Wednesday, September 30, 2015

two already

virtù - two already

Our youngest is two already!

What a funny little chap he is. The tradition for two year olds in our family is that their birthday cake relates to their favourite nursery rhyme. The first born had a Baa Baa Black Sheep cake, the girl a glittery Twinkle Star and there was a Row Row Row Your Boat cake for our little Ode.  But what for our youngest family member? In truth I probably should have made a big red stop sign because that is what he hollers whenever anyone bursts into song; “Stop! STOP!”. I’ve not know any child to be so anti-nursery rhymes, in fact anti-singing anything, in all me years.

The boy does love farm animals though. He’ll sit in the car on long drives quite happily pointing out all the animals. He doesn’t tire of them. He points out the hundredth cow or sheep with as much excitement as the first. I suppose this is why the boy tolerates, and it really is just tolerating, his family singing Old MacDonald had a farm.

virtù - singing happy birthday.

He didn’t seem to mind us all singing him “Happy Birthday” either which was kinda nice.

The Old MacDonald Cake didn’t turn out as well as it was going to look in my mind’s eye. Something didn’t quite work with the fondant icing… which is bizzare because I swear I made it exactly the same as I did for Ode’s fourth birthday just a month ago! Go figure.

Not to worry, the birthday boy absolutely adored his cake. Playing with the animals on top of the cake as he waited for candle to be lit and then again as he waited for it to be cut. The other kids were all rather chuffed with the idea of toys on the cake and have since put in elaborate requests involving all kinds of toys. Oh my!

virtù - old macdonald cake

And what of those past two years? Tears continue to roll down my cheeks when I recall his birth, the feelings still so raw. The boy still isn’t a great sleeper when he’s on his own, he is loves his Mama so much. Slowly though he has begun to step away. This May for the very first time he let another person (other than his parents)  hold him and he has since dipped his big toe into some occasional care and survived. It’s onwards and upwards for him now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

weekend past

virtù - odd tulip

This weekend past the family and I took a whirlwind trip to the nation’s Capital. It has been more than two years since I was last there, and that trip too was an overnighter. Before that it had been last century since I’d been to Canberra, back in the days when I had lived there as a uni student. Way back then, many many moons ago in the last millennium.

This past weekend there were some opportunities to visit some of my ol’ stomping grounds, this time with my children. Such a surreal feeling to be sitting in buildings, relatively unchanged, with my children in my utterly changed life. I don’t think my past self could have ever imagined what my life is like now. Just wouldn’t have been on the radar way back then. Odd. It was odd. Odd good, with a splash of odd sad.

There was lots of new opportunities too. For the first time I visited Australia’s National Museum. What a fantastic institution that is. I must say I lingered at all the exhibits relating to Western Australia. I’m feeling more than a wee bit home sick.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


virtù - ace unpackingvirtù - ode unpackingvirtù - mae unpackingvirtù - ebe unpacking

Slowly slowly the unpacking continues.

The children have been having loads of fun building cubby houses out of some of the left over boxes. So much creativity. So much fun. Love that a simple cardboard box can bring so much joy.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

father’s day

virtù - father's day

Finally getting a bit of creating happening in these parts. For father’s day the children used fabric markers to decorate handkerchiefs for their Dada. They were super excited to make him gifts. It was nice that our littlest one was keen to create too.  I like that they like making things. It’s cool.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


virtù - the birthday boyvirtù - a robot cake for ode

My little Ode is four.

To celebrate I baked him a robot cake. He’s a bit of a robot fan, and gathering quite the robot collection. It was the first time I’d made this particular butter cake – the recipe called for ten egg yolks and buttermilk – it was delicious. I made the fondant from scratch too. Not so tricky really.

I promised him before we’d left Perth that I’d take him to the snow for his birthday. So that’s what we did. We had the cake for breakfast, jumped in the car and headed to the snow. This time Mount Buffalo.

virtù - a day at the snow virtù - a milkshake

A day of tobogganing fun, finished off with a celebratory strawberry milkshake.

A great day.

Friday, August 21, 2015

almost broken

virtu - our backyard

Oh my! The past week or so has been tough. All four children have been incredibly ill. I suppose the older children don’t have immunity to eastern state germs. M has been the sickest. The doctor was very concerned by how dehydrated she was, but we managed to keep her hydrated enough so that she didn’t need an IV.  She has missed more than a week of school. Not great since she’d only just started.

All the boys have been awfully ill too.

The situation has been overwhelming. Nothing has been easy. It’s the little things that have been adding up. Little things like not knowing the good places to park the car to just quickly nip into the shops, or knowing the order of the aisles in the grocery store so that the essentials can be easily purchased with four sick children in toe.

