Monday, December 10, 2018

More pie!

Today, we had our children's Christmas play at the church. It is done! It went well! And yesterday, I made the last two pies to share at lunch after service today. They're all done! Some went well!


Fig Frangipane

ff (fortissimo), awesome! Not that it was a loud pie. It was a tasty pie. A frangipane filling is made with egg, vanilla, and almond meal (and sugar). It was my first frangipane, but not my last. The fig was good, but I'd like to try it with plums. And then you can't read it musically (unless you play too much Brahms and then you can poco forte/plum frangipane your heart out. I used a recipe I found online. Ricardo's?

Gingerbread Pie (no picture)
I tended to make more than one pie at once and I'm pretty sure the partner to gingerbread was W. It was an unusual weekend of pie. And, interestingly enough, also made for a lunch at church. Moral of the story, if you want pie, come to our potlucks.

Gingerbread pie was the flavour of gingerbread in a cheesecake-like texture in  tart shells (read: small pies). I thought my kids would like it. They did not. But they didn't even TRY W.

Honey, honey
H was one of those difficult letters. Honeydew? Hazelnut? Wait, I could have done hazelnut!? I want a do-over. I mean, I want YOU to make me a hazelnut pie because I'm tired and I've been making Christmas cookies all day.

What I ended up making was "honey-lemon pie". It was from a honey cookbook I have. I thought straight honey would be too cloying and the lemon would tone it done. It sounded a bit too much like the title of a cough drop, but nothing's perfect. And it really was nothing like a cough drop. Not hard, more silky and it did nothing for my cough.

Anyway, I always have lemons so we were off to the races! Or so I thought. At a crucial step in the recipe, I ran out of honey. It did have some honey in it, but not enough. So, to finish and not have to run to the shop, I substituted in golden syrup for the rest of the honey. They're both sweet, right? Both thick and sticky?


It was sweet, with a flavour of sweetness and a hint of sugar. This was a pie that was not finished. We had a slice (as did my poor in-laws). We did not need/want more. Probably this would be better as a petite-four. You know, like really, really small portions.

To bake the Impossible Pie, to eat the whole coconut jar!
Impossible pie is one of those things where you mix all the stuff, plonk it into the pan and throw it in the oven. You may be sceptical that it will make its own crust. You may be sure that it won't taste nice at all. But at the end of the day, it's a coconut pie that made it's own crust and tastes like more.  It was even one of my dear friends' (who ate many of the pies) favourite!

Jam tarts
I doubled the crust from my frangipane and made tiny tarts, topped with jam: blackberry and strawberry pear. I chose those specific flavours, because they were the first ones that I managed to grab from the fridge. Word of warning: jam somehow expands and turns to boisterous lava when cooked.

Key Lime
It's delicious. It's three ingredient - key limes, condensed milk, cream.

Lemon pie with blueberry sauce
It has the distinction of being the first pie I made in 2018. It was good, but also a long time ago. I always have lemons, so it made sense to jump on the list. The blueberry sauce was nice, too.

Note the double o. This was not an almond meal circle sandwich, this was chocolate and coconut in happy harmony. Well, pretty happy harmony.  See, I had this theory that dark chocolate and coconut are both sweet enough to make a pie without adding sugar. Had I been using 45% chocolate and sweetened coconut, I'd have been right. Instead, I was using 85% and unsweetened. It was satisfying, but dark.  Good with coffee. You only needed a small piece. (Note the white chocolate melted on top of the pie to make it a tinge sweeter. The other pie is banana cream.)

Okay, that's enough sweet talk for one day. If you decided to pie it up one year, I recommend this: SHARE. Baking is fun. Giving away baking is more fun. You get a bit, others get a bit and no one's hips start shouting. Happy Baking!

Next time - N is not for noodle

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Chippy the Christmas Squirrel: The Lost Files of Stuart McLean

The Jones family weren't excited about Christmas that year. Work was too hard, the days were too long, life was too demanding and there just didn't seem to be money for extras. As tired out and grumpy as they felt, Christmas just seemed to be an extra. An extra full of extras.

Chippy the squirrel sat in his tree outside their house and watched them as they trudged out of the house in the mornings and slumped into the house in the evening. Even the house itself seemed to sag with melancholy.

Chippy was sad for them, but then really, what can a squirrel do to alleviate the worry of a household? Chippy thought awhile longer, because he could feel the sadness rubbing off on him. No one wants a sad squirrel, he thought.

