Wet Weather Camping.

Towards the end of last year we bought a tent, thus fulfilling a longtime of The Accountant’s to begin our own family camping expeditions.

It’s rather unfortunate for The Accountant that the year he finally bought a tent the drought breaks and we get the wettest summer in the history of Queensland. You could say that The Accountant has been a little agitated that it has not been camping friendly weather, unless you are a duck.

This week his level of anxiety for the lack of camping climaxed and he bundled us all into the car to go camping at the beach. We had been watching the weather all week at the Gold Coast. It had looked extremely promising, mostly hot and humid with minimal showers – only a 2 or 3 ml. We were even wise enough to leave it until the last minute to book, since the weather has not been too reliable lately. Unfortunately that was no guarantee of promising conditions. Within hours of booking the weather report changed to ‘storms’.  Undaunted, but perhaps even more agitated that his plans literally had a dampener, we drove to Nobby’s Beach at the Gold Coast. The Accountant was remaining optimistic. The weather radar that we had checked before leaving had no rain actually at the Gold Coast. (Just surrounding it and slowly heading down!)

Had we not got lost  taken the scenic route once we got to the Coast, we may have even managed to put the tent up before it rained. Instead, as soon as we unfolded the canvas, it started pouring. At least we hadn’t started to try and erect the tent. We folded the tent in half so the waterproof side was up and waited for the rain to ease a bit. By this stage we had chucked a whole heap of bags throughout the car, so the J Bomb sat in the corner of the boot, I squeezed into the front of the car and The Baby pretended to drive and get into all the spare change and throw it throughout the car in gay abandon. The Accountant had noticed our umbrella’s weren’t in the car when he was packing, but for some reason hadn’t gone searching for them to include in our packing. Luckily I had packed The J Bomb’s umbrella, so The Accountant stood miserably by the car sheltered by a small Buzz Lightyear brellie.

Lucky for us, the rain did ease somewhat. So we put the tent up in drizzling weather rather than in a storm. The hippies  in the campsite opposite us seemed to enjoy watching the show, but mustn’t have been the “Help Mankind” breed of hippies because they choose to continue playing their guitars, singing folk songs and smoking while we put the tent up.

Here’s some J cam of us when we were just about completed.

Who knows why The J Bomb chose to photograph my lilly white legs. I’ve included it since the shoes had a blowout a bit later and were deposited in a bin at Harbour Town once I acquired a new pair. I did like those shoes…

We then went for a walk up to the beach. We discovered that a large majority of the beach had been washed away making it difficult to wheel the pram down to have a walk along the sand, so we stared at the grey ocean. The Accountant took the boys down for a quick play on the sand, while I guarded the pram against nasty pram thieves. (I’m sure they are about.)

We then headed back and bathed the boys. Well, The Accountant showered J Bomb, and I really did bath The Baby. There was a pink bath built probably in the 50’s – or whenever it was that pink baths were in vogue, in the ladies toilets. It’s actually a great inclusion for kids. The Baby had no appreciation for historical baths, and hated. He viewed the pink bath with great distrust and made it the shortest bath in history.

We then walked across the road and had some lovely Thai for dinner. It was a great recommendation by a friend who used to holiday all the time at Nobby’s Beach when she was growing up. I even had her late Nana’s favourite dish of chicken cashew nut. (Apologies to Nana that I enjoyed the Massaman Curry more.)

Back in our canvas mansion, it really is, as far as tents go. You can stand up and walk around in it. No stooping for us when we ‘glamp’. And it has three rooms, so we had a whole room in between us and the boys! It took awhile for the boys to settle down and once they did, we collapsed ourselves. Throughout the night, it absolutely bucketed down rain. The canvas mansion was wonderful. No leakage at all and thankfully it also did not blow away in the big gusts of wind that shook it from time to time.

I have to say I felt a little bit smug when I emerged from the tent to discover all the other tents (excepting the camper trailer, which was mansion even finer than ours) had not fared so well. All of them had lost their flys and the poor Muslim couple and their little girl next door to us had been flooded and spent most of the night in the car.

