Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Italy - from Ski to Climb

Well the skiing is over - we all survived without anything broken. Bear got a really bad black eye - but that is it. We skiied France on the last day and really regretted it. There was a blizzard - freezing cold and snow blowing sideways. We got our crepe and hot chocolate (both not that great (and 28 euro) and headed back to sunny Italy, vowing to never return to the cold, windy depths of France again.

It really was quite hairy. Thought one of the kids was going to pack up and just sit there and freeze. Not sure what the plan was if they did. The two girls were howling with tears. So cold, there neck warmers were frozen in position and even with toe and hand warmers I couldn't feel my face, fingers or toes. But to their credit they continued on, uphill for 300m (to avoid going down a 2km run and then back up another really long chairlift. When we got back to sunny, calm Italy, the temptation was to go straight back to the apartment and watch a movie. To their credit, they let us drag them to a warm restuarant (that required going up another chairlift) and we thawed out while drinking hot chocolate (and gluwein) and eating some pretty great pasta.

We left La Thuille very happy, vowing to come back to Italy next year for another shot at skiing, this time the Dolomites. Love the combination of skiing and great food. With Switzerland we skiied and ate what was put in front of us - here - we ski, we look forward to lunch, we ski, we look forward to dinner. Food is as much a part of life here as breathing (or if I was Italian I would say smoking).

Let me rewind - C girls birthday was pretty great. She loves her Ipod Touch and hasn't stopped finding all the extras that it does. Xmas eve included a really lame snowboarding santa - the kids sobbing themselves to sleep (he only gave the italian kids presents on xmas eve) and waking up to discover that there was a total of 1 present waiting for them. They were okay about those presents (a local doll for the girls and pinochio for bear) from Santa, plus a La Thuille t shirt - wow you say. But a mountain bike (with gears) each (from us, and a pair of rollerblades, a lego cargo train and strawberry shortcake doll, plus a popcorn machine is waiting at home for them - so they can keep the xmas spirit alive for 2 more weeks and know that it is all in the waiting.

Yesterday we went from La Thuille to Florence. Went via Milan - then a high speed train for 1 3/4 hours. Spent way to much time in line waiting for the train, which was booked out - so we had to go 1st class (still had to wait for the 3rd train after we got there). Have already booked for tomorrow's trip to Rome, got it at the same time as our tickets to Pisa, so maybe we learnt something.

Oh - that's right - we went to Pisa today......Pisa, walk through very italian streets from the train station. Walk for 1/2 hour - very pretty - in the light rain - then you turn a corner and - it takes your breath away. Very beautiful, very angled, very amazing that your children are experiencing this world spectacular sight at the ages of 6,8 and 11 when you have to wait 39 years to see it, okay, 31 since I heard of Pisa, but still - that's a long time.

We got back to Florence (Firenze) at 3. Went straight to the Duomo - so we could climb the 463 steps to the top of the dome. It was pretty spectacular - got there at 5. Just enough light to take some spectacular photos of Florence. After which we grabbed an ice cream, walked the christmas lit streets and wandered to a resturant. All 3 kids tasted all of the antipasto - even liking the chicken liver (even after they found out what it was), then having something different for main. C girl had Risotto (with blue cheese) and salmon gnochi last night - calamari tonight. She is trying food without any argument. It is so unusual that we may not know what to do with ourselves by the end of this holiday.

Obviously she has been milking the whole"I don't like this......." for way too long.

Tomorrow we are going to see Michaelangelo's David - also hopefully the main museum. Got a train to Rome at 1:10. Not long enough to see everything - but as they say - you don't DO Florence, it is a place you can come back to again and again and discover new things every time.

We are just trying to not kill the magic. A lot of nutella is being consumed on this trips in the way of crepes (energy food).

PS - I am having champagne for breakfast - not because I need it, or even want it at 8 in the morning - but because it is part of the buffet breakfast - and hey, why would I knock back champagne????

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Today she is 11

C girl is 11 today. How much has our life changed in 11 years. From 6 pound 9 ounces of princess who we would each hold her hand as she fell asleep (Yes, we were suckers who later paid dearly for that) to a 40kg, swimming, athletic, football playing, great skiing young lady. Basically since the day she was born, nothing has been too good for this girl.