It was then that he had his idea. He could make them happy with what made him happy. He enlisted his friend, Oslo the beaver. Oslo was always up for a good chin-wag and soon they'd fixed the plan good and proper.

Oslo got to work right away. He worked and worked through the night and, by all accounts, the Jones family should have noticed when they left their house the next morning.  Such was their collective fog of stress, they just passed right by.

It's difficult to pass by a beaver chopping down the tree in your front yard, but if you get distracted enough, you can manage it.

With the tree down and the glum folks away, Chippy and Oslo had time to get the tree into the house.  They might have broken a lock to get in, but it was that dodgy one that Mrs Jones had been meaning to get to anyway. If they hadn't broken it, it would've broken itself soon enough.

With the tree up, they set to decorating. It wasn't the prettiest sight. A squirrel and a beaver are not known decorators.  Still, it was done. It was thorough. From a scavenged Barbie at the top of the tree to a not perfectly round wreath of nuts on the front door.  It wasn't meant to be perfect, though. It was just meant to be a piece of joy, a little spot of light to shine through those clouds that had blocked out the Jones family smile.

When they got home and realized what had happened, even as they almost couldn't believe it, they felt that joy. They saw the half-gnawed doll tucked in the tree.  They saw the badly misshapen nut wreath on the door.  They looked at the stump in their yard and at a squirrel racing around trying to refill a summer's stockpile of nuts.

The Jones family was no longer under a cloud of too busy and too tired.  They seemed to bounce through their days, the merriest part of the street.

That year Chippy got the biggest Christmas present he'd ever seen. It was a kind of dog kennel, but fitted up with tunnels to hide and play it. And nuts! There were nuts from countries that Chippy had never even heard of and more than he'd need in three years. 

The next Christmas, Dave and Morley would be surprised to find that they'd gotten each other squirrel kennels. In fact, it was a very popular gift on their street that year. Oh, it wasn't a matter of keeping up with the Joneses. No, they were hoping that they'd get a piece of that joy and glow that the Jones family had seemed to have all year. A pet squirrel would be worth that.

But the Jones family knew that joy came from efforts that seem impossible, like maybe you couldn't believe they really happened. Joy came from someone loving you enough to give up everything. Every Christmas they managed to find joy.  They always hung an acorn on the tree as they celebrated their little reminder with the very big heart.

This is not actually written by McLean, but it's funnier if you read it in his voice. No disrespect meant.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A is for Apple... E is for?

(Oh yeah, that's why I stopped blogging. No time!)

Me to 4yo: "Eat a bit more meat."
4yo: "I just want kale!"
Me to 4yo: "One more piece of meat and then all the kale you want."
4yo: "And broccoli?"
6yo: "Can I have more kale?"
7yo: "Look! I just finished it."

These are the people that I'm trying to convince to eat pie.  These beautiful, strange people who would rather eat freshly made kale chips.  Actually, this pie adventure (pieventure?) has been beneficial. They are more likely to try new foods. Of course, that could just be because we make them try new foods all the time.  Still, we've gone from our boys eating pie NEVERNOTINAMILLIONYEARSHOWDISGUSTING to two of them having a favourite pie.

Our daughter, on the other hand, will eat all of the pies but the kale she shredded and dropped on the floor. It's cute but irritating when she finds a food she doesn't like. She sneakily* drops the food on the floor instead of just ignoring it. Then gets more and drops it.

Without further ado, let's talk pie! I have not made the pies in alphabetical order, but will tell you of them in that order.


Apple Crisp Pie
Apple crisp pie is something that happens when you want apple crisp but you've made some stupid plan to make a lot of pies, you are behind in making all of the pies and you have accidentally over purchased apples.**

When I make apple pie I use the method that involves cutting up the peeled apples very finely and then coating them in the sugars/flour/cinnamon/nutmeg mixture. Apple crisp is a much easier beast as you just peel and cut the apples and have the seasoning come from the crumb on top. In deference to it being pie, I did add a bit of liquid to the apples as well as butter (which is what you do with apple pie, but not with apple crisp.

Vague ingredient list/Prep

Cut some peeled apples. Put them into a pie shell (unbaked), or if you are lazy, a sheet of puffed pastry in a pie dish. Add a couple of tablespoons of milk and a bit of cubed butter. Cover with crumble topping (scant 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/3 cup softened butter). Bake at 180 (375) until it's done, approximately 40 minutes.

