Friday, December 31

2010 - The Year We Grew As A Family

Apologies for the distinct lack of blog activity... We went back home to Adelaide for 2 wonderful weeks to celebrate Christmas and only got back on Wednesday... We had such a great time... it just felt so good to spend time with all our loved ones and to catchup with family and friends. Lots of memories and photos to share, but I need to go through all the photos and blog about it, so that will have to wait for the time being.

Instead I just thought I'd take this moment to recap the year that was 2010...

2010 has been a year filled with many blessings for us... Obviously the highlight of our year was the arrival of the littlest member of our family. It is amazing how much joy Catherine has brought to our lives... She is mostly an easy going baby and just goes with the flow with whatever is happening... She is super smiley and is starting to get oh so cheeky too... Her latest trick, which I discovered yesterday, is pulling herself into an upright sitting position whilst she is lying in the bouncer and then she tries to dangle herself out of the bouncer whilst she reaches for a toy she wants! When I saw her do it, I called out in alarm for her to stop and she just looked at me and gave me the cheekiest "oh-i'm-busted" look. I think that means the days of using the bouncer are coming to an end... which is a shame ... I actually remember that Elizabeth didn't try this "dangle-out-of-the-bouncer" trick until she was 12-13 months... and here Catherine is doing it at 7 months!

Elizabeth has also grown up in so many ways this year... She's no longer a clingy toddler, but a confident little girl now... She has learnt so much from going to kindy daycare and I feel she has just developed in leaps and bounds this year. She has her own opinions on things and is curious about the world around us and is always asking questions... I am so happy and proud to see the delightful little girl she has become... Seeing the sibling interaction and the love between my two girls has also been so fascinating and heart warming to see... I truly love having two children much more than I thought I would!

Phan has ever been my constant rock of support through this year... with the addition of a new baby, he has truly stepped up and helped out in so many ways both practically and emotionally... Whether it was dropping in to do the grocery shopping on the way home from work... or coming home from work early to take over looking after Catherine when I was at the end of my tether with an unsettled baby... Se has always been there for me and come through for me. I am so, so blessed that he is my soulmate and that he is the best Daddy to our girls. As a side note, he has made some good progress with his PhD, with getting published in an international journal and presenting at various conferences and I am so proud of him for what he has achieved in his work life.

And me... well, I've been enjoying this beautiful life that 2010 has granted me... I love being a mum to two children a lot more than I thought I would... Sure, there are definitely moments where I have thought "OMG... why have I done this?!", but mostly those thoughts have been infrequent and on the whole having two children really has been a case of double the fun!

So what does 2011 hold in store for us? If things go to plan, hopefully we will be moving back to Adelaide at the end of 2011 and will be back with all dear family and friends. So I'm anticipating I'm going to have to get organised and will be slowly preparing for this move. Other than that, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what 2011 brings... Looking forward to sharing our 2011 journey with you... :)

I'll end this blog entry with a couple of pics taken today... We decided to head out to Southbank this morning... it was Catherine's first time at the "beach" and she was sporting the brand new super girl swimsuit that Santa brought her for Christmas... We also had a picnic on the beach (at the insistence of Elizabeth... she's rather obsessed with the idea of having picnics at the beach at the moment!)... so we had a fun-filled couple of hours at Southbank with Elizabeth paddling in the water and having lots of fun and Catherine having a little paddle (she didn't mind the water too much, but it was a bit on the cool side so she got cold quickly)... so we just hung out on the sand and watched the big sister and Daddy. I've more pics to share from today, but you'll have to wait for another blog post to see them... :)

Fun @ Southbank - Christmas Eve Day 2010 Super Baby Girl - Christmas Eve Day 2010

Sunday, December 12

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice

Just sharing a quick pic of Catherine... well... because I can... :D

Friday, December 10

Peasant-Style Dresses With Flutter Sleeves

Baby Peasant Dress With Flutter Sleeves 4 Year Old Peasant Dress with Flutter Sleeves

I'm trying to improve my sewing skills and teaching myself to sew dresses for the girls... I bought this easy pdf pattern from etsy... it's so easy, even a beginner like me can do it... only takes about 1.5 - 2 hours (probably even less now that I've pieced the pattern together and know how it all works)... The sleeves on the Catherine's dress look a bit big and puffy and "batwing-ish" in the photo, but it's doesn't look that bad in real life.. just hard to get a good photo with her lying on the beanbag! Elizabeth's dress/nightie I quickly made up using some fabric I've had sitting in my fabric box for about 5 years! Glad it's finally found a use... and it was good to use it as a test run to check the sizing was right for Elizabeth... I think it's a perfect fit... Elizabeth likes it... she says it's her "camping dress" (what the?) and that's it's so nice and soft... :) Looking forward to making some more up for them...

