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Friday, January 29, 2010

Warm Weather

Vancouver is experiencing one of the warmer Januaries we've had. Of course!
The Winter Olympic Games begin in about two weeks and the snow on the mountains is melting. The features on Cypress Mountain are being built with wood and straw, as there isn't enough snow. Don't worry, though, they'll get snow to cover everything up so the skiers and snowboarders can do their thing. There are big piles of snow being stockpiled at higher elevations. They'll just have to do a lot of loading and transporting!
I wonder just who "they" is...?

We're starting to see spring bulbs peeking out of the ground, and the other day, I actually saw blossoms on a small tree!
So last Friday, we had Hawaii Day at school. I dutifully wore a grass skirt (with leggings), a t-shirt (long sleeved), and a lei. But I just couldn't bring myself to wear the coconut shells. Even these temperatures are not warm enough.
And I'm pretty sure there's something in the dress code about coconut shells...
I hope that the school year Down Under has begun well and that you haven't been run off your feet. Why don't you come to Vancouver for a real holiday in the warm weather!?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


These summer hols have been short this time. Too short. I could do with another 3 weeks of holiday. The school season for 2010 is going to be a long one – 4 terms of 10 weeks each. I’m trying to get my head back into business. It doesn’t want to!

Tomorrow is the FIRST DAY of the school year for Primary kids. We then have a day’s reprieve for Australia Day, and then everyone heads back into routine and the busy-ness of school, extracurricular activities, & STUFF on Wednesday the 27th.

I would bet that today, I’m only one of MANY frazzled parents - trying to get all the socks, hats, uniforms etc named, stationery sorted and named and covered. I may spend the day being a little envious of those who have been much more organised than myself. But actually, who am I kidding….it wouldn’t have been any different!
I think getting ready for school Down Under is quite different to what we experienced in the Great White North. There, you just turn up at the appointed time, on the appointed day. You don’t need to get truckloads of stationery/textbooks bought or picked up, and named, and sorted – a far better system in my opinion!

Lil L is very excited. Kinda. Part of him is envious of his big bro who gets an extra day at home. The other part of him is KEEN to meet up with his nice new teacher, get to know his other new classmates, and ESPECIALLY get to BE in his nice new classroom! We popped down to the school to have a look at the classlists yesterday, and also stopped by to have a look at the new wing of classrooms that has emerged over the holidays. Airconditioned, well appointed, with a new tuckshop and lift, and large spacious open air areas – very nice! Lil L’s class is the one with the larger windows on the left….directly above the tuckshop and overlooking the athletics oval.

Anyway, my creative juices have been sapped dry with having to name endless pairs of sox, so I will just use a poem I wrote a couple of years ago when I did have bit of creative dribble left. If you think you recognise the poem, its cos I used this poem last year on the blog as well. Oh well. It says it all!


Wild dreams of pencils, protractors, and pens,
Rulers and bags and crayons-in-10’s,
Felt tips in all their colourful array,
Swimming togs, shoes…….last minute dismay!


Books to be covered with contact and seal,
Clothes to be named from the head to the heel,
Jotters and refills, more glue sticks of course,
All fit in the school bag…with creative force!


Just when it looks like the bag’s gonna pop!
Everything comes to a breathtaking stop….
The nightmare is shredded by ear piercing squeals –
“Time to get up!” the alarm clock appeals.


You fling open eyelids, wipe sleep from your eyes,
Throw back the blankets and leap for the skies…
Who are you kidding! - You just curl up and hide…
Hoping the noise from your alarm will subside.


For today is The Day – the first day of school!
No more late brunches or trips to the pool;
No more wandering around in your cosy PJ’s;
No more sleep in’s or long lazy days.


No more leisurely reading of book after book;
No more fish on our line left to hook;
No more going for strolls in the park;
No more staying up late till well after dark.


No more break from the routine and drudge;
No more baking endless batches of fudge;
No more daydreaming as you lie in the sun;
Just timetabling, scheduling, places to run!


The first day of school…..it fills one with awe -
New teachers, new students, new carpet on floor.
We’re nervous, excited…the questions are there;
Will we be summonsed to the Principal’s lair?


Will there be bullies and will there be fights?
Will there be people who stand up for rights?
Will the work be too hard, or will it be fair?
Will there be someone who is willing to share?


