Dec 30, 2011

Aussie Christmas 2011

Aussie Christmas 2011 So here we are, having our Christmas Barbecue.

Eloise was up bright and early and has rationalised the Spring Hill Santa Claus Busting, and so was delighted that the real Santa, not some cheapskate imposter, had been and eaten his mince pie (yum yum) and Rudolph had clearly enjoyed the carrot.

And, what joy! They had left her a skateboard and the Rosa book she really really wanted.

The rest of us slowly moved into awakefulness and before terribly long we were breakfasting on muffins and poached eggs, and soon we were out on our Christmas Dog Walk which was quite hot.

It's kind of difficult to feel Christmassy when the sun's out and the temperature's in the high 20s, but we struggle through don't we.

So it was back to present opening and Eloise bagged a feast while the rest of us schadenfreudenly unpacked our adult quotas.

I thank you all for your kind gifts.

Especially Faye who afforded us a happy (and I use that word advisedly) hour or so on a star projector kit made from cardboard. Kind of the Ikea equivalent of a planetarium, only damn fiddly, and you have to make your own stars. With a pin. And we lost a bit.

Laters, we went out to the forest for a barbecue. We made Mum just around as we played football and frisbee.

At sunset we returned home, engorged. As is right.

Dec 24, 2011

Clear Springs Cottage

Clear Springs Cottage We have been away for a while.

After Nicole's graduation we decided to take a short break from the hurly-burly of urban life and go and hire a cottage in the countryside.

So we got this place down in New South Wales, near Byron Bay, which was nice, and not actually as far away as we thought.

And it had chickens. Which, given we have a girl and a dog, could go either of two ways.

Mrs Clever

Nicole has been studying for a little while for her Master's Degree in Being a Nurse. More specifically, being a Nurse Researcher.

She has had to write a dissertation and everything. Of course I'd like to take credit for the constructive comments and criticisms I made of her work as it progressed, but as it happens she didn't even ask me to proof-read it. And me with my finger on the pulse of grammatical rectitude and everything.

Anyhow I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Mrs Clever who now has two graduate degrees and a postgraduate degree under her belt.

I can take credit for making her attend her own graduation, as she didn't really want to, what with not being interested in standing up in front of a bunch of people and walking across a stage while dressed up in silly clothes - and who can blame her - but, you know, it's an occasion, isn't it.

So we toddled along and set through two hours of people standing up in front of a bunch of people and walking across a stage while dressed up in silly clothes, after some other people dressed up in slightly different silly clothes made dull speeches and before some other illustrious personage, also dressed in silly clothes, pontificated about something or other.

Luckily Eloise had to go to the toilet and so there was some respite.

Nicole was afraid of falling over, but she didn't. And she is now a Master of Advanced Nursing Practice. So good for her.

Dec 12, 2011

Christmas Cheer

Christmas Cheer Our hand was gently forced into putting up the Christmas Tree and bedecking it with lights and so on and so forth.

We'd previously attempted to buy and Advent Calendar. None was available without some sort of branded tie-in, so feeling that this somehow failed to capture the, you know, spiritual essence of Christmas, we refused to get one.

After all, when it comes to telling the story of the Nativity and all that, does Dora the Explorer really cut it? Or the Disney Princesses? Chuggington?

I mean I'm no Jesus-freak but really.

The Dreaded Carol Concert

We've been treated to spontaneous carol renditions at the dinner table for a while now as school-time rehearsals have been resonating in the proto-psyche.

The other day it was time to reap the fruits of the whirlwind as the class held their carol concert.

Punctual as ever I arrived just as things got underway so I found myself a little spot and pointed my camera in the general direction of the action as we were treated to Aussie Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Whotsit, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, etc.

It was nice.

And afterwards there was a slap-up buffet type thing. Nicole and Eloise had made some Banana Bread/Cake. It was a little crumbly. I had a few handfuls.

The Dreaded Dance Concert

And so, back to Dance School for us, for the Dreaded Dance Concert.

But with this school, no punishing schedule of rehearsals, costume fittings, photo-shoots, no outlay on tickets for the Queensland Conservatorium.

Just a simple concert at the Dance School.

Not that this was without its drawbacks: the room was big but the crowd was bigger, and there was no room to swing the proverbial cat behind the tape on the floor past which no member of the unsuspecting public could venture without fear of unspeakable injury.

But that was the only drawback really. The concert itself, in stark contrast to previous affairs which lasted for HOURS somewhere in the distance with kids dancing frankly not very well to rubbish music, indistinguishable from one another under layers of stage makeup, this was short with the kids right in front of us, and the dancing was actually OK! Less said about the music though, the better.