It was not a restful night’s sleep though. Our air mattress was fine, but heavy rain is very noisy when there is nothing between it and you except a bit of (very good quality) fabric. Plus, being situated next to the Gold Coast Highway probably isn’t the most serene of camping spots. It also wasn’t restful being awoken by one excited 4 year old boy at 4:30 in the morning yelling, “It’s morning time, we can all get up now. What’s for breakdast?” (Cannot convince him that an “f” is in breakfast.) The Baby was the only one to respond with any type of enthusiasm to this morning call. The Accountant and I tried to ignore the rabble for as long as possible. Eventually I got up, (The Accountant is NOT good in the mornings), and fed the baby. The J Bomb had eventually gone back to sleep after our refusal to go to the beach.

When everyone was breakfasted and fed at what is considered a reasonable hour for camping, 7:00, we all put on our cossies and headed to the beach. The beach was again a disappointment. It was high tide – once again no good for the pram – and we couldn’t swim in it because there were blue bottles everywhere. So back to the holiday park swimming pool. The boys didn’t mind at all.

After showering we spent the day at Harbour Town outlet shopping. (If you are going to take an accountant shopping, discounts will always improve the experience.) A quick trip to the beach and then another dining out experience. This time at a restaurant called, “Transylvania”. I ordered the traditional “piglet on a spit.” That little piggy was particularly delicious, however, there was a lot of him, and unfortunately the traditional accompaniment was pickled vegetables, which I was not a fan of.

Back to the canvas mansion for another restless night. The folk song lovely hippies had transformed themselves into just your typical long haired louts who liked thrash music. Luckily they still must have had enough peace and love to turn the music off at a reasonable hour, so I didn’t hold a grudge against them until about 11:30, when they decided to have a mate over who drove his van into the campground, shone his headlights right at our tent and then get out and talked loudly on his phone for half an hour.

Then just as we were drifting off to sleep a camper trailer pulled up, did a 50 point maneuver to get into position and set up camp. I had to wake up at 3am. for a toilet break, nothing so delightful as a midnight stroll to do a wee. It was good timing as there was another nice storm after I got back.

The boys were kind enough to let us sleep until 6am. We drove to Burleigh Beach (no blue bottles there) for a swim and the boys played on the playground in the rain.

We then packed up. Luckily the sun shone while we did, just long enough to dry the tent before we had to pack it up and head home.

It can take ever so long for parents to pack up and is most excruciating to wait when you have been promised a swim after the pack up.

So that is the tale of our 2nd trip family camping trip. Camping isn’t my preferred holiday mode, but it is still great to getaway but more importantly the kids and hubby love it. It’s always good to create some family memories.

Yes, I am wearing a Moo Moo. I know it’s not the most fashionable thing to wear, but gosh it’s comfy to slip over one’s togs!

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A New Year Non-Resolution

In my early 20’s I was big on New Years Resolutions. I would write out detailed and comprehensive lists that would cover every aspect of my life from university, home life, love life and spiritual life. I would then forget about them by February and then towards the end of the year reflect on the fact that I didn’t achieve many of my resolutions. So my New Year Year’s resolution became to stop making resolutions.

Sadly, I broke that resolution as well.

I soon realised that it’s perfectly healthy to contemplate the New Year. In fact it’s beneficial. It is necessary for the development of our character to be in a constant process of identifying areas that we can improve. One of the reasons I don’t like labelling a “New Years Resolution” is that in fact it shouldn’t be just at New Year that we are making goals to achieve. In reality, it’s a year long process, and when we see that our original goal was unachievable, instead of abandoning it, we should be readjusting it. Success is a step by step process.

But there is just something about the New Year that energises you to become better. There is a feeling of optimism and the feeling that this year the world is able to be conquered. Why not take that renewed feeling of resolve to propel you into the year?

I read some New Year Resolutions recently on a favourite blog of mine. (See here) It inspired me to write this post. There is something about making your inner resolve public to give you a bit more motivation to not slack off.

I’m still not making New Years Resolutions though.

But here’s my New Year Ambitions

1. Watch Less TV.
I love TV. There’s just something so relaxing about blobbing out in front of the couch each night. Normally with the lap top these days. The Accountant, with his male frame of reference, can’t understand how I can cruise the Internet at the same time as watching the telly. But being female I do, and it brings me great satisfaction.

It also wastes time.

