It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas (Sydney 2010, Day 2)

Today was all about spending some time with the kids and doing something silly (but not fun as you will see).

I woke quite early. Around 5.30am and found myself sitting around waiting for someone else to wake until almost 7.30am. It’s always a little weird when I try and sleep in a strange bed. I don’t tend to do much sleeping.

Once everyone was awake and Jennifer and Pete had prepared for their day at work, David and I shuffled Alek along in getting ready.

The plan for us was to drop out and visit mum for the morning then head over to Jody and Greg’s to visit them and the kids.

When I called mum she said she was just about to go back to bed. She works nights these days and had just returned home from dropping my brother Greg off at work. Mum was tired so we agreed she could go back to sleep and we’d catch up with her later in the week. For today we’d go to Jody’s straight away and let the kids play for the day.

With our plan set we headed off. Bundling Alek in the back seat with Bill the doggin who was happy to have a travelling buddy. Bill’s never awake for long in the car and he was soon asleep.

Alek and Bill

Jennifer’s new house is now a lot closer to the rest of the family, having moved from Hurstville way to Horningsea Park, just near Liverpool. The trip to Jody’s only took around forty minutes.

We stopped along the way for some Maccas for breakfast. While waiting outside for David and Alek to return with breakfast it became apparent how sheltered Bill’s young life has been. He’s a little jumpy at loud noises like a flag flapping, a big truck driving by and the hiss of the truck’s breaks. I guess he hasn’t spent much time outdoors in his seven months of life.

When we got to Jody’s the kids went off to do what kids do. The boys riding BMX and playing with Jacob’s lizards while Maygen and her friend Alana played in her room while getting ready.

Jacob and his lizard
One of Jacob's Lizards
Jacob's Lizards

Alana had stayed the night on a make-shift bed, they had pushed two lounges together and made one big bed. Apparently some time during the night they had had a big argument because Maygen kept stealing all the quilt. In the end May had gone into her own bed to sleep. But as all kids do their quarrel was forgotten or forgiven come morning and they were joking and playing once more.

They went off to feed Maygen’s rabbit and get ready for the day.

Maygen Feeds Her Rabbit
Maygen's Rabbit

Bill got to meet Jody’s dog Kimana the Staffie. Kimana was all over him pummelling like nothing else. She’s a lot more sturdy than he is. At first it looked like he was having fun, he wasn’t running away or being aggressive. It soon turned out though he was actually getting his butt kicked and was trying to be all submissive. It wasn’t working with her, Kimana didn’t let up and eventually they had to be separated when Bill yelped and started hopping away. He’d got his front leg a little hurt and we freaked as parents do, only to have him running around again a few minutes later.

Bill meets Kimana
Maygen and Alana meet Bill
Maygen and Alana meet Bill

The boys wanted me to take some photos of them on the bike and put together a YouTube video, I spent much of the day running around with them, snapping photos and getting footage.

Alek Jumping
Alek Jumping
Jacob Jumping

I have to say I’m feeling liberated at the moment, taking a lot of photos on our little Lumix camera rather than my 5D. And while the results are nice for the most part, they can be unpredictable. At times I find myself wishing for more control. Sure I can shift into aperture priority or shutter priority but then changing those values on the Lumix is much harder than on the Canon. I also shot some photos on the iPhone 4.

Jacob Juming
Alek Jumping

It was funny using the HDR setting on the phone and capturing the kids in motion. You can really see how the camera works capturing the shadows, the exposed shot and then the highlights to form the one image. But adding motion means these three frames are shifted. I don’t mind the result and the kids loved them.

The back of Jody's Place

We went down the back of the property too, and saw a lot of work had been done in levelling off some of the ground back there. A friend of Greg’s had borrowed a digger from work, who does that, and was helping Greg with reforming the terrain.

Jacob and the Ute
Alek and Jacob in the bucket
Jacob in the bucket
Jacob in the digger
Alek

Greg spent some time fuelling up the digger and the bulldozer with diesel using a winding pump. After a while though he realised that the level in the tank wasn’t going down and looked in to realise the bottom part of the pump pipe had come lose and fallen into the barrel of diesel. He spend a good 20 minutes fishing around in the best fishing kayak we were trying to pull it out without having to come in contact with it, but in the end had to reach right down into the barrel to retrieve the fallen part. Reattached it and was back in business filling up the machinery.

Later in the day the boys wanted to get some shots of them jumping down on the bike track so I followed them down in their ute. Jacob at 13 has been driving it on the property for a few years now. He’s an accomplished manual driver and while at times likes to show off, knows that he has to respect the car, for the most part.

Jacob and Alek in the Ute
Jacob Driving the Ute
Alek in the back of the ute

Then came the silly point of the day. While videoing the boys I realised that I should change lenses to get more in the frame and have better control. I went back to the car, popped the boot, changed lenses then shut the boot. Instantly there was that moment when you go “where are my keys?” And you realise you just locked them in the boot.

I immediately rang David who was up at the house, hoping beyond hope that the other set of keys were in my computer bag on Jody’s kitchen table, but I knew where they really were, in the glovebox of the Camry now locked up tight right in front of me.

The boys and I walked back up to the house while David rang around to find us a locksmith who could get into the car. A call to Toyota was routed to their roadside assistance section, but we don’t have roadside assistance even though the car is only two months old. It would have cost us over $200 to join and get them to come out and see the car.

David then called a commercial locksmith in Atlanta who said he could do it for $100. We then called a local locksmith who offered 70$, he was hired. David then went out and got some supplies for the dinner he was going to make (with Jody in her car) while I waited with the kids for the locksmith to arrive.

The guy arrived fairly quick and drove them down the back to the car. He put two inflatable pads in the crack of the door, one at the top and one at the side. Pumped them up and they forced the door open just a crack, through which he put a long steel rod with a hook on the end. Reaching in he found the boot release and popped the boot open. The alarm sounded instantly, I grabbed my keys and unlocked the car, turning off the alarm.

The locksmith saves the day

Still feeling somewhat embarrassed I thanked the guy profusely and paid him. He was a saviour. It was amazing how quickly he could get into the car.

The rest of the afternoon was taking more pics, setting up the Playstation 3 to be on the Internet and in general hanging out with the kids.

At one point the boys had gone down the back to see what was going on with the digger and dozer and arrived just in time to see the digger unearth a wild rabbit warren. Several rabbits came out of the newly formed hole and a few of them were babies. They brought one of them up to the house. It was pretty cute.

Alek Holding a wild bunny
Alek holding a wild bunny

As night was approaching David used the Thermomix to whip up an awesome dinner of herb pizza, two risottos (pumpkin and chicken and a mushroom one) and dessert of a berry and banana ice cream. Everyone was suitably impressed by the fine fare and more than full when the dishes were cleared away.

We left shortly after dinner and returned to Jennifer’s around 10pm. It being the eve of Alek’s birthday he was keen to get into bed. But not just because he wanted to wake to get his presents, but also to avoid getting peroxide on his wounds for the day.

With Alek in bed we rounded out the day with a little TV before retiring ourselves. It as a fun day, a stressful day (with the keys in the car incident) and a warm day. I even managed to get a little sunburn.

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