Stay with me here, I’ll explain.
Mornings at my place happen so fast that after the school rush is done and dusted I’m left thinking to myself, ‘What happened just then!’
I’ve found that walking to school is like pushing a magic button, where all the rush, panic, yelling, hurrying and stress is left behind as soon as we step out the front door. From that moment on, the fresh air and conversations take hold, which, in my opinion, is the best quality time I spend with my two boys.
The conversations we have for the next 15 minutes are the best and I’m always in my element, ears tuned in and watching their expressions as they discuss things in such a matter-of-fact way.
For instance, the other day as we reached the end of our street, there was a dead possum on the footpath. I saw this before the boys did and wondered to myself if I should warn them, or leave it for them to discover. I decided on the latter.
When they approached it, it was a case of, ‘Mum, what is it? Is it dead? I think I saw it move! His eyes are looking at me! How did it die?’ They circled it a few times as I looked on, amused by all the questions and their brains ticking over at this poor creature.
As I coaxed them to keep walking, the dead possum monopolised the conversation, until something else took their attention. The ‘spooky house’ had movement today. Not a day goes by that they don’t stop and peer through the gap in the fence at…nothing. I don’t understand, but figure there is something that attracts them. On this day, they stood open mouthed as someone walked out of the back door. I took a quick look and rushed them along. To be perfectly honest I was a bit freaked out myself, given the eerie look of the house and the 1970’s gear that the man had on.
Getting a move on now and we had 7 minutes to get to school. I took hold of my 6 year old’s hand to power up the hill and lo and behold, a dead bird lay right there in the gutter. Well, that was it; they stopped, examined it and saw a little blood. We didn’t have time for this. I said, ‘Poor bird. It must have flown into a car window perhaps’. The questions started again, but as I continued walking, they caught up, continuing the questions. ‘What will happen to the bird now? Who will take it away?’
In my haste to hurry and also puffing from the slight hill, I reply, ‘Bird’ll just lay there. It isn’t in pain anymore.’
My 6 year old says something to the effect of, ‘Will birdle go to heaven?’
I absolutely lost it. I should have answered this question, I really know that I should have, but I couldn’t stop laughing at his usage of the word ‘birdle’. In my hysterics, I tried to explain that I shortened ‘The bird will…’ to ‘bird’ll’, but they couldn’t understand me and were utterly confused as to why their Mum was laughing so much, so they quietly walked beside me, glancing my way every few steps.
So, in essence, our walks to school are gold. The conversations we have are ones to cherish. And yes, the word ‘birdle’ is now a word in our household.
Would you like a cuppa?
Sounds inviting doesn’t it?
As the kettle is filled with water and turned on to boil, the cup is selected and placed on the kitchen bench as it waits for the contents to warm it up. Will it be coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? It doesn’t matter, the feeling it ignites is one of comfort.
It occurred to me today that my day revolves around cups of tea and coffee. I might as well be the vessel, that is - the cup. For I am forever waiting to be ‘warmed up’ by whatever choice of hot liquid I choose at the time.
‘Where is she going with this’ I hear you ask.
Well, take for instance this morning. My son asked me to play something with him. My answer, ‘I’ll just have my cup of tea.’
Then, having family over for lunch tomorrow meant that I needed to clean and tidy the house today, but first – ‘I’ll just have my mid-morning coffee’.
Fast forward to this afternoon. It is a cold, rainy and windy day here in Sydney (perfect for writing and playing guitar), so I had it all planned, but before I could start, I had to have just one more cuppa – a nice hot steaming cup of green tea!
Yes, I’m sure you get the picture. My day revolves around cuppa’s. Which is perfectly fine by me.
How about you? Do you get a ‘fix’ from your cuppa like I do?
The definitive guide for all parents of sporty kids (well my view of it today anyway)
Team sports aren’t really my thing. I mean, I don’t really play any sport and I’ve never really been part of a team sport, apart from in school, where sport was compulsory. There I played softball, basketball, cricket and (I cringe at the thought) netball.
In my school days, Saturday mornings were spent going to tennis lessons and having a game of tennis afterwards. I don’t class tennis as a ‘team’ sport, although some may differ on that opinion. The other forms of exercise I enjoyed were yoga and aerobics (yes, think leg warmers and leotards).