So, I am thinking if I can tape what I want to watch and save them to watch without ads only a few times a week, I should have more time to blog, and not just read blogs, write my magazine articles instead of procrastinating or ‘researching’ (essentially the same thing as procrastinating when done in front of the TV.) More time to tidy up. I haven’t made this confession on my blog yet, but I’m an awful housewife. Housework does not come naturally to me. More of that later…maybe.

2. Make Things

I often observe that many stay at home Mum’s reach the pinnacle of their craftiness. (And that’s not just being able to outwit small children.) The advantage of doing some crafts now is that your eyesight is a lot better then if you save it to do it all when you are retired. Plus there are gazillions of cute things to make for kids.

I told The Accountant about this plan. You’d think he’d be happy. It should save lots of money. Instead he scoffed. He has no faith in me and made reference to previous unfinished projects and claims in the long run it costs rather than saves money.

He does have point. So if I can make two things, I’ve achieved my ambition of make things (plural).

So, when I do watch TV, I’m going to turn the Internet off and continue with a forsaken project: the granny squares.

My mother always used to crochet as we grew up. My 3 siblings and I all had crocheted blankets on our beds, as well as on Mum’s, the spare room, and then she started making them for family friends and babies.

A few years ago I decided I should learn the skill. It was a lot easier than I thought. Mum always had said she did it because it was easy. Crocheting seems so much more impressive before you learn. I’m still impressed with Mum’s handiwork though. She’s made some gorgeous blankets over the year in great colour combos. Plus she is a bit more advanced then just granny squares. I crocheted a blanket for my mother-in-law for Christmas in 2008.

In 2010 I decided to make a blanket for the J Bomb’s bed. Unfortunately the project stalled when I hit a busy patch with my casual job. When I got less busy, I discovered I lost my crochet hook. I searched and searched to no avail, so pushed the project aside and I’ve kind of forgotten about it. So that would have to be on the to-do list this year. Thankfully I found the hook during a Christmas tidy up. Currently I’ve done 38 granny squares. I figure I’m going to need 99, so I’ve still a bit to go yet. Primary colours is the colour scheme and I’m planning to do a black border. 
I’ve also got a little project underway at the moment for my nephew’s birthday. I’ll blog about it if it’s worthy! (And completed)
3. Journal More
This is an ambition to help foster my spiritual life.
I love journalling, but I’ve slacked off the last few years and journalling has become very sporadic. I went through a period where I did it every time I read the Bible, but I found that sometimes I didn’t read the Bible just because I didn’t have time to journal. (Especially since I became a Mum.) So I eased up on myself and thought it was better to at least read the Bible even if I didn’t write down how God was speaking to me. I suppose you just get out of the habit, so I’d like to get a bit better with that again. I find it can sometimes help arrange my thoughts more clearly when I journal.
Our pastor had a brilliant message on Sunday at church about instead making a resolution to “read the Bible more” you should “read the Bible better”. I will definitely be applying some of his suggestions into my Bible reading as I journal too.
4. Use Stuff Up
I keep getting smelly stuff (nice smells!)as gifts, which is fine, I love smelly stuff, particularly body wash and body moisturiser! I L-O-V-E the feel of mosituriser and how soft your skin is afterwards, plus the scent seems to linger longer on body with matching body wash and moisturiser. Good quality perfume is also a favourite of mine.
However, I keep on using the brands I like, and the brands I’m not as fond as keep getting put aside. Take exhibit A.

I think my Nana gave this deodorant to me when I was 15. That’s over half a lifetime ago. (My lifetime to date that is…) I should add that I have used up many deodorants since I was 15, and this one smells nice, but I’m not in love with it, and I’m not the hugest fan of roll ons. Which is a shame, because I keep getting them as gifts. (Do you think I should be concerned I keep getting given deodorant?) I’ve got a huge stockpile that I really need to work through. No buying aerosols, sticks or crystals this year unless I use up the 6 roll ons! Probably won’t happen, (using them all up) I’m not a huge deodorant user. I just don’t get that bad with underarm odour except in the middle of summer. Although, maybe I’m smellier than I think. Maybe that’s why I keep given new ones? Sobering thought.

I’ve also got a lot of powder to use up.

