allthingstendingtowardtheeternal

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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Our life, with Benjamin, the last 8 weeks

The semi-chaos of the early weeks of bringing a new baby home has resolved itself into somewhat of a discernible routine. Loose, I grant you, but present, which is a great leap forward and a comfort, as we found ourselves tiring at Week 6 from lack of sleep. We always feel that Week 6 is the half-way mark for new-babyhood. Week 12 is where the light at the end of the tunnel becomes dazzling sunshine, perhaps with a view of snow-capped mountain peaks, but Week 6 is still firmly ‘pick-axe over shoulder, trudging through the night towards a pin-prick of light that wavers alarmingly from time to time. Occasionally you glance over at your fellow trudger (in my case, husband Rob) and by the light of a pale and guttering candle, see the lines of exhaustion etched into a face grimy from being at the coal face of parenthood.’ So we are well and truly through Week 6, and these photos show some of the daily/weekly events and visitors who have cheered us on and encouraged us in our weariness. Don’t get me wrong, we do love our children, but the ‘new baby’ part seems to be more tiring each time. And no, I don’t think having three babies in under four years and two international moves had ANY part to play!

R and S, mowing the front lawn, one early evening, just before bath time

 
R and S, mowing the front lawn, one early evening, just before bath time

R & E, mowing the back yard, later the same evening, still before bath time. Can you see how much E wishes he was driving it BY HIMSELF?

R & E, mowing the back yard, later the same evening, still before bath time. Can you see how much E wishes he was driving it BY HIMSELF?

Aunty Natalie, making faces at Suze.

Aunty Natalie, making faces at Suze.

Grand-Nan, meeting Benjamin for the first time, and having some special time with E.

Grand-Nan, meeting Benjamin for the first time, and having some special time with E.

Daddy and B, having an afternoon turn around the room.

Daddy and B, having an afternoon turn around the room.

Big Brother and Little Brother, comparing heights on the play mat.

Big Brother and Little Brother, comparing heights on the play mat.

Three little monkeys, making faces.

Three little monkeys, making faces.

Look how long our babies are!!!

Look how long our babies are!!!

My little rain babies - suited up and ready to play in the mud.

My little rain babies – suited up and ready to play in the mud.

Mummy and B, supervising the mud warriors from the safety of the verandah.

Mummy and B, supervising the mud warriors from the safety of the verandah.

Little B, smiling for Gma.

Little B, smiling for Gma.

Lack of sleep makes us ridiculously smiley...

Lack of sleep makes us ridiculously smiley…

Gma, proud of having rocked little B to sleep. Little B has the contortionist tendencies made so popular by his siblings...

Gma, proud of having rocked little B to sleep. Little B has the contortionist tendencies made so popular by his siblings…

Gma and Little B.

Gma and Little B.

All together

All snuggled up together.

S, licking batter from the cake bowl after we made a batch of gingerbread...

S, licking batter from the cake bowl after we made some raspberry-buttermilk cupcakes… Why is it that my strategy for keeping myself awake when in the new baby stage invariably involves sugar and carbs, and not a quick run?

Play-Doh shenanigans... S: Mum!! I can't get the pizza-handle-cheese-grater-thingy to turn. My Play-Doh pizza will be RUINED!

Play-Doh shenanigans…
S: Mum!! I can’t get the pizza-handle-cheese-grater-thingy to turn. My Play-Doh pizza will be RUINED!   E: My Play-Doh construction is all going rather swimmingly, thank you! Note the teeny tiny Play-Doh bits all over the floor. It was the scene of much hands-and-knees pickeruppering, and a stern telling-off by me. Why oh why do they LOVE rolling little balls of it, every SINGLE time? So much for a quick, clean activity while little B was feeding…

Happy little B, contentedly awake after a long sleep.

Happy little B, contentedly awake after a long sleep.


