Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Time

We had a really nice Christmas spent with one of Audrey's friend's whose family kindly agreed to 'put us up'. They made us a lovely meal and the warm day meant that we could enjoy a bit of traditional back-yard cricket as well.

As always the kids revelled in opening their presents and were happy with what they received. Highlight (for the umpteenth time running) was the bubble goo stuff which makes its way into the Christmas stockings every year.

We watched our fair share of Christmas films, the Muppet Christmas Carol and Elf being regular favourites and the kids both patiently worked their way through the advent calendars sent by my Mom (despite the lack of chocolate).

We also had great fun with a number of board games - the kids love Cluedo at the moment. It's a nice bonus of the kids getting older that they understand and follow rules for board games now.

Here's some pictures

always a winner on a Christmas morning

Dude Perfect t-shirts all round

Saturday, December 24, 2016

House Lights around Christmas

Not our house but there's an increasing number of houses decking their houses with lights every year. A group of them in Kambah didn't take part this year (which was a shame) but there was still plenty others to choose from and we cruised round to see them all.
Audrey is super-keen for us to follow suite. She asked me on Christmas eve whether I'd put some up with a conversation which started with "I know it's probably a bit late this year, but...."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bent wing Micro Bats

Three years ago as part of National Science week I took Eli to a bat night on Black Mountain. He talked about it for (literally) years afterwards. It prompted me to get in touch with the Australian Bat Society and they very kindly put me in touch with a guy from the NSW department of environment who monitors microbats in their habitat.

So it was we met up with Doug, and followed him the 80km or so out of Canberra to Wee Jasper. We've camped in the area before and I knew it was full of limestone caverns. In one of the caves Doug explained was a 'nursery site' where at this time of year bats give birth to their young. The cave was one of only three in southern NSW (the others are at the coast and in Goulburn).

Doug had clearly been to the site many times before and quickly set up his infra red camera and workstation. He was able to monitor the calls, the humidity and temperature as well as film the bats. Afterwards he takes the film back to the office, where a software program allows him to count the number of bats flying out. Doug explained that in this particular colony there were around 25,000 bats.

The bats started emerging from the cave around 9pm and we watched them for over 40 minutes. Doug told us a different spot to stand which meant that the bats were flying over our heads (and all around us) it was a fabulous experiece.

Most Micro bats roost in trees, but the Eastern Bent-wing is one of the few micro bats preferring caves. The kids loved the experience as much as me.

Afterwards we headed back through the dark back to Canberra. We spied a wombat on the way and loads of kangaroos which hopped skittishly besides (but not fortunately in front of) our car.

It was a lovely night out and one we'll remember for a long time to come.

The bats emerging

I didn't take this photo, but it gives you an idea of size

the kids watching the monitoring

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Audrey living the life

Audrey sipping an orange juice at a friend's party the other day. It was a nice cool evening and the heat of the day had dissipated - the perfect time for a float.

It's cherry time!

Christmas is a time for stone fruit - the markets are full of nectarines and peaches and ubiquitous cherry stalls.

We bought 2 kilos on Sunday and we'll munch our way through them during the week. Here is a picture of the kids eating them (they do stain their t-shirts pretty badly and the pink is pretty hellish to get out out!)

Eli's fanclub heads to high-school

I picked the kids up for what was their last day of the school year. The culmination of year 1 for Elijah and year 3 for Audrey. Both the kids have done really well this year and I was so proud of their efforts. It's lovely seeing them learn, develop and question things around them. They both have great imaginations and I hope they hold onto them as they get older. 

I'd be lying if I said it hadn't been a real struggle at times getting school work done, school clothes bought (occasionally patched) and washed. Combine this with getting the kids dropped off and picked up or safely transported somewhere and it becomes pretty tricky juggling everything. Both A&E have had really supportive teachers and the school community is pretty strong. I'm also grateful to our resolute babysitter Maree who contines to help out with pick ups twice a week and without whose help I would be completely sunk. There's no doubt that parenting is definitely a two person job and the many kids at the school who have grandparents as back-up are particularly lucky. Unfortunately my two are just stuck with me.

As we left school an entourage of girls descended on Eli. They were all leaving the school and heading to High School next year and although they were going to miss each other most of them seemed to be crying about the fact that they wouldn't see Eli on a daily basis any more. He cuddled nearly all of them and left red-eyed and teary. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

ABC 666 Giving Tree

We went along to St.John's in Reid who were organising 'The Giving Tree' an initiative for Canberra's poor and disadvantaged community. Part of it was a Christmas wrapping competition which the kids entered (and won!) Here is a pic taken by ABC 666. The kids were interviewed on the radio and gave a great account of themselves!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Australia v New Zealand day-night cricket

I picked the kids up from after school care and on the short drive home (listening to the cricket on the radio) we all decided to head to Manuka rather than back for dinner and bed.

Australia were playing (and beat quite easily) New Zealand and we arrived in time to watch pretty much the whole of the New Zealand innings. I had to talk my way into the ground for the three of us (I didn't want to buy a ticket which were pretty pricey) and when we were inside the ground I explained to the kids that this is called 'blagging' an important lesson learnt methinks.

They loved the atmosphere as there was music after every boundary - a few beachballs bouncing around amongst us, several Mexican waves and a beer snake. The kids feasted on pink ice creams.

It made for a late night (I think we got home about 10.15pm) and the kids were wrecked the next day for school, but it's pretty much the end of what has been a really long term, so I didn't really mind knowing that they would probably sleep-walk through the next day of classes.

enjoying an ice cream

The stunning sunset
pink sherbet ice cream

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Budding Brumbies

Each year the Brumbies organise a 'Budding Brumbies' rugby session over four weeks. It's really well organised and Eli has been going for a few years (I think Amy took him originally).

