Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Christmas from the Hickmans

In the eternal words of Mr. Neville John Holder - "It's Christmas!!"

Hope you all had great a great Christmas in whatever part of the world you're reading this in.

Thanks to everyone who sent pressies for Audrey and Eli.

As this is now her 3rd Christmas Audrey is getting to grips with what Christmas represents to her as a child, and what the threat of 'If you're not good Santa won't come' signifies.

For Eli though it was Christmas No.1 which just meant lots of wrapping paper to suck on.

Here's some pics of us on Christmas morning before embarking on a 10 hour road trip to Mildura to visit Amy's parents.

The calm before the storm - surveying the tree and stockings

Audrey makes a jigsawEli riding a reindeer!Audrey as the Christmas faerie

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Australian Wildlife Encounters No.6

I nipped outside last night to check on my veggie patch. We've got a small light above the steps at the back of the house and there are the usual moths, beetles and bugs circling around it.

Last night however something clattered into my head about the size of a light aircraft and landed on our screen door - a preying mantis.

I'd seen one before caught in a spiders web in our garage, but I'd never been hit in the head by one. Amy is completely unfazed by such things (I guess if you grow up in Australia that's the way it is).

Being 'fresh off the boat' though, I continue to be amazed by Australian fauna. Every time I see a flock of cockatoos take off from a central reservation or hear galahs squawking in the eucalypts it still impresses me (I do though still love the summer song of the blackbird who sits in a tree of our garden). We've also got a possum who regularly feeds off scraps in our garden (albeit on slightly reduced rations since the arrival of the guinea pigs).

The trees are full of chirruping cicadas at the moment and slightly less romantically the wheelie bin has the constant hum of flies around it.

I'm also always ever so slightly daunted when venturing into our garage after seeing red back spiders in there - even though nobody has actually died from a bite since 1953 or something. It just seems wrong somehow that you could die getting your bike out!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Eli in the garden

A picture of Eli taken in the garden this morning

and how Audrey looked at the same age
and how their dad looked as well!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why not to put presents under the Christmas Tree until Christmas Eve!

Audrey intercepted Dylan Dog and Spotty the giraffe sent from England by Uncle Ralph. Unfortunately the postman arrived as she was by the door with the result that there are now a couple less presents to open on Christmas morning!

Eli testing his two new teeth on Spotty's ear

Christmas Carols at Lanyon Homestead

Along with Tommy and his parents Gill and Anthony and baby sister Chloe we went along to Lanyon Homestead on Sunday to enjoy a carol service and a picnic. It's an annual event in the Lanyon grounds. The homestead was built way back in the 1850s (ancient Australian history) and has been (amongst other things) a farm run by James Wright and John Lanyon utilising paid and convict labour.

It's probably Canberra's southern most suburb and the homestead is set amongst the beautiful rolling Brindabella mountains. We'd not been there before, but it's a lovely spot and I'm sure we'll visit again.

We got there early which meant that our picnic rugs took prime position (ala German beach towels). The homestead was candlelit inside and we were entertained by the Sing Australia choir (who probably numbered nearly 100 members) and Tuggeranong band.
We didn't stay till the very end as 4 tired children dictated that we left around 8pm, but it was a really nice evening and we all went home singing Hark the Herald Angels!

Audrey and Tommy enjoying the picnic

The Sing Australia choir!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Separated at Birth?

Eli, or is it Rimmer from Red Dwarf?

Walk Against Warming

The four of us were eco-activists today, taking part in 'Walk against warming' which took place in Canberra on the Parliament House lawns.

It was a friendly affair, with banners, flags and a lot of whistle blowing (including by us). The walk also had a small tented area containing the usual suspects of solar panel salesmen, fresh fruit drink sellers and t-shirts with slogans being sold. The walk's major sponsor was ActewAGL, who are a big energy company, so a bit dodgy really. Oh well it was a nice sunny day for a walk!

