Category Archives: Family

Birds? I’m driving . . .

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Australian Wood Duck

Australian Wood Duck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week, I’ve learned three things:
1. Don’t let the bird-watcher drive the car;
2. If the track looks like no-one uses it, there’s probably a reason; and
3. You’re never too old to be car sick.

I’m writing this now, so you can rest assured, it didn’t end too badly. But there was a moment I thought we were coming unstuck.

It was meant to be a pleasant country drive. A few hours out in the bush looking for birds and finding that perfect picnic spot. The reality became a mixture of terror, frustration and shallow breathing.

The so-called ‘track’ provided a perfect view over the nearby river. All good. Unfortunately, my husband was busy looking at the treetops and not overly concerned with the direction we were taking. Not so good.

Then the single-vehicle ‘track’ started getting thinner and the only way out took us down a 45 degree slope toward a watery canal. Again, not so good.

“We’ll have to go back,” I said.

“Not likely,” was the reply.

And looking back along the ‘track’, I could see the sense in that statement. Sadly, the alternative was no more enticing.

I braced myself for the worst as we made the death-defying descent.

I think I heard my husband laughing, but I can’t be sure. I couldn’t look at him. We got to the bottom and suddenly another track materialised. “Oh, there it is,” was all he said.

An hour of winding bush tracks followed. Around this time, lesson three made itself known.

All I know is this – birds may be beautiful. The bush may be too. But bitumen, sweet bitumen, is my best friend.

A glutton for gluten-free

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Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes (Photo credit: FamilySweetery)

So, we’re trialling a gluten-free diet in our household and one week in, we’re starting to see (or smell) a real difference.

I don’t want to lower the tone of this blog, but I can tell you that the eldest child is experiencing a lot fewer . . . um . . . ah-hmm . . . bottom burps. There, I said it. Let’s move on.

The only stumbling block so far has been tracking down enough suitable lunch box recipes to keep the kids happy.

Despite the recommendations of several helpful websites, I will not be packing a salad nicoise with tuna for any of my kids’ lunches. I’ve already said no to kabana and vegetable kebabs and closed the door on gluten-free sushi.

I want us to eat better. Not necessarily five star.

I’ve entered a new world where quinoa reigns supreme. Pronounce that right and its sounds even fancier.

I’ve been bemoaning a lack of reading time lately but it seems the quest for gluten-free food has solved that problem as well. I can spend hours reading labels in the supermarket aisles and still leave with just one or two things.

But we are not starving! Bags of rice have invaded our kitchen cupboards. Corn crumbs, corn flakes and cornflour have taken up residence in every other cabinet. Gone are the ready-made chicken strips, pies and cakes. I’m cooking again.

And with a bit of luck and some perseverance, we might just be a little healthier for it.

PS If you can recommend any good gluten-free sites, let me know. Much appreciated! 🙂

Fashion forays . . .

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Talons hauts

High heel heaven. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I live in a very image-conscious town. If you’re not wearing the right fashion brands by the time you reach pre-school, the other kids notice. Give them a few years, and it’s not uncommon to see local youngsters teetering down the street on a Friday night with hair that could knock out an overpass, eyelash extensions that could maim the unwary and skirts that would make a mother blush.

Now this may come as a shock, but I’m not one to worry much about brands, trends or fashion in general. Skinny jeans were my one concession. Most of the time, comfort is my top priority. If I had a style, it would lean more toward casual chic, smart casual or snappy casual.

Let’s face it . . . my wardrobe is casual.

So, when the opportunity arose last week to glam-it-up for a night on the town with my husband, I responded with equal parts excitement and trepidation.

I headed to my usual shopping centre but soon realised that while it’s crammed with fashion outlets, not all of them want me wearing their clothes. It was evident from the moment I walked in the door. One shop keeper saw me arrive and instantly disappeared out of sight. Another just turned her back.

I’ll admit I wasn’t dressed to impress and I chose not to wear makeup because I didn’t want to mark the clothes I was trying on. I did, however, have plans to purchase an entire outfit including shoes and jewellery . . . but apparently they didn’t like my money either.

On the flip-side, one shop assistant was particularly lovely. She gave me loads of advice and, as a result, I spent the bulk of my budget there. She directed me to her favourite shoe shop and there I found a set of heels higher than I’ve ever worn before (but not as high as some of the princesses I saw later that night staggering and lurching atop their five inch perches of peril).

In the end, my foray into the world of fashion ended quite happily. I think I rocked my chosen outfit and, to top it off, we had a great night out.

Next time the bright lights of the city’s night life call, I will be ready.

The case for cats . . .

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English: Young male tabby cat

English: Young male tabby cat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Owing to the backlash from last week’s blog, I have decided to dig deep and balance the scales on the whole ‘dog versus cat’ debate. I can’t make any promises, but here goes . . .

In my lifetime I’ve known several cats. There was Gustav, a white cat with shoe-polish ears; Symphony, a long-haired tortoise-shell with questionable night-time habits; Adolphus, a tabby with attitude to spare and his adopted brother Patches, a black and white feline – deaf as a doornail – who spent his days either sleeping on top of the fridge or taking pot shots at passers-by. As cats go, they were . . . cats.

My sister (the main source of last week’s backlash) was the owner of two more felines – Tinkerbell and Jakey. If there was a cat that was going to swing my opinion it would be one of those two. Before there were kids in my sister’s household, there were cats and as they grew so did the family. They were a yardstick – and occasional gearstick* – in her happy home.

