Friday, 2 December 2011

The Aussie Average

Beautiful jacaranda hanging over our balcony
The last few weeks have been pretty action packed in the dB household.  The weather has certainly been hotting up as we make our way through the spring.  I must say I have been quite amazed by the season changes in Sydney.  For some reason I didn’t think they would be as prominent as they are in England.  The whole area has just exploded in the most vibrant purple as all the Jacaranda trees have come into bloom.  There is also this amazingly sweet perfume in the air from the beautiful flowering jasmine and frangipani.  The humidity is something that I am not as fond of though.  There is nothing more uplifting than waking up in the morning to blue skies and sunshine streaming through the bedroom window, but some days the humidity that accompanies it is quite unbearable!!   Using my hair straighteners or hair dryer in the mornings is not always an option these days, after two seconds I feel like I need to shower again.  

bed time entertainment in a tent

A few weeks ago we decided to try out “camping” with the kids.  The reason I say “try out” is because camping is really not something that has ever been high on my agenda!  Over the years I think I have gained a some what unjust reputation for being slightly high maintenance, but when it comes to camping I think I’m just going to accept it!  However, as the weather here is glorious most of the time and the campsite was only 5km down the road from home, I decided to give it a go!!  We borrowed a tent and set up camp with 4 other families that we’ve become great friends with.  There were 10 kids in total and they just had the best time ever!!  Watching their excitement actually brought back some very fond memories of when I used to go caravanning with my family as a kid.  So in conclusion I’ve decided that camping was actually great fun for both the kids and the grown ups and sleeping in a tent wasn’t so bad either (I just kept thinking of how bad it was to do an 8 hour plus night flight on a jump seat and suddenly a blow up mattress became heaven).  It also helped to be 5 minutes from home where I could pop back for a sneaky shower – cheating some might say……… but I prefer to think of it as using my initiative!!  I’m still not totally convinced that it will become a regular fixture on the dB calendar! 
Nic and I putting up a tent!  Done like experts!!

Nanny mummy is also spreading her wings and the dB family is expanding.  We’re all very excited to be joining the Aussie average as our two will soon become three!!  I believe the word ‘hectic’, which is what best describes my days, is going to be brought to an all new level soon!!  Our little bundle is due in early June.  Master J and Miss H have been very involved with the pregnancy so far and have been with me to all my scans.  Quite obviously Miss H thinks the baby is a girl, called “girl” and Master J is desperate for a brother – he even says he will cry for 88 days if the baby were a girl!!  No pressure then……….

Super cute at 13 weeks

The final count down is now on until the end of the school term and Christmas and there is just so much going on.  Master J has been preparing to start ‘big school’ next year and we’ve had several visits to the school for various orientation days.  He is so excited to start and shouts ‘there’s my school’ every time we drive past.  I think I am going to be learning almost as much as him next term.  It’s also going to take a new level of organisational skills to get us all up, dressed and organised with the right labeled ‘morning tea’ and ‘lunch’ boxes packed, library bags, water bottles, hats etc and still getting to school on time!  I did get a little lump in my throat when I saw him all dressed in his school uniform.  I really didn’t think I would be one of those mums that shed a tear on their baby’s first day of school, but I am beginning to wonder… (I could always blame it on hormones!!).  Miss H is also starting Kindy next year and will go two days a week.  I’ve been a little more worried about her starting as she has never been anywhere without me.  I arranged for her to have a play date with her new class and when I explained it to her, she became almost hysterical!  “Oh great!, this is really not going as planned” I thought.  “I don’t want to be a starfish” yes cried.  “I stay with Master J in the whales” When we arrived she clung to me like glue until I opened the classroom door and then she just ran in and never looked back!!  I was the one left feeling like I needed a stiff drink.  So clearly we have nothing to worry about on that front and she'll now quite happily tell everyone she's going to be starfish after Father Christmas comes.

