who provided a bright spot and a strong shoulder when things got too difficult and last but not least, my online community of friends without whose advice, humour and support our year may not have been a survivable event.

I thank you all and look forward to interacting with you in a year that doesn't end in 13 and doesn't have a dark cloud hanging over it.

Until then, all the best for the year end festivities.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

A Visit from Louise and Murray

I'm still in catch-up mode here.

Last time I blogged about Mother's day because it was topical but I skipped over a bit, so now it's time to go back and write it.

In April this year, we had a visit from Joanne's Aunt and Uncle; Louise and Murray from New Zealand. It was great to see them again as it's been a long time since New Zealand.  Their visit coincided with the school holidays so our kids, who have been more than a little neglected over the last few months got to spend a lot of very happy times with them.

The kids took great delight in "showing" them around the attractions that Sydney has to offer; The blue mountains, the city, the aquarium and of course, the ABC shop. They even got a chance to see what a real food court looks like (the monster sized food court in the new Pitt Street Mall buildings).

The kids got a lot of happy memories from the events and managed (I believe) to have fewer than usual fights with each other.

Fudge the dog also enjoyed the extra attention.

A huge thank you guys for being there when you were needed.

Also on the subject of being there when needed, I'd just like to say thanks to Mark and Anne and Roger for being there during some of the most difficult hours, thanks to Laura and of course huge thanks to our hero Allie and her family.

First Communion
In May, Tristan made his first holy communion.  We didn't feel like partying so we kept things very close and quiet.  Big thanks to Peter and Cheryl who helped us out on the day.

Instead of a party to celebrate, we just got Tristan an iPad.  I don't think he minded... in fact, I'm not sure that he's actually let go of the device yet.  It's the gift that just keeps on giving.

Among other things, it's made it possible for us to take long drives with relative silence and fewer fights.  There's still the "game noise" to contend with but it's better than "kid noise".

Tristan has already made great strides with the device and has been remote desktopping his computer and asking questions about VPNs.

Some Time Out
In June, Joanne took some time to go to Melbourne for shopping and the boys and I had some quality time at home.  While most of that time was cleaning up, we did get to do a few fun things like visiting my family whom I hadn't seen for a long time.

We also went into town, spent a bit too long at the apple store, saw Star Trek in 3D (very good btw) and then saw the Doctor Who special at the Sydney lights festival (unfortunately in the rain).

Tristan said it was good but should have been on a screen, not on a building!






Friday, May 24, 2013

The First Half of 2013 - Part 2 Mother's Day

We had an interesting Mother's day this year. We stayed home and had no visitors but at least we got to clean up.  The house is spotless (and since we're on martial law at the moment, it's staying spotless - well, mostly).  Anyway, not knowing how to make mother's day more interesting, we decided to "forget it" and see how long it took Jo to remind us.

Never Again...

We got until Lunchtime with Jo ordering everyone about (a bit like her usual self) and making us all do housework.  She was getting angrier and angrier as the day went on though until one time she snapped at the kids for something they didn't do and shouted at me.  I said, "fine, they didn't do what they're supposed to but don't take it out on me". She shouted back, "Think about it! Do you think there's a reason I might be mad at you?".

She stormed off into the other room and then proceeded to eat her lunch.  I called the kids down and said to her, "did you remember to put the washing basket out?" "What!!" she exclaimed, "well", I said, "the washing basket for the magic mother's day mouse that comes in a giant mousewheel and delivers presents..."

(I'm trying to give the kids some reasons to doubt Santa since Kaelan is still a believer in Year 7).

She looked at me like she was going to rip my head off, so I ended up just telling the kids to get the basket.  It was full of individually wrapped mother's day presents.


The kids had a great time watching her open them but the funniest bit was when she said that she was glad that the kids had gotten mother's day presents from the shops (ie: that I had gotten them) rather than letting them buy them at the mother's day stall at school.

Tristan immediately launched into a diatribe about how much "crap" there was there and said, with wide eyes, "you'll never guess what someone did....".  We listened intently as he told us that there was this photo frame with "Mum" written on it but guess what... "it had a photo of someone else's mum in it!"

