Growing up in Australia in the heat I really cherish the Northern Hemisphere Christmas. After spending the first 24 years of my life lazing in the pool on Christmas day (okay, okay, that is pretty great too) it is lovely to be having Christmas Day the way I had always envisioned, snuggled up in the house from the cold, sometimes snowing outside, having a hot Christmas dinner and warm mulled wine.
I love seeing the Christmas lights adorning the High Street, neighbours decorating their houses and, I'll confess, Christmas carols playing in the stores. To me, it is the quintessential holiday season experience.
I have been enjoying my share of Christmas foodie treats as I figure I cannot indulge in too much of that delicious mulled wine so fruit mince pies with lashings of cream it is!
One hard part to this time of year (and being an ex-pat) is missing my family. We were lucky to be back in Australia last year for December and it was my first with my parents, brothers, Grandmother and Aunts in 6 years. I am so happy that Avalon had her first Christmas in sunny Australia.
This year, will be a bit more harried as we will have moved into our new house only 12 days before so our tree and decorations will be going up late. My best friend of 22 years arrives (I cannot wait!) with her baby boy and partner just after our move and they'll be with us on and off for the following 3 weeks... it is going to be a lovely (although not restful) couple of weeks.
Avalon is 20 months old today so I thought I would share some of her favourite books; ones she loves read to her and also the ones she 'reads' herself, holding the books herself and turning the pages. It amazes me how much she remembers from the stories being read to her.
I first saw him in The Dreamers and since then in Mar Mere, Les Chansons d'Amour & Dans Paris.
I don't have much more to add other than the usual fan girl gushing but I highly recommend The Dreamers as it is one of my favourite films, I love all things 'Paris' and I lose myself in the feeling that Bertolucci's film evokes.
So now that hubby has got himself a brand spankin' new job in the city, we have to move out of our house which was a 'perk' of his previous job. This move has come about very quickly as here we were thinking we had a good 3 months to find a new family home but no, last Thursday we recieved a letter informing us that we had a grand total of 3 weeks to move out. Thanks MOD, you really do offcially suck.
Feeling more than a little flustered and with much thanks to my friend Nina who is a pro at finding perfect rentals, we found ourselves a new house quick smart to rent in a lovely town 10 minutes away in the Surrey countryside, 10 minutes drive from where we are living now.
The house ticks all our boves; Within our budget,3 bedrooms, garage, basement, loft, fire place and apple tree-- it will do us just fine. We are a 5 minute walk from the town and a couple of streets away from the train station with direct rail to London. I am grateful (if not a little relieved) that it appears to fit our needs.
So with this being said, I am not sure how much time I will be spending around the bloggershere as I will be keeping busy packing up our life from the past 4 years. Hopefully I can update soon but until then-
Last Saturday I caught the train into London to meet up with my good friend Brooke to see The Rum Diary in Leicester Square. A day all for me! I could drink coffee hot and natter with a friend, spend way too long looking at materialistic pretty things with the added bonus of a trip to the cinema.
Brooke and I worked at the same sushi restaurant a hundred years ago, well 8 years ago to be precise, and haven't seen each other since I got married in 2007. A catch up was well and truly overdue.
We have discovered through the medium of social networking that we share a love of film- the quirky, the arty, the off-beat and the foreign. The release of Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary was the perfect excuse to meet up after many promises to do so. Johnny Depp? I. Am. There. Say. No. More.
Firstly no trip to London is complete without a sojourn to Camden Town. I used to spend (literally) every weekend there in the two years I lived in Pimlico. I know that place like the back of my hand and has such an amazing energy and buzz that of course, I had to stop by before heading to Leicester Square.
Bubble Tea and Chinese food were to be had, along with browsing the hundreds of stalls that adorn the markets. As good as I remember.
In the 6 years I have been visiting the markets they have tripled in size and I could easily spend an entire day there. Alas, this day I had but 2 hours. Tea, food, debating black rimmed glasses t(oo much?) and the purchase of a new pair of earrings and it was back on the Northern Line to Leicester Square for me.
Brooke and I wandered Covent Garden in search of coffee, discussed the virtues of Johnny Depp over popcorn and the films we love and recommend over Thai food at Suda.
It was really revitalising to have a day just to myself. I knew G and A were having a great time together at home as now that G has started his new job (more on that later) he is doing longer days than he used to (about 4 hours longer.) He hardly gets to see her but for an hour or two at night so taking that day for the two of them was a special as it was for me to be reconnecting with an old friend.; Brooke AND Camden.
With all the changes coming our way over the next 12 months (more on THAT later) I wanted to appreciate this time now, 'recharge my batteries' so to speak and have some 'me time.'
*I shall add a warning now-- this will probably be snooze inducing boring to anyone but my family but here you have a journal entry I am afraid... also due to visitors from Australia, this post comes to you about 3 weeks late.