Anyway, I digress. Even though I don’t participate in team sports doesn’t deter me from supporting my two sons, who play soccer, AFL and (yay) tennis. In fact, I’m there at every training session and every game (whenever the two don’t clash times) and I enjoy watching them play, plus I want them to be a part of the whole team sport experience.
Sorry, I digress again. The purpose of this little post was to tell you how to have a great Sunday in 3 easy steps (in my opinion). So, without further ado…
1. Wake up at 6am, in the dark, before everyone else. Spend 20 minutes wishing I could have slept in and curse the fact that AFL fields are few and far between in Sydney, so travelling to the outskirts is always going to be a necessity. In other words, 6am Sunday wake up calls are a part of my life now. Get over it Gillian, it could be worse – think swimming at 5am! Quickly force down some homemade banana bread and tea, feed the cat and get drowsy patting her, unfortunately relaxing a little too much, then discovering that I spent too much time with the cat. In a frantic state I leave kitty in the lurch and run around the household giving the wake up calls, opening blinds, updating on how long before we leave, making noise etc.
2. Arriving at the grounds on time (yay – some may call this a first), we trek through the grassland with fold up chairs slung over our shoulders to the oval, where parents are already starting to set up chairs; the coffee man is getting his machine pumping in the van and the barbeque set up is already starting to happen. After too many games without a chair, I’m all the more wiser these days, taking everything I need to be comfortable, no matter how much of a granny I look. I start to get into the game, (hey, my son scored a goal!) and think how the effort of driving 50 minutes at 7am in the morning on a Sunday was kinda worth it now.
3. With the game done and dusted, (not that we focus on who won – but our team did!), we head out for a little drive, seeing as though we don’t get to the ‘outskirts’ very often. Lo and behold, we came across the most beautiful lake which required parking the car and walking around. It was truly picturesque. I’m always snap happy and as my boys are used to me taking a million pictures, I happily captured the reflection of the gorgeous trees on the still lake. Beautiful. Lucky for me that a turtle provided much entertainment for the boys. Next we stumbled upon a little area which had running water and again, more beautiful trees reflecting on the water. This time, the carcass of a fish and a centipede took their interest, which meant more time for me to take pictures. Not planning to stop again, but then discovering a beautiful lookout, which had double the interest, because it seemed to be the local hangout of a vintage sports car club. Well, this was enough for my boys to want to stay here all afternoon. The cars were immaculate, but before long, they were on their way, which was a spectacle in itself. Once the last car left, we then turned around and the view was magnificent! Who would have thought? Besides the rolling fields below, we could see outlines of the city, Chatswood, North Sydney and the back burning on the Central Coast! After spending quite a bit of time here and taking another million happy snaps, we felt ready to leave.
So, with one more stop to get ice-creams, we headed home. The car trip was peaceful and everyone content. As I sit here now writing, I realise that today would have to be one of my favourite days. Why? Because everyone had enjoyed the day, we saw something different and from the time we got home (3pm) there have been no cranky tired boys, no cranky tired parents, just a feeling of (sigh) a relaxing Sunday spent out and about and all because of team sports!
I’ve come to realise that where I live is quite quiet.
After 10 years, you would think that I may have come to this realisation before. No, it was until about a month ago that I discovered that we were very fortunate. Yes, I did say ‘were’. Why? Well, the new neighbours moved in and they have a dog. A fluffy white dog, I’m not sure what type of dog but to me it’s a fluffy white dog.
Anyway, the day they moved in, we left on a holiday. I didn’t think about the new neighbours once throughout my holiday, in fact the peaceful surroundings, sounds of birds chirping, waves rolling in was much more interesting.
On our return, as we unpacked our car, it happened. The noise started. What noise you say? The barking of the fluffy white dog!
Oh my goodness, it was constant. It seemed the new neighbours weren’t bothered by it either. We continued our walk from car to house, house to car unpacking everything for at least an hour or so with the constant yapping of the fluffy white dog.
Well, this wasn’t the way I had envisaged our home coming. The peacefulness of the lake and bush were as far away as I could imagine now that the penetrating decibels of the yapping were out of control.
Don’t get me wrong, I love animals! Love them, ask anyone that knows me. It’s just that this was ridiculous. I tried to reason it out – OK, the poor little thing has just moved house, a big move is disturbing for all concerned. Also, with all the added movement from us unpacking, it hadn’t heard the unfamiliar sounds, okay, I’ll give him that.
Now, fast forward two months. I’m sitting here in my newly refurbished home office, peaceful music playing as I work and what do I have in the background coming from next door? That’s right, the fluffy white dog is still barking away.
