A year in the life 2016 #186: party party

Here is some laser tag action at Zacky’s birthday party. The adults couldn’t resist and got in on the action in the second round – nothing like shooting up ten year olds.

There was also party food and presents and friends…and, of course, birthday cake.

A year in the life 2016 #183: happy birthday Zac

Zac’s birthday called for family dinner. Because we enjoyed it so much for Sebastian’s birthday, Zac chose to head back to the Cinnamon Club for Indian food.

Delicious food and family, although we missed Nana and Poppa and Sam who were all variously out of the country. Didn’t stop the rest of us having fun though!

A year in the life 2016 #152: Happy Birthday Sebastian!


Dinner out with the extended family was the first part of Sebastian’s set of birthday celebrations.


Time with cousins, presents and lots of Indian food.


And the whole restaurant sang happy birthday at the end!

Two part birthday

2016-04-03 18.42.02For Jude’s birthday he decided this year that he wanted Korean food. So we went to nearby Korean BBQ while Jackie was still in town.

Lots of deliciousness, lots of fun. Jude particularly liked the cook-it-yourself aspect of the evening.

2016-04-07 19.20.36Pretty much since we have moved into the city, Jude has been desperate to get nitrogen icecream. His actual birthday proved to be the special occasion which warranted it, after we had been to hockey training.

The preparation process is quite impressive, with nitrogen gassing off everywhere.

Everyone was happy with the results – especially the birthday boy!

A year in the life 2016 #83: birthday!

2016-03-25 14.24.40When you wake up on your birthday, some time you have to ask yourself “how old am I really? Is it really that old?” The answer, today, was probably, yes.

We don’t really do presents much for the grown ups in this house, except the type made with love and care. I got a beautiful card from Jude and some lovely earrings from Zac. Sebastian went on to bake cupcakes.

2016-03-25 18.09.05It was Good Friday and still sunny and so nothing for it but a bbq in the park with friends and family to celebrate. I may or not have later fallen asleep on the couch. A lovely day.

2015 weeks! #11: birthday, planes and jelly things

2015-03-23 06.58.07A surreal sight to begin the week as I fly out of a foggy Canberra morning to Sydney.

2015-03-23 12.19.17We had a day with folk from Vietnam and the Philippines to kick off our big capacity building program – helping to increase capacity in the area of industry engagement in skills development and the development of occupational standards. It was a great day and I’m looking forward to seeing how the project develops.

2015-03-23 14.45.20We got to do it from my favourite meeting room in Sydney.

The early morning meant I needed the help of fizzy caffeinated beverages and chocolate to maintain my focus for the day though.

2015-03-23 17.29.46We had an official dinner, so stayed the night in Sydney – here is the compulsory hotel window view.

I managed to get some exercise in at the pool up on the 15th floor or so. Great view while swimming.

2015-03-23 18.43.53Then one has to be enormously grateful for flattering hotel bathroom lighting at times.

2015-03-24 12.35.42Home again Tuesday, sitting in the back row of the plane. Since switching departments the travel system still hasn’t connected my frequent flier number to my bookings and so I am ending up in all sorts of odd spots on the planes.

2015-03-24 19.47.44Tuesday night scrim night!

Wednesday was my birthday, so James and I went out for breakfast together to the Cupping Room which is handily close to my new building.

2015-03-25 10.52.59The other James in my life, my friend and EA, had lovely birthday flowers for me when I actually got to work.

2015-03-25 11.23.06I also deployed my excellent new notebook that Jasmin had given me.

2015-03-25 11.27.28Zac used his fabulous new jewellery making skills (with much support and labour from Jackie) to produce an excellent birthday gift for me.

For my birthday dinner we went to Red Chilli the Sichuan hot pot restaurant in Civic and ate hot pot. It was a lot of fun.

2015-03-25 19.47.23We followed it up with dessert at Mr Frugii where the boys had a long chat about icecream flavours with the icecream maker.

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George came and sat on me to say happy birthday.

