Friday, December 2, 2011

Love's first kiss

Here is a novel artwork. 

A lady ordered this artwork as a Christmas gift for her husband. This is the doorway in which they shared their very first kiss! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

11 11 11 - Remembering Nic's birthday

Another occasion to celebrate. Our lovely Nicolas turns a great big whopping 6 years old! Congratulations dear son. Nic's birthday falls upon Remembrance (Poppy) Day in Australia - and Veteran's Day in the US.

Given the elementary school had requested students dress in red, white and blue as a sign of respect for Veterans, I felt it only fitting to make birthday cakes for Nic's classmates in the same color scheme. Same old banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting - always a favorite as we often seem to end up with a few bananas that are only really suitable for cakes.

Today was a chance to reminisce a little....
Nic was induced as he was 9 days late. Being late was not such a great issue except for the following facts: my parents had been hanging out for two weeks in our very small cottage, waiting to 'help out' with the new baby - and were eager to return home (as a friend had died while they were away); it was a Friday and my obstetrician wasn't 'on call' over the weekend; I'd had a tough time with sciatica and back pain and really was 'ready'; and importantly, we were in the process of getting visas for Paul to work in the US and the baby was delaying this (No baby = no birth certificate. No birth certificate = no passport. No passport = no plane tickets. No plane tickets = no visa. No visa = no job!). So - it was decided - bring on the baby!

Remembrance day seemed to be a good birthdate - particularly for the US - where dates are written in reverse order - it would make (and has made) writing Nic's birthdate a whole lot easier to fill out on forms.

The midwives and obstetrician wanted to know if I was going to observe the minutes silence, required at 11am on Remembrance Day... Of course, that was a question asked with a very real risk of retaliation / inflicted pain (verbal or otherwise)... If you have ever met a woman in labor before, you will understand what I mean.

If Nic had popped out as a female, I wanted to name the baby 'Poppy' - as I thought this would be a fitting name given the baby's birthday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An apple a day...

The kids had a vacation day today due to it being election day. As Paul will be away on a conference, we took this as an opportunity to celebrate Nic's birthday a little earlier (he will turn 6 on Friday). The weather was superb - so we decided to go to Carters Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville to do a little apple-picking. I had taken Paul's parents here when they visited last year - during peach season. I had also visited the orchard with the kids last year and they really enjoyed picking apples. So... off we went! A little later than hoped... as I have succumbed to Paul's latest virus - BLAH! And we were delayed somewhat when Mietta had a bout of carsickness and we were forced to go in search of some new clothes!

After finally reaching the orchard, we had the obligatory cider donuts and apple cider to give us strength to pick some 25 pounds of apples! The kids LOVED this and took more than one opportunity to bite into crisp and delicious Pink Lady apples. Yum. Interestingly, this is a modern variety of apple and was developed in Australia.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Halloween is celebrated with such fervor in the States. The children had a number of events prior to Halloween including: Halloween playdate for Mietta - with pumpkin bowling, dancing donuts, crafts; classroom parties for each of the children, Trick-or-Treat hayride and potluck dinner on Saturday (with friends in another neighborhood); Halloween open house on Sunday (with neighbors that decorate their ENTIRE house and then open it for viewing - with spooky refreshments)... culminating in Halloween itself on Monday night.

Paul was feeling the effects of a nasty virus and wasn't in any state to take the kids out (and had 'done' trick-or-treating on Saturday night) - so I did the honors of escorting our very excited three around our neighborhood. Paul stayed home and distributed candy to the trick-or-treaters visiting our place.

It was such a cold evening. After a while, Nic had had enough and wanted to go home... but Mietta stated that she wanted to visit "four more houses"... so we continued on - besides, I wanted to visit one house where the occupants went to great lengths to decorate. The neighborhood was busy and it was fantastic to see so many people about. Many neighbors set up at the ends of their driveways with roaring open fire pits.

The kids collected SO much candy it was ridiculous. Much of it went back into the trick-or-treat bowl to hand out to kids appearing at our door.

I had told the boys that they were not allowed to buy costumes this year - and had to make them. Paul had started to make Luc a Dalek costume - but as this didn't materialize as fast as hoped, we resorted to paper mache. As the boys had a school vacation on Friday, costume making became the focus of activity. I found a recipe for glue, we blew up balloons, cut up strips of newspaper and started some really messy work. I had forgotten how long paper mache can take - to create, to dry and to decorate.

Luc was in charge. He chose to create a mask for himself based upon one of R L Stine's Goosebumps novels The Haunted Mask. He decided that Nic was going to be Killer Pumpkin. This is a character that has been developed by Nic and Luc, and largely resides in their imagination. It is from Nic's 'Joni' series of movies - following the exploits of an alien boy and his interactions with scary creatures and characters. It is apparently very scary and is really only for 'grown-ups'. The boys have made a few Joni movies, have drawn numerous pictures of characters and have even chosen songs for the movie soundtracks. Watch out for our budding-Spielberg's movies in the future...

