Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Day at Casuarina Sands`

We've got Amy's parents, sister (Catherine) and nephew (Camden) staying with us at the moment. The 8 of us took the short trip out to Casuarina Sands for a New Year's Day barbecue. Here's a pic of Amy and her sister together with the kids (eating enormous slices of watermelon)!

There's a couple of nice spots to go swimming and Ivor (Amy's Dad) and I together with the kids enjoyed a post-barbecue dip. It was a picture perfect day with a light breeze and temperatures just touching 30 degrees.
Audrey loves fairies
Eli loves balls!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Home at last!

I finally got discharged late on Wednesday. I was told around 11am that I would probably be allowed to go home but it wasn't until 5:45pm that I was finally walking out the door.

Thanks to everyone for all the messages of support. It really kept me positive. The nurses at Calvary Hospital were fantastic too and really looked after me, keeping my spirits up and offering a shoulder to cry on when I needed it. I hope I never have to be in there again though! ;)

Hurrah! So lovely to be home with the gang and back in my comfy bed.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

An update on Amy

Thanks for all of your words of support and kindness over the last few days.

Amy is still in hospital. She meets with the surgeon tomorrow (26th) to discuss a discharge date, possibly tomorrow or in the next few days. She's understandably still sore and feeling low.

As today was Christmas the nurse allowed Amy home for a few hours today (for good behaviour) I think they called it 'gate release!'. After visiting her this morning with Audrey and Eli, Amy came home with us after lunch.

As you can imagine it's difficult to recuperate at our place with Audrey and Eli leaping on you and Amy was exhausted when I dropped her back at the hospital at 6pm for her next injection. It was really nice for us all to be together at home. I'll keep you posted with any progress.

A Christmas card to everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Amy is out of theatre

I've just spoken with a pretty groggy Amy who came out of theatre around 7pm (EDT) after going in around 3pm.

The surgery all seems to have gone well although they've told her that in addition to the mastectomy the surgeon had to remove some of her lymph nodes which will make her more susceptible to Lymphodema after she recovers from the operation.

I'm taking the kids to see her in the morning, when I'm sure we'll know a bit more.

Thanks everyone for your kind words of support (along with all the other things) that you've sent us.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas comes early

It's a common complaint that Christmas seems to come around earlier every year. Ours arrived today, 19th December.

Amy goes into Calvary Hospital on the 21st for a mastectomy and because she's not going to be in the best of health when she comes out we decided to bring Christmas forward a week so we could spend the day as a family as happily as possible.

Our day began at 6.30am with the kids excitedly opening their stockings from Santa. It's great watching Eli as a 19 month old absolutely delighted at receiving a tub of Play Dough (at $1.74 a tub) and a colouring book. Life seems to get more complicated as you get older.

Audrey got a towel for swimming (with Tinkerbell on it) which works like an overhead cape. She chose to wear it for much of the day, alternating with her fairy wings which she'd received from my work Christmas party a couple of days earlier.

Lunch was the traditional Christmas fayre. I roasted a chicken (in our decidedly dodgy oven) and then dripped fat onto the element as I was taking it out resulting in a worryingly large fire at the bottom of the oven. Fortunately it went out pretty quickly, but not before Audrey had raced out of the kitchen shouting "Run away!" - she wasn't stopping for anyone!

Brussel Sprouts were met with a typical lack of enthusiasm, Audrey refusing point blank, Amy chasing a couple round her plate for 5 minutes and Eli literally throwing his off his plate. Despite trying to pass them off as 'fun size cabbages' I was left to eat 8 or 9 on my own - it was only a couple of hours later that the others suffered for their abstention and my over indulgence.

We went for a walk late in the day, luckily managing to dodge the rain clouds. We had another day of intermittent rain. People had forecast that the weather would be rainy up until Christmas, and in our case the prediction came true. At least it's not snow!

So that's Christmas over with for another year, or 6 days depending on your point of view...

