Category: Family (Page 1 of 9)

When the moon hits your eye…

For their second last night in Australia (and final night with us) Small Brother and his Canadian surpassed themselves – she made us SIX different kinds of pizza with a crust that she said failed but that ridiculously impressed us. He (and I almost hesitate to type it) whipped up some dark chocolate mousse. From scratch. (Never underestimate the power of a woman – and never underestimate how long it takes to make egg whites peaky.)

Drawing in flour.
Small Brother, whisk in hand.
pizza wonderland
Small Brother's Chocolate Mousse!
Kitchen window, night sky.

M and I were at somewhat of a loss. We drank their wine, ate their awesome food and then tried to sit on them so they wouldn’t attempt to clean up. It was so lovely. In the morning I went off to pottery, and when I got back we met them briefly for an iced coffee in Balnarring before they disappeared to say farewell to other parts of the family.

I hate those goodbyes. Really hate them. And I don’t envy them having to fly a billion hours to get back to a cold and dark wintery New York city. Come back soon….

Dresses. Balnarring playground.

Sure am… Shoreham.

After work on Wednesday I took the train home, watered the garden, looked at the place where the caravan is usually parked, gathered supplies, went and bought some beer and then drove M’s car to Shoreham. He was there with the Smalls. It was our first homeschooling camp.

Organised by the Peninsula WildThings, with whom I try to hang out most Mondays – we knew a few of the families there. I was unfamiliar with the campground – although it’s only about ten minutes past our usual haunt (Point Leo) it is utterly different. There are lots of trees and scrub, which provided us with some much needed shade. The beach itself is not as lovely and the tide was huge each day…

We stayed for three nights – tacking on the third when Small Z pleaded for an extra one. She had so much fun – we didn’t see her for hours at a time – she was off running with a pack of kids playing ‘cops and robbers’ and ‘hide and seek’. Two sisters and their five-year-old cousin practiced their violin at us for two mornings in a row – oh! How I would LOVE to learn the violin. And do you know what? If I’d taken that wish seriously for all the years I’ve had it – I’d be a bloody virtuoso by now. (Back in about 2001 I borrow my friends violin for a YEAR and barely touched it because each time I tried to play, it was so awful that my teeth hurt.)

On this occasion I asked if I could have a go, and was instructed by one of the girls in a way that was so clear and simple, that I could play ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ after about three minutes!! I was, it appears, rather proud of myself. The violin is different to piano and (mostly) guitar – to me it sings a melody. It makes me want to get up and dance, regardless of whether there is singing accompanying it….

Enough of the violin. I digress. The first night there a HUGE thunderstorm hit at about 4am. SO. VERY. LOUD. Poor Small DB bore it very bravely, but after about 20 minutes she said politely, “I’d like to go home now please. Take me home.” She and I stayed awake for the rest of the day…and the day was looooong.

Our stay was somewhat fraught by the fact that I am an anal and vigilant packer of the caravan. This was the first time that M had taken the caravan and the Smalls on his own. His packing practices differ wildly from my own. And this was stressful. Which is where I will leave it – besides offering a pledge to the Interweb…

I will do my very best to furnish the caravan with all that is required for a camping trip so that this situation is never repeated.

Got it? So we had to dash home a few times…also to look after our chickens, who didn’t seem to care. That’s one of the good things about camping 20 minutes from home. Small Z was able to attend her sewing class (which deserves a whole other post) and other kids were able to attend their own odds and sods.

We were at the beach every day. M had hung up one of our rope swings outside the caravan and it became a kid hang-out – the only time there was no kid spinning on that thing was after bedtime. Sand was everywhere, so was dirt – we were all pretty happy.

The funniest thing was…that M and I were BOGANS. Yes. Amongst all our friends were are probably referred to as hippies, even if just for the fact that we strive desperately to avoid full-time work, don’t have a television and are now (kind of officially) homeschooling our kid.

So it was an odd (and kind of delightful) feeling to be amongst people who had never fed their children sugar, were gluten and dairy free (by choice rather than necessity) and did not appear to drink tea or coffee. Nor could I tempt them with my non-organic wine (which would have been more joyful if I had had any ice to cool it down with).

Suddenly, We-The-Hippies had become mainstreaming bogans. I write as if everyone there was like this – I’m sure they weren’t. But the people that we hung out with? Most of them buy five or six things from the supermarket a week – and get the rest of everything via organic food co-ops and growing their own produce.
It was refreshing – and illicitly thrilling, to have the shoe on the other foot. And it made me realising what an ingrained habit offering people a cup of tea has become. M did find someone to share some coffee with

…and the fruit…?