Yesterday we ended up at the Roman ruins in Aosta. On Tuesday night we ran into Suzy who told us about the tour going to Pila the next day. Pila is a snow resort that is in the mountains above Aosta. We decided to go and were very apprehensive at 7:45 when it was bucketing down with snow here in La Thuille. Pila is called – ski in the sky. It was sunshine, waist deep in powder and very beautiful. You could see the Materhorn in Switzerland and Mont Blanc in France from the slopes.

We started skiing with the group – but they were a bit slow – so we left them at 12 and did our own thing. Kids were a bit silly though (okay, I might have said stupid). You just can’t do anything in waist deep powder snow. To add more excitement, they went further and further into the fresh powder on the sides of the runs. There were a few jumps, so I can understand some of this. But after C girl almost got stuck and realised all I was going to do was add verbal support, she then went down 20m and did it again. Only this time a lot worse. After the crying started because she couldn’t move with one ski, it took me 20 minutes to find her other ski. I found lots of tree branches, but no ski for quite a while.

We skied there until 2:30, then came down to the bus, changed shoes and went off in search of shops and ruins. We found both. Not the same atmosphere as Germany in regards to Christmas, but it was definitely better than Jakarta. As for ruins – the city is built up around them. It’s part of the infrastructure – just happens to be a 2,000 year old wall as part of this building........found an excellent football fan shop – with all Italian stuff. Unfortunately Jack (otherwise known as “I’m hungry” or Luigi) wanted only Liverpool and couldn’t understand why we would not buy it from a shop in Italy (for 65 euro) – yes there were socks and shorts – but I haven’t even tried to find it in Jakarta - the real sort that is (that aren’t there own thermal heat machine). Will try there first, then relent.

Today we are going to France – fingers crossed the international crossing is open. We really want to have crepes for lunch. The plan after lunch is to go dog sledding (or mushing). Santa is going to be around town from 4:30 – so we need to be back for that. We are all having huge issues being awake after 9 and sleeping to after 6, so there will be no church tonight (it never has been but there is a very cute tradition after of sharing “panettone, hot chocolate and hot spiced wine. For us the day will end in Roast chicken (the birthday girls favourite) and fingers crossed – birthday cake (if we can organise it).

Everyone up now - just had a great unhealthy breakfast, poached eggs, thick bacon, french bread and strong coffee (okay - kids didn't have the coffee).

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Italy - skiing

Tuesday -22nd. We just finished a second great day of skiing. We had 2 feet of snow overnight – powder (a word not familiar to Australians) – put the skiing at about 300% better than anything in Australia (and well worth the flight).

Kids are having a great time. In a routine now. Ski all day, come home for a movie, then out to dinner. Went to a great restaurant last night. Got the Ingham special (not the chicken people). 5 course dinner, with accompanied wine in a roman gothic restaurant. Kids just had steak and potato (and soup), we had the works. Delicious.

It is so funny skiing here, the language is so lovely and the way people talk to each other is stereotypical. We are calling the kids Franchesca, Luigi and Maria. Just realising now how racist Nintendo is. Everyone here seems to have the names you would expect (Fabio, Mario, Luigi etc) and all the speaking is straight out of a Mario bros game. We are putting an effort into speaking Italian with the following phrases – hello, we don’t speak Italian, do you speak English. Everyone has been responsive to that.

We have said about 100 times today how fabulous it is that our family is on this holiday. The kids are really enjoying skiing with us. They are really good and are doing the black runs without fear. J is having a great time going through thick powder – he has fallen off more than anyone – but that is because we aren’t as good as him and he is entertaining himself by doing tricks (and coming a croppa). I am practicing my 360 turns.

Lots of British people here and it’s really nice to hear their accent. They are the dags of Europe – so obviously I can totally relate.

The kids have experienced zero culture. There is a roman ruin in Aosto 1 hour away – we came through it (it was a 2 minute train change (where I had to run to buy the tickets for the next leg and had C girl screaming at me to ruuuuunnnnnnn Mummy). Imagine – Roman Ruins – and I’m soooooo close. Apparently I have to wait to be in Rome – then I can see as many roman ruins as I want (am I holding everyone to that).

The plan tomorrow is to ski in France – we haven’t done it yet – too tired yesterday and today there was too much snow. Tomorrow will be the charm.

