Flashback Friday

This is waaaaaaay way back! Circa 1980. I’m the teeny tiny bubba, maybe a month or two old? And that’s my brother, about 18 months old, with Grandpa and Nanny.

If you’re new to the blog, you may not know that Nanny, who was my Dad’s mum, was very special to me. She and Grandpa both passed away in 2011. I’ve blogged about them a lot over the years, but this post  probably gives you the best idea about what kind of amazing lady she was.

I can just imagine, when Frith got to heaven, Nanny marching over and saying to him in her thick Russian accent “Come here I shmack you.”

Give him one from me too, Nanny. Then take good care of each other xxx

1000 words

Back to where it all began.

We’ve been in Melbourne for less than 48 hours and it feels like we never left. How is that possible? Since leaving the city almost six years ago, we have moved house seven times and had three kids. That’s a lot of life changes by anyone’s standards.

Maybe I just want to feel like I never left. This is a week of freedom for Hubs and I; to live it up and do whatever we please. We’ve been reminiscing like crazy and going to all our favourite places. Just like old times.

Moving to Melbourne was a real turning point in my life, and so much has happened because of that decision to move. Hubs broached the subject of him wanting to study down here when we first got together and I’m pretty sure my thoughts were “noooooooo! I don’t want to leave Brisbane! Nanny will be devastated!” Outwardly I would have been much cooler I’m sure.

Five months later, in May 2007, we took a trip down here “just to check it out”. Oh and Frith had his interview with Melbourne uni. After spending some time in the city, and meeting his gorgeous family down here, I was sold. I was also thinking a certain question might be popped during our visit, but he had other plans for that the following month.

A bit over a year later, at the end of a long, cold, amazingly fun trip down in the kombi, we arrived as husband and wife. And a few days later I started this blog. All of our highs and lows and in-betweens have been documented here. I never thought I would keep it up for so long but blogging is just a part of my life now. I had talked about starting a blog for months, but it wasn’t until we moved that I actually felt the urge to begin.

Melbourne changed me, and for the better I believe. It was time for me to get out on my own, with my new husband; my new family, by my side. We were a unit the two if us; in love, invincible; and in Melbourne.

The first six months were hard. I went from having social engagements every night in Brisbane, to no friends and nothing to do in Melbourne. Frith made friends easily through medicine, and while they knocked off at midday on a Friday and headed to the pub, I was working full time to support us. Resentment crept in. Jealousy tapped me on the shoulder. Feelings I never thought possible towards my shiny new, perfect husband surfaced.

For the most part I ignored those feelings; pushed them deep down and put on a smiling face. But a few too many wines would bring it all bubbling to the surface and everything would come pouring out. Once the booze wore off, and we were able to communicate like adults, Hubs would make me spill my guts. Everything. All my insecurities, my suspicions were all heard out and all reassured. We were still new at this thing called marriage. We had to work out our own path and figure out what worked for us.

Reality had set in and not all was perfect. But that’s what marriage is all about. Being perfect for each other, and doing the very best you can. Being your own person and not trying to be someone you’re not, just to please your spouse. I was trying to be everything Hubs wanted me to be, when all I had to do was to be myself. That’s who he fell in love with. The cat was well and truly out of the bag before we got married – he knew I wasn’t perfect and he loved me for it.

I just had to learn to love myself a little more. I had to figure out who I was without my family and friends around to define me. This took some time, and it turns out I’m still a work in progress. But I’ve learnt to love the process and the journey, and not just try and skip to the end result.

So as I walk around Melbourne now, dropping in on familiar places that feel like old friends, I remember Renae from 2008 and I reassure her that things are working out pretty well. I tell her that she and Hubs will never stop disagreeing on things, but that we always sort things out and get stronger. I tell her that even though she has to move around a lot, the adventures that follow make it worthwhile. I tell her to enjoy her sleep-ins and hot coffees, because once the kids come, they are the first things to go.

I tell her about the friends she will meet and the people who she will stay in touch with; it will surprise her who makes the effort to keep in contact. I tell her that she might want to stop at three children and not have four or five like they always talk about, but I know she’ll never believe me. I tell her how Hubs is a wonderful father but she already knows that.

I tell her that Nanny will never get to meet her great-granddaughter and that will upset her. A lot. Especially when her middle name is Maria, and she reminds her of Nanny everyday.