Friday, December 3

Creative Things I've Made -

As if the last couple of months hasn't been busy enough with me planning christenings and birthday parties, I have somehow managed to fit in the following things...

Santa Sacks

1. Santa Sacks for the girls - I thought it would be nice to have matching Santa Sacks for both of them this year... I tried to give them a personal touch by having their initial on them... (Notice it's only the initial... I totally copped out at the idea of doing their whole names... their names are too long!)... I'm pretty proud of my effort for these... They are made from red cotton drill and lined with green poplin on the inside and the fabric at the top that trims it and acts as a casing for the drawstrings is some christmas star quilting fabric. Their initials are just cut from green felt (it's not as dark in real life as it is in the photo) and machine stitched on.

Kindy Sheets

2. Kindy Sheets - They have special little beds for nap time at the C&K kindy that Elizabeth is going to next year, so I could either opt to pay for a set or make our own... I decided to go down the make-our-own option and made it into a fun activity by letting Elizabeth pick her own fabric... and let me tell you, she likes bright colours and has expensive tastes in fabric... I was trying to guide her towards the fabric that was in the $5 per/m price range but she insisted on this one which was $10 per/m... oh well, at least she loves her new sheets and they will last her all year... I hope by involving her in the process she will be excited about using the new sheets next year at her new kindy.

Chocolate Boxes

3. Thank You Christmas Chocolates - I made these for the teachers and all the carers at Elizabeth's kindy daycare... I thought they would give a nice personal touch to what would otherwise be rather boring chocolates... the template for this triangular cardboard tube is from Kelleigh Ratzlaff, which I bought from here and the digital elements are from NinaScraps - ho.ho.ho and joy and happiness. I just printed them up on a A4 piece of card (I used 180gsm weighted card) and then cut them out and glued them together using a glue stick... (I did use double sided tape for one of the boxes, but I found it a bit too fiddly.) Each tube holds 5 Lindt chocolate balls perfectly. Elizabeth gave them out and all the daycare girls just loved them!

Thursday, December 2

I Have A 6 Month Old Baby...

Well, the big girl has been getting all the attention lately, so I thought I better do an update on the little one!

Catherine is now 6 months (well it happened 11 days ago, but I've just been so busy I haven't had a chance to blog about it!)

At the moment she:

- Hates loud noises... especially the KitchenAid mixer (which was in frequent use in the lead up to the party!) and the lawnmower and line trimmer... totally freaks out and gets scared and needs somebody to hold her when she hears these noises.

- Loves mashed pumpkin & apple... pear is ok... not so fond of the farex...

- Loves drinking prune juice (Catherine has constipation issues... she is like her sister in this respect, but I wish she wasn't!)

- Loves it when Elizabeth dances and sings for her (she laughs far more at the weird random things her sister does than she does at me or Phan!)

- Tries to touch and eat everything... I had a bowl of cereal (sans milk) the other day and she grabbed a handful of it as I was holding it!

- Likes pulling on Mummy and Elizabeth's hair...

- Still adores bathtime... it's her guaranteed relaxing happy time of the day.

- Loves having the wind in her face... whether sitting outside with the wind blowing on her or if I'm inside folding laundry, I will wave articles of whatever clothing i happen to be folding (eg teatowels are good) over the top of her and she goes all super happy about having the cool air blow over her face... it's hilarious to see how much she loves it.... she's just like one of those puppy dogs that hangs their head out the window the minute they get in the car... LOL...

- At 6 months and 5 days, she weighed in at a lovely healthy 7.2kg.

- Had her 6 month needles on Tuesday... loved having the oral rotavirus vaccine (apparently it tastes sweet) and wanted more and got upset when she wasn't getting any more. Wasn't happy about the needles either, but a big cuddle and she was fine.