One morning M had dashed home to shave and shower (don’t ask, I didn’t, I just got the Smalls breakfast all sorted on my own while he lathered away in his own sweet time…) and came back soft-of-chin with a big bunch of grapes. In concession to our friends, he even washed them…

I almost choked, as he put them down, still glistening, in a bowl on the picnic rug – where there was much colouring-in and arty stuff going on. He did it with all the kindness in the world, and I could tell he was happy with himself for being so thoughtful…

I could also feel the eyes of the kids on those grapes, and the shocked silent inhalations of their mothers. Bloated, insecticide soaked mainstreaming supermarket grapes. “Three grapes,” I heard someone tell their child, “Just three…”

In the end someone asked M to put them away in the caravan, as it was proving too difficult to keep the kids away from them. I’m sure the Smalls ingested half the bowl. In a perfect (and moneyed) world of course I would buy organic everything – but where we are at right now…we would rather have mainstreaming grapes than none at all…

I am feeling slightly more affinity for the bogans that live nearby in our street. Slightly. I don’t think I’ll graduate to having a recycle bin full of plastic-bagged McDonalds leftovers and a big stupid dog in a too-small backyard, but…yunno…I had a taste of what it might be like…

Hot Fuss

This past week has been one of those times that will be referred to in the future as ‘The Heatwave of 2013″. Exhausting, beating heat that has barely been relieved by nightfall. We endeavoured to go to the beach after dinner most nights to cool off – so much for my grand plans to attain some sort of revision to the Smalls sleep habits. That will just have to wait another week or so until the end of daylight savings means Something Must Give (probably me).

Small Brother arrived unexpectedly in the midst of the hotness straight out of snowy New York. He appears to be coping thus far and is here until the weekend before departing back to New York (for three hours) and then on to Brazil.

Yesterday he parked himself in the loungeroom and worked on his laptop. He was lucky enough to witness:
– Quiet Playing: wherein the Smalls play together with a minimum of supervision and disaster
– The Determined Awakeness of Zombie DB: resulting M arguing with me about how to make her sleep, ending in me walking her slowly down the street in my arms in 36 degree heat until she could resist it no longer
– The Meltdown: (in both senses) of Small DB awakening after not enough sleep in a puddle of sweat
– Grumpy M: nothing he hasn’t seen before, but undoubtedly reassures him that nothing has changed since the time he lived with us in Seddon for a year.

After the Smalls dinner we all went to Balnarring beach – not my favourite destination, but we met some friends there and splashed around a bit. Having an extra person – an extra bit of family is just lovely. Small Brother took Small DB to look at a duck and make sandcastles, while I got to swim unencumbered with M and Small Z.

We got home to a house like a third rate horror film – the neighbours were out on the street. Everyone’s electricity was flickering on and off. Excitable M went and busted out the camping gas lamp. Small Brother went on a bottle shop run. The Smalls went on sleepstrike until 10pm…

We slept last night in a house full of warm soup. This morning a breeze came through to stir the air a little, but it wasn’t until about 10am that there was a proper cool change… Blessed relief. Small Brother disappeared back to Loch and I spent the day in the office.

No more hot days for a while, please.

Happy Birthday M! The big FIVE ONE!

No weekend extravaganza this year. A quiet day. I took the Smalls to the op-shop yesterday and they were allowed to pick whatever they wanted that they thought M might appreciate. It was slightly hysterical. Small Z chose a respectable cup with the word COFFEE on it – singularly appropriate. Small DB, on the other hand selected quite a nice silver picture frame and a small glass bowl.

The picture frame had the picture of some kid in it, and she wouldn’t let me remove it.

“Oh please DB, dadda would love to have a picture of YOU in there! Let me take it out?”


“But dadda doesn’t even know who that kid is…what if we put a picture of you and Zoe in there? It would be really cute!”



By then she was shouting. “NO! I like it. It is mine. It is very sthpecial to me.”

I couldn’t argue with that. Sadly.

Yesterday we wrapped our presents and made our cards. I made M a chocolate mud cake, having heard him mention one wistfully a few weeks ago. Our oven is so unpredictable that I was very careful…it took more than TWO HOURS to cook. It was great, but I think it ended up a bit too dry.

This morning we did presents and I made M a cafe breakfast of backyard eggs and a pile of free range bacon… (the hens haven’t been laying a lot lately and I’d used up four eggs in his cake, so the Smalls and I had…porridge).

I made M another photobook – I know he likes them, and they are lovely to have a record of the past year. But…I am behind. So I gave him the pictorial version of 2011… And 2012 will follow before June (when my photobook voucher runs out). You can have a look here… My mum and TD arrived a little later and embarked on Easter Activities with the Smalls. M and I went for a drive to Balnarring and then on to Somers General Store and had a fantastic lunch…

Happy Birthday M!!!

Then we went for a walk along the beach. We both found the absence of Smalls somewhat exhilarating. “Look!” I said to M, “I can walk as fast as I want to and no one is grabbing at me, wanting to be carried. No one is asking me to slow down!” M agreed. He had noticed too…

Somers Beach - M and I taking an extremely rare kidfree walk... #birthday #beach #friday #us

We got home and I prettied up the cake (that had been hidden in the bottom of the laundry basket) with chocolate ganache, strawberries, vanilla sugar and candles…. TD cracked some champagne… and there was singing. I’d forgotten how much Small DB loves a birthday!!

Small DB helps M to kill those candles

There was a bit of French cricket in the front garden, a dinner of homemade gnocchi with pesto and tomatoes from the garden and then M took his Smalls in the bike trailer off for a ride down to the boat ramp.

A good day. 🙂

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