Friday, December 27, 2013


Corn, one of his favourite veggies, is currently growing stunningly in our garden, so he's eating a lot of it!  If he sees an uncooked cob in the kitchen, he'll grab it and happily eat it, just like a cooked one, and will not be told that it's not ready. Also, the picture shows that he is not at all methodical in his approach to eating around a cob!

I started reading Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for the first time in a few years. He traces meals back to their sources. I'm 15% through it, and so far it's ALL about corn! This makes sense as you begin to realise that more than a quarter of the items for sale in a grocery store contain corn.

The crop we've been growing is just beautiful! I don't think we've ever grown something that gets more comments and admiration from visitors than our corn crop! B has been experimenting with when to pick and eat them, and has also discovered that each cob houses one fat resident grub, who has only nibbled at the very top! The grub goes to the chickens (I think they befriend them...) and the cob comes into the kitchen. The bit that's most exciting, I think, is that B planted beans around the corn, so that they can (and do) climb up! You can see (in the picture) the crop's first purple beans growing rapidly longer!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

brown dog cafe & gabba antiques


 He thinks the cafe is awesome, especially if we get the right table (that has a drawer full of cars) - which we did this week! He also spent some time sitting at another table, colouring in with a girl and her mum. 
At our next stop, he was thoroughly happy to entertain himself while we tried on dresses. I can't help but think that the toy house was strategically placed nearby for just this reason.
Oh, and he was singing "Here Comes The Sun" over and over throughout the morning!


I love school holidays! This is because I get to play with teacher friends who are, during school terms, completely swallowed up by their work. I remember those days...! Our morning started out at the Brown Dog cafe, one of our regular holiday meeting points, with the best breakfast in Brisbane and a great chai, before we strolled to the Gabba Antique Centre and found a huge assortment of amazing dresses. So we bought each other Christmas presents...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

big rellie christmas!


He was mainly interested in the piano and playing with his Nanma, Pa, Aunty, Uncle and Cousin, although he did have some nice smiles and waves, for other rellies (particularly when being given a jelly star). And homemade Christmas decorations for all of the Great Aunties (hanging on the flowers in the picture).

We headed out to Ropely, to the idyllic little church hall, surrounded by farmland, where the big rellie Christmas gathering (maybe 100 of us?) was happening again this year.


  Before we left, we wandered down, with our immediate family, to the pretty cemetery, to give our love (and a Christmas decoration) to Nanna and Grandad. It was nice - probably my highlight of the day.

Monday, December 23, 2013

library amnesty tins

I don't know if he was more impressed by the tree or the mountains of colourful tins below it, but he wanted to stay and stare for quite a while.

I knew that our council libraries regularly had an 'amnesty' where you can bring in a tin of food to donate to a charity foodbank and, in exchange, they cancel your late fees. I thought this was such a lovely idea but had never needed to make use of it. Until now. Serendipitously, I had my first overdue book just as this year's Christmas amnesty was announced! I had been quite flustered that we couldn't find the book (yes, I know - that means 'lost', not just 'late'). I had been looking for weeks, and even found it once, before it disappeared again. But, in the week before Christmas, on the morning that we were already planning on heading to the library with friends, I looked in one last place (of course) and there, like a bright red beacon, was "Purr", staring up at me, asking to go home for Christmas. B said he thought I'd seen a spider by the volume of the scream I let out when I found it!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

brisbane christmasness


  Top Left: On our way to the free nightly carols and Christmas movie, we ran into one of his favourite people (who turned NINE last week - how can that be?!) who he took by the hand and wandered off with for a walk/play/chat/explore while we chatted to her mum.
Top Right: Window displays in the Mall. I've always loved these, and have great memories of watching these when I was a kid! He was enthralled! He stared and described and then demanded that we go back to look at each window again.
Bottom Left: Parade! He saw real reindeer, camels and donkey (with Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus), a giant inflatable gingerbread man, teddy and train, acrobatic mice, drummers, singers, dancers... Wonderful!
Bottom Right: Watching the City Hall lights.

Carols at South Bank - I really do love this stuff! We met a friend there for tasty crepe picnic and sang along with a few songs. 

