Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections and Directions...

So it's the last day of 2011. December 31. New Years Eve. Traditionally a time of reflection of the past year and pondering the direction of the new year ahead. And for getting one more post in before the archives read "2012" (this is post 96 - if only I'd done a couple more!).

I often feel a bit "bah humbug" about New Years - it's just another day in the life, after all. But I suppose it provides a good point in which to reflect on what has been and ponder where you want your life to be headed. So here we a couple of photos that didn't make it into the blog (which I find hard to believe, there were soooo many!).

Reflection - the best and the worst of 2011:
  • Got the best portable pool for a bargain price at Ebay! A refreshing start to the year!

  • Did not do "back to school" shopping - no school shoes, no new uniforms, no sinking feeling.
Last day of school in 2010 -
never have to wear those uniforms again!
Don't they look excited?
  • The best "first day of school" ever - visited another local homeschooling family - played board games, swam, ate, chatted - all while all the other kids were dressed in their school uniforms and sweated through a hot day of 35 degrees! Felt very strange, but looking back, was such a good idea and a wonderful way to start off our homeschooling adventure. 
Wombat Girl explaining binary to our new
friends on our first day of school in 2011...
  • A year of learning - wonderful reading, some attempts at writing, fabulously interesting maths and science, a new interest in history, new geographic skills learnt, working on our physical skills and activity levels, some nice art and craft produced. And we radically changed our thinking about what learning was and what it looks like. And every year I say to myself I want to spend more quality time with my kids - this year I think I managed to achieve that!

  • I quit a job I wasn't enjoying and found some more meaningful, fulfilling work

  • Learnt to use my DSLR camera better and took some lovely shots!

  • Great travelling - skiing and did you know that we did a cruise to New Zealand??

  • Lost some weight, did Dry July, went from the Couch to running 9km in a fun run, got injured, put weight back on.

  • Had some nice times with family and friends

  • I discovered the wonderful Blogosphere - lots of people's inspiring blogs and started my own (and kept it up!).
All things considered, we had a pretty good year. There were a few wobbly bits - my friend's daughter dying, some tears through homeschooling, and just general ups and downs of family life. But overall, we can look back at 2011 as a very positive experience!

Directions - things to aim for in 2012:
New Year's Resolutions? Well, it's good to have goals (or at least something to look forward too)!
  • Lose weight, drink less (I have that up there every year, because I like to be consistent).
  • Start running again (trying to avoid re-injury) and do some fun runs. I think I might leave the half-marathons for someone else this year though!
  • Keep homeschooling. Some general goals: start working on academic essay writing skills, keep reading, keep working on maths/science, build a computer, get more active, do some more creative activities, start looking at online/tertiary courses that might be suitable for the kids.
  • Get out of the house a bit more - make more of an effort to see family and friends, see shows, go to museums - that sort of thing.
  • Travel - Uluru/central Australia is on the agenda for later in the year; go bushwalking/camping more; and I'm always on the lookout for the next cruise/resort holiday!
  • Keep trying to say "yes" - it's amazing where "yes" can take you!
  • Keep on blogging, reading, sharing, learning and reflecting.
So at the end of another year, a pretty good year at that, I wish all my family, old and new friends, real life and online acquaintances the best that 2012 can bring. We know that in reality, it won't be all smooth sailing and that life can throw some funny roadblocks in your path. But here's wishing that you are able to lemons into lemonade, take care of yourself and your loved ones and enjoy the journey that is your life!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cue cultural exchange

Thank you to Deb from Not Inadequate and my Ohio-an friend Jane for inspiring me to share a bit of Aussie Christmas culture.

It's a weird kind of situation in here in Australia. We are warming up to summer and singing about White Christmas's and Dashing through the Snow!! It's up to 40 degrees (celcisus! I know - we're weird like that too) outside and we are humming along to Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.

We do actually have a couple of semi-famous Aussie Christmas carols! The most recognisable is the imitable Rolf Harris' Six White Boomers (boomers are big kangaroos!):

And it is quite common in primary (elementary) schools to learn the alternate lyrics to Jingle Bells:

Now, I realise that some of our slang is not just in case you aren't up with all the Aussie words, here is a bit of a translation for you:

bush - scrubland or brush
ute - utility or pickup truck
esky - cooler for storing food and drinks (mostly beer)
kelpie - breed of Australian cattle dog
thongs - no, not a g-string! Flip flops or jandles!
swaggie - swagman (probably closest to a hobo)
barbeque - bbq or grill

I heard on the radio that Carols by Candlelight  is a uniquely Australian tradition - we light candles and sing all the snowy carols. There are big versions in both Sydney and Melbourne and many around the country. Can anyone confirm or deny this - do you have Carols by Candlelight in the US?

I love Lucy Durack - she was Glinda in Wicked!

And apparently Boxing Day is not a big deal either, but we have a number of huge sporting events - the Boxing Day Test (cricket - 5 days to play and maybe not get result!) and the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (you can win line honours but not actually win the race). And we have big Boxing Day sales in the stores (which I do tend to avoid).

Increasingly, we see Christmas in July celebrations popping up - particularly in the colder parts of Australia (the Blue Mountains make a big deal of it) so we can enjoy a hot dinner, without the heat and maybe with the chance of snow.

And now to go cook up some leftover ham and eggs for breakfast (brunch?)!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Summer storms

Here in Australia, after a long hot summer day, we are often cooled down a by a southerly change - where the wind changes from hot, dry northerlies to cool, rain laden southerlies. I love a bit of a southerly storm!

"Hail on Boxing Day - the closest we'll ever get to a White Christmas" - Video Boy

Monday, December 26, 2011

A very Aussie Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas to you all! It's all over bar the shouting here in Australia, but for those in the US and elsewhere, I hope you are enjoying your day!

It has been a slightly mild start to our summer (it was hotter in September when I was attempting to run 9km without collapsing!). This was doing the Facebook rounds:

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So, it hasn't felt very "Christmassy". We did finally get around to putting up some lights on Christmas Eve...

Santa was left his all-important snacks...

Christmas Day dawned bright and sunny, with the prospect of a typical Australian "hot" Christmas lunch!

The day started early for Hubby, who couldn't sleep (too excited?) and went for a Christmas swim instead...

But during the night, Santa came!! (Wombat Girl: "Mummy, did you get to sleep before Santa arrived?"  Me: "I didn't hear him, so I must have!")

Even Winnie the Pooh was excited!

We picked up Nanna, and then it was time for some present opening!

There were books galore...

Board games too...

And then, it was time to eat...

Tiramisu almonds!

Fruit mince pies


Beer and spice glazed ham

Prawns and oysters with mango aoili

BBQd chorizo, baby potatoes and haloumi


Afternoon quiet time...

And it just wouldn't truly, ruly be Christmas without Christmas toilet paper...

...and a southerly change to cool off after a hot day!

...and lovely summer fruits for dessert!

So, no matter where or how you celebrated, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas, with lots of joy, peace and happiness.

Embroidery Project - Blue Butterfly

I downloaded this pattern as a PDF from Hoop Embroidery Co on Esty as my first attempt at the technique known as "thread painting"...