2015-03-26 18.38.25Natasha sent me a wonderful box full of fun things for my birthday.

2015-03-28 10.29.26And my mother sent me Bad Feminist to my delight.

Andrew gave me a new Arkham Horror expansion so we tried that out Thursday night and actually managed to defeat Shug Nigguroth in a straight up battle.

2015-03-27 06.38.07Friday was another dawn flight in the back row – this time to Melbourne for a day at the airport. Federalism keeps the Tullamarine Parkroyal in business I am sure.

2015-03-27 07.45.44It was actually cold enough to be the first #yourtightsatwork day for the year.

2015-03-27 12.31.46 HDRAnd I wore another birthday present – my lovely earrings from Rachel.

Saturday night was Dishonour Rollers Team Bonding night at Terror’s house. There were jelly shots and jelly beans and derby strategy talks and then the night ended with vast amounts of alcohol being drunk in the pool after midnight.

On Sunday morning, Jude, Zac, Zac’s best friend Sienna and I joined Shelby, Jo and Jo’s grandmother for some Mary Poppins action. It was well done and rather fun. I thought they did a particularly fine job with the staging of “Supercalifragilistic”. We had icecreams had half time and enjoyed it all a lot.

Afterwards the kids and I wandered up to the new LSR Manhattan and had after-show treats.

2015-03-29 16.51.43Went to assist at DHR training in the afternoon (and was very relieved that there were enough people there I didn’t need to get on skates). The way everyone worked, you couldn’t tell there had been excessive alcohol consumption the night before.

2015-03-29 18.32.05I was pleased to have a civilised hair of the dog post training though.

2015-03-29 20.37.56And then there was a lot of eating and World Cup final watching to end the week.

Weeks! #13: birthday week of lots of cake, alcohol and other stuff

So the birthday week kicked off with morning tea at work for birthdays – not just mine but everyone in the branch. Cake!

2014-03-24 18.20.28The boys can take a little bit of motivation to do there homework – and we don’t tend to push hard because much of the research shows there is limited benefit to structured homework when in primary school, but here I managed to get them organised into their tasks. Sebastian has to start getting used to the idea given he will be at high school next year where homework will no doubt impact on his marks etc.

2014-03-25 09.05.57It is getting colder and thus #yourtightsatwork weather, and so, for my birthday, I cracked open a new and exciting pair of stockings.

2014-03-25 14.17.24I also had a lovely visit from Behati, my former EA Krystal’s new baby, wearing the lion outfit I had bought her. She did smile a lot at me, but not at this moment.

2014-03-25 14.19.34More cake! For our directors’ meeting on my birthday they got me cake – gooey delicious chocolate cake too.

At home the cake theme continued as Sebastian and Jude worked together to whip up a birthday cake. Delicious lime and coconut cake – Jude’s go-to recipe.

2014-03-25 18.53.21I also got some flowers from Natasha who is to be relied on to be good like that.

2014-03-25 17.41.49I love my Sons of Anarkitty t-shirt, even if I ended up with a gigantanormous one. Here modelled before pilates at work.

2014-03-26 17.33.00The boys have spent some time re engaged with the Duplo – I think it allows construction on a larger scale. But they have spent many hours hidden away in the play room building and playing.

Another night of Arkham Horror!

2014-03-26 20.29.43We got to pick up the car this week. Of course it was raining but new car! New car smell! It was rather exciting, even if the choice of Territory felt like defeat – such a middle class, grown up car…..

And then Saturday was devoted to the party – party organisation and partying itself. It has been ages since we had a big party, so this was the time. Gin and champagne was the theme, but we made sure there were other drinks for the very strange people who don’t like either of those.

I didn’t take many pictures during the night, too busy having fun, but had to capture this – Sebastian as the young apprentice to Andrew (their after school babysitter for the last couple of years) who was our barman.

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There was plenty of party evidence the next day – and I don’t just mean how seedy I was feeling.

