Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And so it is Christmas

Feels strange to begin with - J&J & baby E away doing their thing with cousins Charlotte Rose and Amelia, all the Lawrences away at Emerald Beach and Davey away in the UK celebrating Christmas with friends in Bristol. Rob and I start the day quietly with a long walk and Rob digs out really old family videos from Christmases a LONG time ago, the ones the kids hate but which are looking better with each passing year!

He burns a couple of them to DVD and we play them for big O before lunch. He is mesmerised watching Josh & Davey cracking their early adolescent phase jokes and having after Christmas lunch water fights in our GREEN front garden (this footage at least 16 years old).

We noticed that as a rule Ollie loved Angus' presents the best, and Angus loved Ollie's the best.

Although Ollie thought his Tyrannosaurus Rex hand puppet was pretty cool.

Angus really loved Ollie's new bike.

And they both loved Jeremy's "wocket launcher" the best of all.

Angus had a fall soon after arriving for lunch, which explains the red mark on his forehead. Ollie scraped his shin hard as he came off a chair at the wrong angle. Overall it was a pretty exciting Christmas for the boys and for us.

Our thoughts are with all our absent family members. We missed you and wish you a lovely Christmas celebration too.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The day before the day before Christmas

After a week of high emotion, speeches, tears, songs, presents, hugs, so many nice things said by so many people, I am retired, I have finished; I am also absolutely drained and exhausted as we head out to Murrumbateman on Friday night for our now traditional pre-Christmas celebration with the Fischers, Prices and Lebangs.

Thomas, Maddy & Sophie play for us so we always sing carols to get us into the Christmas spirit. We sing so well too after a few glasses of Majella sparkling shiraz (especially the 2004 bottle). Thomas gives us reprise of his amazing Mozart piece: Rondo Alla Turca.

Maggie makes the trip to Murrumbateman too but sleeps most of the night in Anke's lap after doing a bit of pony chasing in the early evening. Jenny prepares a beautiful meal - oysters of course, tender beef and her own special version of a tiramisu for dessert. All beautiful, but I feel almost grey with fatigue after my huge week. It rains in torrents at Murrumbateman, to finish off a week where we have had some of the best rain in years.

We enjoy a pre-Christmas breakfast this morning with the family; much quieter than anticipated because Claire & Jeremy have kept the boys at home because the boys aren't well. We missed them. We all gave Ella her gifts because she is having Christmas day with her cousins Amelia and Charlotte Rose.

She was in a gorgeous mood: lots of killer smiles, hand waving and showing off her athleticism on the floor. She's had her first hair cut already and has scored quite a few killer outfits for Christmas.

Josh & Jody's present to us was this speed machine - so funky and European. It certainly will add to our cache when the young set are considering a visit!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

9 days of Christmas

So many lasts for me: this will be my last week at school (ever!)..many farewells already but the big one is this Thursday 20th at the Mawson Club. last night I enjoyed a wonderful night celebrating with my school executive team and partners at Courgettes. It is an emotional time for me..people say such beautiful things..it is a wonderful way to end my career but still a big week to get through with all the speeches and final assemblies and packing up.

Alongside all this we are planning for Christmas. The shops are crowded, no room in the carparks; I am conscious of all the tizzy rubbish and ephemera everywhere. So much waste and landfill happening so we try to ensure our gifts are locally made if possible with minimal packaging and without too much of a contribution to the planet's demise.

We have had good regular rain for the last month and we are enjoying being home today with the sound of rain outside (with intermittent heavy showers). Canberra looks unexpectedly green, green, green and the dams are at 43% capacity (that's over 10% increase this year). That is very exciting for us.

Ella was very active this morning You can see from these pictures how aware she is of her hands and toes now. She recognises "clap hands" and waves her hands around madly on cue. Her top front teeth are getting more visible now. Ella has just moved into her brand new designer high chair, for special occasions.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Packing it all in before packing it all up

It was Thomas' 14th birthday on Friday. A time to sample another one of the bottles of 1993 Hardy's Shiraz laid down by Jurgen when T. was born and a chance to share T's favourite german sausages and orange cake and all the news of school and plans to learn guitar in the coming year.

We were delighted to have a visit from the P.....s on Saturday. Big O and little A went through all the usual activities. They both love anything to do with transport and Rob's vintage Matchbox car collection continues to be a big attraction, although O will stop everything to have a favourite story read to him. He loves my expanding "Stinky Face" collection.

Little A is growing into a real little person in his own right. Claire reckons he has inherited his determined streak from his dad's side of the family. He is talking a lot but it is still difficult to pick up distinct words.

Ella was in a very vocal mood when we visited Sunday morning- not afraid to express her feelings about what was going on. It was a very warm day so she needed a hat when we sat outside briefly to watch Nellie recover from the long walk we made her endure.

It was thrill for me to see Ella sitting up by herself but J&J reckon she's been able to do that for over a week. Her top front tooth has just started to break through too. This might be why she is so interested in her dummy and her orange teething ring.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The long goodbye

Instead of another pleasant end of year music recital last Wednesday night I was treated to a "Night on the Titanic", with all sorts of special treats and surprises to mark the end of my time at Wanniassa School (only three weeks to go).