Sorry – have to make my Indo – Italian comparison. Same – everyone seems to smoke everywhere AND (I am not obessed with toilets) yesterday we had coffee/hot chocolates in this cute little bar – and the toilets were squats. Yes, they were automatic flushing and had toilet paper (very unlike Indonesia on both fronts) – but you are kidding – I get sick of having to hold Munch over a toilet so she doesn’t fall in (especially annoying with ski gear). The kids skills on squat toilets are not increasing and frankly I don’t see this as a life skill of importance.

Kids just had a home made slushy. Snow from the roof outside our lounge window – with fruit juice poured over it. Big hit for the two little ones.

We are spending so much at the supermarket under us. We are so happy to have real food. Plus compared to Indo prices – we are getting a discount (bring on Rome).

Monday, 21 December 2009

Italy First Days

We got here, and it was worth the view when we got up in the morning.

32 hours from door to door. Car, planes, trains, bus and feet – we missed the boat part. Kids were brilliant, Munch fell asleep on the bus but we had to wake her up to walk the final 1km to the hotel (the bus driver kindly pointed the direction).

We had a few delays on the way. Both planes delayed leaving, plane into Milan delayed while they checked the runway for ice. Dumb train route. We tried to research the way there but everything was abbreviated. The train system here is 20 years behind Germany. Ended up wasting a bit of time and then having one train cancelled, only to the have the next delayed, to then miss a connection. But we got to Pieter St Didier after 5 trains. Time from plane landing until we reached the hotel – 11 ½ hours. Yes – 11 ½ hours. No we are not insane – thought it was only going to take 5 -6 hours.

Also – still worth the view when we woke up this morning. As J said when we were waiting in a train station in one the most beautiful station I have ever seen in Milan, we could be sleeping in a hotel only to wake up and not be able to sleep tonight (and be in a city), or we can keep awake this way, end up in our new home (for a week) and sleep all night. The people watching opportunities were endless in the train station.

We did have one very big bonus though. On our walk to the hotel we met a lovely Australian who works with Inghams (people who organise packaged holidays). She helped us with a suitcase then checked us in, then helped us to our room, then invited us to join their package tour stuff. She also gave us the English version of the town itinerary for Christmas week (that is up everywhere in Italian). Now we can see Santa in a few spots, Plus see a possessed Christmas tree that does entertainment after wandering around town on the 26th. We will report back on that Italian tradition.

Kids went skiing for two hours yesterday with their Dad. I wasn’t skiing until Monday because I wanted to walk around the village and have a look (but I forgot the camera) – but the kids wanted to start asap. They were way too tired and it was -14 degrees celcius. Two hours was it – but it was a good start.

We had snow fall last night – so now everything is covered in a blanket of snow. It’s only going to be -1 today – perfect for skiing. J has been up since 3:30 and the kids and I have been up since 5:30. He’s been doing work – kids have been playing DS – still a bit jet lagged. The plan today is to ski this morning. When they burn out we will just come home and have a nap – as we have dinner plans tonight (5 course dinner with wine included (part of the Ingham tour)).

C girl has been going okay on the food front. When we booked this in May we told her she would be trying everything when we got here because the food here is not spicy. She doesn’t like chilli or curry (only breakfast doesn’t include one of these for me) so the kids eat their boring food while we eat the fun stuff when we are at home(advantage of a housekeeper). The kids have 5 vegetables a night, so they aren’t getting away with bad food, but their menu hasn’t changed for a long time. When I asked her a week ago what 3 new foods were on her list of foods she regularly ate she named 2 things that I didn’t know she had tasted – let alone have they been added to her menu. Her mission from this holiday is to have 5 new foods that she regularly eats and that she tries food without complaint (this means eating more than 1 mouthful). This means she is to taste everything. So far so good, only one pretend choking/vomiting act. She is about to turn 11 and I think it’s a bit late to teach her that sometimes you just eat what you are given, it’s not always going to be what you feel like.

Anyway – it will be daylight in less than an hour, so we had better tidy up a bit – no one is coming in to do it for us (this could take some getting used to).