We had to dry off all the un-drunken alcohol.

2014-03-30 12.15.48And the boys then made sailing boats out of beer cartons to sail in the pool full of melted ice.

It has been quite damp recently, so we have had some good fungal growth.

2014-03-30 10.24.05And, as we drove to training, it didn’t look like stopping with the damp. A dramatic end to the week.

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Weeks! #12: boys, whisky, documentation

2014-03-18 13.37.27Started the week at the hairdressers – time for something new in the hair department. Well, new colour, slightly new shape, same length (let’s not get carried away here).

2014-03-18 15.49.57In less fun things, since I had received my summons to appear at the public hearings of the Royal Commission into Home Insulation last week, I got AGs to send over all the documentation that mentioned me. There was a lot.

2014-03-19 13.45.03Lunch with James got me out of the office.

We had some Korean government representatives visiting, so I took them to On Red for dinner. I hadn’t eaten there before and I was very impressed – lovely spot, great food.

2014-03-20 08.18.21Took Zachary to school early for choir. Because Jude’s choir starts 15 minutes before Zac, sometimes we hang out a little before his choir starts.

2014-03-20 13.22.50It was the work volleyball final. Not my team, but actually a team with some ex-staff and colleagues in it. And as the SES sponsor I was there to give out the trophy. Nice day for it too.

2014-03-20 15.48.14Went to a whisky tasting at Hippo and Co. It was a lovely night – some fabulous whiskys from all around the world.

I think my favourite was the French one, but the Tasmanian Sullivan’s Cove was also a winner. Interesting though to try whiskys from places like India and Taiwan as well. Afterwards, a negroni for balance.

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On Friday I walked Jude and Zac to school. I was working from home for the day so I could go through my documentation un-disturbed, and James had taken Sebastian off to an seminar for young leaders on anti-bullying strategies.

As Jude was doing a “read aloud” at school with his class where they act out a book, I hung around, with my papers, for the half an hour before that started.

2014-03-21 09.15.29It was nice to see Jude do his thing. He had been very excited about it all week.

The rest of the day George kept me company while I read all my documents. It is weird to have to get so engrossed again in things you did five years earlier.

2014-03-21 10.48.15On Saturday we went out and bought a car! We had our old car since before Zac was born (and it was two years old at that point). It had developed a few eccentricities and it was time to replace it. Purchase was celebrated with lunch at Knead at the Belconnen markets.

2014-03-22 13.02.38We went out for dumplings Saturday night to celebrate my birthday in advance

Sunday morning we got to watch Grave Danger from Rat City (Seattle) take on the Vice City rollers. It was some great derby to watch.

And then it was my turn to skate.

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Weeks! #1sh: ends, beginnings and lots of pool time

2013-12-30 10.18.23Swimming lessons started the week before the year ended and week 1 of the new year began. The boys were enrolled in swimming lessons for every day during the week I decided to finally recommence the fitness approach I had planned since being in India but which had been delayed by respiratory illness of doom and so spent the duration of their lessons doing laps. All the boys are now happy to swim in the big pool after their lessons, so much splashing about.

We wandered to the pub for lunch with the parentals as it was the last day of their visit to Canberra.

2013-12-30 16.29.10Then Jude and I, who had both received a copy of the Shakespearean version of Star Wars, did a reading for everyone’s entertainment. I believe it was the scene where Obi Wan and Luke both get to know each other. Much applause – and Jude was surprisingly good at reading Shakespearean language aloud.

2013-12-30 16.40.15It was then goodbye to Nana and Poppa though the boys were to see them again in almost exactly a week – plus flying time.

That evening, accompanied by a nice glass or two of rose, we introduced the boys to Unexploded Cow – one of our very favourite games. They took to it with enthusiasm and much mispronunciation of French town names.

More pool time. More chances to try out the various effects on my phone camera.

2013-12-31 13.52.24Sometimes, post pool, all you want to do is have a quiet read.

Or Andrew comes around with many small plastic figures and you spend the afternoon painting.