This year the course culminated at Brumbies HQ and the kids were trained by the Brumbies first team squad and had a chance to have their picture taken with the squad afterwards. It's such a lovely atmosphere there and Eli absolutely loves it.

Audrey climbing the goal post

Eli with the first team Brumbies squad - so cool!

Fancy spag bol...

Merry Beach Camping Trip

We had a lovely long weekend of camping at Merry Beach on the NSW South Coast. The weather was just about perfect (apart from a bit of wind which picked up on Friday night.

Merry Beach is beautiful and we camped right on the edge of the beach. The kangaroos there are always very brave/tame and hopped along at dinner time to see what everyone was eating. We had fun flying our rocket, a cliff walk and a mini golf tournament (Audrey fared best of all of us).

Fresh prawns delivered daily

our encampment

mini golf

mini golf

Audrey on the 18th tee
beach cricket

coffee stop

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Audrey's class

Audrey's class had to write their name on a piece of paper and then circulate it around the class and their classmates were invited to write what they thought of that person. I haven't found out yet whether the project was censored (i.e. nothing nasty!) but I was so chuffed to see some of the things her friends had written about her (accepting that the spelling is a bit dodgy!). I'll have to chat to her teacher to understand some of the context of it (as it sounds like it was potentially a pretty risky exercise!).

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Crazy Saturday

I'm kinda used to rushing around after the kids, but Saturday got a bit extreme due to Audrey's impeding dance concert. She's been working so hard to make the routine she's working on a success and is so excited that me and Eli are going along to watch her on the stage at Canberra Theatre in a couple of weeks.

Our diary on Saturday therefore looked something like this...

9am Swimming
11.30 Dance rehearsal no.1
(grocery shopping while Audrey was dancing)
(Audrey haircut immediately following first rehearsal)
1.45 drop Elijah at his mate's for indoor football
2.15 Audrey's horse riding lesson
2.30 watch Eli's football game
3.15 collect Audrey from horse riding
3.30 make-up Audrey's face(!)
3.45 Dance rehearsal no.2

We had a little tick-sheet and the kids helped me tick things off the list as we went!

Afterwards we headed into Yarralumla for the excellent Nara festival - celebrating all things Japanese- it seemed to be much bigger this year with a couple of stages and plenty of food and entertainment. We then had a couple of little boys stay-over for a sleep-over and had (by comparison) a relatively relaxed Sunday! (with only football training and a party!)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Solar system model

Audrey and I made this solar system model over the last few days. It features all the planets in the solar system as well as a number of the bigger moons!

I experimented with a number of different types of wire for its construction from metal coathangers (too thick) to pipecleaners (too thin) but settled on florists wire. Planets are polystyrene balls painted with poster paints.

Audrey got really engrossed in it all and we had to call a halt after doing the four main moons of Jupiter otherwise it was all going to get a bit carried away!

She also headed off to school with a load of chocolate rocks which she was going to use as the asteroid belt (or more likely just scoff with her mates).

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Queensland Ballet Company

Audrey was lucky enough to be chosen to take part in a workshop organised by Canberra Theatre and the Queensland Ballet company during the school holidays at the tranquil and pretty Gormon House. She had a really lovely time and ended each day with a smile on her face. Certainly the quality of the teaching was excellent. I think it was probably a one-off (QBC are performing the nutcracker in Canberra shortly) but she had loads of fun and gained ever so many new skills.

It was great seeing her performing at the end of the week concert - they did ballet, contemporary and jazz routines.

I tried to pass onto Audrey my extensive experience of jazz dancing..which basically extends to 'jazz hands' but she didn't seem to take me seriously. Nor did the guys at QBC who seemed a little underwhelmed at my talent.

Certificate - going straight to the pool room.

Mexican Orange Blossom and Painted Lady

A butterfly enjoying the flowers in our sunny garden.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Elijah's Merit Certificate

The kid's school has a nice system of regularly recognising the work that the children have done during classes. This morning was Elijah's turn to pick up a merit certificate - he also has a wall at the school pretty much dedicated to all the great work he has been producing! #proudDad #hisMum'sbrains

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Floriade 2016

Floriade is a big deal in Canberra's calendar - an annual flower festival which takes place in Commonwealth Park. The festival has been in the news recently as the National Capital Authority (a National/federal body which looks after all of the federal land in Canberra) have been in conflict with the ACT Government which looks after the 'local' land (via the Land Development Agency). It's all very complicated, but suffice to say the two bodies don't always seem to get along and appear to be at loggerheads as to whether the festival remains in Commonwealth Park or moves to another park. This therefore could be the last year in it's current location. 

Either way, the festival draws throngs of visitors from other parts of Australia and this time of year coachloads of people head to the nations capital!

The festival had been going for a month, but we hadn't managed to time a family visit because we had been otherwise tied up with football, netball, swimming, horse-riding, karate etc. Sunday was actually the final day of the festival and so we, along with thousands of others made time to go along to have a look.

Unfortunately the last month has been beset with quite heavy rain and winds and so a number of the beds were 'past their best', but generally it was still pretty spectacular. It was notable as this was the first time that the organisers had used 'drop in beds' (essentially huge boxes of flowers) rather than ones grown on site. Somehow it wasn't the same, but still effective and fundamentally the festival is FREE - so it's difficult to complain!

The kids took part in a free flower arranging session and got to take home some lovely blooms (about half a dozen people asked me where we had bought the bunches from!)

We spent a really nice Sunday afternoon there - the kids ending it with sticky fairy floss (candy floss).

Audrey working on her display

Eli with his bunch of flowers- nobody got my Oasis joke (oasis is the green foam that holds the flowers and my Wonderwall rendition was completely wasted)


fairy floss

more flowers