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

We're all going on a summer holiday

We're all going on a summer holiday,
but we're going to the snow.
I just wish more snow would fall over there,
Cause otherwise I'll be have to do something other than ski........

and the kids can't do happy hour for more than an hour (as L can confirm when Bear ran through the snow with no shoes on (who's that kid out there without a shoe on - oh dear (negative 20 degrees celcius), that's one of mine.....oops.

Who could be sad to be going on 3 weeks holiday to a country you have only ever dreamed of going to???????? Real Italian food - I have only ever heard of you......

Not me - new snow or not - I am having a FREEEZING white christmas - I AM SO HAPPY.

In 2 days, my wandering husband (who was home for 6 hours last night before leaving again (he left last friday)) - is going to be with his family for 3 whole weeks. Yes, there will be a blackberry involved, but as a friend of mine once said (referring to me and my 9 weeks a year of leave) - people who can go away for more than 2 weeks at a time don't have a real job.

I have no problem with that analogy for me, but J has a real job, hence the blackberry, laptop and the occasional distraction. But I'll take it over no holidays (or gasp, shorter holidays). There - I said it (good thing he does not ever read this).

Have a great family christmas.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Healthy Kids

It may sound cliche, but on the eve of my 39th birthday I am allowed to be a little sentimental.

I am so happy with my little family.

20 years ago I was never going to have children or get married.

3 1/2 months later I realised I was never going to be able to live without the guy I had just met.

4 years later I got married.

5 years after that I had my first baby.

At 28, I was 10 days away from my first child. All I hoped for was a child that wasn't shy or lazy . 2 things that I felt had more to do with my parenting than with any inherited genes.

I am happy to say I have 3 kids - and all of them are anything but shy or lazy.

On the exercise front the kids do a lot of activity during the week. The 6 year old does 2 hours swimming, 2 -3 hours football, 1 hour gymnastics and 2 hours PE classes. The 8 year old does 5-10 hours of playground football (soccer), 3 hours of structured football, 1 hour of rugby, 2 hours of PE and 2 hours of (reluctantly) swimming. C girl does 4.5 hours of swimming (about to up to 6), 3- 5 hours of football, 1 hour of T ball and 2 hours of PE (this is the off season for training).

On the food front we are really strict about junk food. Very lucky C girl hates all lollies/candy - always has. But no sweet things are in their lunch boxes. After school, 2 pieces home made brownies, or 2 homemade biscuits. Nothing purchased, never any more than 2. Desert is yoghurt every 2nd night, ice cream cone every other night. All lollies bought home from party are gone when walk in door, on the way home eat to your hearts content, then you never see it again (the staff take it home). It probably sounds over the top - but really we are just trying to save their teeth.

Shy - well, not sure what we have done on this front, but both J and I aren't shy. I can't stand people not getting what they want (or being ripped off etc) because they won't speak up. This may backfire - C girl is sure I am going to get beaten up when I get out of the car to stop cars from pushing in front of us (dont' worry, the driver is driving, kids aren't in car alone). But I've got to tell you - I don't suffer the fustration of waiting for too long for someone to let us cross (or to stop them from driving on the wrong side of the road because they want to make a 4 lane, one way road out of a 2 way, 2 lane road. (It's actually exhiliarating). Don't worry, this is when traffic is gridlocked - there is no car going above 10kmph.

But again I digress. Tomorrow the big B day. J away until Tuesday. But I am actually happier today than I have ever been in my life.

The main reason though - the kids are doing brilliantly, school wise, growing up wise, confidence wise, sports wise and well - just being really great kids - I would actually want to know them even if I wasn't related to them. I love our holidays, I love our family weekends, I love our movie nights and when we all have to pull together to finish assignments (I'm great at colouring in).

I should also point out - I am also VERY happy with my marriage and am very grateful that J is working very hard to provide this life that we are enjoying so much.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A bear smile

This is the face of someone who has been sitting behind the bar unsupervised and is about to finish his 3rd or 4th softdrink (when he gets one a week normally if we remember to give it to him).

See - bears can smile too.
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C girl

When you have a baby - is this the type of smile you are waiting for? The one that says - I'm soooooo happy.

Can you fake a smile like this?

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Meet Munch - I overheard her the other day telling her father to just call her "Munch" from now on. She's too old for Munchkin.

