Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Holding Crocodiles

This is my second post (first one here) from our adventures in the Australian outback while visiting my SIL, Deb.

Today we went with Deb’s housemate fishing in a tinny (tin boat) out on the Norman River.

The plan was to catch some fish, preferably Barramundi, and maybe spot a croc or two if we were lucky. The tide was high so we didn’t like our chances as crocs need somewhere to rest their bellies on the sand. The actual outcome was no fish biting while we were out but we saw some crocodiles – we even got to hold a wild one! Yes, a wild crocodile!

We went up a little off-shoot part of the Norman River and there on the bank was this Freshwater beauty:

As we got closer, it scooted into the murky brown water and just disappeared….eerie…..

Then just up a little further our guide found two baby crocs – a Freshwater crocodile and a Saltwater crocodile hanging out together with their mini-heads sticky out of the water.

Then our guide grabbed his net so we could have a MUCH closer look –

Once all this was over, we started back to the boat ramp and on the way I spotted a Saltwater crocodile on the edge of the bank. He had a white patch on his back, which I thought was a leaf, but as we got closer we noticed that the white patch was in fact a rather big gash in it’s side. Croc flesh is white (and yes, if you have ever tasted cooked crocodile meat it does in fact taste just like chicken).

And for a final shot – here is my very own Crocodile Dundee:

Advertisements

Outback Adventure

Hubby and I are on a two week stint out in the Australian outback visiting our beautiful sister (my SIL). She lives in an amazing part of Australia called Normanton. This will be the third trip to visit her and each time we have had a hard time leaving!

20110920-094240.jpg

The first year, we were novices and decided to fly to Cairns and then fly onwards to Normanton. This year, and the last, we decided to tackle the two and a half day drive…and loved it! The ever-changing scenery, the people you meet in dusty isolated towns, the incredible wildlife, and the quality time we get to spend together. Oh, the conversations and laughs!

20110920-094454.jpg
We like to drive the inland way, up through Emerald, Winton, Longreach, Clonclurry, etc and we stop off many times to take pics (I’ll post these pics in an upcoming post).

20110920-094654.jpg
It is really nice to stop and enjoy the surroundings instead of just whizzing past in our car. We like to get out and struggle up craggy rock formations in plastic bright-blue crocs (so hard…and yes, I did think of going barefoot but too many negatives for that option to happen). We love to sit somewhere where there is no human-made noise and just appreciate our breathtaking landscape.

We saw our Australian coat of arms, in the wild, right next to eachother. A massive dead red kangaroo (hit by a truck) and an alive emu pecking its way around the bushes looking for whatever emus like to eat.

Ahh, Australia.

To my dearest brethren and sisten…

A few weeks ago I was in the car with my mum when I asked her to quickly pull over to the side of the road – you see, I had spotted a hammer lying there – just out in the open with no owner. I picked it up just for my hubby as I knew he would be so very proud of me.  There is a bit of history for him and his family regarding road trips and finding items. It was not uncommon for him, his four brothers and sister to be seen on the side of the road picking up something for their dad when had he spotted something like rope, plant pots, rope, plants pots, and many other things but mainly rope and plant pots. So now when the siblings see something on the side of the road they have a chuckle to themselves, or  take a pic of the item and text it around for everyone to reminisce over.

So here I was, picking up a hammer and then a few days later some packing tape! I was on a roll!

My hubby sent me the below email tonight which he had also sent to his brothers and sister. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to put this up here and share my finds.

To my dearest brethren and sisten,

I writeth to you this splendid evening of the eighth month with grand news that may warm your hearts.
Although I dust know that you all anticipate news of an infant forthwith, this news is not that.
I bring you news of a different kind !
Some moons ago I was home alone and my wifeth returned to me, carrying with her much glee !
She wished my proudest blessings be on her for doing such a deed that deserveth it.
My dear wife had gleaned a discarded hammer from the sideth of the road as she drew near our home! 
And yet a few sunsets afterwith did she also glean some packeth tape from another road !
Oh Brethren !
This news I bring is news of one that was a Vagg only by name but now a true Vaggeth within !
I shall be playing the glad game for many moons to come ! Will you not join me?
Look-eth and see-eth the Hammer and Packeth tape belowth –
Yesth, I am bored.
True story though !
 
