26 December 2011

Christmas 2011

What a wonderful Christmas we are enjoying this year! To begin with, Dave has a paid leave for 17 days! It's the first time in years that Dave has received a paid holiday. It's a nice benefit.

We went to Christmas Carols on the lawn at EV Church. It was a lot of fun! Neo had learned a song and happily sang along on stage. I love singing Christmas Carols. We all enjoyed BBQ and a time with friends. The kids each consumed their own fairy floss too. One of the highlights of the night for Tristan was chasing the young people wearing trash bags adorned with lollies. What a unique way of distributing candy :)

Neo sings for Carols Night

Christmas Eve day was spent chasing around for last minute food items in the morning. Followed by an afternoon at the medical centre with Neo who had a fever of 102.5 F by 3pm. I knew it would only get worse. The waiting room was packed when we arrived. The doctor was wonderful and spotted the middle ear infection immediately. Neo had conjunctivitis too. We were fortunate the pharmacy was open until 6pm for urgent cases like ours.

At 2:30am Christmas morning, Neo made his way to our bed, stopping by the Christmas tree to check on Santa's progress :) After a quick dose of pain meds, he was content to return to sleep for a few more hours. Zoe was awake at 5:30am wanting to announce the arrival of Christmas to the slumbering household. I convinced her to hold off until 6am. The 3 younger children flew to the tree and distributed gifts while I woke Clara. Clara was not impressed with the hour, regardless of the day, and returned to her bed, where she remained until a more respectable 8am.

The PJs are wonderful and fit quite well. Thanks Aunt Ranae and Grandma Stallman. :)

Thanks so much everyone for sending packages. The children were very happy with their gifts! Tristan's Ipod touch was a gift from Grandma Sorenson, Grandma & Grandpa Smith and us. Likewise for Zoe's Nintendo 3DS. Clara's big gift was a unicycle and Neo received a bicycle and helmet. The books were well received. Zoe is thrilled with her Peter Rabbit mini books. The gifts from the Met from Aunt Jen and Uncle Bob were spot on. Thanks so much! We always love goodies from Trader Joes. Dave is looking forward being in the stands on 5 January for Australia v India Test Cricket at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.

Beautiful weather for the cabana.

The weather Christmas day was awesome! Sunny, with a bit of breeze and 80F. We swam in the pool and sat out in the cabana.

Clara and I braved boxing day for the 3DS Mario Kart game, new clothes for each of us, new earrings from the jeweler for Clara and a Kindle for me.

Happy New Year to all!

15 December 2011

Completion of the 2011 School Year

Neo graduated from Preschool.

Today, December 16, is the last day of school! In the last few days, there have been parties, a talent show, a "thank you" tea, Christmas carols, and report cards. All these events were wonderful and treasured.

Tristan on Presentation Day

We received two invitations to attend "Presentation Day" at Copacabana Public School to see Zoe and Tristan receive awards. Tristan had earned an honor and was to be awarded. There are 6 students from each classroom awarded for various academic or citizenship achievements. Tristan received top honor from his teacher, Mrs. Wilson. His award was for "Academic Achievement and Effort in All Key Learning Areas". He also received a book.

Zoe examines her award on Presentation Day

Zoe and Tristan were both recognized as people who had completed the Premier's Reading Challenge. Zoe also received a sports Pennant for competing at the Brisbane Water level of Cross Country running.

One of the paintings that was submitted for Clara

Neo had a Christmas party with his preschool class. He also participated in a graduation ceremony. There will be a family Christmas party on Monday night at the Surf club. Neo is thrilled to be ready for "big school".

We are excited for Clara as her painting will be on display in a local art gallery. Her teacher submitted two of her paintings on her behalf for the selection committee. Her painting will be part of an exhibition displayed from 16 February to 14 March at the Gosford Regional Art Gallery. According to the Exhibition website, "around 80 artists were chosen from 300 submitted to appear. The link to the Gallery Exhibitions page is here. In addition, she received an award for being the "best Visual Artist in Year 8".

Clara's painting that will be exhibited....here it's not finished.

We are very proud of each of our children and their achievements this year.

12 November 2011

Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat

Zoe's year 2 class performing a dance.

Class 2S performing.

Happy at the end of the final performance.


The Copacabana K-2 put on a musical based on the book: "Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat"
authored by Stephen Michael King. Zoe's teacher put the book to music and the children danced in between reading/reciting the picture book to the audience.

On the way out of the theatre.

After many weeks of practice during the school day, there were four performances. The first was a matinee for the older students and teachers/staff. Then there were two night performances and a matinee performance. Zoe was tired but happy at the end of it.

Just a glimpse.

The children were all adorable. They performed quite well. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience on both evening performances. They out did themselves in the final performance.

All performers onstage at the finale.

06 November 2011


Neo wearing his Copa Surf club Nippers uniform.
The cap is what under 6s wear.

Nippers is a surf/beach learning classroom for children from 5 to 14. Nippers is run through the volunteer surf clubs. We decided to join the Copacabana surf life saving club. Neo and Clara are eager participants. Zoe has attended 3 of 5 sessions so far this year. Here's the link to Nippers.

Zoe's under 9s group (red cap) practice how to swim under waves.