All grown up
Christmas is just around the corner now and I cannot wait – although I must admit I am struggling to get the festive spirit going.  I know it’s a cliché but southern hemispheres Christmases REALLY aren’t the same as the northern hemisphere!  That magic sparkle just seems to be missing!   I guess it’s because the evenings are much lighter here and so the kids are already in bed when darkness fall so we never get to see any twinkly lights.  There are also NO Christmas songs played on the radio – not one!!  Thank goodness for digital radio, I never thought I’d ever appreciate Chris Evans.  He really got us in the mood when we put our tree up the other day.  That experience was a mission in itself.  Firstly I had to go to the mall to buy the tree with two toddlers, hundreds of busy Christmas shoppers and of course Santa!  We made it home almost unscathed and then had to battle the colour-coded branches (which didn’t match) to get the tree to look like a tree.  “It almost looks like a Christmas tree, mummy” Master J says, mid way through my third attempt, sweat dripping down my face!  “Well, it’ll just have to do” I say.  What do you think Miss H , I ask “It’s soooooo pretty” she says.  Yay, at least someone appreciates my efforts!!  Next week we have Master J’s school concert and then we are going to “carols on the beach’ where I believe Santa will be arriving by jet-ski to see the children.  But best of all my parents are arriving to stay for three whole weeks!!!!!!

Enjoying the Aussie summer

Thursday, 13 October 2011

I'm SO not a City Slicker!

Yesterday I decided to take the kids into the City to visit the Sydney Wildlife Centre and the Aquarium in Darling Harbour.  There are two ways for us to get there from the Beaches – a bus ride to Manly, and then the ferry across to Circular Quays (where the Opera House and the Bridge are), or a bus ride directly into the city center.  We opted for the direct bus, as surely one bus ride and a short walk would be the simplest way???

A thumbs up from Josh, so worth the trip!
I parked the car at the beach and Master J scooted off to the bus stop ahead of me.  By the time I got there he was deep in conversation with an old lady.  “This lady’s called Carol, mum, and she does those funny exercises at my swimming lesson.”  “Oh” I said looking a bit puzzled, but Carol filled me in.  There is a pensioners aqua aerobics class that happens in a large sectioned off area of the pool while Master J and Miss H have their weekly swimming lessons.  Carol said she knew exactly who Master J and Miss H were as she sees them every week mimicking the old dears on the edge of pool.  “Oh god”, I said, slightly embarrassed, “I hope they don’t put you off your class!!!” “Oh no we love it! It gives us a constant source of amusement doing our classes.”  Thank goodness for that I thought and god knows what those lovely old ladies must think of me!!  Every week without fail both Master J and Miss H stand on the end of the pool next to the instructor and start copying the aerobics moves – kick your legs, left, right – arms in the arm – swing to the left – come on ladies!!!!!  And every week I get more and more flustered, telling them “Stay away from the edge!  Come back here!  Stop copying them, you’re going to get me into trouble!!” but they just can’t help themselves.   I’m so glad I now know that they enjoy the entertainment!!  I can relax at last!!

I park the pushchair and scooter on the bus and off we go.  Master J still chatting away to Carol.  At the next stop two more ladies with pushchairs got on and as they had tiny babies, I thought we’d better move seats so they could have ours.  Next a few teenagers got on, two young lads who sat down behind us, and a young girl who decided to stay standing for whatever reason.  There were some stickers on the window next to Master J, and Master J being Master J, started with the twenty questions.  “What do those stickers mean mum?” he asked.  “Well, they mean that this seat is actually for people who are disabled and are in a wheel chair or have a broken leg or something like that.  If they get on the bus, we’ll have to move and let them sit here.”  “Oh, and what about this picture?” he said pointing to lady with a large tummy.  “That’s a lady with a big tummy because she has a baby in it.  She would need this seat too”.  Looking very concerned, he pointed at the young girl standing in the isle behind us and said (not very discretely) “that girl has a huge tummy mum, shall we let her have our seat?”  At this point the two teenage boys sitting behind us almost died – I could hear them desperately trying to cover up their sniggers behind their hands!!  I was mortified – this poor girl only looked about 18 and was clearly a little on the ‘heavy’ side.  I decided I just couldn’t turn around and look, so I just had to explain that she didn’t have a baby in her tummy but he was very kind to think she might need a seat!!  And the questions continued – “ That man must be an Indian mum, because he’s wearing an Indian hat!” (It was a rather large turban).  “He might not be honey, lots of people from all different Asian countries wear hats like that.”  “No, he IS mum, look again!!  We learnt that it at Kindy” He persisted pointing at this poor man who didn’t know where to look!!  

Phew, I was rather relieved when we finally arrived in Sydney.  