So after 13 years of being together, finding things on the side of the road and being bothered to pick it up is starting to take it’s toll and rubbing off on me 🙂

Make Love, Not War!

I celebrated my 30th a few months back in hippie style! It was such a blast and I had the best birthday with close friends and family.

When planning this party, there wasn’t much on the internet for inspiration. Mainly the same old stuff with no originality, so I thought I would post some ideas from my hippie party just in case there is someone out there looking for a little idea nudging.

First and foremost…the most important thing when planning a hippie party is to spell it correctly – it is hippie, not hippy 🙂

Invites: It all starts off with the invites – this kicks off the vibe! One way to get your guests, and yourself, super excited is to send out invites that will reflect the scene at your party. You want your guests to open the invite and see that this will be no ordinary party!! I wanted something bright and different! My husband is a whiz on the computer (as we know from here) so he designed them, and we added a little party gift which was a small button badge for each person to wear to the party (we bought them off ebay).

Original Kombi found on the internet

My invite

The doors open to reveal the party details

Details (minus the stalker details)

This is how we made this invite: We found a photo of a red kombi on the internet and changed the red colour to hippie designs that we also found on the internet. Hubby then got a photo of me and put me in the front seat using Photoshop. He added someone’s arm that he also found on the internet, added bangles and a headband. We printed these out on photo paper and I then cut out the doors and the outline of the picture. On a separate piece of white cardboard we printed the van without the doors (in the place of the doors we had the party information). We then stuck the photo onto this cardboard and cut it out. We made sure that we did not stick the doors down, otherwise you can’t open them to see the writing! We stuck a map on the back and a fridge magnet. The hippie badge for our guests to wear were positioned as the door handles. It was a whole lot of fun to make!

The Scene: My party was held at my parents house, which is perfect for parties. They live on 7 acres with no close neighbours, an open plan design, bifold doors that open out to a deck, and a swimming pool area that connects to the deck. My dad is so clever – he built this house!

Most of my guests who had arrived at this stage.

The pool area.

We had a problem with lack of parking up near the house, and because of all the rain it was really muddy. We solved this by asking people to park at the bottom of the driveway. In the letter box they would find a walkie-talkie (and to their surprise a bag of hash – dried spinach – rolling papers and matches:) ). They radioed in their ride which was my dad in his 4WD complete with coloured lights (cellophane over the head lights), spinning disco lights inside the car and groovy az music…arriving to the party in true hippie style. We tried to turn a problem situation with parking into something fun that added to the feel of the night. My dad was very happy to do this as it gave him a chance to meet people on the ride up. When people went home, he took them back down to their car.

When people got out of the car we had glow stick bracelets flung up in the trees with rope lights lining the walkway to the entrance. I had bought some incense to burn in the garden so it smelled hippie-ish too, but when it came to lighting them, I couldn’t find them anywhere! The front door had beads hanging down for guests to walk through, which we picked up at an Op Shop. When our guests walked in they came to a table with all the name tags. Next to their name tag we had a shot of sour apple liquor for a bit of fun. This was a hit and really set the party scene!

Hubby amongst all the decorations

The party had HEAPS of lava lamps scattered around the place, a big fluro coloured swirl on the roof from a projector, a continual clip of old hippie bands playing up on the wall from another projector, bean bags and cushions, candles lit in glass pasta sauce jars that were painted in bright colours, fairy lights, hired lights that came with the karaoke machine, bright balloons and some with peace signs on it (thanks ebay), a slideshow of photos on the TV from my life, rope lights, fluro feathers hanging all over the place. It was colourful eye candy! I spent a bit of time on decorations cause I really wanted the scene to be hippie-fied and something people would remember. It was a lot of fun! I made chains of smiley faces, hearts, peace signs and flowers from colourful paper I bought at Officeworks and then laminated with laminating sheets also from Officeworks.