Here's a few pics;

Our walk up to the postbox.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Carols on the Block

We've just returned from Carols on the Block. It was a local community event (which Australians do so well) and took the form of a brass band and a choir of singers who sang modern and traditional Christmas carols.

There was a free sausage sizzle and a probably 200-300 hundred people showed up and sat and picnic-ed on the grass. It was a traditional Aussie Christmas, with Carol singers and kids at the back playing footy! Here's a picture of my beautiful wife and son and also one of Audrey with her good friend Tristan who we bumped into there.

Our Christmas Tree

Amidst everything else going on we did manage to get a Christmas Tree erected last weekend. Christmas trees are at a premium here in Australia with most people wisely opting for fake ones (which have the obvious benefit of not drooping or shedding needles.

The last couple of years I've always persuaded Amy to go for a real tree (here it is pictured). It doesn't look much like this any more as Eli can reach all of the lower branches and has removed all of the baubles, it's also looking distinctly more droopy with every day that passes.

We also had an amusing incident last week when Audrey opened the advent calendar sent to her by Grandma and Grandpa and exclaimed 'A fairy!' when she saw an angel underneath the 8th December. Wonder how the shepherds would have reacted to the "Fairy Gabriel" appearing to them?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another update

Since the previous update, it has been confirmed that I do not have lymphoma but in fact have breast cancer. The cancer in my right hip is secondary breast cancer located in the bone. So, what a whirlwind few weeks we have had.

Once the doctors had diagnosed breast cancer (last Friday) my treatment plan did not take long to put into action. I had my first hormone treatment on Tuesday and some radiation therapy on my hip and upper back today.

I also visited the breast surgeon this morning and will be having my operation on 21 December. Not the best timing but then I don't think any time would be a good time and I'd rather just get on with it.

Trevor continues to be my pillar of strength and very supportive (even though he's had to sacrifice Ashes tickets for the Adelaide and Melbourne games!)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Update on Amy

I had a biopsy today and as a result have a very sore right bottom cheek. Audrey insisted on inspecting the damage when I got home and was suitably impressed that I had a bandaid on my bottom! I probably won't get the results until early next week so, unfortunately, more waiting. Will let everyone know as soon as we have anything confirmed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The thing you never want to hear...

Usually this blog is filled with happy stories about our family but around 2:30pm today I received some news that has rocked our happy little boat. I’ve been told that I have cancer…I’m still waiting for the full diagnosis but have been told it’s either lymphoma or myeloma. No matter, they both sound awful.

I think I’m still in shock but have burst into tears a few times. I look at my two beautiful children and my lovely husband and am determined to beat this thing but I know it will be a long journey; one that will (in the Dr’s words) “turn our lives upside down”.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

National Museum of Australia Open Day

The National Museum of Australia held an open day of their store yesterday. It was the first time in over 10 years that they had opened the store in Mitchell and the four of us went along. The store contained items that aren't on display or are undergoing renovation.

We were amazed by the throngs of people heading to the out of the way part of Canberra but managed to find a park in a nearby street.

There was loads of things on display from an old ABC Outside Broadcast van, to old computers, carriages, motor bikes and a pink caravan!

Because of the Black Country connection my personal favourite was the Bean 14 racing car which took part in a record breaking dash between Darwin and Melbourne in 1926 and the first overland drive between London and Melbourne in 1927.

I found an original picture of the car here (when it was manufactured in Dudley)
compared to how it now looks in situ in Canberra in 2010..
Highlight of the day (by far) for the children were the original Play School windows. They weren't really displayed as such (just highlighted on the second shelf of a warehouse). Nevertheless we had to go back 3 times to look at them! Here's some more pictures

The 1948 Daimler landaulette six of which were built specifically for King George VI's tour of Australia (which was cancelled!)
Amy, Eli and Audrey by the ABC OB van

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Audrey and Eli at their friend's party

It was Audrey's friend Will's 3rd birthday party last weekend. It was a really nice morning in the garden marred only by the rain which chased us all home at the end of the party.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Audrey meets a worm

I watched a presentation recently online from a guy called Neil Pasricha. He writes a blog (which he’s turned into a top selling book) called 1000 Awesome Things. There’s a link to the blog from this site. If you’ve never seen it then have a look. It’s a really good site and despite my initial reservations he turned out to be Canadian not American.