There is so much happening locally, for free, to help us feel Christmassy! It's quite beautiful, and we really don't feel like we've been exposed to TOO much tackiness. It's hard to make the most of everything, but we've done our best:
- We went to South Bank carols and got a bit scared by the fireworks.
- We watched (part of) the free outdoor Christmas movie (Elf - yay!). 
- We happened upon one of the big Christmas Lights house displays. 
- We checked out the Valley Christmas Markets - but they were terrible!
- We saw City Hall's BEAUTIFUL light show/display. 
- We saw the Christmas pantomime in King George Square - well, he could see it from B's shoulders, I could only catch glimpses of it through the crowd. I'm pretty sure I didn't miss much.
- We visited the gorgeous Myer window displays in the mall.
- We saw the Christmas parade through the mall - it was great!
- We saw the giant Christmas tree. WITH A GIANT STAR ON TOP!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

thursday by the bay

 It was a very 'Him' outing: op shops, train rides, a doting friend with time to play and a magical, light-up, stamping, bubble pen...

It's usually called "Wynnum Wednesday", but we changed days this time, so obviously needed a new name. Once in a while, we catch the train out to Wynnum/the bay and meet friends for op-shopping and a cup of tea. If the weather's right, we can also incorporate some paddling! Highlights were hanging with 'East Side' friends, some excellent treasure (including a new toothbrush pot) and the buskers (pictured). I should have filmed them, they were playing the most beautiful Christmas music, and they really helped the day to feel festive! They started playing just as we started shopping, and were still going as we walked back to the train to head home. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

giant bubbles


A friend that lived downstairs briefly, recently, was going through a bubble phase. She had giant bubble sticks and a bucket of amazing bubble mixture. He had A LOT of fun with her. She even made him a pair of mini bubble sticks.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I enjoy making and gazing at magical giant bubbles (well, any bubbles, really) almost as much as (i.e more than) the little people do. But I'm starting to suspect that other grown-ups do too! Our bubble housemate wrote out the recipe for me when she moved out (I found this attached to our back door), so I'm sharing the happiness here. I recently hunted down all of the ingredients, and bought a bucket with a lid to create my own batch of happiness! And I made another couple of pairs of bubble sticks. I got to test it all out properly when our little neighbourhood friends came over for a Christmas party this week. SUCH fun!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

covert operations

He ran down the hallway and disappeared into my room. I found him our bed, hiding behind the curtain, calling, "Where are you? Where are you?" (Which means he wants me to ask where he is and then make a great show of looking for him.)

It was definitely time. "Giraffey" was looking sad and grey and was in dire need of a dose of soapy water and sunshine. I really wasn't sure how to go about this, as Giraffey is a much treasured part of everything that happens at home: eating, sleeping and playing. So, with a sunny morning forecast, I crept into his room at 5am, unpeeled his arms from Giraffey, washed him and hung him to dry (making sure that plenty of other laundry was hanging in between Giraffey and any potential viewing areas.) We then spent the morning distracting him whenever he asked, "Where's Giraffey?" Thankfully, we went out for most of the morning and Giraffey was dry by nap time.
During the whole expedition, from sneaking, to washing, to distracting, I kept asking myself, "Is this really what I've become?!" Oh dear.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

team amanda success

 The industrious 2nd generation of "Team Amanda". 

We have some beautiful friends in Toowoomba. Not so far away, but it is always so difficult to find windows of shared available time between two busy families. Ten years ago, well before any little boys arrived in our families, we traveled together through Cambodia and Vietnam. We named ourselves "Team Amanda" after someone rode past us with a shirt that said, boldly, "I'm on Amanda's Team", just as we were looking for a team name. Perfect. The trip was incredible (the photo is just before sunrise at Angkor Wat) and we had grand plans of frequent, spontaneous "Team Amanda" catch-ups, where we'd get in our cars, drive until we met each other, and find the nearest eating venue. It was a great plan but it never actually happened. Also, there's not so many eating venue options half-way between our houses... These days, when we realise it's been too long since we've played together, we catch each other on skype, open our calendars and exchange ideas until we find a weekend that suits both families. Then we cross our fingers and hope that nothing foils our plans! Last weekend, it worked!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

christmas cookies

He is our little gingerbread man, some friends 'found' the outfit for him! I thought that would be all I had to report about him and Christmas cookies, but, while friends were over on Saturday evening, I was finishing some baking, and he climbed on our friend's lap and began rolling and cutting cookie shapes, just like he'd seen us doing. Perfectly! I don't know why I thought I'd wait until next year to get him properly involved (possibly because of how much ended up in his mouth - although this will, surely, only increase during the coming years)!


