Sunday, August 30, 2015

Brick Expo

Brick Expo is an annual weekend where amateur Lego builders get to show off their talents.

It's eagerly anticipated in our household and a small group of us have started up a little custom of meeting at the show then heading off for a joint Sunday lunch/brunch.

Tickets for the expo sell out and so you have to book well in advance (I bought our tickets at the start of August).

This year's show didn't disappoint.
There were the usual Star Wars dioramas and a host of castles and Knights as well as a large room filled with cars and trains.
In addition this year had a vast mosaic of Emmet (from the Lego movie) a film which must have bouyed even further a really dominant toy. A whole load of people in Star Wars outfits also wander around the place variously entertaining and/or terrifying the kids at the show.

The kids loved it. The restaurant which we eat at has also changed hands and now offered a massive buffet (the biggest and most diverse I've ever seen apart from perhaps the Hilton in Warsaw) and the kids had three desserts to wrap up a fun morning.

Minions are flavour of the month

Imagine about another 50 tables like this and you get an idea of the Expo!

A view of the Millennium Falcon

Mr Squiggle (only means anything if you're Australian!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

School Disco

The day before Audrey's birthday the kids enjoyed their school disco. Somehow or another we've managed to go every year. The kids do enjoy the night out as it involves a big dark hall, playing loud music while they run/dance around with their mates eating junk food. What is there not to like!

I remember one year they allowed parents to drop their kids off and disappear off. By the end of the evening the hall resembled purgatory with kids high on sugar running around crazily unsupervised while La Vida Loca played in the background with the volume turned up to 11. Not good. The last couple of years have been more sedentary due to increased supervision but the night remains still ever so slightly manic.

Inevitably and without trying, Eli woos a whole collection of girls who follow him around throughout the night. Here's a short video of him getting into the groove.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Old William Wordsworth once wrote the eternal line;

"I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils"

A few years ago I planted my own host of daffodils outside of our front door and every year with their blooming they remind me that Spring is only a footstep away. Here they are again. It's cold and wet outside, but the yellow smiley heads (of the daffodils - not the kids) reassure me that it will soon be time for Eli and Audrey to be back in shorts* and summer dresses.

*I'll be so pleased for Eli to be back in shorts as I'm really sick of patching trouser knees!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Audrey's 8th Birthday

I can't believe our little girl is 8! She is growing into an independent (and sometimes outspoken!) young girl. It's lovely seeing her grow up, but also a little sad that this was her first birthday party without her Mum.

Audrey had decided to celebrate her birthday with a ten pin bowling party.

There were nine girls (and five boys) in all and everyone really enjoyed themselves. After a game of bowling which both Audrey and Eli did really well at, we retired to the party room for nuggets and chips and Katy Perry cake! and then onto the amusement arcade in the bowling alley.

I must admit I'd been sceptical at first when Audrey had suggested bowling as a theme/venue, but actually it was really well organised, good fun and also meant that you could walk away at the end of the party and leave some of the mess behind. The kids were all really well mannered (a Dad remarked how surprised he was to see how well all the kids behaved), everyone (kind of) understood the scoring system (a bit difficult to grasp even as an adult) and no one sent balls down the wrong alley or ran down to try and kick the skittles over. I'm not sure I was so well behaved as an 8 year old.

Oh yeah, and someone scored 125. That must have been me (although I must admit having the 'bumpers' down the side of the lanes probably scored me an extra point or two!

Happy Birthday Audrey!

Katy Perry Cake!

Audrey and her friends (Claire, Amber and Sophia)

the boy's end of the table! (Elliot and Alexander)

Encouraging positive behaviour through play

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Eli's school trip to Blundell's Cottage and the National Capital Exhibition

It's not everyday you voluntarily agree to spend the day with fifty odd six year olds. Indeed as the previous day had witnessed snow in Canberra for the first time in a decade I wondered quite how far my masochistic desires extended.

I'd agreed to help out with Eli's school trip. It was actually really nice as I haven't been able to help out that much at school recently. I'd resigned from my prestigious spot on the school vacuuming roster and I'd missed the last couple of school outings.

Eli and the two kinder classes were headed for the National Capital Exhibition (a small, but very well put together exhibition which describes the story of Canberra) and Blundell's Cottage, an original 1860's cottage which once stood in the sheep paddock that was Canberra, but now with the city's topography considerably changed nestles by the edge of Lake Burley Griffin.

We'd all been to the National Capital Exhibition a couple of years ago, but with a guide the exhibition was really enhanced. Amongst other things there's a great interactive map there which describes the formation of Canberra's parliamentary triangle.

Canberra, (like the Australian flag and national anthem) was designed as part of a competition. It was won by an American Walter Burley Griffin, whose winning entry (from 137 entries) has shaped Australia's capital over the last 100 years. Walter Burley Griffin's plan was well worked and was designed for the future. It made full use of the natural elements of Canberra's geography.

Sadly for Walter Burley Griffin the commencement of Canberra also coincided with the start of World War I, so much of Australia's funding was diverted to the war effort. He planned much much more than actually got built - a train system linking north and south, modern buildings and much more intelligent road linkages than actually currently exist in the city in 2015. Griffin fell out with the Australian Government and removed himself from the construction of the city in 1920 (not something that's mentioned in the exhibition). In actual fact the more I read about Griffin the more I'm convinced that his wife (Marion Mahony) who was also an architect was actually more of the brains and driving force behind a lot of Canberra's construction.

I wonder what Canberra today would have looked like if it had been delivered to Griffin's actual plan.

Anyway, the kids loved it especially the design your own Canberra in lego part of the exhibition.

We had lunch and walked along the lake to Blundell's cottage. It's a ramshackle old cottage originally constructed in 1860. In Europe, I have absolutely no doubt that it would have been pulled down years ago, but in Australia old things are precious and in short supply. They've recently renovated the place - removing the donated knick-knacks that used to clutter it up and restored it more authentically to how it used to look when no less than three families lived in the tiny cottage. The last family had lived there as recently as 1961.

The folk at Blundell's cottage had laid on some audio visual stuff for the kids (really nicely presented on rugs by the side of the lake) and all the children really enjoyed comparing how life had been a hundred years ago, when Canberra was little more than a sheep paddock.

We headed back on the bus. There was no singing as most of the kids were exhausted. It was lovely to spend a day with my little boy.

Eli building a capital

Studying the 3D map

Looking out over the lake

Blundell's cottage

Much more fun than an ipad

Learning about the history of Blundell's Cottage

Proud, Ponder and Percival

The three amigos

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

School Photo Time!

These two drive me crazy at times, but I can't help loving them to bits!