From my office I can see the little fella pacing up and down. The neighbours seem to be out each weekday and on the weekends they are out all day as well. So when we even open our back door, walk outside or go for a swim, the little fella pitches in consistently with the ‘I’m lonely’ bark, or the ‘hey, I’m over here’ bark, or even the ‘I can hear you, so I’m gonna bark’ bark.
I feel sorry for this dog, so I send it all my thoughts to be at peace. What can we do? I feel like going over there, hijacking him on a daily basis and he could lie by my feet all day as I write, giving him some good lovin’ and company and then sending him back just before they arrive home.
Though, I’m sure Cleo the cat would have other thoughts on this.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever lived next door to a yapping dog?
FYI - No animals have been hurt in the writing of this blog post.
© Gillian Du Caurroy 2016 All Rights Reserved
It’s not for everyone. In fact I know some people who shudder just at the thought. I was one of those people – about a decade or so ago.
Given that I have at least a dozen or so trips under my belt now, I can understand how ‘those’ people think, in fact, on my recent holiday, there were challenging times and those fleeting thoughts of ‘I’d give anything to have dry feet’; ‘I can’t wait to shower without wearing sandals or thongs’; ‘Ah, what I’d give to sit down to a meal and not have to rummage through tubs of kitchen pantry items to find the sauce, or the salt’. I won’t even go down the path of having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
However, all things considered, those are just minor factors that you actually get used to. We set up camp just metres from a beautiful lake, with the beach not too far away. The sunrises were spectacular and the sunsets just as glorious. The lapping sound of water against the boats and the chirping of the birds; not to mention the wild kangaroos that would grace us with their company each day in the late afternoons were truly beautiful. In fact, having a glass of wine with a cheese platter by the lake would have to be the most relaxing and enjoyable things about the holiday.
Did I mention the stars? I never see the night sky so clear and full of stars as I do when I’m out camping. In fact, as an added gift from nature, I was privileged to see two shooting stars and the moon like I’ve never seen it before.
So, this little camper couldn’t be happier amongst the beauty of nature and if it means foregoing a few little luxuries for a short time, then I’m more than happy to enjoy the experience and make the best of nature in all its glory.
How about you? Have you been camping? What are your experiences?
© Gillian Du Caurroy 2016
Do you make them? Do you keep to them?
Happy New Year everyone!
With the New Year brings a lot of enthusiasm and most people tend to start the year off with resolutions. I stopped the way in which I was doing this a long time ago. It was a gradual process that I found worked for me. What I discovered was, I put too much pressure on myself with a list. It looked quite daunting, even though it was all positive.
Instead, I found myself easing into the New Year, from about October with the many changes I wanted to take place. Actually, this time I started even earlier envisioning what I would like to change, improve, start or finish. It’s January 3 and I’m feeling positive about the introduction of many of these things already. I feel as though I’ve already had a head start to introduce the positives that I truly want in life, both personally and professionally.
How about you? What is your process?
Wishing you all a very Happy and Prosperous year, with an abundance of Good Health and Happiness.
© Gillian Du Caurroy 2016
I feel such accomplishment today as I relax in my home, in my comfortable yoga pants on my comfortable lounge. Yep, I survived. What am I talking about?
The Christmas season.
I do this every year, plan to be super organised and buy the gifts early during the year, but inevitably, the months creep by and lo and behold December is upon us and not a lot of planning has been accomplished. The turkey, ham and pork were purchased in a frenzy of like-minded frazzled shoppers and at each checkout there were at least a dozen or so anxious people waiting to purchase their gifts. Not to mention the grocery store with hundreds of other people, shopping carts full of items enough to sustain three months of eating alone.
I’m a list person, so my handbag is full of lists. Some very old, some recent and some incomplete. In a hurry recently, I pulled out a list and began my search. It wasn’t long before I realised, this wasn’t my ‘recent’ list! Seems a handbag cleanout will be needed, but not until after Christmas.
Christmas for me consists mainly of four main festivities. My immediate family, which is usually one week before Christmas; my Mum’s side, which is celebrated on Christmas Eve; my Dad’s side, which is on Christmas Day and my husband’s side is celebrated on Boxing Day.