Love the way they just fall asleep where ever they're sat
Once in the city, I just couldn’t get my bearings.  Not that I’ve ever been any good at map reading anyway.  It’s a far cry from the laid back way I’ve become accustomed to on the Beaches.  High-rise buildings surrounded us with hundreds of people walking past us in every direction, head down and looking like they were on some kind of mission.  Beeping horns and cars and busses everywhere!  I got out Google maps on my phone and tried to work out where we were.  “Follow the moving blue ball’ Mr D says, “It couldn’t be easier.”   Well, the bloody blue ball moves so slowly that I had to push my way down a street for about 10 minutes before I realised I was walking the wrong direction!!!!  Pushing a pram with one hand, the other hand in air trying to follow the blue ball as well as making sure the Master J didn’t take out too many people on his scooter (I did notice a few shocked faces as he flew past)!  I had had enough – so I called Mr D and made sure he came out of his Office and escorted us to the Wildlife Park.  I should have just done that in the first place!!!!  

The not so chatty saltie

Thankfully the Wildlife Centre was worth the trek in!  It was so well set out that apart from the odd glimpse of a high-rise here and there you would never have known you were in the middle of a busy city.  Firstly we had to make our way straight to see the crocodile.  Ever since discovering the wonders of Steve Irwin, Master J has become fascinated with these huge and rather frightening, dinosaur-like creatures.  I did chuckle to myself though as there was a huge flat TV screen on the wall on the walk down to the crocodile enclosure and as the kids ran past it (slightly ahead of me) this enormous 3D croc dived out of the screen with it’s mouth wide open and both the kids leapt almost six foot into the air.  Thankfully I knew what was coming otherwise I’m sure I would have made a complete ass of myself!! Just then an anouncement was made that there would be a crocodile talk commencing in 5 minutes.  “Hey Master J” I said, lets go and see the crocodile talk”.  “YEAH!!!!”  he said, clearly very excited.  The man began his talk and Master J kept interrupting saying, “when’s it going to start mum”.  “It has”, I told him, “ and if you stop asking questions and listen you’ll be able to hear what the man is telling you.”  He just wouldn’t let up though and eventually I got out of him that he thought the crocodile was actually going to talk because I had said we were going to ‘see the crocodile talk’!  Honestly sometimes you just can’t win!   

After cuddling a koala (which really is as soft and cuddly as it looks), holding a blue tongue lizard and stroking a python, I asked them what they’d like to see next.  Miss H’s replied “I want to see a pink pony mummy”.  Oh geez I though, why did I not see that one coming???  I had to explain as best I could that pink ponies don’t live in the zoo, but she still proceeded to whinge “I wanna pink pony” for the next half an hour!  Ask your father I kept thinking in my head!!

Koala in the city

Mr D had told me that he would be in a meeting from 4pm to 6pm so if I needed help finding the bus, I’d have to call before then.  Time was really starting to tick by, but the kids were having so much fun, that I just couldn’t get them away quick enough.  Besides, I thought, how hard can it be to retrace my steps back to the bus stop??  However, I was soon to discover the return busses don’t go from the same place, not even from the other side of the road!!  Stupid system I mutter and get out the blue ball again!!!!  Technology is so wasted on me!!!  After walking around (god knows where) for over half an hour (with pram and scooter) trying to work out which direction the ball was taking me, we finally found the right stop.  By the time we arrived back in Collaroy and I could take in the most enormous breath of sea air, I realized that I am so not meant to be a city slicker!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Spring is here - and it brings a little more than sunshine!!

Mum & Dads garden in England -
felt like I'd never been away

I recently spent a week back in England visiting family and close friends as well as travelling to Italy to attend a fairytale wedding.  It was amazing to be back and quite overwhelming to see so many special people.  In a way it almost felt as if I’d never left.  It was a fabulous and complete whirlwind of a trip but the longest time I’ve ever been away from Mr D and the kids – so Sydney, even though you really are on the other side of the world from all things familiar, I was desperate to get back! 