Mietta decided some months ago that she was going to be Wonder Woman for Halloween. Mietta has had the costume for some time - but hasn't worn it so much. We were able to convince her to dress as something different for the playdate (a butterfly/fairy) and trick-or-treating on a cold and wet Saturday (cheerleader - that was able to accommodate warm tights and a few warm layers underneath).

Paul and I had to scan all the candy... for safety sake of course. Unfortunately, the children are now cottoning on to this - and wondering why the parents have to keep so much aside. After several years of trick-or-treating, we have begun to work out our favorite candy varieties.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Baby 911

One of those embarrassing stories that really has to be told... at some two years ago, my embarrassment has subsided... a little.

Let me set the scene...
We were preparing for son Nic's fourth birthday party. Husband Paul took the boys out to the supermarket to pick up some items. A bout of wet weather left our garage a little wet so Paul left the garage door open on his way out to let the garage dry out a little. The local scout troupe was collecting food items for a Thanksgiving food pantry. Recent rain prevented me from putting the food out overnight and I forgot to put the items out earlier in the morning, so was a little late in setting these out on our front step for collection. Our local squirrels had gone mad eating our ornamental pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns... destroying them in the process. We had decided to leave the pumpkins out for the squirrels to finish off - it seemed they needed them more than we did. Paul rang me while I was cooking to ask if I needed any more items. He hung up and I handed the phone to Little Miss 14-month Mietta - largely to detach her vice grip from my legs and provide her a little distraction. Every parent I know does this - kids love phones! I finished what I was doing, extracted the phone from toddler, and went onto my next task...

A little while later, the doorbell rang. I answered the door to find a local Deputy from the Sheriff's department standing there. My immediate thought was that he was collecting for a Thanksgiving charity. He told me that someone had put in an emergency call to 911. I looked at him blankly. He asked if everything was fine. I told him "Everything is OK. No one had made a call to.... oh..." What was the possibility of a 14 month old hitting 9, 1, 1, in sequence then hitting the call button?!?! "It is possible that Mietta made the call?" I could feel a brilliant shade of red starting to creep onto my face... I told him the unlikely scenario of what I thought might have happened. He looked at me somewhat suspiciously and said "You'd be surprised how often it happens. Are you SURE you are all are OK?" Feeling totally embarrassed, I really wanted him to go away, but he was very insistent on establishing that we were OK. I was about to invite him in to have a look around when he described the scenario he'd envisaged to me...

When he first arrived, the Deputy noticed the garage door open, and thought that it appeared as if someone had made a quick escape. He then saw the mangled pumpkins... that he assumed had been smashed during a physical fracas / fight. Arriving at our front door step, he observed the bag of groceries: obviously dropped to the ground during the melee, before the perpetrator made their escape... or perhaps they were still inside...?!

From this perspective, I had to agree that the scene did look a little suspicious. Mortally embarrassed, I explained the situation and the Deputy left us to stay calm and carry on...

Monday, October 10, 2011


I have been asking Luc to submit an artwork each year for the Reflections PTA Art Competition. This is a nation wide competition, organized - in the first instance - by each school's PTA. This year, as Nic was to start Kindergarten, I asked him to complete an artwork too. 
The theme for this year was "Diversity". I found this to be a great prompt to open the discussion about diversity - of thought, belief, race, gender...
Luc's overall theme was to 'Celebrate Diversity' - and he used a party 'look' to illustrate his concept. Nic's love for pasta was instrumental in his artwork's concept. He loved that it could all look so different, yet be made of the same stuff! Nic had some fun arranging his letters - and taking numerous photos on Mummy's camera (safely attached to a tripod!). I cropped and arranged all his letters in several layouts, and he chose his preferred submission. 

Nic's submission won first place at his school, County and District. His artwork received an Honorable Mention at the State level. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Short hiatus... 12 months to be exact!

I was chatting to a friend yesterday... one that I had long-ago promised a recipe - for butternut thai soup. I went searching for it today - and realized just how long it had been since my last blog post - over a year!
I also remembered that I had inadvertently deleted the file that held all the images in my blog a while ago, thus destroying all image links. If I ever find some spare time, perhaps I will try to re-establish these links.
The problem with blogs is that they need to be kept up-to-date. To take even a short break, SO much seems to happen, that to just recap events seems insurmountable. A year's worth of news is too much to attempt... so perhaps I will just try to start afresh - and perhaps post some of those blog entries that have been drafts for such a long time... or perhaps it will be another year until my next blog entry :-)