the rambles of a family of five in Australia

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Suzannah turns two!

Happy Birthday to our little English Rose! Two years have flown by and we are thankful to be celebrating her second birthday. Here are some photos of her birthday week.

S & E at Gma & Gpa's, watching the digger at work

S & E at Gma & Gpa’s, watching the digger at work

THE photo! We love this!

THE photo! We love this!

Just about to open presents- S and Aunty Lolly!

Just about to open presents- S and Aunty Lolly!

Opening her gift from Grand Nan - Spike the baby Dragon!

Opening her gift from Grand Nan – Spike the baby Dragon!

Getting ready to feed her dragon baby... The bottle was soon ditched in favour of 'mummy's milk'. Not sure dragons mind bottled milk, but heigh ho!

Getting ready to feed her dragon baby… The bottle was soon ditched in favour of ‘mummy’s milk’. Not sure dragons mind bottled milk, but heigh ho!

Still cuddling Spike, for a birthday photo with Mummy and B.

Still cuddling Spike, for a birthday photo with Mummy and B.

Just about to blow out the candles - a long-awaited moment!

Just about to blow out the candles – a long-awaited moment!

Mmmmm, ice cream cake...

Mmmmm, ice cream cake…

Our two year old girl, running for joy on the morning of her birthday.

Our two year old girl, running for joy on the morning of her birthday.

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Ewan turns four!


Ewan’s birthday this year crept up on us, like all his previous birthdays! Somehow we are always into April before we know it. For his first birthday and his third birthday we were preparing for international moves, and found it difficult to focus too much on parties and celebrations. This year, little B’s arrival meant that we have struggled to get out the door in the morning for quite routine things, let alone organise a party. However, he was convinced that he would be having one, so on the proviso that it would be more like a ‘group play date’ we consented to give it a go.

Invitations and bunting were home-made, decorations were borrowed and friends and family helpfully made parts of the birthday feast or willingly got involved on the day.

The theme (if it can be so-called!) was based around the idea of construction – as it is the activity and topic closest to E’s heart and interests at present. We decided that if it was a fine day we would encourage the kids to spend the party outside (less clean-up!) and to that end we organised 3-4 piles of soil to be strategically dumped at one end of the garden. Along with a fresh load of sand for the sand-pit, we hoped that the children would happily dig, tunnel and otherwise amuse themselves getting oh-so-mucky, before the birthday morning tea.

The weather, however, had other plans, so we had play-doh construction inside, loads of construction vehicles on the play mat and plenty of blocks, duplo and other building-type toys set up in the play room.

In the end, the back yard dried out enough for everyone to run around, jump on the trampoline and have a dig in the dirt.

Our day ended with a very tired and happy E, who had spent a few joyful hours with his friends, playing, talking and thinking about construction. And that, in the end, is what he wanted most!


Ewan’s birthday invitation – construction theme


Birthday invitation



Play-Doh shenanigans at E's birthday

Play-Doh shenanigans at E’s birthday

Two lovely ladies, Grand-Nan and Nanna, having a chat over birthday cake.

Two lovely ladies, Grand-Nan and Nanna, having a chat over birthday cake.

View of the party from the construction pile in the back yard.

View of the party from the construction pile in the back yard.

Grandma and little B.

Grandma and little B.

Suze, very grown-up with her hair in a bunch and a bit of attitude in her posture.

Suze, very grown-up with her hair in a bunch and a bit of attitude in her posture.

Construction site birthday cake.

Construction site birthday cake.

Construction site becoming a demolition site!

Construction site becoming a demolition site!

Our birthday boy.

Our birthday boy.

Aunty Natalie, helping Suze to demolish the cake.

Aunty Natalie, helping Suze to demolish the cake.

Grand-Nan having some time with little B.

Grand-Nan having some time with little B.


Couch time with Grand-Nan after the rest of the revellers have departed.

Couch time with Grand-Nan after the rest of the revellers have departed.



Party favours

Party favours



Suze, frocked up for church, holding the car she claimed as hers from E’s birthday haul.

E, with his car carrier, complete with crane - can you tell it's his new favourite?

E, with his car carrier, complete with crane – can you tell it’s his new favourite?


Opening one final present...

Opening one final present…



You can just see the piles of soil and the sand-pit at the bottom of the garden…







Suzannah’s first birthday!