Friday, May 17, 2013

The First Half of 2013 - Part 1


It's been a long time since I updated this blog, our family blog.  In fact, it's been six months and a lot of things have happened, not all of which I'm ready to talk about. 

The biggest change during that time was that we lost my brother-in-law to cancer. I'd write an obituary but I'm afraid that it's still too soon. Maybe next year.

In the meantime, life goes on with the family, Joanne is still working but we haven't got our "gutter guards" yet.  Somehow the money just keeps on running out and spending itself on other things.  We might have to write a list and start prioritising.

Tristan is still doing scouts, he's gotten his Gold Boomerang now, so he's working on his grey wolf award.

Kaelan started high school this year and surprisingly, he's loving it.  Of course, the fact that he's got to have an iPad is helping I'm sure.  I haven't seen any schoolwork done on the iPad but it's been doing an awful lot of "minecraft".

Christmas 2012
We didn't exactly have a proper Christmas last year because Paul was in hospital and we were waiting for him to get better. That said, we did open presents on the day and the boys got spoilt as usual.

In case you were wondering, yes, Kaelan does still find Christmas exciting...
We also went to Maree's place over Christmas.

New Year's Eve 2013
This was much better. We went out on Pa's boat at Gosford and watched the fireworks.


We had perfect weather, clear skies, a very warm day and a very clear night. The fireworks were awesome. I think mum got upset with something that Kaelan was yelling out at another boat but I can't remember what it was. Something about not throwing rubbish overboard.


Coming back was good too though dad got a bit lost in the dark. (I think a lot of people did).  Reminder to self: GPS for the boat might be a good present.


A Trip to Port Stephens
In January 2013, we took a trip up to Port Stephens - and we took Fudge with us. It was a good trip although the drive itself was nightmarish because the canoe which was "tied" to the top of the car kept having different ideas about where it wanted to go.  We had to stop and re-tie it several times (in Boiling sunshine on the way up and pouring rain on the way back). I don't think Jo or I were happy campers during the drive.

We also had a pretty nasty experience with the people we booked accomodation with because we rang them and said we'd be there in 5 minutes.  They said that they close at 5 and that they may or may not be there.  We arrived at 4:59 and they were already closed - and they charged us extra to get a security guy to come back and open up for us.  We bitched about it though and got our money back.

The stay itself was great though and Fudge particularly liked taking walks down to the beach.  The sand there was full of soldier crabs which Kaelan and Tristan loved digging up. Of course, the second they dug one up, Fudge would come over and gulp it down.  It's a wonder he wasn't sick from all the seafood.



We had a lot of fun up there, went to see the Hobbit (first Movie), went to Fighter World at Williamtown and visited a very cute farm. The farm had baby emus, goats, sheep etc.  Jo and the kids had a great time feeding them (they were very hungry). They had a free train that went around the farm and while we were there one of the baby goats tried to cross the tracks between carriages. Amazingly it survived without injury.

Another thing we did while we were up there was feed sharks. We all had to wear wetsuits - getting into which was the hardest bit.  Kaelan had a meltdown but it was a bit funny because he was stuck half in his wetsuit and bent over due to excessive elasticity. We had to carry buckets of prawns and sticks with pegs on the end. They told us to attach a prawn to the stick and dangle it in front of the sharks.

They said that they didn't want the sharks to eat too much so the wouldn't give us many prawns.  The idea was that we had to "tease" the sharks to where we could pet them.  The phrase; "it won't bite you if you don't annoy it" leaps to mind.  In any case, the kids were far more frightened of the cold water than the things that swam in it.

Yes, this is yours truly in the cold water feeding the little pillow things (manta rays).
The kids had a ride on a Ghost train while we were up there (at Port Stephens, not in the fish place) too. They looked very cute in their little car together.


Finally, we spent a couple of days on waterslides up there.  The first day we didn't do a whole lot of sliding because it was a super-hot day and the hundred plus steps up to the top were all unshaded metal.  I think we took several layers of skin off our feet - not to mention the fact that I fell over twice hurrying to the slippery top. The second day was better because it was much shadier - and the crowds were gone.


More adventures to come as I catch up on all the things I haven't written about in the last six months.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The November 2012 Update


So, our hectic life goes on and we live in the spaces between work, scouts, school and washing.