I tell her not to worry so much about what is to come; to trust Hubs more, as he always comes through with the goods. I remind her to tell Hubs everyday how much he is loved. He puts on a tough exterior, but, just like her, he needs to know.

So as I sit here staring at the bottom of another cup of coffee, waiting for Hubs to finish his GSSE, and wondering where life will take us next, I am grateful that we started our journey here in this beautiful city, full of incredible people and memories.

We’ll always have Melbourne.


Another different Christmas eve

I’ve been feeling pretty nostalgic about Christmas eve evenings at Nanny’s all day. The thought was with me this morning when I realised only a few short years ago I’d be getting excited already about the evening’s festivities. Nanny made Christmas special. She was the ultimate gift giver. The gifts weren’t necessarily useful or practical but there were always plenty, and the look on her face as she would give them out was pure joy.

“You like?” She would ask as I’d unwrap yet another nightie/quilt cover/towel/set of sheets/platter or any combination of those.

Of course I liked.

No matter the gift, present opening on Christmas eve at Nanny and Grandpa’s was a flurry of wrapping paper and lots of ooohs and aaahs, a few giggles, and some secret looks of whaaaaaaaaaat is this!?

Tonight we will feast on Hubs’ twice cooked lamb and some kind of yummy dessert with our good friend Sonia. I had contemplated making pierogi in Nanny’s honour but my tiny kitchen and 38 degree days defeated me.

It will be a different Christmas this year but no doubt just as wonderful as always 🙂

3 years on

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 3 years since Nanny passed away. In some ways it feels like just last week, and sometimes it feels like I haven’t seen her for much longer. We still miss her and keep her memory alive by using “Nanny-isms”, most commonly when we say “just for fun” which was her response to our questions of “why did you cook this/buy this/do this?”

I stumbled across the draft of the tribute I wrote for Nanny’s funeral the other day. I ended up just using it as a bit of a guide, and improvised the last part, and it was really nice finding it and reading over it again.

Nanny was an extraordinary woman with the simplest of pleasures. She lived for her family. Anyone who spent 5 minutes with her would know that, and anyone who spent half an hour with her, would become a part of that family. If you ever came to visit for a Sunday lunch, she would ask after you the next few weeks and ask when we would be bringing you back again.


When you grow up with an extraordinary person like Nanny in your life, that extraordinary becomes your ordinary. It often took outsiders to remind me what a special woman Nanny was. People would gush over her crispy potatoes, chicken, turkey and sausage, English salad, cucumbers, borsch, crumbed stead and pork, barramundi on Fridays, veges, jelly, ice cream and custard; her 10 layer Napolean and 6 layer walnut cakes, her apple pies, her banana cake, and of course, her pierogi, yet they were weekly staples for us at Sunday lunch.


Nanny didn’t try to be extraordinary. She just was. But she wasn’t all butter, sugar and cream. She had a quirky streak to her that brought a smile to our faces so often. “Come here, I shmack you” she would say. We realised in the last 5 years or so that getting a Nanny shmack was to be celebrated, as it meant she had missed you and she loved you very much.


She could also lay on the guilt like the thick layer of cream on top of her walnut cake.


Why you leave so soon?” she would say.
When you coming back?
and one I’ve heard a lot in the last few years
Why you must live in Victoria? When you coming home to Brisbane?


This was just another way she let us know she loved us. Though she could never understand why someone would choose to leave their family, when she had no choice to leave her own all those years ago, she always supported us and welcomed us like rock stars whenever we came to visit.


Nanny gave so much of herself to us, and I know everyone here has been touched by her generosity and kindness in many ways. I think we are all better people for knowing her, and I think a great way to honour her memory is to eat creamy cakes, drink good vodka, always cherish our family, and learn to make pierogi, just like Nanny made it.

To be honest, there isn’t a great deal of sadness around her passing, as she lead such an amazing life. But it breaks my heart how this little guy brought her so much joy:

Yet she doesn’t get to see him like this:
And the fact that she never got to meet our little girl. That hurts a lot. But I’m sure she’s up there, looking down on us all, and gushing over the cuteness as much as we are.


A final farewell

Today was a happy sad day. We scattered Nanny’s ashes out in the bay today, and said our final goodbyes. It’s been over 2 years since Nanny passed away, and it was nice to fulfill her wish for her ashes to be scattered in the waters where she used to go fishing. Chanbe came along for the ride and although he wasn’t quite sure about the boat trip to begin with, he soon relaxed and had a nice time.