Banana Cream
Banana cream is a pie that reminds me of home. It was one of the first pies made, way back in January. In a homemade pie crust, you put in a layer of sliced banana, cover with a homemade custard and then top with lightly sweetened meringue. Bake until the meringue is lightly coloured. And awesome.

As this isn't a food blog, that's all the info you get, dude. Want a recipe? I'll give it you.

Citrus Coffee
This was a bad idea.***

Not enough?

Okay, so it was a citrus custard****. I wanted to use oranges, but we only had mandarins and I figured, what's the difference? Answer: punch of flavour. Oranges have a much stronger flavour and zest, so the citrus was a bit weak. The other problem with this is that I tried to be fancy and put it in a "crust" made of ladyfingers soaked in espresso. Tiramisu with a twist! Or, you know, a bit of a sodden mess. It tasted okay, but in a "well, it could've been worse" sort of way. I don't know about you, but at the end of a cooking adventure I like to have the bar higher than "this was edible". Also orange + chocolate = yum. Mandarin + coffee = meh.

All I can say about this is that I "made" it. That is to say, we were visiting my family and Mom and I made a pie, except I actually played with my daughter and then made the meringue to pretend I was helping. My boys were fishing with their father and grandfather. A good pie, a good memory.

That's right. With five letters left in the alphabet (E, F, J, Q, Z), it's time to get creative. Egg pie? Isn't that a quiche? Or egg tart? I've got a similar one coming! Everything pie was a triumph. It was good and fully made from me standing in the kitchen and adding whatever I could find that seemed pie-ish.

This everything pie:
baked pie crust
with a layer of cream cheese blended with icing sugar,
finely sliced banana evenly spread,
slivers of fresh, juicy mango,
topped with small pieces (rectangular) of apple, cooked with smashed blueberries, the juice and zest of a lemon and a lime and a bit of powered sugar and water.

It looked like beetroot. It had a yummy zing. Each mouthful had a slightly different taste. Served with ice cream or cream (two different days) just to prove that it was made of everything available.

So that's the pie du jour!

*not sneakily, but super obviously but she thinks no one notices
**accidental apples: when you and your spouse run to the shop for a few things (over a couple of days) and both buy a large bag of apples, believing you are out
***I have MANY bad ideas, but like a fool, will follow them through assuming it will work out. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't, spectacularly.
**** Oh, there was cardamom too, which was the saving grace, as I recall.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Alphabet Pie


It's been awhile. This blog is nearly as dusty as my high heels! I had good reasons for not using either, as I recall. The one hurts my knees and the other - well, I wanted to tell funny stories of things that my children got up to, but it seemed unfair to write things that they would one day be upset that I'd shared. It's one thing to tell a funny story about your child pooping on the side of the road to a friend, but different to share it to the internets in general. Not saying that my children have ever pooped on the side of the road. My children don't even poop. Stop starting rumours like that.

(I've just realized that this post was meant to be about food and it started with poop. It's an interesting thing to have to segue. Like, should I start singing the "Circle of Life" or...)

So, this year to shake things up, I decided to make my new year's resolution doable. None of this self-improvement malarkey, this year was a challenge: Alphabet Pie.

See, even though I've lived in this country for 9 years, I still miss sweet pie. Pie tends to be savoury down here. If you casually mention to someone that you'd like pie, they won't hand you a piece of cherry. More likely steak and bacon!  I quite like pie (both sweet and savoury) and I like cooking/baking. Why not put these things together?

The challenge: Make 26 pies over one year. A pie a fortnight. Easy. Except, have you looked at the alphabet lately? That thing is crazy with its x and w and q and e. And h. It actually has been a challenge to accomplish. I got a bit of a slow start, however, at this point I've made 19 different letters of pie.  Some were tasty. Some were shared. Some were just a bad idea.

You would think, "Alphabet pie, that's easy! Apple, blueberry, cherry, doughnut, eggplant, fish.." but you have to remember that I can't do anything the easy way and tend to decide to make pie before I look in my pantry/fridge.  It's been unusual.

Oddly enough, this plan to eat has backfired and I've actually worked out pretty regularly and try to eat healthily.

