Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas in Australia’s hot, cold and frosty’s what it’s not

So our first Christmas without Amy. I guess there’s going to be a few ‘firsts’ like that, first birthdays, anniversaries, holidays etc. None of them welcome, but we got through things ok. In a way it was a strange thing – I miss Amy every day, so Christmas day wasn’t particularly much different in that respect. (We used to enjoy Christmas Day even though Amy never relished the fact that I insisted on brussel sprouts every year!)

The kids loved opening their presents in the morning and then we went to the Hyatt – a posh “old” hotel in Canberra with some friends for lunch. It was a nice time – the hotel had a huge buffet and Audrey and Eli loved the kid's room which served very posh chicken nuggets and gave the option to make your own ice cream.

Both the kids got their wishes from Santa. Audrey had her heart set on an ipad but fortunately wasn’t too disappointed when it didn’t show up.

Balloon Magic - an annual favourite in Santa's stocking

Balloon Magic Fun 
Audrey by (a small fraction of) the food on offer at the Hyatt

Me ringing a bell wearing a paper crown while my friend Anthony's trousers fit in with the curtains

Monday, December 22, 2014

Who's No.1?

To access healthcare in Australia you have to possess a Medicare card. As Amy was Australian and I am a migrant, she was always listed first on the card. Next to your name is a number. Amy was (rightly) always No.1.

Whenever we had to produce the card either for our own medical appointments or for the kids Amy would always point out that she was No.1 on the card and I was No.2 as if it represented the order of importance in the family. In fact a truer representation would have placed me at No.4 or No.6 (when the guinea pigs were alive). Amy had a lot of medical appointments - neither of us tired of the joke.

Since Amy's death I have been going through the unenviable task of informing people. I've let most of the institutions know, but there's a long list of organisations you'd never think of until they write to you.

When my new Medicare card arrived, I figured that (despite the horribleness of everything) at least I'd now be No.1. When I opened up the envelope though this is how it now looks - it really made me chuckle. Amy I know you're somewhere with a smirk on your face as well. Looks like you'll always be No.1.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Googong Dam

A friend took me fishing to nearby Googong Dam, while his kind wife looked after Audrey and Eli.

Googong Dam is near Queanbeyan and supplies some of Canberra's water. Despite its proximity to Canberra I hadn't been there before - we often take day trips to Cotter Dam but for some reason haven't ever ventured to Googong.

It's a really beautiful spot. The water is clear (as you'd hope with a reservoir!) and it's a lovely expanse of water with very few people milling around. There's a large housing estate being built nearby so I suspect some of the tranquility will disappear but for now it's fabulous.

My mate had a tip-off about a 'secret spot' to fish - this is always the way with fishing - everyone knows an undiscovered area where the fish practically jump out of the water and a piece of string and bent rusty nail can land you a monster specimen which as well as providing a meal for a family for a week can be mounted above your fireplace for your grandchildren to admire. The guy I went with is a marine biologist so as we traipsed over hills and cut through grassland I did have some faith in his secret fishing location.

In the end (during about 5 hours) we caught one fish between us. A medium sized redfin perch. Not even a native. The only debate was whether to throw the fish back in or not. In the end we did. 

Despite our lack of success, the area is undoubtedly beautiful. I know my Dad (a keen fisherman) would have admired how picturesque it is. I'm sure we'll take a trip out there again. Perhaps we'll just have a family barbecue next time and leave the fishing to others.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Justine Clarke comes to town

We've had a long-term 'thing' going with Justine Clarke - in case you're out of the children's entertainer loop she's a multi-talented actress/singer/playschool presenter. The kids love her (and I admit I've always had a soft spot for her too).

We've seen her in concert umpteen times from small venues when she was starting out on her solo singing career to the latest performance where she filled the Canberra Theatre for several sell out shows full of singing/dancing children.

I bought tickets to see her some months ago (April or May I think) as soon as I saw that she was coming to Canberra and my keenness meant that I was the first through to the booking office and secured us tickets in the middle of Row AA. Amy and I were looking forward to the show - she always teased me about my infatuation.

Sadly as you know Amy didn't make the show in December. A friend of Audrey's took her seat. I wrote to Justine to request a song in Amy's honour. Justine played it for the three of us even though it wasn't on her set list for Canberra. That's just the sort of person she is.

Audrey's friend was well versed in all the songs and we danced and sang throughout the concert. I'm not sure how many more the kids will get in as it feels like they're a bit on the cusp of being too old and no doubt the switch-over to boy-band will happen before too long.

It'll be a sad day when the kids don't want to go any more and much as I admire/love Justine I think it would be a tadge strange to go on my own!

The view from Row AA

I like to sing!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Racecourse Beach

I joined a group of Dads (there were six of us in all) and headed down to Racecourse Beach (near Bawley Point) on the South Coast for a short 3 day break. Initially planned as a camping trip we all changed at the last minute to cabins.

It turned out to be a wise move as the rain beat down on the roof on the Friday night, it would have been a very soggy morning if we had awoken under canvass.

It drizzled throughout Saturday, but it didn't really curtail our fun - the beach was a 100 metre walk over a ridge was beautiful and we splashed in the pool despite the rain. Sunday was much brighter and so it was late in the afternoon before we turned to home and arrived back in Canberra happy but weary.

Here's some pics

beautiful 'unspoilt' Rainbow Beach

Audrey on the flying fox

Blow up tyres - courtesey of Aldi ($7.99)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Proud of my children

We had a hectic (and expensive) afternoon on Tuesday with trips to the podiatrist and dentist. When we arrived at the dentist both of the kids told me that they had been to the dentist “recently” with Mummy. Neither could tell me exactly when it was - whether it was in the last year or which dentist they’d been to! I took it on the chin and thought there’d be no harm in a second visit(!)

After handing over half my wages (the dentist looked in Elijah's mouth for about 10 seconds and charged me $79) the three of us headed to the nearby supermarket.

Just before we reached the self-service check out I asked the kids, “We’re doing ok, aren’t we?”. 

Rightly or wrongly I’ve occasionally found myself “checking-in” with them to make sure they’re ok and they’re coping with our new “normal”. Amy is ALWAYS in our life, we often talk about her and I feel her presence and power so often.

On this occasion Audrey was surprised that I had asked the question. The two of them were mucking around and hanging from the side of the trolley in typical fashion and she turned to me with a surprised expression and replied, “Of course we are!”.

Moments later when we reached the checkout both her and her brother obediently jumped down from the trolley and without prompting started unloading the trolley for me, scanning it and packing it into bags (they didn’t have the ability to pay for the shopping but I’m sure they would have done!)
They are such lovely children.