Friday, December 31, 2010

The car thing - I just don't get it.

As always, our family Christmas gathering involved the male ritual of "car talk" - who had what, who was getting what and who wanted what. How big they were, why they selected them and how well they did whatever it was they did.

I just don't get it.

I love cars - I think they are a marvelous form of transport. I cannot think about how extra complicated my life would be without one, primarily because our public transport system  is poorly structured and often doubles the time involved with going from A to B.

Cars are wonderful! But they are just tools. They are not an asset and certainly not an investment. In fact, they are a guaranteed way to burn money.

My Little Car
My own car has been with me now for about 5 or 6 years, but that is only a fraction of her life. You see, my car was registered only two months after my first child was born - meaning they will both turn 27 in 2011! She was bought second-hand and had such a low mileage that everyone wondered if there had been tinkering at hand! But no, she was just a car rarely used and well-cared for by her previous owner and came to me in outstanding condition. I know this, because mechanics, car park attendants and various other petrol heads have ooh-ed and ah-ed at her over the years!

But she is, still, just a car. She does the required job and I see no reason to replace her until she ceases to do so. You see, I have a car, but I don't have what many car owners also have - a car loan. Sure, I could upgrade to some zippy little modern equivalent and spend the best part of my salary paying it off, but I can think of better things to do with the money: like a cleaner, yoga classes etc!

Our home boasts three cars now - we nearly hit the four car mark, but one daughter got her first car around the same time she moved out. Of course, if she or her husband's car are here visiting, then we are full to over-flowing. When our son (nearly 20 and with no interest) eventually gets a car, our 1970s driveway and car port will resemble a car park or car sale yard! Let alone if they have friends around!

Also known as the Tardis!
If I was to upgrade to a new car (you know, if there really was a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow and I found it!), then there are only a couple of provisos: I would like a hybrid - this fits better with my eco-beliefs. And maybe something just a little bigger, so I could better transport stuff! Whether it is things for a breastfeeding feed and change facility at public events, shopping from Ikea or Freecycling treasures, sometimes my little car is too small. As my husband's huge station wagon is generally unavailable because is at work/away or filled to the brim with work/bike gear, I have to be self-reliant and this is often an issue.

But other than that, the biggest consideration in choosing a brand new car would be - purple or orange?

Reverb10 December 30 – Gift

December 30 – Gift #reverb10 
Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?
(Author: Holly Root)
Again, it took some thinking before I could answer this one.
I don't get a lot of gifts, so the ones I do receive for Mother's Day, birthday and Christmas are always much appreciated. 
However, on reflection, the most memorable gift this year came completely out of the blue and was so wonderful that I almost didn't think of it in this context.
In October, as I do every year, I coordinated the ABA stand at the Melbourne Pregnancy, Babies and Children's Expo. This has drifted over into my paid office role in recent years, however I also make a commitment to participate over the three days as a volunteer. I figure it is my major contribution for the year, I enjoy doing it and my family life makes it possible to do so.
All good to go - after I set up on the Thursday afternoon
On a personal level, though, it is a huge thing. The Expo is held in the city, a good hour's drive from home. Each of the three days I need to be there before 9am and stay til about 5pm. Generally I arrive home about 12 hours after I left and only have time/energy to eat and crawl into bed before repeating. With my health challenges, this is of course, pure madness! 
So as I struggled to get going on Day Two, getting an email from one of our volunteers, also a Facebook friend, asking if I could use a hotel room in the city for that night was like a gift from the goddess! There wasn't enough time for her to make and confirm arrangements before I left, so i hastily threw my *toiletry bag into my nearby yoga bag, added clothes for the following day and drove off, awaiting further instructions!
By the time I arrived, it was all set - a hotel in walking distance of the Expo venue would await me at the end of the day. Instead of doing my twelve-hour turnaround that night, I was able to relax, eat dinner at a restaurant on the river, relax in a hot bath and sleep blissfully alone (no snoring husband, dog and cat sharing my bed!)
Next morning I had a wonderful hotel buffet breakfast (one of my favourite treats!) before a quick drive back to the venue to start the final day fresh and restored.
So my most wonderful gift of the year, from the lovely Emmaly, was the gift of time and energy and relaxation.
Thank yo doesn't seem enough.
* A task I set myself this year was to set up a bag of essential toiletries and medications, separate from those I use daily, for just such an occasion! I actually thought of it in case of unexpected hospital admission, but unexpected hotel stay was just as good! And my yoga bag has extra bits and pieces like spare undies, scarves etc in it, so that worked well too! Might set up an overnight bag though and keep it in the car!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reverb10 December 29 – Defining Moment