Anyone made up some resolutions of have ambitions they like to share? Or is there anyone else out there with a stockpile of unused goods in your bathroom cupboard? (Please tell me I’m not the only one!)
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Not even remotely close

One of the endearing things The Accountant does each morning is unpack the dishwasher and either do a quick wash up or put away dishes washed the night before. I appreciate his efforts very much. (Especially since I hate those chores.)

One morning he yelled out to me, “Why did you put the television remote in the dishwasher?”

I still can’t understand why I got the blame when the other occupant of the house was a two year old boy.

I was innocent. Honest.

Number 4 button still doesn’t work very well anymore, but it really is remarkable what can survive a dishwasher.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all!

I love starting a New Year. So full of hope and expectations of what the year will bring. We spent New Years Eve with friends. We had dinner at the local tavern with 2 other couples and 5 kids. Then one couple and their kids headed home with us. We put the five kids to bed and the grown ups drank cocktails until the New Year began.

1.1.11 started with a lovely big cooked breakfast and then at midday took the kids to the local pool for a swim. Then we blobbed around the house for the rest of the day. Nice start to the year.

I’ve just finished filling in my calendar for the year. I love getting new calendars!  It’s always nice to see it all blank and empty and wonder what will be filling in those days throughout the year. We normally get a travel calendar. The Accountant and I are travel bugs, so it’s always nice to see pictures throughout the year of places we have been that brings back good memories or salivate over places we would like to visit in the future. 2010 was a Lonely Planet Calendar. 2011 is a Europe calendar and has lots of photos of places we have visited, so there’ll be a few trips down memory lane (eg. Paris, Prague, Budapest…) as well as some wishful thinking for some new place (such a Berlin)

If anyone is needing calendar tips, I’ve developed a good system over the years! Colour coding is the name of the game! All birthdays/wedding anniversaries are written in red. That way it’s easy to see when they are coming up and take appropriate action! Our family has several birthdays on the first day of the month. I’ve found that it’s necessary to write a note somewhere down the bottom of the month prior to their birthday. eg. Remember Dad Bdy June 1. Otherwise you turn the calendar 3 days into the month and realise you should have sent something in the mail for 2 weeks prior!

The J Bomb starts kindy this year and will be going Thurs, Fri. and alternate Wednesdays. I know the alternate Wed. has potential to confuse me so I have gone through the whole year and coloured in the Kindy days with a yellow highlighter.

This now leaves all the squares (you got to have squares!) ready to scribble in the events and times as they come up! I always love looking at the month before I turn the page. It always makes me feel good when there is most of the squares filled in!

Anyone else have good calendar strategies they would like to share?

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Christmas 2010 – The Gingerbread House

Christmas always feels like it starts on Christmas Eve. It’s the time when the anticipation reaches its climax. Of course the most anticipated event according to the J Bomb was the imminent arrival of Santa Claus. There was a great deal of discussion about the optimal positioning of the stocking, speculation of the contents and he was most eager to tidy up his room to ensure Santa’s safe passage, not wanting to be responsible for any injury while the jolly old man went about his business.

Cousins had been around that day to play.

They were busy all day which allowed me to make a pile of gingerbread slabs.

I used a recipe from Donna Hay‘s December ’09 issue. I hadn’t made a gingerbread house before and this recipe appealed to me because Donna described this as resembling a flat pack house, so it sounded easier than most.

One of the things that has frightened me with gingerbread houses is cutting out the various pieces accurately to ensure you can build the house. With this recipe you pressed the mixture into a cookie tray, so they were all the same size. Then you cut them. I was a bit frightened that I’d crumble the whole slab when cutting, so I had an extra slab. (Donna’s recipe was for a much bigger cookie sheet then mine, so that worked in well.) It was a bit time consuming because I had only one sheet in that size with sides, so I had to press the gingerbread in, cook it and then when it was cooled down enough, repeat the process over again. But since there were 5 kids in the house that day, it kind of worked in well spreading it out over the whole course of the day.
So here’s the mixture when I’ve pressed it into the tin. Lots of finger prints.

Donna Hay reccomended the back of a spoon to press it flat. I found a floured glass worked well and was a bit quicker.

So here’s the uncooked gingerbread as flat as I could get it. (It would have taken me until Boxing Day if I tried to make it perfect.

