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...


First weeks of Winter

The upside of doing an on call weekend with clinic duty: you get the following Friday off.
With all the kids at (pre)school we made the most of it and spend a day at Red Rock, with it’s glorious walking tracks along the beach and Corindi River it's a great way to recharge the batteries.


Traffic jam, 
(just a friendly, rather sleepy python)
Cold mornings,
4 degrees demands rugging up, a novelty for our kids...
My friend Erin send us one of her daughters, to babysit, we got to have a night out!
Tullara is such an amazing talent, grateful to have seen her live.
Sunday morning walks...
Life is so much better with mud...
Checking out the waterholes
And the fences
Our teddy bear horse, so fluffy in her winter coat.
Sophie is thriving at the moment, she has started drum lessons, a dream come true for her. 
The reading bug has bitten her, something that makes my heart sing. 
Even caught her doing the book walk (read and walk while you go to the toilet, get a drink,... too enthralled to put the book away). 
With increased alertness and energy she’s making the most of it, even took up aikido again!
We’re letting her set the pace, we never know how long this period will last.
Alex his turning 5 next year, that means he could start school. 
However, he’ll only be just turning 5 when the school year starts, which gives us the option to hold him back another year. It has been going around and around in my head, what is best for him?
Kindergarten is hard, with the curriculum demanding so much of these still very young children. Reading, writing and maths, including homework and sitting still for long periods is a lot for them. 
I hesitate. But have seen with Tim (also from February) that he needed that challenge and now in year 4 is still thriving on it. 
For now, we’ve decided to take the middle road. Next week, Alex is going to start the pre-kinder program, that our school offers for one school day a week. While keeping with preschool which is all play based. We’ll decide at the end of the year what we think he’ll need: another year of play, or “big school”.
Morning with warm porridge (and pappa).
Tim’s creation
The Grafton bridge, the only crossing for cars, pedestrians and trains over the Clarence River. 
Traffic has been increasing for years, to the point that it has become a huge bottleneck, while the bridge quickly deteriorates under the strain.
Work on a second bridge has recently started, working from both sides of the the river, country town Grafton has now the novelty experience of four cranes and a barge at work. 
Our kids are mesmerised and closely following the progress.
Climbing wall in action, some people just don’t seem to be hindered with gravity...
Rain, rain, rain, the garden is looking like a bedraggled jungle. 
Even though the surrounding area has had frost, our veggie garden doesn’t, I’m still picking chillies, while the king parrots feast on a sunflower, very surreal for a winter garden!
Another Full Moon Gathering. With countless weather and flash flood warnings it was a small one, the kids didn’t seemed to be bothered too much with the rain. Getting a couple of hour of spotlight in, only to shelter in the treehouse when the rain picked up to torrential again.
The quince trifle was a hit.
David got bitten again, the last time that ended with surgery after two horrific weeks. Not knowing what bit him, we were on high alert straight away. The swelling has come down, no raging fevers, so it has probably “just” been a bull ant, opposed to the overnight spider bite in our previous episode. 
Having a cuppa at Big Oma’s Coffee House, where they serve many Dutch specialties (kroketten!), taking a break from running errands in Coffs Harbour. Managed to stock up on (real) liquorice as well...
Wet Spotted Gum Tree
Welcome to the jungle... (without Roses)

Wondering if this rain is ever going to stop, the rivers are coming up, roads are going under.
It has given “a long weekend", a whole new meaning... ;-)

Our house, serene on the outside
 Chaos on the inside
The pool filter split a seam and needed to be replaced (under warranty), the new filter has different connections and heights so Sander has been holed away in the pump shed playing with cutters and glue.
The upside, with all this rain we can use rainwater galore to refill the pool and clean the new filter medium.
All baked out, I’m hogging the best place in the house, 
right next to the fire.
Making great progress with my quilt (and blogging). While Sander is playing with his new mitre saw,   Tim’s build-in-wardrobe coming up soon.
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