Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Royals: A Once in a Lifetime Moment!

I'd known for a while that our annual foray to Katoomba Easter Convention in the Blue Mountains would coincide with a Royal visit. And before last week's vomiting bug had done its best to sap all the verve out of us, the idea of joining the throng had seemed like a good idea. I believe I may have even said something to Eleanore along the lines of this being a "once in a life time" opportunity.

Parents should never use those words to their children. They are bound to regret them.

Post-vomiting bug, it was all I could do to muster enthusiasm for eating and drinking. Okay the illness was over, thank goodness, but packing for five (my husband still packs for himself, bless him) to go on our annual trek to the mountains for Easter almost did me in. 

Arriving was an achievement. I was happy to rest on our laurels. In fact I craved rest, whether it was on laurels or not.
But Miss Nine has the memory of an elephant - she NEVER FORGETS!!
"Mum! Are we going to see the Princess?"
Me: Um, no. Probably not.
"But you said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity!"
Me: Yes well we won't know until we've lived a lot longer than this...
"Mum. I really want to go. I want to see the Princess."
Me: Hmm, yes, well, I'm just going to close my eyes and have a short nap. I think the weather might not be so good. Let's decide later.

On the morning of the Royal visit we woke up to clear blue skies and glorious sunshine. (Typical.) The newspaper said to turn up at Echo Point in Katoomba between 11am and noon. At 10.15am I gave in to Eleanore's relentless enthusiasm (and perhaps my own guilt at having had childhood longings to meet a princess) and guardedly suggested that we drive up to Echo Point to see how close we could get. I figured if the crowds were already huge, we'd call it a day. Cars were starting to park in the side streets, and the Police had cordoned off the area closest to Echo Point. However we managed to park just one street back and walk the easy distance down to the lookout.

On the way out I'd grabbed a bunch of flowers from the garden. Dahlias and camellias aren't the hardiest of flowers, but after wrapping the stems in foil, I hoped they'd last the distance.

Well, the wait began.
We had chosen a spot three quarters of the way down the hill, and had a one person spot at the barricade which Mim dutifully held on to while Ellie and I stood behind. As the hours progressed, and the sun shone down, I did lament a) no hats, b) no chairs c) the need for personal space as the crowds built and the crush of bodies intensified. Mim started to flail. I could hardly blame her. It was so hot, and we were SO BORED!

The woman standing behind us was an English tourist. She admitted to having NEVER seen a Royal before. What? NEVER? Her confession was met with amazement and scoffing (okay, I was the main scoffer) by the crowd around us. What? You live in South London and you've NEVER seen a Royal?
"Well on television," she said sheepishly.
"Anyone can do that!" Ellie exclaimed. (I'd taught her well..) The woman told us she'd heard on the radio that the Royals weren't due to arrive until 1pm. I almost felt like crying, and Mim did a bit. A stiff upper lip was needed by all of us!

The German tourists beside us offered to place our wilting flowers on top of their backpack. "I don't think it's going to help much" I said sadly, looking at the disintegrating camellias that moaning Mim was now steadfastly refusing to hold on to.

Fortunately my Mum arrived armed with ice creams for the girls and some lovely vibrant green and red bottlebrush flowers from her garden. Natives! And they matched Ellie's dress. I could feel a strategy forming in my mind. Meanwhile, an elderly lady had wheedled in behind us with a fluffy yellow chicken in a cellophane box held high. She showed it to everyone, pointing out a little red button on the side. "If you press it, (the German tourists and I held our breath, it didn't look good) it goes cheep cheep". "It's for the Duchess." She repeated over and over again. Hmm.

Suddenly, after an interminable wait, there was action. There were cavalcades, there was cheering we craned our necks to see what the heck was happening. There they were…and they were walking fast.

and they continued walking - right on by us. Kate looked stunning. We all oohed and ahhed to our heart's content!

There were some official shenanigans and a posing session in front of the glorious view.
This is my favourite pic:

After the official shots were taken with the glorious views as backdrop, the entourage started making its way back up towards us. We had no expectations. We'd seen royalty. We were excited and happy.

Suddenly a very tastefully dressed women stepped in front of us.
A lady-in-waiting for sure!
"Would you like to step over the barricades and hand your flowers to the Duchess personally?" she asked, looking at Eleanore who was clutching the bottlebrush with astounded glee.
"Yes we jolly well would!" I found myself almost shouting back. "I mean," ahem, "Ellie certainly would!" I continued, shoving my daughter forward.
Who knew? I'd turned instantly into a pushy stage mother.
We turned to the German tourist behind us for a hand. He obligingly hoisted Eleanore over the top of the railing. And there Ellie stood, amongst a small group of girls - who all had something to give the Royal couple and all with mothers who couldn't believe their luck!

Wouldn't you know it, the wiley woman behind me shoved her fluffy yellow chicken into the hands of the lady-in-waiting, who dutifully passed it to Ellie to hand over.
I fervently hoped the Duchess didn't think it was from us!!

And suddenly Royalty was upon us.
Oh no, Kate is seemingly mesmerised by the chicken.

And drat! Now William has seen it too.

Here's Eleanore (hopefully) explaining to William that we had NOTHING to do with the chicken.

Here's Ellie looking at me, like, am I doing okay Mum?
You're doing fine.

The chatting lasted at least seven and a half minutes. Maybe eight..

Kate's wrap dress was by Diane Von Furstenberg, and sold out online in eight minutes.
Eleanore's outfit was by Gymboree and her shoes were $3 from Aldi.
We are boxing up her outfit in acid-free tissue - Ellie's orders!