We also had a dozen long stem roses that we placed in the water.

It was a really nice way to say a final farewell to a remarkable lady.

A mammoth task

We had Grandpa’s funeral and wake yesterday. I said to Hubs on our way to Nanny and Grandpa’s place, where the wake was held, that it feels much more final. When Nanny passed away, we still had Grandpa with us, but now that they’re both gone, I feel like “that’s it.” It’s a strange, not-nice feeling.

And the next job? Clearing out the house. The contents of the house was left to me in the will, so it’s up to me to determine what happens to what. I don’t really want that responsibility, but it’s mine and I will do my best to honour their wishes. This will also mean we’ll be spending a lot of time out there, and not so much time at our beachside holiday house 🙂 But that’s okay. It’s a job that has to be done.

We just have to work out where to start…

Goodbye Grandpa

Grandpa passed away yesterday. He hasn’t been doing great for a while now. Nanny and Grandpa had been together for over 60 years, so it’s understandable that he couldn’t live without her. We’ll be saying our goodbyes next Thursday. He was 93.

A fitting farewell

Hubs and Chanbe and I have been back in MB since last Friday after being in Brizzie for the week. Nanny’s funeral was on Thursday and it was just lovely. We celebrated a life well lived and told stories and shared some tears as well as some laughs. I said a few words and mentioned that I was waiting to be overwhelmed by sadness and emotion but it hadn’t happened yet, because I know she had an amazing life and she lived long enough to see her sons grow up into men and have children of their own. She was also around to see her 2 grand-grandchildren, and I reckon that just completed her. Life won’t be the same without her, but we have the most amazing memories to cherish for a long time.

Grandpa moved to a nursing home yesterday, so we’re hoping he settles in well there.

This is the last video of Nanny and Chance that I filmed, on the 19th of June.

Thank you so much for all your thoughts and prayers. They have been very much appreciated.

I should be napping…

We had a pretty rough night with Chance last night, and he’s having a very good nap at the moment. I know I should be too, but there’s just too many other fun things to be doing! Like catching up on my Google Reader, reading my emails, and sitting on the couch drinking coffee, enjoying my view.

We all arrived back home to MB late Saturday night (about midnight!) and had a really great relaxing day yesterday in preparation for Hubs’ first day at his new position today. We left Brisbane on Friday which was a bit sad, but we had a lovely time visiting, although it was bitter sweet. It was so lovely seeing Hubs again after almost 2 weeks away. We headed over to Nathan and Cal’s for dinner and sleepover which was, as always, lovely and relaxing. We had a bit of a sleep in Saturday and after some brekky, headed over to Uncle Wayne and Aunty Alida’s for lunch. And boy were we in for a treat!

AA knows how much we love home-made gnocchi, so that’s what was on the menu! We were lucky enough to get there while it was all being prepared, so I was able to get some handy hints for my next attempt.

Served with a tomato sauce (home made too, of course!)
Chanbe’s first gnocchi!

After lunch (which included tiramisu for dessert!) we headed to Albert Park to watch Chance’s Godfather, Dr Luke, play a friendly game of footy. Not long after we arrived, one of the guys was injured so they asked Hubs if he’d like to play. Would he ever!

(That was a pretty dumb photo to take – Hubs is out there somewhere!) Hubs had a great time, and although he got a bit battered and bruised, it was good to have a run around with the guys. He helped set up a goal and made a few good tackles, including one on Dr Luke! We cheered on from the sideline on a lovely Melbourne afternoon.

It must have been our cheering, as Dr Luke kicked a total of 15 goals!

We left the park around 5pm and headed to Wangaratta for dinner with Kyra and Stephan and Frederick, arriving around 8pm. We were treated to delicious lasagne, salad and garlic bread. It’s always so hard to leave their house and the time flies by so quickly! We dragged ourselves away at 10pm and after a fuel stop, got home at 11:45pm. We collapsed into bed and Chance had a pretty good night so that meant we did too.

After such an emotional, albeit wonderful 2 weeks in Brizzie, the day of family, friends, and great food, was just what I needed to lift my spirits.

Chance has been asleep for over an hour and a half now, and it’s almost time for lunch. (Looking at those gnocchi photos has made me hungry!) And the sun has come out, so we might go for a walk after we eat. This is the view I’m looking at right now. Pretty nice, huh?