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The Family Bandwagon

Our family is spread out across the country and across the world, and what better way to keep in touch than a collaborative digital journal?

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

From the Madhouse

I can't believe it was October last time I did this, time has flown. My contract with St Luke's as a HIPPY Parent Tutor finished with our Age 5 Graduation in November. Since then I've got another casual position, this time with Goodstart Early Learning, there are 5 centres in Bendigo and I've said I'm happy to work at any of them, though the Strath one is pretty far out from here. I've taken in my paperwork now waiting for the rest of the process to be finished. They don't expect me to work through the holidays as they know I'm a single mum, but all being good the option could be there in future. After talking to the acting centre director I also decided to apply to do Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care at Tafe. I got my acceptance letter and enrol in January - Woot! Between those 2 things I hope Centrelink will be happy and leave me alone for 18 months, when Daria turns 8 I go from Parenting Payment Single to Newstart Allowance and there's a bit of a difference in the payment. I think the difference is/was around $120 a fortnight, which is ridiculous, but hopefully I'm able to be working more and it won't affect me too badly.

In other news, the girls both did really well at school, they are both excellent readers which is no surprise. Daria also did really well in LOTE, she's good at sports (PMP) too. Next year Trinity has her prep teacher, who was also Daria and Oscar's teacher this year - Mrs Manley. She's in a grade 3/4 class. Daria goes into a 1/2 I think, with Mrs Pally, and Oscar is in the same class too.

It's New Year's Eve and the girls are looking forward to going over to Adam and Connor's (Danielle and Darren's) where we're having pizza for tea and playing board games. If the kids stay up we can walk up the hill to watch the fireworks in Rosi Park. Last year they were up until 3am, so we'll see how they go this year. I hope everyone has a great night and we'll chat to you all in 2015.


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Back on the Bandwagon

We spent yesterday in Blackpool - a tacky seaside town in North West England. Back in the 60s & 70s it was the place to go on your holidays..  Now it's the place to go for your bucks or hen party.. Not that we saw any of that kind of group (not surprising on a Sunday).

We arrived just in time for the Santa bike ride along the sea front - the road was closed to cars so that hundreds of people could take part safely. There were baby Santas and child Santas, male Santas and female Santas, Santas of all shapes and sizes - all dressed in red suits and riding bicycles. What a sight!

Other than the beach front and a couple of piers, the town is full of souvenir shops (rock anyone?) and amusement arcades.  The arcades are fun - there are a whole bunch of grabber machines ("the claw") and 2p slot machines (drop in a coin, it rolls to the back and, if you're lucky, causes a chain reaction that knocks coins, and prizes, off the pile at the front of the machine).  Our £1 on the slots lasted ages, and we even won a little, plastic, yellow bunny-thing! We didn't win anything on the grabber machines and neither did Gwen or John.

After a cafe lunch, we checked out a few of the post-Xmas sales... Bruce and Gwen both found new shoes. By the time we finished in the shops, the street lights were on (it's dark by 4pm!) so we wandered along the esplanade and took some photos. Without the sun, the temperature plummeted, so it wasn't long before we were back in the car and on the way back to the hotel in Wigan.

We've got three nights away with B's folks (part of their Xmas present from us), the hotel is kinda dodgy but it's somewhere different and we're able to do day trips.

Christmas day already feels like a long time ago! It was fairly relaxed - we didn't do anything much; ate, gave presents, opened presents, and watched tv. I feel really spoilt by my gifts - I got jewellery, toiletries, jumpers, books and a Tetris lamp. A big thank you for our presents (mum and Nana, I'll collect my merino jumper from the shops next week). :-)

Today we've explored Skipton Castle - well worth a look if you're nearby.

Tomorrow B & I head to Scotland - we've got a few days visiting Vicki & Steven in Oban. Got to make the most of these holidays!

Your turn.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Gordon St Gossip

Update from us - we've had a bit of a busy weekend.

So speedy!
Saturday I taught Iaido from 9:30 - 11. The kids are doing well - Trin especially seems to be picking it up really well. She brought her friend Talia along, and while I was expecting some nuttiness from her she actually also did fantastically. Right now I'm thinking of doing set terms (eg. sign up and pay for the whole term at the start) for 7 - 12 year olds, with a mini-grading and certificate at the end, but I'll have to check all that by Shihan and see what he thinks, since it's different to how the senior classes are run.

Lily picked the design
Then it was off to a joint birthday party for the kids' friends Archer (5) and Alexis (1). It was superhero themed - Os dressed as Batman, and Lily, not one to be constrained by societal expectations, dressed as a Ballerina. Possibly a Super Princess Ballerina :) She also had her face painted for the first time ever.

They had an awesome time, especially in the balloon-filled trampoline which you can see in the background of that pic of Ossie. Cheryl has put some photos up on Facebook if you want to see more.

Pumpkin pies! Okay tarts maybe
We got home around 3, and then cooked up some pumpkin and sweet potato as our contribution to the inaugural annual event "Friendsgiving" :) A bunch of us got together to eat turkey, potatoes and the like, and it was great. Everyone brought a dish, there were mini pumpkin pies, the kids ran around madly (hopefully running off that birthday sugar).

After a Saturday like that we took Sunday very easy, although we finally managed to get out and catch up with Mum.

So that's us :)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Time flies!

I've missed many weeks again - oops! And lately we haven't really been up to much.. I've scheduled in some office days and days in lieu to try to get work back under control, but I'm away now until Monday week!

The last two days I've been at a schools event at the Wales GB Rally. Fortunately, B and the Materials Live team were at the same event so we stayed in the same hotel and had meals together.

This weekend we're at John & Gwen's (currently heading to Bridgnorth to the markets) and then I'm in North Wales for all of next week and B will be heading back home on the train on Sunday.

Really cold weather here lately. I'm in two coats today!

I know I need to write an update about our short break, but right now there are markets to explore!

*hugz* to all,

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Christmas is coming

OK family,
Time for some planning.