By the time the cousins headed home and The J Bomb and I were ready to construct the house, it was getting later in the afternoon. We made a good start and everything was going well until Daddy came home early and decided to mow the lawn with the ride on. Even though riding the mower is something that happens regularly, the gingerbread took a 2nd place so I had to wait until the grass was cut before continuing with the house. We did get it finished, but dinner that night was a casserole I had made the night before (in a fit or organisation) but there was nothing to accompany it. (I know, casseroles in an Australian December is ridiculous, but it has been quite cool in T-ba with all the rain.) Luckily the excitement of Christmas being the next day made everyone forgiving of our simple meal.

So, we got it finished and the boys were only half an hour late to bed. I had made the mistake in a past Christmas getting the kids late to bed on Christmas Eve and we all had a miserable day with tired cranky children, so I was determined to try to maintain the bedtime hour.

Here’s the finished product:

It was on display when the family came over on Christmas night, but we ended up letting the kids eat it on Boxing Day. This seemed to be a good move. I took it over to my Mum’s since we had a family get together there. Mum has complained that she is still finding squashed gingerbread in places. It seems our supervision skills needed improvement and some kids had wandered around eating. Being damp due to a high amount of rainfall made the biscuit quite soft. (In fact due to the mositure one of the eaves had collapsed before the kids could eat it.)

Oh, and remember I said I’d made an extra slab of gingerbread? After the boys were in bed, I whipped up a little manger. (This is what the kids ate on Christmas day.)

I left it on the table for a Christmas surprise.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I have a feeling that we’ve just started a Christmas tradition.

Does anyone else make gingerbread houses for Christmas?

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The Beauty of Christmas

I am a big fan of Christmas. BIG. FAN.

Christmas 2010 was no disappointment. I’ll fill you in on the details soon, however I thought I’d have a little moment of reflection on Christmas.

Being a devoted follower of Jesus, the religious significance is the most important aspect of Christmas for me. As a Christian the arrival of Jesus on earth is central to my core beliefs. We were created by God but it was through the sacrifice made by Jesus that we have been able to enter into a relationship with God. This is the beauty of Christianity. To have a relationship with the God who created the universe is no small thing. It means that throughout the day I can constantly have chats with God. You don’t know how many times the big guy upstairs has helped me find my keys, or gives me unreal carparks. When I’m in the middle of all the Mummy moments that happen during the day, I am having a dialogue with God. The Holy Spirit pops little gems of wisdom into my mind constantly. It’s awesome. Having Him as my Father, most certainly makes me a better mother. Not to mention a better wife. Not mention a better person.

So why not celebrate the day he arrived on earth? After all that was the event that started the ball rolling so that eventually the tomb rolling would happen.

I am often in awe that so many of those who don’t acknowledge Jesus experience so many elements of Christian principles as they celebrate Christmas. When Jesus is the basis of a celebration it’s no wonder that words like “Love”, “Peace”, “Hope” and “Joy” are associated with Christmas. Actions such as generosity are widespread.  Family and friends are cherished. Laughter, smiles and high spirits abound. It’s a time when the teachings of the Bible are demonstrated throughout the world.

The angels said it well on that first Christmas. “Glory to God.” 

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Santa's Sleeping Arrangments

I’ve just been informed by my neice that Santa sleeps in my sister’s bed AND Santa and her Mummy kiss.

I’ve told you I’ve had a few concerns about Santa this year. And so my list continues to grow.

You find out information like this from big sister’s who are a wealth of information about the private life of Father Christmas.

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Christmas Anticipation

The beauty of celebrating Christmas with children is their excitement on the day and the lead up to that day. I was just sitting at my computer, and glanced up at the Christmas tree and was amused to see that the J Bomb has obviously been tampering with the tree.

We had hung the candy canes so they were spread throughout the tree. It had taken a lot of guidance because the J Bomb had to be instructed in the ways of creating a balanced tree. Obviously he didn’t take to heart my lesson in aesthetics. There is futher evidence of tampering. I had forgotten to put the bead garland in the tree. (Possibly because I was trying to keep up with the J Bomb’s enthusiastic decorating.) I put it away for next year. Obviously J found it and decided it MUST be included.

And then Lo and Behold, he found more beads.

Before I had children, I used to take my time decorating the tree, and have every garland and bow hanging just right, the colours and ornaments distributed evenly throughout the tree. This is our child assisted tree!