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Getting out and about, or more accurately, how to buckle and unbuckle three children into and out of their carseats without hurting yourself or them…

The WORST thing about trying to live a ‘normal’ life with two little energetic people, while getting used to having a baby in the house again, is physically getting them into and out of the car on your own. When two of us are going out with all the kids, it is tricky (now that we are outnumbered), but when I am on my own and heading out, for the first few outings it was mind-blowingly complicated. Especially when you factor SAFETY in as the top priority (i.e. not allowing any child to be hit by a car, or run away), closely followed by TIMING as the second priority (i.e. the baby has been fussing for the last 20 minutes of our play at the park/grocery shopping/preschool drop-off/pickup and now that we are about to open the car door and buckle him in, he has entered a state closely related to a crying-induced seizure, but SURE, you can look at the ant/decide you must climb in BY MYSELF!/want to learn how to buckle in your brother/sister in 27 easy steps… or insert 1000 other delaying tactics here.

Sometimes, hunching into the car – OVER one child, to reach the one in the middle, while being repeatedly kicked in the thigh by the other other, while listening to the baby screaming, feels like a special form of torture. Keeping my mind on the fact that having a car is a privilege and having three wriggling contortionists  children to strap in is a blessing can be a real challenge.

With the above as a caveat reflecting on the beginning and ending of our outing, here are some photos of our first trip to the park!

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“Who’s that walking over my bridge?” – Role playing the 3 Billy Goats’ Gruff

Getting some air time on the slide

Getting some air time on the slide

I am Spider Man - look at ny web, Mum!

I am Spider Man – look at my web, Mum!

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View of the blue sky and scent of the fresh air, after 3 weeks inside the house. Hurrah for outings! (Although not for the necessity of car seats and buckles)

View of the blue sky and scent of the fresh air, after 3 weeks inside the house. Hurrah for outings! (Although not for the necessity of car seats and buckles)

Shameless selfie - with joyful face!

Shameless selfie – with joyful face!


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Our life, with Benjamin, the early weeks.

 

Ewan, sleeping with his personally designed 'thunder-muffs' on to reduce his exposure to summer thunderstorms...

Ewan, sleeping with his personally designed ‘thunder-muffs’ on to reduce his exposure to summer thunderstorms…

 

 

LIttle B, just hanging around...

Little B, just hanging around…

 

 

 

 

 

E, taking his duties as the biggest very seriously.

E, taking his duties as the biggest very seriously.

 

 

Sister Suze, killing with kindness.

Sister Suze, killing with kindness.

 

 

What the biggest children get up to while B is having all his meals...

What the biggest children get up to while B is having all his meals…

 

Our big boy, getting ready to go to preschool.

Our big boy, getting ready to go to preschool.

 

 

This evidence of book-loving gladdens our hearts.

This evidence of book-loving gladdens our hearts.

 

Aunty Lolly with little B

Aunty Lolly with little B

Trying to get a decent group shot...this is the best we could do!

Trying to get a decent group shot…this is the best we could do! My children are rascals and loving it!

 

 

Another attempt at a family photo... too serious, methinks.

Another attempt at a family photo… too serious, methinks.

 

 

The view I want to see more than any other at the end of a long day. Often, it is not this tidy...

The view I want to see more than any other at the end of a long day. Often, it is not this tidy… 

 

E with new haircut... perhaps next time not so short...

E with new haircut… perhaps next time not so short…?

 

 

 


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See how they grow…

We have been very blessed in our two precious children, as of course all parents are, and as we have come to the end of 2012, with all its twists and turns, ups and downs and much packing and unpacking, we have (in the midst of tiredness, frustration and general parenting weariness) found ourselves giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for these two bright bundles who give us great joy, grey hairs and sleepless nights and many moments of utter bewilderment. E and S, we love you more each day and are looking forward to additional joy with you next year.


S in July, scooting around the loungeroom floor. We were beginning to think she would NEVER get up and walk!

E in the backyard, mid-winter, wearing his Fireman Sam helmet and busily ‘fighting fires’. When he ‘is a big man, I will be a firefighter and build things for you, Mum!’



Just part of the buidling endeavours E engaged in when let loose on our firewood stack. Never mind splinters or potential spiders, there was some serious construction to be done. At this stage, S was more of a supervisor than a participant.

She looks positively demure here – our little lady!

Sunglasses make me a rock star!