I've checked out the season tickets at the outdoor pools here.Would Damien, Cheryl and family like that (or the cost of that) as their Christmas present from me? I know all of the children have too many toys but no doubt still have toys they's like to get for Christmas. If not the swimming tickets, suggestions please.Would swimming lessons for Oscar work?

Lisa the same idea for you, You can get the tickets $40 cheaper than D&C but I'd need to find something for Carolynn separate to the rest of you Would you like that or would Jared like a ticket for himself. When is he likely to move to Swan Hill? Maybe money is what he needs the most. I wondered about swimming lessons (Vic Swim ) for the girls. Let me know what you think as you'd have to get them to the lessons.

Glenn and Dee, Glad to hear Jules is doing swimming lessons. Also looking for ideas for all of you.
Dee, Mum and I will put money in the bank account for your birthday.
Well done on tackling a fun??run(I don't think a run could ever be fun) I'll check out donating to that for your efforts.
Happy to put money in your account for Christmas and you choose your gifts, since I understand Trish is coming to spend Christmas with you.

Dayna and Bruce,
Money in the Australian account for you two so you can choose your gifts when you come and visit, I still haven't booked to come to you in 2015 but that's the plan if it works for you. Probably July/August so I'm there for the birthday unless you have plans of not being in the country round then. Should be home again this Sunday so hope to catch up on a hangout.

Better be some response to this post.Love, Mum

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Buick again

How come it's November already. Where are all the posts?
Len rang to say that the man who wanted to buy the Buick is ill with pneumonia and his family don't want him worrying about getting it so it's back on the market. I haven't rung Geoff who was interested but wouldn't  make an offer. Len has volunteered to advertise it in his name and vet all potential purchasers. He has also said he'll come and help me see if we can find any of the bits that aren't attached.
He's coming on Monday for a chat. His trip to the base camp on Everest was also challenging. He had very bad altitude sickness and then diarrhoe,  so has lost 8 kilos in a couple of weeks.An experience but not necessarily a pleasant one.He had two weeks off work to recover from his holiday.
Sorry to have missed the Skype chats. I think I'll be home this Sunday.I'll try to check on line. I had Nana here for tea last Sunday with Clive, Carolynn and Jarrod.
Last night after the dance (only 9.30) Clive and I joined some other couples for a senior's coffee at Maccas. Good fun.and close to where the other two ladies live as well as close to Clive's.
My printer suddenly wouldn't work but fingers crossed it seems to be OK now if a bit slow. Seemed like something to do with the WIFI.
Off to Yarrawonga on a bus trip next week(Tuesday to Thursday ) so hope to catch up with Val and Peter.
Love from Mum

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Church St Cruising

Sunday already and we've been back almost a week. I did get some photos up on FB of the cruise.
We had a great time. No problem getting down by train and then to the port (thanks to Clive knowing where to find the 109 tram. )Next time I'll borrow Denise's case again. The one I had was just a bit too big.
Loved being waited on at meal times. We did use the stairs but also indulged in the many yummy temptations so have three or four kilos each to lose. I swam in both pools on the ship as well as in the ocean at five of our stops. Loved Mystery Island and Ile de Pins. Found a top as a souvenir at Lifou that I wore several times and had many compliments on. I plan to make a photo book or a calendar with more photos.
On Mystery Island in my useful top.

In the Atrium at the centre of the ship on our last day.

The Ultimate deck party

Testing the pool. I enjoyed the water..

This week since returning I've watered. The weather here is even warmer than it was on the cruise.Thanks to Lisa and Carolynn watering so my tomatoes plants are looking healthy, I have some lettuce coming up and some pumpkins have appeared with the tomatoes (but not where I planted them.)Today we went to Melbourne to celebrate Arnold's 80th and Allen's 50th. The families have grown up so much since I saw them last.We had a lovely afternoon.
Snorkelling at Vila from the glass bottomed boat.

 Saturday I went to Denise's for lunch and to meet Ryan. He is a beautiful baby and very placid.Just eleven weeks old now.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Bye bye Lemony, hello new car!

We bought a new car today.  It's a 2010 Toyota Camry Altise. The asking price was $18k but we traded in our old 97 Corolla ("Lemony") and talked them down to $17k plus a service and, as Rach insisted, "a full tank of gas".

It's ex-fleet, with low kms (45,000) and has been really well maintained. We got a UV coating on the windows too. I'll be honest - coming from a 97 car (and the Laser before that) I'm just impressed by central locking and a cd player ;)

I reckon we first started thinking about buying a new car not long after Lil was born (possibly just before actually) so it's taken well over 3 years of saving to get there. Of course a move interstate in the middle of that didn't help.

Here's hoping this new one makes it 30 years or so like Lemony has done :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

From the Madhouse

School and work went back on October 6th... My first week was about contacting families to welcome them back, Age 4 group on the 7th so the Age 5 tutors look after the children while their parents do their thing. Training for our last book on Wednesday. Age 5s do 15 books in total, one a fortnight during school terms. I still shop with Tania on Thursdays and have Fridays to myself, usually to attempt housework. That first weekend was a bit of a killer - Iaido at 9.30am, then I took the girls to the Marketplace and bought Daria a skeleton costume from Big W. I actually needed milk so was going to Safeway too, but ended up with 2 bags of groceries as well - that always happens. Around 11.30am I walked to the community centre to meet a friend and help her with her daughter's party. She doesn't have family support so a couple of us stepped in. I was there until 3.30pm, we left the venue tidy :)

Saturday night was a 40th for another friend, Jared babysat for me and Carolynn babysat for the friend I helped earlier. We went to the New China restaurant, it was a great night, even if I had to leave early-ish because we had an early start Sunday morning. Trinity's cali team competed in Melbourne. The comp started at 9.30am but we had to be there 45 minutes earlier. We managed to leave home at 6.15am, Jared drove most of the way but Carolynn took over once we got to Melbourne. The girls performed really well, between our 2 teams of Sub-Juniors they won aggregate with 2 firsts, 1 second and 2 thirds. The competition finished and we headed to Highpoint shopping centre. Damien and Cheryl were there and we met up twice. Once at Toyworld and again in the food court. We left around 4.30pm, everyone was exhausted, Carolynn drove home. Needless to say it was Maccas for tea when we got home after 6pm.