This, I understand. Cats and dogs are there through all the good, bad and middling bits. Their presence is attached to memories of all sorts of events that span the years. Whether they’re watching from a perch on top of the fridge, curled up at the foot of the bed or laying claim to the best seat on the couch, they are still a member of the household.

In my sister’s words:

“It’s not that cats are better than dogs, they’re just different.”

Besides, no-one said you couldn’t love a furry tyrant bent on world domination.

Meow. 🙂

 

*I searched high and low for a picture of a cat in the gearstick pose. Sadly, no luck. You’ll just have to imagine it for yourself.

The gift that gives twice

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Gifted Magazine

Gifted Magazine (Photo credit: Creature Comforts)

Mothers’ Day has been and gone. So what have we learned?

The answer is simple – the best gift of all is the gift you’d give to yourself.

I awoke on Mothers’ Day to a tepid cup of tea made direct from the tap and a bowl of soggy cereal lovingly carted up the stairs and liberally dripped all over them.

Sleep in? What sleep in? They were bouncing on the bed in no time demanding that I get up and open their presents.

Okay, okay. First up was a little wooden box lovingly decorated with whale stickers. This was a treat! The youngest has an un-abiding passion for sea creatures. So, for him to share his sticker collection was a big step indeed. There were hushed discussions at the foot of the bed about wanting his killer whale sticker back, but his sister held firm. “You can’t have it yet!” she said.

Next up was an origami cup with personalised tea bag. Lipton’s tag had been replaced by another reading ‘Enjoy you cuppa’ on one side and ‘I love you’ on the other. Aw, shweet!

Last but not least was a multi-media canvas featuring hearts, spots, squiggles and more.

After much admiration, the energetic trio left me in peace to enjoy my morning cuppa and by the time I was finished – it had long turned cold – I was ready to find new homes for my prezzies. But where had they gone?

A little investigation revealed that my sea creature box now had pride of place on the youngest child’s book shelf and was already loaded up with treasures. My tea bag had relocated to the mid-kid’s room amongst a collection of other bits and bobs while the canvas adorned the wall of the eldest child’s room.

It’s the gesture that counts after all. 🙂

Have tent, will travel . . .

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Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum)

Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum) (Photo credit: Arthur Chapman)

Someone said “camping” and I found myself agreeing to three days and two nights in the great outdoors. But not without some trepidation.

I should point out that the last time I went camping was in 1991. It was a school trip. We spent two nights shivering under canvas at the base of a dam wall – anything could have happened. And it did.

Between tent-hopping twins, the joys of public shower facilities and the ever present threat of dam wall collapse we spent our time variously hiking, freezing and starving.

I’ve never been so happy to see the not-so-bright-lights of home.

Fast forward to last week’s grand adventure and I found myself hunkered down under canvas once more. No dam wall hanging over our shoulders this time but the ever present threat of venomous tent guests, fast flowing river currents just metres from our door and a forest of trees with a tendency to drop their limbs when you least expect it.

After a night of all-too-frequent trips to the loo (thanks to the mid-kid and her nervous bladder) we headed to the river for a spot of fishing. All was going well until the youngest realised that once you fish them out, they never go back in. There were tears. His world would never be the same again.*

Night two and we spent an hour spotting kangaroos out on the sandhills. With the count nearing one hundred we returned to camp and settled in once more. Surely they would sleep tonight.

Ah, no. The youngest slept soundly. But the mid-kid was anxious about her nervous bladder which only made matters worse. The eldest talked more in her sleep than she does in the everyday and the husband developed a tummy bug.

Oh the joys of camping. Apparently it went so well, we’re doing it again. Soon.

*Now every meal is preceded by the question “What did we kill for this?”

Oh, Miguel! Where are you?

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P3101501

P3101501 (Photo credit: a_b_normal123)

I didn’t plan it this way. When I woke up this morning, it didn’t even cross my mind. But just a few hours later I found myself standing in line buying a book I didn’t want, just to get an autograph I never knew I needed.

Perhaps it was the delectable Spanish accent that kept me waiting in line for so long. Maybe it was the whole tall-dark-handsome thing or the roguish smile and cheeky sense of humour.

All I know is that I paid $30 for a book about Spanish cooking that I will probably never use. And let’s face it – this is no audio-book. So we don’t even get to hear that Spanish-English accent that makes Miguel Maestre so appealing.

That said, my kids were pretty chuffed about meeting a celebrity chef. So we stood in line as countless women before us got the kiss on both cheeks and the signature we so desperately wanted.

Then it was our turn. Miguel Maestre stood before us, pen in hand, smile at the ready. But before he could reach for our book, there was a whisper in his ear. He was needed for a taste-test. Could we wait just a minute?

“Sure,” I said. The kids had waited this long, a few more minutes wouldn’t kill us.

Moments passed and a woman appeared where Miguel should have been. He was going to be another hour. The taste-test had turned into a cook-off. Could we come back?

Probably not, I thought to myself. “Sure,” I said and turned away.

The couple behind me stepped forward. “Oh, but we’re leaving,” they gushed. “Could we just get his autograph?”

“Follow me,” said the woman while I stood back, just a little bit annoyed.

Minutes later, the couple re-appeared. He was smiling. She was glowing. What on earth had gone on back there?

Having never planned to buy Miguel’s book, much less get his autograph, I was now oddly peeved.

What to do? I gave up. There was no way I was entertaining three kids while we waited for Miguel to finish cooking.

But my husband was not so easily put off. He sat through that cooking demonstration, lined up with the throngs of excited fans and got that autograph.

The only thing he didn’t get was the double kiss. Oh well. The book is signed. It’s on a shelf. Mission accomplished.