The isolation at this time has been hard too. There are no friends, no family. I know no one. No other parents at school pick-up to share a quick joke with to lift my spirits. Nothing is familiar. No-one is familiar.

Add a week of little to no sleep and I’ve been ready to crack. 

This past week I have really questioned if leaving home was such a good idea after all.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

a big week

Signed the lease on Monday. Dave started work at his new office.

Moved in on Tuesday. Good-bye motels. Yay! Hello camping on the floor.

Shipping container with our stuff arrived on Wednesday. Dave and I unpacked it on our own in the rain in just under the allotted two-hours. Such a stressful day trying to get everything out and manage childhood tantrums and hunger and the like – but we did it. Cannot describe the sense of relief when we finished. Amazing.

Big kids started at their new school on Thursday.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday and more today Sunday… cleaning, unpacking, re-assembling furniture, shopping…

We are surrounded by chaos. Boxes, upon boxes of stuff. Exhausting. Exciting to re-discovering stuff too. But mostly exhausting.

Feels good to have a place to make our home.

Friday, July 31, 2015

looking up


virtù - blossoms

An awesome day in these parts today. Clear blue skies. Warm sunshine. Blossoms.

A lovely day for milkshakes. A great day for a walk. Despite being homeless we were all feeling pretty upbeat today.

Then in the afternoon we learnt that we’d been accepted for three properties. From no where to live to our choice of three! And all three are better options than the first that we missed out on. The universe has provided for us. It is going to work out.

A good day.


Thursday, July 30, 2015


This whole looking for a home thing is really starting to get to me… most of all because I’ve been missing and worrying about my dearest fur-friend Raja. The other day, after returning from our snow adventures, I burst into tears. Not trickle down your face tears, full on sobbing sort of tears.

Thankfully we found a pet-friendly motel to stay in for the time being and so today we drove down to Melbourne to collect the missing piece of our family.

Raja’s flight didn’t arrive until late in the afternoon so we visited Melbourne zoo. The last time I visited E. was a toddler and M. was growing within. It was a bitterly cold day so we pretty much had the entire zoo to ourselves. In order to stay toasty we spent much of our time hanging out in the butterfly enclosure.

virtù - butterflies

I think hanging out with butterflies is good for the soul. It certainly cheered me up, such a thrill when they land on you. We all really enjoyed it.

It was such a relief to collect Raja and see that he was all in one piece, alive and healthy. He was super pleased to see us too. (I know this because he didn’t complain the entire drive home!)

virtu  - reunitedTogether again. Phew.

Now if only we had a home…

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

up and down the mountain

virtu - at the snow

We’ve been on this side of the island for a week now. It’s been full on. We’re desperately trying to find ourselves a home. The children are beyond tired, and it has been a bit anti-climatic still spending so much time in the car driving around checking out rentals. Thank goodness for google maps!

At the end of last week we’d thought we’d found our selves a super little home so while we waited for our application to be processed we popped down to the snow at Falls Creek.  The children's first exposure to snow. Amazing snow at that. So dry and powdery. I fear they’re going to have unrealistic expectations of snow life in Australia.

Driving up the mountain we listened to O’s favourite all time track “Let it Go”. Clichéd yes. Good fun all of us singing along – hell yeah. Building a snow man wasn’t as exciting as we’d all imagined it to be … rather a lot of hard work actually. So our Olaf never really came to life… maybe next season when we’re all kitted out with better gloves. 

It would seem our little O. is our biggest snow-bunny. He went up and down the toboggan run over and over and over again. Meanwhile his little brother wasn’t having any of it, refusing to be put down for even the briefest moments.

Disappointedly we learnt this morning that missed out on the property we’d applied for. Arghhhhh! Starting to freak out a bit. Energy levels are low and the prospect of more motel living is … blah. Most of all I am really missing my beautiful cat who is still waiting to be flown over from WA.

Deep in my heart I know it is all for the best. I know that what is meant to be will be and that we will find a home… but the waiting. The not knowing. It’s starting to become overwhelming. The kids are tired. They’re seeking stability.

Just now we’re all riding a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Trying to enjoy the thrill of the ride – but sort of also wanting to hop off just now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Last night, under the cover of darkness, we arrived tired and weary in the town we intend to make our home.

Relief. Excitement. Exhaustion. Wonder. Overwhelmed. Fear.