Gorgeous should be her name.
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C girl birthday party

160,000 rp bamboo sticks (AUD20) - entertainment value - priceless

Posted by PicasaC girl had her birthday party a few weeks ago. It was a combined birthday party with 2 other girls in Year 6. It started as a pool party in the same place as last year and ended with a disco at one of the girls houses. It was a pretty great party - 35 kids, only siblings and the rest Year 6 kids. No riots or fights, everyone happy and getting along great.

the birthday girls
(why does C girl take after me when it comes to clothes and looking scruffy?)

Definitely the biggest hit was the disco. We waited until just on dark before we moved the kids over to the house. The bamboo torches were burning in the entry path, lei's were given to the girls to wear and swimming tubes were given to the boys (we couldn't find good water pistols and they still want to take home a present). When they entered there were bamboo torches burning outside the windows and the house was in darkness. There was a disco light (with coloured lights shining on it), a smoke machine, video/photo images on a big screen, glow stick bracelets and lots of kids killing the songs with their "singing" along.

Killing an otherwise good song

These boys can grove

Have no idea what we are going to do next year to top it. This year was half boys/girls - so that is an improvement on last year (where it was 90% boys, not that girls weren't invited, it's just they didn't come). Think we'll ditch the pool part and do something else around the disco (come on this is fun not hard work (and she isn't even 11 for another 18 days from now).

Jakarta Allstars

We've just had a completely football mad weekend. Coca Cola tryouts from 8 - 9:30 on Sat morning - then off to JIS for the JYS Allstars weekend for U11. It was a trial tournament to see if there was interest for the overseas tournaments that are held for the U13 and up age group.

After a month of tryouts and coaching, C girl played her heart out. Unfortunately only a 3rd place - they lost the first game, after losing heart in the second half (and they played the first half brilliantly).

C girl was the only girl in the tournament - but she knew at least half the boys in the two JYS teams, having played /trained with at least half of them over the past year in two seperate leagues. When the white team played the blue team, it ended in a draw, so they were pretty evenly spread (but the white team won (beating Arsenal)) - but great fun overall and I am pretty happy she was in the blue team.

Seeing Santa this afternoon at the ANZA kids christmas party. Need finish the weekend quietly with a party.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Phuket Football

This is the 5 shattered teams just after the U11 girls lost in the final. C girl was devestated. A girl from the other team had her in a lock with the referee a few meters away - 3 times - every time our team had a goal kick. They lost 0-1 and she was devestated - with me. How could I let anyone do that to her and not stop it (it wasn't for lack of wanting to - J had hold of the back of my t shirt).

So now KLASS (who definitely have no class) are at the top of my DIRTY list. Harrow were at the top - but the KLASS coach told them to do it (Yes I can prove it (we walked past when he had this one girl off to the side going through the tactics) and they played FOUL (as in EVERYONE on the team played foul). The refereeing was ridiculous - to the point where I thought the kids should catch the ball - there were no "handballs" anywhere and the pushing and pulling (and arm locks) was ridiculous. One of our girls got such a big kick in the back of the leg that she went down and out (but the ball wasn't even near her at the time of this). As usual - our school played cleanly. It only got us two 2nds, one 4th and 2 last (the two youngest teams of their league), but they did it as good sports.

Anyway - I know I sound bitter - but the parents of the girls team were staying in the same hotel- we usually get along alright (and that is after losing in both directions) - but after such a dirty game - I couldn't trust myself to even be in the same bar (we went to the beach instead - which was pretty great at sunset). Luckily the kids get over it pretty quick. They came second after all (from 9 teams). Poor old Bear's team came last - got whipped in every game. But they put up a big fight and were the youngest team. You wait for next year - they will be in the same age group - and they might even win a game or two.
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Phuket Beach

This is Nai Tang beach (near Rawai) at the south end of the island.

The school bags say it all. Kids were very well looked after.

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Bear's Phuket

The boys had a very special treat at the beach - topless sunbathers. Bear's friend counted 8 (I think he was counting each breast seperately). They weren't shy either - they would walk along the beach, then run back.

We knew at that point - no matter where the boys came in the competetion - going to the beach would be the highlight of the trip.
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The two big kids, J and I spent the last weekend in Phuket for a football tournament.

This was at the beach on Thursday. How many kids get to say they spent the day at the beach with their friends in Phuket.

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Friday, 6 November 2009

Awesome Week

You wouldn't believe the week we are having in the jakartarocks household.