December 29 – Defining Moment
Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.
Just before my daughter's 22 birthday in October 2009, her boyfriend decided he was ready to propose to her. He not only asked my husband's permission, but mine and that of her brother and sister.
The moment he asked HER the question, 2010 became an entirely different year to what we could have expected otherwise. The wedding in November this year changed our focus, our plans, our activities, our finances!
Life has a ripple effect. The decisions we make impact on everyone around us, either directly or indirectly. Even positive events make impact - mostly good, some not-so-good.
Lives are intertwined.

Reverb10 December 28 – Achieve

December 28 – Achieve #reverb10
What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
(Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)

I am honestly stumped by this prompt! And I am not going to lose any more time pondering it - it just isn't for me and that's that!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reverb10 December 27 – Ordinary Joy

December 27 – Ordinary Joy #reverb10
Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?
(Author: BrenĂ© Brown)
It was completely unexpected. Just another day on Facebook, a conversation with my cousin's ex-wife about family memories. Then she posted this photo:
I had never seen this before!
Suddenly, I was looking at the only image I have of my parents, grandparents, my sister and I! Taken at my cousin's wedding more than 40 years ago.
Joy turns up in unexpected places. Facebook conversations lead to the unexpected. A discussion about the weather evolved into the sharing of memories, prompting a search, some scanning and - overwhelming joy!
(I am the older one!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reverb10 December 26 – Soul Food

December 26 – Soul Food #reverb10 
What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?
I have pondered this prompt since it arrived yesterday and I truly cannot think of an answer!
While I have enjoyed many memorable meals in 2010, it has really been the people, not the food, which made them memorable. However, because of the 365 Project, I do have quite a few photos of food from this year, so I am just going to share them instead!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twelve days of reflection

I always use this time of year to review and to plan and when I read about doing so during the Twelve Days of Christmas, I knew that would fit perfectly with me. The time after Christmas, until we take down the tree on January 6th (twelfth night) is always a down time, what I think of as Rest-mas. Then, as we begin the new year, the house gets a going over - or "turning out" as it used to be called and so does my life!

So here we are, on the second day of Christmas, living on leftovers, resting and renewing :)

Reverb10 December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself #reverb10 
Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.
(Author: Tracey Clark)
November 12 2010
Mothering the Bride
Taken by my eldest daughter
At the nail spa, two days before the wedding.
I love fun. I love my children. I love to nuture.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve - our way!

It is Christmas Eve, a day that has evolved to become a favourite part of my festivities.

I am un-busy making preparations for this evening, while the rest of the household are at work (or, in Kieran's case, still in bed at 2pm!). Many years ago, we decided to make Christmas breakfast our special meal, but as the kids got older and got up later on the Big Day, the time between a big breakfast and a big lunch became impossibly short. So last year we moved our breakfast meal to Christmas Eve dinner and it works perfectly! Any leftovers can be had in the morning and it is a relatively simple process to prepare and clean up after.

Our menu stays pretty much the same each year - bacon and eggs, buttermilk pancakes with blueberry syrup, croissants and jam, freshly squeezed orange juice and sometimes extra like Christmas muffins. This year, we are adding fruit toast and French toast.

Tonight we will be joined by the newly-weds and will make a variation on the other tradition. For years, watching Carols by Candlelight has been the evening activity, but tonight we will watch only part, to enable us to enjoy A Very Specky Christmas, with the Spicks and Specks team! Then we can switch over and watch the rest of the Carols.

This is the night of the year that I light every single candle I can find in the house and turn of all the other lights. The flickering lights bouncing off mirrors, windows and other shiny surfaces make for a magical atmosphere. It is my very own treat, although I think Melissa enjoys it just as much as I do!