Elizabeth also had 4 year old shot done too... being the weird kid she is, she was actually looking forward to her "cajections" and was as cool as a cucumber during the whole process... didn't even flinch or complain about it hurting! I attribute her attitude to the fact we play doctors a lot and we give each other injections and we always say "this will only hurt for just a second." and then "You're such a brave girl."... so it was no big deal for her at all. She actually made more a hoo-haa about me taking the tape off her arm that was holding the cotton wool over the injection site... I only got it off one arm and she wouldn't let me near the other arm! Go figure... I can't work her out!

- As of Monday this week, she have been going through what I think is the 6 month growth spurt... She's trying to stay awake for longer periods of time (up to 3 hours at a time) and just finding it hard to settle herself down to her naps and sleep at night... We've had a few tiring nights this week... (one night where she was waking up every 20 minutes for a couple of hours from about 330am). I'm just thankful that she decided to go through this grown spurt after Elizabeth's birthday party... I would have not have coped well if she had done this last week!

And just a shot of her hanging out with Daddy... (She also loves her Daddy a lot more than Elizabeth did at the same age!)

Daddy's Girl

Monday, November 29

The Much Anticipated Fairy Birthday Party

Pull up a chair and a hot drink... it's going to be a long post... with lots of photos... :)

It's been 3 weeks in the planning and yesterday it all came together and was (in the words of our 4 year old girl) "the best birthday party ever"...

Let's start at the beginning... every party needs decorations... Elizabeth had been persistently asking over the last month whether we could have decorations at her party, so I made up this bunting using bias binding tape ($3 for 5 metres) and paper triangles cut out of some scrapbooking paper I got for free ages that was just gathering dust... Basically I cute 5 triangles per 12x12" piece of paper and then sewed them into the bias binding... I got the idea from here - it was a really cheap way to create some really pretty decorations (quote from Elizabeth - "It's better than streamers Mum!")... we also had the ever compulsory balloons...




We had 9 little girls come around to celebrate the day (we were expecting 10, but we had one sick friend who couldn't make it :(...) They were all dressed up in an array of different dress ups ranging from fairies, ballerinas and princesses... As each girl arrived, we put some glittery body cream on their arms or hands to make them all pretty :)(I made up the glitter cream using some $3.00 aloe vera gel and some sparkly silvery glitter) Funnily enough, the first 5 girls arrived and they all just stood there quiet and shy and looking at each other like stunned mullet (even though they all knew each other!)... I was worried this was going to be a flop of a party since they weren't interacting at all... but my worries were unfounded, 'cos they were all playing together in no time...

We started the party off making some necklaces with flowers and beads...


This worked well to entertain the girls as everybody was arriving... and when they finished making the necklaces, they wore them (or gave them to mum and dad to hold!) and happily went off and played in the backyard either running up and down the hill, playing on the slide and toy car or just running after each other...




Once everyone had arrived and had made a necklace, we got everybody gathered around for a game of pass the parcel... oh and if you're wondering why I'm sitting in the circle it's because Elizabeth and her friend Angie insisted I be a part of it... (these photos taken by Vicky... thanks Vics... good job.. :)) -




In between each layer of the parcel there was a miniature My Little Pony figurine... the girls really liked them... (those that already had claimed their little prize were so distracted they forgot to pass the parcel around and needed prompting... LOL) They really liked them so much that nobody seemed to care about getting the main prize (a Fairies colouring in book with textas)... Elizabeth was stoked with her Pinkie Pie pony... :)

Next up was the pinata (or the "curvana"... as Elizabeth calls it... what the?!)... Apparently this was Elizabeth's favourite part of the party (I wasn't going to do a pinata, but I was so glad I did now that she told me it was her favourite part!)... The girls loved getting the random goodies out of it...






Elizabeth scored a (annoying!) recorder/whistle thing, some bangles and a few chocolates... There were heaps of lollies and chocolates, but she was content with just a couple of chocolates... she just loved her whistle!


And then there were fairy wand biscuits -


We did a "decorate-a-fairy-wand-biscuit"... there was lots of icing... and an array of coloured sprinkles and other pretty things and the chef-lings got very creative ...









