Family is a bit of a theme for me at the moment....for so many reasons. Christmas (a traditional time for family) has been and gone for another year, I've had a visit from my Mum and Dad in early January (which is never long enough),
our move to Canberra has been fantastic for our family life with activities like toboganning, bike-riding, go for walks along the many walk/bike ways of Canberra, a 'semi' bushwalk through Tidbinbilla reserve (it's a sealed path all the way through the sanctuary) and trips to new places like Batemans Bay, and today is the anniversary of my little brother's life. I know technically, that should read death, but death is so morbid.
He's been gone from us for 15 years today and if I let myself dwell on that awful day, the pain of his loss is as raw now as it was all those years ago. So I choose something different. I choose to celebrate his crazy, hyperactive and hilarious life. I choose to not allow the past to always dictate my present and my future. I choose to love him and miss him but not to dwell on what might have been (I know he would have made an awesome Uncle for Ayla and then Ayla would have been spoilt with 2 Uncles to dote on her).
Family......you can't live with em and you can't live without em. :)
And so Sunday became Tuesday....again, Whoops! I have really allowed my brain to take a break over Xmas. I'm usually straight back into things as of the 1st week of January but I think with Ayla starting school this year, there is this sense that the year doesn't really begin until school goes back. Yup....no good can come of that!
I had to share this picture of Ayla when she first spotted Grandma stepping off the plane......it was so cute. You could literally see her mind ticking, thinking "Hey, I know you! Hang on a minute.....You're here!" There has definitely been a very big hole left here since Mum and Dad left.
So what better way to fill a gap than with STUFF! Like our first ever family bike ride on Sunday. I don't know who was more excited, Ayla or me :).
Over the Xmas period we went shopping for new bikes and a 'you beaut' trailer for the Little Mrs. We each received some Xmas money from family to buy them as gifts and we raced out as soon as the shops were open. Steven and I have both been riding our bikes at different opportunities on our own. Steven often rides to work and I have had a couple of relaxing early evening rides too. But the family ride had to wait for everyone to be home from work and for the weather to play along too. And Sunday was that day. It was AWESOME! So good to be out doing an activity that I never thought we would ever be able to do with Ayla. I often watched other families out riding together and longed to be one of them.
Ayla's trailer has plenty of room in the front and back. She was loaded up with toys and I think next time we might pack a picnic lunch in the back! Our ride took us around a portion of Lake Burley Griffin, starting outside Questacon, heading towards the Old Bus Depot Markets, over a bridge, past Commonwealth Park (where they hold Floriade) and back over another bridge on Commonwealth Ave riding straight toward Parliament house. All the while, we had the shores of the lake beside us, walkers, riders and family dogs either moving with us or in the opposite direction. It was so great to be out there with all of the families of human and 'fur' kind, but best of all, to be out there with my family! We stopped at a little cafe on the lake edge before we packed up the bikes and trailer and headed home. And all the while, I was planning the next bike ride :).
I have to say, there are times when I wish I was back in Queensland but when I hit the bikeways and walkways of this city (read country town), I start to realise how this town is specifically planned with families in mind. I haven't come across one part of this town that isn't well thought out (ok, the shopping centres are an appalling exception!), geared toward families and totally accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. When you couple these great traits with a stone fruit season that has been nothing short of amazing to my tastebuds......I think I'm starting to like it here.
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to everyone! I took a little blogging break over Xmas. I just needed a couple of weeks to live without constantly analysing what was 'bloggable' in my life. Not that there aren't plenty of things to be shared but sometimes there's just way too much to choose from....especially where Ayla is concerned. Everyday there is something new or different, a challenge maybe....and sometimes I just need to sit back and enjoy what's happening without thinking how I could share it with everyone.
So the break is over and a whole new year of weekly blogging awaits! And for this, my first blog update of the year, I'm starting with something that has absolutely nothing to do with Ayla.....except for the fact that she has IMMENSELY enjoyed the fruits of my labour :).
Whilst I have been sitting back just enjoying each moment as it happens around me I truly saw something, seemingly for the first time! But it wasn't the first time! I can't believe I have been staring out of my sewing room window looking 'through' this bounty for months and never knew what I had. It began in the last weeks of winter with a furious flush of tiny white blossoms on otherwise bare twigs.....and then proceeded to tiny little round red 'fruits'. Of course being in the middle of 'the burbs', I made the assumption that the tree was probably ornamental and the fruits, being red and so inviting, were probably nothing edible and at worst, poisonous. Nuh-uh......CHERRY PLUMS!!!!! It took me from late winter until around Boxing day to realise that these little beauties were Cherry Plums!!!
The tree is absolutely laden with them and I have been out in the 36 degree heat picking them, and last night I made a batch of plum jam......and there are plenty more jam sessions to come! I even found some seedlings that had started under the tree and I have dug them and potted them to take with us when we buy later in the year.
Mum and Dad arrive for a short visit in 3 days time, so I think I may also make a Plum Crumble for dessert......*slurp*
Ayla adored the jam for breakfast this morning....so much so that I couldn't take a photo because we were both covered in sticky mess. I'll try again tomorrow.