Friday, January 28, 2011

The Dapto Show & my New Calling

Last weekend, Shawn, Brenna and I went to the Dapto Show.  This is similar to a county fair in the states.  You know, aiming for the prized tomato or pie, horse shows, rides, greasy food and hot weather.  It was all there!

We went because Brenna had a painting submitted from school.  It was wonderful!!  We saw a couple pieces from kids at her 'former' school and lots of baked goods, crafts, veggies, flowers and photos!  Lots of talent in the show.  We also enjoyed watching the show jumping and thought of family and good summer memories. :-)

Here are some highlights!
The three of us watching the show jumping and chopping.

 Taking a jump.
Looks good to me. They had to have a jump off!
but nobody's hair matched the horse... hmm...

 a bit of the long chopping competitions.
hey, is that my brother there on the right??
although I did wonder about wearing the white pants....

 Humoring me with a pic.
Isn't she a sweetie! 

 a closer look at her painting.

 a local celebrity from "Junior Masterchef"
an Aussie cooking, elimination tv show.

 going for a ride

Oh!  And did I mention the camel racing??
I think it would be fun to have a go!

and, now, I know you've been waiting to hear all about my new calling!!  

Well, check these out...
 what a shot!

 can't you feel the anticipation of the slam?

 such feeling and emotion here

 caught in the act...

Don't you think I have a future in wrestling photography???  ;-)

I mean, those are some fabulous action shots!!  with just a 'point and shoot' camera even!  Amazing.

Come on now... be honest...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Family Photo

don't be too critical... we did it ourselves. 


the kids

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Eve and The Day

After a bit of a delay, here the rest of our Christmas celebrations.

In the States, Christmas Eve was a big family day.  Without family here, we were a bit sad and lost last year, so we opted to start a new tradition...  a family trip to the movies!  We enjoyed that even again this year. 

On Christmas Eve evening, we gathered with some friends for a 'picnic' dinner, carols, and some reflection.  It was a beautiful time.  Wonderfully casual with focus on community and love.

the kids with a friend and some Christmas bush!
a sweet friend brought me this bunch of Christmas bush flowers!
until then, I didn't know they excited
S and some mates

B having some fun and silliness

Christmas day, we woke up (I'm still telling the kids a 'wait till' time... of course it used to sound different... wait till 7 is the first number before you get up... now they tell time...) and enjoyed time as a family.  It's nice that some things don't change.  It was beautiful seeing the kids so thoughtful and caring with their gifts. :-)  Then we Skyped with some family.  I am so thankful for Skype!

our little tree
the tree skirt was a 'ham bag' that I got as a gift from work. ;-)

After a bit, we joined some friends at their family Christmas dinner/lunch.  What an amazing meal!!  There were traditional roast meats (but served cold, it was a hot summer day after all), chicken, pork and lamb.  Plus, the very Aussie, fresh, peel-your-own prawn (large shrimp).  But the star of the meal were the numerous salads.  Unbelievable!!  yummy spinach, roast pumpkin and other goodies salad; chicken, walnut and grape salad; green bean, sweet potato salad just to name a few.  Oh my!!

After some visiting, clearing dishes, playing for the kids, the desserts came out!!  Wow!  Traditional pavlova, trifle, and Christmas pudding/cake.  Better than the food though, was sharing the day with several generations of a fabulous family!

enjoying the fellowship and fun

all three desserts
Christmas cake, pavlova, and trifle

my favourite!

And we weren't done yet!!

We stopped home for a bit of a refresher, grab some drinks, and 'goodies', then we were off again... over to our friends, the Tylers.  The invited us to join them for a Christmas barbecue last year and we were welcomed there again.  Looks like another new tradition. The kids got to enjoy a couple of the Tyler Chrissie pressies... a slip-n-slide (I did say it was a hot day), a trampoline, and giant Nurf guns!  We had more good fun with great folks and yummy food.

hangin' out with friends
a repeat crowd from last year! :-)

the Shawns
my Shawn's shirt was a gift from his son
it reads, "Dads Against Daughters Dating"

D getting in on the fun...
he was a bit long for the slide, but enjoyed it anyway!

B after a good ride
she could aim the distance perfectly

even time for a bit of "gridiron"
D's big present this year.

 B enjoying the trampoline
with some squirt guns
 the Nurf guns came out
and no one was safe!

Lots of food, friends, and fun.  Plus some family thanks to Skype!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Christmas, Aussie Style

Chapter 1
No, really.  I've got too many pics I want to add for one bit, so I'm doing it in two parts.  I'm all about parts these days, it seems.

We were invited to a couple Christmas parties before the big day.  It was wonderful to share in the celebrations with new friends and learn some Aussie traditions.  Although during two parties, my work one and a fancy dinner, I forgot to get out my camera.  So, I hope you enjoy a couple shots from the other fun gatherings.  