So we are back from 3 wonderful days sent in the Big Apple.
We had a brilliant time although are all very tired and still having a little trouble with jetlag.
We flew from Heathrow to JFK very early Friday morning, Avalon was great on the flight, as was Grant- she was entertained between the cartoons and the books we had brought with us, walking up and down the aisles and having a snooze on Daddy... The flight was only 7 hours, which after the flight to Australia, really didn't feel that bad.
JFK airport was a little crazy, customs in particular, and luckily as we had Avalon we got fast tracked through customs- a blessing as Avalon was starting to get really tetchy.
We had hired a car service to take us to our hotel in Manhattan which was different for us, always travelling by public transport when on holiday... It was amazing to see the Manhattan skyline as we drove through Queens, it was a sunny and clear day and felt my excitement rise as I saw the Empire State Building.
The drive was about 40 minutes and we arrived at the Hotel Pen around 1pm... The location was brilliant, on 7th Avenue and directly across from Madison Square Garden. After check in and a quick freshen up, we decided to make our way out as my dear friend Katie had recommended going to the top of the Empire State Building on that day as the weather was looking less promising for the rest of the weekend.
We stopped for a slice of pizza (disappointing) and walked to the Empire State Building, past Macy's and down 6th Ave.
The views from the Empire State Building were breathtaking and gave us another view of this wonderful city.
We walked on down to 5th and Avalon had a play in Madison Square Park before heading back to the hotel for an early night via take out sushi from Wholefoods.
Saturday morning we were up bright and (very) early... We left our room before 7am and decided to walk toward Times Square in search of a truly 'American breakfast'... We found Juniors (French toast, Maple Syrup & Bacon... OH MY!)
After breakfast it was onto Central Park (albeit a minute part of it) with lots of running (Avalon) and dog petting (also Avalon) along the way. We found ourselves outside FAO Schwarz and witnessed their daily ritual of the store opening- a show within itself. The store is home to the BIG Piano, made famous by Tom Hanks in 'BIG' and Avalon took great delights in running up and down it's keys... We made our way down 5th Ave, with a quick Starbucks break to rest our aching feet, for lunch we had Tacos, beans and rice from Calexico which was DELISH (I love Mexican food!) and happened upon a great market in Union Square, where I bought a great turquoise ring (a girl can never have too many)... We were starting to feel the burn in our legs again and by the time we got to Greenwich decided to cave to the ease of the subway to go to Ground Zero.
We didn't spend long at ground Zero... it felt 'silent' despite the bustle of the city, so much construction still taking place and the rain decided to fall. We walked to the closest subway, past a small group protesting (a much bigger protest was taking place around Brooklyn Bridge) and headed back to the hotel before meeting up with my friend Katie and her fiancé Shern for dinner.
It was so great to see Katie, she is an old friend of mine from Australia and we worked together for a couple of years almost 10 years ago (wow... that long??) In the last couple of years we have managed to catch up once in Germany and once here in the UK- she is now making her home with Shern in Philadelphia... I couldn't miss seeing her- she has such an amazing light and spirit about her, I feel lucky we had this opportunity.
Another relatively early night for us (the joy of travelling with a toddler) and we readied ourselves for our last day in NYC.
Sunday morning we checked out early and headed toward Bloomingdales for a bit of a looksie... We were too early for the Sunday trade and shared a bread basket and a couple of coffees in the Upper East Side at Le Pain Quotidien and also saw Dylan's Candy Bar. The rest of the day was spent wandering... more markets, MOMA, Bryant Park and lunch at Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square (I have a dirty confession... I love playing tourist!)
We made a quick stop at the Disney store for Avalon and then made our way back to Hotel Penn to rest our weary legs and wait for our car service back to the airport... literally a fly by weekend!
I am so very grateful to my husband for organising such an amazing trip for us... and all the friends and family that, as part of my birthday gift, made it possible...
So I am feelin' the funk... and not in a good way.
I should rephrase and say I am actually in a funk. A low. A downer. Not a great place.
I have some 'stuff' going on at the moment (that is as explicit as I can be presently) and I have been trying to work through my feelings these last few months with the help of a couple of trusted friends and the dear hubby.
The way I have been feeling changes on the daily, but the undercurrent of funkiness is always present, and to be honest, I thought it would have shifted by now.
I wish I could divulge more, but even in this forum, I am not sure I can fully relate what is going on- too many would not understand where I am coming from and as I am still dealing with these feelings and issues myself, I am not in a strong enough position to share further.
I apologise for being so vague, but I have had to make half-arsed excuses to friends of late of why I am 'not around' and it (I am) tiring... trust that (most) will be revealed and I hope then that I can explain myself further.
As I said to my husband (my absolute rock!) just 2 nights ago, right now I am just putting one foot in front of the other. That is the best I can do.