Traditions at Christmas are important, but they don't need to be rigid. They also don't need to be traditional!

I am looking forward to a magical Christmas and hope you all are too.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reverb10 December 23 – New Name

December 23 – New Name #reverb10
Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?
(Author: Becca Wilcott)
I think I am one of a rare breed of people who are quite happy with their name!
Sure, there are times when I wish I was "Jane Smith", but they are fleeting moments when I have to spell out my entire name for someone who couldn't care less what my name is and is just writing it down as part of their job. In fact, I am just happy when they spell it right!
My names (I have three given names in all!) were all chosen just for me, while my (younger) sister was named after both our grandmothers. I have always suspected this might indicate that one or the other would have liked me to have their name, however I am near the tail-end of 14 grandchildren on one side and 11 on the other, so there were plenty of other chances!
My father also had three given names and went through life known by the second, not the first. My mother  was nick-named after an aunt, which she preferred to what was, at the time, a very formal first name (Sarah!) which she didn't feel she lived up to. Names are funny things. As a genealogist, it is amazing to see just how many people go through life called something different to the name on their birth and death certificates, which makes it just a bit tricky for we poor family historians!
So i will stick with what I have, thank you all the same, because She is who I am!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reverb10 December 22 – Travel

December 22 – Travel #reverb10
How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?
(Author: Tara Hunt)
Travel is something I enjoy watching others do - travel books, travel blogs, travel films ... 
Exiting Wagga Wagga in June 2008 
Me, I don't really get to travel, not anywhere very far from home, I mean! Just the way life works out - as a child, we only traveled occasionally and then only to see family interstate. As a young adult, I was home raising babies when others went back-packing and then sacrificed luxuries like holidays to be a stay at home mum with them! Our immediate family all live close by, so there is no holiday travel needed and we have never felt the need to go north for theme parks etc. Ironically, my children have traveled further than I, having all done school trips to Central Australia and my eldest back-packed in New Zealand for two years. My husband is well-traveled for work purposes and has regular trips to Japan and around Australia - it is just me that has no real excuse to go anywhere!
But do not despair that my suitcase spends all its time gathering dust. I do manage the odd weekend away and have a love of long-distance train travel which I hope to indulge more in coming years. Who knows what my second adulthood will bring - perhaps I might even venture overseas in time! But that would bring about decision making of where, a task too difficult to imagine!
However, I must share the world trip I have been enjoying online for the past couple of years - a wonderful travel blog of a couple Going Slowly around the world by bicycle - a must-read!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reverb10 December 21 – Future Self.

December 21 – Future Self.
Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)
(Author: Jenny Blake)
In five years time, I will be 52, not terribly much different from being 47, just on the other side of 50!
I would tell myself to do that which I keep promising myself but finding reasons to put it off.
Ten years from now, I will be 57 - starting to think about turning 60! By then, my children will be in their thirties, which is more staggering! I guess the next decade will involve more weddings, new lives and major changes on the domestic front as everyone moves away from the family home.
I would tell myself to hang on and enjoy the ride!!!!

Reverb10 December 20 – Beyond Avoidance.

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance.
What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)
(Author: Jake Nickell)
I don't like the word should, so straight away this prompt made me uncomfortable. I can't help but notice a trend in the Prompts in this project that presume a starting point of disappointment in the year.
The two things I feel I have done less of this year than I would have liked are hardly life-shattering: reading and scrapbooking! LOL!

Season's Greetings 2010

Welcome to our family catch-up for 2010.

It has been an amazing year for our family and wrapping it up without Rambling too much is a bit of a challenge, but I shall do my best! The camera has run hot this year, so there are LOTS of photos!
(We have also had multiple photo shoots, with thanks to our favourite local photographer Susan D'Arcy )

We began the year with a party at our home to celebrate Kaitlyn and Ashley's Engagement. It was lovely to gather both families and friends together for the first time.

Sharing tips on being a Mother-in-Law

The happy couple open their gifts

The Bride and her Bridesmaids-to-be

Aunty Dorothy and Nana wonder where the years went

Part of the bridal party - in training!