With a packet of glitter crayons from Lincraft and a roll of paper from Ikea, art is let loose upon our household. Cheap, relatively painless and very very therapeutic!

S, after her nap, wearing one of E’s cast-off hats and cuddling her bunny.

Watching R and E working on the front verandah. Spot the traces of tear-stains at not being allowed to join them.
 
And then a carefully contrived pose once she realised the camera was out…
 
 
Hurrah! We finally figured out a way to use ALL the pieces of track to make a shape that connects. We LOVE Thomas here!

One of H’s playgroup ‘science experiments’. The leaves DID change colour, but not dramatically enough to show up in the photo!

If your keys could double as your mobile phone, you might be smiling like this too…

E, covered in cake mixture after licking the bowl clean.

Big brother, little sister.

Ladybird, Ladybird drive away home…

Mmmm, chocolate icing, yummo!


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Beach Daze

One of the loveliest opportunities we’ve had in moving back to Aus has been a greater access to the beach, even in winter. This is because in MK we were almost as far from the coast as it is possible to be in the United Kingdom, whereas here we are about an hour away from some gorgeous Sydney beaches. H’s parents live reasonably close to the coast as well and the kids have enjoyed our jaunts out for sand, surf and fish and chips with Grandpa and Grandma very much.

Suze playing on the beach at Hawks Nest. It might be mid-winter but the sun was shining and we had a lovely time.

At Clovelly in October, having one of those unscheduled but thoroughly delightful days out. We really should do it more often.
E at Clovelly, having been given the previously unheard of permission to go down to the waters edge on his own to collect wet sand. Can you see the sense of responsibility on those little shoulders?

Clovelly Beach from the cliff path.
At Hawks Nest with Gma and Gpa – E was dreaming about fish and chips for tea, methinks.

Just hanging out with Aunty Lolly.
Clovelly Beach from the car.

Not sure if this was the first dip of the season in our pool, but I know it was unscheduled because we didn’t have S’s swimmers…Not that she minds, of course!
Running along the beach beside Daddy.
Little Miss Curly Top

At Boomerang Beach, on holidays, with the baby beginning to disappear into a little girl.

 


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Garden Shenanigans

This mulch pile is one of two that we have been working on distributing round our place for the past 6 months or so. E and S LOVE to play in the trailer while R is either loading or unloading it, and it is a sure fire way to have happy, filthy children.



Picking mandarins from our bumper crop this year. Suze learnt to peel and eat them very quickly, and ended up treating the trees as her own personal snack bar. The only negative was the tendency to go for the ones lying on the ground…

Our winter picnic spot in the front garden.

Four peaches we actually managed to harvest before the cockatoos got to them!
Soil and mulch distribution team gets to work…

Some of our plant dreams have been realised with the addition of this black tulip magnolia.

Suze getting busy with her dirt bucket.

The house from Suze’s perspective.

One of our favourite new plants, ‘Hydrangaea Red Ball’ blooming beautifully in front of R’s bedroom window.

One of our million gardenias – one of the nicest things about the front borders.

The aftermath of putting together our new trampoline on a 40C day…

R and kids enjoy some fun in the blessedly cool shade.


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Rob the Builder (and his merry helpers Scoop and Muck…)

Since moving back to our house in June, we have had numerous projects on the go. Mostly, we are quite disorganised and forgetful when it comes to recording progress. However, here we managed to take a few pictures of some of the tasks Rob has had on his ‘to-do’ list. H feels tired just thinking about all the work Rob has managed to complete this year. 

 
Rewiring the internet connection…
 

Building the new side fence.

Not sure if it’s nature or nurture or 50/50, but building things is definitely a shared love.

S, very merry at the prospect of a missing front door. H, gritting her teeth at all the flies!

First bit of the frame goes in…

R and E conducting manly door-related work on the front verandah.

Boy heaven…

Side fence complete, except for…
… a coat of paint.
Last view of the old steel french doors – farewell, we will not mourn your passing.

Old kitchen window out…

Ready for its brand spanking new version. Hurrah!

Front door finished and ready for Christmas! Now to choose a paint colour for the rest of the house… we have a grey theme going if you have any cracking suggestions.