Dance off under the moving swirl. My husband found this swirl on the internet, changed the colours, and played it through a laptop which was hooked up to a projector. Too clever!

Costumes: Closer to the date we sent out this picture via email and facebook, along with a countdown “15 days, 7 hours, 42 minutes and 22 seconds” (you can work this out on the internet).

The photo we emailed out to guests before the party. Most people didn't realise this was my husband complete with wig and fake chest hair. Hilarious!

This was to give people a bit of an idea on the level of costumes that would be happening at the party, and to get them pumped up about it. It worked, and I had quite a few friends say they ‘upped’ their costume after seeing this photo. They went all out and it really made the night!

Some true hippie-stylers! These boys grew their beards just for the party much to the disgust of their beautiful wives!

Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch - male winner!

We put on the invite that we would be having a ‘Best Dressed’ competition, but at the party I forgot to hold the competition earlier in the evening (having way too much fun singing karaoke), so come people had already left. Oops! But we did have two winners who were voted by those still partying away.

Food: My friend Jodi, my mum, and I got a menu sorted out and decided on foods that were a little retro from the hippie era of the 60’s & 70’s. The day before mum, Jodi and I spent the ENTIRE day making dips, scrolls, cobb loaves, and more and more food. It was amazing!

One of my brother in-laws with some 'Pure Kirk' - hubby's homebrew ginger beer

We had.so.much.food. Loads of beer, white wine, red wine (the wine was in bottles and we had some caskets just in case we ran out…we didn’t), champagne, fruit poppers, soft drink and Pure Kirk (hubby’s homemade alcoholic ginger beer), punch and ‘spiked’ punch with vodka in it. For water, we bought a big contained with a tap on it from Coles. All the drinks were in big bright plastic round tubs filled with ice. I was so worried that the ice wouldn’t keep the drinks cool….but I think it worked out okay.

Activities: Everyone likes a bit of karaoke (even if they don’t like to admit it 🙂 ) from the hippie era so we hired a machine that had speakers, microphone, screen and lights for around the place. I was tossing up about whether to have karaoke or not as I wasn’t sure if people would participate…but I am so glad that I did! It is something a little different and keeps everyone amused 🙂 As the birthday girl, you get asked to join in on a lot of karaoke songs (which I didn’t mind of course) and I did feel like a bit of a karaoke-hog.

Karaoke queens!

Karaoke - Jodi (Foxy Cleopatra) and I belting out some tunes!

Dancing!!!

Karaoke AND limbo! Talent 🙂

We also played Pictionary. On the back of the name tags was either a love heart or a peace sign with a number next to it. This determined what team you were in. I had one small whiteboard and my iPhone as timer. I pulled out a number from a container and whoever had that number (and was from the team who had the next turn), they would come out and have one minute to draw as many things they could from the list. It was a nice way to get everyone mixing as I had friends and family from different groups so most people didn’t know everyone at the party.

Pictionary

Pictionary

Pass the Parcel was fantastic! I started off asking everyone to get into a large circle and in alphabetical order (mainly so people could meet and learn some names). Once we did that, we played pass the parcel. We had two going around and each time the music (from the hippie era of course) stopped the person holding the parcel would open the first layer and get a little prize (peace key ring, freddo, etc) and there they would find a dare. A lot of the dares included other people, e.g. you and the three people on your right have to … blah, blah, blah….. This was because we had so many people there and many didn’t know others. We didn’t want them to make a fool of themselves in front of everyone all alone 🙂 My friend Jodi and I had such fun thinking up these dares! Some were:

  • Sing happy birthday to the birthday girl in fake Japanese
  • With the person on your right, moonwalk backwards around the circle
  • Every time you need to use the toilet throughout the night, you need to ask permission using the microphone
  • Do your best kung-fu ninja move with sound effects
  • Fake laugh as loud as you can
  • Howl at the moon
  • pretend you are a calf and choose your mummy. You have to communicate that you are hungry without speaking
  • For the next hour, at the end of every sentence you must say “Yeah I’m good!!”

    Moonwalking backwards

    Kung-fu moves!

    One of the winners reading out her dare!