Will the teachers be nice, or grumpy and tough?
Will we learn history, and division by half?
Will there be someone who’ll easily befriend?
Will it be long, till term comes to an end?


The excitement and chatter die down with the bell.
My heart skips a beat as my goodbyes I tell.
My eyes are all teary, as we part from each other
The first day of school is so hard… on The Mother!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Aging with another boy

I had forgotten how close (in birthdates at least) your big lad and my little lad were! I don’t know what 20 year olds do for their birthdays, but I do know that my newly-turned-nine year old had decided A LONG TIME ago what his plans would be, for his special day!


He decided that :

he didn’t want any presents,

he didn’t want a party,

he wanted just ONE friend over,

he wanted to play for hours with Lego,

he wanted a swim in the pool,

he wanted to spend the day at home…

AND just maybe (pleeeeease) could we go out for dinner at Sizzlers?!

Closer to the actual day, he changed his mind about presents….too many delicious options kept appearing in catalogues and on store shelves! However, he stuck to his guns about the rest of his birthday plans.


And of course, we had daddy’s traditional surprise birthday cake! Ange of the North, do you remember the big green cake that turned up in your classroom one year?! You were so gracious to allow us to disrupt your class that time!


K has always made each of the boys a birthday cake every year. The surprise is that somewhere on the cake, there will be a SECRET COMPARTMENT stuffed FULL of lollies (candy/sweets/goodies). The boys always try to guess WHAT KIND of cake it will be, and WHERE the secret compartment might be lurking, and it is also a matter of great conjecture as to HOW one can access that secret compartment…because the secret compartment is revealed only when the trigger mechanism is accessed.


So this was the 'cake doctor' at work, late into the night.

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This was our fridge overnight.

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And this was the cake for L’s 9th birthday.

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As with all good musical instruments, if you want your music to be ‘sweet’ you need to make sure you ‘tune up’ well. And the way to tune a guitar is of course, to turn the tuning pegs (aka lollipops/suckers)…..the right one revealed the 'goodies'!

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Can you see the secret compartment opening up?

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And lil L spent the rest of his day as ordered.

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A very happy and contented 9 year old!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Then and Now and Rain in Winter

One year ago on this day, here we were.
I'm behind the camera, but there are those guys jumping. Incidentally, this is one of my favourite photos from last year.
It was a cold, frosty day. Glorious in the sunshine.
Do you see the snow? It didn't go away for a very long time. And we got more - way more!
A year later (today, that is), I was on playground duty at lunch time.
The sun sort of shone and it was very mild. Something like 10 degrees.
The field was like a sponge that's been sitting in water for a very long time. Grade two girls played in puddles. I would play in puddles too, if I had blue rubber boots.
Even on a day without rain, little children think we need to carry umbrellas all the time. That's what comes of living in a place where the sky constantly drips.
It has rained an awful lot this winter.
Will winter kick in? Will snow ever fall on us again? Will there be enough for the Olympic events? Most importantly, will we get any snow days this year?
Little children want to know!
And so do their teachers.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Aging With the Boy

It was a momentous occasion at our house this week.
Little Bear turned twenty!
Big Bear remarked recently, "He sure doesn't act twenty!"
However, I beg to differ. He acts just like a twenty-year-old male. In other words, a little bit like he has always acted. Vague, flighty, laid-back, absent-minded, preoccupied with music... and probably girls...

He insisted that he wasn't officially twenty until Nonie measured him. So she did the ritual birthday measurement that is done for each child in our family. I love the way he wholeheartedly embraces traditions!
OK, you can't show this to anyone, but here's a closely-guarded photo of our family in about 1992. Little Bear, the wild-looking one in blue, was two. Can you see the resemblance? That's Little Joe in the stripes. I'm pretty sure that's Big Bear on the left, but I have no idea who that strange woman could be...
Two weeks ago, I watched Little Bear as he talked with a homeless man. I saw him treat this man with dignity and respect as they chatted for a while. I was filled with pride at seeing him take the time to listen and accord respect to someone rejected by society.

I know that my boy is still in the process of growing up. He may be disorganized and forgetful, but he has the important bits in place: a kind, compassionate heart that is open to serving God and loving others.
Although I kind of miss that wild little two-year-old at times, I'm enjoying the ride as he grows up. And one day, I'm sure he'll get a haircut!