Father of the Bride makes his speech

In February, Kieran turned 19 and began the first year of his TAFE course. Yvette wrangled all her "babies" together for a photo shoot at the beach.

In March, Melissa celebrated her 26th birthday with a Mad Hatter's Tea Party at home, followed by everyone seeing the new Alice in Wonderland movie at the cinema.

The Birthday girl holds court

Kieran helped in "painting the roses red"

Melissa enjoys the gift from her cousin Lynden

Mad as Hatters

To the cinema!
This busy month also included Kieran, Melissa, Stu (Kieran's best mate) and Yvette taking part in the Melbourne City Romp, which was great fun!
Looking for clues

A cryptic treasure hunt around the City

Teams were encouraged to dress up - geeks ruled!

Melissa, Kieran and Stu met up with Moka and Brent, part of the juggling crew

Moka believes in a balanced diet that includes apples!

A day well spent

April saw Kieran, kaitlyn Ashley and Yvette in the audience to see Spicks and Specks recorded!

Adam Hills was very excited to have his photo taken with Kaitlyn and Myrna
- even the camera was shaking with excitement

Kieran, Kaitlyn, Myrna and Ashley - Myrna being the first of Yvette's
friends to put her hand up for a spare ticket on Facebook and
popping down from Albury for the night!

Yvette also had a couple of days away at the ABA conference.

Yvette's Facebook friends gather for a photo
(um, sorry, ABA Vic Branch gather ..)

ABA Frankston Group volunteers

In May, Yvette and Melissa had a girl's weekend away at the Clunes Back to Booktown event and an unscheduled stop-over in Daylesford on the way home! Melissa, Kaitlyn, Molly and Yvette walked around Albert Park as part of the MS Walk and Run event.

Combined book purchases

Enjoying the sunny weather

Family portrait!

June and the girls were back again at Albert Park Lake, this time walking in the Million Paws Walk event for the RSPCA.

In July, Yvette turned 47, while Kaitlyn and Ashley moved into their new (rental) home together as a couple, moving on from the share house they had been in for 12 months. Kaitlyn also changed jobs - leaving McDonalds and starting at Degani cafe at Karingal Hub.

August came round and Kieran and Melissa were off to Manifest 2010. Melissa had managed to complete all the costumes she was committed to making, despite being diagnosed with an over-active thyroid due to Graves Disease.

August also saw Rodney arrive back from Japan on the day of his mother's 70th birthday, commemorated with family portraits as a gift from us.

The entire birthday party

Coral, Thelma and Gwen - sisters

Robin and Gwen - fifty years married

Suzie, Gwe, Gary, Rodney, Robin

Darryn and Suzie, Brenda and Gary, Rodney and Yvette, Gwen and Robin

Nana and Pa with their grandkids

Youngest to oldest -
Alex, Diana, Rachel, Sarah, Daniel, Jordan, Kieran, Kaitlyn, Melissa

Suzie's family

Gary's family

Rodney's family

September saw the mailing of the wedding invitations, signalling the increase in activity as plans were put into place. Kaitlyn diverted attention from the wedding by ending up in the Emergency department with a badly strained back, giving her some unexpected time off work.

October rolled around, with Kaitlyn barely recovering from the fun of her Hen's Day Out before celebrating her 23rd birthday! In between, she kept busy with fittings for bridesmaid and bridal dresses! Meanwhile, Melissa, Molly and Yvette enjoyed the annual Frankston Pets Day Out.

First, a photo shoot with Susan D'Arcy
A sample of the photos

You can imagine some of the comments made by the general public!

Refreshments BEFORE the chocolate tour

Walking the Bride three times around the magic circle in Block Arcade

Back home for more fun with family and friends

And Melissa squeezed in more cos-play at Armageddon!

November finally arrived before it should and it was the Big Day itself!

A special moment with Aunty Dorothy
(photo by Rachel Richter)

And then suddenly, it is December again and its time to celebrate Christmas!

From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and look forward to catching up with you in 2011.

All our love

Yvette & Rodney
Kaitlyn and Ashley
Merry, Frodo and Molly :)