And after the graduation…the party

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So every major achievement must be celebrated with a party! We waited til Saturday night for mine, then party we did.

In accordance with my thesis topic, my party was a Sixties/Eighties theme. James got very post modern and dressed as Joker from Full Metal Jacket thus meeting both of the criteria. I stuck with the eighties, and, while disappointed with the non arrival of my "Choose Life" t-shirt, managed horrifyingly quickly to find substitute eighties gear at the shops.

Our guests were a mixture of both and there were a large number of distubing wigs.

James made a lovely speech and I was lucky to have my sister and brother and their partners along as well as my parents who were over for the graduation. Also my sister-in-law up from Sydney and mother-in-law who flew back from a cruise. Even more surprisingly – and I was very touched – one of my cousins, Amanda, made it over from Adelaide for the party. This meant a lot to me.

But over all it was lovely to be surrounded by the people who have shared the journey with me in one way or another, and the friends and family who have supported me and us while I have gone through the process. Writing a thesis you have to do alone, but living the life around if you definitely cannot. I am so lucky in my friends and family and it was great to share my achievement with them.

And a lot of alcohol.

I don't think I made it to bed until 4am that night. To my extreme surprise my sister managed to generate a game of charades amongst the hard core party stayers which went on for literally hours. And, prior to predictions to the contrary, at no time did I pass out on the couch!

Thank you to everyone who could make it and who couldn't. My life is better for you being in it, and my achievements are not mine alone.

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Having got past the immediate concern of Christmas, we can travel back in time somewhat to just before Christmas and the marking of my major milestone, my PhD graduation.

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The graduation ceremony, as they like to say at the beginning of the event, is based on those dating back hundreds of years. It is, in many ways, a clear symbol of our English colonial heritage, as the dating back we are talking about is to the traditions of English universities which are older than this country.

It must be said though, that in dating back this far, it means that the ceremony comes with fabulous pomp, ceremony and wonderful costumes. The academic pageant is itself a spectacle as one sees the academics, usually adorned from the sloppy to the tweedy, in robes and hats and formal attire.

As also was acknowledged at the beginning of the Chancellor's speech, it is also a spectacular exercise in logistics, as hundreds of students over two days and five ceremonies are in the right place at the right time to receive the correct parchment.

My ceremony was the last of the ive ceremonies, and, subsequently, the last for the Hon Professor, soon to be Ambassador, Beazley. And became another opportunity to wish that he was our Prime Minister now, not old Kruddy. Anyhow, as it was his last ceremony at the university, he also gave the speech at my ceremony.

But first we had to get our testamurs. For PhD graduands, the whole thing is very complex as we have to take off hats, kneel, get the the testamur and then put on our hat again. As PhD graduands, obviously we need written instructions. Which we got, and had to memorise.

My entire memory fell apart when the Pro Vice Chancellor of Research who was reading our names out gave me the thumbs up when I got on stage. Explanation: we had met and chatted extensively at a party two months ago. So I was about to kneel down when I remembered I had to remove my hat…but managed to recover and follow all instructions without falling on my face or dropping my hat.

I received my hood from the Chancellor, then my testamur and then wandered across the stage in a smiling daze.

The speech from Kim Beazley was lovely. Reflecting not on the ancient traditions of the ceremony, it rather talked in constrast about the idea of the Australian National University and the reason for its formation; about the importance of public serivce, nation building and good public policy making. It had the simultaneous affect of making me proud of both my academic achievements and of the career and work I have chosen to pursue.

And with speeches over and testamur in hand, it was time for a glass or three of champagne, and many photos.

It was lovely to graduate with people I know, including Judy who has worked with and for James and a friend from work with whom I have shared PhD milestones.

And nicer still was that my mum and dad could be there. Without James I would have never made it through my PhD, but without mum and dad I would never had had the skills and passion to begin it.

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Christmas Day

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After the intial excitement of finding Father Christmas' gifts and opening the first round of presents under the tree, it was time for breakfast, then some playing with toys…and organisation for the rest of the day.

As the big Christmas event was planned for late afternoon, there was time for visitors, coffee and Christmas champagne cocktails.

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Then came family, Andrews, more presents and fun.

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The attempts to corral the cousins into some sort of order for photographing, met with the usual disasterousness of such attempts – no one could be convinced to look in the same direction at once…

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There was much more success in the individual photography of young Imogen, the newest member of the clan.

Then it was time for the turkey!

And much eating and drinking was soon to follow…

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Then is a slow change of shift, we moved from the emphasis on family to the emphasis on friends, and even more drinking until the very wee hours of the night. A merry Christmas all round!

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Christmas morning

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Twas the morning of Christmas, and all through the house
the children were stirring….

Ok, I am not sure I can take that any further.

Father Christmas presents received and examined. The arrival of a Nintendo DS each for Sebastian and Jude was perfectly timed with a rainy Christmas Day which has meant it isn't really feasible to play outdoors.

Father Christmas ate his snacks, and there was speculation as to whether the reindeer/kangaroos pulling the sleigh ate the carrot, or whether the jolly man in red did it himself.

After eggy toast and bacon and maple syrup for breakfast, it was time to open the presents under the tree, to more excitement.

And now time for playing with the new acquisitions, watching Zac's copy of Kung Fu Panda and enjoying the unusual Christmas weather while the turkey cooks…

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A message to Father Christmas…

Christmas party

As usual, we attended the chidlcare Christmas party and face painting was the first order for the day.

Jude embraced it enthusiastically

Zachary decided to decline

Sebastian was keen on the face paint, but less so on the photography.

As expected, Father Christmas made an appearance distributing books to all the children, the announcement of each name keenly awaited.

Then we were treated to Milo the Clown. Having seen Milo's act at the previous five or so childcare Christmas parties we have attended before, James and I didn't feel the need to watch – except when Jude got used as a volunteer – to much hilarity.

Another Christmas – only a couple more years and I will then miss Milo when the boys are all too old for childcare!

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Dancing for a day on the green

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So we headed off to Bowral and back into the 1980s to spend the afternoon sitting around in the sunshine listening to Mental As Anything, The Proclaimers and the B-52s.  Despite early fears of rain and a downpour on the freeway, the afternoon proved to be fine and pleasant.

While Zac initially settled himself under one of the blankets he seems to take most places and Jude and Sebastian started the day by appropriating iPhones to play games on, these sedentary attitudes did not last long. As soon as I first got up to dance with Sebastian during Mental As Anything's set, Zac came belting over and that was it – he pretty much didn't stop dancing for the rest of the afternoon, and his partners included me and Andrew and James….and finally he just danced by himself. Of course, the most exhausting part of dancing with Zachary is that his preferred mode of dancing involves his dancing partner swinging him around by the arms of legs, and he had no qualms about lying in the dirt with his legs in the air waiting to be lifted up. Jude and Sebastian also enjoyed some dancing, but were perhaps not quite as obsessive as their younger sibling…

We had picnic food and wine from the winery whose lawns we were inhabiting and the music was good. While Greedy Smith has obviously been a bit greedy once too often, and the B-52s do suffer from a bit of same-yness from their lesser known songs, what better way to end the day than dancing with thousands of people to Rock Lobster?

I must say that the organisation was good – there were enough port-a-loos and the lines didn't seem too long for food and beverages and getting in and out was pretty straight forward, so full marks there. Made the day altogether more enjoyable!

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar

One of Zachary's current favourites…

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