I know it’s an age old saying but since arriving back I’ve noticed that “spring is definitely in the air”.  The temperatures have cranked up a gear or two and although we’re not quite into the throngs of summer it’s enough to put a smile on my face.  The beaches are starting to get busier and now it’s not just my crazy two kids that are stripping off and jumping in the waves!  I dipped my toe in the water the other day as it looked so twinkly and inviting, but it still felt as cold as the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Town (bloody freezing for those of you that have never felt it!!!) – never the less the kids are still straight in there and who am I to complain when I get to sit on the beach and watch all the surfers and newly appointed life guards in action (whilst supervising the kids too of course!).
Me and my girls at Sabrina's wedding in Italy

As a spring/summer virgin in Sydney, I have been naively relishing in the fact that the deadly funnel web spider season is over!  Woop!  Thankfully, I haven’t seen one for ages and I am actually getting quite brave when it comes to general garden and household spiders – I can now get close enough to squash them!  Funnel webs were my biggest fear though and I am forever paranoid that one would find its way back into the house or appear out of no-where – they really are quite terrifying when you have get up close and personal with them.   Luckily they are primarily winter beasts so YAY for a spider free summer………..or so I thought!

the deadly red back - if bitten dial 000 (999)

A few days ago my trusty neighbour Elsie saw me in the garden with the kids and headed come over for a chat (which she does at least twice a day.  The kids have informed me that while I was in England ‘dad hides from Elsie when he sees her coming’.  Poor old dear, I think she’s just lonely).  Anyway she makes her way across the road, looking really worried, to ask me if I’ve had the house sprayed yet for the summer to protect the children (never mind Mr D and I).  “What do you mean Elsie”, I ask.  “For the spiders” she says, “You do know that summer is red back season don’t you?????”  “Jesus H” I think, “are you serious??????”  Just when I thought we were safe!  She then went on to tell me that after her house was sprayed a couple of days before she woke up the next day to find 13 dead red backs!!!!!  OMG – that is all I need.  Those little red buggers are even worse because they’re tiny and you can’t see where they are!  At least with the funnel webs they come at you with their big claws and you can’t miss them!!

Beautiful view of Curl Curl from the Diggers car park

That very afternoon I bought a huge big can of spider spray from Bunnings (B&Q) and set about spraying any areas that a red back might hide.  It was absolutely incredible what happened next.  I started with the washing line as I’m hanging clothes on there almost everyday and little webs are always appearing in the corners.  I pointed the canister at each web and sprayed!!  The next thing, I kid you not, all these spiders (not sure what types) start throwing their silk ropes down like lifelines and literally bungee jumping to the ground!!!!!!!  There were at least 15 of them attempting to abseil to safety and that was just from the washing line!!  I dread to think how many more there are hiding in other places you’d least expect.  Making our home spider free is definitely a job for Pete!!! 

about to swoop!
The next creature to rattle me is that ghastly magpie!  I have heard (and read) so many stories about how about they swoop and attack humans during the few weeks of spring.  To be honest the first time I read it, it made me giggle and I didn’t really think it actually happened!  That is until one swooped me!!!!!  I had just got to the Diggers (big RSL club where Josh has his sports class) and the car park is up on a hill with the most spectacular views of Curl Curl Bay.  We were a little early and it was such a beautiful day that I stood on the grass with the kids for a few minutes just to take in the views.  Just then I spotted a pod of dolphins coming across the bay and I was trying to point them out to slightly less enthusiastic pair of kids, when out of nowhere I felt this WHOOOOOOOSH and then what felt like a sharp tug on my hair!  I honestly got THE fright of my life!  I whipped around just to see the magpie fly off.  Luckily it didn’t beak me or come back for a second swoop but it was seriously enough to give me a new found fear of magpies!!!  

evil birds

A few days later as I was heading out the kitchen door to get my washing in I saw a Magpie sitting under the line just starring at me……. And all that was between us was the fly-screen door!  As ridiculous as this sounds I actually panicked– they have the most evil stare and this damn bird was seriously starring me out!  I grabbed a pot and wooden spoon from the kitchen and started banging it to scare the bird away, but all it did was shift from one foot to the other and puff out it’s wings!!!!!  “Seriously Mrs D, get a grip” I muttered to myself – still banging my pot, “it’s only a bird!”  Well, eventually it flew away and I had to go out with the washing basket in hand to quickly put over my head just in case it had decided to sit on the roof and swoop down on me when I wasn’t looking!!

Enjoying a spring day.  Miss H and her little friend
Aside from all the funny creatures there is something exciting about spring and I can’t wait for the summer……..