Photos: We had a rockin photobooth set up by my husband, where people could go in and hold the camera remote, take a photo themselves and see it appear on the laptop screen in front of them. It all ran by itself, complete with an instant hippie effect. Because it was digital, everyone could take as many photos as they liked….and there were HEAPS! After the party we put all the photos from the night from the PhotoBooth and the roaming photographer (hubby) on a CD and I will be giving it to all our guests to say thanks for making an effort to come along and celebrate my 30th.

The photobooth my husband made cause he is smart. You can see up on the wall in the background our 60's and 70's music clips.

Using the remote to take a piccie!

Cake: I left this to last as it was really incredible. I have written about it before on my blog which you can see here. My friend Jodi is a whizz at making birthday cakes and she is very creative so I asked her if she could make mine for me. I found a piccie on the net of a great rainbow cake that I loved and she made my cake even better than the picture. When it was time for the cake, it came out just plain with white icing. A bit boring. Then after singing happy birthday and cutting the cake it revealed layers of fluro goodness! There was a communal “oooohh” and “ahhhh” from my guests. The cake was too delicious as well, but as Jodi said, “not to be consumed if you have ADHD”, cause of all the food colouring. Ha ha!

Cutting the cake. Check out those bright colours baby!

Cake!

The Arrow Of Time

This couple have a beautiful tradition. Every year, on the 17th June, their family has their portrait taken.  If you go to their official website, you can see the pictures spanning 30 years! The father, Diego Goldberg takes the photos.

Do you do something already as part of your own family tradition, or is there something you want to start?

Planking is the new black.

Not into planking? How about teapotting?

The latest craze in weird stuff is something called ‘planking‘. It involves looking like a stiff plank in various places. It all started with two groups who claim to have invented the prank – either in Somerset in 2000 as the “lying down game” or eight years later in South Australia as planking. Both groups have rival Facebook sites boasting more than 100,000 fans. Planking has grown in popularity, particularly in Australia where there has been huge media coverage. An Australian rugby league player David “Wolfman” Williams celebrates scoring by planking, while one of the nation’s leading chatshow hosts Kerri-Anne Kennerley opened a show last week by planking on the TV sofa.  Now it has taken off like a crazy person.

Here is a picture of my brother planking:

Great technique - pointed toes and all.

PIanking is harmless and for a bit of a laugh, but of course some people take things too far and then everyone seems to react by seeing it as a dangerous thing to do and it should be ‘banned’.  Some kids got suspended from school for 2 days for planking in the school yard (the news didn’t say whether they did it dangerously or not). Yes, planking IS dangerous if you are drunk at 4:30am and decide to plank on a 7 storey high balcony rail. The ‘sport/hobby/relaxing position’ had its first death ever in Brisbane, Australia. Acton Beale was a 20 year old who decided to do some dangerous planking.  He lost his balance as he was drunk and fell to his death.

Acton Beale and where he fell to his death.

Such a devastating loss, and hopefully this doesn’t stop the joy for people who like to have a bit of fun planking in more sensible ways…

What do you think – to ban or not to ban?

My Community Cross-section: Gwenda (a.k.a mum)

Gwenda

Gwenda & her husband

Location of birth: Randwick, Australia

Year I was born: 1955 – Yeah I’m old but it sure beats the alternative!!

Any interesting family history:  My maternal Grandfather was a ‘runner’ for the Australian Lighthorsemen at Beersheva and therefore was involved in the liberation of Israel. He came home from the war with a glass eye, which he never talked about.  My paternal Grandfather was a British officer in Calcutta where my dad was born, so growing up I would tell everyone my dad was from India…which was true, but funny considering everyone in the family was blonde! lol

Jobs you have had:  Shop assistant while at school…my first pay was $35 and I thought I was rich!!  Then an Office Clerk while waiting to get into nursing training to become a Registered Nurse. Left nursing for awhile and worked with my hubby in his building business as Manager and Interior Designer.  Worked as an Office Manager for a Ministry for a year, then back to nursing!  I’m presently a Nurse Educator in an Operating Theatre Unit!!…and yes, I do cope with all the blood!! J When you’re busy looking after the patient, it really isn’t something that worries you…unless there is too much of course and then you worry for the patient!!