Friday, January 15, 2010

States of Sunshine (pt 2)

If you ever head this way, I think you might like the famous Eumundi Markets. My boys endured a few hours here with me. I think they secretly enjoyed themselves, especially when plied with food and drink.


This guy did a roaring trade – this is a potato swirl – one potato on a stick, sliced in a spiral, dipped in light batter, deep fried, and sprinkled with savoury salt. Korean recipe apparently. Super yummy.


We enjoyed looking at the various wares – K here is inspecting a flyswatter with the iconic Ozzie 'thong' (jandal/slipper) as a swat piece. Wonder what the flies think when they see a massive, solid shadow coming towards them. Hmmm…[BTW, did I ever tell you about the time when we had just arrived in Oz, and our host at a BBQ spotted a redback spider. He leapt up yelling, “Whack it with your thong!” …..I know now!]


There were lots more Ozzie flavoured goodies everywhere. It was nice to familiarise ourselves again with such things.


I love the market atmosphere, the hustle and bustle, the interesting people, the different sounds, smells, colours, and sights.


And I was fascinated to see even a ‘chandelier’ in this tent, giving it the air of ‘prestige’, I assume!


E even got some training in bird whistling. This old dude was selling bird whistles when we lived here years ago and E was thrilled to discover he still frequents these markets!

There is a reason why the markets start to close after lunch. The heat gets to most of us…..


Don't worry - there’s other relief close by too…..hundreds of kilometres of relief.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

States of sunshine (part 1)

We have been away. It has been lovely, though we are all ‘sunshined’ out! It’s true! There’s only so much sun one can take!

We went to the Sunshine Coast, stayed in Sunrise Beach, which is right next to Sunshine Beach…..and presumably on the other coast from Sunset Beach…


I had thought of writing some deep, profound thoughts (as begets one who has far too much time to think while on holiday in the hot, hot sun). However, I think the brain got frazzled and I will just drop you a smattering of photos from our time away instead.


Summer is traditionally the season with the most inclement weather here in tropical Down Under. We arrived in a wonderful thunderstorm, but these never last too long. The beach was fabulous to be on after the storm – the surf was high, the surfies were all out catching waves; the ‘sunbathing visual pollution’ had all gone to drier places to hang out; the ambience was moody yet refreshing; the light breeze was warm and not hot; and the lighting was just superb.




I loved this pic of the lone surfer, sitting….watching…


But the sun never stays away for long on the Sunshine Coast.


We spent a lot of time enjoying the beach. The boys particularly loved digging to China and leaving footprints in the sands of time….






I will post more photos another day. However, the hour is presently late and I think I need to go to bed…..as befits someone of my stage in life. I have had a good giggle at the cheeky responses to the last post on “The Sabbath Principle”, some of which are not repeatable. However, this card came through the post today, and I thought it was worth sharing……for you who may also be at this stage in life.


Good night!


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Sabbath Principle

A year in its infancy always causes me to consider afresh the issue of new undertakings, new ventures ahead. I wonder what our year is going to look like, what steps we will need to take in order to achieve certain goals. And whether we will drift with the status quo, or need to ‘take the plunge’…



One thing is for certain. Whilst I recognise that busyness is a part of life, I would REALLY like to come a little closer to finding some BALANCE in life.



We heard a great sermon today. It was about the “Stop & Rest” Principle (otherwise known as the “Sabbath Principle”). It is the principle of working hard but also of setting regular time aside to rest/stop. Some delineate that as working for 6 days and setting aside a day for rest. But however you choose to define it, I imagine that for many people, the prospect of setting regular time aside to rest/stop, can be daunting.


I was challenged to view the Sabbath Principle as a gift.

It protects us in many ways – from our sense of indispensability; from showing that our value/worth is found in more than just productivity; it restores balance to lives which are spinning outta control because of life’s endless demands; and it marks time to stop, time to recharge, time to refocus.



Hmmmm. I could get used to this!

Friday, January 1, 2010

1st January 2010 !



With sincerest wishes for a wonderful, WONDERFUL 2010!


These are photos from midnight, 01.01.10. (Nobody seems to sleep in this city!). A beautiful balmy summer’s evening as we welcomed in the new year…





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