It's been fun, this pie adventure and I want to share it. But how? That's where this blog came in. While it is not transmogrifying into a food blog, it could be the place where you look into my pies. (Ha. Look into my pies - you are getting hungry, hungry!) But if you don't want to read about my pies, I'm not wasting my laundry folding time typing about lemons and coconut. Let me know. Should we give it a go?

[First up, Apple Crisp Pie]

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Aesop's Fabled Entry: A Birth Story

It has been years since I've used this blog, but I wrote the birth stories for the boys, so I thought I should do one for my daughter as well!

The real question with a birth story is where do you start? At the very beginning would be great, but I think that would be inappropriate, so no thanks Maria von Trapp.

On Saturday, I went into hospital at 1:30 pm. My darling daughter was born at 2:55 pm. The end.

Not enough? I'll try again. (I'll bold the actual birth story, but there is a decent amount of backstory to help explain it all)

On Saturday, I gave birth to our only daughter, who is our fourth child.  All three of her brothers were born in week 37, so I assumed that she, too, would be born in week 37.  All through the pregnancy, I focused on 37 as the week when all would be revealed.  I had all things ready by the start of week 37, except for one and it was stressing me out a little bit.  Our second son's birthday party was scheduled for 37+2.  Based on the fact that I made it through a wedding having contractions three minutes apart whilst labouring with our third son, I kind of figured that I could make it through the party even if I was in pain.

The party came, the party went.  Even with all the frantic getting ready and the release and relax of being done, there was no baby.  Not a problem, plenty of time still in the 37th week.

Except, there kind of was a problem.  I had gestational diabetes this pregnancy, as I had with my 3rd.  The main difference was that now living in Victoria, I noticed that they approached the subject of gestational diabetes differently.  Here I was under much higher surveillance.  The extra appointments were wearing, as they took time and energy I didn't really want to spare.  Home schooling and growing a person felt like enough to be focused on.

When they called for an extra ultrasound toward the end of the pregnancy to find out if baby was overlarge (which can easily happen with gestational diabetes), I agreed willingly if a bit grumpily.  I wasn't measuring large and my sons weren't huge, so I thought this child would be no different.  And the ultrasound backed me up. So the next time I went in, they asked me to get another ultrasound, this time to make sure the baby was growing big enough. I flatly refused.  I had already had four ultrasounds, one of which no one could explain to me why it had been ordered or what its purpose was.  They wanted baby not to be giant. Baby was not giant. Baby was growing and that was good enough for me.

It wasn't enough for them, though.  See, this beautiful child had an interesting way of hanging out in my womb.  She curled around to the right side. Her feet would kick at my side.  You could see it. She was obviously over there.  Unfortunately, this made my measurements a bit iffy. When you are 36 weeks and you get 32-33 cm, health care professionals get all edgy, even though you can state that your child moves almost constantly and hey did you see those feet poking out over there?  They called for another ultrasound which I reluctantly booked in for week 38 (whatevs, it'll all be done by then, right?)

Every time I went into get checked, people would start up with the "your baby is too small" thing which would stress me out, though I'd calm myself down and remind myself that she'd been growing fine and was active. Her cord had plenty of blood going through it. She was fine. It got to the point, however, where my blood pressure would go up when I was at clinic. They then had new things to stress about, GD and (slightly) high blood pressure! (My blood pressure was normal when checked at the regular doc and no protein was leaving me, so she was fine).

So there I was, in the 37th week, hoping that any day would be baby's day and I could cancel all the upcoming appointments. It seemed as though my plans would be fulfilled. Through the party and the days before I had plenty of Braxton Hicks. Honestly, I'd been having Braxton Hicks for months, but now they were coming every afternoon and lasting until the evening.

I spent the Sunday afternoon cleaning walls and other crazy things and was rewarded with a painful Sunday night. But the contractions stopped in bed that night.

Every day I had Braxton Hicks. Every day they'd get fiercer as I did things and back off in the evening. One day, after a long walk with my sons, they got very fierce indeed. It was go time.


I started calling baby "Aesop" as it was like the boy crying wolf all over the place.  I'd alerted the friend who was to watch the boys one time when it got painful, and then felt like an idiot when I called off the alarm that evening.  The Braxton Hicks started coming when I got up in the morning and would go only when I was lying in bed in the evening. I was tired, mildly pained, stressed and grumpy.  Ever grumpy.  I got sobby one day, believing baby would never come out. I'd try to help the contractions become real by getting work done, but it just made stronger Braxton Hicks.  I couldn't even get out of my ultrasound!

