Happy New Year

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Happy New Year

We hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas. We have enjoyed being with our family and friends in London and are now enjoying ski-ing in Switzerland and looking forward to all the New Year fun tonight. Fireworks being fired from our balcony and a big feast of raclette! Wishing a year full of fun, friendship. love. laughter and good health!! We will be back to more regular posts shortly!

Wonderful winter!

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Wonderful winter!

This, we can hardly believe, is the canal that was so bright with autumn colours when we first arrived! Now it is monochromatic, like a black and white photo! It is frozen over and covered in snow but not yet safe enough for cross country skiing or ice skating – those joys are yet to come! The passing of the seasons is something we, in Sydney, miss. Our seasons are not as defined, whereas here each has its own special beauty.
We are off to London tomorrow to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with our family – we are so looking forward to seeing them all again! I am not sure I shall be disciplined enough to post a blog each day and so, just in case I don’t, we wish you the happiest of Christmas and New Years and may you spend time filled with laughter and love with the ones you love. Simon is really looking forward to his well deserved holiday but is rather disappointed that it is only 2 weeks instead of the usual Aussie 8 weeks!

Chicago – more fun!

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Chicago - more fun!

We started our day in the gym again, Simon having first taken himself to Starbucks in the hotel foyer to get a hot chocolate to wait until it was time to wake us up! He had woken Vicky far too early, in her opinion, the previous morning with his iPad flashing and fingers bashing the screen all too loudly! After the gym, Beach Burritos were called for to sustain us through the day – delicious freshly made burritos, tacos, nachos or quesadillas in, of course, American-sized portions! We walked to Navy Pier, looked out on the frozen lake and went straight inside to the Winter Wonderland where Simon was keen to go into the snowcone and cover us with snow! That was the highlight of his weekend! Winter wonderland was amazing, an entire hangar-like space filled with amusement rides, huge bouncy castles, an ice rink, dodgems cars, food stalls and a bar, together with a massive Christmas tree and scenes depicting the traditions and Father Christmas in many different countries.
Missing the trolley bus by a moment we walked back from Navy Pier, via the shops!
“Not another pair of boots Mum!” is a constant refrain from Simon now! (Sorry Michael!)
The Lego shop was amazing with the main window filled with the Chicago skyline made of lego – extraordinary! We headed off to view the skyline from the cocktail bar of the John Hancock building but it was after 7 o’clock and Simon wasn’t allowed up there! Even if he wasn’t drinking he still had to be 21 after 7 o’clock so we had to abandon that idea! So , cocktail-less, we leapt into a taxi to Vicky’s favourite Chicago pizza restaurant, Rinaldo’s – disaster, it was closed for renovations! The end of the world, according to Vicky! Onto the second best, Uno, a different style of pizza, deep pan. I have to admit I am a pizza purist and prefer the Italian think crusty pizza, sparse with topping so a deep pan pizza wasn’t ever going to be my favourite but you have to try everything once (at least!). It was tasty and interesting but so very rich and I had ordered, on Vicky’s suggestion, the smallest possible pizza, about the size of a side plate but still could only manage about half of it! Back to the hotel for a night cap and to try to squeeze all our shopping into our suitcases which was quite a challenge!
An early start to a long day – it took from 8.30 am until 5pm to get back to our cosy apartment – which is a long journey, considering the flight is only an hour! Still, so worth it for all the fun!
And today, Simon is back to Arrowsmith, with Mr Coppins/Matt back from his adventure with a beard! And the walking group braved the -21 temperature to walk in the beautiful Jackson Park again. We saw a couple of people out on the cross country skis – that is how much snow there was over the weekend, whilst we were in Chicago!

Chicago – such fun!

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Chicago - such fun!