And so Ellie got to meet a Prince and Princess (and/or Duke and Duchess) and indeed have her once in a lifetime moment.
Which turned out to be more amazing and magical than we could have ever dreamed of.

The excitement lasted for days.
We're still smiling about it.

We practically went viral on Facebook.

There's video too (the German tourists sent us some - so sweet of them!). We may never tire of watching it...

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Things can only get better

I like to think of myself as an optimist. I figure that just because we have started our end of Term One Easter break with a vomiting bug doesn't HAVE to mean our whole holiday will be a washout!?!
I console myself with this as I try to to ignore stomach cramps and dizzy spells while whizzing, (Did I say whizzing? I meant staggering..) around the house, madly disinfecting every child and surface I happen to stumble across. Maybe we're just getting the bad stuff out of the way fast so that the good stuff can quickly take over? I mean that's entirely possible. Isn't it? Please God, let it be possible!

In the midst of our last week of term one turning torrid, we managed to celebrate the birthday of Jesse - our first born and now eleven-year-old son. Here's a picture of a picture of him as a baby.
The sweetest thing!

Here he is opening presents. With a little help from his friend..

Particularly loved the Willow Tree boy holding a gold heart. It was an op shop find that jumped out at me. Wouldn't have thought of buying a boy a figurine normally, but this heart-warming piece seems to sum up much of what I hope for my son: Having a heart for others, for truth, joy and God's love.

The rest of the wrapping was simple: black and white dots with foil "elevens" glued on to each package.

Who would have thought that this bubba (yes, the one dancing below) had been the carrier of a stomach bug that within hours of these photos being taken would bring most of his loving family to their knees? See he'd already been sick by the time we woke up to celebrate Jesse's birthday. Yes I had spent most of the previous day dry retching from the results of Arch's malaise. But then he slept through the night and woke up like normal. Hence, my false sense of security (Actually delusion, and wilful ignorance of how these bugs work..) that the bug had passed over the rest of us (including hapless members of the extended family who, against advice, also dropped by).

Sadly, it was not to be. I realise now that the bug was just regaining its strength, preparing itself to unleash a mega-dose on anyone in the vicinity of Arch: the carrier. Who cares that I spent 24 hours washing everything and saturating the house with litres of disinfectant? The house may never have looked so spiffy, but it is a truism of sickness in family life, that the cleaner your house, the messier the vomiting will be.

Don't you just love it when the first one to be sick recovers really quickly and is back to being a bouncing ball of fun when everyone else is still huddled over with stomach cramps, glassy eyed and silently weeping (or not that silently as is the case with some)…

Yep. That's about where we're at at the moment!

Okay so amidst the unfolding turmoil, a lovely celebratory chocolate cake (recipe from the  Monday Morning Cooking Club Book) was created. Topped with a delicious raspberry cream cheese frosting. I know what you're thinking. Bright pink icing wouldn't be the first choice of most eleven-year-old boys. What can I say, I was struggling at this point. Hastily added cocoa to the mix turned the frosting into a murky pinky brown that was going to have to do. Then decorated with M&Ms and topped with star shaped sparklers. It was deemed a success.

And yes, I got to see the cake again at 2.30am the next morning as successive family members succumbed to the bug. Safe to say, however tasty, I won't be making that cake again for a while.

And, in an effort to rise above our circumstances, I can say that there are things to be thankful for:
  • Eleven joyful years with a beautiful son, who shows all the signs of having a golden heart
  • A sister-in-law bringing much needed supplies (including coffee and newspapers) when the cabin fever got bad
  • A husband and birthday boy who may, possibly, so far, seem to have escaped THE BUG.

Maybe that's the best even an optimist can hope for - a healthy reprieve for the birthday boy.
I'd be more than happy with that…

* * *

Borrowed today's post title from the fabulous Howard Jones. If you can stop laughing at the weird video clip, and Howard's crazy 80s suit and hair, you'll probably enjoy the song as much as I do!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Hopping Along

A beautiful brown and white rabbit jumped across the road in front of our car on the way to school this morning. Sometimes a theme just seems to jump out at you, know what I mean?

Easter decorating time is here - and the bunnies have arrived!
I haven't bought any new ones! Just enjoyed rediscovering some old friends along the way...

This new pink cloth was a fabulous $5 thrifting find. The leaves are detailed in gold - it seems to be vintage and in perfect condition. After doing the above brief Easter thing, I whipped it out to the hall table and quickly threw a few things on to it, with a pleasing result.

Have I shown you the Kate Greenway embroidered alphabet picture before? I got it for $7 at one of my favourite op shops. The bargain price was great, but I felt a tad sad that someone had put so much effort into this and that's all it was now worth… But that would be what I love about op shopping/thrifting! Finding something to treasure that no one else feels the same way about..

Here are some gorgeous sparkly eggs - an Easter gift from my friend Adina.
She is an opshopping/thrifting/decorating/fashion/friend kindred spirit. She is sharing her sparkle elsewhere now (and I hope the people of Texas know just how LUCKY they are!) and that's okay. Mostly.

Plus we've been celebrating a few birthdays in the family. We covered the celebrations for Jonathan, my Dad and cousin Gracie with a sunny and happy birthday lunch. It was fun all round, especially for the cousins! (There was some sort of odd game going on here. I didn't ask..)

Anna's lemon yoghurt cake was gorgeous - very similar to this one I posted on not long ago.

Hope you're enjoying happy days too..