Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Almost as far from home as it’s possible to get

May 28, 2011

Pearl and I were very lucky to have a second chance to get together with WhyMommy, and she invited Jessica and Jean and Kristen to join us for tea, donuts and chocolate.  It was a wonderful morning, full of laughter and joy and I got to hold Baby Alice who is very sweet.  I feel blessed to have finally met Susan, we clicked instantly and I feel like I have another best friend!

But now, already, we have left the US and are in London.  The flight over was very bumpy to begin with, but we each got a couple of hours sleep and managed to stay awake to walk around and look at some of the city yesterday afternoon.  The weather was typically unpredictable, with sunshine, thunder, lightning, hail, and torrential rain all taking their turn.

We got to bed at about “bedtime”, and slept through until morning – how wonderful!  Very nice to feel awake and refreshed at the proper hour of the day, especially after such a long trip.

We spent today at the British Museum.  Our friend C, who is hosting us, came along to add local commentary which was great fun.  We picked up an activity booklet on my favouritest-ever exhibit, the Sutton Hoo treasure, and Pearl happily found all the bits and pieces and learned lots.

cool old gold!

Then we wandered through the Roman Britain rooms and through to see some Egyptian mummies – Pearl was keen until she realised she was looking at dead bodies.

We had lunch near the museum with another friend, G, and swapped family news and tales.  Letters and emails are all very well, but it’s more fun to talk in person!  Even if it is only every five or six years…

G accompanied us all back to the museum, where we picked up a children’s activity backpack on Roman Britain.  I cannot recommend these packs highly enough.  When we had finished the Roman one, we went back and got another, this one on South Asia.  Not just Pearl, but we all four of us, learnt a lot about the exhibits we saw, and they have wonderful activities which bring the history and cultures to life.  Pearl made a mosaic, tried Roman sandals, “built” a couple of temples, and learned quite a bit about Buddhism.  At a large sculpture of Siva and Parvati, we had objects to compare to the carvings.  A passing Indian tourist showed us how to play the little cymbals, and was glad to explain the significance of other pieces of the sculpture as well.  Just this one day in the museum probably justifies the 3 1/2 weeks of school Pearl is missing!

Pearl reading the Roman Britain backpack instructions

Pearl dressed up as Lord Ganesha for the South Asian backpack activity

We managed to escape the gift shop without too much damage, startled to discover that it was nearly 7pm by the time we got home. Now it is already past “bedtime”, and with another very full day planned (probably over-planned) for tomorrow, I had best be off.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

UpsideBackwards Around The World

May 20, 2011

Pearl and I fled the country on Wednesday.  We are on a Big Trip, not quite around the world, but to the other side and back again.  It’s a big deal for both of us, although we are both already fairly well-travelled; for me, because of leaving the little ones at home with The Dad, and for Pearl because she gets lots of Mummy-time in new(ish) places and because she doesn’t remember most of her earlier travels.

Our first leg was also our longest: New Zealand to the east coast of the USA.  Hello, Washington DC!  We are lucky enough to have friends here who will put up with us and put us up.  It’s lovely to be staying with people in their home, part of the family, rather than in impersonal hotels and fending for ourselves.

Stars & Stripes - photo by Pearl

The trip was relatively uneventful.  Our flights were quite bumpy, but nothing too alarming.  The long flight to Los Angeles was made easier by individual entertainment systems allowing movies and tv on demand.  Pearl watched three movies!  The timing was awkward, we left at 1pm, so weren’t tired until we had been on the plane for several hours, and then had “breakfast” served at what felt like 10 or 11pm, just a couple of hours before we landed and had to face Customs & Immigration at LAX.

I was anxious about a 3-hour layover, thinking it might not be enough time based on previous experience.  But we were out of the international terminal within an hour, and walked to our next terminal.  There we discovered a phenomenally long queue to get through security.  We could see the line snaking around the mezzanine floor, and marvelled at it.  Then we realised that the end of the line was on the ground floor, and out the door.  We went out to find the back of it, and walked about 100m to find it!  But it did move very quickly, and within about 40 minutes we were waiting at our gate, plenty of time to spare.

In Washington our friends were waiting for us, and we were whisked around the Beltway and home for dinner and bed.  (You can tell how much your friends really like you by their willingness to meet you and drive you home on the Beltway at rush-hour.)