We left a cold and snowy Peterborough heading fro Chicago on Friday afternoon and finally arrived in our Downtown hotel late in the evening – no matter, in usual Vicky style there were snacks, drinks and lots of chatting until far too late! So, a later than usual start on Saturday and a visit to the gym to work off the excess red wine from the night before, not for Simon, but we made him come along anyway! Out into a cold foggy Chicago day, with flurries of snow as we set off to Vicky’s favourite rib place, Carson’s, for lunch – we had a great lunch of ribs and not even Simon could put us off with his description of them as “human ribs” – a joke from his TAFE Hospitality course! Then onto the Chicago equivalent of the Battersea Dogs (and cats) home – Vicky found several cats and even one dog she would have loved to adopt and take home! I couldn’t get over the number of cats and dogs who were there – so sad that they have been abandoned. There were plenty of enthusiastic volunteers with lots of visitors, as well as a few signs saying some of the animals had been adopted or were awaiting adoption which was cheering. This was followed by a trip to the Cheesecake factory where the queue was so long we had to get takeaway! I thought it was delicious but Vicky didn’t think it compared to the Carnegie Deli in New York and thank goodness the piece wasn’t as big! We stepped out into Michigan Avenue which was beautiful with the trees lining the avenue covered in sparkling white lights – it was so very Christmassy! We finished our day by going to see “Elf – the Musical” based on the film of the same name, I thought it was most apt for Christmas. It was very funny and the actor who played Buddy the Elf was brilliant! Back to the hotel for a relatively early night! And the rest to follow tomorrow as Simon has gone to bed and I am keeping him awake!

Inspiration

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Here are some more inspiring sayings which have been on the board in the West Room, though I have missed some as I have not been going into Arrowsmith so often now that Simon is making his own way there and we meet somewhere on the way back.

In order to succeed your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure  Bill Cosby

We become what we think about. Earl Nightingale

and then there is the one on the board above. It seems to me that the teachers are always inspiring the students with great quotes and much encouragement, mixed in with some fun. Today was hero day and Rob was dressed as a king whilst Jill was answering only to “Your Majesty” since she was a queen, so Simon told me when he got back tonight!

Tomorrow is pajama day which should be a lot of fun! And we are off to Chicago to see Vicky for the weekend so I am not sure we will have time to post any blogs – we’ll be having too much fun so just in case we don’t have time, have a great weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

Friendship

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Friendship

Here we are, walking again yesterday in Jackson Park, another beautiful walk. I have picked the photo that Michelle took (rather than the one I took as it is a better photo – sorry Michelle!) but this image, together with Andrea dropping in tonight, has made me realise how lucky we have been to find such good friends so quickly here. Andrea set up the famous Friday nighters that Simon so enjoys going to and he has found some friends to “hang with” there, I doubt they have the same conversations that we mums have but I don’t think that makes their friendship any less valid. I think we parents have made friends so quickly because we all understand each other well, with our Arrowsmith students and their different, and yet similar, issues. Equally the students “get” each other as well.
Friends, old and new, a true blessing, are so important. As the writer Jon Katz says
“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
ps Did anyone notice the Christmas addition to the blog? And please “like” the blog if you like it! It makes us feel good!

Mad Hair Day!

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Mad Hair Day!

Because this is the last full week of the Peterborough Arrowsmith term (I can’t believe it!) this week is Spirit Week – the students participate in a week of activities and show their spirit by the enthusiasm with which they embrace the themes! The older students can choose whether they join in or not – as today was mad hair or mad hat day Simon joined in! He didn’t need to do much, just fluff up his scruffy hair! It has been noted that he is beginning to look like young Einstein! And it should be mentioned that Einstein did not have a particularly good time at school, one of his teachers told him that he would never amount to anything! Despite his mad hair, Simon wished that he had had access to Michael’s box of mad hats! I don’t think anyone had a hat as mad as any of those in Michael’s vast collection!
Tomorrow everyone is off to see a production of Oliver Twist which Simon is excited about. Thursday is “Dress up as your Hero” – real or fictional – not sure if Simon wants to participate in that one but I think he will be wearing his pajamas (as it is spelt here!) to school on Friday for pajama day (suitable for school!).