One of a number of things he talked about in the presentation was how amazing it must be to see the world for the first time as if through the eyes of a 3 year old – he encourages people to embrace their inner 3 year old, and remember that they once saw or experienced things for the first time too.

It struck a chord with me. Last weekend Audrey and I played with a worm which the two of us had found under a weed. She wasn’t squeamish as it twisted in her hand. She didn’t care that she didn’t really know what it was. She knew (somehow!) and told me that; ‘Worms don’t have bones’ and I thought that it’s so easy to get caught up with the hustle and bustle of life without necessarily taking time to embrace your inner 3 year old. It was a lovely moment.

Here’s a picture of her as a butterfly. Even though I used proper face-paint it hadn’t all washed off her face by morning...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

There's a bear in there, and a chair as well...

Play School is great!

In 1988 (after over 20 years) the BBC took a decision to scrap the programme. I'm not sure why they reached the decision, I guess it's pretty old fashioned in format and the more trendy CBBC that in part replaced it may (or may not) be more in keeping with today's generation of pre-schoolers.

In Australia however the show is still going strong. It's kept the format of Jemima, Big Ted, Little Ted and Humpty (the big four) and there's a host of presenters and songs.

As with the show I remember as a child, a lot of the things they do is based around home-made things (wooden spoons, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes etc) and sometimes you get the feeling they've thrown things together five minutes before the show goes to air, but to be honest it all adds to the charm of the programme.

On Sunday Play School came to Canberra. The ABC tour the show around the country and take the big four to the masses. Sunday's show featured guest presenters Teo and Abi. The two of them energetically danced and sang their way through 50 minutes of songs taking the packed hall of kids with them on an adventure to Humpty's picnic.

Audrey and Eli were enthralled. It was a really well put together show and the presenters hung around after the show to meet the awe-struck kids. As is the way with these things the merchandise table at the back took us for $30 for a Big Ted and $20 for a couple of Play School plates. Personally I'm sure any yellow teddy would have sufficied but even at 3 Audrey is wise enough to know the difference. Big Ted is now toy no.1, probably until next week sometime when something else catches her eye and both Audrey and Eli have taken to sweeping their food off the plates to see the picture of Jemima et al underneath. Still, it's a small price to pay for a good morning's entertainment!

Here's some pics.

Teo and Jemima look out into the audience

Audrey and Eli look back agog - expressions they maintained for 30 minutes or so

Teo and Abi meet Eli and Audrey.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eli does Easy Rider

Ballerina Party

Audrey was invited along to one of her friend's 'Ballerina' Party this weekend.

We've never really encouraged the pink outfits that seem to be de rigueur with 3 year olds at the moment, but I guess it's a sign of how little influence you actually have over your children that Audrey wears a pink fairy princess outfit almost every day.

She was joined at the party by throngs of other would-be princesses. We speculated where the cross over between angel/ballerina/fairy occurs, it seems a pretty universal outfit and the boundaries between each classification are fairly loose.

The party was monumental for lovers of all things fairy. A mass of pink sweets, favours, decorations even a pink fairy castle piñata which was joyfully smashed by the (older) boys at the party with a cricket stump.

I don't think either Audrey or Eli have eaten quite so many sweets(Aus:lollies) in the whole of their lives. They were absolutely wired on sugar by the end of it.

Audrey capped it off by winning the fairy princess statues dancing competition. It was funny to watch her disappointed reaction to winning the 1st prize (a make an angel kit) when the kids who had been knocked out in preceding rounds had all collected sugary pink "musk sticks". (Amy fortunately nicked one before the end for her)

Audrey eats her 15th lolly

...then devours a cake

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Audrey in the garden

Here's Audrey adding sand from the sand pit to the vegetable patch


Audrey spotted an old picture of her with her brother dressed as fairies and wanted to dress him up again in one of her spare fairy princess dresses. Poor kid..