I got to work Monday feeling a bit brain-dead, but only had one home visit anyway. We decided to have one last group meeting before our Age 5s graduate. Tuesday and Wednesday were home visit days for me, leaving me with 2 families to catch up with before we finish. Thursday, shopping, I found a pair of pinstripe pants on the 20c rack at the op shop that I hope to use for Trinity's Jack Skellington costume. Wish me luck! Friday was my job network appointment and I got some info about incentives for employers to put me on for 15 hours a week. I'm working on updating my CV - I might need luck for that as well.

Saturday just gone was another comp, this time in Shepparton. The girls performed well but were up against strong competition and came third over-all. Jared didn't come with us this time, though we didn't need to leave until around 9.30am to get there by 11.45am, it started at 12.30pm. A much better time for making a day trip! We got home around 5.30pm and went to Maccas - a bit of a tradition for calisthenics competitions for us. I took Jared to Jake's Sunday morning and he spent the day with them at Kangaroo Lake speed-boating, until the steering in the boat broke and they headed home. The girls and I went shopping and had chips and gravy - such an unhealthy weekend.

Monday and Tuesday we've been back to school and work. Tomorrow is Multi-cultural day at Speci Hill. Thursday Trinity is going on a "remembering Bendigo" excursion - they're going to White Hills cemetary, the Joss House, the Chinese Museum and the Gold Mine. Friday Daria and Oscar go to Melbourne Zoo with their class. Busy, busy, busy :)

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Gordon St Gossip

Hey guys, I thought I'd ask each person to explain what they've done in the last couple of weeks, and transcribe their responses.

I've been to school and went to a birthday party today. I tried to build Lord Business. I like building new things. School is good and bad. Playing with my friends is good, but it's too long which is bad. I like playing with Daria, Zara, Talia, Paw, Zoe and Adam.

I got a lot of new clothes from my friend Sophie. I like the dresses best. I go to the library and sing songs and dance. It's so fun! I planted seeds yesterday. I dug holes and put the seeds in. They will grow into flowers.

I started another Iaido class on Saturdays - a 30 minute test kids class with Daria, Trin and two of their friends (Os didn't want to do it) followed by a 1 hour class for students who can't make the Tuesdays. I'll trial it until the end of the year and decide whether to keep it going next year.
Apart from that I've been working and riding.

I took Os and Lil to a Children's Week Family Day in the mall yesterday. The kids had a great time - Lil hugged someone dressed as a dog :) Lil wanted to get her face painted but we didn't have time.
I'm still doing Pilates every Friday - we recently changed my program. My legs are sore!
I'll be getting my hair cut soon, and donating it to "Beautiful Lengths" through Pantene - they make free wigs for cancer patients.

Meow. Meow meow meow. Mew.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Hop Across the Pond - Toronto

We really should finish talking about our last holiday before we go on our next one..  So I'm writing the final instalment as Bruce drives us to Gatwick airport.

This week is a little shorter than the last, but not by much because my work week started on Sunday! I ran a networking and training session in Swansea for people who want to do chemistry outreach. Stayed the night in Swansea (B joined me after his folks went home) and then headed to Aberystwyth on Monday to help train some new SIAS demonstrators. After the evening session, I drove eastwards, stayed in a random b&b (i think I was the only guest!) and found my way to Gregynog on Tuesday morning for the Mid Wales Top of the Bench chemistry competition. I arrived home just before 7pm Tuesday night and was up early to reform the hire car before my Train the Trainer course yesterday. Phew! I'm really in need of this holiday - even if it's only four days away!
But before that, the final step from our  North American trip...


The flight from Montreal to Toronto was lovely - it was early afternoon, a small plane, friendly staff and they gave us drinks and snacks (I had vodka and chocolate, B had beer and crisps). It took us a while to figure out the transport system (their 'weekly' ticket is only valid from Monday) but eventually we found our apartment. After dinner from the burger place over the road, we popped into the Gyu bar for dessert and a cocktail. All the staff yell greetings when you arrive and farewells when you leave - Japanese-style. Was good fun.

Friday morning we headed to the Steam Whistle Brewery - they do great tours but you can't book before the day. We arrived at 10.30am and easily booked onto the first public tour and had a taste of the fare whilst waiting for it to start. The tour was great - possibly helped by the bottle of pilsner everyone got at the start. We learnt about the history of the company, saw the raw ingredients, watched the machines package everything, and I even got to blow the Steam Whistle (wooot). To top it all off, our tour came with free souvenir pint glasses - which made it back to Cardiff intact!
The rest of the day was similarly relaxing - lunch at a different Brewery (recommended by Steam Whistle staff as somewhere with good ales), wandered along the waterfront, explored the Museum of Enuit Art (once we found it.. It isn't the most obvious of museums!) and eventually we headed over to the CN Tower for dinner in the revolving restaurant.

We'd made our dinner reservations well before the holiday and i'm glad we had - our table was right beside the window and the whole evening was incredible. We ate tasty food whilst watching the sun set over Toronto. And then by the time dessert arrived, a storm had too, complete with lightning! Spectacular! We had had such a good day that we didn't mind getting home in the rain!

We spent all of Saturday at Canada's Wonderland - a Fun Park full of roller coasters, rides, sideshows and children. We had a lot of fun. I think we got on every single coaster that was running! AND we had funnel cake (like a cross between a donut and a waffle.. As big as a plate and doused in icing sugar, strawberries and ice cream!) Yum!!  B & my "first date" was to Drayton Manor and we've been to lots of the Fun Parks in Britain...  But this was the first non-British one we've been to together! :-) We might have to try the  Queensland ones sometime. ;-)

We had tickets to the new Cirque du Soleil show on Sunday afternoon, so we wandered through some of the underground city (yes, just like Montreal.. But apparently bigger and less famous...  also mostly shut on Sundays), and then headed to the Distillery District. Although once home to a huge distillery and associated warehouses, the district is now full of trendy bars, restaurants and boutique shops (I bought a beautiful pair of boots). After lunch at the Oyster Bar (but not oysters!), we walked to the Grand Chapiteau for the show.