The Saturday of my 38th week came.  A young uncle of mine died unexpectedly.  The pain of it, the distance that I could not cross to get there and be with my family burned.  My grief for my 52 year old uncle who had always been full of joy seared my soul and the Braxton Hicks came on again.  I thought the shock had sent me into full labour.  It was a hard day, but my grief was not assuaged by birth.  My husband loved me.  My sons hugged me, but still I sank in grief and frustration.

On Monday, the ultrasound tech was nice and explained that the doctors around here tend to be cautious.  It's not a bad thing, I suppose, to be cautious, but man oh man it was difficult to live through.  Baby was still growing.  All was well.  I went to see the doc that aft and he was nervous.  Blood pressure high! Baby not a giant! Did I want baby out that day?

No, no I did not.

I was allowed a reprieve of three days. On the third day, I went back.  I was checked to see if all the weeks (months) of Braxton Hicks had done anything.  Nothing.  I left with tears streaming down my cheeks, feeling broken and scared.  All of the fear was eating at me and though I daily tried to give it back to my heavenly Father, I didn't know what was happening. The boys had come without help.  The boys had come before I had expected them.  Here I was at 39 weeks, feeling like I was 42 (as I'd perceived full term for myself at 37, so felt overdue though I wasn't).  Here nothing I did made the baby come.  Ahead of me was uncertainty and fear.  I was to be induced the next day.

All the Friday passed in a bemused fuddle. My uncle was being buried. I was not there. I did not know what induction would do, but I heard it was painful.  The fear of the unknown played with my fear of failure to grow baby properly. I went through my day and hoped it would just start.  Baby would just come.  I played soccer with my young son for the first time in weeks, hoping the running and jostling might do something.

At 4 that afternoon we went in, I tired from weeks of bad sleep (Braxton Hicks may not eventuate to anything but they can be darn painful and they had gotten painful on the Thursday and stayed painful), but resolved to be induced, pleased that the day had come to finally meet our child. The days of crying wolf had passed.

Or had they? My exam showed that I was 3 cm. Come back in the morning unless it starts up.  We picked up dinner on the way home, not having anything prepared (the boys were having takeaway as we thought it was a special day). The whole evening was full contractions, even as the day had been. They were intense. They were close.  I sat down in the evening to see if they would continue.  They slowed to three times an hour, though they were still jaw jarring in intensity. 

The night passed slowly. I slept between contractions and waited for them to speed up.  They didn't.  My dreams were odd and would end strangely.  Like, I'm at a lake with someone from uni and we're going to go canoeing - just wait I need to have a contraction -- and I would wake up having a contraction.  I tried to be silent so Adrian could rest.

We went in on Saturday morning at 7 as we were instructed. They listened to baby again and sent us on our way - an emergency had come in and there were three other women labouring.  Maybe they'd call later, maybe the next day.  The contractions stayed strong, but not regular or close enough, so I gritted my teeth and went on with life.  

They called again around lunch time.  We'd gone to a parking lot fair very briefly to check it out and I'd wandered around trying to ignore contractions while the boys enjoyed the things they saw.  When the hospital called, we were getting ready to leave anyway.  I said I'd be in after I'd eaten.  We got to the hospital at 1:30 pm.

I was 6-7 cm, though my contractions were not regular. They broke my waters at 1:45.  The midwife set out to get an IV in my hand. With the complications of blood pressure and GD they wanted it set up in case it was needed. She blew the vein in my left hand and then my right hand.  I didn't care as the pin in my hand was much less than the contractions I was having. Fun trying to sit still for a needle whilst contracting.

She gave up.  The doctor came in to put the IV in my arm. The midwife moved on to feeling baby's position in the womb.  Adrian was doing his best to relax me and started to massage my feet. It all struck me as funny and I made a joke about it being the worst day spa ever. I'm always making jokes when I'm in labour.  Because I'm a crazy person. With the needle in, I got up to dance with Adrian as I enjoyed the music.  Upon standing I had contraction on contraction.  Adrian was amazing as he always is, talking me through all of the contractions.  Then I felt the pressure.