Or making smoothies.

2013-12-31 15.56.56Or, if you are me, folding clean laundry.

New Year’s Eve was spent at Rachel’s house where we got to consume sausages and pavlova all created by Beryl, Rachel’s lovely KitchenAid. While all the sausages were fabulous, the duck and pork ones always stand out. It was a pleasant but low key end to the year.

2014-01-01 11.14.56The boys were in the pool again the next day, but I decided that, after an evening of more than several drinks, I was happy to sit this one out.

We had been slowly rearranging the boys rooms over the last week or so, so that Jude and Zac moved into one room, Sebastian moved into Jude’s room and Sebastian’s room is transformed into a boys’ retreat. This involved much sorting of books and toys and bookshelves.

2014-01-01 18.03.24James cooked us some wonderful roast pork with fabulous crackling for our first dinner for the year.

2014-01-02 09.00.04The next day it was back to work for me – I took my lunch in my new lunch bag from my lovely sister.

2014-01-02 14.13.34And at work tried out some of the tea I got in Korea – fabulously papaya-y.

2014-01-02 20.20.50We tried out playing Heads of State that night which, while entertaining, seemed overly complicated in its game mechanics to no particularly useful end. Also not entirely balanced.

2014-01-03 18.11.31The end of the week saw us celebrating with one of our favourite sparkling reds for no reason but that we could.

2014-01-03 19.35.18And I was excited to get my Sons of Anarkitty t-shirt, bought before I started watching. I am addicted now. Sadly, somehow I must have mis-ordered and the t-shirt is about three sizes too big, but it will still get some wear! It is too cute not too. I do like Sons of Anarchy though – even if I must admit some of the addiction comes from the fact that Jax is so charismatic as the central figure.

Saturday morning it was back to the pool – the boys had been Thursday and Friday of course, but it was a return to laps for me.

2014-01-04 18.04.59It was the last day of swimming though, so we got the advice about next classes for the boys.

2014-01-04 12.22.48Fabulous to see the evidence of Summernats on Lonsdale Street. Not.

The boys toys were put into boxes – some of which are ready to find new homes.

2014-01-04 16.30.26I went and visited the new twins, Hamish and Tasman, who Shell had so cleverly produced, in the special care unit at Calvary. Lots of sleeping like babies. So small!

It was then off to dinner at Sage for Jasmin’s birthday with pre dinner drinks outside at Mint. The food was good but not very interesting. Drank a fabulous Spinifex red though – the Bete Noir. Well worth it.

2014-01-05 10.31.28On Sunday the boys played with their newly rediscovered Go-Gos – the advantages of tidying and reorganising bedrooms.

Then Fritha came to visit and play for the day while Steve was at the hospital with Michelle – we managed to tire her right out!



The week that was…week 13: old friends

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This was a week of old friends – Frederique and Eric, Deanna, academia and my PhD and New York. And of course it started on my birthday.

2013-03-25 11.37.24 2013-03-25 13.37.53 2013-03-25 13.40.55 2013-03-25 12.16.40

2013-03-26 11.34.01New York really is an old friend. I worked out that I have visited it more than any other city in the world I haven’t lived in, with the possible exception of Brishane – I’ve been there six times.My first visit was my shortest, back in 1989 when, after visiting friends in San Francisco and en route to Paris I didn’t want to miss the chance to see the archetypal Big City (little knowing I would later spend a year living in another archetypal Big City, Tokyo). I have loved every visit and I have done something different every time, and, of course, there is still so much to do. Having two of my most loved friends living in the city certainly helps to draw me back, but the city itself has lots to make you love it.

For my birthday I shopped on 5th Avenue,

2013-03-25 12.07.57 2013-03-25 12.14.02.. and went to the “Top of the Rock” – despite urging from the person at the box office “visibility is low don’t you want to come back tomorrow”. Nope. Foggy New York views were cool. And it actually snowed on me while I was out on the 69th floor.