Kurios is AMAZING! We both really enjoyed it! It's the best Cirque show we've seen so far. Definitely recommend it! Was also really cool to see Cirque in their home country! We were buzzing all the way back to the apartment.

Since we were heading home to Cardiff on Monday and had a long flight ahead of us, we took it easy - packed, left the apartment and went back to the ale Brewery to relax. We sat overlooking the lake and enjoyed a pre-flight flight (the bar offered four mini beers as a "flight".. It was little more than a pint and you got to taste four of their beers).

And so ends our North American tale.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Happy birthday Glennji

I did this on the day but didn't get around to linking it on here..  But thanks to the beauty of "schedule post", it will look like I did! (once I get to a real computer and can add the link - just spent the last half hour trying to do it on the phone.. Bah!)

Happy birthday Glenn!

Here's a survey for you (that everyone should fill in)..

Hope you had a lovely day!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Hop Across the Pond - Montreal

I missed a post last week, work has been keeping me more than busy! This month is a bit insane for me.. I was working last Saturday (a teacher conference), had an evening event on Monday, drove to Bangor (North Wales) on Tuesday to run a workshop and attend a Local Section meeting, had to be in Brecon (mid-Wales) by 9.15am on Wednesday and then back to North Wales for a Skills event that ran for Wednesday evening and all day Thursday. I finally got home on Thursday night and after three very, very long days, I did very little yesterday!
If I'm lucky, then this map will show you where I've driven this week.

John & Gwen are visiting this weekend (it was Gwen's birthday earlier this week) and I'm working in Swansea tomorrow - but I'll keep that until next week. The bottom line is I'm spending way too much time working and need to find more 'life' balance.... somehow...

Anyway, time for the next installment (as the holiday fades in our memories)...


We didn't really have much of a plan for Montreal - we wanted to catch up with Max & Malika (I knew Max from Canberra) and we had a list of 'recommended activities' to do if we had the time and inclination. After the bustle of New York, it was really good to have a few days to just relax in this laid-back and arty city (check out some of the wall art - it was really cool and it's everywhere!).

Arrived in the afternoon and after finding our apartment, went for a very tasty vegetarian meal with Max & Malika. They gave us a whistle-stop tour of the area and pointed out a few things that we could do.

Monday (Labor Day)
Walked up many, many stairs to the top of the Mount to check out the views (along with everyone else who was visiting Montreal!). We found a new band playing one of the "Pianos publics" (pianos just left around the city for anyone to have a go at). Was pretty good but I've forgotten who they are - I think I have a business card for them somewhere. :-)

Descending the mountain, we wanted to check out the "Underground City" (a bunch of shopping centres joined by tunnels so locals can still shop during winter). Unfortunately, being a public holiday... nothing was open! :-( So we just wandered around downtown for a while. Had dinner with M&M again (they cooked very tasty BBQ salmon).

This was our 'culture' day - we headed down to Old Montreal, wandered around the Old Port for a while and then headed to the Pointe-à-Callière Museum to discover the history of Montreal. It was really interesting - but we spent so long wandering around the museum that we got a little tired... (told you that B could sleep anywhere!). Once we pepped up again, we learnt how to be a pirate, found out a little about Marco Polo and then continued exploring Old Montreal.

The Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica is incredible - the columns, paintings and altars inside are beautiful. But the Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur (Chapel of the Sacred Heart) is even better.. all carved out of wood! Such a lovely and calm place.

Decided to head to the islands - we started on Île Sainte-Hélène and Bruce walked on the Grand Prix track (oooOOOOoooh - it's used as a cycle track when it's 'off-season', so even taking a photo on the track was a little dangerous). We investigated the Biosphere, which was created for the 1967 World Fair Expo, took some photos and then relaxed in the park for the afternoon (I managed to write some postcards whilst B had a nap).

After relaxing, we decided to find Habitat 67, which was also created for the Expo. It looks incredible.. and the crazy box-shaped flats are now just people's homes! Unfortunately, Habitat 67 is on the other island, Île Notre-Dame and we decided to walk from there back to town... it's a LONG way! We got to a main road eventually and managed to get on a bus instead. Phew!

After a relaxed morning, we headed out to the airport for our short hop to Toronto.
Stay tuned for next-time..

p.s. Dee, I had to take this photo for you.. ;-)

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Church street cruising

This will be my last post for a couple of weeks. On Tuesday Clive and I are strolling down to the Eaglehawk station to go to Melbourne then to the Docks ready for our Island cruise. Getting excited now that I've finally packed. No internet access but I've given Mum the ship phone number in case of emergency. I hope Lisa and Carolynn will keep the garden watered. I've planted some tomato seedlings.Please pick and eat the snow peas.
All the lawns look tidy. Weathter here lately has been beautiful so I've packed for summer. I hope I'm not disappointed. We've booked a glass bottom boat tour and snorkelling in Vila for Glenn's birthday. We'll celebrate on your behalf Glenn. I'll be sending birthday wishes your way.
Keep fit and well all of you. Love from Mum.

From the Madhouse

And it's a hat trick from the Madhouse. That's definitely a record :)

So, our week. Monday, housework before heading to the indoor heated pool with the Parkers. Belinda, Tahlia, Ella and Josh. Jared came along to meet Jake, they ended up going for a bike ride and Jared stayed at Jake's the night. Both Trinity and Daria went down the water slide - first time for Daria. We ended up taking Tahlia home to get clothes, then she came home with us for a sleepover. We set up the foam mattress in the girls' room on the floor, lucky there was room!

I baked a cake for Damien Monday night and decorated it Tuesday morning. You'll have seen the TMNT cake on Facebook. We dropped over after lunch for cake and coffee, just a quick visit so Damien could get back to work.

