Sunday, 22 April 2012

Willem reads more and more

He's especially interested in reading non fiction and he also really likes Zac Power, about a spy.
He's doing really well, although this video is really short and doesn't do him justice. Still, thought it was nice.. Nothing wrong with his comprehension!

Bush Fire

I totally forgot to blog about our bush fire. Just before we went away for my birthday holiday trip Bold Park was on fire. You could see the smoke very well from our veranda and even better from our upstairs balcony. Lots of helicopters whizzing round dropping water, fire engines, sirens etc. I went over to the neighbours to ask if they thought it was serious. They didn't seem to be too worried but poor Willem was. he was sooo scared. He straight away got changed into long trousers and a long sleeve top in case we had to leave the house. I switched on the laptop to find information and the bush fire update said we needed to close all doors and windows and stay alert. Frank put his cuddly toys by the door to take with him, and also a huge wooden dinosaur skeleton he was given for his birthday and he hadn't finished painting! It reminded me of when our chimney was on fire when I was nine. I had put all my cuddly toys in a bin bag, put my boots on and was ready for evacuation! Luckily soon after the smoke became less and the alert said there was no threat anymore. It's quite frightening though, if a fire is so close to your home.

Avon Valley NP

This weekend was all about my lovely friend Katja. She turned 39 but more importantly she passed her Australian Law degree! Doing your degree twice is fantastic but doing it with two small children at home is  just amazing! It called for a celebration and we went to Juanita's a quirky little tapas place in Subiaco. It's very small and in the back of an art shop. The boys and us all stayed over at Katja's house for convenience (and sharing the baby sitter). The next morning Katja said: "Shall we go camping?" I needed to get my head round it for 5 minutes but then I thought, well, why not! So we quickly went home to get all our gear and we headed off to the Avon Valley National Park, about an hours drive from Perth. There's nothing to do there and we were hoping to be able to make a fire because it's definitely getting cooler now. When we arrived the fire ban was still in place. That was disappointing but we had plenty warm clothes and it wasn't that bad, really.. around 12 degrees. We found a great spot on Bald Hill, a hill of granite (hence bald) and lots of granite rocks to climb on. The kids had a ball, they were busy building dens and doing some dinosaur role play. Katja and I read our books in the sunshine on the rocks with a lovely view and we all had an early night (compared to the night before.. it was very welcome actually :)
The next day we found ourselves above the cloud and that doesn't happen very often here in WA!
On the way home we had lunch in the Feral Brewery in the Swan Valley where they brew the best white beer. A good end to a lovely weekend!

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Big 40!

I am 40 now. It feels weird because I feel the same. Not that I thought I'd feel differently suddenly but it does make me realise that growing old doesn't change you. Guess my grandparents in their 80's must have still felt the same person inside too, that they always were. Never really thought about it like that. Of course I might experience health issues at some point,  become less fit, I get a few more wrinkles but from the inside I still feel the same as when I was 16 (or so).
I clearly remember my 21st Birthday (not my 20th, haha). We were in America and my Uncle Zweitze had booked a table in a Mexican restaurant. Becoming 21 is a BIG thing in The States. It was a fun evening. I've always had a good party on my birthday, always love the attention. My 30th I celebrated in The Al Bustan Hotel in Muscat, Oman. Once (or maybe still) one of the best business hotels of the world. Jamie and I stayed the night there on on the day nearly all my friends came for a yummy brunch. It was lovely day.
This time I wanted something special again and that's why we drove all the way up north to Exmouth where we booked a "whale shark experience".
Basically you go out on a boat. Have a snorkel on Ningaloo Reef while the spotter planes find the whale shark and then they take you to them. You get your snorkel and fins on and jump in the ocean and then these big fish swim towards you. The biggest fish on earth (although the Ningaloo whale sharks aren't the biggest, they are around 6-8 meters) . It was just awesome.
Willem and Frank were brave too!

This is me checking if Willem can see the whale shark too.
We were lucky as we could jump in with the fish more than once. First time two even circled round us. It was an amazing experience. The crew knew it was my birthday and baked a cake too. Lovely!

The rest of the trip was good as well. Willem and Frank enjoyed snorkelling and we saw emus on the beach, dolphins at Monkey Mia, Dugongs swimming around and we had a lovely but hot couple of days in Kalbarri National Park with it's red stone cliffs.

