Monday, 27 October 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Gazing into the camera.

Michael took this one - it's possibly the best photo in this series to date. He and Jimmy went out to the tennis court to kick the big blue ball around, while I sorted out dinner. They had fun and Michael took some lovely photos. The weather has also been lovely this last week, ending with a hot Sunday - I'd call 30 degrees C hot, wouldn't you?

The trees are losing their leaves and the sun has sent by 7pm, but there are (hopefully) a few more weeks where Michael and Jimmy can run around in the afternoon, kicking the ball, throwing leaves around. If not, I'll just have to do the running around etc... I'm cool with that.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Road trip: Part 5 - Brule River to Goose Island

Cutie pie Jimmy-bubba, on the move!
I must have put the previous Road trip post up late at night, because it doesn't end in Thunder Bay - it takes us all the way to Brule River... Oh well! 

Day 11: Brule River to Goose Island
That night was coooooooooold... The sleeping bags Michael and I had were not enough, even zipped together for shared body warmth we were cold. And Jimmy? He was in his sleeping bag, in our sleeping bag. He was fine. Previously we'd take him out of his sleeping bag if I brought him into our big sleeping bag, but that it was sooooo coooooold. When got up, I was really surprised that there was no frost on the ground. 

I touched on how lovely the camping grounds are at Brule River Motel and Campgrounds, but what I neglected to talk about was our camping site. Now, there are a few tent specific sites, with the majority being for RV's, with power and water hookups, but, as I had mentioned, it had been so wet there that we were allowed to pick any site. We went with a site that was all grass, even though it was a little more exposed than other sites. The site we would have loved to use, but didn't, was a tent site: down by the river, but high enough not to be flooded after one nights rain (although a flash flood would have been problematic...). Oh it would have been lovely! That is, if the ground wasn't boggy, the road down to the site steep and rocky and wet, and if there had been a tap for water. Our spot was pretty good, and our neighbours were friendly, and inspite of the cold we had a reasonable sleep, but packed up quickly after a cold breakfast (no tea or coffee).

Helping Granny with breakfast.

If we weren't so cold, and weren't in a hurry to get to our next spot, I think we would have had a lovely time exploring the area and Brule River State Park. That part of the world is quite different to Manhattan, KS, because it has the feeling that nothing ever drys there. Ever. The lovely fungi, as seen in the previous road trip post, is a result of that kind of climate. We also found a frog near the bathrooms, so it must be warm in the summer. And we were still close to Lake  Superior... Too bad about the mosquitos... Yes, Michael and Pop bought insect repellant when they bought the fire wood...

I love this photo.
Before we hit the road, Jimmy had some time to stretch his little legs and did so looking very cute. I'm afraid you'll just have to deal with blurry photos, because he moves so fast, but we did manage to catch him and get him into some dry clothes before setting off.

We, understandably, had a hankering for a hot drink. Anywhere would do! So, somewhere between our first and second hours on the road we took a turnoff and ended up in Cameron, Wisconsin. We basically stopped at the first place we came across because there were lots of cars parked outside it. Good sign, right?

Cameron House, Cameron, WI.
Coffee anyone? Well, we walked in and there were a few pool tables, a pokie machine (or two) I think, lots of things on the walls and a bar. And a door leading to a bigger, darker, more peopled room. So we went in... and discovered a room covered in kitsch fishing and hunting paraphernalia and a bunch of locals. We asked for coffee, Granny had tea, and we were after some biscuits... but when the waitress asked us if we wanted gravy with them, we knew we were speaking a different language! And then we remembered that we were after "cookies", so we had cookies and doughnuts with our coffees and tea. The coffee was drippilator and with creamer, oh but it was good... It all hit the spot and made for a nice break.

Cool, right?
Wisconsin is pretty. As we travelled south birch and spruce gave way to rolling plains and corn fields, with treed hills preventing us from seeing endless fields.

The rolling landscape is home to Amish communities and corn growers, with at least one road sign alerting us that we might encounter Amish buggies. We waited... Michael saw the top of a sylow and thought it was an observatory until we rounded the hill. He fell asleep. So did Jimmy. And then we saw it! An Amish man with his horse and buggy and I couldn't get my camera ready fast enough because all too quickly we had passed him. Oh well. Here's a picture of a sylow instead.

We stopped for lunch in Galesville, WI, and attracted some attention from the staff at the IGA because we were not from the area, and a long way from home. It was all good attention, especially as Jimmy is really cute. We even acquired directions to a good park for a picnic. Win!

Detail of the gazebo roof.
It was everything we could have asked for: tables under a gazebo, taps, toilets, green space, and playground equipment! Jimmy loved the slide and swing. And we enjoyed the location before heading off and on towards Goose Island.

Weeee! (Photo: Michael)

Monday, 20 October 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Taking a selfie, with a little help from Mum.

That's right. This is a selfie. Not his first, but one of his best. And he's only 15 months old.

