Last weeks of Winter

The last weeks of Winter. It has been rather mild with only two or three days where the day temperature didn’t manage to climb above the 20 degree mark. 
Lovely nights by the fire, listening to the roaring August winds.
Winter & Spring is the time of year we get Autumn colours. Everything gets dry and brown, colours get muted under a layer of dust, the air often hazy from all the bushfires around. 
The sky gets that special colour of blue, so typical with “cooler" temperatures.
This is the first time that I’m not looking forward to Summer. 
Still a little traumatised about last crazy hot Summer, many are relishing the beautiful Winter days.
Sander had to go to a training in Sydney for a couple of days. The kids were not impressed, Tim of course woke up the morning of the flight with a nightmare that dads plane was going to crash!
A bit reluctant Sander left for the airport, only to hear that his plane had needed to make an emergency landing in another city, but it would be ready to fly out that evening... 
Just in case, he drove to the next airport, booked another flight with another airline...
 Even managed to find a climbing wall on his free evening. 
Alex has outgrown ours...
Very patient bear rides
Really, all yours...
 Water fights and rockmelon. 
A little baking, I found a French cookbook at the library. This one was the bomb, thin pastry with caramel to glue the brain looking walnuts.
The kids decided on the name “Brain Pie”.
Trying to work out strategies to keep dinner time a little less chaotic. Too many hungry, tired, cranky meltdowns to my liking. These grazing platters seem to help.
First training with the roller and lunging rope. 
Laura was a bit confused about needing to walk circles around her human. “Really?!?!?”
 Still working on my own ragtag quilt. Not completely happy yet, so instead of rushing to finish it in time for Winter, I’ll take a little more time to make sure I’m happy with the end result.
Going for walks along the river, while Tim has his guitar lessons. 
The last game, carnival and training is behind us, looking forward to a couple of quiet (soccer free) weekends...
Sander finally bit the bullet and bought the coffee machine of his dreams.
 My mum arrived two weeks ago, the kids gave her the royal treatment. 
 A week later my sister turned up with her family. It has been 4 years since we’ve seen each other.
David took about 5 seconds to warm up, I’ve been told we look alike...
Tim and his niece Lotte 
Day trips, Mulligans Hut is always a favourite.
Fall in the water, take of your clothes and just keep going. 
No longer hampered with shoes and such.

Way before my family started booking their flights, I had booked Playgroup in for a fundraiser at the local hardware store. And since I’m the one organising and running it, my family got roped in to a true Australian experience: a sausage sizzle.
Enjoying a day trip to Woolgoolga
 My brother in law, Bram. Soaking up the sun.
A day after my sister and her family resumed their travels through Australia, it was time to say goodbye to my mum at the train station. It’s awfully quiet now at home...
 Watering the fruit trees with the gang, it has become so dry.
Loving the drip irrigation, this will make a huge difference for the perennials and fruit trees in the border. The garden beds have been mostly planted out. The watermelons, rockmelons capsicums, tomatoes, zucchinis and eggplants all have had an early start. Hoping that they’re established before it gets too hot.
Comfort food, my favourite salad: grilled vegetables and haloumi with garden salad and crunchy sage leaves.
After a couple of crazy busy months, I have worn myself a little thin. Resulting in my knee issues playing up, emotional eating flare-up and getting sick too often. Three days of horrendous fevers, a throat where every bit of saliva you swallow feels like broken glass and 5 days of not eating have been a wake up time (again) to take stock. It’s a balancing act, besides the kids I need to look after myself and prioritise. Taking a couple of balls out of the juggling act. Too many times I’ve found myself with a flutter of panic in my chest and a jumble of thoughts and lists in my head.
Making sure that besides work and chores there is also fun and time to just be.
Well, yesterday evening that became a dancing act: salsa lessons with my hubby. Did we have fun!!!


Winter holidays

I asked the kids to make a wish list for the holidays, for our staycation.
They decided on:
- BMX-track
- Cinema (Despicable Me 3)
- Library (on the last count we had over 60 library book in rotation)
- Play overs and sleepovers with his mates (Tim).
- A new playground to visit
- Tramping through the waterholes
And I’m happy to say we manage to tick them all off!
Some were even crazy brave enough to go swimming.
Another Full Moon party,
which coincided with Davids 3rd birthday.
A rather cold night, perfect fresh bread and pea & ham soup
Definitely not a baby anymore
With a temper that comes with the age (and being the youngest), it’s going to be a long year...
Lots of baking, Turkish breads have been very popular.
Laura, only 2 years old. She’s so very much like David, so clever and strong, but oh so stubborn. She’s starting to fill out a bit more, we’re getting ready for the next step in her training: lunging.