When 2am came around Christmas Eve after putting the children to bed, arranged for the reindeer’s food and water outside, filled up the Santa sacks and arranged Santa's late night snack and tot of whiskey, then placed all the gifts under the tree, our weary bodies climbed into bed, hoping for a super charged, peaceful and long sleep.
Lucky my boys slept in. I think they might have been the only children on this planet sleeping in on Christmas day.
This year, it was the first time I’ve hosted my husband’s side of the family on Boxing Day. This meant I had to be super organised with everything because we were tied up attending other Christmas gatherings. It’s been a manic time getting all the gifts, planning and preparing the food, rearranging the house to fit everyone to eat at the table, clean the house and garden and maintain this with two little boys running around playing their games amongst all the chaos.
I’m happy that the turkey turned out so well, I’m happy that the ham I bought was big enough, I’m happy that the different salads I made were tasty and I’m happy that the pudding was as good as it looked in the photo. I’m happy that the decision to have a slightly different version of pork was a good one and I’m happy that the White Christmas I made went down well with a cup of tea.
So, even though I feel tired today and ready for a nap any minute, I do feel content with my efforts and happy in general that the Christmas season has brought all the sentiments of the season together.
I hope you have had a lovely Christmas.
Looking forward to 2016 being an exciting and abundant year.
Time for a nap me thinks! ;-)
© Gillian Du Caurroy 2015
It’s a new concept for me and the first time I had heard about it. There were hints of it here and there in September, but I brushed it aside thinking it was way beyond my capabilities and only for the ‘experts’.
What am I talking about you ask? NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month of course.
It was a late registration, but I committed to it in the end, since November is the month that writers commit to writing 50,000 words from the 1st November to 30th November.
Days and weeks passed and I would see more posts on Facebook regarding this challenge. I’d hover my mouse over the registration button and then decide against it at the last second. Day after day, the challenge was tempting. Until one day, I reasoned it out with myself. This was not going to be a competition as such. No, I wasn’t going to be competing against other expert writers. I was simply going to challenge myself.
So, with the prospect of just having fun in my mind, I finally took the bull by the horns and completed the registration form and read over it a dozen times before I clicked ‘Submit’.
There, it was done and boy was I excited!
To challenge myself even further, I hinted on my Facebook page that I would be taking part in this, by sharing a post from a fellow writer regarding the commitment. I then told a few people close to me and well, the rest is history as they say.
I made a contract with myself. Yep, a contract. I decided that if I was going to do this, it would mean committing to waking at 5am to write as much as possible before the busy day began.
On the eve of NaNoWriMo, I was so worked up about making sure I would wake up and write early, that I didn’t sleep – at all. So instead, I tossed and turned, waiting for 5am.
On Day 1, we had a very busy family social day that had been planned ahead. This was worrying me. ‘How was I going to get my 1667 words down when I wasn’t home all day and would probably be way too tired to write at night?’
However, waking at 5am to write was a success, as I managed to write 2240 words by 9am, in between getting kid’s breakfasts and washing clothes.
By Day 5 and I had written approximately 12,000 words.
I’m quite happy with that. 5am might become my preferred writing time I think.
As I write this morning, I have to admit, it’s been hard going getting up so early and committing to write, but I’m happy so far and my story is coming along nicely.
As of today, being the 11th day, I have written close to 16,000 words of my novel.
I can’t complain, as this is the first time I’m ‘competing’ and I’m going to have a very rough 1st draft that I can play with soon.
If you happen to see me in the streets or at the shops and I’m in deep thinking mode, just mention the words ‘Nanowrimo’ and I’ll come alive!
So, for all those Nanowrimo’s out there – Good Luck!
© Gillian Du Caurroy 2015
I heard someone talking on the radio this morning about wanting to get a massage but they couldn’t find the time. I was in the shower when I heard this (yes, I have a radio in the shower) and it reminded me of when I was browsing through a boutique yesterday that stocks a lovely assortment of French body creams, lotions, bath gels and the like. I didn’t really want to buy anything, I just wanted to browse.
As the shop assistant kindly stood by me and showed me every lavender product they had, she pointed out that the bubble bath was a must.
‘Not for me, I’m afraid.’ I told her, quite adamantly.
She looked at me as if she didn’t hear what it was that I was actually saying. ‘No? Why not?’ she persisted.
I began my story of how I’ve lived in my house for nine years and never have used the bath. I was on a roll and I continued to tell her that I’ve filled up a beautiful warm and bubbly bath for my children nearly every day for the last few years and how I long to hop in myself one day – but I don’t.