But it was too soon.  I hadn't been at the hospital long enough.  It couldn't be time.  I was up on my knees on the bed.  I had to push.  I  pushed.  It was happening, that bone breaking pain. I bore down through a couple pushes for her head and it was out. One more for her body.  We were just so excited that our baby finally had come.  The midwife checked baby out.

"Is it a girl or a boy?" said Adrian. "Check for yourself," said the midwife. 

A girl. I scooped her off the bed.  They undressed me and urged me to turn and sit.  I couldn't be bothered. I had my little joy in my arms.  The pains of the weeks melted away and bliss came in the form of a squalling little girl.  They convinced me to turn, easier to deal with the fourth stage then.  I went back to silly jokes, not able to believe it was done, that she was there, that she was a she having been sure it would be a fourth boy.  My legs still shook through the day hadn't been as long as I'd thought it would.  We'd only been in hospital for an hour and a half.

And that's the story.  The girl who cried wolf now cried in my arms, now comforted in my arms, now warming my heart.

The end.

(Oh and the midwives and doctor that day were great, though the doc did comment on my Canadian accent and how I said "about" while she stitched me up)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


My friend Sara went home to Jesus today.

She had a terrible disease.  She was 32.  She went peacefully and for that, I give thanks.

Death is a terrible thing, and not a friend.  We need Jesus.  He has prepared a place for us in heaven.  He has destroyed the enemy death.  He has taken Sara home.  Away from the terrible pain, the terrible frozen disease that immobilized her.

I miss her.

I've missed her for a long time, as I haven't seen her in a few years.  It was hard when she got sick, being so far away.  I wanted to be there for her.  To help in some way.

Thoughts and prayers are good, but it's nice to give hugs too.

She was a funny, fantastic person who I spent ridiculous, random adventures with drinking pots of tea, driving the prairies, growing up.  She was thoughtful, caring, generous, clever and she loved serving and helping people.  She was good at what she did: caring for people.  I know many people will miss her.  As I think of all of those years where she was a major part of everyday, I weep.  She was like a sister and I'm so glad to have known her.

Goodbye, Sara.  One day we will meet where there is no death and no crying.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The long long long way back

As you might know, we moved recently and our delightful little family had the fun of moving across Australia.  Well, 3000 km across it, anyway.

Because we moved around the time of Anzac Day, the movers packed up our things on the Wednesday and loaded them on the Thursday.  We were leaving on the Monday following.  I can hear you thinking that one through.  Did we camp with three youngens?  Are we experienced in the way of the air mattress?  That had been our intention, but a wonderful family from the church offered us their place in town (often farmers have a small apartment in town because the drive is long!), and so we moved in to that place on the Wednesday.

Tall says "new home, yay!".  No, Tall.  There is more driving yet to be done.  That whole last week was bizarre.  Adrian was still working, but we were also trying to do all the visiting we could.  3000 km is a long way and there are many people we knew we would (and currently do) miss that we wanted to catch.  We didn't manage to see them all.

Oh, how I miss that land.  I can see it in my mind's eye.

The boys were happy with the new place.  New things to explore, different toys to play with and Mommy driving them to the beach all the time...

The last days came.  We had decided not to start early on the Monday, but to leave after lunch, eating at our favourite restaurant in town.  It was a glorious, sunny, warm day and the boys and I went for a play date (wear the kids out before the long drive, no?) while Adrian ran a few last minute errands (one of those was to pick up a couple greeting cards which I finally filled out and sent two weeks ago.  Because I'm nothing if not prompt.  Waiting for a thank you card? Trust me, it's on the list).  I also got him to get me a little notebook so I could write things like fuel prices.  My mother does it.  His mother does it.  I was suddenly consumed with a need to do it.  Perhaps I will knit soon, too.

We went about 400 km the first day.  The way across the bottom of Australia is long and fairly straight.  If you look at the map, it looks like there are a decent amount of towns spread across, but when you actually get to these places, they are a roadhouse and servo.  Often with a motel component.  That's it.  I was nervous about driving into the middle of nowhere with three small boys and we thought easy days was the way of it.  Also, we'd heard okay things about that roadhouse (I'd heard much about most of them having mice and cockroaches).  We pulled up for the day before the sun set, had dinner and settled into the room.  The boys went to sleep well and Adrian and I tried to plan for the next day.  We crouched on the floor of the room, peering at the map by the light of the bathroom.  The trip had gone okay and the short days weren't seeming as necessary.  That, and I wanted to see a whale.  Four and half years beside the ocean and I hadn't seen a whale.  There was a place at the head of the bight where at certain times of the year they guarantee you to see whales.  We were a few days off that time of the year, but we thought we'd try.