(he doesn't seem to mind though)

National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra has just undergone a major face lift with no less than 11 new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Galleries as well as a new shop and cafe. We liked the old gallery but the new one is even better!

It's only a few minutes drive from our place and so I took the kids there while Amy enjoyed a trip to Coles supermarket!

The new galleries are great. We particularly liked the dingos in the North Queensland gallery.

The gallery also owns a version of Monet's Waterlillies (Nymphéas) click here if you don't know what it looks like. We looked at it for quite a few minutes until Audrey turned to me and said, 'There's no frogs', which I thought was a pretty decent observation.

We discussed that perhaps Monet wasn't all he is cracked up to be as an artist. It's tricky drawing the back legs of frogs, and perhaps he just didn't fancy it.

A couple of pics from dinner time

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Australia drop to fifth place in Test rankings

Ahem. I thought it worth noting that ahead of the Ashes series Australia have dropped to 5th in the Test rankings - their lowest ranking ever. That would be below England. Here's an extract....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Eli playing peekaboo!

Spot the difference

One of these children didn't eat enough of their lunch to qualify for pudding, the other did...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Audrey Painting

A short video of Audrey being let loose with a paint roller..

Let the renovations begin!

We've just purchased our rental property. I actually don't know how Amy let me get away with it. In terms of condition it's possibly the worst house I've ever lived in, and as a student in Birmingham and Sheffield I lived in some preeetty dodgy houses.

We'll probably finish the decorating at about the same time that we pay off the mortgage in 2093.

We started last weekend with Eli's bedroom. Audrey was so excited to paint - she wasn't so keen about the lengthy preparation but sang happy little songs once she was let free with the roller.

Here's a few pics. This blog is likely to get filled up with DIY successes and disasters over the next few months - it'll probably be about as interesting as watching paint dry!

Eli’s chipped tooth

Eli is a great walker, but sometimes gets a bit clumsy. There’s an added complication too of the toys that are usually strewn around the floor making walking hazardous whatever your age or ability.

On Thursday night he went for a spill on the kitchen floor and cracked a third of his front tooth off. A visit to the dentist followed the next day, but being his baby tooth the dentist advised against any remedial work. It’s given him a bit of a crooked smile, but not in the same league as Shane McGowan.

Amy's parents come to visit

Amy's Mum and Dad (Wendy and Ivor) came for a 5 day visit to see Audrey and Eli (and maybe to see us too!) Audrey was so excited that Nanny and Poppy were coming to stay and that, as an added bonus, Eli was going to be sharing her room for the duration of their stay. The first night they mucked about giggling and laughing until after 9:30pm, the second night until 8:30pm and the third night it only lasted 20 minutes or so...the novelty had obviously worn off.

While Mum and Dad were here we got Dad working hard in the garden which was very overgrown after being a rental property for at least 10 years. He and Trevor managed to clear it so that we can see the back fence and most of the side fence too. We probably will be cursing ourselves as it gets hotter as some of the shade has subsequently gone too but it will be nice once we get our citrus trees and some shrubs in and growing.

We did give Dad a bit of a break on the Monday when we all headed off to Floriade which was, as usual, beautiful and a very pleasant way to spend the morning.

It was great to see Mum and Dad and we're looking forward to catching up with them in Mildura over the Christmas/New Year break.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bohemians, Football and Kangaroos

I quite liked an article that I read the other day wondering why a football club from Prague has a kangaroo on its badge. Apparently it dates from a tour set up in 1927 for Prague's AFK Vrsovice to tour Australia. It took the Czech team 4 months to travel by boat to Australia via the suez canal and Indian ocean. They won the majority of their games (15 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses) and returned from their tour with two live kangaroos which were given to Prague zoo on the team's return!

Football (proper football) is subheaded 'The World Game' in Australia, and that's obviously been the case for quite a while!

To read the article click here