An empty Parliament house with us protestors outside

having fun blowing whistles

Eli tucks into a pear

Audrey, who I think thought it was 'talk' against warming

Questacon and Gymbaroo

Audrey goes to Gymbaroo every Thursday (and Eli tags along). As one of the other dads said to me this week, it's basically 'kid heaven'. There's an array of climbing frames, tunnels, trampolines, bikes, balls etc for the children to variously climb through, jump on, ride and throw. Audrey absolutely loves it, and is in awe of the instructor, Katie and her sidekick Narelle.

It's a lovely morning she has there and to complement the equipment the children sing songs and do exercises/yoga. It sounds a bit full-on, but it's actually great fun. We've often noticed that we're amongst a small minority of parents that actually sing at the sessions. A lot of parents sit tight lipped when we're supposed to be singing - perhaps put off by our off-key squawks.

The picture of Audrey in the car is from Questacon, another favourite haunt of hers. She met her friend Tommy from Gymbaroo there on Friday and they had a great time together in 'Mini Q'.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Canberra Midwifery Program Christmas Picnic

Today, Audrey, Eli and I (Amy!) went along to Weston Park for the Canberra Midwifery Program Christmas picnic. Lots of other families made it along too and it was great to see so many small people in one place. We caught up with our midwife, Julie, who was delighted to see both Eli and Audrey. Eli seemed pretty happy to be reunited as well giving Julie a big toothy grin (well, OK, he only has one tooth) and a cuddle. Unfortunately, as the group photo was being taken both he and Audrey chose to dissolve into tears. I guess with that many children and babies there was bound to be some that would be crying at that time - just wish it hadn't been mine!

Here are some happier pics from the morning.

With our midwife Julie

Eli shows off his tooth

Audrey shows off her lunch!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Out of the mouth of Audrey No.3

Audrey, like most children, loves watermelon and now that summer is upon us we quite often have a slice after lunch or at snack times. Imagine my surprise the other day, when Audrey screwed up her face in disgust at her slice of watermelon. When I asked what was wrong she told me that there were 'toenails' in her watermelon. Suppressing my laughter, I had to inform her that the 'toenails' were actually seeds! (So much for seedless watermelon!)

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Perils of Potty Training

Now summer is upon us we've started Audrey potty training. As with most things 'baby' there is an array of books, videos, role playing games etc to teach your little one to sit on the pot. We've dispensed with all of these and are venturing our own way into the unkown. Audrey's potty is pretty fancy though - it looks like it could have been designed by Phillip Starke!

We actually had a success a couple of months ago when Audrey 'went' in the potty unprompted. The three of us ran round cheering and hi-five-ing. After that though she didn't show much interest in it. She clearly knew what it was for but chose not to use it - perhaps she couldn't face the excitement each time?

Amy bought a pack of 'big girl knickers' something which Audrey delighted in wearing and we've had the early accidents as expected. We're progressing slowly, led in the main by Amy.
Along the way a few people have told us how easy their offspring were to train, but equally I'm sure there are lots of 4 year olds still in nappies.

All was going well until Audrey forgot herself last night and I had to fish a couple of unwelcome poos out of the bath. Audrey at least had the decency to tell me how nicely they were floating as I lifted her out of the soiled waters.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More pictures of the kids

Here are some snaps we took over the weekend....

Eli celebrates at Chloe's first birthday party

Out the front of our house

Audrey and Eli

Eli at our picinic tea by the lake

Audrey at our picnic tea by the lake

New additions to the family

Last weekend we welcomed two new additions (guinea pigs) to the Hickman clan. It took a few days for Audrey to come up with the names. She decided to ignore our suggestions of: Thelma and Louise, Cagney and Lacey, French and Saunders, Bubble and Squeak and Bret and Jemaine (of Flight of the Conchords) and instead opted to go with.......Dora and Boots.

The piggies seem to be quite happy with their new names and as long as Audrey keeps popping carrot and apple into their cage I think they'll be quite content.