It started last saturday with football (nothing unusual about that) in the morning for the two little ones (Bear won, Munchkin lost).

Followed by rushing to Pondok Indah Mall for a new pair of football boots for C girl (discovered old ones worn out). She had won a pair for best and fairest with ASA soccer camp, but they are still one size away. All the shops didn't have the pair we wanted (the 90 series Nike) in her size, her feet are too small for the adult size, the youth size is sold out (for the last 2 months). No idea when they will come in. Settled on some poor Nike cousins.

Anyway, got home with 10 minutes to spare before heading out for her football match. They won a great game, then we rushed home and went to a halloween party at Executive Paradise (we have friends there). No alcohol, but every type of food you could want - plus lots for the kids to do. Left after 2 hours.

We then went to a halloween party - dress up and everything. I had been sick since Tuesday - so we left at 11pm - we are so dull - but it was a great party.

On Sunday morning I took C girl to football tryouts for the Jakarta All Stars Team. They had selected 50 kids to tryout. She is the only girl, but that is not really a good thing as although she knows 50% of the boys, they don't necessarily want to be her partner for anything - so she gets stuck with the fat kid (you know what I mean). When she is on the team she is accepted - but she has to get on it first.

Left at 12:10 - and was sitting in the Ritz Carlton at 1:10 - how is that for record time? (No kids at this brunch). It's the first time we have been there since the bomb went off, it wasn't too scary. There was a joke made when the door opened and the light fitting swayed due to the wind. But it was fine. We left at our prelunch planned 5 o clock (although J wanted to go out with them to EP (Eastern Promise) - but I sent the driver home (J tried to stay in the car so he could zoom off, but I was onto him)).

The family watched Aliens in the Attic - good movie - bit too much like ET though. He stopped sulking at 8 (when I told him he could go because the kids were in bed) - he didn't go out then - guess the thought of a taxi was too much for him (he knew they were still out because they were texting about "be the man").

At 4:30 am we were rocked out of our sleep by the garage door opening (the driver had arrived) - oh no - the alarm didn't go off (volume too low) - we raced to get C girl up. Then C girl and I raced off to the airport.

We met her school at 5:22 (early by 8 minutes - thanks Fobissea team with long memories). She has gone to Bali on the best camp I have ever heard of for a Year 6 child. They are getting home today - fingers crossed she had the best time ever. I have been so nervous that she isn't having a great time.

I rushed home from the airport because - Bear boy turned 8. That's right 8 years old. That means that only 4 years ago we returned from Phuket from our very first overseas trip (which confirmed to us that Aus is dull and we needed an adventure - and we have been here almost 3 years now (this month)). He cleaned up with a mobile phone, space police lego and a remote control helicopter. He was very happy.

On wed I went to doctor - I have a chest infection - that is why I haven't felt well since last Tuesday (and why I spent last Thursday in bed and still feel like someone is sitting on my chest).

This weekend - we have::::

7 hour football tournement where the two little ones will play 5 mini games (16 minutes each) and C girl will play 2 normal games (to decide on 1 - 4th place). As I am the coach for my son's team and J is the assistant coach (but tomorrow coach) for Munchkin's team - we will both miss C girls first game and may only get to see a tiny bit of her second game (depending on if they are playing for 1/2 or 3/4 at that stage. Hopefully their coach will play them in their correct position (he has a habit of moving them all over the pitch to give them experience - they still came 3rd out of 12 teams).

With Bear's team, we finished 2nd on the ladder, so I am feeling very confident that we may be able to pull off victory tomorrow (we haven't played the top team - but they are from our school and we know them). There are two party invites for after this tournament - at this stage I am saying that we aren't going anywhere after it. Enough.

On sunday, C girl has final tryouts (they have been cut down to 30 for ultimately 2 teams of 12). Then we have Bear's birthday party with 22 Year 3/4 boys doing - swimming, slip n slide, apple bobbing, chocolate game, treasure hunt, pinata and (drum roll) - we have two bamboo logs strapped together - each player comes from each side with a noodle - then whoever knocks the other off wins - yes - it just has disaster written all over it. Munchkin has even invited a boy as her friend because we know her girl friends will shake with fear and she will spend the whole party being a good friend and not going wild with the boys.