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Paris pictures

So, here are some photos of our time in Paris. Clearly it had a civilising and beautifying effect on all of us…!

One of the first things we did while ill, when we were convinced we were HILARIOUS – probably from lack of food, sleep and heightened nausea – was to pose in E’s new Bob the Builder goggles.

Here are our headshots. (Just count yourselves lucky the goggles didn’t come with overalls and workboots, or we might be all trying to wear those too.)

I can’t believe I’m in Paris and they’re making me wear these.
See, I TOLD you I was Bob the Builder.

I laughed myself SICK when R and the kids were doing it, but now it just feels silly.
If I go along with this, maybe she’ll take the kids out somewhere so I can sleep?

A view of the Canal St. Martin, right on our doorstep.

We spent A WEEK staring at this and were still no closer to working out what it was. Still, we kind of liked it!

A view of the mantel mirror in the living room.

The hall – scene of much scooting and shuffling.

Having a chat – plotting their next move.

Look! That’s Paris! Right outside our window!

Quite inspiring to have this on the wall opposite your bed. Quite disappointing when you don’t really go anywhere!

Check out the bags under our eyes!

Our first walk outside. IN THE SUNSHINE! This was our closest park.

Is it my imagination or does Suze look too big for this?! 

On the most ill-fated excursion we’ve ever undertaken, just before it all went seriously pear-shaped.

Notre-Dame, I promise we’ll be back.

Watching the world splash by in the rain.


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Nous arrivons a Paris!

We are in Paris, hurrah!

We caught the Eurostar from St. Pancras International last Thursday and it was quite painless compared to the pfaffing that seems to go along with flying anywhere these days. It helped that S seems to be an accomplished flirt and that all admin duties were being handled by men. Our apartement is in the 10th arrondissement, very close to Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est and within 30 metres of the Canal St. Martin – a lovely place to amble slowly along.

Amble? You ask? Why amble? Well, because although so far this sounds like a lovely family bit of R&R, we have had a vomiting bug since last Monday (yes folks, we’re heading into the second week!) and ambling is about the fastest we feel we can manage. So no, we’ve not really done any sightseeing or taken any photos or anything you might recognise as quintessentially French. We have, however, spent a lot of time in our apartement resting; some time ambling along the waterside; sitting in one or another of the parks in this neighborhood, watching E burn off some of his slowly returning joie de vivre, and shopping for basic food supplies in the local franprix – where the staff kindly assure H that her French is excellent. It’s not, but flattery makes her return, so they are getting something for nothing!

Some blessings:
Le Pain (The bread)
R was astonished that although H had been talking it up for nearly 8 years, she hadn’t exaggerated about how good it was or how unlike every horrible “French stick” you’ve ever choked down in Australia it actually was.

Le cafe
Since being able to be out and about in public, it has been lovely to drop casually into any of the numerous cafes that line the streets near our apartment and have a coffee. Coffee here is uniformly excellent, if pricey. R concedes that if he lived in France he would drink coffee too! Our usual order is: Deux cafes; ou un cafe et une chocolate chaud, un jus d’orange (pour E) et une tartine avec confiture. It’s lovely to have a holiday ritual, and in the absence of sightseeing it is nice to be doing something social as a family.

Les Francais (The French)
Once again we are bemused by how those “arrogant French” rumours get started. We have experienced nothing but charm and courtesy, and H realised yet again how civility seems to be the defining characteristic of French life. One example. As we staggered home on Friday afternoon with the buggy and an unhappily walking E, four venerable Ladies emerged from an inner courtyard and sashayed very slowly – even more slowly than us! – along the footpath. One turned her head slightly, saw us, shooed the others to one side and exhorted us “Allez-y, ma belles!” It might surprise you to learn that we aren’t customarily addressed as “lovely ones” even by those who love us best, so it was a feel-good moment and an example of superb manners on the part of those who have certainly earned the right to keep younger generations waiting.

The weather. Blue skies, short showers, puffy white clouds, sunshine;heavy showers. 

Thank you to all who have prayed for us. Sorry there are no photos here but we thought the update was worth the lack of pretty pictures. And you don’t really want pictures of our trip so far.
Promise. 😉