So many emotions.

virtù - heading towards the victorian border

Leaving Adelaide we’ve been pretty keen to just get here. Everyone is getting a bit over it, people are itching to just settle for a bit. Stand still for a while. Take it slow. There are still so many things we wish to see and explore but we figure that since we’re planting roots on this side of the country perhaps we can back track and explore in a series of smaller trips over the years to come. There is quite a list forming of things we’d like to see and do.

virtù - first frostvirtù - first frost (2)

Waking up in Handorf the children were greeted by their very first frost! It sure had been a freezing cold night. There was much excitement walking on the crunchy frozen grass and of course creating wonderful drawings on frosty glass windows.

virtù - drawing on frosty glass

Handorf is such a gorgeous township. I’d really like to spend some more time there… preferably without small children! Walking the main street there were so many intriguing shops, full to the brim of bits and pieces. I dared not enter with my mob.

virtù - handorf

At this time we’re better suited to wide open spaces… so off to Monarto zoo we travelled.

virtù - mae love giraffes virtù - exploring Monarto zoo virtù - a gorgeous day for a walk

It was such a gorgeous sunny day. For me the best part about Monarto zoo wasn’t so much seeing the animals, it was walking the many bush tracks – inhaling all the gorgeous bush smells, listening to the sounds of the birds singing, and feeling the sun radiate. Catching the occasional glimpse of a rhino or giraffe was just an added bonus.

virtù - crossing into Victoria

We crossed into Victoria at sunset. Stopping to pick up dinner in Ouyen at the Fairy Dell Cafe (awesomely friendly customer service) we drove onto Swan Hill. Geez Victorians love history. Perhaps on the Tasmanians challenge the Victorians for their celebration of historic places and life. How many historic villages does one state need?

virtù - my mob on a buggyvirtù - my mob on a buggy (close up)

Swan Hill’s Pioneer Settlement was the children’s first taste of a historic village. They loved it.   M. is keen on horses, so meeting Harry (the horse) and being taken on a buggy ride was just the absolute best… made even better when he let rip a huge horsey fart and then stopped to do a poo too! The children just thought that was bloody brilliant! Talk about making memories.

virtù - mae is keen on horsesvirtù - big thrill riding in cart (and very funny when the horse did a fart!)

There were so many exciting things to do and see at the village, and the staff were so kind and friendly. We also took a drive around town in an old car (I’m thinking it was 1920s? – I’m not very good at remembering car stuff) and honking the horn made us all giggle with delight.  We explored the paddle steamer and climbed all over old fire engines, poked around in old houses, shops and schools. We just had lots of fun.

virtù - aye aye captainvirtù - ace love a stick, mae poses for a photovirtù - this boy knows how to wear a hat virtù - ebe enjoyed all the fascinating things to see

Then we headed off to Echuca for afternoon tea… and another historic precinct!

As a young person I just loved the mini-series All The Rivers Run, and exploring a second hand book store while the children played at a near by playground, I came upon the complete DVD. Score! It was a bit pricey – but hey what the heck.

virtù - on the road - mae takes a tally of the animals she sees

As we drove through the country side M. had much fun making a tally of all the farm animals she saw. It was fun counting all the animals – and surprising how many goats we saw.

And now we are here. It is cold. It is rainy. It all seems a bit bleak actually. There was great excitement on arrival though as we were upgraded at the hotel we are staying in to a penthouse room. A two storey apartment with another spa bath! The kids are well keen on spas now.

This morning we ventured out to explore town in the miserable weather. Had breakfast at a local cafe. Oh my! How friendly are the people here? Counter-acts the bleak weather in the best way.

We’re off to splash around in the indoor pool now…

… and tomorrow it’s all about finding a place to live. We’ve a full day of checking out rental properties. The road trip has come to an end. Now it is time to find a home.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

en route to adelaide

virtù - on the jetty in Cedunavirtù - the south australian landscapevirtù - south australian fields

We came back on the grid in Ceduna. We were re-acquainted with our dear friend the country town bakery there too. The landscape from Fowlers Bay onwards has been lush green fields, big white puffy clouds and vibrant blue skies – its almost twee. Every town has a silo.

virtù - half way point

We stopped for the night in Kimba on our way to Adelaide. Dave’s grandmother was the first white person to be born in the town. It was pretty special to take the children to see the pioneer home in which she was born (although not on the original site).

virtù - pioneer home in Kimba virtù - tractor driver

Every township we’ve driven through has their flags at half mast, for Phil Walsh I suggest. Awful. So hard to understand how such a thing could happen, and yet so easy to understand the immense pain that family is in right now. Shattering.

virtù - ode and the besser brick

My poor O. hasn’t been feeling the best. He’s getting a cold and while we were in Kimba was vomiting. Thankfully not in the car!

virtù - in the car

Just outside of Port Augusta Dave and I finally completed the figure eight of driving around Australia (including Tassie). Started back in 1998, Perth was a fifteen year stop-over!