On Tuesday, our little Suzy turned 1! We think having your first birthday in Paris, with an afternoon tea of croissants, eclairs et flan aux cerises is probably enough to spoil you for any further celebrations. It is a blessing in disguise then, that Suzy definitely won’t remember it. We have enjoyed getting to know Suzy and experiencing all the love that little girls have to offer. We loved: Her crazy mohawk and are just a little bit sad that her hair is now, to all intents and purposes, pretty conformist. The way she shuffles around on her bottom to get places, and how brilliant her little abdominals are. Her cheeky little face peeping round the corner just before she decides to embark upon an all-out riot of mischief. Her little smiles and throaty chuckles. She doesn’t ‘laugh’ as such but when she’s enjoying herself it is just lovely. We are looking forward to introducing Suzy to all our friends and family in Aus. That is, once we survive our flight and recover from the jet-lag! Bonne anniversaire ma petite Cheri!


In honour of E’s third birthday

Our son, E, our firstborn, turned 3 today.

Because we are in temporary accommodation, with all we own boxed and on pallets ready to send to Australia, and a very limited amount of luggage space, we have had to have a minimalist birthday for him. Surprisingly, (or not really) he didn’t seem to notice.

He received three little Thomas the Tank Engine trains which magnetically link together – just the size to play with on a plane tray table! – from Mummy, Daddy and Suze.

He was given a tractor and milk tanker from his best friends on Wakefield. It was clear on opening this that all his past, present and future wishes had been fulfilled!

He received two ecards from his grandparents and Grand-Nan – which he loved, despite (or more probably because of) the fact that they involved interaction which drove us a little batty!

He had lovely cards from various friends, a tiny store-bought cake with Lightning McQueen (Car de Tween!) topped with 3 pre-used candles (from Daddy’s birthday in January); and afternoon tea with Nannie and Sydney. He was even serenaded by his tired and slightly cranky parents with a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ just before bedtime.

Sometimes it is so easy to think that everything has to be perfect; that there should be a wide selection of gifts/a big party/perfect moods in all present etc etc etc but the truth is that we love him, he brings joy to us each and every day, he is Suze’s favourite person in the whole world and he himself is a little person who has the child-like ability to enjoy the good things about each day.

Living here in the flat he is out of his comfort zone, longing to go home to Wakefield and yet he still revelled in his gifts and cards, ate every mouthful of food he could get his fork into and went to bed cuddling Shanksie, and his new tractor and milk tanker.

Happy Birthday Son – we love you!


now he is two!

All the lovely birthday cards – E knows who sent each one!
Banana caramel cupcakes (a re-jig of the 1st birthday recipe!)

We can’t quite believe it ourselves, but our little princeling is two today! Two years ago H wouldn’t have believed she could make it through another ‘Feed. Play. Sleep.’ cycle, let alone until the weekend, let alone getting to the big second birthday.

Playing with his bulldozer in the garden – just where Daddy had planted our veg patch…
Don’t try to get between a little boy and his lamb…

But here we are (and here he is!) and we are so proud and thankful for the blessing that E is in our lives. We are thankful that we’ve been privileged to hear his first words, Mum, Dad, Tractor; see him cut his first teeth; walk; run; jump; giggle; laugh; demonstrate independence (I can climb the fence and touch the electric wire – 3 times in one day) as well as a need to be protected (I will lie on my back 4 feet from the electric fence and sob bitterly until someone comes to reassure me that I’m ok – 3 times in one day); share family mealtimes; say grace together; read Bible stories on the couch; read any stories anywhere; talk about what God has made; sing songs in the car and watch him do the actions in the rearview mirror; have cuddles; teach him to walk instead of being carried everywhere; have him try to ‘fix Daddy’s bike’ or paint a wall or clean the toilet (and actually try to do it properly!); and all the myriad other things that have been a blessing; joy; headache and source of consternation. In short, we love having E as our son and couldn’t imagine ourselves without him.

In Sydney & Nannie’s garden, looking at the cherry trees
Making new acquaintances with the stone animals

Thank you Heavenly Father for the gift of life and blessing of children.

Our blue-eyed boy

Thank you E for teaching us so much about joy, patience and perseverance.

Enjoying his birthday pudding of strawberries, caramel and greek yoghurt

Having been given a dinner-set, E proceeds to drink as much coffee as he can hold.

Putting his new workbench together with Daddy
Getting busy fixing things

Thank you family and friends for leading by example; giving us life lessons and letting us get on with it – we love you too!

Road-testing his new scuttlebug from Nan-Nan.