Things you are passionate about: God, Family (hubby, ‘kids’…Katrina, Kirk, Chris & Cass), and special friends!  A cliché but at the end of the day, that really is all that matters!

Things you don’t like: Evil people that harm the innocent!!

Places you have lived: Sydney, Port Macquarie and Noosa.  When I was growing up my grandparents lived within a short walk to the water at Cronulla and we spent every school holidays with them. It had such an impact on me (still get the warm feeling when I think about it now) When I was in High School we had a family holiday house at Jervis Bay, and that convinced me I always wanted to be near water!  When married we lived near the ocean at Bundeena, Port Macquarie and Noosa…such a blessed life!!  Then hubby wanted a tree change and I agreed reluctantly to move inland near Eumundi.  We’re on 7 acres now and surprisingly I absolutely love it!  Mind you, hubby is just in the process of finishing the pool deck…he understands I still need to be near water!!

17 years old

Dream/goals as you were growing up:  When I was 5 years old I stuck pins into the face of Betty, my beautiful new china doll!!  Mum was not impressed!!  How destructive!! Why would a little girl do such a thing??  Maybe she has a nasty, vicious streak??  But the thing was that my Dad was sick and spent a lot of time in hospital…I was actually play acting being a nurse and making it all better!!  Probably not so easy to figure out at the time, but interesting on reflection considering I have been a Theatre Nurse for over 35 years!!

What was it like growing up:  My dad died when I was 7 years old, so it certainly had its tough times!!  But mostly I have memories of being surrounded by people who cared and loved me. My mum remarried when I was 11 which was kinda tough ‘cause I didn’t have her to myself anymore…but kinda good because I could start living my own life without worrying about a grieving mum!! I was teased a lot by my 3 older brothers, and  used to get spoilt rotten by their girlfriends!!

Advice you would now give yourself as a child: Don’t sweat the small stuff!!  You can’t go wrong if you stick with what the good book says!!

Special community day in Bundeena, Sydney Australia

Life changing moments:  A dramatic one was having a pillow fight with my dad when I was 7 years old!!  I was totally unaware that he had an aortic aneurysm and it would only be a matter of time till it burst.  Apparently he had been told to lay still and avoid doing anything that would elevate his blood pressure (it was inoperable)  He died later that night…apparently he woke my mum up and said ‘It’s time love’.  As I became older it occurred to me that I had basically killed my father!!  It wasn’t till I was in my 30’s that I realised it was the most loving gift a Dad could ever give to his little girl… he was prepared to risk all to give me a happy memory of a playful Dad!!

My Mum and Dad had 3 boys and then a still-born girl, who died just before she was born…so Mum had to endure a full labour knowing her baby had died and then to find out it was the girl they had been hoping for.  They were told it would be dangerous for Mum’s health to have another pregnancy, but they had a strong faith in God and decided to try one more time….and then they had me!! I have often wondered what it would have been like to have had an older sister and what she would have been like…but then again, if she had survived Mum says they wouldn’t have had me.

Travelling: We went OS to Tasmania when pregnant with Treens!! (does that count as OS??) Travelled the northern part of Australia for 6 months with hubby and kids…best thing we’ve ever done and highly recommend it!! Hubby and I went to Israel in 2004…wonderful…want to go again!!

Son, Husband & Son-in-law at a Host A Murder dinner

What do you think your future holds: More of the same will do me fine…but with a bit more time freed up to spend with the people I love!!

Extras: 
My favourite thing to do (I have to admit I’m totally obsessed), is being part of the Jubilee Ministry Dance Team!!  I’ve been very blessed to be able to do this for the past 10 years…with a special blessing of my gorgeous girl Treens being in the team as well!!  It is like being part of a very special family who all have a love for worship…and for one another!! The team are asked to minister at various functions about 12 times a year!!  We’re always amazed that we’re asked at all, but we’ll continue for as long as we’re required…and I’m in it for the long haul…even if I have to use a walker!

Mmmm….actually life’s pretty good!!!

The fam