virtù - completed a figure eight around mainland Australia

It was good to get to Adelaide. Another two night stop over in a really lovely art deco self contained apartment close to the zoo and city. Today we caught up with the children’s second cousins. Our kids don’t have any first cousins and since with no family in Perth, meeting up with family is a huge thrill for them.

virtù - out and about in north Adelaide

Yesterday we walked around North Adelaide, headed to the zoo and checked out the city too. A busy day, so good to stretch the legs, even better to head back and have some naps in the afternoon!!! We are now a group of six very tired, and sometimes cranky, people. Road trip going to do it to ya!

virtù - adelaide zoo virtù - panda

Visiting the pandas at Adelaide zoo has long been something I’ve wanted to do. It is apparent that I actually have a bit of a thing for pandas. Uber chuffed, thrilled, excited, honoured… when this lovely lady ventured outside from behind the glass for a climb and stretch despite the cold weather. Somehow it made me feel close to Nan, like for that moment in time she was with me again. Irrational and strange I know, but my feeling all the same.

Tonight we’re in Hahndorf. Not very far outside of Adelaide at all. It is very very cold. Tonight our accommodation has a spa bath. Excitement plus for our children who have never had a spa bath before. So delightful to watch them discover this novelty. That’s pure joy people.

Gotta say I enjoyed laying back all on my own relaxing in the hot bath water too! My version of a spa bath is a much quieter and less exciting experience… but lovely all the same. Its been a huge year, with not very many relaxation moments, I’m out of practice. It didn’t come naturally to just lie back and chill out. With any luck there’ll be more opportunities in my future.

Off to another zoo tomorrow. This time the Monato zoo.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

a border crossing, a desert and a caravan park

Tears streamed down my face as we crossed the border into South Australia. That’s it. We’ve left.

virtù - my mob at the border

It was a strange day. As we drove across the border there was a drizzly rain. Then the skies cleared as we walked to the border monument. Then rain again. It was like that for most of the day. The weather was the perfect reflection of my feelings. We saw so many rainbows that day – I interpreted them as signs from the universe that we were making the right decision, that we were heading towards a good future.

virtù - signs

My goodness – the Bunda cliffs of South Australia are magnificent. Impressive. Frightening. Awesome. Wowzas… looking down from the edge is terrifying.

virtù - Bunda cliffs (2)virtù - don't look down

We turned off the road at one point looking for a spot to have a snack. I got out of the car, took a couple of steps, saw the cliff edge and immediately signalled to Dave not to get the kids out of the car. Oh my! My stomach still tightens into a knot just thinking about what might have happened if I hadn’t noticed the immenient danger – it is unusual for me to be the first out of the car (I’m often tangled up in yarn!)

This was our first experience of the Bunda Cliffs.

virtù - lunch with a view

We travelled a bit further down the road and found a vantage point with fencing where we could sit, enjoy the view and eat our lunch. Food from tins is a bit of a road trip staple for us.

virtù - road signsvirtù - fewer trees

Driving across the Nullabor we finally experienced the wide expanses of nothingness I had imagined… there were still more trees and shrubs than I had anticipated  but certainly more of a treeless plain than the landscape west of Eucla. Much to my disappointment we did not see a single camel.

virtù - this man loves a good caravan

The past two nights we slept in an onsite van at the Fowlers Bay caravan park. Finally a day off from the early morning packing up the car. Everyone is getting tired so a rest day, a day to stretch our legs (and do the washing) is very much in need. Fowlers Bay is such a cute little… village? It really isn’t much more than a handful of buildings.

It was an absolute thrill for the children (and Dave) to sleep in a caravan. They are fun aren’t they? There is something about them that just promotes good quality family time. I have so many fond memories of playing games around a caravan table. My lot played a new card game called Poo.

virtù - evenings playing card games

Everyone enjoyed getting their scooters out and riding up and down the street in front of the jetty. Walks along the jetty were a gusty and windy affair.  I must say now that I have four children walking along a jetty isn’t really the relaxing experience I remember it to be in my twenties – always on the ready to dive in to fish a child out.

virtù - time for scooters at Fowlers Bayvirtù - laudry dayvirtù - brothers on the jetty virtù - chillaxing

There are some splendid sand dunes in Fowlers Bay. What a wonderful way to stretch our legs and explore after we finished the laundry.

virtù - my mobvirtù - playing in the dunes at Fowlers Bayvirtù - rolling virtù - sand dunes at Fowlers Bayvirtù - the big three

Fowlers Bay. Best place ever for a rest day. So much fun just hanging out chillaxing. So bloody brilliant not to have to pack the car in the morning.

virtù - ace just loves connect four virtù - chillaxing in the caravan

And now we’re back on the grid. Back to seeing the occasional shop. Back to townships proper. Back to cappuccinos that taste creamy and delicious. (Thank you general store in Penong)