Wednesday - October 1st! Carolynn and Jarrad came over and took the girls for a day of playing Disney Infinity 2.0. Now they want one LOL  Of course. While they were gone I got into the girls room and tried to make it tidy. Still things to sort out, but I got a photo. I picked up Daria from calisthenics and we went to Spotlight for a bit before picking Trinity up.

On Thursday we took a drive to Kyabram Fauna Park. Jared drove and we followed the Parkers. It's about an hour and a half, so similar to Ballarat. The kids had an absolute ball! They were a bit afraid of the emus that were wandering around, though Ella was very game and fed one. Since we were pretty close to Tatura we took a drive to visit my friend Natarsha - she's one of Carolynn's God parents, a friend from Uni. Tatura is about 30 minutes from Kyabram and just over an hour from Bendigo. Jared got a few hours up :)

I was going to spend Friday doing housework after taking Jared to catch a train to Melbourne at 8.30am to meet up with Scott. I really need to sort out my craft corner and my bedroom. Instead I got the kitchen tidied up before Julie-Anne asked if I wanted to take a coffee break and meet her at the Marketplace. I needed milk anyway so it sounded like a good plan. We had lunch and met her around 1.30pm. Mitchell and Daria couldn't sit still so we took a walk around Big W... for about 2 hours. By the time we were heading to Safeway for groceries it was after 4pm and Jared was on his way home from Melbourne. I figured I'd wait around instead of heading back in to pick him up (the Marketplace is right next to the train station after all). We had a look at Riot - the art and craft shop, and Jared met us at the car when he got in.

Daria wanted to catch up with her friend Adam so we took chicken, salad and bread rolls over there on Saturday for lunch. We ended up staying the whole afternoon, I'd gone shopping last year after Halloween and picked up heaps of clearance stuff. Danielle and Darren do Halloween, we went last year for a bit of a party and to hand out treats, not that there were many trick-or-treaters last year. So Danielle, with a little help from the kids, decorated the house. It was a gorgeous day! 25º! Of course we tried sending the kids out to play but they also spent time on the computers. In preparation for Halloween we watched Beetlejuice, I love that movie. Daria and Adam were busy outside for most of it, I don't think they saw it at all. Trinity and Connor were on the computer but saw bits of it. The girls were going to stay for a sleepover but Trinity changed her mind. After watching a couple of movies Darren called me and I went and picked her up around 11pm. We picked Daria up this morning (Sunday) and were there when Jared called to say mum had come over with the lawn mower. Jared mowed, mum did the dishes for me then tidied up the bookshelf while the mower cooled down then she went home with it. So - thanks mum :)

Back to school and work for us all tomorrow. It's been a fairly productive and yet fun 2 weeks, I think we've fitted in lots. Now it's back to the boring stuff LOL

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Bye Bye Buick

Today Len Thomas and two friends came to check out the Buick. They loved Les's shed and didn't think it was messy (but I know Les would have thought so).
Not yet sure if Len will buy it or his friends Les and Frank. If Len buys it, he'll pay Les to do the work to get it going. Either way, they said consider it sold for $10000. May be two unhappy wives about the decision especially as Les and his wife are selling their house in Gordon and downsizing.
Since I'm heading off on Tuesday and Len will be away from mid October to early November, it won't be gone for a while yet.
One down and I hope once the space is there, I'll get into the shed for more decluttering.
The Torana is on the market for $10000 as well if there's any interest out there. At least with Clive to drive, the Torana can get an occasional run.
Len took us all out to lunch afterwards so I have had an enjoyable day.
A man here donates his alpaca fleece to the Spinners and Weavers and he had dropped off this year's on Wednesday. bit of networking at the Stadium lunch and I had a visit from a lady interested in purchasing some alpaca. Now have $20 and four fleeces to take. Since we still had some of last years, I think that's good. I didn't have a chance to check with anyone else, so executive decision on the price.
My modelling at the Stadium was fun and I had a phone call to ask me to do more next Saturday for another group. Decided I am too busy at the moment, but would be available another time.
Tonight I dance at Eaglehawk and needed a plate so carrot cake (from a packet) is ready to go. Also made biscuits for my visitors which were well received. They loved Les's diary of working on the Buick as well.
Mowing was on my agenda too but I think that can wait until the weekend. Tomorrow is very full up.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Happy Birthday, Damo

We haven't put birthdays on here for a while.. let's start that up again too..


Hope you had a great day!

Hokushin Camp

As you probably all know, last weekend was the Hokushin Camp here in Bendigo. It's taken a lot of work, including a few last-minute surprises, to get it all ready, but in the end the weekend went off without a hitch. Even the weather was as kind as it could be.

Here's a breakdown of what happened.

Friday I cleaned out the car, grabbed the last of the groceries for the weekend (about $350 worth all up), kissed the family goodbye and headed out to Axedale. I was there at 2, got the keys, put away the food and gradually people started showing up.

We had three from New Zealand, a busload of South Australians, and 8 or so Melbourne guys and Joel from the ACT. Everyone paid their fees, found beds (except 4 of the Melbournites who were sleeping in swags under the stars) and we headed out to Axedale Tavern for dinner. It was really nice! Back to the camp, and somebody brought out a couple of bottles of sake, some beer, and we sat around the fire and socialised. I'm lucky in that I knew almost every member of the camp - most of these guys only knew their fellow students, but they were soon all friends.

I toddled off to bed around 11pm, looking forward to sleep that never came. I was in a room with a snorer. Not a light snorer either.. it rattled the windows and scared off the wildlife! I did not sleep at all.

At about 4am I gave up, had a shower (there was one in our dorm) and went out to turn the hot water on for the shower block outside. I had breakfast at about 5am. Joel, my fellow dormmate, wasn't far behind me - he obviously hadn't slept either. The snorer had a wonderful sleep 0_0

At 7am Ali, one of our students, brought out bagpipes and woke the camp to the dulcet tones of Amazing Grace. Everyone came groaning out of their beds and gathered around the cold coals of last nights fire, no doubt warming themselves with its memory.  We did morning meditation before breakfast, then split up into instructors and students, and we instructors headed to Axedale Public Hall to train from 9am - 12pm. Seriously.