As soon as the party finishes (3pm) - we have to prepare to go to school for the Bonfire night (guy fawkes night late). I'm helping with the alcoholic drinks so I shouldn't be too run off my feet (fingers crossed). Luckily it finishes at 7. No movie night this week (will need to have on Sat instead).

So how is that for a mad week? And next week we are going to Phuket for football from wed - Sun. Bear and C girl are playing for school - I'm going to watch. Most of the parents are staying together (well the social ones are anyway) - fingers crossed I am back to 100% before wednesday.

Did I mention anywhere that I love being a Soccer Mum. That's right - love it. There is no sacrifice here when it comes to watching a game with my child in it - even when they lose every game of the season.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


I really am unsure as to why a giant clam purse represents Melbourne, but here are the kids outside the Melbourne post office in Bourke Street Mall.

Posted by PicasaWe spent a lovely afternoon in Melbourne - bookshop mainly (where it is warm and next door to Starbucks (there are only a handful of starbucks in Aus - they shut most of them down in August 2008 because too much competition).

After a dinner of pancake kitchen (we walked past a crepe place earlier in the day - thinking too expensive - we will find another place - only to find no other place and the crepe shop shut when we got back).

Then it was off to the AFL that night. C girl was less than impressed -wanted to go back to the hotel as she was BORED. This is about 20 minutes before the game started - the empty seats are the pre booked seats - most people are at the bar drinking (it is that sort of game). It's an indoor stadium that seats 80,000. Temp inside was only 16 degrees celcius (whereas it would have been 5 outside), so not too bad at all.

Italy here we come

We are so excited. We will be flying out to Italy in less than 2 months.

On the agenda - the first 8 nights will be spent at a ski resort that is on the Italian/France border. We will stay in Italy then have lunch in France - as an Australian that sounds unbelievable. Only occasional ski school for the kids as they are getting to the point where it's more fun to ski with them than without them....but we may need a break for a few hours every few days.

C girls birthday and christmas will be spent skiing or doing other winter fun stuff. Best way to spend christmas, open your present - then get on out their for skiing.

(Please note - we have room for 1 more person on the skiing leg of our journey - visitors most welcome - you know who you are!!!! We can meet / drop off at Milan airport).

Then off to Florence for 2 nights. During the middle day, we will hop on a train and see the leaning tower of Pisa, then get back to Florence for a walk around.

Then off to Rome for 7 nights (including new years eve). Fingers crossed a day trip to Pompeii while we are there (it doesn't look too far in the book, a few 100 kms). Think that will be very cool. Bear is learning all about archeologists at the moment - so that is appropriate.

Then off to Bologna for 2 nights -with the day inbetween going to Venice. Don't want to kill the Venice experience with the kids - but I want to go on a gondola ride and see the piazza etc. We will go back there without kids one day and see all the sights.

Can't wait for the food in Bologna (we are going there because of a book by John Grisham - yes we are easily influenced). Plus I want to see the towers that were built for the rich families and see a little university city.......such a romantic.

Then off to Parma or Emilia Reggie or Milan for the last night - that is dependent on the football match we can get tickets to - whether it's a local game or a bigger game. But it's part of our tradition - to see the local obsession sport (see Melbourne AFL and Vancouver Giants) - okay it's a new tradition - but they have to start somewhere. Plus - I have to see the last supper in Milan.

Not expecting to see any of the artwork or buildings for very long - but would like to see them. I can go through a museum or aquarium in under an hour - as opposed to going to the war museam in Canberra with J - it took 2 days.......but I definitely think the kids should go, see. WE tend to take a photo of the captions that are really interesting and then read them when we get home (J in Germany with Bear in 2006 - but he was 4 and he was there to see the world cup not the berlin wall) - but I don't believe in torturing them - or they will torture me.....later, or the next time I want to see something.

Yes - push over parent, but it works for us. C girl has been to the Louvre (8 hours), british museum, london natural history museum, every museum in Canberra and Sydney, Vancouver planeterium, Dachau (plus munich beer hall to finish), Salzburg underground salt mines, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, London Eye, Madam Touseu, Tower of London, Singapore Science centre..... plus seen Circus de soleil (twice), every disney on ice when we lived in Aus (front row seats), lion king, mama mia, swan lake, we will rock you, billy elliot, kelly clarkson, hilary duff (front row), last but not least - THE WIGGLES....... plus a few more musicals that I can't remember (she has always been my date because they were 3 hours from home and I hate taking someone who doesn't love it (picture J at this point).....oh and Disneyland for 6 days.