(The ribbon hanging at the front is another unauthorised inclusion. It’s supposed to be hanging in the room somewhere, it has a bell on the end.)

But I should show you the tree if I take one step back. The Accountant made a baby barrier out of boxes, which also does not favours for aesthetic elements. Plus the baby can still climb over the top of them, however, it creates a delay. So far we’ve had one glass ornament smashed and Grandma has had a smash.

Decorating with kids is much more fun, but hectic, and of course colourful! Jonty choose blue baubles this year and even found blue tinsel to go with.

Even Mickey the Fish is looking a bit festive in his corner.

This is my favourite Christmas decoration this year. Red felt, simple buy stylish.

Of course my Willowtree Nativity Set is always a fav, on display as you enter our house.

It now has a sad family tale which I know I will regale every year as I put it out. Last year I sat the J Bomb in time out. He thought it was unjustified and the poor innocent wiseman was the object of his revenge. I cried. Then J cried because Mummy cried, then we howled. It wasn’t pleasant. Poor Balthazar literally has a chip on his shoulder over the unfortunate incident. He is also a bit upset that he has lost his gift. And now looks like he is folding his arms in reverence rather than holding myrrh.

Another thing that is contributing to the sense of anticipation in the prelude to Christmas is the Lego Advent Calender. The little lego figurines are so cute. Here is what it looks like after the J Bomb has finished playing with them.

And here are a few of my favourites.

And lastly, I’ve already voiced my concern about some of Santa’s antics this year. It seems even Lego Santa’s aren’t immune to scandal. Here is a nudie rudie Santa having a shower!

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Outdoor Dog Indoors

Our dog is strictly an outdoor dog. It’s always been that way, so feels no malice towards us regarding the arrangement. In fact, if you try to get him indoors, he won’t come.

We had been getting A LOT of rain lately. It’s very welcome considering that we have been in drought for years. On Friday we had a spectacular storm. It was windy and the outdoor toy equipment was smashed or blown away,(we’re still missing one section of the play gym.) sheets of water were getting blown into our outdoor area – the dogs favourite hangout. The dog was petrified and didn’t know where to take refuge so I took pity on him and invited him inside. He came in straight away, a sign that he was scared and miserable. I didn’t want a smelly wet dog sitting at the door though, so I tried to walk him into the garage. The dog was very reluctant to move any further then the one step into the house. After cajoling and dragging him, I put him in the garage and mopped the paw prints away.

J Bomb thought it was a great adventure. “Why is Bronco so scared to be inside?” he asked.

“Because he knows he’s not allowed inside and didn’t know why I was letting him,” I replied, “It’s the first time he’s ever been in the house you know.”

“Except for the time I locked him in the pantry.”

Yes. He did. How did I forget that event?  I don’t know who was more horrified, the dog or myself.

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Teacher's Gifts

The other day I was lined up at Target. (BTW, does anyone else find the new queing system irritating, I know it’s a fair way to organise things, but it seems I wait longer now…) The two women standing behind me started a conversation discussing the merits of giving their child’s teacher a gift. The two of them were favouring a no gift policy.

The ladies spoke loudly that they felt it was ridiculous how many people bought teacher’s presents these days. Why should teachers get gifts for doing their job? They get paid to work after all. Why should they need anything when they collect a pay check each week? One of the women went on to comment, “No one gives me gifts for doing my job well.”

Now, I don’t think for a moment that teacher’s are automatically entitled to gifts. As a teacher, I don’t not think less of the parents or children who have not given me gifts. Alternatively, I don’t favour the students who do give me gifts.

What the gifts do is make me feel appreciated. It is a form of acknowledgement to me that, “Yes, you are doing a good job.” It makes me feel that all the extra hours work I have put in preparing lessons, resources and activities has not gone unnoticed. It gives me encouragement that I am making an impact on that child’s life and provides inspiration to keep doing my job as well as I possibly can.

To the ladies in the que, I simply turned around and said, “As a teacher, I really do appreciate a gift I am given.” At which one of the ladies looked amazed, (and slightly embarrassed) and gasped, “Really?” She was so completely incredulous it astounded me. I wish I had said, (you know how you always think of good things to say after the event…), “Well if your boss or a client gave you a gift as a token of your great work, wouldn’t you appreciate it and wouldn’t you feel appreciated?” 

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