This, however, gave us a problem.  If we stopped where we'd been planning, we'd have to wait until 8:30 in the morning to get moving.  That seemed like a lot of wasted time.  I started looking up reviews online about the roadhouses near there.  Not good.  We looked at the map.  We looked at each other.  We decided to get up at 4, put the kids in the car, hope they stayed asleep so we knock off some of the journey.

We hopped into bed very early (for us, so probably super early for you) and lay in the dark listening to the boys sleep, while we whispered and giggled like ninnies at sleep-away camp.  Who can sleep that early?

The morning came, as mornings do, and though I had listened VERY carefully, I heard no mice and saw no cockroaches.  We loaded the car in record time, put the boys and as Adrian said, should we check the room, I said no.  We'd be fine.  Had only brought in minimal luggage.

The boys woke up in the cold morning air.  We blasted the heat and drove away while Tall said from the backseat "Going to X-----, new home?"

200 km later when we sat down to breakfast (please, let me never not see a bacon and egg sandwich for a long while, the trip was full of them), I realized something that we had left behind.  Two safety rails for beds.  400 km trip to get them? Not so much.

The day went well.  We sang, read books, played with toys, explored a bit.  We caught glimpses of the ocean (this rested my soul), looked at cliffs, looked at signs, counted eagles (we saw: a lot.  What? My blue book is somewhere over there.) We paid for gas at $2/L.  We opened presents (special for the boys) and ate bickies (gifts from our old congregation).  Baby pooped explosively in his seat early in the day.  I cleaned it up as much as I could and then had to sacrifice a blanket to it.  There was nothing else to be done until I could get to a washing machine.  We ate sangas and drank terrible coffee (seriously terrible coffee.  Were I to do the trip again, I would make sure to pack the french press.  Adrian said we should, I thought it would be a bother.  He is a brilliant, brilliant man.)  We got to the whale place within half an hour of it closing.

It was a lovely, beautiful walk outside the car.  The ocean was spectacular, even if the sand was the wrong colour.  There was only one thing it lacked.


Anyway, we drove on and by the end of the day we had three boys who wanted out of the car now and two parents who wanted to eat something and not be sitting anymore. This is why we ended up sleeping at a pub.  Because at 980 km and a 14 hour day, we were done.  But still, no mice or cockroaches.  And cheap as.

The next day was a good time.  We were back to not pushing it as we neared civilization.  We had about a two hour break at Wudinna, which is a great place for a stop.  Good coffee, good egg and bacon sandwiches, and AWESOME playpark.  The jumping pillow!  The random stranger who grew up Lutheran, but converted to Catholicism as her husband was Catholic, but who still knew lots of people Adrian did.

Seriously, the man knows everyone in Australia.

We stopped early that night so the boys could play before dinner.  They were okay with that.  You would think after the third day in the car, they'd be busting to be out of the car, right?  Okay, so when we went to have a break at one point in the afternoon, the two big boys threw a collective huge tantrum as they didn't want out of the car.  It was one of the funniest situations of all time.  "No play with ball, stay car!"  But we all got happy again.

The drive to the Barossa was lovely, the winding hills and roads that curved a nice change from the flat outback.  The outback is very cool, but it was nice for a change.  We spent a couple of night with good friends in the Barossa, played in Adelaide, went to the zoo on a cold and wet and windy day, saw planes and basically ran around like crazy people.

Then we went to Adrian's folks's place for a visit, where, for the first time on the trip, we had no cell phone reception.

We came to the new town a few days later and waited for our furniture to arrive.  As we waited, we got to know the town.  We played a bit.  We experienced frost.  It was great.

And here we are.  Settled (mostly) into the new home.  We pushed really hard at unpacking for awhile and then the last couple of boxes took a long time.  There are still a few things waiting for homes, but soon, soon, soon, I'm sure it will all go away.

The frosts in the morning are great.  Going from a land that was in drought to a land where the grass did not dry for a month (no exaggeration) was unusual.  I miss the ocean, though we have managed to visit it a bit.

So that's how we made it home.  Though for the first month, Tall kept asking when we'd get there.