We got back to camp  to see the Win News cameraman was there, so we organised a few vox pops, had certificate presentation, and then lunch. Unfortunately I was outside helping out the cameraman while the students powered through 42 bread rolls, a kilo of sliced meat and maybe 500g of cheese. I got back and there was one roll and one slice of cheese left 0_0
Then Takeo cooked up 10 packets of Mi Goreng noodles.. but I was outside again trying to sort out whether we could go to Atisha Centre, and by the time I got back in that was all gone too! I ate an apple.

After lunch it was back to training. I had to leave early to take Takeo out to the train station and get him on the shuttle bus to the airport, and once I got back it was 5pm and things were winding down. The Melbourne crew cooked up a bbq for us, and of course there was more sake and beer and the like floating around, but I didn't stay up too late this time.

I was feeling pretty tired and sore by this point, which is probably why the flu managed to catch me. Saturday night I slept terribly again, with chills and a headache, and I was up at 4:30. Once again I turned on the hot water for everyone, had a stupidly early breakfast, and sat around praying for panadol. I did make the most of the time by cleaning up, washing dishes and sweeping out the hall.
That said, while I was feeling bad there were people who had just headed off to bed at 4 and not even the bagpipes could get them up :) We did morning meditation again and some tanden exercises.. like situps but using internal core muscles below the bellybutton rather than the abdominals. They're easier than situps.

Without Takeo here we decided to make things easier on Sei Shihan (he's 80 years old this year) and split the group up between Shihan Tao, Sensei Raymond, Sensei Joel and myself. We trained from 9 - 11 or so and then everyone came in needing water and sunscreen. Tao gave a great lecture on the history and purpose of Iaido, and then Cheryl turned up like an angel bearing 10 packets of bread rolls, more meat, cheese, and cake! It was so good to see her and the kids, and not just because it meant I actually got food this time around ;)

A few of the instructors had mentioned that they'd like to train with Shihan Tao, and Sensei Raymond had left just after lunch, so Joel and I took the juniors out to Axedale Hall for the afternoon. We trained from 1 - 5.. again, that's a long time. We had a half hour break in the middle and people were just lying down on the floor :) All the Melbourne guys left around 5pm, and then we made far too much pizza and pasta for everyone to eat.  I was expecting voracious appetites after a second day of really intense training, but I think everyone was just too tired to eat.

After dinner was a massive clean up - mopping floors, wiping benches, etc. etc. I knew people wanted an early start so we couldn't leave it until Monday morning to do it all. I reckon I spent a couple of hours or so just cleaning, after cooking, and with the flu. I wasn't happy :)

Joel and I both headed off to bed at about 8pm while the others sat up watching samurai movies - I consider that proof that it's harder to teach than learn ;) Thanks to panadol (Cheryl is wonderful) I actually slept okay on that final night.

Monday was final cleanup, which went fine, and everyone headed off. Shihan and one of the other students, Ijah, were both going to the airport on the same shuttle bus in the afternoon, so I took them into town to the Chinese Museum and gardens, and the Bendigo Art Gallery. Then out to Beechworth Bakery for lunch, and dropped them off at the station.

Then it was back home, finally, to some much appreciated hugs with Oscar and Lily. I can't thank Cheryl enough for looking after them while I was away, and for delivering food and panadol, and not complaining even once. She is a Saint!

So that was my weekend. I'm back at work now, thankful that I have a job that involves sitting down. Unfortunately tomorrow I kick off the Great Cycle Challenge, and next week I'll start Saturday Iaido classes as well. Ah well. Ganbarimasu!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Church St chatter

Did consider waiting until Wednesday so I could be first in October. Where has this year gone?

I've been......dancing. Eaglehawk on Thursday without Clive since he had worked at the Races Wednesday and again at the racetrack on Thursday and Friday. Sat out a few dances.It is so much better to have a partner. On Friday we went to Kyneton, Saturday Majorca (as passengers) and Sunday afternoon again as passengers but with different people.We had a fabulous weekend.  Tonight we'll go to Spring gully. Tomorrow Nana and I are going to a lunch/fashion parade to raise money for Cancer in Kids Association(CIKA). I'm modelling a couple of outfits with hats. I'm yet to see the hats.
Weather has been great mostly. We did have 34mm of rain and my roof leaked severely. Garden was thrilled as it has been very dry. I just watered some tomato seedlings and picked snow peas. I have one tomato plant that survived the winter. I have it in a pot in the fernery and hope it will give me very early tomatoes.Just needs to last through a couple of weeks of me going off on a cruise.
The cruise and planning what to take etc is another thing I've been doing. I have managed to prune the wardrobe a little while looking through my options.. Some to the op shop and some to friends.
This morning I called on Lisa to check out he bunks and the painting. It looks great. Stayed a few hours to help with the lounge cleanup. It was the only time I had. I warned the girls to keep it tidy until I return to check again at the end of October.
Len Thomas may be interested in the Buick. He is bringing a couple of friends to look. If they can't make it Thursday we'll leave it until November as I go away and then he goes away.
Keep up the posts everyone.I love to read what you have been doing.

Madhouse Mumblings (aka Shaft St S#!%)

School holidays, maybe that's why I have more time to post - or Dayna guilting us all into updating more regularly LOL

It's been an eventful week. Monday involved more tidying attempts in the living room before visiting Julie-Anne and Mitchell. Julie-Anne had gone outside Sunday night to find a wild duckling following her cat. The kids had a great time playing with it while I helped Julie-Anne with some decluttering. I left her with 2 full bins, luckily it was bin night. Tuesday we had lunch with Nanna, Mum, Clive, Damien, Oscar, Carolynn and Jarrad at the Stadium (Schweppes Centre) just down the road. We came back here for coffees and to show off the tv unit. Wednesday was another day in the girls' room, I got rid of a lot of the stuff under the beds. In this case "got rid of" means either "stored in my room" or "moved to another part of the house". Having said that, I filled a couple of bags for the op shop and put them in the boot of the car as I went. Then I had to take it all out to go to the supermarket because we ran out of pet food and milk, so we did the week's shopping. Then the bags went back into boot...