EDIT:I should add that due to this 'stuff' there has been no reading whatsover going on, so no book club to speak of. I hope to be back on it soon.
So I was halfway through blogging our fantastic trip to New York when I got sidetracked and before I knew it, my parents were here from Australia (2 days earlier than I had anticipated) SURPRISE!
So I shall not be in 'bloggerland' for about a month as they are here until Halloween and all is BUSY, BUSY, BUSY!
*maybe* I can get a spare few minutes to post during work hours... but if not, I'll see you in November.
I can hardly contain my excitement! This morning, out of nowhere, my wonderful and amazing husband surprised me with an early birthday card he and Avalon made that included inside a flight itinerary to...
NEW YORK CITY!
That is right, we are off to the 'Big Apple' this weekend! All three of us are going to take in the sights of Manhattan and surrounds. I have always wanted to travel to NYC and am absolutely floored that Grant has managed to organise this as a surprise present for my 30th birthday, with the inclusion of our families. Considering I was hoping for a pair of wellies, My Lovely has certainly surpassed any expectations I had for birthday gifts.
Top marks, Dear husband and family.
Feeling very thankful... very blessed... and extremely spoiled.
Last Tuesday night the hubby and I went to see the Cameron Crowe documentary 'Pearl Jam 20' which chronicled the career thus far of the band since their inception in 1991.
As I have mentioned many a time before, we are huge PJ fans and as the documentary was only showing in cinemas on this one night, we took the opportunity to have a date night. Many thanks to Granny for looking after Avalon for a couple of hours.
The film was brilliant, definitely a must see for any PJ or rock music fan. Crowe used hours of rare and unseen footage and I particular loved that the film focused so much on the early and mid 1990's.
It was also nice to have a night out with hubby at the cinema, snuggling together in the couples seats like we used to do.
So, what has been happening in our world that is all things Avalon?
She has started to put together two or three words at a time. Usually questions. I have mentioned before how amazed I am at how quickly her vocabulary is growing, this age (16, 17 months) is such a time of growth it seems.
She loves to play with her books and when she is talking whilst reading, she is recites the story from memory. I can hear key words from the book as she flips through the pages- something my husband used to do as a child I believe. Right now she loves Naughty Parents, Where is the Green Sheep? and Each Peach Pear Plum.
She loves to point out objects, animals, people- 'Shoes!' 'Up Stairs!' 'Izzy!' 'Sheep!' 'Apple!' 'Horsey!' (yes the exclamation marks are necessary.
We were nursing the other morning and in the dawn light she pulled away from me and said, 'Ducks!' I hadn't even noticed the twittering of the birds outside our bedroom window. We also have a painting above our bed that she did of a crocodile stencil... 'Cocadile!' She exclaims when entering the room.
She is a very confident little girl. I watch her playing in groups of other children, sitting back and observing before jumping into the play with a friendly smile. She is an avid sharer which makes me very proud, as it is something she has seen mirrored as opposed to being told to do. She loves being around people, especially children and loves spending time with 'babies' and her friend, Izzy.
On September 11th 2001, I was living on the Gold Coast in Australia in a house share with 2 others.
I was 19.
I was in my second year of university and was home alone that night. I went to bed early(ish) when I was awoken about 11pm by a phone call from my then boyfriend telling me to 'just turn on the TV.'
I walked downstairs in the dark and flicked on the small TV in the living room. Every channel was covering a terrible accident in New York City. A plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Centre. The newscasters were speculating if this was a terrible accident or was this an act of terror. Within one minute of me turning on my television and sitting on the carpet in front of the screen in the dark, I watched as a second plane flew into the second tower. I cannot describe the shock I felt, followed by the enormity and realisation that this was no accident. I called my boyfriend and we talked about what was unfolding. I will never forget him saying, 'This is war.'
That day and the next I don't think I left the living room. hearing further reports of what had happened in Washington and Pennsylvania. I was glued to the news coverage from the US, I spoke to my family on the phone. Australia was so far away from what was happening and yet, everywhere we went for weeks, the devastation of what had happened could be felt.
I cannot believe that 10 years have passed since that day and I remember it like yesterday.
I have never been to New York, but it is a city I would love to see. The resilience of her people is inspiring.
For those that may be wondering what I would like as a gift (tongue firmly in cheek) and may be viewing this blog, I have showcased a few things* below that would make me a very happy woman to recieve during the month of October.
A day in Camden Market- For the lady who prefers to shop... alone
Perfume- For the lady who likes others to choose it for her
Hunter Wellies- For the lady that rambles
Dr Hauschka skin care- For the lady increasingly concerned about premature aging
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey- For the lady who has heard good things
A shellac mani/pedi voucher from the ladies at Polished in Godalming
Ina May Gaskin is one of the Founders and the current president of the Midwives' Alliance of North America. She is a powerful advocate for a woman's right to give birth without excessive and unnecessary medical intervention.