I used to train horses, lots of horses when I was a teenager. Those crazy horses no-one could ride, or had never been ridden before, they were my forte. Training was something I didn’t thought about much, it was done on an intuitive base, because they were all so different.  Topped up with a sense of feeling infallible, so common in teenagers. But it changes, hard, when you become a mum and little ones depend on you.
To be honest I was about to throw in the towel last week. Thoughts of “If something happens to me, we’re screwed” and “I haven’t ridden for so long, do I still have the touch?”
I’ve become so cautious, her getting exited I think of the damage she could do to the kids, every time I see her buck, I think “ouch”. I’m not a worrier, but I’ve found that with every child, the thoughts going around in my head have increased. There is always so much to organise, plan and do.
Horses are so sensitive, they pick up so many feelings. Me going in tired and overwhelmed, it gets picked up and mirrored back.
Being conscious of that, I want to try to use that, to learn from that. To empty my head and work in little baby steps. It doesn’t matter how long this might take. She’ll make a wonderful horse, she’s solid, surefooted and has an exuberant energy that can take her places.
I want to give it a couple more months, trusting myself. If it doesn’t come back to me, I’m sure we can find her an owner who can take her to the next level.

Tomatoes, so many tomatoes in so many different varieties. From tiny cherry tomatoes, to yellow ones, mini roma, large roma, to the huge tennis ball sized whoppers and everything in between.
Some of them are planted, most of them are making the most of these wet months Having come up from seeds and kitchen scraps from the 6 years I’ve been planting this garden.
It’s one big tangled mess of plants, growing in, up and over everything else. It’s like an Easter hunt finding them all. The upside is that the king parrots find it very hard to find them too...
Teamed up with basil some make it to our elderly neighbours, by courier.
My sister (left) winning at again at Henley, this time the Princess Grace Challenge Cup. We’re all so very proud of our aunty Lisa.
Proper single size beds for the youngest 3, who were still in small beds. 
Such a beautiful bed, only to found her napping here...
Or behind the cupboard/drawer block, where she’s made a cubby.
Alex is still telling everyone he sees that he now has a bunk bed,
there was never a question where he would sleep...
Marzipan filled speculaas (Gevulde speculaas).
Some special baking for a gathering of Dutch families living in the Northern Rivers area.
Working bee at playgroup
Looking back at our wedding 11 years ago.
Jonquils are starting to pop up throughout the border, such a happy, quirky sight.
Seeing how much more grows through the winter, if you water it a bit more...
has been enough incentive to improve the irrigation system for the garden. 
With a separate system for the border, giving the perennials and fruit trees a boost in their development and fruiting.



The upside of (lots) rain: 
Green grass, happy roos, a jungle of a veggie garden, a full rainwater tank and dam.
Meteor rainbows...
Treasuring the warming sunlight.
Making risotto with Alex.
It does my heart well, when kids show interest in preparing food.
Puddles = piggies
and a bath
First day of pre-kinder for Alex. One day a week at “big school”.
 Rogue cattle
 Starcraft buddies
 Warming up with a bike ride after swimming in the waterholes.
 Pretty mornings
We have had many Cavendish bananas growing, now we’re anticipating our first Ladyfinger bananas!
This plant is loving the warm shower water.
Having pushed for a “Welcome!” party, after several goodbyes at my husband work, I ended up with a catering job for 30... It was a great success, happy families are so important.
But I had lots of leftovers, so I threw an impromptu party at Playgroup the next morning with pretty cupcakes, shortbread and brownies. 
Having done some inquiries the previous week, I found out we should be celebrating 40 years of Grafton Playgroup! Making the most of my role as coordinator... ;-) 
Catching up with friends.
Iluka Bluff Beach makes my heart sing. 
Snorkels and bodyboards
We started the Winter school holidays, what better place to celebrate then on the beach...
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