This morning we woke (I woke at 4am, jetlagged after the 27-hour trip, but Pearl slept quite late!) and went for a walk through the neighbourhood.  Pearl eagerly took photos of every unfamiliar thing – Canada geese (with goslings!), trees we don’t see at home, flowers on the roundabout…  She is missing three weeks of school for this trip, so her “homework” is to blog about it on the school web.  Primary school has changed a lot since my day!  I might reproduce-with-permission some of her blog posts as we go along.

Canada geese and Canada goslings!

Roundabout (or traffic circle, if you prefer) - photo by Pearl

This afternoon we had the most marvellous time.  We met Stimey and Whymommy!  Jean (Stimey) was kind enough to invite us to her house, and Susan (Whymommy) met us there.  Pearl was fascinated by Jean’s pet mice, and loved playing with her children’s toys.  A bowl of goldfish crackers went down well too.

Susan and I cracked up when Jean brought out afternoon tea – along with some cookies, there was a bowl of kiwifruit!  I hadn’t met either of these wonderful women before, but we have blogged together and emailed and tweeted, and we just settled into conversation as if we had all known each other for years.  It was the most amazing feeling.  Susan described us perfectly as “best friends who’d never met”.

We have talked with The Dad, Fainjin and Babess through the miracle of webcams and internet, and they seem to be doing well.  Being able to see and talk to them does make being away a lot easier emotionally.  I hope The Dad will put up a few guest posts in the next couple of weeks so I can keep up with their cute sayings and doings.

Now – time to sleep.  I just have to convince myself it’s 10pm, not 2pm…

trees - photo by Pearl

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Relay for Life

January 28, 2011

My nephew, a young (not quite 16) man of whom I am immensely proud, has organised a team to run in this year’s Relay for Life.

My first thought was that Pearl might like to join the team.  Hard on the heels of that thought followed, “I could join the team!”  So The Dad and I will run/walk too.  And I was right, Pearl did like to join the team.

My family has been touched kicked by cancer several times, and so have too many of my friends.  The Cancer Society have been there when we needed them, and do an outstanding job.  We’ll be running and walking in memory of those we have lost, and in support of those who are struggling – cancer survivors, patients, their families and their friends.

If you would like to donate to this cause, and know us in real life, email me and I will give you our team details.  Otherwise, how about supporting your local Relay for Life?  They are all over the world!  You could even join a team, or organise your own…

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Domestic arts

January 25, 2011

We had a very creative day today.  One of Pearl’s friends came over for a playdate, and they had a great time together.  They pottered around outside while I did tedious things like hang out the washing in the glorious sunshine, and then we went to the supermarket and raided the pick-and-mix bins.

It was a raid with a purpose – not just to load up on sugar, but to keep the girls busy for a good hour or so as well.  When we got home with all the goodies, I set the girls to work mixing up a batch of chocolate cupcakes.  They had great fun measuring and sifting and stirring and licking the spoons, then while the cakes were baking and cooling we had our lunch.

Icing and decorating was a major after-lunch undertaking, and the girls decided to mark each cake with the initial of an intended recipient.  The aim seemed to be to crowd as many lollies and decorations on each cake as possible:

Yummy... and look at my new stone benchtop, too!

Of course, we didn’t use up all the lollies decorating the cakes, so we had to clean up a few afterwards…

Then Pearl suggested that they do some sewing.  Her friend has a wiggly tooth, so they made “tooth fairy purses”, little bags to hold teeth under one’s pillow awaiting collection by the Tooth Fairy.  They’re very sweet little things, blanket-stitched all around and held shut by ribbon threaded through a bead.  We had some flower motifs in Pearl’s craft box, so each bag got one of those sewn on the back as well.  (I was going to put a photo here, but I can’t find Pearl’s bag… perhaps it’s under her pillow!)

The friend’s mum was very impressed when she came to collect her, they really had been industrious.  Of course, she was presented with a cupcake on arrival too, and they took a box home with cakes intended for various cousins and friends.

All in all, quite a successful playdate.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Multiple identities

January 23, 2011

My Gran was displeased that I didn’t change my name when I got married – apparently it showed a lack of commitment.  She needn’t have worried, an involuntary name-change soon came along.