 What do ya do w/ your 'mates' for a Christmas party?
Grill on the barbie' of course!
Shawn's in the dark shirt back by the grill helping cook.
It was sort of like a 'pot luck'...
everyone brought their own meat to grill and a side or dessert to share.

During a mystery, stealing, gift exchange...
where some fun Australia stuff was in a gift
which made every rise and sing the national anthem,
'Advance Australians Fair'.

 A family style Aussie Christmas dinner...
 A beautifully decorated table!!
serving prawn and baramundi with mango salsa
So delicious!!

 and fresh prawn and smoked salmon 
(you peel the prawns before eating... it's an acquired skill)
(we're not there yet)
Also some fresh cherries, synonymous w/ Christmas.

 a cute shot of the table decor
the silver bit is a 'cracker' or 'bon-bon'.
Two people pull the ends....
for a big "crack" (like a pop-gun) and some goodies
that usually include a crown and a corny joke

D in his crown.
(I didn't make him take a 'nice' pic after making the face for this one, so it's what ya get)

B wearing her crown and a smile!

S and I :-)
We had an amazing dinner and visit with friends.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Catching Up (Part 3) - Finishing Strong

D with his newly awarded School Certificate!  :-)
He had to keep up grades in all 'key learning areas' and then pass exams on each subject... which included Australian History and Australian Geography.  An impressive task for being in the school system for less than three semesters!!

 Me and my little boy!
Yes, I made him 'shrink' for the photo... 
but I don't think I'm foolin' anybody.

 B with her awards...
an Appreciation award for serving in the library
'Student of the Year' :-)
She made the most of her final year of primary school.
Well done, B!!

my baby girl and I
Though I didn't have to make any adjustments to this pic, it won't be long before she passes me up... as she often lets me know. ;-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Catching Up (Part 2) - Formals & Farewells

Sometimes, it just hits me.  I know it shouldn't be a shock, but sometimes, it just is.  
My kids are growing up.  
They're not little, cuddly ones anymore.  They're needing much less these days.  All good things, I know, but sometimes, it just doesn't seem right.

The last bit of 2010 had two big moments for the kids.

Darian had his Year 10 Formal.  Over here, Year 10 is a big year that ends with a big test.  It used to be the end of formal schooling for those who wanted to go into a technical trade.  (now things have changed a bit) So, amidst studying and before the big tests, Darian had a formal.  He went stag w/ some friends.  I only got pics before he left. 

the boys before they left

Shawn jumping into the pic.

The finish of primary school is celebrated with a Year 6 Farewell.  This is a less-formal formal, but still a big celebration that includes a 'bush dance'.  Brenna, as School Captain, spoke at the Farewell this year. 
before the event

suffering through some sibling pics before the dinner
(wish I would have had B pose w/ D his his fancy clothes)

the parents getting in on the action.
(again, should have done this w/ D, but he likely would have just made faces)

I wish I could have been there during both events to take pics and share the memories, but I guess that's slowly being worked out of my job description.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Catching Up (Part 1) - Thanksgiving

In 2010, we had our second Thanksgiving in Australia!
(and I'm just a bit behind in posting, I know... but I'm trying)

It was a blessing to gather with friends and reflect on things we're thankful for.  I think some of the adults thought we were a bit corny and some of the kids' friends figured we're just weird, either way, I enjoyed the moment of sharing.  The past year had been quite rocky and sharing some of the positives was a beautiful moment.

Here are some of the highlights in picture.  Sadly, we didn't get a group shot this year.  But we did have a delightful group to share in our day.

The meal changed a bit this year, since last Thanksgiving was such a HOT spring day, we opted not to do all the hot foods.  And we were very lucky that our neighbors offered us the use of their house/oven since they'd be out during the day.  So, we cooked our turkey there, since it was going to be another HOT day!  We asked our guests to bring something that's a family favourite.  So, 'rice paper rolls' and mangos joined the meal, making the day a little more Aussie.

Moving the turkey was a group effort!
The lovely flowers in the front, right corner of the pic were brought to me by one of D's friends.  A very sweet gesture and my first ever Thanksgiving flowers.

Some of the girls waiting for 'dinner' playing a game.
On the table are the place cards that Brenna made.

Some of the boys wait to eat... playing a game of their own.
(and putting up with me taking pics!)

Carving the turkey.
It was the very largest one we could find, and I was quite sad that it wasn't near my 'normal' 20+ pound bird... until I realized it wouldn't have fit in the oven if it was any bigger.

Sitting down to eat.
Not as good as a group pic as a couple folks are not in the shot and you can't see everyone's faces, but it's the best I've got.

One of my favourite pics!!
Two of our Aussie friends trying pumpkin pie.
It wasn't bad... but it wasn't quite right.
Pumpkin here is eaten as a vegetable, usually roasted, or in casseroles or soups.
It was a good effort, but the sweetness of the pie lost in the end.

We were so blessed to share the day with some wonderful new friends making new memories, but we all missed the family that we've shared so many Thanksgivings with in the past.