The first surprise was to see J&J & baby Ella arriving; something they had kept secret from me. Ella made it almost until the end of a noisy night's entertainment. What a thrill for me!

Band members were all dressed in the Titanic theme. They played all my favourites: Ancient Voices, Latino Melancholia and a special surprise just for me: "Summertime"

Ann H. played Queen Ann all night with a wonderfully clever speech about my contribution to the school - all with a ship theme.

Marian and his beautiful Ivana sang "Hallelujah" just for me. Rob had requested it (in secret) on my behalf. Jody had acted as the go between. Ivana's performance brought tears to everyone, especially me!

I have never seen a bigger, more beautiful bunch of flowers. I was overcome by the night and everyone's thoughtfulness. I will never forget it!
Barely time to recover and we are off down to Rosedale Saturday for our annual lobster dinner...... It rains heavily driving down the Clyde Mt. Visibility is poor but we never complain about the rain.
Think of the 8,000 people who sat out the open air Elton John Concert on Friday night for three hours in pouring rain.

The Le... kids have grown up a lot since we last saw them in June.....must be their adventure filled lives.

Thomas and Lucy have grown very tall and are looking and acting very mature now. Chef Jane prepares a magnificent kid friendly meal for them all - lots of calamari tonight, but I think they are most impressed with the chocolate M&M mousse for dessert.

It is Maxie's birthday. We celebrate with our favourite Marjella, luscious calamari, fresh south coast oysters, lobster, fattoush and cous cous and orange salads and a frozen mascapone and strawberry cake for dessert with fantastic wines (Riesling and Sauv Blanc.) to accompany each course. End off the meal with a De Bortoli Botrytis and one of Bruce's cafe standard coffees.

Chef Jane took this picture of our magic evening with friends at Rosedale.

The possums ran riot in the trees around our dining area. They were so brazen I thought they were going to jump on the table at one stage!

This is the view from the deck on a warm sunny morning. Breakfast is a very leisurely affair after a long walk around the rocky headland and beautiful Rosedale beach. Maggie the Jack Russel cross provides lots of entertainment on the walk.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We need to talk about Kevin

This opinion piece by Mike Carlton in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald (24/11/07) proved prophetic

Revenge of the betrayed battlers

THE bizarre antics of the Liberal pamphleteers in Lindsay might not have been sanctioned by the machine. But they speak volumes for the culture of the Liberal Party, particularly in its NSW division.

It is the politics of fear and loathing. By turning one group of Australians against another, the theory goes, it is possible to divide and rule. Minority groups - Muslims, homosexuals, unmarried mothers, trade union members, academics, etc - can be dispatched to the margins while the party leadership wraps itself in khaki and the flag with high-blown sophistry about Aussie family values.

Where necessary, the threat from without can also be invoked - queue-jumping refugees, for example - and then met by iron-fisted measures like the Pacific solution. This is not something new to the Liberals. It has worked for them often. Ben Chifley's light on the Labor hill was trumped by Robert Menzies' reds under the bed.

Until now, John Howard has been a masterly exponent of fear and division. But when he gained control of the Senate at the last election, his visceral hatred of unions overreached itself. Work Choices was an attack on the Howard Battlers who had given him four election victories. It is an exquisite irony that those battlers will now bring him undone today.


11 and1/2 long years of Howard - we can't believe it is over and Australia has chosen a new direction, into the 21st century.

We watched the tally room analysis until Howard conceded defeat and Rudd assumed victory - switching between the ABC and WIN's coverage: the dignified debate of Julia Gillard and Antony Green on the ABC counterbalanced with the squirmy depths of Ray Martin's, Michael Kroger's and Robert Ray's coverage on WIN. We wouldn't have missed it for the world.

We toasted victory with Mum and Maxie & Rod at Jerrabomberra (over 7% swing to Labor, unseating sitting Liberal member Gary Nairn).

This morning baby Ella was quite unconcerned about the momentous events happening at government level. She was looking forward to a day's shopping with J&J and "doing lunch". She is learning to clap her hands and is forever intrigued by Nellie the beagle.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Counting down

Five weeks of school to go for me, five weeks until Christmas, 3 days since Jody's operation (which went well), 3 days until Ella is 6 months old, one week until election day. After the last 12 long years we can't believe what the polls are telling us. We are making some noises about a possible "Don's Party" next Saturday -to celebrate (?)

The Lebangs are at Coogee this weekend, blitzing them at the Opera House, kayaking in the harbour, eating ice cream, drinking Gravitas and finding 8/85 "fantastic".

I had a work day at Birrigai Outdoor School in the Namadgi National Park last Thursday, my first visit since the 2003 fire storm. The school has been completely rebuilt and vegetation is re-established, but the land looks ancient and "cracked open": so little soil, charred stands of tree & scrub skeletons, ancient rock exposed everywhere.

Rob and I babysat big O & little A last night while C & J had a big night out at "Aubergine". C had prepared detailed "lesson plans" covering every eventuality. In the end, after an hour or so of fun reading books and dismantling the playroom for our entertainment the boys went to sleep without a peep. Both of them had an uninterrupted night's sleep (well at least until 5.30am).

Ella was showing no ill effects this morning from having an indisposed mummy. She coped well with all the interruptions to her routine caused by Jody's operation.