Friday, November 2, 2012

Jazz in the Vines

Knowing that our family enjoyed music, our friends Emi and Gavin invited us to join them for Jazz in the Vines last weekend.  On Friday we drove to the Hunter Valley and stayed in a family cabin in Pokolbin, picking up Thai food on the way in and enjoying our combined four children chasing a herd of kangaroos (what do you call a group of kangaroos?).  We put the kiddos to bed and sat around chatting and enjoying a peaceful desert before we were off the next morning.

Jazz in the Vines is an annual event held at Tyrell Winery in the Hunter Valley.  It is a day long concert, with musical acts varying from a Dixieland group from England - which amused me to no end, although Woody Allen enjoys them - to a swing band, the man from Snowy River, and the runner-up on Australia's The Voice.  There are several local wineries and restaurants represented, although you are encouraged to bring your own picnic lunch, which we did.  Now, my idea of a picnic meal is a cheese plate, sandwiches, chips, and a fair amount of fruit.  I have to say, Emi put me to shame with her Egg & Bacon pie and Barbecue Chicken.  At least our kids can be bought with ice cream!

We weren't entirely sure how the kidlets would do, but having four children the same age makes a parent's life easier.  We made sure to bring books, a footy, and - most importantly - we had phones and iPads on which to play games!  What did we do before technology?

We were able to stay the entire length of the day - 7 hours in total - with no real issues from the kids.  Even better, the adults were able to relax and spend "adult" time just being together.  I had no idea we'd be in for such a relaxing time!  We even went down to the stage with the kids and danced together, and Nathan didn't even cover up his ears!  He does have one particular spin he likes, so I can usually bribe him with that.

Peeping around the umbrella

Keira is much cuter under her parasol!

Emi and Keira
Nath doing what he does best
Will making a mess with his Wizz Fizz
Anique and Nath reading
What can I say - my boys like Aussie girls!

We headed back to the cabin and collapsed.  It's amazing what a day out in the hot sun doing nothing but listening to music and hanging out with friends can take out of you!  We bathed the kids, barbecued, and put the kids to bed.  Sadly, we weren't that far behind them!

Possible even better then the concert was the next morning - the kids actually slept in for a bit!  We had a late breakfast that Brian made, consisting of bacon and French Toast with fruit.  Yum!

Nobody had anything pressing, so we wandered around the Hunter Valley.  Here is what happens when the kids (and boys) get tired of waiting for the coffee to arrive:

Don't worry, Gavin doesn't hit my son with his daughter!

Possibly my favourite picture of Will ever!

Luckily for everyone involved, a helicopter landed in the open field where they were playing.  This pulled the kids through until the coffees and hot chocolates arrived.

I really love this picture of the dads with their kids.  Two pretty good fathers, I believe!

And here's what happens when Gavin catches you trying to take pictures of the group stealthily:

I love that Nath is completely oblivious

We also were able to have a lovely long, late lunch.  We ate outside, basically in a courtyard, so the kids once again had green space.  They also had their parent's iPads...

Thank you, Mr. Jobs

And just so there are no complaints that I'm not in any pictures -

Hi there!
The food was good - nothing fancy, but nicer then just boring food.  For example, Emi and Gav had a Pork Belly pizza that was heavenly!  Nathan also enjoyed his salad, but only because it had Vinaigrette dressing!

He had no idea why we were all laughing

And not to be outdone...

It's a good thing he's cute

When we went into the weekend, we weren't entirely sure how it was going to be.  I mean, we enjoy music and love the DeVries, but honestly, with kids anything can - and usually does - happen.  We were all pleasantly surprised with how amazing the all of the kids were the entire weekend and came home completely relaxed.  We look forward to making this an annual event.  Will even cried on the way home because he wanted to spend more time with Anique and Keira, which is silly since we see them several times a week, but at the same time very sweet.  Thanks for inviting us, Emi and Gav!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trick? I Think a Treat, Mostly

Halloween is not a big deal here in Australia, especially in comparison to the US.  That said, it would be difficult for two American boys to not do trick or treating, so we decided to go out with another family like last year.  Nathan's friend Claire had lived in the US and was keen to go out as well, so her mother asked if we would like to go with them.  We met them in their neighbourhood, where notes and streamers had been placed into mail boxes.  If a house was choosing to pass out candy, they simply tied the streamers to their mailbox.  That way we didn't bother anyone who had no interest.  There were several more houses participating this year, so the boys ended up with plenty of candy.  Once again, not nearly as much as they would've gotten in Kentucky, but that is certainly ok!

Now that the boring part of the post is out of the way, on to the more interesting - costuming.  I was hoping that they would wear the costumes that they wore for their book parade at school.  Nathan was Peter from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Will was Willy Wonka from, well, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  Alas, they had no interest in making my life easy!  But Nathan likes to dream big...

Nath liked the idea of The Chronicles of Narnia, so he decided to be Aslan.  Thanks kid, that's an easy costume!  Not to mention it's way to hot to wear a full body suit, so we decided to go simple.  I had him wear a pair of brown pants, a yellow-orange shirt with a "tummy patch" (patented term), and I made him a mane and tail.  I also bought face paint.  For those of you familiar with my abilities, I'm only good with simple makeup on my own face and certainly do not have any drawing abilities!  So I looked up some pictures on Google - where else - and found something I thought I could replicate.  I'm not saying that we're winning any contests, but in my opinion it worked pretty well!  And again, dear American readers, this is about as good as costumes get here, so no judging!

So it's not The Lion King quality....

Nathan clearly had a theme, and I was able to convince Will to be Peter.  At least that costume was mostly made, although the original Aslan on the tunic had come off and I had to redo that.  Also, the boys couldn't remember what they had done with the original sword made, so I Alfoiled a sword we had  on hand.

Pretty cute little guy

And for whatever reason, Nathan decided that I should dress up as well.  It's been a long time since I've dressed up, like since university long - Em, if you have evidence, feel free to keep it to yourself!  But Nath was really keen on the idea.  So, who did he want me to be - Susan, Lucy, Mrs. Badger...

Nope, I got to battle it out with Aslan as Jadis, the White Witch.  I guess I know what my kidlets think of me!  Oh well, it's always fun to play a character your nothing like, right?  And for authenticity...

...would you like a Turkish Delight?

It paid off, Nathan told me I was prettier than the witch in the movie.  Take that, Tilda Swinton!