Boots gets a cuddle

Dora in the straw

Audrey with the guinea pig run (unfortunately Dora and Boots opted not to appear in this one)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Manuka Pool

It was a lovely sunny day today, not too hot, not too cold - the temperature somewhere around the high 20s. We decided to pay a visit to Manuka pool and took a picnic to eat on the grass.

Manuka pool is a lovely outdoor art deco place, built in 1930. It is absolutely heaving in summer as hundreds of Canberrans seek solace in the cool waters there. Fortunately as it was a Friday morning there was a bit more space. There is a lane pool and a smaller paddling/wading pool.

We'd tried Eli in the (much warmer) indoor pool at Audrey's swimming classses (at CISAC) the weekend before (he'd hated it) and similarly he screamed and screamed as I plonked him in the chilly waters. Disapproving mums watched me as I cajoled him for about 5 minutes until he got used to the temperature and stopped crying/screaming. In the end he really loved it and Audrey showed off her swimming skills in the shallow water.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning, except perhaps for the moment when we watched a little boy stand on the other side of the side of the pool, pull down his red trunks and wee into the water we were sitting in. We were a bit more careful about swallowing the water after that.

Eli and Audrey on the picnic rug

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Eli in the herb 'garden'

Eli has really mastered sitting up over the last couple of days. He's still a bit wobbly and prone to falling sideways every now and again, but it's been remarkable watching how quickly he's worked out how to keep his balance .

It allows him to reach out for things in the world around him. Here's a picture of him playing with the herbs we've got outside of our house (which are kept watered courtesy of Eli's bath water). He smelt very minty afterwards!

In memory of Marek Edelman

Marek Edelman died last month aged 90. I hadn't heard of him until I read about his death, which is sad considering the remarkable life he led.

He was one of the leaders of the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto Uprising in 1943 a futile resistance by Warsaw's jews against the might of the Nazis. Incredibly he survived the conflict (300,000 jews from Warsaw died in Treblinka), and he returned to fight in the Warsaw uprising in 1944. I'm not sure why after that you would choose to stay in Poland, but he became a cardiologist and was then a key member of Solidarity. His life was a remarkable story.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Proverb Time

We've had some really warm temperatures over the last week and people keep telling us that it's about 5 or 6 degrees hotter at this time of year than it normally is.

As I mowed my lawn on Saturday I looked over at my neighbours beautiful grass turf (which had until a couple of weeks ago been dark emerald in colour) and noticed that it had been parched far more by the sun than our own weed infested lawn. Despite the sun's bombardment, our lawn still maintained a slight green hue.

Clearly therefore the adage 'the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence' isn't such an accurate proverb after all...

(I did however notice a whole lot of identical looking birds flocking together in the garden, but that's another story.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

South Durras

We had a week away in South Durras with Amy's parents last week. The week had it's highs and lows but fortunately a lot more highs than lows. Eli was a bit out of sorts for one day, cutting his first tooth, and Audrey found it hard to have her day sleeps so was a bit cranky at times. One night, after a visit to the zoo, she was convinced that there was a snake in her room!

There was a lot to keep us occupied - sandcastles to be built, fish to be caught, slides to go down and kangaroos to spot. It was our second visit to South Durras - this time we stayed in a cabin by the sea. It was lovely to sit outside and look at the ocean. Although it was whale watching season we didn't spot any (although Trevor wonders whether he spotted a couple on the horizon!)

Here a few snaps of the holiday.

making sandcastles

Pebbly Beach (not a pebble in sight)

Eli dips his toes

Audey feeding the deer and kangaroos in Mogo zoo

It felt a lot bigger reeling it in!

another monster catch!

South Durras Beach

Narooma beach (Ivor, Audrey and Wendy)

Audrey on the slide (click here to see how it looked in February!)

Bateman's Bay Botanic Gardens (children's discovery walk)

On the beach in South Durras

Our holiday house