Thursday I went and looked at the bunks/loft with storage style beds. They are awesome! The people selling them had a trailer and I chatted to the woman while her hubby and Jared packed up the beds. He followed us home and helped us put it all into the entrance (which I'd also tidied up by storing stuff in the laundry, did I mention we have too much stuff) We were home by lunch time so I took the girls' old beds apart and started cleaning walls before we visited mum. Mum made a comment about painting while the room is mostly empty like we did when we moved Jared in to the room that had been Carolynn's. It sounded like a lot of work... but she was right, I hate the colour of every room in this house. It's dirty white. Every wall in every room is the same, except Jared's room obviously, it's now a nice pale apricot. And now the girls' room is pink. I took the paint from mum's that was labelled "Brew" (Peach Blossom, laundry and bathroom had been crossed out). I added some pink I'd had mixed up to paint the dolls house (still not done) and went to work. I did ask Ian first, but I told him I was going to use the same colour as Jared's room... it's far more pink. So I did the cornice with more pink. If Ian isn't happy I'll paint over it when (if?) we move out.

Trinity slept on the floor in the living room and Daria slept in with me Thursday night. I started the second coat on Friday morning before taking the girls to the Botanical Gardens to meet Julie-Anne, Mitchell and some of Mitchell's friends for lunch. We took salad, cheezels, biscuits and sipahh straws (milk flavouring). Between the other mums we had chicken and salad rolls and the mums got coffee. It threatened to rain but over all it was a fantastic day. Until we went to leave around 3pm. Julie-Anne's car wouldn't start. I stayed with her while she waited for the RACV. The guy said it was probably her starter motor, he couldn't jump start the car, and he offered her a tow. It would be free to their East Bendigo shop where they'd put together a quote, or between $88-95 to tow to a place she chose. She rang her dad for advice and he said he'd hire a trailer and get the car home so they can work out what to do. Trinity sat in the car playing with my phone while Daria and Mitchell rode Mitchell's scooter up and down the path. We got home at 6pm after a drive to pick up a borrowed tent and drop the 5 bags of stuff at the op shop on the way home. Thankfully during my busy run-around morning I'd thrown apricot chicken into the crock pot so I did a bit of rice in the microwave and tea was done. I did the second coat on the walls after tea, it's not a great job but it's a vast improvement on how they looked before.

Saturday saw me finish the cornice before breakfast, then we had to start thinking about packing the car to head to Ballarat. Pat and Bree have an amazing new house/property and threw a house-warming party. Sophia and Marius had 3 friends each staying. The plan was to camp out, they have a big paddock behind them and in the middle of that was a bonfire. We set up a tent in the back yard, it's huge too. In the end the girls (Sophia and friends) stayed in their tent and we slept in ours - everyone else ended up inside, including Carolynn and Jarrad. Marius and his friends didn't like the wind. It was a very cold and windy night but the girls still thought it was fun - if scary. Sophia and her friends are around 14-15, and our Jared was the only teenage boy - he certainly seemed to enjoy the attention from 2 of Sophia's friends LOL

Sunday we headed to Tamara's. She was pretty stoked, and had lasagne, chicken, salad, garlic bread and a huge amount of fruit. We had lunch and tried to work out what's wrong with their laptop before heading home a bit after 2pm. We got home and moved the parts of the girls' bed in to their room and put it all together, with some help from Carolynn and Jarrad. We ordered pizza for tea and watched last week's episode of Dr Who, then it was bedtime. For me as well, I was asleep by 9.30pm.

The girls are asking what we're doing today - more cleaning up!

Will try to update next week!

A Hop Across the Pond - New York

I've had an interesting week - caught up with a friend on Monday; spent Tuesday at a team meeting in London and got a free make-over on the way to the train station (Kat & I decided to do some window shopping and turns out it was a fashion week event and shops were all doing special things - like giving out gin or offering make-overs); Thursday we were at a careers event in Neath Port Talbot; Wednesday and Friday I spent in the office but there's still a lot to do.  I have a LOT of events coming up in October, so I'm going to have to try really hard to write my updates. And even harder to update the Six Month Challenge site - because I actually have to DO something before I can update that one. :-)

In the meantime, here's the next little bit of our trip...

New York

We arrived late on Wednesday night. It had taken ages to get across the border - a bus load of people all having to go through immigration and have papers checked! Luckily we'd booked a late-ish flight, so it didn't matter that we were half-an-hour late arriving at the airport.

We stayed in New Jersey, just across the river from Manhattan so it was really easy to get in and out of the city (and check out the view from the bus stop below!). We spent very little time in the apartment - there's just so much to see and do in New York.

We had three full days in New York City, and we walked a LOT. We bought the City Pass and tried to do everything that was in the booklet...
  • We went up to the top of the Empire State Building - twice (once in the morning and then again at night - I forgot to collect my tripod both times.. oops). 
  • We walked through Harlem and along the length of Central Park (the park itself is about 4km!), stopping for lunch on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (about half-way along the park). We made sure we checked out the art whilst we were there - it's an incredible collection. 
  • We saw the longest running show on Broadway (Phantom of the Opera, for those who didn't know) - we were in the second row, so it was almost like we were IN the show. :-) 
  • We took a cruise that went past the Statue of Liberty (but there were so many people on the boat that you couldn't move from your little plastic seat). 
  • We shopped in Macy's and window-shopped in Tiffany's (but didn't have breakfast in the jewellery shop), visited Grand Central Station and spent some time in Times Square.
  • And on our last day in New York we managed to fit in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the American Museum of Natural History AND the Guggenheim Museum. 

Looking at it all like this, there's no wonder we were really tired by the time we got to Montreal.