2013-03-25 14.32.54 2013-03-25 13.36.432013-03-25 13.41.20-2

Then it was time to ice skate at the Rockefeller Centre rink. This was fun, even though the snow I encountered on the 69th floor had turned to drizzle by the time it hit ground level. And ice skating is different to roller skating – it took me a while to get my Ice Legs, but I didn’t fall over and managed to get up a bit of speed by the time I was done.

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After an hour or so of skating, I decided I was wet enough and could retire to drink gin and spectate.

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My lovely friends Eric and Frederique made sure I had a lovely birthday dinner too.

2013-03-25 20.11.55 2013-03-25 20.12.45 2013-03-25 20.20.17Fred even made me a cake (we ate it the next morning so the small boys could join in too).

2013-03-26 07.54.12My next day in New York I did two completely new things and one incidental thing:

First, The Frick.

2013-03-26 13.02.34One is not allowed to take photos inside, so this is all you get. But it was a great collection. And who knew that Monet started his career as one of those people who drew caricatures of random people with gigantic heads and tiny bodies to support himself as a student. I love when the museum itself is as interesting as many of the paintings – this former residence was a beautiful house. You do wonder if some of the Frick heirs might be unhappy their great grandfather was such a philanthropist! I enjoyed the museum, and even better, got in for free. An older woman started chatting to me in the line and, weirdly immediately mentioned Kakadu, just like Miles had. She had also been to Kangaroo Island. Anyway, she was a volunteer at the Museum of Natural History, so got free entry, and got me a free ticket as well. “People were so nice to me in Australia.”  Thank you fellow Australians.

2013-03-26 14.22.36I then went by Grand Central Station to see Nick Cave’s horses dance. As I only got there a few minutes before it started, I had to stand on tippy toes to see. It was cool, if somewhat weird, but certainly had the crowds there.

It was then time to head way downtown to Chinatown and surrounds as I had an appointment with the East Village Tenament Museum.

2013-03-26 17.23.43This is a fascinating place – an old Tenament Building which has been restored and fitted out as it would have been at various points in its history. Completely focused on social history, you don’t just get to wander it, but have to particiapte in a tour which takes you through aspects of life as it would have been in the Tenament. I went on the “Sweat Shop Workers” tour which was really interesting, focusing on the life of recent migrants jsut before and after the beginning of the 20th Century who worked in the garment industry, a staple of the lower east side.  Worth going back for another tour another time.

Here are some random arty shots of Brooklyn, just for interest.

2013-03-26 10.43.00 2013-03-26 10.44.15On Wednesday it was off to Washington on the Amtrak.

2013-03-27 12.08.55It must be said that on this visit, I really didn’t see much of Washington as I spent the entire time at my hotel at the Popular Culture Association conference where I was part of a roundtable on the “Afterlives of the Sixties.” I loved revisiting the world of academia and my thesis, and indulgently attending sessions on Zombies, Vampires, Fringe, Sherlock, Battlestar Galactica and Gender in Science Fiction amongst other things. It was an absorbing couple of days.

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Compulsory hotel window shot.

2013-03-28 13.08.54It was also super cool to find the book by one of my friends on sale – this was her PhD thesis when we were doing them at around the same time.

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And then it was time to start the trek home – from the Washington-Baltimore International Airport which is, clearly, actually in Baltimore.

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But before I got all the way home, one last old friend – Deanna in Toronto. I am completely hopeless and failed to take a photo of us together, but her is the icecream sandwich we shared.

2013-03-29 21.09.15I do love seeing the friends I first made 20 years ago and still having a strong connection, even when it is sometimes years and years between seeing each other.

And then home. First from Toronto to Vancouver. I had a snack in Vancouver waiting for the flight to LA.

2013-03-30 12.27.06it was a big trip – I caught 10 flights, visited 7 airports and caught one train. But I saw old friends, met new people, saw different things and had good outcomes. But, as I got on the flight from LA to Sydney, it was nice to think I was going home.