Her clinical midwifery skills have been developed entirely through independent study and apprenticeship with other midwives around the world. Ina May and fellow Farm midwives were instrumental in the development of the rigorous Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) certification process.
This book is a MUST READ for any woman who is wants to empower herself and her birthing experience.
I look forward to reading Gaskin's other works on natural childbirth. Filled with numerous birth stories from women under Ina May's care care at The Farm and in some case, on the road. It was uplifting, positive and affirmed my feelings of what childbirth is.THIS book should be a mandatory read for expectant Mothers- this is what birth can (and should) be.
'Brilliant, beautiful, shockingly lucid and real, this is a novel as big as life built from small, secret, closely observed beats of the human heart. A cool, calm, irresistible masterpiece.' --Chris Cleave
Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2009, The Slap is an international bestseller.
At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own...The reverberations call into question the relationships between all those who witness it.
It is a single act of violence, but this one slap reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it happen. In his controversial, award-winning novel, Christos Tsiolkas presents an apparently harmless domestic incident as seen from eight very different perspectives. The result is an unflinching interrogation of our lives today; of the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century, a deeply thought-provoking novel about boundaries and their limits...
I loved this book. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it at first as I thought it would centre around the idea of corporal punishment but in actuality I found it to be so much more than that; an insight into cultural differences and the complexities of relationships.
I found many of the characters despicable but still 'human'- Tsiolkas' style of writing is captivating.
I hate that place. In less than 2 years, we have found ourselves there 3 separate times and each time it is nerve-racking, scary and frustrating.
This morning we went to the Farmers Market at Milford. We were having a great time, checking out the local produce and the petting farm when Avalon started running on the gravel road and fell over, straight onto her face. I froze, it took her a few seconds to cry from the shock and I picked her up and hugged her to me. Ironically this happened directly in front of the St. John's Ambulance crew. I walked with her over to a grassy hill to sit down and nurse her when I looked at her head and realised a rock had actually embedded in her forehead! I couldn't believe it! I felt sick for my poor baby and had to hold back the tears as I took her to the ladies at St. John's. Avalon had already stopped crying at this point but all they could do was clean it a little (she cried again as anyone came near her head) put a plaster over it and sent us on our way to A & E.
After a 3 hour wait at Royal Surrey with thankfully, Avalon in relatively good spirits despite a rock protruding from her head, a nurse decided to see if she could remove the rock with an instrument (we had been told to wait for a Doctor) and as I fed Avalon, the nurse worked the rock out. Avalon screamed and thrashed about but as soon as it was out she was fine again. She has a butterfly stitch plaster over it to close the wound. I am so thankful that is all it took.
She slept well in the car and has been great this afternoon, colouring, watching the Wiggles and playing with her watering can in the garden.
I am reminded how precious she is, how life can change in an instant and how grateful I am for her health. It could have been worse and I hope to not visit the A&E again- that place seriously gives me the heebie jeebies.
Today was one of those days. The ones where you take note and smile; This is your life and it is fab.
The morning started like any other, except for the wonderful promise that a Saturday morning always brings. By 8.30am, G had suggested we head to London to the aquarium at South Bank. It seemed like a bit of a trek to London (well, to me anyway) ridiculous I know as the drive is no more than an hour, but we (I) threw caution to the wind and soon we were setting off in the trusty polo with Avie nestled in her seat in the back, toy kitty in hand.
I lived in London from 2005-2007. More specifically, I lived rather close to South Bank and count it as one of my top 3 favourite spots in London, surprising then that I had never ventured to the London Aquarium, or not so surprising given how incredibly BROKE I was during those years, my student years, even though I hadn't seen the inside of a university lecture hall since 2003.
It was an easy drive (says I, the passenger) and I LOVE seeing central London by car. It is a whole different perspective after years of public transport and pavement pounding. Driving over the Westminster Bridge, past Big Ben, hanging half out the window to take photos felt exciting. Every visit to the city is a reminder again how much I love London and consider it my (one of many) home(s).
Avalon loved the aquarium, getting up close with the fish, sharks, turtles and penguins. We played in the park on the south bank, ate lunch in EAT and I fantasized over the lovelies of Foyles.
We timed our trip perfectly as we were met with a heavy storm on the drive home (Avalon slept in the car there and back) but by the time we reached home the sky had turned a bright blue, white clouds and jet streams- Avalon had woken with a smile (always a good sign) so we decided to take a walk through a nature reserve about 5 minutes from home. A fitting end to a great day.
It is so important to take note of these moments, to feel grateful and blessed by our lives. I am a self confessed 'glass half full' kind of gal so I need a reminder to stop and smell the wonderful roses that are around me from time to time. Life is pretty great.