But you'll have to wait till the next instalment to find out what we did back in Canada. :-)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Gordon St Gossip

Hey all, a quick one from us too :)

Ossie's enjoying school. He doesn't like that Lil gets to stay home while he has to go, but when he's there he has fun, and has been building up his confidence - he's finally playing with friends who aren't Daria ;) He got a cold on Day 1 of the school holidays, of course, but he's getting past it now so hopefully he can enjoy the second week a little more. They're off to the Melbourne Zoo with School next term.

Lil's been going to playgroup and the Library for Toddler Time and generally singing, dancing and enjoying herself. She can't decide whether she's "only little" or "a big girl now".. it depends on whether she wants to do something (like play on the iPad) or we want her to do something (like pack up her toys) - that said she does like helping with the cooking and even gives washing dishes a go.

I've been pretty focussed on Iaido. Numbers have dropped a bit in class (down to 8 or so, so still acceptable) but it's possible the people who have left will come on Saturdays when I start that class - a few have said Tuesday is a bit tricky for them. This weekend is the camp. It's been a learning experience organising it to be honest - I was hoping I would just have to organise the accommodation and bookings, but it's turned out I've had to work out a lot more (food, payments etc). It's the issue with having a "committee" I think - more than 3 or so people and everyone thinks someone else will step up and do the work. Once we're past that I'll think about how to handle trying out a kid's class on the Saturday as well.

Chez has been volunteering a lot at Ossie's school, working in the canteen. I for one enjoy the odd spare dim sim or dino nugget she brings home ;) She's also been going to Pilates on Fridays, which means her legs are sore just in time for the weekend. And of course the full time job of "looking after Lily" which may also include participating in the aforementioned singing and dancing ;)

Oh and it turns out the government have been massively underpaying our Family Tax Benefit so we got a big boost at the EOFY. We're going to buy a car! At some point in the future ;)


Monday, 22 September 2014

Who's the slackest of them all?

Ok, so the last time I posted an update was December 2013... really?

So Daria's in Prep and Trinity is in grade 3. I've been working but now it's school holidays again so I'm off until the kids go back to school and then we've got about a month or so until the contract will be up. I've had to join a job network but they paid for me to do my First Aid certificate. I basically go in once a month for a 10 minute "nothing's changed, see you next month" until my job finishes. Then she's aware that I'm unlikely to work through the summer holidays so once January ends I hope to find something. It's all because now I'm a single parent and my youngest has turned 6, they've made it all much harder on single parents with Centrelink and Job Networks and agreements. I get a whole one day's notice that I have to go into Centrelink. Once Daria turns 8 I'll be put onto Newstart Allowance so I'm hoping by then I'll have something permanent. The stupid thing is that all they've done is made things harder on the people that want to do the right thing - the ones that they should be looking at is the single parents having baby after baby while on the pension. It's just so frustrating.


You'll have seen on Facebook that my team at work (the HIPPY Lippies) are trying to raise awareness (and of course money) for women's mental health. I've been having a bit of fun with the different colours, but from the start I knew green, yellow and orange were going to be awful. I guess that's why they have 6 shades of pink - I only bought 2. The link to my donation page is here -


I've also been using mum's old crock pot a lot since borrowing it. It's great! I've got fudge in it at the moment, takes about 2 hours to cook but since I usually ruin it if I try the 'fast' way this is much better. When I'm working I try to organise myself enough in the morning to throw stuff in the pot, then give it a stir when we get home. It's much easier than trying to sort out tea at the end of the day, I wish I'd borrowed it sooner. But of course storage is part of the problem, I needed some bench space, and even now the crock pot hasn't really got a 'home'.

On decluttering - I've bought a new (secondhand) tv unit which prompted a big rearrange of the living room. Next step will be the girls room, as I'm planning to get them some bunks with storage that I found on Gumtree. I'm at the point where I'm over the constant mess so the girls have been warned, I will ask them to pick their things up, anything left on the floor goes in the bin. I'm also filling op shop bags... see how long it takes to get this house under control LOL

That's about it I think. I'll try to update on Sundays but I may need reminding :)

-The Roberts-French Madhouse.

A Hop Across the Pond - Niagara Falls

Lovely to talk to Mum and Lisa today (and Jared - briefly). We all agreed to update the Bandwagon more frequently - and this goes for everyone. :-) Even if it's just a sentence to talk about the week. Okay?!

A Hop Across the Pond

We've done a heap of stuff since July - the most exciting thing was our recent holiday to North America. We spent two weeks and visited four cities: Niagara Falls, New York, Montreal and Toronto.

Niagara Falls

We stayed on the Canadian side, along with all of the other tourists! The Falls are amazing - every single minute there's enough water going over the Falls to fill one million bathtubs.

In order to make the most of our two days, we bought an Adventure Pass. The night we arrived we collected our passes (they didn't have enough 'adult' ones, so ours had "ADULT" scrawled in black marker pen over the "child" label on the front), donned a blue plastic poncho and headed to Niagara's Fury. We learnt a little about Niagara's history and got very wet (one of those "4D" movies). We spent some of the evening watching a fab sound and light show that was in the park opposite the Falls. The lights were projected onto water jets and looked amazing.

The next day we walked along the Whirlpool Rapids, went on the Hornblower - the boat that goes to the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls (we got a red plastic poncho), and did the Journey Behind the Falls - that is, we wandered through some tunnels and looked the water rushing past a couple of openings (and we got yellow plastic ponchoes). We also had a good look around Niagara Falls, including all of the (slightly tacky) 'man-made attractions', like Ripley's Belive it or Not, or dinosaur mini-golf. We didn't go into any of the attractions - it was fun enough to walk along the street and people-watch.

Our second night we spent in the Hilton hotel with views of the Falls (the first of our three 'fancy' things booked on our trip). It was great - we even got to watch the fireworks from our room! And they were below us!!

All in all, Niagara Falls was very touristy but a fascinating natural beauty. Just remember to have patience and that everyone else is there to see the same things as you. ;-)

I'll post this now and update on the other cities very soon.
The (very very abridged) photo album for the trip is here.