Her eyes were big and round in disbelief. "No! Surely not! Nine years? I think it’s time you hopped in that bath!" She picked up the large bottle of luxurious lavender scented bubble bath gel and waved it in front of me.
As the words spilled from my mouth, I actually heard so many voices in my head saying; ‘Gillian you need to spoil yourself; get a massage; look after yourself; have a bath for goodness sake!’
I have to admit, I did walk out of that shop empty handed, however, the prompting that I heard on the radio this morning, along with those very loud voices in my head have encouraged me to book in a pedicure and manicure. Next week, I will book myself in for a massage AND make it a point to have at least one relaxing bath each week. A little bit of bliss is not too much to ask for is it?
My point is, from this moment on, I, Gillian, promise to spoil myself every so often and reap the benefits that spoiling oneself ensures. How about you? Do you get to spoil yourself at all?
© Gillian Du Caurroy 2015
What are your thoughts on family road trips?
It certainly brings back memories of my own childhood when my family would travel to our holiday destinations. There was such anticipation! I loved it when we had to get up very early and it was still dark, I never actually fell asleep the night before because I was so excited.
Well, the excitement factor changes slightly in perspective as you would know. For the kids, it is more like, ‘I’m ready, let’s go!’ For the adults, well for me anyway, the whole holiday organisation begins with a list, then another list and if I’m being totally honest…a ‘final’ list. Right after all four family members’ bags are packed then I begin the packing of the pantry items, the medicines ‘just in case’ and the essential household items. I don’t know if any other family takes as much as we do, but all I will say is…the car is jam packed full and we will be ready for anything or any weather change!
The car, which is a medium sized 4WD is strategically packed thanks to my husband’s many years of fitting all of our gear in. It takes us longer this time around to actually get packed and when we are finally in, after saying goodbye to the cat and fish many times and going back in the house because we realise we ‘forgot’ something, finally we are off.
I remember, my older brother would get sick of the copious times I would want to play ‘I Spy’ and so Mum and Dad would gladly play with me. The next game would be ‘How many ‘yellow’ cars can you count’, which would be replaced by whichever colour I felt comfortable at the time, given I had probably already spotted a few of them coming our way in the distance, which would mean that I won the game.
Many other road trip games would surface as the hours passed. I remember my other favourite part about going on road trips were the stops on the side of the road to eat the delicious food my Mum had prepared. Homemade rissoles were my favourite and sometimes Mum would make Scotch Eggs, yum.
Being rather protective of our brand new Chrysler Regal with all the bells, whistles and trimmings, my Dad provided us with trays to eat on so that no stray crumb would find its way into the pristine car. I didn’t mind, as long as I was going on holidays. I loved this car as I could lie right across the back seat. It was like being in my very own lounge room.
Things are slightly different these days as my kids watch DVD’s in the back seat. Sometimes ‘I Spy’ will be played, but it is quickly replaced by something else. The most I could muster up for this holiday was making banana bread on the morning of us leaving! There were four very sad looking bananas that needed to be used up. Somehow, this wasn’t the same as Mum’s homemade rissoles though.
The kids were so excited as we drove in to the grounds of our accommodation. ‘Look there’s a tennis court!’ ‘Oh wow – the pool looks good, can we go for a swim now?’ As we unlock the cottage and let the kids in first, there are shrills of ‘Oh! This is my bed’, ‘No I want that bed!’, ‘Mum can I have that bed?’
Meanwhile, my husband and I still haven’t stepped foot into the cottage as we are unloading the many bags, boxes and beach equipment from the over loaded car.
Finally, we are all in. Dumping a few of the bags inside, we examine the cottage that will be our home for the next few days. Nice. It has ample space. Clean. All is good.
Right now, I’m relaxing in a two bedroom cottage about 3 hours from home. We arrived here quite late in the day and only had time to explore the grounds before nightfall. The beach is close by and we can hear the waves rolling in. Tomorrow will be spent swimming, given the warm temperatures expected.
There starts the ‘holiday’ for the adults. The feeling of ‘Yay, we made it, now it’s time to relax’ sets in. The essence of my childhood holidays is still strong in my mind, which I thank my Mum and Dad for making them so special, so much so, that I still reflect on them to this day.
After a relaxing dinner and glass of wine we soak up the holiday vibes.
How do you rate road trips with your family?
© Gillian Du Caurroy 2015
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