I’m hardly ever “Kate” any more.  I’m “Pearl’s mum”, most often.  I even find that I introduce myself as that, under some circumstances.  I’m also “Fainjin-and-Babess’ mum”, of course, and as they become more sociable that name is gaining more currency.

The Dad has undergone a similar change, although to a lesser extent since he doesn’t interact with the school parents as much as I do, and the daycare parents retain their own names a little more at least amongst themselves.

On arrival at daycare in the afternoons, the first child to see us will often turn tail and run, calling out, “Fainjin!  Your Mum’s here!” or “Babess!  Your Dad!”  (it amuses me that they all recognise each other’s parents without fail).  That’s fine with us, it’s even quite cute.  But then the other day The Dad arrived and Babess was the first to see him.

“Oh!” she said, “Fainjin’s Dad is here!”

“I’m yours too!” he protested, but she was already running off to find her brother.

Do you see my cool new button, down on the right-hand-side of my home page?  The “No Princess Fights Alone” one?  Click on it, you’ll see Susan/WhyMommy’s latest post on joining a clinical trial, updating her will (with an insensitive lawyer cracking jokes), and being lucky.  Leave her some love, will you?  And if you have a blog, go collect a button from Amie at MamaLoves.  She’s donating to Crickett’s Answer for every button that goes up in the blogosphere – and so is Leticia at Tech Savvy Mama, so make sure to leave her a comment, too!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

No words tonight

January 7, 2011

Nothing from me.  Just please, go and visit my friend @whymommy (Susan) at ToddlerPlanet, and send her some love – but not pity.  It’s cancer.  Again.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Melbourne highlights

January 4, 2011

Oh, there were so many.  We had three days of perfect weather, and one day of being in a blast furnace (40 degrees Centigrade, dry, and windy, like standing in front of a fan heater all day).

We had a lovely apartment in Docklands, with great views from our bedroom of the marina, and from the living area of the tram stop:

Trams! Free entertainment every 10 min!

The free city tram stopped right outside our door, it was great.

The kids – especially Babess – loved the clock in Melbourne Central, which plays Waltzing Matilda and comes to life on the hour.  We managed to see it in action twice.

Babess' "Big Clock" in Melbourne Central shopping mall

You can’t go to Melbourne without having coffee and cake at Brunetti’s. Or at least, The Dad can’t.  We stopped at the central city cafe, although The Dad was skeptical whether it would live up to the one in Faraday St, Carlton (it did).

Coffee, cannoli and The Age - quintessential Melbourne

Each day as we moved through the city, Pearl would point out the horse-drawn carriages, and wistfully wonder whether she would ever get to ride in one.  So on our last day, we selected one fit for a princess.  Or two princesses and a prince and their parents…

All her dreams come true

Pete & Ernie did the honours

Then of course, there was the bloggy meet-up with Marita, already mentioned.  We also had a glorious lunch with friends: sausages, kangaroo and chicken on the barbecue, beautiful fresh salads, home-made lemon cordial, and the most fabulous raspberry meringue sponge cake.  Mmmmmm.  And with friends, wonderful friends who had the perfect toy-box for the kids and were so easy to spend time with even though we only see each other every few years (as well as obviously being outstanding cooks!).

Not to forget the ice-skating.

All these things more than made up for the tired, whiny, tantrums and sheer naughtiness we were sometimes witness to and targets of.  And that’s as it should be, because the memories of the tantrums etc will fade, but the looks on the kids’ faces as they climbed into that “royal” carriage will live on in my mind.

On the other hand, the horror of Babess suddenly darting under the crowd-control tapes at Melbourne Airport and nearly ending up going as luggage to who-knows-where as she tried to climb on a check-in conveyor belt will take a while to fade…  but I’ll be ready next time she makes a break for it!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

End of term, end of year

December 18, 2010

So, that’s that then.  School year 2010 is over.

Pearl will be in Year 4 next year, “Standard 2” for old people like me who still need to translate into the old NZ school system.  I have fond memories of Std 2, I had an excellent teacher (all my primary school teachers were outstanding, I was extremely lucky) and a great group of friends.  I hope Pearl will have a year like that.

She will be in a composite Year 4/5 class, which might be good for her in terms of extension and challenge, and she’s excited about her teacher, who is known for his love of literature and writing – very good news for her.