Oh, and Eloise got a "high merit" for her ballet exam too. From the Royal Academy of Ballet.

She took the sun away with her

Boat on a waning tide In the morning after school drop-off it was time for airport drop-off, with Mum away on some travels.

And do the weather drew in. As usual bad weather indicates a trip to the beach, though this was more to do with it being near the airport than anything.

Dec 10, 2011


Cultural Precinct, Brisbane It was Mum's birthday then, and not to be discouraged by her injury we frog-marched her from one thing to another.

In the morning, before school, we took breakfast at a local coffee shop and ate unusual things. I had toast with something or other on top, involving honey and some kind of non-cheesy cheese. There was probably salmon and such like things, though maybe not. Lots of coffee though.

Then we had a morning tea to attend at the school, in recognition of the parent helpers, such as our reasonably good selves.

In the afternoon there was dog walking to be done, though the leg conveniently needed to be rested.

In the evening we went out to West End and ate at a Tibetan Restaurant, though none of us chose Tibetan food. It wasn't bad though.

Still fighting off the jet lag, the Birthday Girl was in bed before too long.

We'd seen there was a Matisse exhibition going on. I looked it up on the Interweb and unfortunately "going on" was actually "going to be going on" but we decided to head down to town anyway and have a traipse around the Galleries and whatnot.

Modern Art, hey.

Dec 8, 2011

Inverted Visitor-Weather Correlation

The Path to the Beach I was expecting rain, protracted rain, for Mum's visit, but it was sun, sun, sun all the way, or at least for most of it, as far as Leg One was concerned.

Legs and liquid were however a theme. Legs, and the liquid that leaks from them.

We spent a couple of days trying to keep her awake, successfully as it turned out, by taking her to markets and feeding her with coffee, and making her ride bicycles.

She brought a child-sized violin. That was enough to keep the dead from their slumber.

We took her to the beach on a nicely sunny day and wandered up with the waves lapping at our feet. We gambolled, if that's the right word, in the surf, but Mother did not join us.

That day we were planning some sort of roast something and while "we" were cooking it the rest of "we" went to the playground for some play.

On the way back, on the bikes, a fateful decision for which I feel somewhat responsible, to take the shortcut home across the Oval (that's Australian for playing field, and it isn't oval), was made.

A chain of events was set in motion from which we could not back-pedal.

Eloise spoke of being tired. I held back to give her a push, and ended up saddled with her. Mum pushed on, unstoppable.

When we came to the "easement" (that's Australian for path) that connected the oval to our street, I observed the bike, prostrate and riderless.

I followed the trail of blood across the street to find dear old Mum sat down with red Mum-juice pulsing from a gashly gash on her shin.

Cutting a long story less long, Casualty: stitches: recalcitrance: bravery: stoicism: logistics. Not necessarily in that order.


Lovely weather though.

Dec 2, 2011

Swim Carnival

Things are coming to something of a culmination as far as the school year goes. The other day it was the end-of-year swim carnival for Year Ones, which involves a morning at the school pool, with a hundred and twenty kids swimming in a variety of events and at least that many parents and siblings observing. They should have warned me that I needed my ear protectors for the acoustic levels were challenging and somewhat enthusiastic.

It was a cloudy morning - initially - and Eloise rode to school in her swimming gear and we decamped to the pool as soon as we got to school. Pretty soon things got underway with the Freestyle events.

Events unfolded as follows: for each event an "Elite" event was held where kids who were selected by some means or other - some classes had time trials, others had kids who were already accomplished and members of the swim club - and then the remainder of the children did their thing in rapid-fire races.

Although Eloise isn't a bad swimmer there are several kids who are really very good in her class. One in particular, Lucy, is quite an amazing swimmer, and won every single race in every single stroke. Not only that but she broke every single record there was to break. Quite phenomenal. I don't recall the exact timings, but she completed a 25m freestyle in less that some small number of seconds and left the rest for dust.

Eloise's race came around. At swim school she'd just about got the freestyle looking good the previous week, keeping her body reasonably straight and her arms were getting less windmill-like. The only fly in the ointment really was that she'd lost her goggles and her hat somewhere between, well, somewhere and there. I procured some goggles on a temporary basis; she scored a free hat. Winner.

You can see the events as they unfolded. You'll notice the pause at the finish, where she thinks she's reached the end but hasn't. That's what 2nd place turning to 3rd place looks like. That's silver turning into bronze.

Anyway she did creditable on the backstroke, 4th place of 6, and skipped the breast stroke and the butterfly. They did request that only kids who could actually do the butterfly try it. Frankly I was kind of looking forward to the 25m flail.

Whilst all this was happening the sun came out and my skin turned pink.