The boys are great little campers. Willem spent most of the time working in his year 1 homework book!
Frank enjoyed drawing and writing in his school diary. A couple of times there was a swimming pool on the camp site too which made them very happy. Willem can now do a scary back flip into the water.

Now I need to start thinking about having a party. Not sure if I want it big or small. My dear friend Katja also has her birthday this week and another friend Marjolijn also turned 40. Maybe we'll do something together.

In June/July we'll be coming to Europe so hopefully will get to celebrate again!

Frank is 5

How can I forget! Frank turned 5 and he wanted a Space Party.  So a lot of thought and preparation went into it and on Sunday the 25th of March we held the party on the beach. I had built a Rocket Ship out of 3 large card board boxes and created a puppet theatre. We played space games like astronaut training, a Galaxy Slime Relay and Jamie created a beautiful planet cake. 22 little aliens had a lot of fun!

Soon after his 5th birthday he lost his first tooth!

And after 2 weeks of trying and lots of accidents  (read sleepless nights) we gave up the night time potty training. Frank was obviously not ready. He's is such a deep sleep! I once changed him, put a new nappy on him, changed his bed etc and he didn't even wake up!
But then something strange happened. We went on a camping holiday (more about that later) and he was dry every single night (in his nappy in his sleeping bag) and now we're home he's going to sleep without a nappy and has been dry since! Yippie!!

Music, Music and more music

Summer is a great time here in Perth as there are lots of outdoor concerts. Recently I have been to two indoor ones too! John Butler played (solo) in the Astor Theatre, an old theatre in Mt Hawthorn. He lives in Fremantle and is a fantastic guitarist. He told a few stories of his life and only started playing when he was 16! Great music. Was very impressed.

The other concert was the West Coast Blues n Roots Festival in Fremantle. A whole day out! Loved it. Went with Evelien and Remco.
Highlights were Buddy Guy, The Pogues and last but not least John Fogerty. What an impressive list of songs he has on his name. He's 66 now but still showed plenty passion and energy.

But the best one was a guy I'd never heard of before. Neil, a friend from Oman told me he was worth seeing. Show was sold out but managed to find 2 tickets on Gumtree (sort of Aussie ebay but then local) and Katja and I went to the Fly By Night in Fremantle. Fantastic venue, bit like the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen. Standing only and very intimate. The guy we went to see is called Xavier Rudd, a guitarist, singer song writer, drummer, didgeredoo-ist and surfer. Very down to Earth. Totally loved him.

Fabulous how he played the drums and could beat box through 2 didgeredoos!

At the moment I have no more concerts in the diary. Unfortunately Bruce Springsteen and Prince won't come to Perth...

What's happening!

Sorry guys, it's taken me too long again. What's been going on. Well, lots. A school fair, boys swimming lessons, Easter egg hunt with Willem's class, Lunches with friends, gym, work, outdoor cinema, bootcamp and all the other normal, regular things.

More importantly: Jamie's Mum Jill and her friend Alan came to see us again which was lovely. Jill is 80 years old now so it's quite amazing she can still make it across and not just tp Perth but to Sydney and the Gold Coast too! We went a weekend to Yallingup and went to some of the great beaches but also visited a great place called the Bootleg Brewery and the Cullen Winery, where I tasted the best Chardonnay of 2010 worth $105 a bottle (which isn't really that expensive) and it was yummy!

It was really nice to see them again. This was during  a nice BBQ on our veranda.

Have I mentioned our reading club yet? Started it a couple of months ago with some Dutch girlfriends. We've been reading mostly Australian books. Really good ones like "A fortunate Life" from A.B. Facey. You get a real good idea what life was like here in WA when the first settlers came. We also read "My Place" by Sally Morgan, a book about what it's like to be aboriginal. Jasper Jones, written by Craig Silvey was fabulous. Also a WA author. Totally relived my Tom Sawyer/Mark Twain experience. Just finished "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. Also really recommended! Narrated by death and set in Nazi Germany. Cried my eyes out...
Anje, Marjolijn, Tamar, Corinne, Sylvana, Katja (and me)

OOOOOOH and how can I forget! I got filmed for a program Zeeuwen Down Under and I was on TV on the 27th of March!

and here's a bonus film too:

It was really fun to do and the film crew (Remie and Mieke) were lovely!