C girl will either come back eating a lot of different food - or she will be very skinny. I bought her a phrase book and cd for italian language today - she is studying it (has even put on her ipod so she can learn on the way to school) - she is going to be responsible for ordering her own food (we will eat whatever they want to serve us). But she will be eating everything she is given.

We are planning a lot of day trips I guess - but we aren't ones to sit around and twiddle our thumbs - so hopefully we will come back exhausted - but having seen lots of wonderful things.

Can't wait for the skiing, eating, drinking and the constant walking that we will do in the beautiful cities of Italy. Can't wait to be cold as well......brrrrr.....yippee.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Borneo - 2009 - again.

Well I survived another trip.....actually it wasn't all that bad.

We flew from Banjarmarsin to Maura Tewah, which saved us 10 hours in a car. So - leaving home at 4:30 we were at the minesite at 1pm. Not bad going, since it usually takes us to 10am on the following day.

From a previous trip - but you get the idea of the trip down the river.

The food on site was terrible. Our normal cook was away and so we had what everyone else eats (yes, I stay in VIP with cable television (and now hot water), so I have come to expect different food (like when I was sick I got steak, chips and normal veggies- no kidding (not sure what sort of steak it was though). We had deep fried mashed potato balls, white rice (which I refuse to eat), chicken pieces (which are yum the first 3 times) and green beans with tofu. Same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 6 meals straight.

(This is a floating home, note the dishes being washed)

(this is the boat we went on - it seats 8 comfortably)

Yesterday we had a novel trip, a 7 hour boat ride from the minesite to a secondary area. Previously we have done 2 hours boat, 5 hours car, 1 1/2 hour boat. But this time we went for a change. We had a mini meeting at the secondary area, had a massive lunch (that was also dinner) of super sized prawns and home made coconut cream ice cream (and I was either starving or this may have been the best ice cream I have ever had in my entire life.

Another example of fine plumbing on the river (at least there is no drop into water - trust me, a toilet where it drops a meter before hitting the water is a lot more embarrasing).

(one of the better toilets (I refuse to use one without a roof). This is on floating platform on river)

You may wonder what the obsession is with toilets - well I have never been camping. But I don't think I need to in order to experience the great outdoors - I can do it while I am at work.

NOTE : I forgot to mention the most exciting - I love living in Indonesia moment. During the 6 hour drive (after the 8 hours in the boat) our car kept breaking down. It eventually got to every 5 minutes we were stopping for 5 minutes to clean out the fuel injectors. Our driver was on the phone for a bit (which he normally never does during the normal 10 hour drives).

After not long at all, we were told to grab all our stuff. We were changing cars. Our driver had a friend (in the middle of nowhere) who lent us his car. The friend drove our car back (he hadn't made it when we left at 5am this morning) while our driver and us took his car. It had no seatbelts or back seat windows. We got back without incident.

Where else would someone give you their car while they took yours (yes - cash was exchanged - but still). Where I ask?

Today, in the official Pushing in line to get on the plane, the people in the proper line were all smiles at us......we were pushing in (with about 20 other people), but they didn't care - that's how it works.

I love this place (think I must be deliriously tired). No really - even tomorrow, I'm going to still love it.
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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Ocean Queen

Sorry - but if they didn't look so gorgeous wearing this colour I wouldn't buy it for them (not to mention they were obscenely cheap at the Rip curl factory outlet - gold coast).

This is where the kids played when they weren't swimming in the ocean. With tonnes of kids from AIS at the place, the kids made some new friends and were kept busy.
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Ocean Queen

Can you see the man up in the tree cutting the dead coconuts out? See a harness? No? Welcome to health and safety at work - Indonesian style.

Full kudos to the resort - they had at least 5 full time employees cleaning the beach/grass resort the entire time.

Didn't see anyone clean the pool though - could be why my ear hurts 2 weeks after leaving??????
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Palm Oil

Palm oil plantation on the way home. Mountain in the background. This was rainforest many years ago.
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