Munching on the biscuits was followed by more party food -



We had an array of fairy bread, vegetable and bacon quiche (which despite being prettied up in tinkerbell cupcake cases was not a hit... LOL), spring rolls and heart sandwiches.

Everyone was full... so full they said they didn't want to eat the birthday cake... although most changed their mind when they saw it -


This cake was the source of some serious frustration and panic for me... It took me 3 attempts to actually bake the cake during the week using the same recipe I used for Catherine's baptism cake (I burnt the first batch, the second batch I didn't make enough cake mix and rose unevenly in the bowls, so it wasn't the right mushroom shape and finally third time lucky, it all worked out)... Then assembling the damn thing, I had issues with the mushroom cap sliding off the bottom layer (due to the warm weather, my buttercream was not holding together all to well and was a bit too soft)... I was lucky that we managed to narrowly avert disaster when Phan caught the top layer when it was sliding off... (warm weather made the buttercream quite slippery and the base was a little bit too narrow to make a steady base.. in hindsight, I should have levelled off the top of the base to make it bigger, but by the time I'd realised this, I'd already covered the base in buttercream and put on the windows, doors and flowers, so it was too difficult to cut the top off)... So in the end we resorted to drilling 3 holes through a cardboard cake base and put skewers through it to keep it all together... The buttercream isn't as smooth as I would have liked it to have been on the mushroom cap, but I was so stressed out by it in the end, I just wanted to touch it as little as possible and have it just stay together! I actually ended up mortaring the cakeboard to the base with some extra buttercream with my finger (think selleys no-gaps style!) in a bid for extra stability. It all worked out in the end, but I can tell you I was in a bit of a tizz on Saturday night when it wasn't working! Elizabeth adored the cake (it was her second favourite part of the party... :))... She has been talking about it almost daily for the last 3 weeks... so seeing how much she loved it made my stress worthwhile...






Post-cake there was more squealing and shrieking while racing down the hill and running away from monsters and other imaginary games... Seriously, I think I could have got away with not planning any party activities... That hill in our backyard was instant entertainment... they could have run up and down it all day...









What the photos do not adequately describe is the amount of high pitched squealing that was going on... seriously insane... Imagine that it was loud ... and that it was constant. Elizabeth is normally a reasonably sedate child, but put her in with a group of little girls and she becomes this crazy, excitable, shrieking banshee! And we had a flock of them! I wished I'd taped some video on my iphone to share... (Phan did get some on high-def video though... if he gets a chance to compress it down, I'll share it).

I'll mention now that Catherine was really well behaved during the party... she got freaked out at first by the large number of people.. but on the whole she was happy being in the company of either Daddy or Vicky... here's a shot of her hanging out with her godmother (and watching all the girls and probably wondering what the heck all the noise was about...)-


The party ended with Elizabeth opening the presents from her friends -






She loved them all... I think the funniest moment during the present opening was when she opened a package with a Barbie doll, but only ripped half of the wrapping paper so all she could see were legs and she goes "There are legs... I've got legs!!!"... LOL... yes... that was really exciting for her and hilarious for the rest of us ... She was happy when she saw it was an entire Barbie doll though!

Then everybody got a party bag which looked like this (I forgot to take a photo of all the party bags together, they each had a different coloured flower on the paper bag) -


And that was the end of the party... Two hours just flew by... Elizabeth was a bit sad to see all her friends go home... I think she wanted the party to go all day... "All my friends have gone home now... " she said with a melancholy face when she was the only one left... but opening up some of her toys cheered her up again...
(She really loves the barbie car and her 2 barbie dolls, polly pocket & littlest pet shop and a sparkly dancing ribbon.)

And there ends the mammoth post - hope you enjoyed it... The really weird thing is that last year when we had Elizabeth's cupcake party, I really didn't manage to take as many photos as I wanted, but for some reason this year we managed to get a lot more photos, even though I now had Catherine to attend to and we missed having Bao as an spare pair of hands... (although we did have Vicky there to help us out in between looking after her kidlets and she was more than obliging when it came to cuddling Catherine for us... :))

It took a fair bit of planning and organising, but in the end it was worth it just to see how much fun Elizabeth had with her friends...