Also good news is that one of her steadiest friends will be with her.  They weren’t together this year because M is a year ahead – but they can be together in the composite class.  M was so excited when she found out, she met me at the door to Pearl’s classroom, having rushed straight there to share the good news.  She’s a lovely little girl, I really like her, so I’m pleased for them both.

I didn’t manage to get those maths worksheets after all, so I’ll be making up my own for us to work on together in the holidays.  I think we’ll do some “basic facts” work and then some fun extension stuff, maybe clock arithmetic…  We’re going to do more Latin, too, at Pearl’s request.  Today I got some books out of the library on Rome and modern Italy for her, so she can compare and contrast.  I think she thinks people in Rome still speak Latin and wear togas.

It’s not going to be all school-work, though, fun as that might be!  Pearl has a list of films she wants to see, craft that needs doing, and biscuits to bake.  I think we’ll probably take walks along the coast and go into the city to visit the observatory/planetarium once or twice too.  (I also need to clean this house top to bottom, there is dust everywhere and I’m blaming the builders!)

That can all start in a couple of weeks.  Christmas and family come first.  Time to kick back, relax, catch up with in-laws and cousins.  There are birthdays, anniversaries, and a wedding to celebrate.

Hooray for summer!

© UpsideBackwards 2010.

With a fire-engine cake, of course

December 13, 2010

Fainjin has never really had friends over here to play.  He does spend all day all week with them, so I don’t think he’s missing out!  But he’s also only ever had “family” birthday parties – and this year he didn’t get one at all, because we were sick.

So we thought that this coming birthday, perhaps he could have a “real” party.  With friends.  I’ll make a cake (I usually do, he just missed out last year), and we’ll have party food and the kids can run around outside together for an hour or so.

Rather than ask him whom to invite, we asked his teachers who his friends were, and quickly had a list of five invitees.  We had thought four, for his 4th birthday, but it’s not that big a deal.  Also, there’s a high chance some people will still be away on holiday, so it’s good to have some wiggle-room on numbers.  I wrote out the invitations last night, and had them ready for day-care this morning.

Then I remembered that we hadn’t told Fainjin what we were planning.  It might be a bit odd if other kids started saying “I’m coming to your party!” only to have him say “What party?”…

“Fainjin!” I said, “We thought it might be nice to invite some of your friends over to play here on your birthday, and we can have a little party!”

“No!” he scowled.  “I don’t want to!”


“Why not?  Wouldn’t you like a party for your birthday?  And have your friends come here to play with you?”

“No!  ‘Cos it’s my birthday and not their birthday!”

Ah.  I can see his point.  We had a chat about it, and I think he’s come around to the idea.  I’m pretty sure he’ll enjoy showing off his fire-engine collection.

Oh yes, he also wants a fire-engine to come here for his birthday… Hmmm…

© UpsideBackwards 2010.

A hard lesson

December 3, 2010

Just after 4 this afternoon, Pearl suddenly gasped and said, “Oh no Mummy!  T is having a farewell party today and [starts to sob] I can’t goooo because I loooost my invitation!”

I looked at her blankly.  T is a girl in her class.  “Wait, what?” (I’m so coherent at times like this).  “T is having a party? Today?”

“Her family is moving to Australia, and they’re having a party, can I go?”


“Yeeees!  It starts at 7:30, and I’m pretty sure it’s at the Rex Centre, can I go?”

“Um.  Probably not.  When did you get the invitation?”

“About a month ago.”

“A MONTH?!   Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I forgoooot.  Until just now.”

I elicited the particular Rec (not rex) Centre the party was “probably” at, and scoured old class email lists, but T’s family hadn’t put their details forward.  So I had no way of contacting T’s Mum to ask what the story was.  Pearl clearly thought we should take her to the venue on the off-chance she had remembered correctly and would be welcome without an RSVP.  Not to mention that the party started after bed-time and her big end-of-year concert (for which she has still done no practice this week) is tomorrow morning.

There were tears, and quiet sobbing, and silent (and not-so-silent) pleading.

I was so frustrated.  If she’d told me even before we left school this afternoon, I could have found out some more about it, and she might have been able to go.  T has been a good friend at school and will be missed.

Perhaps next time she gets an invitation she will tell us about it before the day of the event…

© UpsideBackwards 2010.

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