Fudge the Dog
Fudge is settling in now although sadly after several months of silence he's started to bark. I think it's mainly the summer activity (more people walking up and down the street at night) that's driving him wild.  We also know that there's a few possums about because Kaelan caught a baby walking along the top of the fence and held onto its tail.

Otherwise, Fudge is doing well. He's developed a habit of sleeping in pot plants which is a bit of a pain and one day we came home to find our good garden hose in little bits but on the plus side he's (slightly) less hypo.

Scouts and Stuff
Kaelan is doing well in scouts and has settled into the group finally. He's enjoying it quite a bit but did manage to get himself into big trouble crossing a road a few weeks back.  He's missing out on a camp for that one.  Tristan's doing well in cubs too, he's got his silver boomerang and is now working on his Gold.

Minecraft
The boys latest obsession is minecraft. It's painful. Every single conversation we have at home involves minecraft. They're masters of conversational redirection.  "How was school today Kaelan?"  "Good, there's this boy in my class and he likes Minecraft and he built a village ...."   Arrrgh!

Joanne and Work
Well, the exciting news is that Joey is back in the workforce - and that means that we can afford to get things done (like gutter guards).  It's so good to be able to come home and hear "I just want to stay home" instead of "I've been here all week and I just want to get out!".  So many of my old arguments are coming true and I can't help but smirk a little.

Weather and Stuff
The Sydney weather continues to improve and it looks like we're in for a good summer (last summer sucked).  We've already been in the pool a few times (and by some miracle it's stayed clean).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Letter to My Wife of 15 Years


Dear Joanne,

You have been such a big part of my life for almost as long as I can remember.

You have been my wife for 15 years, my love for 25 and my friend for 28. I just want to say how much it means to me that you have had the love, understanding, trust, acceptance, tolerance and tenacity to stand by me all these years and to say once again, just how much I love you and how much you mean to me.

Neither of us are perfect but I love you for your faults, not in spite of them. Far from driving us apart, our differences have made us truly understand each other's points of view, our feelings and our challenges. Together we have become so much greater as a couple than we could ever have been by ourselves.

I feel so blessed to have you in my life and I know that I am a much better person as a result. Your shining examples of compassion, generosity, empathy and love are a wonder to me which at times leave me truly gob-smacked and cause me to re-evaluate my life in your terms just to become a little better. There are so many things that I do now, which others appreciate but which I would never have learned if it wasn't for you. You compliment me and improve me in so many ways and every day that we have together simply adds to the love and appreciation that I have for you.

I am so grateful to have met someone who values the commitment of marriage and the compromises required as much as you do. Our road hasn't always been smooth but we have worked hard to make it the best journey that anyone could ever make.

I know that I'm not always the easiest person to live with and that I don't always show you the love, appreciation and respect that you deserve.

I will try harder, my love.

You paint the canvas of my life with colours of such joy and happiness that you are worth every effort on my part.

I look forward to what the next 15 years and beyond will bring to our love which has already spanned a quarter of a century.

Your loving husband, always.

Gavin.

--

I can remember sitting in a cinema with my mates feeling very depressed because we'd broken up. This song came on and all I could think about was you. I was so grateful for the dark because at least they couldn't (I hoped) see me crying and I decided there and then that I would get you  back and that this song would play at our wedding.  At the time, I didn't know who sung it - only that it changed my life.

Watching you walking down the aisle to this song on our wedding day was a dream come true.

Thank you.


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Farewell Chewie

Last weekend, we had the sad duty to farewell Chewie, our longest serving guinea pig.  Chewie entered our lives in April 2010 and although she outlasted one companion, we suspect that it was a scrap with her two new ones which ended her life.

Chewie was the most tame of our guinea pigs and it was always a pleasure to come home to her squeals and standing on her hind legs begging for grass.  She got on really well with panda and they used to exchange nose-to-nose greetings.  Panda would give her a quick lick on the nose.  She quickly learned to be wary of fudge though because after a surprise first lick she discovered just how long and powerful his tongue was.

Chewie took sick on Thursday night and although we tried to make her better (and for a little while we seemed to be having some success), she slipped away sometime on Saturday night.

Kaelan did the honours and buried her.

Goodbye Chewie, we'll miss you but you won't be forgotten.