Clara and Zoe had to pass swim tests in the pool. Clara had to swim 200 meters in 5 minutes. She made the time, but held onto the side too many times to catch her breath. They said they'll keep an eye on her as they go out - which is good to know. Zoe had to swim 25 meters and pass a flotation test. She did fine.

Neo paddling a board in the rock pool.

On Zoe's first day at the beach, she went out the furthest she has ever ventured in the ocean. The water safety team had people stationed out and back making it very safe.

Clara does board training. Because of her age, she is beginning training to become a member of a patrol team. She has already learned CPR. Her time on the beach is spent mostly on the boards.

I took the Senior First Aid training offered by the surf club. I can tell you that CPR has changed over the years. I hope to become an active member which means I'll help to patrol the beach. Another set of eyes. Hopefully I won't need any first aid knowledge.

Neo loves nippers.

01 October 2011

Bubbles, Book Sale & Blue Tongue

Neo and Zoe with bubble wands and bubbles

First day of October and it was a busy Saturday. Dave and I walked down to the beach for our morning date. We have coffee at the Beach Club every Saturday. We walked over to MacMasters' Progress Hall for the semi-annual book sale. We bought several books for a donation. The sale was so much fun, I took the kids over again after lunch and bought another bag full of books. They also had a dog show, which we enjoyed very much. Many dogs were wearing costumes.

Blue tongue lizard showing how he got his name.

At home, the kids observed a blue tongue lizard in the backyard. Tristan put on my leather garden gloves and caught him. He said the lizard was very strong. The rest of us petted him and took pictures. It's the first time Tristan has caught a blue tongue lizard.

Tristan said the Blue Tongue lizard was strong. He doesn't sun in our yard anymore.

Later Clara photographed the kids blowing bubbles in the backyard. They also went to a short swim in the pool.

Big, beautiful, bubbles.

Just a note about my car. The dealer provided us with a loaner vehicle for a week while they repaired the damage caused by their automated car wash. The car was restored to new condition. Then in mid-October, I heard what I thought was a stone lodged in my tire. Clara and I were driving in the car when quickly found out it was a nail...and the tire was flat. There was damage to the tire wall (tyre as they spell it here) had to be replaced. Hopefully that's it for the car dramas now.

Python in our backyard.

Speaking of reptiles in the back yard. We had a python in our backyard. The whole family was invited to come and see it first hand.

Flat Stanley does Bondi

Flat Stanley at Bondi Beach - (I like the small people above the sign)

Panorama of Bondi

Tristan's 4th grade class created Flat Stanley at the end of Term 3. Their assignment these school holidays is to take pictures with Flat Stanley in various (iconic) places. We have never been to Bondi Beach. On Tristan's birthday we went to Bondi.

Kids on playground at park by Bondi Beach

Neo watching/feeding ibis

Kids enjoyed feeding the pigeons

The day was warm with gusts of wind. We packed a lunch to grill on the barbie. While I was grilling, Clara cut the bread. She had some crumbs which she threw to the 3-4 pigeons that had come to partake of our lunch. Instantly more then 20 pigeons and an ibis descended on us. We had a fast lunch between holding our plates down and keeping the birds at bay! The kids enjoyed feeding the birds after eating.

All the kids played on the playground. Then we went for a walk along the coastal track. The Bondi rock pool is really special - 50m with swim lanes.

Big rock must be climbed.

Along the coastal walk near Bondi

Bondi's rock pool

On the way home, we stopped at an automated car wash. The car wash damaged my new car! I was so distressed. They say they'll fix it and give me a rental while they do so. We have to bring the car in next week.

My poor car!

28 September 2011

Somersby Waterfall Pics & Video

Somersby Falls Photos and Video (on YouTube)

We recently went to the Somersby Waterfall. While the kids were busy exploring, I took many photos and a couple of videos. Here are some pictures of the afternoon.

I uploaded one video to YouTube - click for link.

Wonderful, peaceful place. Also great place to play.

07 September 2011

Wattle Flat over the Blue Mountains

Over the Blue Mountains

Sunset over my new car

We traveled over the Blue Mountains for the first time in August.

On the way, we stopped at the dealer to pickup my new car - see previous post. It really handles well and has good power even fully loaded.

We traveled on The Bells Line of Road - a more scenic route, and we were told less road construction. In the mountains there were many apple orchards. There were also several roadside stands with fresh apple pie. The pie was delicious.

The country is very different to what we see along the coast. Open spaces. Wild kangaroo and wallaby. It was the first time we had seen wild kangaroo. We also saw many dead wombat on the side of the road. I had no idea they were so large.

The Blue Gum cabin.


The cabin we stayed in, The Blue Gum, was wonderful. It had a really nice wood stove and plenty of wood, which kept the main area toasty. There was frost overnight. The bathroom had a whirlpool tub and a modern composting toilet. Zoe was freaked out by the toilet.

At night, we could see many details of the Milky Way. The sky was so vast and clear. Amazing!


Sofala is a sleepy little town - but the tavern was doing a brisk business

Above - Tristan's gold spec and Chris our teacher.

We went gold panning while there. We hired an amateur geologist to teach us how. Dave and I got into it. Tristan found the largest spec of gold. I even found a few specs of platinum. The kids lost interest after a while but went down the creek to build dams.

We enjoyed our overnight in the country.