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downtime in a green cardigan (all the cutest boys are wearing them)

H & E just come in from the cold on the balcony

After what felt like a very busy week – perhaps because of, rather than despite, the bank holiday 4 day work week – we were very pleased to reach the weekend.

E in motion & pushing his birthday gift
Chuckling over a ‘secret’ plan to get onto the balcony without Mummy noticing

We are in limbo here until Monday, when we might possibly hear back from a real estate agent or two, so we spent the weekend: looking for furniture – in case we end up renting something unfurnished; driving around and getting a feel for some more local areas; planning exotic weekend trips away (ok, so not actually planning, but we picked up some train timetables… 83 quid return to Paris via the Eurostar from a station not more than 1km from our front door!); going to church – in Wolverton, this time; and picking up a highchair from a successful ebay bid in Little Harrowden – 20 miles and around 40 minutes from MK.

First roadtest of highchair: with biscuit

We’ve been on some walks – all three of us – although the littlest member of the family was not required to walk the whole way… and H & E are planning a trip to the Willen Park Maze/Labyrinth once R comes back from a week-long session with the car. We also quite like the sound of a walk along the Grand Union Canal with a leisurely stop in one of the canal-side pubs for lunch. Alas, such treats will have to wait until we are settled somewhere, and don’t have to keep chasing all the thousand-and-one things required to start life anew.

A tree in spring… on our walk

H met a real-estate agent she’d quite like to be friends with, but is realistic about the chances of such a friendship actually occurring…she is too chicken to say anything i.e. “Would you like to be my friend?” due to the very real possibility of sounding desperate and/or stalkerish; as well as being frightened of having mistaken the signs and having to experience a flat-out (or pitying) rejection. It is also true that said potential friend is very cool (R’s opinion) and unlikely to be in need of more friends…

R & E posing patiently for H in the bitter breeze on our evening walk

So that is our news for the weekend. No post-election commentary, because frankly, we are puzzled by the whole process and all the candidates to boot.

This is the opposite of how E looks when he is told “It’s Bedtime!”

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in honour of birthdays

As the boxes multiply and our possessions vanish, variously to warehouses and storage; shipping containers and the ocean; and the abodes of friends and family who are taking charge of our more desirable (!) stuff in our absence, we are re-noticing all the changes in our house since we moved in, in December 2008.
Rob has:

  • installed a slow combustion stove in the family room

  • replaced four steel windows with aluminium ones that actually open
  • chopped down trees, split the trunks for firewood and hauled it all undercover to dry
  • replaced every single internal door
  • built a fitted bookcase, transforming the study into a library
  • demolished a wall between two poky rooms, converting them into one lovely, light-filled space
  • constructed two built-in wardrobes with fitted shelving
  • painted Ewan’s bedroom, and various other rooms besides
  • created a walk-in linen cupboard
  • demolished the old pool-fence and replaced it with a brand-new one
  • planted nearly 100 plants, including trees that will be beautiful in 50 years’ time

This list is not definitive, and owes much to the generosity and labour of some friends, family and professionals but, by-and-large, Rob has dreamed up and executed this work himself. It has made our house beautiful and more functional – especially with a small chappie beginning to move around under his own steam.

The said small chappie is due to celebrate his birthday on Thursday 8th April, and we are using this milestone to reflect on the joy he has brought to us in the past year. It is an honour to have shared the entrance of our little man into the world as a couple, and a delight to see the changes he has wrought in our lives. We have a messier house with more plastic than we ever hoped for; more food rubbed into the floorboards and more scratches on the floor; and we have been initiated into the mysteries of feeding, bathing and nappy-changing a wriggling (and occasionally protesting) pre-toddler at home and in public. Some nights we long for an umbrella-wielding Mary Poppins to step smartly through the door and put our offspring to bed with a song, others we spend chasing E through the house as he runs around pushing his trolley and careening into walls and doorways, giggling like a speed-freak.

We are getting better at the multiple enthusiastic readings of the stories he loves, and at letting him eat the occasional leaf/handful of sand/fistful of dirt/half a cockroach from one of the moving boxes, without screaming in a deranged fashion and lunging for the offending item in a manner calculated to put him off us for life.
We are accustomed to giving him select morsels from our plates, despite the full meal he consumed only moments before, as well as his bottomless appetite for stirring whatever is on the stove with his own personally selected wooden spoon.
In short (and this hasn’t been) we are joyfully celebrating E’s first birthday as the countdown for our overseas move shortens drastically.
We thank God for the gift of our son, and we wonder more and more each day at the great love of our Heavenly Father, who loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life.