And there are only 10 more weeks left to the year. Crazy, right? Just watch, they'll fly by.

Photo credit: Jimmy.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Road trip: Part 4 - Lake of the Woods to Thunder Bay

Day 8: Lake of the Woods to Thunder Bay
We set alarms and were up before dawn so that we could see Uncle C. again before he left for Winnipeg and to thank him for having us. Once he was gone, we continued drinking our coffee and watched the sun rise over the Lake...

Photo: Michael
It was magical.

And then we packed up, locked up, and drove off. Not only did we have a 6 hour drive ahead of us but there was at least one more Geocache to find. 

But it wasn't found. Meanwhile, I managed to take a few pretty photos of mist and wild flowers, grasses, spruce, and birch. Jimmy and Pop got their groove on to the Wiggles, while staying nice and warm in the car.

As we drove towards Thunder Bay the landscape became rockier, with fewer lakes but more trees and grasses and wild flowers and road works. The race to finish everything before the ground froze was on. We were fortunate enough not to have to wait very long at any given point.

The day was uneventful otherwise, although we did feel pressed for time and by 4 pm, with 1.5 hours driving to go, we had to make a call: see Kakabeka Falls and have a really cranky Jimmy or just head to our accommodation. We skipped Kakabeka Falls. We were all close to being 'over' being in the car.

And we did manage to make it to KOA Thunder Bay without Jimmy getting too upset. Oh we were glad to be out of that car! We bought firewood and started looking forward to a hot dinner and cups of tea... only we were a few days too late for the dry wood... that all went over the Labor Day weekend, when they were very busy. Oh well... At least the swimming pool was open...

But we were all after refreshments first, but they were second to setting up our cabin. Except in Jimmy's case. He'd waited long enough.

Possibly one of my favourite photos, thanks Michael for taking it!
Jimmy, Michael, and I went for a swim. It was really refreshing, and not in a "the water was cold" way. Even Jimmy enjoyed the swim before he found the difference in water and air temperatures too much. Nothing a warm shower couldn't fix.

Our kettle.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Pointing to me while we do some grocery shopping.

This photo is about 7 weeks old. Look how short Jimmy's hair is! And there's no sign of tooth #7. Plus, I'm sure the top he is wearing covered his belly then.

This lovely photo was taken by Michael. Gosh, he takes some good ones!

Monday, 13 October 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Hee hee!

We've been playing "Where's Jimmy?" since this little guy was a few weeks old, in a bid to distract him from his cold bottom as we changed his nappy. The game has evolved and changed as Jimmy has become more aware and mobile. It is almost, almost hide and seek (which all three of us played yesterday, giving Jimmy his games). This big box is ideal. And he pops in and out so fast, Michael has trouble focusing on that little face.

But Michael did really well to capture Jimmy's expression, as he came out of the box. It's the look of "hee hee, I've been here all along!" but what you can't get from a photo is how much Jimmy comprends what we're doing and how it is like two of his favourite books, Zoom, Zoom, Baby! and Moomin's Lift-the-Flap Hide and Seek, and how he copies Little My, a character in the Moomin books, when we find him and tell him it was a clever hiding place, because he says "hee hee" just like Little My.

I need to thank Michael for the photo, Aunty K for the Moomin book, and Granny for the Zoom, Zoom, Baby! book. And credit has to go to Jimmy for taking "where's Jimmy?" beyond the change table and for providing lots of laughs.

Friday, 10 October 2014

On the needles: mending

While finishing Jimmy's jumper, I relearned the joy of hand sewing. Yes, I enjoy a little hand sewing every now and then, and I decided to make a start on a pile of mending that I was accumulating. And while there are still items in need of repair, it is nice to know that items that are now too small for Jimmy are fixed and ready for another baby, and that when needed, Michael's light jumper is fixed.

Next on the list is sock darning... but Michael's vest first... oh and a beanie for my head, because it's going to get cold before we know it.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Road trip: Part 3 - Lake of the Woods

On the lake. (Photo: Michael)
 Days 4-7: Lake of the Woods
As I mentioned in the previous road trip post, my Canadian relatives have a lovely cottage, in a lovely part of the world, and they really enjoy spending time there. And we really enjoyed spending time with them as they shared their home-away-from-home with us. Thanks for having us!!

The Lake of the Woods is the sort of place where you want to be outside: the air is clear and crisp on the lake and misty and earthy in the woods; there is no light pollution, so at night the Northern stars shine bright; did I mention the fresh air? It's just lovely! It's the opposite of city living, but the cottage has all the comforts of flushing toilets, central heating, and wifi.

My cousins talked about going out on the ice in Winter, while Aunty P. talked about having trouble getting her children to come inside before they became too cold. So, I'm guessing they really like being at their cottage regardless of the time of year. I would too.

Cousin J. with Aunty M (aka Granny).
The builders, who built the cottage, built this for Cousin Am. (she was much younger at the time).
Enjoying being outside. Even if the air was on the crisp side.
Aunty P. found this truck, and another, for Jimmy before we left Winnipeg. He really enjoyed playing with them!