My Mom has always baked Christmas cookies to give away to friends and neighbours. It's quite an operation, and quite an extensive list of recipes! I can think of 8 different types right now, off the top of my head, and she made multiple batches of each. I became responsible for jamborees, and helped with a couple of others, usually doing some icing/decorating, and my sister made the brownies. I LOVED this time of year at home, the kitchen bench was loaded with towers of ice-cream containers full of tasty treats. They seemed to magically appear, I don't know when she did it all. I do this on a smaller scale, myself, now. Usually early in the morning, before anyone else is awake. I made the jamborees yesterday (with orange marmalade made by a neighbour, from another neighbour's home-grown oranges), and I've also made two types of truffles and another cookie recipe so far this year. And i invented 'top deck hedgehog slice'. I don't know if I'll get around to doing any more, we'll see! I've 'tasted' a fair bit of cookie dough in the past week... Is it irresponsible that I choose which cookies to bake based on my knowledge of how good the particular doughs taste?

Monday, December 16, 2013

bird names

Through books and real life he's been interested, for some time, in specific bird names, not content with calling things a generic 'bird'. Kookaburras are an obvious favourite, but he also loves to name noisy mynas, robins, toucans, ibis, turkeys, ducks, crows, penguins, grebes, fairy wrens, swans, cockatoos... 

On my morning walk/jog I sometimes see Gerald out exercising on the street, too. Though we've known each other for some years, we still just give each other polite nods and continue on our way. He used to hang out in our back yard regularly, though he hasn't visited in a while (possibly due to a rocky love/hate relationship with the chickens). We were excited for him when he first brought his lady, Geraldina, to visit, and (of course) baby Gerry a few months later. Gerry's all grown up now, but I'm not sure what he's up to in terms of vocation. 
Although we don't catch up like we used to, I still feel a warm, nostalgic fondness when I pass him on the street.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2-week course


He did a heroic job of entertaining himself for an hour at the House Centre (Community House) each morning - drawing, eating breakfast, reading, going through mummy's bag, banging chairs, whispering to the course participants about one of his current fascinations ("Can I see your toothbrush?"), babyccino-ing, opening cupboards, greeting visitors...

The Community Orientation Course has just finished. Most of my work was done before the actual course began, but I still tried to be there regularly throughout the two weeks. I feel as though I was able to be a little more present this time (than last time) - spending an hour each morning with them for debriefing the previous day and briefing the present day, as well as some of the day and evening sessions and events. It was a lovely group of 10 individuals who were prepared to be challenged and inspired. It's such a privilege to be involved and I love getting to know the others who organise/run it (as well as those who attend). It's a big part of my life at the moment. My highlights were probably the small group sessions at the Artspace cafe around the corner. It's been a pretty busy 2 weeks.

Saturday, December 14, 2013



Justine Clark is definitely on his short-list of favourite music. It's pretty fun. He'll often request her album, and then just lie down to listen. Sometimes he plays with toys, dances or sings, or gets up close to the TV screen (it's just music, not a show, but he knows that this is the magic device which we play the music through) but usually he just listens.

We recently watched an Aussie TV show that she was in. One of the rare times we've watched live TV lately. It had potential and I liked what they were trying to do. Although we watched every episode of the first series, and our housemate always made sure to join us, I think her kids' music is better than the show!

It was a fairly surreal moment when we recently drove into the car park of Buranda shops and saw her standing outside Nandos with a few friends. Nandos, Buranda. Of all places! I don't have a picture for this, so I'm attaching a photo of our other kids in the sandpit (no reference to Nandos intended). Perhaps we should have named one of them Justine?