Monday, 6 October 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Plugged in and vacuuming the carpet.

That's right. He's actually using the vacuum cleaner. On. His. Own.

Ok, so it's only for about 1 minute, but it's a start. We still have to work on his ability to put things away so that he can vacuum the whole living room, but there's time. And that expression on his face? Well, I think it has something to do with Jimmy asking his Dadee if he's done taking photos. Here are some more photos Michael took of Jimmy, vacuuming - of course.


Sunday, 5 October 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Quiet and contemplative after being very cranky in the car, also preparing for the two finger chew.

Looking back, I'm blown away by how much growing Jimmy did on the road trip, and how much he changed over the 3-4 weeks we had visitors. I'm also aware of how disruptive it was to his routine, but I'm amazed by how well he managed with all the travelling and new people and places, all while teething something awful. Actually, the teething is only getting worse and he seems to be constantly chewing on two fingers, drool running down his arm...

Michael took this photo after Jimmy had settled down after an hour or so screaming in the car because he thought we were making him go sleep without any boobie. Oh my darling boy! Once we started settling in for the night, Jimmy settled down a bit, but it was still hard to get him down for the night (he had worked himself into quite a state in the car, so there was a lot of coming down to do). Michael noticed Jimmy behaving in a similar manner to when we moved and worried that Jimmy might be stressing about that, but by the next night Jimmy was happy to see our tent (did I mention that we had it up in living room for a week when it arrived?), and I think he quickly got his head around the impermanence of the situation.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Winter is coming...

While we were 'up north', in southern Canada, and northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, we got a taste of the coming Autumn Fall, and my thoughts turned to Winter... because Winter is coming. When we reached Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas, it was hard to believe that Summer was nearly over, and it was even harder to believe that it ever snows when we returned to Manhattan, KS. But Winter is coming.

We got a local taste of Autumn Fall in the days that followed, but that quickly changed, and we even snuck in a quick swim! Have I mentioned that the water was lovely? The first few days of this week have also been lovely and warm, almost hot, but that's apparently about to change. So, Winter is coming.

A few weeks ago, with Jimmy in tow, I went and bought some woollen jumpers and more long sleeved tops. That weekend we did some more op shopping thrifting and came home with another thick, but wool blend, jumper and a leather jacket for me (because the only windproof thing I own is my rain coat). Soon I'll be buying Jimmy some gum boots, Michael and I leather/waterproof boots, and more thermals, thick socks, and possibly flannel shirts - as the budget permits and the weather requires. Because Winter is coming, and we're from Brisbane.

Now, being from Brisbane, we may not know snow or sleet, but we do know what 9 degrees Celsius feels like. Having grown up in Warwick, I know what -6 degrees C feels like. Having lived in Melbourne and London, Michael knows what cold is too. And because most houses in Australia are not built for the cold, we get to experience every bit of the cold, that blankets, wool doonas, heaters and hot water bottles can't compensate for. London? Buildings in London are (for the most part) built to keep the cold out. The same can be said for buildings in North America: thick walls, lots of insulation, double glazing, and central heating. Perhaps it feels like it is always Winter and never Christmas

Fingers crossed, we'll be alright. I managed to take a snuffly, snotty Jimmy outside around 2 pm today and while the wind was cold when it blew, the 17 degrees C (in the shade, out of the wind) was quite nice. And we were both wearing about what we were wearing in the photo above, taken in Canada. With a few thicker layers Jimmy and I should be fine on daily walks (because this boy of mine is not going to handle being housebound for more than 2 days at a time), although I'm not sure how Michael's hands are going to handle the chill on his bike ride to K-State.

Winter is coming... I'll keep you posted.

Photo: Michael.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Road trip: Part 2 - Winnipeg to Lake of the Woods

Day 4: cafe breakfast, including a chew on Granny's glasses (Photo: Michael).
Day 3 ended at a hotel in Winnipeg, after dinner with our family. Jimmy wasn't sure about the bath, but I thought it was great! And it was nice to be inside given how cold it was that morning (not that we were out in the coldest part, but it was single digits Celsius). So, on to Day 4 of our road trip!

Day 4: Winnipeg to Lake of the Woods
Did I mention a cafe breakfast? My uncle booked a table at Stella's Cafe and Bakery, which meant being out of our hotel room by 8:30 am, which we managed! Was it the lure of coffee or food we didn't have to prepare or the fact that we'd all showered the night before that made it possible? Meh... doesn't matter! We made our breakfast deadline and were greeted by a busy cafe. The food was great and the coffee hit the spot and there was a queue of people waiting for tables, even before we were finished eating. So, we didn't spend all morning there, taking up 4 tables (there were 9 of us...), plus we had to see Winnipeg!

"Done! Breakfast had, get me out of this high chair!"
After breakfast we headed to Assiniboine Park for a quick stroll around the lovely gardens. Yeah... no words, just look at the photos.